Yesterday was the Rapid Fire Theatre Annual General Meeting. There is a lot of bureaucratic stuff, but because we are dealing with theatre folk, it is always entertaining. There seems to be a race to see who gets to forward a motion. But the highlight of this meeting was that it was at Gateway Rec Centre. So after the meeting there was bowling followed by Lazer Tag.
I got to shoot my improv teacher.

In other news, I’m having a few financial concerns pop up. In my mad rush to kill my mortgage, I’ve been neglecting my RRSPs. So I’m going to try to do it at the last minute once again. So saving as much money as possible is becoming a concern. If I can make it to February 6th without making major purchases, I’ll be good. Why? Because after that day, my credit card purchases fall to the next billing cycle, and it will be a concern in March. After RRSP season.
That shouldn’t be too hard?
Well, right on schedule, my runners are getting expired. A good pair of runners are good for 500km, and with the long runs adding up, I’m starting to feel them wearing out. So I need to buy new ones. But there are two long runs between now and February 6th. I don’t want to get injured by running in bad shoes.
Also, the Jamaican vacation I took last November is having a deal. If I put a deposit down, it will be slightly cheaper for this year. Do I want to go again? I’m apparently not going to Europe, so I do need to take a vacation. But I have only until February 1st to decide. And the deposit is in US funds, so the exchange rate is getting worse every day.
Speaking of mortgages, I finally contacted the BMO ombudsman. I think things are starting up again, and I should get a statement sometime next week.


Shades of Halo 2.
I’ve been reading the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind. Very good! The latest book, Chainfire, just came out and it’s been enthralling. However, the ending was disappointing. Total cliffhanger! They’ve just figured out what they need to do, and they’re about to go do it. Story ends. Wait for the next installment.
Didn’t I just run through that with Halo 2?

The thing I’m learning from improv classes is that I’m terrible at it. After most classes I feel that there is so much I’m doing wrong. I think too much. I need to get more into character. Well there was another class tonight and we did the exercise that almost gave me nightmares last time I did it: Office party in gibberish. The thing about that game is that we have to act like we’re at a party. I suck at parties. Still, I think it was better this time. I need to do better to commit to a character.
The teacher did say it is good to know you aren’t perfect, because then you have things to improve. If you are perfect, you have nothing to work on.
The next Thursday class we will be doing a high school soap opera. To prepare, we came up with characters tonight. Now we have an entire week to develop these characters and then play them next week.
Me? I’m the captain of the football team, and dating the head cheerleader. Erik has never watched an organized sports game in his life, so this will be a bit of a stretch to work on. I do know that I have to exude confidence. I’m actually looking forward to it.

So yesterday I said I was tired. I got into work this morning and still felt exhausted. So I planned to go to bed early tonight. Well, as you can see from the posting time, that didn’t quite happen.
While walking home last night I saw that the moon was quite bright, nearly full. I couldn’t see any stars because a haze had apparently settled over everything. So at work today I commented on that to Wayne, who is an astronomy buff. He was looking for a night to use his telescope. He checked the weather report and saw that it would be clear tonight. Do I want to go and look at stars and planets this evening?
How can I say no to that?
So, after the improv class (I need to stop thinking so much) I drove off to Wayne’s and looked through his telescope. There really isn’t that much to see. Most stars when seen through a telescope are just brighter pinpoints of light. Often you will see that they are actually two stars orbited each other, but that just makes two pinpoints of light.
The orion nebula was very faint, but I could see it. Saturn was amazing. I could see the shadows of the mountains on the moon. There weren’t many of those because the moon is practically full.
The things that struck me the most was the lack of color. In all the photographs of stellar objects, they are a rainbow of colors. But when seen through a telescope, it is all white or black. Wayne says that is because the low light receptors in our eyes can’t see color.
Still, well worth the trip. Now I really have to go to sleep.

