Having discovered a little store called Daiso in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, this is the ultimate dollar store. Okay, so they charge $2 per item, but compare this to your average dollar store, you easily get much more than they offer. About two floors worth of merchandise contains just about everything imagineable, from housewares to clothing to skin care products. And then I found this.
If it doesn't do what it promises, do we get our money back?
My understanding of Japanese is minimal at best (I haven't quite gotten past baka gaijin), but it's safe to assume that this is hair gel (also based on the properly translated ingredients list). There are probably better hair styling products on the market, but it's something I didn't actually purchase for its original use (get your mind out of the gutter, you sicko! I collect odd stuff like this!).
This is an example of what's become known as Engrish, or English that has really been lost in translation from its original language, usually Japanese or Chinese (I have since submitted the photo to the Engrish.com and am waiting to see if they put it on the site or not).
As Canadians, we're all familiar with bilingual packaging. As a result, every Canadian knows the words for English/French translations for words such as "sans sucre" (sugar free), "gagner" (win), and "gratuit" (free). It's different when it comes to Asian/English writing, because you have instructions on a can of batter coated peanuts reading, "Refrigerate for better crunchy."
But, either way, I have discovered a place where I can easily maximize dollar limits when given the task of assembling a Kris Kringle gift on a budget. Although I can easily picture the shock of the hapless gift receiver as they open up the gift to discover a bottle of "Pocari Sweat" (that's supposed to be a refreshment beverage, by the way).
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Having discovered a little store called Daiso in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, this is the ultimate dollar store. Okay, so they charge $2 per item, but compare this to your average dollar store, you easily get much more than they offer. About two floors worth of merchandise contains just about everything imagineable, from housewares to clothing to skin care products. And then I found this.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
I got a few nice presents from my family this year. Which one was my favourite? Let's just say that I didn't take a photo of it because I'd have to be standing in front of a mirror in order to do so.
I really think my sister is trying to tell me something, though. Last year, it was a copy of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide Handbook: Sex and Dating.
Christmas was fairly uneventful as Christmases tend to be...visited my father's cemetary site, had lunch, opened presents (I got my brother in law a Popeye t-shirt that says "Well Blowz Me"), helped prepare dinner, watched a couple DVDs (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the first two Die Hard movies, FYI).
Hope everyone had a great Christmas.
ADDENDUM (December 26th, 2004): Okay, okay. After thumbing through the book, it has some fairly useful advice on culture, fashion, and grooming. While there is the risk that some of it may become dated within the next few months (as fashion trends tend to do), the fundamentals are still the same.
Friday, December 17, 2004
"What does not kill you makes you stronger."
"What does not kill you often gets it right the second time."
-Self-motivational cliché reworked for realism
So, after people reading my last post will probably wonder...what DIDN'T suck this year?
Body and Mind. I'm probably the physically strongest that I've ever been. Barring any recurring injuries, I can do the things that I couldn't dream of doing years ago, whether it be acrobatic moves for Capoeira or bench pressing my own body weight, which has actually stayed consistent for the last ten or so years.
Young at Heart. People still consistently think I'm younger than all of my 27 years. This is despite the fact that little grey hairs are sprouting out of the sides of my head and when I run my hands through my hair, at least five hairs come out (none of which I are grey). Worst moment? Someone thought I was still in high school. People wanna know my secret. I'd tell you, but I'm still waiting on the patent office.
I Don't Wanna Work, I Just Wanna Bang on the Drum All Day. As much as it sucks to have the rug pulled out from under you, getting laid off from A&B Sound was probably one of the best opportunities as it allowed me to go back to school full time (plus, I didn't spend that much money while I was working).
School Daze. While my marks haven't all come in yet, so far I've gotten a B (Communications 1118: Workplace writing), a B+ (Interpersonal Skills), an A- (Fundamentals of Professional Writing), and an A (Markets and Job Applications). This, after about a 4-odd year absence from formal schooling, is really nice. The only bad thing about that...my "A" was only in a one credit course, while the others are worth three credits. D'oh!
Night Out With Friends: $20. Date with Member of Opposite Sex: $40. Dinner with Family Members: $50. People That Will Stand By You No Matter What: Priceless. Enough said.
Merry Christmas to all my friends, family, and readers.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
2004: The year
in review OF HELL.
While it is premature to be writing end-of-the-year reviews, I'm jumping the gun. It's official. This year has absolutely fucking sucked.
January. I get demoted from my position at work to a much lower paying position. No one bothers to ask me why my job performance might not be 100%.
February. It's the same month as Valentine's Day and I'm still single.
March. The people at work decide to slash my hours in half. Never mind the fact that I give them my best month in terms of work performance, beating out everyone in my department and two people in a department that typically outperforms my department in terms of sales targets.
April. First, my father dies after a long chronic illness. Then the people at work decide to slash my hours back even further, to the point that it's not really worth my effort to continue working for them. I threaten to complain to Labour Relations and we "amicably" agree on a lay-off instead. Fuckers.
May. I manage to land two jobs, but I'm still collecting EI benefits as I'm working too sporadically, being that I don't work 5 days a week every week.
June. The place I'm about to move into is still incomplete. I end up living in a hotel for about a month while we wait for the slowpokes in construction to complete a job that they said would be done last year.
July. We've already moved in, but there's tons of work that needs to be done. The guys doing installation and painting are idiots. One guy left little exacto-knife shards on the carpet. It's a good thing I pick them up first.
August. The idiots who are responsible for painting use a spray gun to paint the exterior. As the garage isn't complete yet, my car is parked outside. It would have taken them ten seconds for them to tell me to move my car. Guess what happens.
Like an idiot, I allow them to clean my car. They use a harsh chemical to remove the paint and end up making a bigger mess and puting huge swirly scratches in the paint.
September. My student loan application is denied.
October. Almost died at work by falling off a ladder.
November. Mom's place is busted into and my entire DVD collection is jacked. Insurance covers less than 70% of it. Sadly, it's one of the things that insurance don't brokers bother to tell you about until AFTER your stuff gets stolen.
December 15th, 2004 (last night). My car is broken into and my stereo is stolen. Even though I have an alarm system, they disconnect the battery terminal, disabling it.
A member of the opposite sex who I ended up hanging out with last night (as well as expressed a personal interest in) indicated to me that I don't smile that much. I do like to joke around, tell jokes, and do whatever I can to make other people laugh, or at least smile. If there was a time in my life where I was doing the laughing and smiling, it probably didn't happen this year.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
“It’s about the stuff you can’t have, right?”
-Lenny Nero, from the film Strange Days (1995)
The ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary of the English Language defines pornography as “sexually explicit material that sometimes equates sex with power and violence” or “the presentation or production of material.” The word itself is derived from the Greek word pronographos, or the writing about prostitutes (it seems that people have found a way to pervert new forms of media for more prurient interests even back then).
While it is a fairly common definition, it is fairly broad, not including things that have become regarded typically as pornography. As well, it applies the definition to other works which most people would not regard as pornography. For example, the advice and writings of Dr. Ruth Westheimer are fairly sexually explicit, yet more for educational purposes, yet are considered “pornography” according to this definition.
And then we have word being applied to non-sexually explicit material, and I’m not just talking about that scene in There’s Something About Mary where the protagonist uses a lingerie newspaper ad for visual stimulation (“What’s that hanging off your ear? Is that hair gel?”).
In the article “Ecoporn Exposed” (published in The Utne Reader, Sept/Oct ’04 issue), Lydia Millet compares the beautiful images of nature (often consisting of cute cuddly grizzly cubs, spotted dolphins, and mother-and-baby koala bears) to those found in Hustler magazine (sorry, no example here). Oddly-mixed metaphors aside, the article is more about the ineffectiveness of idealized images of nature for promoting environmental preservation. However, the author raises a few interesting points on how the features of pornography can be applied elsewhere.
“Both are clearly porn,” Millet writes, “They offer comfort to the viewer: They will always be there, ideal, unblemished, available. They offer gratification without social cost; they satiate by providing objects for fantasy without making uncomfortable demands on the subject.”
While most people (including myself) will not completely agree with the last two parts (especially when you consider the HIV outbreak and subsequent shutdown in the adult film industry earlier this year), pornographic material certainly does all and is all of those things: comforting, available, ideal, unblemished. One comparison that she Millet misses is that it shows the unattainable. Let’s face it…most women do not have bra sizes in the DD range (at least not naturally) while most men do not have monster-sized genitalia that extend past their knees (“Huh-huh…he said extend”). And chances are that pizza delivery boy (“Large pizza with extra sausage”) and pool cleaner boy (“Ma’am, I cleaned out your pipes…”) are not necessarily job titles that will allow you to have sex more often.
Idealizing just about anything has turned into a fetish and become the mainstream, just as much as the adult industry has enjoyed some explosive growth (pun mildly intended) in recent years. Because of this, it is fairly easy to draw comparisons between pornography and other mass market media, regardless of whether or not sex is involved.
“Food porn” (or “gastroporn”) has been the phrase that has been used to describe beautifully crafted imagery of dishes that most normal people couldn’t hope to do. Food Network cooking shows do this a lot. Showcasing the work of talented chefs with years of experience, they effortlessly take ingredients and combine them into a work of art. Chefs like these have years upon years of experience and expertise. Attempt to cook like that and most of us will have something charred and blackened. It probably wouldn’t taste good either.
