January 23rd, Evening Update: 243 pounds

The last 48 hours have been something of a blur. I’ve had to deal with a variety of legal issues that have been stressful, taxing and challenging. And thanks be to Aisha that I’m a lawyer, because if they were my OWN legal issues, I’d be under 200 pounds at this point through sheer frustration.

But enough about work. Onto the good stuff! (Note: good here is defined as the rote repetition of my diet and exercise. But, hey! that’s the goal of the blog.)

Tuesday

Breakfast: Whole wheat English muffin, one egg, fried in olive oil, ham, tomato and Sriracha sauce (for ease of future reference, this will be referred to as The Breakfast.)

Lunch: Veggie donair. The place I went to was out of both of their vegetarian options, so I had to go off book. It was a grilled pita, stuffed with roasted peppers and mushrooms, lettuce and tomato, and donair sauce – a mix of sour cream and Greek yoghurt, with spices. I asked for easy sauce. I also threw back a Coke Zero like a testosterone-infused, Diet-soda drinking chimp who is easily swayed by a little marketing.

Dinner: The Sub. (For those of you joining us for the first time ever today, falafal, whole wheat, lettuce, extra tomato, pickle, extra black olives, world’s tiniest amount of red onion, sweet onion sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Roll it, wrap it, call it a day.)

Snack: 12 sour cream and onion potato chips.

Exercise: At the pool, over a mile, and in under 45 minutes, easiest swimming I’ve done. Two things contributed – I bought some new prescription goggles, which enables me to see clearly (which now being exposed to the observation of some swimmers is not exactly a positive thing), and I figure that I’m probably getting stronger and faster, having been doing this for a wee while now.

Wednesday

Breakfast: The Breakfast

Lunch: The Sub

Dinner: 8 potato and onion perogies with BBQ sauce (no cheese, no sour cream), and a tomato, cut into slices.

Exercise: Typing one blog post. Seriously guys, I’m drained.

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Seattle Supersonic: Roadtrip Planning

By my approximate calculations, the last time I managed to scrape together enough days off in a row to constitute an actual vacation was while John Paul still served as the Metatron and Cliff Fletcher was running the Maple Leafs Cito Gaston was running the Blue Jays Toronto sports teams didn’t drift aimlessly on the seas of competition.

So, I managed to beg, borrow and scrape together three consecutive days off from The Restaurant and head south to Seattle. The declared purpose of the trip was to see the Blue Jays defeat the lowly Mariners. Considering the Jays only come to Seattle for one series a year, the trip had to be this weekend. I will briefly point out to those unfamiliar with the restaurant industry, that to get three days off in the first week of July one needs to pray for more luck than is normally seen on the Vegas Strip.

Almost as large as the desire to see some baseball, though, was the desire to simply be back on the road – regardless of for how long – as was a commonality during my Acadia days with CoHo. This time, sadly, we hadn’t managed to convince some benefactor to provide us with money for all the gas/hotel/admission fees/border guard bribes we would be using. In short, I was actually going to have to pay for things myself.

This immediately cancelled out a few small luxuries. The first to go was a name-brand hotel with unnecessary frills (like running water or beds). Comfort Inn is, apparently, for those who floss with unicorn tail horns and wear undergarments of cotton handspun by blind villagers in remotest Tianjing. We were going for the ironincally named King’s Inn – for the simple reason that at roughly $250 for two nights, I wouldn’t have to pay in limbs.

Next up was the matter of transportation. Quickly the Victoria Clipper, a passenger ferry that runs from downtown to downtown of Victoria/Seattle, was ruled out. It had the disadvantage of being convienient, and therefore more expensive. This left us with a jaunt from Sidney, BC to Anacortes, WA on the car ferry for a much lower price. This was more our brand of vodka. Still to choose from, though, was two different vehicles. First was Amanda’s 2005 Minivan, which featured plenty of space for the four people going and a functioning CD player. Second option was Karl’s 1977 Lincoln Continental Towncar, which featured plenty of space for the populations of any four European countries you choose and a gas mileage measured in litres to the yard. While the Lincoln held a substantial edge in any situations of direct nuclear strike to the vehicle, the recent upgrade in gas to $1.50/L led us quickly to the more fuel-efficient minivan (surely a sentence never before put into type).

The best of all of the various reservations and phone calls and emails that were sent out to ensure we didn’t end up sleeping with the troll under the Aurora Bridge was that it was done by Amanda and I after a rather convivial evening. This involved (if I recall correctly) deciding after numerous pints each that it was essential for us to get a bottle of wine – to go – from the pub we were ‘planning’ at, and go and ‘plan’ back at my place. Somehow, miraculously, we managed to get all of the essentials in place – including gorgeous tickets for the Blue Jays/Mariners game – and were ready to roll, along with Karl and Brad at 8:30 on the morning of the 2nd of July.

And off we went…

What country are we going to? Hint... it\'s three letters.

What country are we going to? Hint: 3 letters.

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UVic Notes 2: Say Rabbit

The nice thing about being born in the 1980s, aside from the ability to be fascinated by anthropomorphic, under-20 turtles that fight crime and eat pizza, is that I’ve grown up in a time when superstition and general lack of knowledge has been replaced by scientific process. This is why Mike Huckabee has become such a strong candidate. No longer do we believe that dragons lie beyond the edges of the map, or that rocks are edible, or even wonder how they they get the Caramel inside the Caramilk bar. The truth, respectively, is: they live in Bulgaria; only quartz; and specially trained pixie/elves.

