Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2007!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wall flip, attempt #1.

This is funny. Because it didn't happen to you.

Lessons of note:

  • Only attempt this when I am warmed up, but not fatigued (ie: near the beginning of my session).
  • Remember to put more mat on the floor, so I actually have more cushioning if I happen to over-rotate.
  • Remember to uncurl after the initial tuck faster so I don't rotate so much.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas evening was spent discussing the perils of consumerism with my cousin from halfway across the globe. The discussion got a little bit heated at times, but to avoid things getting ugly, I conceded that there isn't much we can do about it either way.

As much as we like to believe that true happiness comes from non-tangibles -- love of friends and family, achievement, health and security -- these things usually are coincidental with consumption and modern civilization, which is consumerist by nature. Shut off everything, and people start dying as food stops coming in, the heat stops working in the dead of winter, and the hospital life support machines stop working.

Maybe it's balance that we need to start advocating...

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Good Karma and Bad Karma / Myopic Foresight and Hindsight in 20-20

Good: To kill time between contracts and do something nice for Christmas, I made a point of volunteering for the Salvation Army by playing Christmas Carols on guitar while collecting donations.

Bad: Made my signature dish for a Christmas potluck dinner last night, being chilli. I left it alone for too long and it burned on the bottom of the pot, so I transferred it to a casserole dish. Being "pretty sure" that it was approved for stovetop use, I warmed it up on the guest host's stove. So, several hours slaving over a hot stove and simmering destroyed in a flash (it's probably not a good idea to eat stuff that may or may not have porcelain chips in it). I was very sad after that happened.

This is the second item that I have inadvertently destroyed this way...even if it worked once, it won't necessarily work all the time. Speaking of which, did you know that it is a really bad idea to use a glass coffee table as an ironing board?

Good: Finally cleaned my apartment and am making a concerted effort to make it more so.

Bad: Mind you, the majority of that consisted of shoving everything into one room, which is now a nightmare to navigate through.

Good: Again put my guitar skills to use at my Capoeira studio's Christmas party, also aided by my culinary skills, having cooked Sate Chicken stir fry (with pineapple and green pepper) on the spot (with a portable skillet and everything).

Bad: No photos. I stupidly left my camera at the academy and I'm really hoping it's still there when the academy opens up again on the 30th.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Riddle me this...

This is a bizarre world where there is no God, but there is goodness. People have no heart, but they have feelings. There are no relationships, only marriage. Marriage has no sex, but lots of kissing and hugging. We can see and smell, but we cannot hear, touch, or taste.

People do not go to work, unless they happen to be accountants, engineers, and tennis players. There are no doctors or hospitals, which is a good thing because you won't get sick (but you might fall ill).

For fun, no one watches hockey or cricket, although people still play basketball, soccer, football, and foosball.

You don't have a house but you do have a roof. You can have walls, but without paint. You can have floors without the carpet. You can even have grass, but no yard or a picket fence.

In the natural world, we have trees of green, but no red roses. We have bees but not birds, eels but not seals, llmas but not lambs. The sun never shines, although the moon comes out. It never rains, it never snows, although they get periods of sleet.

Beef is consumed regularly, although chicken and fish are not. Fruits and vegetables are not either...unless it happens to be green peppers, lettuce, or apples. People eat pizza with mushrooms, pepperoni, cheese (both mozzarella and cheddar, but no parmesan), and pineapples (but no anchovies, olives, or onions).

In the entertainment world, the Foo Fighters are popular, but no one has heard of Nirvana. Green Day, Hoobastank, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are cool, but nobody listens to Justin Timberlake or Nickleback.

For fun and games, we have lots of books, but they're not made of paper. We have queens and fools, but no kings and jokers. We have rooks, but no castles, chess but no checkers. We have riddles, but no jokes.

In the world of technology, we still have Google, Yahoo, askJeeves, and InfoSeek. But, no one ever uses AltaVista or HotBot. But then, it doesn't matter because we have no Internet or computers. But we do have LCD screens. Just no monitors.

We have no cars (unless they're Hummers, Ferarris, Jeeps, or Corollas), but they all have wheels, transmissions, and mufflers (but no brakes or tires). We have geeks, but no freaks. We have carrots, but no onions...apples, but no oranges...seeds, but no pits.

What else can this world have?

(hint: it's not so much what the words represent and mean...)

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life in general has been knocking me down and kicking me while I'm trying to get up, but that's all there is to it - it's not how you fall, it's how you get up.

Recently finished my job last Friday and elected not to renew my contract due to another work obligation that would have started up on Sunday. It would've involved graveyard hours, but due to weather, they decided to postpone it "indefinitely." I found that out today. And I completely cleared out my schedule for this, and even made a point of climatizing my body for the graveyard hours (ie: not sleeping until 4AM, waking up at 10PM). So, does anyone have any use for someone who's pre-climatized for graveyard work?

So, in my downtime, I've tried to make an effort to clean my apartment, practice my Portuguese ("O qui nao mata engorda!"), and find more work. I've taken a few more steps, having finally emptied out the trash and cleaned up that massive pile of dishes that occupied the sink, then purchased a Portuguese-English dictionary (which, alas, has no swear words in it), and revised my website resume.

On the plus side, I've been getting work hosting Karaoke night at Scruffy McGuire's pub, which doesn't pay huge, but is a good side gig.

Will make more calls, will network, will get out of the apartment.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

I hate Monday.

I had what I thought was a cold since Friday night, but not feeling sick enough to stay home, I go in anyway. Realizing that there are other people who are sick in the office, I make a point of designing up a "biohazard" sign to tape to my chest as I do my job, and I also distribute them to the front desk. I get about 5 hours of work done before I am sent home. I'm also forced to cancel on a face-to-face with someone who I met on-line.

I really shoulda gotten that flu shot.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

For reasons unknown, I somehow managed to land a weekly gig hosting Karaoke night at the local watering hole. Doing training and getting familiarity with the equipment last night (Friday), I quickly got to know the ins and outs of karaoke, how difficult it is to get people to sing, and why it's a bad thing to be playing too much gangsta rap.

The first objective is to avoid the mistakes of previous hosts. Obviously, that means no monopolizing the mic time (outside of one song to warm up the crowd), no making creepy-creepy-gross-guy advances towards the female regulars of the pub (that's how my friends and I got rid of the first guy), and keeping songs with excessive swear words to a minimum (meaning that even though "Ode to My Car" by Adam Sandler happens to be in the song book, we're not supposed to use it).

So, with my one and only song to encourage the crowd to get up and sing, I did "She Bangs" by Ricky Martin, in the style of William Hung (Chinese-American accent and everything). I was actually admonished by one of the wait staff, who felt the need to indicate that we have many patrons of various ethnicities coming into the pub. I had to point out the fact that I'm Chinese. I have done the song about a dozen times in various karaoke bars and this is about the first time anyone's ever called me on it. But, point taken.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Memories of My Father
Or, Why Rush Limbaugh is an Ignorant, Fat Douchebag
By Vince Yim

(submitted for publication in The Other Press)

My childhood was marked by the news that my father was involved in an incident of workplace violence. When your world is Saturday morning cartoons, hockey cards, and homework, learning that a mental patient put a knife in your dad’s back can really put a wrench into things. Suddenly, the man that picked you up from school and took you fishing during the summer was stuck in a hospital bed. When he got over it, yet another wrench was thrown in the gears.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neural disorder that affects movement, speech, and posture. Tremors and shaking are the initial symptoms, which only get worse over time. Difficulty walking, clumsy movement, dementia, and impaired swallowing are common. After about ten years, watching my dad almost choke on family dinners became a daily occurrence. There is no cure, only treatment to attempt to control the symptoms or slow the progression. There is no specific cause either, although it is suggested that it may be genetic or caused by head injury. It’s been speculated that my father’s spinal injury may have had something to do with it.