“Domestic porn” is the term given to home improvement shows and magazines like Martha Stewart Living, where the domestic divas of the world show us what we'd have a really tough time doing unless we had that type of background or spare time. They show us techniques that would have most people causing significant damage to their homes as they see the absolute ease in which things are done, which are very costly to repair when they realize that it's a lot harder than it looks.
And then there's the late art icon Bob Ross. It's almost smugness, the likes of him shoving it in your face that he's better than you are (although chances are that he was a really nice guy in real life), when he takes a palette knife and a few shades of green and creates a beautiful landscape in a matter of minutes, even though talent typically takes years to develop. I had a few interesting comments about his show on a friend's blog when the topic came up.
What these have in common with pornography is they all show us the best case scenario while reminding us of what we don't have and what we aren't doing. What I'd like to see are practical cooking shows and home improvement shows for the rest of us. I wanna see stuff that is a little on the overdone or underdone side because we didn't read the instructions properly. I wanna see the sour reactions of guests as TV chefs present dishes that literally taste like dirt. I wanna see home improvement guys breaking windows and inadvertently firing nail guns through their toes as they attempt to put up floor board.
But on the other hand, the conniseiurs of pornography probably would stop watching if all the scenes were over and done with after the thirty second mark and all the porn stars had stretch marks, pot bellies, and hairy backs.
I actually stopped watching pornography because it was reminding me of what I wasn't doing with members of the opposite sex on a regular basis. What's interesting, though, is that when cooking and home improvement are turned into educational shows, it becomes pornographic. However, when images of explicit sexuality has any form of instruction in it, it ceases to be pornographic.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
"I'm like a chainsaw / I'll skin your ass raw / And if my day keeps going like this way I just might / break something tonight
I'm like a chainsaw (chainsaw) / I'll skin your ass raw (ass raw) / And if my day keeps going this way I just might / break your f***ing face tonight
Give me something to break (3x)
And that's your f**ing face
So come and get it."
-Limp Bizkit, "Break Stuff" from the album "Significant Other"
As described in my last entry, I've had a lot of really negative and violent energy that I had to get rid of. There's nothing like the feeling of personal violation to get the blood boiling. When left unfocused and unchecked, it can lead to disaster. When focused in a positive way, you can do a lot of great things.
When you have a lot of your personal belongings jacked all in one go, it's supposedly normal to feel like going out and finding the people responsible and doing God-Knows-Whatever to them. (un)Fortunately, "eye for an eye" isn't exactly appreciated by the Canadian justice system, even though it may lead to some temporary satisfaction. At least right before they toss you in prison, where you run the risk of becoming bitch to a big burly inmate named Bubba.
Wednesday's classes were a complete write off as I could barely concentrate enough to copy down the notes verbatim from the overhead projector, let alone digest and interpret what the instructor was saying. Running on pure adrenaline for the day, I've had one or two people advising me to stay home for the day. That might have been a good idea, although I already paid for my time, so there's no legitimate reason for me to skip out.
When I got home, after calling up pawnshops to see if they had a large number of stolen DVDs come in since Tuesday, I started working on my Communications 1118 assignment. The assignment was to create a set of instructions for a specific reading audience. Some chose topics ranging from the simplistic (programming a VCR) to the practical (ergonomics and stretching exercises) to the complex (injecting medication via hypodermic needle). Mine was a Women's Self-Defense Guide.
Being that I had a lot of negative and violent energy to work out, all of it was poured onto the page. That was possibly the most productive I've ever been able to be whenever tackling homework assignments. About 3 hours later, I managed to bang out 6 pages (single spaced with lots of white space).
Then I got people to read it. Negative energy, properly channeled, can be of good use, but only when it's focused. Sure, I managed to get the assigment done in record time, but here's some of the feedback I received:
-"I didn't like the stomping part. (at the beginning.)"
-"You might want to edit out the thing about stomping on the person's face repeatedly."
-"You mentioned stomping on the person's face in both the introduction and the disclaimer. You might wanna change that."
-"This thing about stomping on a person's face? I'm not sure if you're trying to be funny, but it's not really appropriate for the tone."
-"Perhaps refrain from overusing phrase --> 'Stomping on his face'"
All of a sudden, I'm starting to realize why Women's Self-Defense classes are almost always taught by women and male involvement typically ends at being the would-be assailant that wears armor made of really thick padding (especially around the crotch, throat, and head areas). Thank goodness for rewrites.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
There are some that are eagerly awaiting my next blog entry, but it's kinda on the backburner right now. Can't go into too much detail, but let's just say I got a really big problem with individuals that can't respect the property of others and see fit to violate that. Try as they might, the cops can't do anything to curb the problem and pawnshops are actually helping the problem proliferate.
Sure, insurance will cover most losses, but it won't cover the feeling of violation and the lost productivity. As it was, I couldn't even study last night as all I wanted to do was hunt down those two or more bastards responsible and lay the smack down on them.
As Vincent Vega said in Pulp Fiction: "Boy, I wish I could've caught him doing it. I'd have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It'd been worth him doing it just so I could've caught him doing it. "
Monday, November 22, 2004
Wok With Yim, part 2
Chicken fajitas (serving 3).
1 lb of chicken breasts, cut into strips.
small red onion, diced
two medium tomatoes, diced
small can of pitted black olives
1/4 head of Romaine lettuce, shredded
2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
1 package of soft tortillia shells (flour or corn)
Seasonings: chilli powder (about 1/2-1 tsp), tobasco sauce, louisiana hot sauce, worchestershire, fresh cracked pepper, all to taste.
Optional toppings: pickled jalapenos, sour cream, salsa.
I love these types of do-it-yourself recipes where the diner gets to choose what they stuff in their own tortilla shell. They go based on what they like the most or least and they can't complain if someone put too much of whatever in it because they're the ones that they are the ones that assembled it.
This is a really easy recipe as the only thing you're really doing is slicing up vegetables and seasoning then cooking meat. Even that part isn't that hard -- slice chicken into strips, season. Fry onions until slightly brown/translucent, then add meat (being that it's chicken, you don't wanna mess around and serve it slightly raw). Warm up flour or corn tortillias by layering them with moist paper towels and then microwave on high for 30-40 seconds.
Assembly is left up to the diner. I like to go tortillia --> chicken --> cheese --> lettuce --> tomato --> olive --> jalapeno --> salsa --> sour cream --> FOLD.
This was also my first time experimenting with corn tortillias, which I had to get as my sister just discovered that she's allergic to wheat and gluten. I don't actually like soft corn tortillias because they have a bit of a gritty texture to them. Taste, I don't mind so much. But, we still did have a package of flour tortillias.
Lots of variations on this one. You can substitute beef for chicken if you wish.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Good night, best in a long time / A new friend turned me onto an old favourite /
Nothing better than a dealer who's high / Be high, convince them to buy
What's my drug of choice? / Well what have you got? /
I don't go broke / and I do it a lot."
-"Junkhead" by Alice in Chains, from the album Dirt (1992)
In a previous blog, I mentioned how this month is both video gamer heaven and productivity hell, due to the number of high-profile video games (read: the ones that I really want to play) that are hitting the shelves. Video games and I have a nasty history together, with Doom 2 (or more appropriately, my inability to stop playing it) being one of the reasons why I ended up not getting initial acceptance into UBC upon graduating high school, or that one time when I managed to piss away an entire day playing nothing but Diablo 2.
Video game addiction has become a bit of a hot button topic for educators, parents, psychologists, and more recently, advertisers as well. We joke about it all the time, but there is still a significant amount of controversy surrounding it. Sure, video games can promote problem solving skills, increased hand-eye-coordination, and faster reflexes. But then, they can also suck away hours that could be spent doing more productive or beneficial tasks.
Plus, they are a significant hinderance on a person's social life, even if a person the type isn't already the bookish unsociable type. Everquest, one particularly addictive on-line game, has spawned a whole bunch of "Everquest Widow" support groups, consisting of girlfriends and wives that are being neglected by their Everquest addicted significant others (the game has also been called "EverCrack" by its detractors).
It seems that video game companies are completely aware of the anti-social and addictive properties of their games, as their recent ad campaigns are starting to reflect. A recent ad for EA Sports depicts a young man and a young woman are on a date and like a true gentleman, he holds open a taxi door for her. As she enters, he closes the door and slaps the hood of the taxi, signalling for to leave. We see that he's looking at a bus shelter ad for the new NHL 2005 game.
Another recent ad shows a distraught teenage girl admitting she bought something for her boyfriend that's caused him to withdraw from friends and family. The commercial is shot to resemble an anti-drug commercial, but we soon realize that she's actually talking about the latest Metroid game for Nintendo.
Sure, I regret the all-day benders I've had on Diablo 2 and Doom, the endless hours I've spent on Need for Speed Underground when I clearly should've been studying, or the days whittled away on Tetris. You know you're in really deep trouble when you close your eyes and you can still see those damn blocks falling down.
I've slowly taken steps to curb this. Having recently purchased Half-Life 2, I made a point of doing up a to-do list of things that really need to be done first, and then taping it to the box that the discs come in. As it stands, the to-do list taunts me from the bookshelf.