Once again the weekly Starbucks update.
Once again my life isn’t that interesting.
I read in the paper today about diaries. Women, by far, are the most likely to keep one. The second point was that diary writers are usually depressed. Either depressed people are more likely to write, or writing makes you depressed. They weren’t sure.
I know I am usually depressed. I’m tempted to say that writing this journal contributes to that. When I go and reflect on the recent events of the day, which happens when I write, it usually hammers home a self assessment of my life. Usually I come up wanting.
Canticle also writes, and he always seems reasonably happy to me. Even when he’s upset about something, I secretly think that he is happy to have something to rant against. But, his most frequent postings are not about what’s happening in his life in minute details. Instead it is an opinion column sans editor. Quite a bit different from a diary.
I’ve set myself a grueling schedule. Mondays and Thursdays are Improv classes. Wednesdays has the evening runs. Fridays play host to a game night. Tuesdays then become evenings to try and catch up on chores. So weekends I am really tired, and I find myself wasting time watching TV that I’m not really enjoying. (Transformers Energon is nothing like the original Transformers.)
The weather here is warm. It was one above during today’s morning run, so I could go in shorts. Everyone else pointed and laughed (figuratively, with a dash of literally, speaking), but I was comfortable. And it is easier to run in shorts. Less clothing to lug around on the only part of the body really moving.
I made myself a new dish for dinner. Too much caramelized onions, but still good.
There was a D&D game on Friday. No deaths. But I did get to see my “good” players murder someone begging for their life. The slow path of corruption begins.
So, I now know that there is no Eurotrip for this year. I’ve got to make my own vacation plans. I’m tempted to repeat the Jamaican trip. I suppose I could go to Europe on my own, but that just doesn’t sound like the best of ideas.

On Tuesday, during my late drive to work I listened to the start of “The Current” on CBC radio. They were going to be talking about web logs, including what to do if your mother starts reading it. I didn’t get to hear that part as I arrived at work and no longer had access to the radio.
Today I checked the CBC website and found that they still had a copy of that episode and I could listen to it. They even gave a text summary of what they were talking about in quite good detail. I listened to the mothers vs. blogs part and found that it was pretty much what I had read from the summary. Almost word for word.
During this listen, the senior programmer wandered by and overheard. Being pretty bad at lying I admitted to having a web log. He has threatened to search for it. I’m not that worried, as I can’t figure out how to search for a blog. If I didn’t know the address of mine, I couldn’t even find it. It’s not indexed by Google. There are no keywords that would leap out at me. My name isn’t very unique.
A google for myself, and I’m the eleventh entry. And that’s for stuff I did nine years ago that someone else is referencing.

Today is a special day. This is the deadline for to decide if we’re doing a European vacation. After I post this, I’m checking his journal to see what his decision is. I’m not expecting much. He’s buying a house. He complains about how expensive his university courses and books are. He has trouble getting vacation time organized around a pricey dental visit. He’s getting married (aka Clinically dead).
Nope, not looking good.

What a busy day.
The guy for the flood damage came and we went over what needs to be done. It looks pretty straightforward. He should have people in next week to do the actual work. Despite leaving an hour later for work, because of the meeting, I was only 45 minutes late. I might have to do this regularly if it cuts my commute so much.
The bug I was lamenting yesterday is gone, but I’m not proud of it. I just noticed it went away when I enforced a certain condition. I’m not 100% sure why, and I don’t think I ever will be, but it’s good enough. Ship it! For the record, I don’t like what I did, but I’m dealing with a third-party’s code, and that is a can of worms I don’t want to get into.
I’ve decided to try changing from grocery shopping at Safeway to grocery shopping at Save-on-foods. I keep hearing good things about Save-on, so why not. After work, I did a quick stop off for a few small things at Superstore (they have cheap prices, but lower quality). Then I went to Save-on to get the real groceries that I need. It wasn’t very satisfying. Their meat selection wasn’t very big. A lot of my complaints have more to do with trouble trying to find things that I can find in a more familiar store. When I got home I immediately realized I had forgotten a head of lettuce which I’ve been needing quite badly. Why I left it off my grocery list, I don’t know. So, after 9:00 I went to Safeway and got the lettuce, and picked up a hunk of meat I needed. Summary: I visited three separate grocery stores this evening. And it wasn’t even a cheap tuesday.
I’ve decided to upgrade my running training. I want to get in some speed work, and I figured if I do it on the treadmill, it won’t be such a commitment to get out and do it. I can do a certain pace and keep it up, and I don’t have to worry about getting dressed for the weather. I can also keep them short. Since I can do all this, I should be able to run more often. I’m going to try and do it on any day that I don’t have another commitment. That kills more days than you would think, what with improv classes and D&D. But today I had no commitment, so it was a running day, which added more to my workload. But I must say, I do feel better. I think I’m on an endorphin rush. There was also a cute girl in the exercise room. Nice to know that I live in the same building as good looking women. However, I’m pretty sure she has a boyfriend.
On a final note, the lead programmer that I am under said something in the parking lot to me today. When he assigns me bugs, I make sure to fix them.
I’ve been feeling good over that compliment all evening.