For most people, Parkinson’s isn’t actually fatal, although patients typically expire due to complications of the disease. For my father, he developed osteoporosis (due to lack of physical activity brought on by impaired mobility, in turn due to Parksinson’s), fell, broke his spine and was hospitalized, where he was infected by MSRA (antibiotic resistant bacteria) and died in hospital. This was in 2004. He lived with the condition for almost 17 years.

Michael J. Fox is one of the more well known sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and is a well known advocate for stem cell research. Having being diagnosed while barely in his thirties, he’s one of the younger people to be diagnosed (many sufferers develop Parkinson’s in their 50s and 60s), and as a result, has been active politically, appearing in front of US congress and most recently appearing in a television ad, endorsing Democratic Missouri senate candidate Claire McCaskill, a known proponent of embryonic stem cell research.

The ad (currently available on depicts Fox speaking his views, while his stereotyped and involuntary body movements depict someone unable to sit still, typical of Parkinson’s sufferers. The ad is fairly disturbing to watch for most people who are unfamiliar with the disease, which is a very strong endorsement. For most people, save for right wing political pundit Rush Limbaugh.

In his radio show, Limbaugh lambasted the whole ad, even going all the way to accuse Fox of either intentionally going off his medication or acting. Admittedly, Limbaugh’s accusations has some merit, as Fox’s memoirs do indicate that he intentionally went off medication when appearing before senate in 1998. And certainly, in comparisons to many of his other appearances on television, such as a recent appearance on Boston Public, his symptoms are much more pronounced. That is where it ends, however.

Anyone with familiarity of Parkinson’s will recognize the movements immediately. High levels of medication are required to keep movements in check, although the medication will lose effectiveness over the years, and in some cases, may actually promote involuntary movement. Additionally, given the edited nature of episodic television, it’s not hard to get footage of Fox during his more calm moments. As it stands, accusing statements as such not only smack of general ignorance, but highly insensitive as well, regardless of Limbaugh’s pre-emptive apology, if he is indeed wrong.

Would Limbaugh be making statements like that if he were living with Parkinson’s or knew someone close to him with Parksinson’s? After making those statements, what are the odds that he’s ever had to watch a loved one crawl on his or her hands and knees to get to the bathroom? Or even try to stop the rude stares from strangers in public, reacting to the bizarre, involuntary movements? Or had to hope and pray that he wouldn’t choke on breakfast or fall down a flight of stairs?

Limbaugh goes onto suggest Fox is a political pawn for doing this. As a first-hand witness to Parkinson’s, my impression is that Fox is merely acting in his own interests, namely a cure. Suggesting otherwise is general douche-baggery.

Indeed, everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether we want to hear it or not. However, half-cocked statements really should be better thought out before being made public. True, attempts to know every single fact before expressing opinions would make it so opinions would never be made. However, Limbaugh’s comments were made while ignoring key details, such as the actual movements of Parkinson’s, the long-term effects of medication, or even the details of television production. His attempts at qualifying his statements by admitting Parkinson’s devastating effects come across as empty and hollow.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

3 minutes, 19.68 seconds. I really, really need a girlfriend.

Music: "Namistai" by BT, from Movement in Still Life (UK edition)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

They can put a man on the moon, they can regrow tooth enamel, and the 500 channel universe dictates that there is ALWAYS something on. Yet they still can't cure the common cold, nor can they make it go by any faster.

Thursday started with me waking up with a sore throat, which has since been followed by chugging back cup after cup after cup of hot tea. Certainly, I've never been more alert at work. Given that I haven't gotten around to getting a tea kettle for my apartment, that means I'm the most "healthy" at work.

Generally speaking, I tend to feel better when I'm showering, eating, exercising, or eating. Sadly, I can't do all of these things while I'm at work. Out of desperation, Saturday had me heading to the local nutrition store for echinachea drops and oil of oregano, which according to the bottle, is supposed to help with upper respiratory infections. Echinachea drops are 40% pure alcohol per volume while oil of oregano tastes mildly Italian, followed by a severe burning sensation that makes your eyes water. The treatment is almost worse than the disease.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

A random female stranger grabbed my buttocks on the Skytrain last night. I wouldn't have minded so much if she happened to be hot (or at least cute), so as a result, I was slightly annoyed. She apologized profusely, saying that she mistook me for someone else, but it did shock the hell out of me. Is this normal, to go around grabbing the buttocks of members of the opposite sex if you happen to know them? Because last I checked, any attempts on my part to do so will result in a swift kick to the groin.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

So, having spent the past few weeks going nuts between helping my buddy with his wedding, getting ready for my Capoiera belt ceremony, trying (unsuccesfully) to clean my apartment, and trying to find work, I managed to land a two-and-a-half month contract with a printing company as a checker/proofreader. Emphasis on checker, at least now, just because I'm new and they don't want me causing too much damage at once.

Admittedly, a bit of a paycut from A&B Sound, but at least I know when my term is finished and it's paying the bills. That means as a result, I'm not exactly rolling in the hookers and blow. Come to think of it, it's not even strippers and booze. If I'm lucky, it's internet-downloaded porn and sniffing glue.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Opening roda at Capoeira Aché Brasil. Seated l-r: Mestre Derli (Brazil), Mestre Elias (San Diego), and Mestranda Edna Lima (New York). Standing: Mestre Eclilson De Jesus (Vancouver)

Barboleta, Camara, and Pantera doing Maculele

Cordao Amarelo Escuro ("Dark Yellow") L-R: Dandara, Jazz, Toquinha (yours truly), and Casado

Professore Superhomem ("Superman")

The masters of Capoeira

After weeks of hemming and hawing about oh, I'm not going to get my belt, that test was way too easy, Mestre already knew what my belt level was going in, blah blah blah, I am the proud owner of a shiny new amarelo escuro ("Dark Yellow") belt, having managed to skip amarelo claro ("Light Yellow"). Now, to train extra-EXTRA hard to qualify at least for azul claro ("light blue").

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Once again proving my theory that is physically impossible to look bad while wearing one of these.

Post ceremony photographs at Coal Harbour

"We have arrived at your destination sir and ma'am."

Reception toast

Gabe and Jialin play Lady and the Tramp.

After running around for 18 hours straight, I'm pretty frickin' tired. Congratulations to the bride and groom, and may you have a lifetime of wedded bliss. May your love always grow, propser, and flourish.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hangin' with my big sistah. Why am I more tanned than her? (Self portrait, with flash)

BT (AKA Brian Transeau) works the crowd at Richards on Richards

Experiments in no-flash photography mean a lot of really blurry pictures that will have to be discarded. Occasionally, I'll get lucky and people are shooting flash at the exact same moment, which means a lot less red eye and preserved colours that you won't get if you just shot with flash.

More experiments in no-flash photography, which makes for some very abstract and cool looking shots. But be prepared to toss a lot of them along the way.

Hangin' wit' my man BT.