On the list:
-Finish two major papers
-Study for grammar quiz
-Clean house before mom comes back from vacation
I probably wouldn't have to do this if I purchased Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 (which comes out on the 20th, as far as I know). While the game is "addictive," most people can't actually play it for more than thirty minutes straight, because it's so physically intensive. Play a more passively physical game like Half-Life 2 and before you know it, the entire week will have passed.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Wok with Yim
As Mom is off in Hong Kong, I've been forced to channel my inner Stephen Yan, Julia Child, and annoying New York-based TV chef that says "BAM" a lot. Not that I mind, as I actually enjoy cooking (I also have a container full of Banana Chocolate Chip muffins that I made before the weekend). I'm repeatedly told that the ladies love a man who can cook. I have yet to take advantage of this.
Anywho, my latest venture:
3-Bean Atomic Chili (okay, not really my "latest" venture, as I do make it a lot, but considering that the ingredients are different every time...)
-3 lbs of lean ground beef
-4 cups of dried beans (kidney, pinto, black-eye)
-2 cans of diced tomatoes (cheaper than the fresh ones)
-2 carrots (for some odd reason, a 5 pound bag is cheaper than a 3 pound bag...I asked the produce clerk why and he couldn't tell me)
-2 stalks of celery
-1 green pepper
-1 cup of frozen corn (again, cheaper than fresh)
-1 small red onion
-1/4 lb mushrooms
-Soy sauce, black pepper, Dave's Insanity sauce, crushed chillies, chili powder, tobasco sauce, louisiana hot sauce, and paint thinner (just kidding on that last part).
-soak all beans in water overnight
-season meat with whatever you can find (because I do this without any planning, it tastes different every time I make it)
-slice all vegetables
-fry onions with about 1tsp of vegetable oil until transparent, add meat, cook until brown. Remove from heat and place aside.
-Throw everything else into the pot. Add water until everything is juuuuuust covered, bring to boil.
-Add meat, stir, boil for a few more minutes, and set stove to low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally.
-Add seasonings to taste.
-Allow to thicken and serve. Simmer time will vary, but should be allowed to simmer for several hours at least.
Unfortunately, I didn't really keep concious tabs as to how much Louisiana and Dave's Insanity Sauce I was adding (I gave it a few good shakes), so now the chilli doesn't have any flavour, but it's hot enough to burn through stomach lining. Yesterday's Satay-stir fry chicken and vegetables was much better.
But on the plus side, it means that I won't have to cook for the next week or two.
And remember. If Yim can cook, so can you.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
In response to yesterday's blog, Debbie notes and asks:
"just out of curiousity, what is your opinion on Catholicism as a moral code that is commonly perceived as 'one that dictates that we act ethically for promise of reward or fear of punishment'?
i'm not trying to insinuate anything; just want to know what you think."
Unfortunately, this is a really huge topic for me that can't be explained in a few sentences, as it's something that I don't fully understand myself. That, and every time the topic of religion is brought up, it opens up a huge can of worms in a lot of people. In most cases, it's simply best to agree to disagree.
But, I actually adapted the idea from an Einstein quote:
"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to berestrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
This actually makes complete sense to me, especially since my own views of religion have changed significantly over the years. I mean, I was born and raised Catholic, was an altar boy, and even went to Catholic school (hence, the whole thing about girls in Catholic school uniforms holds no sway for me...but I digress).
However, I'm not practicing Catholic anymore because the church and I disagree on a lot of controversial issues, like same-sex marriages, stem cell research, and birth control. And if that wasn't good enough, you have the Pope, the world's moral religious authority, telling the people of impoverished third world nations not to use condoms as they are ineffective in preventing the spread of AIDS/HIV.
As for the Catholic system of punishment and reward, I would agree that it is certainly a powerful motivator for some people. But for people that don't believe in the notion of heaven and hell, what is there to motivate moral and ethical behaviour? Upbringing would have to do with it, and chances are that a punishment and reward system was incorporated. Draw crayons on the wall? No TV for a week. Get an A on your report card? You get to go see a movie.
But it's not always effective. We have individuals that are supposedly driven by God, but end up doing some really horrible things. We have children being abused in residential schools by Catholic priests, abortion doctors being shot by snipers, holy wars, crusades, and inquisitions. And then you got the televangelists. Don't get me started on televangelists.
I guess what I'm saying is that subscribing to a religious moral code does not necessarily make you better or more ethical than the next person. The percentage of priests that molest children is probably proportional to the number of child molesters among the regular non-denominational population.
As for myself? Despite my beliefs, there's a good possibility that any moral and ethical behaviour I partake in will have no immediate or long-term benefits. I am well aware of this. But, while I'm around, I might as well make the best out of it. Why do I do it? I dunno. I guess it's just the way I was brough up.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Do you believe in Karma?
I haven't quite made up my mind yet. I prefer to live by my own moral code, rather than one that dictates that we act ethically for promise of reward or fear of punishment. But then, there are things around me that make me think.
-An acquaintance relayed a story where his older brother helped a blind man cross the street. "I'm going to have such a good day!" he says, implying that some good will come of his actions. He ends up losing his wallet, containing about $300 in cash.
-Rachel Davis, 23, attempts to intervene when a man is being beaten up outside of a nightclub. She is shot and killed. The shooter happens to be the man she is attempting to aid.
-Sohan Gill, 77, is involved in a hit and run incident. It is estimated that fifteen vehicles pass him by before anyone helps him.
I agree, this world is a really crappy place. However, I see it as a serious sickness of society when people are unwilling to intervene when things happen around them. People don't want to get involved because it's not their business. Or, people don't want to get involved because they don't want to get blamed.
You break a person's ribs while performing CPR, you can get sued. You don't perform CPR because you think you'll break the person's ribs, you'll be charged under some sort of Good Samaritan law.
Me? I returned a wallet to someone on Monday night, having picked it up at the Scott Road Skytrain station. I went to the wrong house first (the address was partially rubbed off the driver's license, so I misread the "8" as a "3"), but eventually found it (I took a detour for nothing, when it was actually 5km from where I live). I arrive at the residence and the wallet owner isn't home, but her brother is. I hand it off and go along my way.
So, does the good deed go unpunished? Does the nice guy finish last? Let's see.
-Tuesday, 16:00: A class that no one really feels like attending is spontaneously cancelled. Good thing.
-16:02. There is a malfunction on the Skytrain, which means the trip takes longer. Bad thing.
-16:03. The second I get on the Skytrain, it actually starts moving. Good thing.
-16:04. I'm forced to disembark at Scott Road Station, wait about ten minutes for another Skytrain to arrive. Bad thing.
Eh, Karma's a sham. It's all about perception.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Crunch time at school is supposedly over, as the much trumped-up "Week 9" where all our assignments were all due at once has since been finished. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more, as I only pulled one all-nighter. And that was two weeks before. That was also the same week I discovered the joys of Red Bull ®. Nothing like the feeling of rapid heart beat, twitching fingers, and dodgy eye movement, and then trying to sleep afterwards and getting only about five minutes of intermittent sleep.
However, there still has much work to be completed. As I write this, a rhetorical studies essay (Communications 1118) still needs to be written and the related materials still have to be reviewed, so an outline can be formulated. The desire to slack off is strong in this one.
This is going to get worse, as all of the sequels to the big video games come out this month. Halo 2 (probably gonna give this a miss because I prefer to play First Person Shooters on PC), Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2, Need for Speed Underground 2, and Half-Life 2 all come out within the next few weeks. During the crunch weeks, I've been pretty good about avoiding video games and television (before the weekend, I managed to avoid watching television for about two weeks), but I'm starting to realize what is giving video games their strong appeal: instant gratification.
For the most part, I could probably hold off until December, when I can really, really slack off. But it does lead to the questions as to why video games hold such a strong hold. Sure, November is gaming heaven for some people. But it's also gaming hell for people who are trying to get work done.
Sadly, it's really tough to find anything that can translate in a work and school environment into an instant gratification award. That is, unless your work just happens to involve the sale of illegal mind-altering substances.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
There's never a damn phone booth when you need one!
I finally got my friend to send me photos from Halloween party I attended last Saturday. I seriously lack imagination when it comes to Halloween costumes, usually choosing to dig through the closet. This was probably the first Halloween I dressed up as something different, as I have the tendency to recycle costumes throughout the years.
The clothing for these could easily be worn on an average day with no one really paying any mind if it was worn in any other combination
1994, 1995, 1996: Eric Draven from The Crow (black turtleneck, black pants, black wig, makeup. In 1996, I didn't have to wear a wig)
1997, 1998: N/A. Didn't do anything, no need to dress up
1999, 2000, 2003: Agent Smith from The Matrix / Agent from Men in Black / any Chow Yun-Fat character from a John Woo gangster movie / Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs (black suit and tie that has been in my closet forever, plus whatever accessories)
2001, 2002: Waldo from the Where is Waldo book series (red-and-white striped shirt that I found in my closet one day, plus a red-and-white toque, and a walking stick that I covered in red and white material).
I guess that means I'll be dressing up like Clark Kent next year (Superman logo t-shirt with shirt and tie over it, plus Daily Planet press pass).
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
"Tuck your knees in faster!"
"Land on the balls of your feet, not your heels!"
"Don't jump back, jump straight up!"
"C'mon, you only got three more!"