Work is frustrating right now. I’ve got a bug that I’m not sure how it is happening. It’s hard to debug and I’m running low on options. Basically, it is hard to concentrate when there are too many variables.
On a brighter note, I signed up for a level 2 improv course that I just got back from. As usual, I know a lot of people in it. I’ve never had a course taught by Bill Minsky, but he’s been good so far. He sticks out the most in my mind as the guy who made his own Spider-Man movie. Complete with him swinging from a rope from a tall building in Edmonton, sans special effects.
Tomorrow the guy should be coming to go over the work that is going to happen to fix the flood damage. Hope it goes well.

Whenever I go out to Starbucks for a hot chocolate, I always seem to end up writing into my journal. I really don’t have anything interesting to report, except for the drama going on right now. There is a (presumably) drunk indian that they are trying to get out. When I came in, she was huddled kneeling by the door and not leaving, despite the man waiting for her to. After awhile she wandered into the back, and they keep trying to get rid of her. Interestingly there is a police car parked outside (with the hazard lights blinking), but I don’t think the man involved with this show is a policeman. Actually the cop car looks empty.
I wonder if they have drunk indians in Miami?
I’ve been lazy this weekend. No, wait, I don’t know. I played games on Friday. I didn’t go out on a Sunday run, but I did go onto the treadmill twice. I think I’ve figured that thing out. I can’t do long distance runs on it, but if I keep it to 20-30 minutes, it doesn’t completely bore me out of my skull. So if I really push the speed and incline, knowing that it isn’t a long run, I can get a good workout.
Ah, police are now escorting Ms. Drunk-Indian out. Looks like she’s going to the police car.
I think I’ve focused on a problem I’m having. Weekends haven’t been relaxing for me lately. And I think that is because I’m working on a particular D&D problem that, when you get down to it, is just work. I haven’t played a video or computer game in awhile. I need to start focusing on goofing off, and stop working on D&D.

Customer Service Irony

So for Friday lunch today we went to East Side Mario’s. I had an all-you-can-eat pasta, but I was unhappy with it. And I mean REALLY unhappy. In every other restaurant I’ve been to, the pasta and sauce can be changed between servings. I’ve come to assume this. But not in East Side Mario’s. Whatever you first choose is what you are stuck with for the rest of the meal. If I had been told while I was ordering, I wouldn’t have minded, as I could change the order. But after the first serving was eaten, I wasn’t allowed to change for the second.
Of course, I complained to the server and then to the manager. The manager kept saying it was policy and wouldn’t try to make things better. I have no idea why she was so stubborn. I wasn’t trying to cheat the restaurant, and it can’t be that expensive to change the pasta. It was a lunch special for god’s sake! Other people are ordering all kinds of pasta. So I’ve phoned the company that owns the place, but haven’t heard from them yet. The bill even came with a loaded gun, uh, sorry, “Patron comment card”.
So my experience with East Side Mario’s: Customer satisfaction is abysmally low. I’m never going back, and I don’t think anyone else should either.
Now why the irony in the title of this entry?
We went to Best Buy afterwards and horribly abused their customer service policy.
Future Shop had a sale on a computer mouse. Normally it is $60, but their flyer claimed it was normally $20, and on sale for $15. Obviously an error, they must have meant a different mouse. If we had gone to Future Shop they would have had a sign saying the flyer was wrong. But we had gone to Best Buy. Grab the mouse, wave the flyer, and ask for price matching. Yes, we were abusing the policy, and if they had said “No”, we wouldn’t have put up a fight. They tried to phone Future Shop for confirmation, but couldn’t get through. But when in doubt, the customer is apparently right.
So, new mouse!

