Today, at work, I had to take a short educational course. It was compliance training.
Today’s course was on how not to give bribes to foreign government officials. Most of it seemed obvious.
At the end though, I noticed that they had not once said anything about bribing local (non-foreign) government officials.

Party report

I haven’t updated in awhile. And for that I apologize. I’ve been busy.
As previously noted, I had a mortgage-burning party. Actually, no, it hasn’t been previously noted. But in any case, it happened last Saturday.
I would like to think it was a successful party. I had about thirteen people show up. There were some demographics that didn’t bother to show up, but I easily met quorum. It split into two parties. One was out on the balcony playing the guitar and singing. The other was inside with the food and drinks and discussing meaty subjects.
However it looks like I’ll need to throw another party soon. A You-people-were-supposed-to-drink-all-my-beer-the-first-time party. (It will probably be a barbecue.) That would allow me some space in my fridge which is currently overflowing with a beverage I don’t like to drink. I mean, the bottle of vodka wasn’t even opened.
Well, better luck next time.

Operation: Party pooped

Well, my friend is visiting.
My goal to totally exhaust him is going poorly. Mainly because he came pre-exhausted. (I blame his children.) No challenge there. I’m letting him sleep in, and hopefully that will give him some energy reserves that I can spend the rest of the day depleting.
I’ve got a party this evening. I’ll drag him around town getting ready for it. There is also the “Taste of Edmonton” going on, but I’m thinking of saving that for tomorrow. I’ll try and replace it with a Whyte Avenue wander. That will probably involve exercise, so that should be good to tucker him out.
Yes. My plan is coming together.

The Danish Play

Last week I did something I had never done before, but I should have a long time ago.
I saw “Hamlet”. It’s actually hard to avoid the play in this day and age. But now I can finally make sense of the play “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead”. I’ve seen it several times, but I couldn’t help but feel some of it was lost on me. (I’m not sure but I think the performance of Hamlet I saw included a few extras to link it more closely with the “… are Dead” play.) Now I can understand all the Hamlet jokes people tell. (Not that there are a lot of them.)
I suppose my timing on seeing it was good, because this weekend I also took an acting course for the first time. I’ve been hip deep in improv courses, but I really have just been winging it when it comes to acting. I never even took it in high school.
I’m not sure how much I got from the course. The first part seemed to focus on improvising. I’d like to think I have that mostly down. Then the rest was more scripted. We were each given a part in a small section of some plays. Then we were to perform those parts. But the teacher never actually taught us how to perform. All I got was how to breath like the character, or walk like the character, or how to figure out the motivations of the character. Now I suppose those are all a good foundation for acting like the character, but I’m wondering if I am missing something. I never feel comfortable trying to portray strong emotions that I’m not familiar with. I’m not a very emotional person. No one has told me how to pretend plausibly that I am feeling a certain way.
I’m thinking of taking a season long course and hope that it gives me a better idea.

Drinking and driving

Okay, it was a learning experience for what should be an obvious lesson. I knew it was probably a dumb idea, but I still thought it could be done.
Basically, I thought I could buy a slurpee and then scooter a few blocks. I should point out that my scooter doesn’t have a cup holder. (Why would it?) It was a short distance. It was risky, but as long as I was careful, why couldn’t I?
Initial tests of holding it in one hand and using the right hand for acceleration and braking seemed to work. Then I got more confident and tried putting it on the seat between my legs. That was the mistake. As soon as I braked, even gently, it fell down to the floor. The lid did not stay on.
So I’ve traded the price of a slurpee for a learning experience and a sticky scooter. But I think I lost the lesson. I now think I know what to do, so we will be repeating this fiasco at some time in the future.


A thought occurred to me.
In the past, hobbies lasted for the lifetime of the participant. You could start a hobby, and have a reasonable chance of amusing yourself with it for the rest of your life. The skills you developed at the start would last. If you played a sport, age would catch up with you, but you could still have fun playing. More sedate hobbies, like stamp collecting wouldn’t change at all.
These days, the hobby of video games breaks that mold.
Video games are spurious. The fun I have had with old games will never come again. The skills and strategies I gained to play “Uncharted Waters” will wither and die.
I could try the game again because I did have fun playing it in the past, but I also finished it. And now there are more advanced games that I should try. It’s a never ending battle to get a hit from the latest game. Unfortunately I tend to look back. I’ve been working to play games that have been gone for decades, simply because I never finished them the first time around. I’ve already finished Ultima 1 to 3, and someday Ultima 4 will fall before me.
But I can’t dwell in the past forever. I have a literal pile of old computers lurking in my closet; A Mac Performa 6200, and a Mac Plus that will never be used again. But I am now going through the process of taking them to my car for a trip to the Eco station. A part of me is dying, but I have to face facts. I will probably never enjoy “Dark Castle” on it again. (Although I hear you can get it for cell phones now.) I won’t have an epic battle in “Reach for the Stars”. All I will have is the memories.