Following Monday's Capoeira class, I found myself breaking out the crash mat and practicing backflips. Having resolved to do at least ten of them after every class, it is something I wish to improve at. The mechanics are quite simple, although difficult to execute if it's something that you have never done before. It's even harder if you are afraid that you are going to land on your head.
But, the mechanics are as follows:
1: Jump really high, making sure that you're jumping straight up while raising your arms.
2: Tuck your knees towards your chest. The motion of doing so causes your body to rotate.
This all happens really fast, so it's not particularly easy to break down into steps. A more simple definition? Just do it.
As I am doing so, I am beckoned from across the room. All the students who were taking the previous class are shouting from across the room. "I've got some advice for you too," one of my fellow students announces. After finishing my practice session, I walk over to her and ask. "Oh, I actually can't do those," she admits, "Everyone else was shouting out advice."
If you've noticed, people are the most prone to give out advice and their own opinions when they are most likely the least qualified. What is even worse is that people are prone to solicit advice and opinions from those that are unqualified as well. If you've ever been in a room with a bunch of people and something goes wrong with the computer, you can be assured that everyone is going to be calling out the things one would usually do. "Run a virus scan!" "Hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE!" "De-frag the hard drive!" "Update the video drivers!"
One could probably dedicate a whole scholarly study to this phenomeon. We see it in our lives all the time. People who can't sort out their own personal lives will be solicited for advice (I know I am), celebrities are consulted for their "expertise" on political matters (are any of them trained?), and if something goes wrong with the VCR at a party, at least one person will be telling the host to adjust the tracking, even if it's clearly a problem with the connections.
Me, I just like helping people. However, I really wonder what kind of "help" I'm providing at times.
And as for my Capoeira class? We all cheer each other on, so it's not such a big deal when we start giving unqualified advice. We all like pushing each other harder so we all can progress. Like I keep saying, in my group, when you pull off the impossible moves, everybody cheers. When you screw them up really badly, everybody cheers LOUDER.
Monday, October 25, 2004
"There were 73 of us livin' in a cardboard box / All I got for Christmas was a lousy bag of rocks / every night for dinner, we had a big ole chunk o' dirt / if we were really good, we didn't get desert." -Weird Al Yankovick, "When I Was Your Age"
The conversation went like this.
Me: Now time to go home and do some homework.
Her: So, you're like, in grade...twelve?
Me: Uh...I'm in college right now. I'm 27.
This may have to do with the fact that I was wearing my baseball hat backwards, but at any rate, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be insulted or flattered. In addition, this throws my whole rule of thumb when determining the age of an Asian person completely out of whack (take the age that you think they are, then add about three or four).
Sure, being a lot younger looking has its benefits. For one, I won't look completely out of place in places where young people tend to congregate (as if I did any congregating when I was younger anyway), and if I was an actor, this would be a godsend (I can still play teenagers!). But on the other hand, people aren't taken as seriously if they look much younger, and if I forget my ID and I want to buy beer, I'm going home empty handed.
All of a sudden, I'm recalling a conversation with one of my classmates:
"You're 27? Wow! I thought you were one of us!"
"Y'know, one of us young people."
They say age is only a state of mind, but that one made me feel really, really old.
For people who wanna know my secret, there is none, really. Apart from staying young by hitting the gym, eating properly, and not smoking, drinking, or excessively partying, there isn't much to it. But, like the joke goes...
Patient: I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't party, I don't fool around. So, I'm asking you, doctor. How long am I going to live?
Doctor: Live? What for?
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hit the gym and make myself a protein shake when I'm done.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
To borrow from a blog from an acquaintance, it's only appropriate that this particular blog is entitled...
Food for Thought
Today, I celebrated a friend's birthday (happy 28th, Karen!). As it was intended as a potluck, I was requested to bring a food dish. Being that I was coming after school, I didn't exactly have time to prepare food, so I decided to take the easy way out and grab a dish of chow mein or something. Thinking I would just phone up the restaurant, get them to prepare the dish, and I would pick it up on the way.
So, with the wonderful tool that is the Internet, I punch up the local search engine. "Ho Do" and "Surrey" were the search terms. Among the listings for local area businesses and the place in the on-line phone book, it spat this out:
"FOOD ESTABLISHMENT CLOSURES, PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS" (as of May 31, 2004).
I scroll down and find an entry for "Ho Do."
Perishable foods not being stored under proper temperatures. Raw meats stored above ready to eat food products. Kitchen sanitation was poor, and requires thorough cleaning of all equipment, shelves, walls and floor. Dishwasher not reaching sanitizing temperatures.
Worse yet, there is another infraction from them, dated barely a month and a half later.
Failure to obtain food from an approved source (!), failure to protect food from contamination, failure to ensure proper condition of equipment, utensils and food contact surfaces, failure to maintain premises, equipment and utensils in a sanitary condition.
While not quite as bad as some of the other entries (mentions of "rodent infestations", "cockroaches"), it draws enough concern for me to contact an acquaintance to recommend another restaurant within the area. Mind you, I've pretty much eaten at all of the Chinese restaurants in the area, but it never hurts to have a second opinion (although the fact that my sister ate there and almost cut the inside of her mouth on a STAPLE that was buried in a plate of beef noodles should've been a more obvious indicator).
I am recommended to go to Lee Yuen, another local Chinese seafood restaurant. Firing up the handy-dandy search engine, it spits out the same page. Realizing that I've already seen the page, I scroll down a little further.
Failure to ensure proper construction, condition or use of equipment, utensils and food contact surfaces. Failure to maintain premise, equipment and utensils in sanitary conditions. Sale of contaminated food.
And to think, I used to like eating there. While most restaurants get shut down for a day at most, a closer look reveals that Lee Yuen was shut down for the better part of two weeks. Will I go eat at this restaurant? Or at ANY restaurant for that matter?
Sure, most restaurants are safe to eat at. However, my mom used to work as a payroll clerk in a Chinese restaurant. From what she tells me, if one were to go into the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, you'd never eat there again.
Eh, I needed to expand the number of dishes I can cook anyway. I'm sick of cooking nothing but stir-fried vegetables and meat.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
I'm starting to wonder if I'm slightly masochistic, given my penchance towards biting off more than I can chew. But, one thing that proves to be an effective strategy in such a case is to spit out the said mouthful, cut it into smaller chunks, then try again. Not that I recommend doing this at the dinner table, mind you, because that's just frickin' gross and no one really wants to see that.
As I write this, I have a rhetorical analysis draft due tomorrow (only of which half of the criteria of the assignment can be met, but thankfully, it is only a draft), a 600-700 word memoir due on Tuesday (I already have the first draft done), an electronic resume for Thursday (this will take all of five minutes), and the final draft of the rhetorical analysis on Friday. I also have to begin transcriptions for all of my interviews. This includes the ones conducted for Fangoria magazine, but also the one done for my writer profile/interview assignment. Oy.
Next week, I don't even wanna think about. But, I do know I have another three or four assignments due that same week. Everyone says that crunch time is in November, but I'm feeling something crumbling right now.
But on the plus side, I managed do deal with a very accommodating film cast and crew yesterday and the day before, aced my grammar quiz on Wednesday, and was able to complete a backflip in Capoeira today without landing on my head or hurting my feet.
So, what is there to do now that I have a mouthful of crap in my mouth? I can either swallow it and choke, or I can spit it out and cut it up into itty-bitty chunks, and hope no one notices I just spat something back onto the plate.
I'm choosing the spit method. Who cares what other people think.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
School / work
I have about two or five major assignments due over the course of the next two weeks. Evidently, I didn't think I was busy enough because I decided to take another writing assignment for Fangoria magazine. This time, I'm covering Sam's Lake, a horror film that is being shot out of Nanaimo. I get to take a ferry for this one.
One of my homework assignments was to meet and interview a professional writer, and then to do a complete profile. I chose Andy Linardatos, an award winning copy writer and creative director for Rethink Communications, a local advertising company. I managed to get tons of great information and I know I'll get a pretty good mark on the assignment.
I was pretty surprised that I managed to get a prominent local writer, although I was also impressed that some of the other people in my class managed to get some very high-profile writers as well, including Vancouver Sun sports writer Ian McIntyre, RCMP media liason Tim Shields, and local political pundit Rachel Mardsen.
Yeah, I know. I was pretty floored too. I mean, Ian McIntyre. I love that guy's column!
Pop Culture Vulture
Last Saturday, I caught a preview screening of Team America: World Police. As it's brought to you by the same guys that created South Park, it's going to have lots of swearing and violence, and somewhere buried underneath is a strong political message. But it's still pretty funny to boot...they don't spare anybody in it. They make fun of everyone from Michael Moore to Alec Baldwin (who allegedly offered his voice talents to the filmmaker).
One thing I can say for sure...it has one particularly memorable scene that makes the vomit scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life look like a hiccup.
Person that Writes Things
My on-set report for Fangoria on Alone in the Dark is still indefinitely on-hold pending release of the film, although my other set report of Thralls is due for publication early 2005 to coincide with the film's video debut.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Canadian Thanksgiving doesn't seem to be so much as a big deal for Canadians as it is for Americans. For one, it wasn't made a national holiday until 1957. But, it is also tied in much less with Canadian history than with American history. While most folks know that American Thanksgiving is celebrated to commemorate the settling of the pilgrims in Massachusetts and the shared meal between the native people (we have countless Thanksgiving TV specials to thank for that), most Canadians aren't aware of the history behind it.