After downloading a few random BT tracks such as "Never Gonna Come Back Down" and "Dreaming", I made a point of actually buying Movement in Still Life, after which I promptly became a fan.

Since I missed BT's last stop in Vancouver, I had to take the effort to catch him this time around. My excuse last year was that I couldn't get anyone to go with, but this time I managed to drag my sister along. This time BT's promoting the upcoming release of This Binary Universe, which hits stands this week. Great show, although it'll be great when my hearing finally returns back to normal.

And thus, adding to my collection of autographed CDs, having since met Joe Satriani, The Crystal Method, DJ Rap, and Kinnie Starr. Although there was that time someone asked me to get an autograph from Linda McRae, formerly of Spirit of the West. She made it out to me, thinking that it was mine. Oops.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wow, that certainly didn't take too long.

After a whopping six weeks on the job, my department was downsized by 50%, which leaves me typing this blog at 9:40 in the morning when I'm supposed to be updating the company's web fliers and assisting layout for the print flyer program. I can take some comfort in the fact that it's nothing personal and very little to do with work performance (given the fact that a person with considerably more experience and expertise was laid off at exact the same time), but that leaves me with the obvious dillemma as to how I'm going to eat and pay rent.

Today, I'm hitting the beach and taking my guitar with me, then I'm gonna go watch Snakes on a Plane. Tomorrow, I'm planning my next chess move.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

I really don't know if this is a good thing or not.

Your Brain is 73% Female, 27% Male

Your brain leans female
You think with your heart, not your head
Sweet and considerate, you are a giver
But you're tough enough not to let anyone take advantage of you!

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

The problem with eating Chinese is that an hour later, you're hungry again. I think that's why mosquitoes like me so much.

In addition to driving people around who don't know their way home, Saturday was also spent being sucked dry by the winged vampires that inhabit my barbecue host's residence. My legs are covered with more welts than I can count. However, after limited success in tracking down a thing of benedryl and not seeing any positive benefits out of popping an antihistimine, since my employers could not permit me to run to a drug store, I Googled it and found that Scotch tape actually works to stop the itching. Could it be? An inexpensive office product that is in most households can alleviate the symptoms of mosquito bites?

After tracking down a roll, I quickly drop strips of tape on each bite mark, and low and behold, I'm not itchy anymore.

I still remember the hiking trip taken with friends, where you can actually feel the insects removing chunks of flesh. One bit me and it swelled to the size of a golf ball. For the rest of the week, my arm was so puffy that I could wrap my hand around it and leave an impression.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006


Come here. I'm going to show you something. [They walk to a plant with a cocoon on it]. What do you supposed is in that cocoon, Charlie?

I don't know, a butterfly, I guess?

No, it's much more beautiful than that. That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths -- they spin silk, they're stronger, they're faster.

That's wonderful, but...

You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging it's way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it. Now this is the second time you've asked me for your drugs back [he holds the heroin up]. Ask me again and it's yours.

(from Lost season 1, episode 7, "The Moth")

Having spent the better part of an hour driving around while trying to locating the apartment of a young woman, with the intent of dropping her off at home after a party, I got to thinking on the drive home as to what parents today are doing to their children.

While I'll admit to a significant portion of blame, it's frustrating when I'm in an area with which I'm unfamiliar, when someone I'm driving around is unable to give directions to her apartment because she is even less familiar with the area, and even worse, does not know how to read a map, and is thus unable to navigate.

After dropping her off, my drive home was fairly uneventful, but between tracks on my MP3 player, I'm realizing that the lack of necessary life skills at a certain age bracket is the likely end result of overprotective upbringing. I'll admit to having a very sheltered life at a younger age, of which I'm trying to compensate for it now (although some would say overcompensate). As much as I love my mom to death, there are a lot of things that I wish that I could have figured out on my own at a much earlier age.

Not being a parent myself, I cannot speak from experience. I do not envy the responsibilities that come with the task, because they're really daunting and parents will constantly be judged for the end results. I understand the rationale behind sheltered parenting - parents want their children to have the opportunities they didn't have when they were kids, so they do everything for them. However, when the time comes for the children to act on their own, they will be so weakened from the experience that they won't be able to fend for themselves. While parents may think they're doing their kids a favour, by doing so, they lack the confidence building and independence that comes with figuring things on their own.

There is the extreme opposite though...children with minimal guidance are subjected to negative influences and grow up to be scarred and damaged from the experience. While may do have the maturity (and possible self-sufficiency) of the coddled child, without moral guidance, these are the kind of kids that grow up into a troubled life. Usually one that involves drugs.

When growing up, there were a lot of things I was unable to do before my formative years. My parents essentially forbade me from doing a lot of things, which largely kept me on the straight and narrow, but really kept me from experiencing a lot of things that kids are supposed to experience on their own. So, as a result, I'm making my mistakes NOW.

A sheltered upbringing has left me without specific life skills that are probably holding me back. For example, I lack the ability to read people, I get in trouble from impulsive decisions, and because I was fairly sedentary when I was a lad (parents didn't want me getting hurt too much), I lack a certain sense of body awareness, which means I'm really prone to getting injured from pushing myself too hard. Additionally mistakes, have a lot more consequences when I'm older, mostly because I'm expected to know better, but also because children can get away with a lot more than adults can.

For example, just the other week, I saw a guy on the Skytrain who had tons of grass stuck in his hair. In usual helpful-Vince fashion, I gently point this out, because, hey, if I had crap stuck to me and I couldn't see it, I'd want someone to tell me. At this point he starts getting hostile and starts swearing at me, and I'm not sure if he's going to try to kick my ass next. Not often getting into situations like this, my first reaction is often to freeze.
Had he been a lot crazier, I probably could have been seriously hurt, or panicked and used excessive force to defend myself (I'm banking on the former rather than the latter, though). It's only afterwards that I realize that he recently got into a fight (and I'm not going to even speculate on who started it), resulting in his messed up appearance. Had I been a lot more aware of these things when growing up, I probably would've avoided the situation altogether.

Bringing me back to my drive. After driving around for 15 minutes in the wrong direction and trying to assure my passenger that I'm not angry at her, merely frustrated that someone at her age is unable to provide sufficient directions, I tell her straight up, this is a skill that she will have to learn at some point. Preferably really, really soon. She's been in the country for three years, does not know how to read a map, and cannot provide directions to her apartment, even after we pass by a landmark that she recognizes about three times.

(To my one-time passenger: if you do end up reading this blog, I'm not trying to be mean. I can't really blame you for this stuff because you simply never had to do it before so it's not like you'd know any better. However, when I see you, I realize that there are a lot of things that you have to figure out on your own...this is one of them...and it's not even the most important one! Good luck.)

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

As about 95% of my personal effects have finally been moved into my new digs, there is about 5% of square footage that is easily navigatable by foot. This is a sad reality of our consumerist lifestyles -- we accumulate way too much crap. Everything from old papers to old magazines to stuff that I really should ditch via Craiglist (stack of old magazines and a DVD tower, anyone?), I really have to sort through it all before I can make any decisions.

My to do list is as follows:

-Complete touch-ups and additional coats of paint (will be difficult with furniture and crap)
-Get everything squared away (which can only occur once all final renovations are complete)
-Get items Craiglisted out (among them: old vacuum cleaner, massive stack of magazines, DVD stand).
-Throw housewarming party (which is in turn an additional incentive to get my ass in gear and get the first two tasks complete).