Busy day today.
It started at the crack of dawn with a dentist appointment. I dislike going to the dentist because my teeth are in bad condition. They keep saying they are good, but I have a bad history. Several years ago I was a bit sensitive on my left teeth, so I brushed harder there. That just made things worse. End result: My gums have receded there and any activity in the area hurts.
Other than that, it is just an hour of my time.
This evening I tried a new recipe for chicken. Turned out well, but a touch salty. I’m just not sure if I used the right amount of chicken…
It’s bitterly cold here. With the windchill it is in the high thirties, or low thirties, whichever part is closer to minus forty. Thank goodness I have indoor heated parking at home and work. I’ve been sealing myself away from the horror.

So the MacWorld Stevenote was today. A lot of cool looking stuff was introduced. There is the Minimac which looks about the size of a coaster. New software of course, and stuff for video-philes. The thing of most interest was the iPod Shuffle. I’ve been wanting an iPod for awhile, but I find it hard to justify paying so much when I don’t listen to that much music. Now this comes alone, quite affordably, and would also double as a portable hard drive.
Now at work I kept regular tabs of the Stevenote to see what was being introduced. Because it was <ahem> “related to my job”. I did take a bit of pride and phoned Westworld computers (the local Apple store) and asked them if they had the iPod Shuffle? Their response: “You do realize it was only announced an hour ago?”

I was a Superstore after work picking up groceries. I decided to wander through their book aisle. What do I see? “Eleanor Rigby”. Say what you want about Superstore, but they have better prices on books than Amazon. Still, it’s $22. I should wait…
I’ll decide next week.

Still feeling bad about cutting off the bus.

I try and give buses the right of way when they need to change lanes, but sometimes I think they try to be jerks. There is a situation that happens every so often with me and them. I need to turn right, so I get behind a bus in the right lane. Then the bus stops, for no apparent reason for an unknown period of time. Fine, so I change lanes to go around. Then the bus decides this will be a good time to start moving again. So here I am in the wrong lane, with a bus taking up all of the right lane. I can either continue ahead and get around the bus, but then I’ll miss my turn. What I should do is just wait for the bus, block traffic in my lane, until I can go into the right lane.
Instead I cut off the bus. Stupid, I know. But I’m going to think of it as a learning experience as to what not to do.
Anyway, I was driving home from work today (separate from the bus incidence) and listening to the radio. They were interviewing Douglas Coupland, and he sounded interesting. He was having a book reading tonight downtown. Having nothing better to do, I decided that it would be good to get out.
This was his first stop on his tour for his new book, “Eleanor Rigby”, so as he said, he was still fresh. He started reading it, but got bored after half a paragraph. He then went onto his work in progress, a sequel to Microserfs, called J-Pods. That was entertaining. It’s going to be hard to think of Ronald McDonald the same way now.
Mr. Coupland wasn’t that confident a speaker, and he did tend to go off into tangents during the Q&A. But still, it wasn’t a waste. I do want to read “Eleanor Rigby” now. It seems to deal with all the bad advice given to lonely people by those that have never been lonely. However, I’m going to wait for it to come out in paperback.