There isn't one particular concrete historical event that is accepted to be the main reason for Canadian Thanksgiving, but here's a quick sampling:
-It was originally a European tradition to celebrate the fall harvest, which was brought over to Canada when European settlers arrived.
-In 1578, English traveller Martin Frobisher attempted to find a northern passage to the Orient, but instead settled in Canada. The "first" Thanksgiving was held to celebrate his good fortune.
-Was held in April 15th, 1872 after the then-future King Edward VII recovered from a serious illness.
Whatever the history, there are still reasons to be thankful. What am I thankful for?
-A supportive family that I know I can turn to when I need them. This family has gotten a little bit smaller this year, but it is still my family nonetheless.
-Good friends. As much as people constantly come in and out of my life, I'm grateful that I have people that I can talk to, hang out with, and just be myself without worrying about being judged.
-My health. Mind you, I'll always have to work at this one (proper diet and exercise), but I'm grateful that I'm not chronically ill like my late father or struggling with addiction issues like many other people. I'm also grateful that I didn't fall off that ladder last weekend, or else I'd be composing this from a hospital bed. But, like I later brought up in one of my classes that week, "The best thing about almost dying at work is that you get to go home early."
-Heroes. We always need more of them, not ones that are pre-fabricated by the media. I mean people like Christopher Reeve, an actor that fought for spinal cord research, who passed away yesterday, as opposed to heroes that pre-fabricated by the media.
-The stuff I have. Thankfully, I'm not particularly materialistic, which was important this year because I ended up bouncing around from job to job before going back to school. This is important as I'm not able to fill my life with as much crap as I used to (eg: clothes, eating out, stuff that I generally don't need).
-The Internet. Where would I be without it?
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my readers.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
"And remember, bring back something illegal!"
This is something I have been known to say whenever I know someone is travelling to a foreign country. As local customs vary from place to place, so does the idea of contraband. This is partly due to traditions held by each culture and ignorance held by others.
My mom is going to Hong Kong next month to visit relatives for about a week. Like the last time she went, I'm asking her to bring over a pair of authentic nunchaku. I'm not talking about those foam padded Nerf ® ones that you coudln't so much as kill a fly with. I'm talkin' those ones that are hard-wood, joined with a swivel chain, and could really be used to put a dent in a person's skull. And they require significant skill and practice to use effectively.
For some odd reason, Canadian customs has seen fit to confiscate melee weaponry such as this. As a martial artist that lacks carpetry skills, I don't know how to make my own from raw materials so I have been trying to find a way to get a pair of my own. But, given the hard line stance on exotic weaponry, it's not going to be easy.
This has always confused me, because martial arts weaponry requires an amount skill to use, as improper use will inevitably result in injury of the user (how many clips from America's Funniest Home Videos show a guy smacking himself in the groin with a pair of nunchuks?). It would be far easier to use any number of every day objects to seriously lay the smackdown on someone if you're so inclined. All you need is a little imagination.
-Fire extinguisher. You can pull one of these off the wall and put a dent in someone's head if you convert it into a makeshift bat.
-Ballpoint pen. Jammed into someone's nose, it can cause excruciating pain. Forced up even further, it can penetrate the sinus cavity and enter the victim's brain. It could also be used as a stabbing weapon, especially through sensitve areas such as a person's eyeball.
-Soda can. When torn in half, the aluminum is very sharp and could easily break skin.
As it is, nunchaku were supposedly intended for use by the people of feudal Japan to crush rice (the most prevalent theory) and to reign in horses (based on how the word is derived from the Okinawan words for horse, nun and briddle, chiyaku). Given the fact that all the bladed weapons were banned by the feudal lords, the martial artists turned to farming implements.
While there were regulations against the importing of such weapons prior to the 9/11 attacks, they are even more stringent now. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has a list detailing items that are restricted for carry-on luggage. While their list does not include martial arts weapons, it makes some particularly odd allowances and restrictions. Some of them make sense, such as a fire extinguisher. This is not due to its potential use as a weapon, but because of the pressurized gas contained inside. But others?
Sporting implements like hockey sticks are restricted. In a very tight environment, this would make for a highly impractical weapon, as would golf clubs and lacrosse sticks (which are also restricted). Yet they allow umbrellas (which are potential stabbing weapons) and wooden canes (which are potential bludgeoning weapons).
Oddly enough, they allow whips. I'm wondering if that's an error.
It never fails to amuse me, how any number of everyday objects could be used to much more deadly effect than martial arts weapons in the wrong hands, yet even an otherwise legitimate, law-abiding martial artist would be considered breaking the law by posessing them.
Friday, October 01, 2004
Today ranks as the shortest working day on record. My job involved power washing somebody's house for painting purposes. As I climbed up the ladder, I realized that the ladder was improperly set. As a result, it was beginning to slip as I was standing at the second floor.
I was forced to grab the ladder and the roof at the same time, dropping the sprayer. It hit the pavement below. As I went back down to move the ladder and pick up the sprayer. An important piece was broken off, rendering it useless (however, it is repairable).
Total elapsed time: One hour, forty-five minutes. I'll have to go back tomorrow pending the repair and availability of equipment.
The temptation to slack and veg is very strong. My X-Box beckons from the corner while still shrinkwrapped DVDs scream out to be opened, liberated, and viewed. Not surprisingly, they scream to me louder than my school books. I try to justify it, saying that the DVD I'm about to watch ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", FYI) needs to be viewed so I can write a "Script-to-Film Comparison" article for Screenwritersvoice.com, but when it all boils down, it's two hours that should be spent studying and doing homework (even more when you consider how long it takes the write the article).
"Early to rise, early to bed, makes a man healthy but socially dead."
However, I do have the first draft of one assignment due. I'm supposed to write a 400-word essay on the process of choosing a dictionary. As we're writing for a specific intended audience (aspiring writers), I decided to write it in a very sarcastic manner, outlining the alternative uses of a dictionary. As many writers live in squallor, are broke, and can't afford proper furniture, one could use a dictionary for kindling, killing rats and cockroaches, and propping up the short leg of a couch.
(CLEARS THROAT LOUDLY)
Person that Writes Things / Pop Culture Vulture:
My film review of Shark Tale is now on-line at Screenwriter's Voice. If you don't really feel like reading the whole thing, let's just say that the story and characters jump the shark really early in the film (pun intended).
Sunday, September 26, 2004
DISCLAIMER: The following web log entry (or "blog") has been censored by the 20th Century Fox legal department. As the said writer (or "blogger") has signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (to be refered to as "NDA" from hereon in) upon his first day of work, his posting sensitive information on this site is a violation of said agreement and this post has since been censored. The blogger has since been notified that any further violation of said NDA will result in immediate confiscation of his entire comic book collection and his right to blog in the free world. In accordance with the renegotiated NDA, the post will be permitted to run, but with some minor alterations.
-The Legal Department, 20th Century Fox
Yesterday was one of the more tedious ways to make $10 an hour. Having been hired as an extra (or "background performer", if you will) for the locally filmed movie ********* ****, this gave the opportunity to stand around for the better part of 12 hours, snack off the craft service table, attempt to do some homework, and meet some people. But that's the boring part.
The coolest thing about being an extra is being on set. The film crew managed to transform ****** **** into the ******** ************ of ****** *** ****, who would be later known in the movie as *** *****. In the scene in particular, we see two of the main characters, *** ***** and **** ********, who would later go on to become *** ***** and *** **********.
For people following the ********* film scene, it's really cool to have actor ******* ******** back on set. It's the coolest thing. For those in the know, he used to be on the TV show *** *******, which was also filmed in *********. He has a very ******* ********* which makes him out to have a **** ****** ********. He turns out to be a ***** **** ***, although there seem to be some differing opinions.
My scene in particular required me to stand on the ********, where I was supposed to **** to the ******** and enter through the **** ****. From there, I had to turn around and **** ** ** ********* and **** *** ** *********. I had to do this over and over again, until *** ***** called cut. I may actually be ********* ********* in this scene, as I am ******* ***** **** ** *** ******. ******** ******** actually walks right by me ** *********.
The director of this film is *** *****, best known for his work on *** ******** film series. This is a bit of a departure from him, being that the previous films he had worked on were ****** *********. Still, I am optimistic that *** ********* can pull it off.
In one really weird scene, I *********** *** ***** and got to actually see ******* ******* take his pants off and ******* ******* ****** ***** *** ate a handful of his own ****** **** ******** *********. After this, he proceeds to ****** ***** ******* onto her face and she ****** ****** *********. I really don't know how ***** **** ****** **** intends to get this past the ratings board with just an "R" rating. I hear that they are trying to go for "PG."
I hope I can get on this set next week.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
"I'm a barbie girl, in a barbie world / Life in plastic, it's fantastic! / you can brush my hair, undress me everywhere / Imagination, life is your creation."
-Aqua, "Barbie Girl", from the album "Aquarium" (1997)
Yet another chapter in the never ending war against small mom & pop business owners, Mattel, manufacturers of the famous unrealistically proportioned fashion doll, has launched a lawsuit against small business owner Barbie Anderson-Whalley, the owner of Barbie's Shop, a Calgary based on-line retailer that sells fetish and goth-influenced apparel. Never mind the fact that this the person's actual name, which is legal under Canadian law.