Oh, and my Internet connection hasn't been established yet, as I've been too damn busy to obtain a cable modem. Fun times, fun times. But at least I can now concentrate on getting my stuff squared away.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

This has been a fairly eventful few weeks, so I guess my few and faithful readers will have to excuse the lack of entries. The usual routine - wake up, do stuff, eat something, do more stuff, eat something else, hop on bus to Vancouver for my regular Capoeira class, go home, eat something, sleep - has been shaken up a touch.

Since my last post, I've gone through a bunch of different jobs, mostly through a temp agency (which shall remain nameless, due to the size of the local work pool). I initially singed up for the organization as a graphic designer/writer, responding to an ad on Craigslist. But, in an effort to keep me busy, the agency gets me work doing a variety of things while waiting for the design work to materialize.

Hence, my first job is data entry/research/telemarketing for a software company, followed by folding clothes for a major department store, distributing translator radio receivers for the Chinese head tax apology forum held in Vancouver, and stuffing plastic yo-yos into plastic bags for an event sponsored by a major oil company. Somewhere in the middle, I am informed that the expected design job has failed to materialize. I don't know if it's fair to assume this, but does it seem odd for a person with a university degree to be stuffing yo-yos in plastic bags?

I am much happier in my current situation, having recently taken a position for an electronics and media retailer as a graphic designer, which will also be unnamed, due to a series of non-disclosure agreements I have been made to sign. When compared to freelance rates, my salary is low, but considering the number of paying freelance assignments I've been doing, I'm in really good shape right about now.

But, that also involved ditching my previous employer, which I had no problem doing. What I did take exception to was the fact that "I'm not supposed to be looking for work" while I'm with the agency. I do understand the rationale, considering how much time and effort is taken in finding workers for the clients and for finding jobs for the workers. However, when I'm only working an average 12-hour work week at around $10/hr, that isn't even enough to feed me. That, and stuffing plastic yoyos in to plastic bags is about as far away from graphic design as one can get.

I recently celebrated my 29th birthday, and for once, it was actually ON my birthday. Given the fact that many of my friends have moved to other cities, it's slightly challenging to get anyone together for any reason at all. Plus, as we get older, responsibilities and other lives start taking over.

The day at work was fairly uneventful. Having recently started my job, I barely have any contact with people outside of my department, except for someone I used to work with a loooooong time ago, I didn't even bother telling anyone that it was birthday. Outside of work is a different story.

As mentioned in previous blogs, at my Capoeira studio, we have a tradition called the birthday roda, where each student has to play against everyone else, with the added challenge, as they have the mandate to attempt to take you down. Given the fact that I've been studying Capoeira for over three years (I am going to test for my next belt in September), the other students have an understanding of my abilities and are going to be a lot less likely to hold back (and I don't even consider myself that good, especially compared to some of the other students). As a consequence, I hit the ground several times, I have been kicked in the head and took a hard kick to the ribs. It now hurts to laugh, cough and sneeze, even three days after the initial injury.

It's no wonder why fellow birthday girl Elaine ("Canela") opted out of birthday rodas two years in a row. But, because of that, I made a point of informing EVERYONE at the studio of the fact that her birthday was the same as mine, and that she missed the last two birthday rodas. I admire her spirit - despite her unwillingness, she actually played a lot longer than I did, considering the much larger class. However, I haven't seen her at class since. Hmm...

Karaoke night followed, in which I had my other crew, apart from my regular Print Futures/Karaoke peeps show up. Apart from pressuring my friends into singing (why should I have all the fun making an ass out of myself in front of a bunch of total strangers?), I was up on stage a few times, most notably taking a crack at Five For Fighting's "It's Not Easy" (you can sort of make out some of the lyrics in the photo) and Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places."

And then there was dancing at Chicago's afterwards. I don't remember much from that...

I should be moved into my new digs by next week. I've been doing lots of painting in the meantime. I used to have a job as a house painter (mostly exteriors), and I gotta say, it's not so much the paint that I mind doing as the preparation work. Paint will peel off of improprerly prepared surfaces like sunburnt flesh. Disgusting analogy, yes, but I realized this as I was applying TSP (trisodium phosphate, a cleaning agent) to the door frames, on which the previous occupants used water-based latex paint over oil-based paint.

This compounded with all the other number of DIY housing mess-ups reveals a bunch of stuff that we didn't see when we first bought the place and the furniture was still in place. So far, all the flooring has been torn out and is being replaced, which is a very slow process. They should be fixing up the walls for painting soon...I've only done the fixture painting so far (ie: behind stove, toilet, and refrigerator).

Before/after pics of the digs to come.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006


After years of living in the small city of Surrey, I've finally moved to New Westminster, which isn't a huge step up, but it's a step up nonetheless. Sort of a necessity (partly because Mom sold her place, but mostly because I'm sick of crossing the Port Mann bridge during rush hour), but also a benefit, as it will cut anywhere from 30-40 minutes off of a public transit ride to Vancouver, especially when you consider that if you miss the bus at Surrey Central Skytrain station, you will be waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for the next bus.

Surrey isn't actually as bad as everyone is saying, although a few of the stereotypes hold true. There are a significant number of trailer parks, Surrey Central Skytrain station is NOT a fun place to hang out at night (unless you're looking to pick fights with random strangers or score some crystal meth), and if you leave your car for long enough, it WILL be broken into. That, and apart from hanging out at the mall and waiting for the Cloverdale Rodeo, there isn't much to do out in Surrey. But on the other hand, I only met one girl who fit the "Surrey Girl" stereotype (okay, three). That, and if you keep your wits about you, you'll probably be able to make it through Surrey without witnessing a fist fight, a stabbing, and an arrest, all in the same night.

Regardless, I'm glad to be out, although I will miss the relatively clean stink-free air (unless you drive through Cloverdale) and the nearby parks, of which there are many. Additionally, I will admit that New Westminster isn't that much greater either.

I you leave with my ode to Surrey.

"Surrey Trailer Trash Girls"
Copyright and Trademark Vince, 2006.
(sung to the tune of "California Girls" by The Beach Boys)

The girls from Kits beach are so pretty
With hard bodies tanned and toned
And Richmond girls from China, you know there are no finer,
You know you'll never be alone

Educated ladies from UBC
With their intellectual fare
And the Burnaby girls with the way they talk
They all have lots of charm to spare...

I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
I wish they all could be trailer trash Surrey Girls

What I want is a girl who's had two kids
Before the age of sweet sixteen
A kinda girl who knows that she just can't say no
To a hit of meth and smoke some green

I've been all around the lower mainland and I've seen all kinda girls
But it would feel good to just get back to my hood
Back to the most skanky girls in the world...

I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
I wish they all could be trailer trash Surrey Girls

(instrumental bridge)

I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
(girls, girls, yeah I dig the...)
I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
(girls, girls, yeah I dig the...)
I wish they all could be girls from Surrey
(girls, girls, yeah I dig the...)

(fade out)

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Postcards from Puerto Vallarta: Your Mileage May Vary

Four-and-a-half-hour flight and she still couldn't solve it.

Where the f*** is my luggage?!

Acrobatics on the beach

Nightclubbing at Christie.

Punchbuggy white!


One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR.

Touchdown in Vancouver. It was raining. No surprise.