Power to the Plants!

Plants are stupid.
I don’t mean in a they-won’t-get-into-Harvard kind of way, but just in a self-preservation way. I have a poinsettia that I have been growing for awhile. I enjoy whenever it makes a new branch and starts growing in a different direction. But this plant seems to be determined to grow in the stupidest ways. Most often it is a case of reach exceeding grasp. It will grow a branch out in a direction and then not try and support the branch so that it bends under its own weight. Or it just breaks off. Heck, I have one brach that has been going in a downward trend for some time, and has almost run out of room to go down.
However, they are good for the economy.
Last week, after the Whyte Avenue parade, there was a lady handing out little saplings so that people could plant a tree. It was nice. But I don’t have a yard. So I needed to buy a pot to put the sprout in. But you also need dirt. Dirt does not come in small bags. They come in large 25 liter bags. You can not get a small bag unless you want very expensive dirt. So I went the cheapest way, which involved a lot of dirt I do not need. To support a small fir tree that will probably die in a few weeks.
Healthy economy though.

P of the C II

I saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie yesterday. Although, it could more truly be said I saw it early this morning. The movie didn’t start until 11:24, and I didn’t get out until 2:00 in the morning. Thank god for the overpriced popcorn and coke. Which for me was dinner and a vital source of caffeine.
It has been the best summer movie so far. After the disappointment of X-Men: The Last Stand and the love/hate relationship with Superman Returns it was nice to see a movie that was entirely good. The only complaints I could have is a little too much CGI (suspension of disbelief tends to shut down when CGI stunts happen) and a very slight pacing problem. But those are minor quibbles. If you see only one summer movie, this seems to be the one to see.
Sequels, as a rule of thumb, tend to be poor in comparison. I think that is the nature of the beast though. If you make the sequel at the same time as the original, you can have them flow together. But usually the sequel is only made after the movie execs see the original is a hit. So they feel disjointed. Often a number of hard coincidences are needed to get the characters to interact with each other again. This movie fell victim to that, but they did their best to get people who don’t necessarily like each other to work together again.
What they did do quite well is really make it a sequel right. You do that by taking elements from the first movie (usually minor ones if the sequel wasn’t made at the same time) and make them far more of a plot hook in the next. The other way is to not introduce too many new characters, and use as many from the first movie as possible. Pirates did that in spades. Almost every character from the first is in the second. Even ones that don’t make sense were forced in. Mostly, I suspect, because they were good comic relief.
My final piece of advice. The credits last ten minutes. There is a brief ten second scene waiting for you at the end. You will feel no sense of loss if you miss it, and you could probably predict that that was what happened. So if you don’t want to wait through all those names, don’t feel too bad. But at least you know it is there.


Yesterday there was a Theatresports show that I got to be in. For me it was last minute as I only found out about it on Tuesday. Which was a problem because I already had plans for Friday. But I was able to shuffle the plans a bit and I could do both. I wasn’t even sure if I should show up. It has been four weeks since I last did any form of improv, so I was rusty. I did my best to prepare by reading the comments given to me during the last few improv classes I had attended.
Fortunately, I was only on for about twenty minutes. I didn’t do horribly. But I didn’t do great. I forgot all of the comments that had been given to me. Mostly that I am controlling. I guess when I am stressed, I start pushing a story, and everybody else better come along for the ride. This is a bad thing. I have to be more trusting. It really hit me in the speaking-in-one-voice part where I had an idea for a story, and so I wasn’t listening to what word Jonathan was starting to say.
I should have stayed for the notes after the show, and I regret that, but I had to go rushing off.

Old Age

I saw the new Superman movie the other day. It has taken me a few days to digest the results.
Superman is iconic. It is hard to dislike a movie of his, unless the director hates the subject. I mean, as soon as they started playing the Superman march, it was impossible not to feel pumped. You watch the man of steel lifting something heavy and you feel inspired. And the director did a lot of good things. He did a good job of showing how invulnerable he is. And I give points for never shoving America into our faces. A character even asks if he still stands for truth and justice. He never asks about the “American way”. I thought that was a nice touch.
But there were problems too. I don’t want to discuss them in detail because I don’t want to spoil the movie for others. The timing was off. We take too long to see things evolve that should just end with Superman showing up. They did that well in the first movie, but in this one we see superfluous special effects. Near the end of the movie we see Superman put in a situation that I feel should have a more profound effect and lasted longer, but then it just goes away.
Lex Luthor in this day and age is supposed to be a ruthlessly evil billionaire. But since this movie is based off the original ones, he is back to being an evil real-estate agent.
The reason I bring these up is that I was similarly disappointed with X-Men United. Superman Returns was a much better movie, but I still found faults.
The question is this: As I become older, am I no longer enjoying the good superhero action movies? Do I now prefer dramas? It a frightening prospect. I can deal with my body falling apart. But if I can’t enjoy a good action movie, a certain quality of life issue rears its ugly head.