It never fails to amuse me when large organizations put the squeeze on individuals and small businesses that allegedly infringe on their copyrights. I have nothing but full confidence that Mattel will end up losing this one and will be forced to cover the costs of the defendant. Given their recent litigous history and losing streak, this is almost a given.
September 1997 - May 1998: MCA records, the recording label behind Danish pop group Aqua, is sued by Mattel for their hit single, "Barbie Girl", alleging copyright infringement and trademark dilution, saying that the lyrics associated "sexual and other unsavory themes with Mattel's Barbie products." The lawsuit is dismissed, as the song fits the legal definition as a parody and social commentary.
December 2003: Mattel launches suit against Utah based artist Tom Forsythe for his work "Food Chain Barbie," which depicts Barbie placed in sexually suggestive poses while being mutilated by kitchen appliances (sizzling on a wok, baking in an oven, etc.). Mattel charges that copyright infringement, while the LA courts decide that it is a legal parody and protected under American freedom of expression laws. The appeal is summarily tossed out of court as well.
June 2004: Mattel launches suit against Barbie Benson, a stripper and nude model who owns and operates her own pay-use website. The charge is copyright infringement, even though the website has no association with the said plastic doll or logo. Mattel has since "given up" attempting to take control of the site, according to one news site.
It's always satisfying to see a large conglomerate take a tumble like this, especially in a world where justice has a price tag. Sadly, in cases like these, the law has had a tendency to side with the litigant. We see it all the time.
Disney: Despite the fact that Victor Hugo's story "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is public domain and Polar Lights has been making the plastic model kits for about 30 years before Disney came out with their version, they put the squeeze on them. Rather than risk an expensive lawsuit, they cave and rename their product "The Bellringer of Notre Dame."
Starbucks: Essentially pissing on the liberties and freedoms that their forefathers fought and died for, Starbucks successfully sues artist Keiron Dwyer for his comic book magazine, "Lowest Common Denominator." The cover features a parody of the Starbucks mermaid, only she has nipple piercings, a dollar sign on her head, a coffee cup in one hand and a cell phone in the other. The words "Consumer Whore" replace "Starbucks Coffee". Despite the fact that it is legally defined as a parody, and Starbucks is an easy target, the law sides with Starbucks, as Mr. Dwyer's logo is "confusingly similar" to the Starbucks logo. He is forced to comply with the ruling.
Monsanto: One of the most litigious organizations around, they have actively supressed news media that is critical of their products, destroyed the environment, and made a lot of people really sick with their products. They also sued a bunch of people that didn't deserve it, such as Saskatchewan based farmer Percy Schmeister, who had wind blow Monsanto-modified seeds onto his field, which actually contaminated his own crop yield. This adds insult to injury.
My hope is that we will continue to see judgements like the ones being passed against Mattel, rather than the kind of judgements we see passed against Percy Schmeister and Keiron Dwyer. Caving to the demands and whims of large conglomerates undermines the principles of freedom under which the free nations of the world were founded.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
The school year is close to coming to an end and the freshman girls who are starting up the next year are undergoing their annual hazing ritual. As hormonal teenaged boys watch, young girls are paraded out, where they are doused with flour and raw eggs.
DARLA (16) has the young girls lined up where they are sprayed with ketchup and mustard while SHAVONE (17) sprays them with whipping cream.
Attaching a dog collar to a FRESHMAN GIRL (13), she parades her over to where a group of boys are sitting.
Propose to Mr. Dawson.
Upon command, the freshman girl drops to her knees to Dawson (18).
(Adapted from a scene in "Dazed and Confused" (1993))
The question of whether or not to spit or swallow has been on my mind for the past two weeks. The choice that one makes seems to be directly split across gender lines, and to a lesser extent, cultural habits.
On a personal and intimate level, it's not preferred. Spitting is considered impolite, and downright rude in most instances. Ultimately, it's the act of expelling material from one's mouth and when one is doing so, they are making a statement as to their true feelings, and not just because they don't like the taste.
Some feel that it is more important to swallow. This makes complete sense, and was even the topic of a history class I took in university a few years ago. There was a time when the practice of spitting was actually banned in some instances. And why not? It's not pleasant to watch and regardless of changing female roles in today's society, it's not very lady-like.
As to my thoughts on the matter? I'd prefer it if everybody swallowed. Heck, I swallow too. Since I came down with a cold a few weeks ago, I've been coughing up all sorts of fun stuff. Being that I'm usually indoors and far away from a sink or toilet, I do not have the option of running towards an area to expel whatever it is that's in my mouth. Ironically, it's only when I'm engaged in the act of spitting do I actually taste it. And I really hate the taste.
(C'mon, people. What did you THINK this was going to be about?)
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Communications 1118: Composing in Context - Principles and practices of Workplace Writing
As I write this, I am taking a break from re-reading Flower and Hayes' A Cognitigve Process Theory of Writing. For anyone taking academic theory courses, these are a headache to read. Despite the fact that I sat down and went through the entire text with a highlighter, I have no idea what any of it means. Here's a sample:
"Planning, or the act of building this internal representation, involves a number of sub-processes. The most obvious is the act of generating ideas, which includes retrieving relevant information from long-term memory. Sometimes this information is so well developed and organized in memory that the writer is essentially generating standard written English. At other times one may generate only fragmentary, unconnected, even contradictory thoughts, like pieces of a poem that hasn't yet taken shape."
Uh...right. Got it.
As much as I appreciate theory and its applications, I haven't felt this stupid since I bent over to pick up a penny in the street without looking for oncoming traffic and almost got my head taken off by the #10 Granville bus. I dunno if it's my short attention span or the way it's written, but I'm having a really hard time trying to figure this thing out.
I liken the experience to eating lots and lots of corn. Most of it passes through your system completely undigested, and there's probably a good chance that it could take a few more passes through your digestive system before all the nutrients have been assimilated.
If you wish for a slightly less disgusting analogy, liken it to eating a lot of celery. You expend more calories eating and digesting it than what's actually in the celery itself.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Communications 1216: Interpersonal Skills for the Workplace
As part of the Print Futures program over at Douglas College, we are taught this because it is becoming an increasingly needed skill and has been needed since the beginning of the working world. We tend to assume that these skills are in place just because a person has a grasp of the English language, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Today, I am slightly peeved because I managed to lose about four hours because the proper communication was not put into place.
One of the instances is because of my employer. Being that the base of operations is mobile, I do not have the option of going to an office to retrieve my paycheck. Therefore, I was supposed to meet up with him to retrieve it. I am able to maintain contact with him up until today, the day I was told to call him. Over the course of three hours, I leave three messages on his voicemail, each more irate than the last. As it is, I have no idea as to his whereabouts, save for the fact that he is in and around Vancouver, which is one of my reasons for being in the city.
The second is that I find out at the last second that my martial arts studio has spontaneously cancelled the weekly practice session. I don't realize this until I go to the actual studio and the door is locked. There is no prior communication or even a note on the door. Being that no one shows up for about fifteen minutes, I make the decision to cut my losses and just leave.
This is four hours which could have been put to better use, yet instead, I am at the mercy of people that fail to communicate properly.
I contact a co-worker as to the whereabouts about said employer and I am informed that Sunday afternoons are especially tough to make contact with him. This leaves me especially peeved, as I was given general instructions to simply call him on Sunday. Out of courtesy, I elected not to call during the morning, which he would likely have been able to take a call.
Five hours after the initial phone call and I am still unable to make contact. Should he call back, I will tell him to mail me the check. As for the martial arts studio, the suggestion box will be full by the end of the week.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
*COUGH* *COUGH* part 3
I'm running out of ways to say this, but after talking to more people at my Capoeira classes, I'd have to say about 50% of the people I've talked to have had had cold symptoms of some sort or another, ranging from mild fevers, sore throats, wet coughing, and runny noses. After swapping messages with another student who attends the Calgary academy, it appears that most of them are getting sick too.
It's been said before that the fastest way to get rid of a cold is to give it to someone else. If that's the case, whoever was the first among the group of a hundred-something to get sick should be feeling like a zillion bucks right about now.
School / work
Class load is deceptively light, although that's about to change. I need to find a part-time job because I don't know how I'm going to pay for my books or my next semester otherwise (or the other things I need to buy, for that matter). Still dunno what I want to do. Either head back to my old job or find something new. Being that a lot of the people have since changed over (many people have quit, moved on, were fired, transferred, etc.), I think it's safe to come back.
The fact that I'm busy with school work means I can't afford to goof off. The lack of regular after-school employment means I literally can't afford to goof off either. After all, you know how expensive it is to goof off these days. As it is, you practically have to pay to get a license in order to goof off. And you know how much those cost these days.
Pop Culture Junkie
I saw Resident Evil: Apocaylpse last night. It's okay, I guess. I much preferred the first one, although they were both a lot of fun to watch. There were the occasional laugh-out-loud moment (token black dude runs over a zombie in his car, then goes, "GTA, mutha fukka! Ten points!"), although it's still not very well written.