After 8 days and 7 nights in Puerto Vallarta, I have the most awesome tan and a liver with the consistency of paté, and I'm pretty frickin' broke right now. Pretty much my first vacation in several years, it gave the opportunity to just cut loose and enjoy myself. As much as I miss the especially warm weather and all the friends I made while I was there, it's really good to be back home.

Among the trip highlights:

-Going to Puerto Vallarta and having my luggage go off to Manzanillo, forcing me to wear the same clothes for three days straight (I have the most understanding travel companion in the world...either that, or she has a really deficient sense of smell)
-The clubs and the perpetual drunken haze
-Walks on the beach
-The Canopy Tour, in which we visited the jungle set of the Schwarzenegger film Predator.

Some of the stuff I coulda done without:

-Having my luggage delayed for two nights
-That horrible hangover on the first night we were there
-Completely arbitrary pricing of souvenirs from the downtown market merchants, which seems to be based on the tourist's understanding of Spanish
-That nasty insect bite I received on my back (which STILL hasn't cleared)

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Postcards from Peurto Vallarta, Luggage in Manzanillo

As I write this, I am stationed at the business centre at the Holiday Inn in Peurto Vallarta, Mexico, with a really dodgy internet connection. Attempts to upload files and graphics have yielded error messages and this is costing me 35 pesos for half an hour of service, which will be up in about ten minutes.

As the title implies, I have gone two days without changes of underwear as my luggage went to Manzanila while I touched down in Peurto Vallarta. Given the number of extra trips my baggage took, it was inevitable that stuff decided to sprout legs and walk away. As a conesquence, my underwear and sock supply has been reduced by 50%, which included a pack of boxer briefs that were purchased specifically for this trip (that, and they were getting a little worn out anyway). Who the hell steals underwear (unfortunately, the question mark key doesn't seem to work on this keyboard).

Stinky clothes notwithstanding, I have been enjoying myself, but photos and pictures of the trip are pending my arrival in Vancouver this Sunday. Given the dodginess of the connection (and the fact that the keyboard is configured for Spanish use), I'm unable to upload photos.

Weather is beautiful, wish you were here.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"With the new tri-bladed razor system, you take one stroke, it takes three!"

Through the magic of Hollywood, I am able to become a person who is 200 pounds and 6' tall. No, I didn't put on a fat suit and I wasn't put on the Hollywood training program. I was what's referred to as a photo double. This is done when an actor with a speaking role has no lines or closeups, but their character's presence is somehow required. To save costs, a photo double is used to stand in for the actor, as they are typically paid significantly less than an actor.

Being that the character in question ("Jose") was blown to smithereens in the previous scene (and hence, would not have anymore speaking lines), I was called in to stand in for him. Upon closer inspection of the actor' s photo, the resemblance is difficult to see. For starters, the actor in question is Hispanic, while I am Asian. Plus, I have significantly more facial hair (which was promptly trimmed to match...sort of). And on top of that, the guy outweighs me by about fifty pounds.

This was all done for the locally shot action flick, Rogue, starring Jet Li and Jason Statham. Given the fact that my face is not shown in close up, no one will probably notice anyway. As it is, my head is halfway sticking into a hole in the wall. But, I can think of worse ways to make $20/hour.

I still remember the last time I played a bloodied corpse. I was helping out an indie filmmaker with his short film, Waterfalls, in which I was playing Dead Asian Gangster #5 (listed in the credits as "Betrayed #5"). Not having time to shower, I just went on public transit as is. I had the whole row of seats all to myself. I probably shoulda gone into the nearest drug store and asked for a single bandage.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I call it the Rubik's Cube for masochists.

Between job applications, one-off gigs, and freelance writing/design assignments, I have a stupid amount of free time, which allows me to pursue other interests.

I had a Rubik's Cube when I was a wee lad, but with my attention span being the way it was, my idea of solving it involved re-arranging the stickers. By extention, given the shortness of my attention span at the time, only on rare occasions would I be able to arrange the stickers in the proper colour configuration.

While the Rubik's Cube was long-lost to moving and transitions from childhood to adolescence (either that, or I just left it somewhere and forgot where I put it), I eventually discovered something called a Square-1, a variation on the Rubik's Cube. While it is constructed in three layers (similar to the Rubik's Cube), the vertical layer is offset at an angle. As a result, the configuration will not always be in a cube shape. With my attention span still shredded (and then attending film school, which left me no spare time whatsoever), my idea of solving it didn't involve rearranging the stickers (it would be pointless, given the variable shape of the puzzle), but entering the data into a computer program, after which it would give instructions on how to solve it.

A few years later, I rekindled my interest in cube puzzles and then purchased a whole whack of them from and Many of them sat on the shelf and collected dust until the past few weeks, where I downloaded all of the necessary guides from the internet and actually learned how to solve them.

The Pyraminx (manufactured by Mefferts) is one of the first 3D puzzles made. As it only has four sides (hence, "Pyraminx"), This can be solved in about 12 or so moves. I remember bringing it to an interpersonal communications class on the last day of classes, as our assignment was to do an oral presentation on interpersonal communications and to bring along a metaphor. I solved the Pyraminx in under 10 seconds, while I held up a Rubik's Cube, unable to solve it. My rationale for the metaphor was that solving a puzzle such as the Pyramix will often leave one side happy ("solved") while the other side dissatisfied ("unsolved"). But, with proper technique and practice, one can maintain balance between sides and have a positive outcome.

In the class held the hour before, one of my classmates mixed up the Rubik's Cube, thinking I knew how to solve it. I didn't at the time. Another classmate mused, "You mixed up his metaphor!"

The Rubik's Cube is the one everyone knows and loves (or hates). The solving record is under 15 seconds. It took me about a week to memorize all of the steps one needs to solve it (start with top edges, then corners, then middle edges, then bottom corners, then edges) and it takes me around 2 minutes to solve it.

The Megaminx is particularly challenging, considering that it has 12 sides. As the version I got had stickers that were already falling off, I elected to custom paint it instead, which eliminates the ability to re-arrange the stickers. Unfortunately, given the panels, if the faces aren't perfectly aligned when turning, pieces tend to pop off. I can't solve the puzzle without it falling apart in my hands, so it stays on the shelf.

The Professor's Cube (pictured) is considered a harder variant, although it's not so much as more difficult as it simply takes more time to solve. Since it has 5 layers (as opposed to Rubik's 3 layers), it requires many more steps. However, once one figures it out, you do not actually need to memorize specific steps to arrange the pieces (at least in the earlier steps). The current official record is under 2 minutes. It takes me about half an hour. Because the version I have utilizes permanently glued-on plastic tiles, one does not have the option of re-arranging the stickers. What makes this puzzle harder is the mechanics. Two versions are manufactured, one by Mefferts/East Sheen and the other by Rubik's. The Rubik's version is notoriously fragile (they actually sell replacement parts on their website), while the Mefferts/East Sheen version uses a superior mechanism, which is more durable, but tends to jam up.

Apparently, Rubik's is in the process of designing and manufacturing a 6-layered cube. Given the fact that it would be 6 layers by 6 layers by 6 layers, I suppose that would quite figuratively make it the Rubik's Cube from hell.

I seriously need a girlfriend.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Under most normal circumstances, I would probably welcome a shorter working day, but considering that I don't have anything better to do otherwise (and I really need the time to get my stuff done), I'd prefer to have the time.

And then some dullard decided to phone in a bomb threat.