Past lives

Walking home just now I saw a car clearly marked as the Edmonton Parking Patrol. Remarkably, it looked in perfect condition, with no vandalization.
I just came back from a party for Ollie who was having a 60th birthday today. (It’s my mother’s birthday too, but she is in Winnipeg, so a little hard to go there to celebrate.) The party was a dinner at Von’s steakhouse. A nice place, but awfully pricey for what you get. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good, but still overpriced. Most of the people there were runners, so running was a common subject of conversation.
There is a runner, Jason, who is just about a year younger than me. He is always out doing stuff, and is constantly active. Of all the people I know, he is the most likely to have gone out and done exciting stuff for New Year’s Eve. And he did. He even mentioned all the phone numbers he got too.
I’m jealous of him. He has confidence and actually knows how to get phone numbers from women. Me? I’m at home right now filling out a journal entry. Insecure. The one time I did ask for a phone number, she never showed up for a meeting.
I was trying to clean up my computer earlier today. So I was going through a bunch of old files and seeing what I should keep, and which I should still file. I ran across a letter I wrote to Allyson. I haven’t seen her for ten years, but I really liked her. We seemed to have similar interests and I would have loved to gotten to know her better. But she moved off to Vancouver, and I haven’t heard anything from her since. I’m nagged by regrets every so often. Things I wish I should have done. She was at my commencement, graduating at the same time, but I didn’t know and didn’t stick around. The one time I sucked up enough to ask her out to a movie was right before her departure, and she had already seen the movie. I wonder what she’s been doing in the past ten years, but I can’t contact her. I’ve checked on the internet occasionally to see if I can find her contact information, but there is nothing.
Probably for the best. She’s most likely married with children by now.

I haven’t posted in awhile. Either I’m busy or lazy.
There was an attempt at a D&D game today, but it collapsed. Yesterday I had four players saying they would show up. We’re experimenting with a new guy to add to the usual three. This morning I found new guy was sick. Then the druid had something come up. With half the people missing, the game, as I said, collapsed. We played a game of Carcassonne, then just talked.
Michael’s fiancee had also gotten a new iBook too. I’m so proud that they are going the Mac route. Since all new Macs come with AirPort cards, she also had gotten a base station. So I could surf the web from my laptop while we were discussing stuff. I don’t know if this will affect future D&D games. When the players are boring me, I can start surfing…
Speaking of laptops, I’ve noticed that I can occasionally hear the hard drive of my laptop. Especially if I’m searching the entire drive for something. Slightly worrisome. So today I bought an external hard drive. It’s 80GB, when I’m barely using 30GM of my laptop. And only about 8GB is unique stuff (pictures, documents, not applications). And the thing is a size of a brick. But it was on sale, and I now have some peace of mind. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever really backed up any of my hard drives.

I decided to browse the movie trailers on the Apple site for some cheap entertainment. Apparently the Chronicles of Narnia are coming to the big screen. They just have a featurette of the process, and it looks like they are trying to make it as Lord of the Rings-like as possible. From what I briefly saw though, it doesn’t look that great. Don’t get me wrong, they are trying hard and doing a very good show, but I think the problem is the source material.
Narnia always seemed to me to be a little brother to Middle Earth. Not as fleshed out, and without the grand history behind it. (If I recall, we actually see the world being created in “The Magician’s Nephew”.) But the stories always tried to be epic and act like they had a lot of history, when they didn’t. In the end I’ve got to remember that it is for a much younger audience than the Lord of the Rings.
The big strike against it is that Disney is involved.
To destroy my credibility though, I’ll say this: I’m looking forward to “The Pink Panther” because I want to see Steve Martin in a good comedy.

It’s the anniversary of my LiveJournal. I started this thing exactly one year ago. Mostly it has been a forum of my complaints against the world, and general depressions. I keep trying to stop doing that, and only write about interesting things, but I’m obviously failing. I seem to have been pretty out of it yesterday.
I’m feeling better today. I went to my friend, Michael’s, who was having an informal party. I played some games of team Pac-man (three people control ghosts, one controls the yellow mouth). The event just ended with two games of Sorry! Getting out and socializing makes me feel better for not doing anything yesterday.
The last two years for New Year’s Day, I did the “Resolution Run”. 5km, a pancake breakfast and an extra gift. Two years ago, the extra gift was a very nice gym bag. Last year it was a heart-rate monitor. This year is was a travel bag. Someone pointed out to me that you can run 5km anywhere, a pancake breakfast is cheap, and I don’t need a bag. So I save the $40 and didn’t go. It was nice and warm inside. Not -20 degrees celsius.
I hope everyone reading this had a happy new year.