Person That Writes Things
Being that Alone in the Dark is suddenly without a distributor, it won't likely be making its scheduled release date of October, which means that my article for Fangoria Magazine is being indefinitely held until the film's release. As it is, it appears that one of my other articles, my from-the-set report of Devour, will be released first, either end of 2004 or early 2005.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
*COUGH* *COUGH* Part 2
I've been running through the symptoms fairly quickly, which means I should be completely over my cold by next Monday (Sore throat Monday evening, snotty throat by Wednesday evening). It appears that my suspicions were true (my last blog entry had me pointing the culprit to the Batizado weekend). Wednesday's Capoeira class was relatively empty and even the head instructor was sick. Two members of the support staff were also sick (although their symptoms showed up earlier).
But I still feel like crap and feel like sleeping in, but there's just too much to do.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
As I write this, I am preparing for my first day of school (oh, wait, that's TODAY) by digging through a pile of papers, attempting to retrieve my student ID# and revising all of the papers and information I was given. I have no idea what to expect, save for the fact that I'm now sitting on a sore throat that started up just yesterday. Yes, I am coming down with a cold.
It's strange, that mankind has found a way to put a man on the moon, deliver dirty pictures to teenaged boys' computers in a matter of seconds, and automatically slice bread, yet STILL can't cure the common cold. The only they can do is alleviate symptoms by giving us pills and syrups that make us edgy. As it is, some athletes have come under fire for using cold medication to boost their performance. You know that product, "Sudafed"? The active ingredient is pseudoephedrine, which is a similar product to ephedra, a stimulant that is a controlled substance (read: banned in some places).
There are some who really dislike pharmaceutical companies, given some of their business practices. Understandably, they are businesses, and are therefore concerned about the bottom line. But, I still have a few beefs with pharmaceutical companies, such as the fact that they advertise on television, which means bigger push towards more expensive medication, which may or may not be any more effective than cheaper medication. This in turn means that doctors are put under more pressure to prescribe medication that not only costs more, is not necessarily more effective, but could also be a lot less proven (ie: side effects).
I have a bigger beef with the fact that pharmaceutical companies seem to be focused more on treatment rather than cure. If someone actually got around to finding the cure for cancer, AIDS, and the common cold, we'd have a lot fewer pharmaceutical companies. But then, we'd probably have pharmaceutical companies trying to create cures for "made up" diseases such as Attention Deficit Disorder (that was a sarcastic comment, by the way).
But really, let's face it. Kids had the same attention spans now that they did 20-some odd years ago. What has changed? Apart from the fact that today's teachers are more than likely to push psychoactive meds on kids to make them more attentive, the kids are the same.
But I digress.
So, while I'm preparing for the onslaught of dry coughs, runny noses, and stuffed sinuses, I'm left trying to figure out exactly what it is that caused this. Given the number of activities I have done over the past week (which is roughly the incubation period for the cold virus), it's tough to nail down a specific culprit or cause.
I wasn't in contact with a large number of people until the weekend, where I attended the tenth annual Capoeira Ache Brasil Batizado, where most of the students attended to enhance their Capoeira skills and receive their belt. As some of the students and teachers are coming from around the world, it only makes sense they'd be bringing something else with them apart from their ache (that's Portuguese for "everything positive", you know).
This is where most of the rules for cold prevention pretty much go out the window (avoiding contact being the number one). I know I shook hands and made other casual contact with a lot of other students and instructors. Sure, only a germ-phobic hypochondriac would exact measures for cold prevention this time of the year, but I'm living proof of the fact that colds can hit you even when it's not the season for it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to sweat it all off at the gym. I tend to feel better after wearing several layers of clothing and running for 20 minutes.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
An automated filter placed in the People's Republic of China has made it so any sort of e-mails or websites that contain key phrases and words will be blocked out from people's reading. Mind you, this would be completely without context (most computers aren't smart enough to figure that out yet), but words would get banned nonetheless.
So, being that the Chinese government isn't too hot on democracy, understandably, the word "democracy" has been banned. But, what if you happen to be writing something to do with the failure of democracy? Given the denial of the Chinese government of the Tienanmen Square massacre in 1989, the word "Tiananmen" is understandably banned as well. But, what if you were backpacking through China and wanted to e-mail your friends via web cafe, and wanted to MEET there? Obviously, that meeting isn't going to take place. Or, it'd have to beheld somewhere else (because you can't say something like "Fifteen minutes from Tiananmen Sqaure.").
Words like "Christian", "Fulan Gong", and "Human Rights" are understandably blocked as well. As expected, "Sex" is blocked as well. Never mind the fact that safe sex resources and education are needed in all societies.
So, understandably, this site has been banned too. I just need to e-mail a few of my relatives in Hong Kong to see if it works.
ADDENDUM (Sept 5, 9:33). According to my friend's left-behind comment (and he spent a few months in Hong Kong and China a while ago), there is no on-line censorship in Hong Kong and certain parts of Sourthern China. Take that, Big Brother! (or would that be ge-ge?)
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Engrish.com has a huge gallery of adventures in mistranslation. Despite the fact that Asian education standards are much higher than that of North American schools (especially in Japan and Hong Kong), much of the English written on products for general consumption are very poorly translated. This is partly because they don't necessarily intend for their products to be used outside of their country of origin, but also because they can't be bothered to hire a native English translator. The results are funny, to say the least. Hence, you get products such as "Pocari Sweat" (which is available in North American stores that cater to Asians, such as T&T Supermarket) and t-shirts that read "Toilet Love" (this is available for sale on the website).
There is a flipside to this, all of which is the indirect result of the mainstreaming of Asian culture. Because of free trade and immigration, Asian culture is becoming very prevalent in North America. Japanese cartoons are routinely translated into English for Saturday morning, and have even become more popular than domestic product. The Chinese martial arts film "Hero" (aka Ying Xiong) is the current box-office draw. And, get dropped off in the middle of nowhere and you will find an Asian restaurant within walking distance. Heck, in my neighbourhood alone, there are three places you can get sushi, all on opposite street corners. And yes, I have eaten at all three of them.
Being a multicultural society, it is only fitting that most non-Asians person partake in the many facets of Asian culture, whether it be dining at an authentic Chinese restaurant (and not just ordering what can be best termed as Gwai-Lo Chinese food -- lemon chicken, egg foo yung, chicken chow mein), studying Tae-Kwon Do, or watching Rahsomon.
And then there are those who take it a little bit further. Too bad that they're taking it in the wrong direction.
One non-Asian guy I met at the gym had a particular Chinese character tattooed on his shoulder. Despite growing up in a Chinese household, my knowledge of the Chinese language is best described as weak, most of which I know being learned from repeated viewings of John Woo's "Hard-Boiled" (for example, if you point a gun at someone's head, you're supposed to say "mo yook", which means "don't move." That's good to know). But, I do know a couple other things about the written parts of Chinese. The conversation went as follows:
"So, you know what that character means, right?"
"Yeah, it's the year I was born."
(me shaking my head) "Uh...no."
"Yeah, man. It's the year I was born."
"Uh...no it's not."
(slightly desperate this time) "Yeah, man, it's the year I was born."
"Uh...that's only one character. The year you were born should have at least four characters."
"It's the year I was born."
"Dude it could say JACKASS for all you know."
"But it's the..."
"It just says "YEAR." That's all it says."
This is essentially the opposite of what they feature on Engrish.com. Somehow, I get the feeling that there is probably someone in Asia collecting photos of the poorly translated tattoos acquired by baka gai-jin (that's Japanese for "Stupid Foreigner").
Methinks he either thought it was cool looking and decided to go for it, or he's trying to pick up Chinese girls at the clubs (the epidemic of so-called "Yellow Fever" -- fetishization of Asian females -- is another negative aspect of mainstreaming of Asian culture). Word of advice, my gwai-lo friend. If you want to get something Chinese permanently scarred on your skin, do your research. Ask a Chinese person who actually speaks and writes Chinese. Then get a second, third, and fourth opinion.
This is when Asian culture is not so much as being mainstreamed as it's being white-washed.
Stuff like this shouldn't really bother me this much, although it's generally not expected of me anyway -- I don't look that much Chinese (today, another person had no clue as to my nationality). But, it dilution of culture is a shame in just about any culture.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
While quite a few months before Thanksgiving, whenver I am involved in large gatherings with friends where a lot of food is involved, I am reminded of how I must be grateful for the things I have in life. I am grateful for the love and support of my friends and family. I am thankful for having a place to stay. I am especially grateful for my health.
But, most of all, I am grateful for my fast metabolism and active lifestyle that allows me to eat whatever the heck I want without gaining weight. While this becomes more of a hinderance than anything else (I become weak and lethargic if I don't eat very three hours and I still can't put on muscle mass to save my life, plus my food bill is higher than average), it does come in handy. Such as when you hold a get-together where food is involved, and everybody brings much more than they can eat.
Today, I threw a small housewarming/barbecue for my mom because she didn't really want to have a housewarming per se. So, I invited my friends over and prepared a few dishes. If they wanted to bring stuff, they did. Despite my mother's insistence that people bring stuff home (boxes upon boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, stacks of desert fruit pies, hamburger patties), they are now chilling in the fridge. On the plus side, this means I probably won't have to cook for the next few days.
My eating patterns have been quite erratic over the past week, as I also started doing a lot of my own cooking. Just on a whim, I downloaded a few recipes for muffins (banana chocolate chip and blueberry) . While the first ones ended up being a little on the doughy side (blended the batter a little too much, shoulda just "folded" the mixture), I still was eating them at a fairly rapid clip. During the week, I baked another batch of blueberry muffins for my sister, who just moved into a new place.