While doing a one-off gig for UBC Applied Research and Evaluation Services, I was working away at my latest ***** **** ******** (censored by order of Non-Disclosure Agreement) when I was called into the meeting area for an emergency meeting.

"We're all getting a raise, right?" I quip.

Not exactly.

As we gather around, we quickly learn that somebody phoned in a bomb threat. Given the very convenient timing of this event, this is something that UBC deals with on a regular basis, especially during final exams (they did the same thing in the movie Road Trip). The RCMP is confident that this is merely a hoax, but no one really can afford to take a chance on this one, especially if it turns out to be real.

I remember the last bomb threat on campus. This was about the spring of 2001, when I was an extra on the set of Stark Raving Mad. As parts of the film were shot at the Chan Center Building for the Performing Arts at UBC, when they called in the bomb threat, everyone had to evacuate the building. That was a good thing because they actually paid us for the time we spent waiting for them to clear the building.

But anywho, the RCMP supposedly searched the buildings and found nothing, and then downgraded the threat, but we still vacated the offices at 3:30. That cost me an hour worth of productivity. I'm wondering if someone's done a study on how much money is lost to hoax bomb threats annually just because one student felt that he or she needed more time to study for a final exam.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

In memoriam:
Victor Pui-Kay Yim,
July 5th 1937-April 16th 2004

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Friday, April 14, 2006

For the past week and a bit, my laser printer has told me that it's running out of colour toner, namely yellow, cyan, and magenta. The main reason why I decided to get a colour laser printer was due to the fact that inkjet printers tend to burn through cartridges much faster, and are by extention more expensive to maintain.

This is referred to as the "razor and blades" business model, in which a relatively inexpensive peripheral requires the purchase of consumable products. In this case, the printer cost is negligable until you factor in the consumable ink. As well, clauses within the warranty indicate that using ink and toner "not recommended by the manufacturer" will void the warranty.

Which brings us back to the story. According to the diagnostic tools bundled with the printer, I am down to less than 1% toner in the colour cartridges, which means that i only have 8 pages left, based on a 12.5% page coverage. After a few quick phone calls and searching the 'net, I determine that replacement cartridges will cost around the nighbourhood of $99.99 USD + conversion if ordered directly from HP, while they don't seem to be available from outlets such as London Drugs.

So, I call up the local toner refiller shop and they'd be willing to refill preexisting cartridges for $99/throw. Noting that I still have "8 pages left," I decide to burn off as much toner as possible by printing up numerous copies of my Major Studio Production cover. About 30 or 40 pages later, I still have "8 pages left."

I really don't know who I'm supposed to believe at this point. Given the number of shenanigans that computer printer companies have been known to play with consumers, this doesn't really surprise me at all. My printer is equipped with 2000-sheet capacity colour cartridges, of which, it has only printed about 700-some odd pages. Even after 30-40 pages on the "8 pages left" status, there is no deterioration in image quality.

Methinks I still have several months to go before it actually starts running out of toner. Considering that I haven't been doing tons of colour printing and it's been running for less than a year, there's really no reason for this at all.

And then I discovered a company that sells compatible catridges (4000-sheet capacity) at $89/throw, shipping included. And they're local too. I'm going with them when my printer toner goes for real.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

With school officially over and done with, having handed in my final assignment on Friday, I am summarily tossed out into the cold and scary world of job seeking and student loan repayment. But at least I still have access to the Print Futures work room.

Speaking of which, hey, all three colour cartridges of toner are on their way to emptiness on my printer.

All things considered, though, life is good, although I'm too busy fighting the crack-addicted den mother of all colds to notice. I've been coughing up all sorts of crap slimy and salty, like I haven't been able to get over a cold that I caught in February. So, either it's the same cold, or I've caught three different cold viruses and wasn't immune to any of them.

So, I'm quasi-employed at this moment -- freelance writing assignments still need to be handed in (more than likely for Monday, I'm-a-thinking), although I know I have more coming up (one local filmmaker wants me to cover his next film in August). I still have to go through Craigslist and Jeff Gaulin to see what's out there (I'm in the process of de-stressing right now...that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

However, I did my first small payment for my work just last Saturday. As part of my program graduation, my peers and colleagues all present their portfolios to prospective employers. As everyone has an individual table, they have little giveaways like business cards and resumes. Not to be outdone, I self-published about a hundred comic books, all printed on double-sided 8.5x11" paper, folded in half, and stapled. Being that it only cost printer toner and paper, I decided to try my hand at selling these to local comic book shops. I made one sale to RX Comics on Main and Broadway and I currently have two copies on consignment at The ComicShop on W. 4th in Vancouver.

So, my next step is self-promotion. There are more shops in town that I need to approach, plus there is an upcoming comic book convention in June which I would like to attend as a guest. Additionally, there is a show on CiTR radio called InkStuds, which is about comic books.

Right now, I'm upgrading my skill set by teaching myself Adobe Illustrator CS2, having continued to milk my student status by purchasing a piece of software that normally retails for $1200 for just over $300. Yes, I purchased Adobe Creative Suite 2, which gives me access to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat. Sure, I could find the fell-off-the-back-of-a-truck version and use that money to buy more important things like paper and toner, but this way I know I support the hard-working folks at Adobe who need the money to support their caffeine addictions.

Now it's back to work for me.

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Ronica and Bianca doing "Whatta Man" by Salt n' Pepa

Yours Truly and Alyne doing "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence feat. Paul McCoy

Bianca and Lisa doing "I Feel Good" by James Brown

Kat doing "Hotel California" by The Eagles

The final Thursday night Public Relations class was marked by yet another night of karaoke, thanks to the fine folks at Scruffy McGuire's. Having long since ditched the last creepazoid karaoke guy in favour of a guy who doesn't monopolize all the microphone time by dedicating ad nauseum renditions of "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down, we essentially owned the mic that night, from horrid renditions of "She Bangs" by Ricky Martin (done in the style of William Hung) by Yours Truly to the ultimate group song, "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

I'm really, really going to miss you guys. All of you guys.

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It's official. I have officially conquered the need for sleep.

It's been argued by many people in many places that I probably shouldn't be drinking coffee. By some definitions (i.e.: those that are really quick to push psychoactive medications), I probably display some symptoms of ADHD (see archives for more details). Indeed, I probably talk a lot faster than I should, am a lot more high strung than I should be, and I'd probably be a really bad wreck if I started drinking coffee more regularly.

I've developed a taste for coffee over the past couple of years, mostly black. However, since $2/cup isn't really doing it for me, I figured it would be more cost effective to just make it myself and bring it in a travel mug. Since Thursday morning, when I received my shiny, brand new Braun KF 600 Impressions Coffee Brewer (it comes with a Brita Filter), I'll be able to do that.

I can say that I've never gone overboard to the point that I was twitching and getting caffeine headaches from withdrawl. If I do get hopped up over anything I drink, the worse I've ever gotten was from a watermelon flavoured Slurpee. Slurpees have inordinately high sugar content, which can really, really mess up with your body chemistry and boost your level of aggression. And this substance is LEGAL.

I still remember a pick-up game of basketball played with a friend, when I was so hopped up on sugar that when I went for the jump ball, I put one hand on his chest and shoved him to the ground before I grabbed the ball. I got the technical foul, needless to say.

I actually find that it increases my ability to concentrate and I can get significantly more done in a shorter amount of time when I have a cup or two inside of me.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

We have become far too dependent on technology these days, which seriously underscores how far up shit-creek we will become in the event of a total collapse of social infrastructure.

Case in point: over the past five days, I have had two pieces of technology spontaneously go kaput on me. First, my iPod goes down. No major loss, as I can't exactly use it to do my homework. Mind you, my workouts at the gym have been subjected to listening to a bunch of crap music piped through the gym speakers, but considering the added time and expense (thankfully covered by Apple and Hewlett-Packard), it's something I'd rather do without.

And then my computer spontaneously goes piff. While plugging in my USB flash drive in an attempt to get some work done, the computer just freezes all of a sudden. No longer responding to keystrokes, I reset it. Assuming that the hard drive has overheated, I turn it off and leave it to sit overnight, then try again. Still nothing.

This is somewhat remeniscent of my last computer, which had a hard drive failure that occured slowly over the course of several months, giving me plenty of warning time. Today, after sending it to the shop, a quick diagnosis reveals that either the motherboard or the CPU has spontaneously bitten the dust. This is somewhat good news, as this means that I don't have to go back and reinstall of those programs while kicking myself for not backing up my programs and documents. But either way, I'm out a couple hundred bucks for replacing either the CPU or the motherboard. Dammit.

The problem with a lot of technology is that impending failure is not indicated with compromised performance or whatever (eg: stuff takes longer to load, tends to overheat, etc.). Instead, it'll just spontaneously go under, just like that.

As a result, I am now typing this on my mom's computer and I'm in the process of hooking up my hard drive, but but probably shouldn't boot up from it, given the completely different computer configuration (much slower CPU and graphics card, to name two).

Which means, technically, I don't have an excuse for missing deadline. Double dammit. But at least I got an extention. But I'm still gonna have to do all this crap at school.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

In a previous installment, I was talking about karaoke and my said addiction to it, being the first one out of the group to jump up to the mic and sing ("Wonderful World" by Louie Armstrong, FYI). While I can't really claim to the best singer out of the whole bar (that honour goes to Joel), I have as much fun as the rest of them. Regardless of how badly I might sing or how bad the song is to begin with (previous nights had me singing "At a Medium Pace" by Adam Sandler and "My Ding-A-Ling" by Chuck Berry), I make sure I give it my all, so I have no regrets.

Tonight for instance, I sang "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys and made a point of dancing on top of one of the tables to emulate a surfboard. Being that the previous week, my group and I had a 90's theme night (my songs: "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice, "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred, "About a Girl" by Nirvana), this week we went with the 60's and 70's.

And then we got the guy who ran karaoke night fired. I didn't quite get to "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison or "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. This has a long and complicated history. While I'm not usually one to slag a person through the mud and kick them when they're down, if you're gonna pull shit like this, you deserve whatever you get as a consequence.

One of the people in my group attracted a little unwanted attention by the person who runs karaoke night. It started out okay at first, although after a while it got kinda weird. While we could excuse the fact that he consistently sang the same three songs over and over again while everyone else is waiting for their chance to sing (FYI, it's "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who, "Losing My Religion" by REM, and "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down).

And then when this guy volunteered to escort her to the Skytrain platform and then got a little too..."friendly" a few weeks ago, things got weird. And then he started dedicating "Here Without You" to her. Two weeks in a row. "By request," as he kept saying. it isn't.

The head bartender started noticing little things, like the fact that we actually sat far and away from our usual spot (although we actually did so because one of the non-regulars decided to join us for a drink). Plus, he noticed the fact that the karaoke guy dedicated the song to her for the second time, coupled with the fact that the friend in question decided to move well out of line-of-sight when "Here Without You" came on. So, he came up to us and wanted to know how many songs we had left to sing. I had about three more I requested, while everyone else at the table had at least one more song each.

The bartender approached the karaoke guy about this and needless to say, he isn't going to be doing karaoke anymore. At least not at Scruffy's. My $0.02? I feel sorta bad, although not for the guy in question. If I do feel bad, it's for not doing or saying something earlier.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

According to a recent article on United Press International, 10% of telecommuters work in the nude. I haven't decided if this is a good thing or not, although it's at least not as bad as what I initially thought it to read...I first misread it as "10% of telemarketers work in the nude." I'm wondering if this elevates those annoying calls you get during dinner time to obscene phone calls.

In previous posts, I have referred to working at home as "Work at home in your underwear and don't bother to shower or shave day," although that's where I draw the line. Maybe because I'm severely lacking in body hair, I can't really go sans clothing for very long periods of time, especially since it ain't exactly temperate climate outside of the walls that surround me.

According to the article, people feel that they are more productive when working at home, and that their supervisors agree with them. This sorta makes sense...the two or three hours that you lose stuck in rush hour traffic could easily be put to better use. But on the other hand, there was the problem with "Casual Fridays," which actually led to a decrease in office productivity.

Maybe it's from the years of slumming it in t-shirts and jeans that I actually feel more comfortable in a shirt and tie, although at least I look more professional, if anything else.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Does this sound right to you? The UK newspaper The Independent has unearthed documents from 1955 that detail the plans of the BBC in the event of a nuclear strike. According to the article:

Just before the first missiles had reached Britain, the BBC was to use regional centres in Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol and Middlesbrough to broadcast a national service that the Government hoped would create "a diversion to relieve strain and stress".

As long as they don't start playing "We'll Meet Again" by Vera Lynn, I guess it might work, although I think it's safe to say that people would only be pacified for so long before they figured out what's going on. But then, considering that this is from the same era that brought us Duck and Cover, I suppose we shouldn't really be surprised.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

The hills of Cypress.

Can you see me?

"The scenery! Get the scenery!"

"WARNING: Do not cross beyond ski area boundary ropes at any time! Grave injury, hypothermia and death occur beyond the ski area boundary! Do not follow anyone beyond the ropes!"

The conditions were great, the snow was fresh and soft, and the chairlift kept breaking down. When getting up to the top of one hill, a little kid got hurt getting off of the chairlift, so they had to shut it down for a minute or two. But, just to rub salt in the wound, as I'm going down the hill, I call up to the people high up on the chairlift: "Hey, the guy at the top said it'd be another five hours."

Am I a bastard or what?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

With the Canadian federal election over and done with, I am proud to say that I have done my civic duty and cast my vote. In the Fleetwood-Port Kells riding, there was less than 2% votes between Conservatives and Liberals, translating to just over 800 votes between the two. Given the fact that there was a 60.2% voter turnout, that leaves out 29, 835 registered voters that didn't make a contribution. This could have had a very different turnout if those people actually got off their asses for a few minutes.

As Canadians, we're born complainers. Allegedly, there was a higher voter turnout altogether, given the chance to vote in a new government. For those who didn't actually vote, they don't really have the right to complain about what the government does, because hey, they had their chance to.

Mandatory voting might be a good idea. But then, some could consider it to be infringing on the democratic process. I think it's a good idea up to a point. But on the other hand, according to one source, Australia (who has had mandatory voting since 1924) has a large number of spoiled ballots, either in the form of protest votes or from recent immigrants who didn't understand the voting process (but then, why are they voting in the first place?). As it stands, voting should be an informed decision.

Given the new minority Conservative government, a lot folks seem to think it spells the Americanization of Canada, with Stephen Harper playing patsy to George Bush and selling off our country bit by bit. But don't blame me. I voted for Kodos.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's my latest addiction.

Oh, God, help Me.