I ended up eating half of them in a four hour span. Mind you, it was only a half-dozen batch, but still, I remember what happened the last time I ate more than two of anything in any given time (refer to my first blog on Krispy Kreme doughnuts for more details). Thankfully, I made them myself so I knew very well what was in them. I immediately made another batch and made sure I left the house to my sister's as soon as they were finished baking. To ensure that I don't eat any on the way, I fill my stomach beforehand.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Possibly one of the more masochistic forms of entertainment, I spent the evening with my Capoeira class over at Vancouver's amusement park, Playland. Having went without going on a roller coaster for the better part of eight years, I forgot about two things: how long the lineups can get, and how frickin' fast these things go.
As the outing was provided complimentary courtesy of the people at PNE (our group was doing a demonstration on the 22nd of August), we got to go on every ride. Well, almost every ride.
This one new ride was introduced to replace The Rainbow (unfortunately, the name escapes me as of this moment...I think it was called 1001 Nights). While a diagram is better to describe it, it has a platform arm which stays upright while it is being spun around in a circle. As it drops, passengers almost float out of their seats (restraining arms keep this from happening). As The Rainbow was one of my favourites, I was eager to try this one out.
As we waited in line, we realized that the lineup wasn't moving. This was because there was a massive puddle of vomit right next to the exit which had to be cleaned up. We decided to come back after another ride. When we returned, we realized that again that the lineup wasn't moving. There were two separate puddles of vomit this time, which a guy was trying to wash away with a bucket of water. It's times like these where a hose is handy. Sadly, the group I'm with take this as a sign to try a different ride.
Somehow, I'm reminded of a time when I was attending BC Physics Day at Playland during high school physics. We had a friend who had the misfortune of going with a full stomach, so we goaded him to go on ride after ride after ride. As we left the Enterprise, he complained, "The puke is right here!", pointing to his throat. We all then got him to go onto the Tilt-A-Whirl (it didn't even take that much arm twisting). It was six of us, three of us in one car, three in another, which meant we didn't see our friend all the time. Although we do remember two distinct images: one of him clenching his eyes shut, concentrating really hard not to puke; the other with his head buried between his knees. We have since re-named this ride, "The Tilt-A-Hurl".
This is truth in advertising. Rethink Advertising is a company that has an account with Playland to handle their print, radio, and television advertisements. Since holding the account, they have won several awards and garnered some controversy among the more conservative types. Their recent print campaign featured on bus shelters and the Skytrain features models covered with foodstuffs and vomit (ie: "Vomit print by Crazy Beach Party", "Mustard motif by the Corkscrew", etc.).
I will always remember the infamous "Barf Cam" television ad which was unfortunately yanked after a few complaints. In it, the camera takes a POV shot from inside a person's stomach (you see little bits of partially digested matter) while you hear the sounds of the famous wooden rollercoaster (the clackety rumbling sounds, people screaming). The camera rises and you see a set of teeth, which opens up to reveal a guy's face. "Not now, man! Not now!" He says. The camera goes back down, but then all of a sudden shoots straight up into the air, past the row of teeth, past all the passengers in the rollercoaster, falling through the rollercoaster, as all these people are running out of the way to avoid getting hit by flying vomit. The last thing you see before it hits the ground is is the Playland logo. Cut to black.
(If anyone knows where I can download a copy of this ad, please let me know! "Barf Cam" doesn't yield any positive results when punched into google.com.)
One thing I'm realizing through all of this is that we're essentially paying for the privelege of pain (Rethink capitalizes on this in their ad campaign, which is one of the reasons for their success). They seem to think that we'd be willing to pay MORE for another particularly rough ride, The Hellevator. It costs an additional $5 to go on it.
So, I pay the additional $5 and start to rue the decision as soon as the restraining arm goes down and realize that there is no turning back. The fun (or not!) thing about this ride is that it shoots you straight up in the air with no warning whatsoever. As soon as I get off, I'm feeling slightly queasy and my hands are tingling. Fortunately, I have the foresight to stop eating two and a half hours previous. I am still on the verge of collapse as soon as I get off the ride, though.
Perhaps it was a good thing that we decided not to go on 1001 Nights after all...
Saturday, August 21, 2004
As a self-professed Person That Writes Things, I am constantly behind the keyboard, hacking away things that are as far away from the next Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities as possible. Still, you can find me writing the occasional short screenplay, the odd movie review, and the frequent complaint letter to the local newspaper.
Take my latest published "work," for example.
Vancouver Sun editorials, Thursday, August 19th, 2004,
Re: Canadian prankster not funny: Games organizers, Aug. 18
The prankster's actions are a huge black mark against Canadian sports and an embarrassment to Canadians. The fact that this story made the front page only encourages people like Ron Benshimon. Sadly, he is getting the publicity he wants.
The only good thing is that it was probably one of the more benign ways to point out security holes at the Summer Games, and was preferable to an actual security threat.
-Vince Yim, Surrey.
I have a pretty good track record when it comes to getting stuff published in the Vancouver Sun, at least 70% of the letters I e-mailed got published. My very first piece was published back in 1995, when they were asking for opinions about the then-controversial cartoon show, Beavis and Butt-Head. At the time, I felt it was juvenile and puerile (although the film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America is a work of comic genius). Anywho, the gist of my letter was that as much as I find it distasteful, it's still up to the parents (or whoever) to decide what their kids should be watching.
It was a pretty cool experience, having the Vancouver Sun photographer come over to my parents house to take my photo. They published it too. But, the caption at the bottom of my photo indicated that I wanted the show pulled off the air. Ah, the magic of editing.
These days, I keep all the letters I send to the Vancouver Sun really short and sweet (yet cynical and sarcastic, if possible) as to avoid major edits. Still, that doesn't keep that from happening. In one when I was writing to talk about the American stance on BC's film and lumber industry, I used the phrase "400 pound gorilla," but the editors converted it to metric.
As to the letters that don't get published? Vancouver Sun's rival publication, the Vancouver Province, once ran a front page headline saying words to the effect of ""Victim" comes forth with her story" (the word "victim" was put in quotation marks in the headline). This was around the time when there was a sexual harassment case between an SFU student and a swim coach (the coach was the alleged harasser and was dismissed from his job but evidence later revealed that the alleged victim was the actual harasser).
My response to the Vancouver Province was that regardless of the outcome, it should be up to the public to decide, as opposed to what essentially was a headline from a supermarket tabloid (plus, I also put the word "newspaper" in quotation marks). Needless to say, they didn't publish it.
Monday, August 16, 2004
In every twelve step program, the first step involves admitting that you have a problem.
My name is Vince. (Hi, Vince)
And I am completely whipped.
I can't remember when this all started to happen, although I do notice a bit of a pattern when I'm dealing with members of the opposite sex. In this day and age, a certain amount of chivalry is always appreciated, although with feminism becoming at one point more dominant than equal rights among genders, chivalry is becoming deader than disco. Nothing is more apparent when a male attempts to be a nice guy and holds a door open for a member of the opposite sex and is immediately responded with, "I can open my own doors." While incidents like these are actually decreasing, they are still causes for concern.
Yesterday, a person who I regularly deal with at martial arts ended up falling off her bike, causing multiple contusions and abraisions on her left arm and shoulder and spraining her wrists. She was attempting to carry several items (total weight: less than three pounds) to a vehicle, one of which was her handbag. Eschewing the fact that traditional male roles dictate that a male will treat a woman's handbag as radioactive (much like a tossed garter at a wedding), I elect to hold these items for her. At an initial glance, one may simply dismiss this as simple common courtesy. Those looking closer will see that I am voluntarily holding her purse.
Mind you, this was on top of a small stack of items, which meant I didn't actually have to touch it or anything. My excuse was that it didn't quite look like a purse at first (it was one of those handbags that are designed to look like a miniature gym bag).
This is nothing compared to an incident earlier in Spring, where a female coworker had a strap on her left shoe break during a shift. I offer to go to her car where she has another pair of shoes waiting for her so she doesn't have to walk barefoot to her car to retrieve them. While this isn't quite like laying my jacket down so she doesn't have to walk across a puddle and ruin her shoes, it's only after I retrieve her shoes that I realize the full implications of my actions.
That, and another female coworker observes, "I'd make someone a great boyfriend some day."
What makes it worse is that these are two people for whom I have no personal interest in, apart from being "just friends" or "just co-workers" (plus, at least one of them has a steady boyfriend already anyways). If I am willing to do this for people for whom I am "just friends" with, one can only imagine what I am willing to do for someone who I hold in a higher esteem (ie: want to be more than "just friends" with).
There does seem to be a pattern, though...if I have access to a vehicle and I am attending a group activity, I am more likely to offer a member of the opposite sex a ride home than I would if it were another guy. I consistently lie to myself and try to justify it, though, saying things like "I'm just being nice" or "It's in my nature to do so." Or, as I tell others, "My mom raised a gentleman. I'll introduce you to him some day." And when a member of the opposite sex comments, "That's awfully sweet of you" (or words to that effect), my immediate response is, "Eh, I work on it."
However, I do have my limits. I draw the line at purchasing feminine hygene products, even if asked. Or any of those other weird items that one finds in a woman's medicine cabinet, for that matter.