Like clockwork, Thursday night, as my evening class winds down, I find myself in the company of my classmates in Scruffy McGuire's pub and grill on Karaoke night, belting out tune after off tune, successfully forgetting everything I learned during music class in elementary school, as the teachers turned what's supposed to be a beautiful art form into a chore.

Some people have a specific approach. For one, Glen, the host, consistently chooses "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who and "Losing My Religion" by REM. Joel, another regular (also a student at Douglas College), consistently chooses "At Last" by Etta James, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "My Immortal" by Evanescence.

Karaoke night brings out all types, from the guys who have a garage band, to the professionally trained opera singers that just happen to be on a night out, to the people who really should not be behind a microphone, but do it anyways because everybody is already drunk out of their trees.

I don't think I have a particularly good singing voice, which is why I make a point of picking songs that are already considered poorly sung, or songs that I repeatedly sing in the shower or while I'm in the car. Unfortunately, this list of songs is getting progressively shorter and shorter as I make my way through the song book.

On average, I can usually pull out about three songs per night, more if it happens to be particularly dead. But, it gives me a good idea of what songs are particularly easy to do and have really hard-to-hit high notes. I try to avoid repeats whenever possible, although if I get particularly good response out of a particular song, I'll keep it in mind for next time.

My combined set list of all songs sung so far (off of memory):
  1. "Wonderful World" by Louie Armstrong. This song is much easier after a few swigs of beer, as mimicking L. Armstrong's vocals can be pretty hard on the throat.
  2. "My Ding-A-Ling" by Chuck Berry. Apparently, not a lot of people request this one. I wonder why. Nevertheless, it's a crowd pleaser.
  3. "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot. If you don't know the words to this one, the words on screen are very hard to keep up with. I only know up to "My homeboys try to warn me / but that butt you've got makes me so horny."
  4. "Black" by Pearl Jam. Fairly simple track, although I always screw up that one line before "Now the air I've tasted and breathed as taken a turn."
  5. "She Bangs" by Ricky Martin. This one's a lot of fun because I do it in the style of William Hung, the infamous American Idol reject. Just speak with the most blatant Chinese accent and start off with, "You know I have no formal training, but I give it my all and I have no regrets." Gets 'em all the time.
  6. "Put Your Lights On" by Carlos Santana with Everlast. This one's fairly easy as it doesn't require a huge vocal range.
  7. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. This one works best when you have at least three people on the mic, but they only have two mics at once. This one also requires a higher vocal range.
  8. "Fell In Love With a Girl" by the White Stripes. This one requires a higher vocal range and my voice cracks when I try to hit them.
  9. "Creep" by Radiohead. Thom York incorporates a falsetto voice during some parts, which can be tough to mimic, plus the part, "Run, run, run" is challenging if you can't hit the notes naturally.
  10. "Come Sail Away" by Styx (as performed by Eric Cartman from South Park). This one is tons of fun, although imitating the voice is hard on the throat (see entry #1). The words on screen also tend to go out of sync with the music. If no one applauds, finish it by saying, "Screw you guys, I'm going home!"
  11. "Date Rape" by Sublime. A really fun song to sing and doesn't need a huge vocal range, but the words go by very quickly. You will need to know this one by heart because the words tend to go out of sync with the song.
  12. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python. This one's a fun one to do...just do your best fake British accent. However, the spoken word parts towards the end are difficult to time unless you know those parts by heart.
  13. "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra doesn't incorporate a wide range of vocals, which makes this a fairly easy pieace to do.
  14. "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots. Another rock song, this one's a little more challenging because of the vocal range required. ("Whe-en the dogs to find her...")
  15. "Santeria" by Sublime. This is a great song, although requires a larger vocal range than "Date Rape."
  16. "Stand by Your Man" by Patsy Cline. I try to do this one Blues Brothers style, and start it off with, "We play BOTH kinds of music. Country AND Western." Another crowd pleaser.
  17. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day. Not a hard song to sing, but my voice sounds even worse over the PA system with this song. I can't explain why.
  18. "At a Medium Pace" by Adam Sandler. This song has some really sexually explict lyrics (sample: "Push it in and out at a medium pace"), but given the comedic nature of the song, it's almost expected that you butcher the vocals for it. There are some high notes which I can't hit, but this one's a crowd killer. Just don't expect to get a lot of phone numbers in the pub after singing this one. For bonus points, try getting someone to act out the parts of the song for you.
  19. "It's Been A While" by Staind. This one's pretty easy.
  20. "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel. This one usually works best if you're doing it in pairs and if you can tone down the voice a little bit. Big booming rockstar vocals do NOT work for this song.
  21. "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis vs. JunkieXL. I don't actually know the words to this one, plus he tends to mumble really fast during some parts of the song.
There are several songs which I'd like to attempt, but only if I can attempt a different spin on it. I almost managed to convince one of my classmates to do "I've Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher, only I'd be doing it Beavis & Butt-Head style ("We need a chick...huh-huh...we need a chick who has tattoos on her butt..." "Yeah, we need one of those chicks.").

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Monday, January 02, 2006

I gotta say, when rereading what I wrote about one year ago, I'm pretty disappointed.

(from archives, January 1, 2005)

1: Improve myself socially. Action plan: be more aware of the way I am perceived by others and work to change that; stand up for myself more often; take a lot less crap from people; learn to choose my battles much more carefully.

Result: B-. I stand up for myself more often, am well aware of the opinion of others (i.e.: it ain't as high as I'd like), and am more than willing to drop people if they aren't worth my time. On the other hand, I started becoming a lot more confrontational (especially with people who inconsiderately use their cellphones in the theatres) and starting to have a lot more smart-ass moments under the pretense of trying to be funny. Not good.

2: Improve myself culturally/intellectually. Action plan: set aside 15 minutes a day to read a book not related to school; indulge in less cultural junk food (video games, comic books, action movies); do something culturally/intellectually stimulating at least once a month (eg: go to museum, see a foreign film or a documentary).

Result: D. I rediscovered Diablo II. I was only able to read about four books from cover-to-cover (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowlings, Jennifer Government by Max Barry, Porno by Irvine Welsh, and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami). I gave up half-way through JRR Tolkein's The Two Towers and I'm struggling through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Only saw ONE foreign film during the Vancouver International Film Festival (Tudo Azul, from Brazil).

3: Improve myself physically. Action plan: continue to exercise regularly and eat properly; bring along journal to keep track of progress of any gains; adjust exercise program at least once a month to avoid stagnation.

Result: B-. I've injured myself repeatedly through the year, mostly during Capoeira class (busted extendor tendon on finger, cut over left eye requiring stitches, overstressed left wrist, overflexed left ankle), and I started seeing a chiropractor regularly. I continually hit the gym and I started jogging to the gym instead of driving, but my endurance level is not there right now. And I still don't keep track of my gains.

4: Improve myself professionally. Action plan: complete education; get out of the house and meet more people and network more often; practice and improve time management skills.

Result: D. While I did manage to get a well-paying work experience position during the summer, I've been a baaaaaaad boy. I consistently nod off during class, I put off work until the very last second, I've burned at least one bridge by accident (got stressed and wasn't paying enough attention) and my work area is a complete mess. The only reason why I don't rate myself any lower is because I actually manage to get it all submitted in time.

It's been said that goals are repeatedly given up on because they are unrealistic or unattainable. Maybe I need to lower the bar a little bit, and then raise it slowly.

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