Despite this, I still have an obsessive need to have the first word of every month be ‘rabbit’. Whether it be shortly after midnight on the first of the month, or the first word I say when I wake up, it needs to be rabbit. I tend to do both to be safe. This, in the greater and logical scheme of things, makes about as much sense as a Mrs. Spears book on parenting – and yet it still happens. So when I started off February by groggily saying ‘nrrrrggghello?’ at 7:00am when someone forgot about the existence of time zones, I knew my month would be rough. In no short order… I was proved fairly correct. To wit:

  1. I was broken up with.
  2. I had my bike stolen.
  3. We lost our first 4 intramural games of the year.
  4. I decided to give up meat for the duration of the month.
  5. I had an ear infection of epic proportions.
  6. The Leafs decided to make like it was a windy September and blow all-around.
  7. I tried to play goalie during a game of darts… and suffered from an unsurprising puncture wound.
  8. I had an open memo due. (Note: To non-law students and other people who still have retained their humanity, an open memo is a 20-page legal exercise requiring first years to learn how to research and write in a legal fashion. This is, apparently, important if you want to be a lawyer. And I thought you just had to be good looking, drive a nice car and say sarcastic things. Oh Hollywood, you lie to me yet again.)
  9. And so on and so forth.

And yet from the ashes, a quality end to the month has arisen. We’ve won in curling. I got a mark in the ‘A’ range. I found a geocache before anyone else. My overly generous father offered to replace my bike. I realized that I was okay with being broken up with. The sun shone. I spontaneously joined in with a group of random people in the park and we all dispalyed amazing choreography while singing “Tomorrow’s A Brand New Day!” and throwing flower petals in the air. I discovered hallucinogens. And so on and so forth.

So the moral of the story is that I’d better say rabbit in a couple of days. Things lately have been on the keenly side, and I’m afraid to say… but things are looking up. Wait… just got the Leafs score in.

Bugger.

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UVicNotes 1: Sports Law

I doubt I’ll ever make the NFL. There’s an outside chance that I could become one of the team of scurrying attorneys who insure that every consonant, vowel and punctuation mark that comes out of the commissioner’s office is unlikely to bring a multi-million lawsuit… but that’s a far cry from standing in the end zone with my arms raised in the air, listening to 50 000 fans yell out my last name over and over again. (That job belongs to Phil, of San Diego Charger fame.) My life path just doesn’t end under Sunday night lights. For sheer intensity, it will have to end under the megawatt stare of a Supreme Court justice. 

But for one glorious shining moment, I had a bunch of tired, sore and totally insane law students yelling Rivers on the sidelines as I lay in the end zone, bemused, stunned and happy.

Law Games 2008 is basically an Olympics for people who will only ever appear in the sports section as someone’s agent or attorney, attempting to explain why dogfighting, domestic abuse, steroid use and fraud are the God-given rights of professional athletes, or at the very least about how they’re so very sorry that the people they trusted just happened to lead them down a path with “unfortunate and unforeseen consequences”. Needless to say, its nice to be on the other side of the equation. 

Roughly 1000 law students from more than a dozen law schools came together in Montreal to participate in basketball, soccer, flag football, a bizarre cross-breed of volleyball, dodgeball and yoga known as “Kinball,” and other events. This Kinball, and Ultimate Frisbee, more commonly known as ‘disc’ or just plain ‘Ultimate’, happened to be my main events for the week.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t really felt like part of the UVic Law community to this point. Since I normally could connect with anyone, be they 70 year old Hungarian nuns, truck-driving transvestites or Alex Creamer. So it was with some satisfaction that I just happened to go out on the first day of competition and prove myself both competent at Kinball (I was dubbed the “Kinball Wizard” by another UVicer) and show that my East Coast ultimate training was up to the West Coast standard. I don’t remember exactly how I did, but it was good enough to help get both teams into the playoffs of their respective events two days later. I even got mentioned at the team meeting that night and was given a good cheer.

 Fast forward 36 hours or so, to 8:30 in outdoor January Montreal weather. (In case you were watching the fast forwarding, you would have seen the following from UVic: silver parachute pants dancing to Vanilla Ice on-stage; two suits wearing rabbit heads walking into a formal moot court; $450 of alcohol somehow disappear; Wildcat Straub’s rear-end hanging out of his onesies; Wildcat Straub tackle a Christmas tree; and Wildcat Straub cover himself in silver paint. Entirely.)

UVic vs. Mcgill. Semi-final. Loser goes back to the hotel. Winner goes to the final. I’d already made two points off of beauty passes into the back of the endzone, leading to wild cheering from UVic as we took the lead. Then I got marked up by the other team’s captain on defense. He burned me like a Roman candle, shaking me like San Fran in a quake and putting the exclamation point on the sentence in the end zone with his catch.

We re-marked, worked the disc upfield until we were about a third of the field from the McGill end. My coverage lost a step on a cut, so I took off for the end. The pass came in around shin height and fast directly behind me. I dropped to my stomach, rolled to my back, tracked the disc to the point of contact until I overspun and stuck my hand out blindly behind my back, hoping I’d read it right. 

It hit. And stuck.

I hit the brick wall of the school we were playing up against and came to a rest. Four different law schools were going off their rockers making noise. Not a single person near the field wasn’t clapping or screaming. And all of UVic was being led by Dickie: raising their arms up and down and chanting “Riv-ers! Riv-ers!” 

I don’t care if it was the semi-final of a sport invented to be a distraction from the munchies at an event that was filled with people for whom the most athletic part of many days is a rousing intramural game. It was, from what I’ve been told upwards of forty times, a catch worth cheering for.

And they’ve all got no idea how much I appreciated it.

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VicNotes12b: Carin’ for Taryn

VicNotes 12b – 66 Hours

At numerous points throughout Taryn’s visit to me in Victoria, we commented on how action-packed this trip would be. The movie, I figured, would star Samuel L. Jackson as me and Julianna Margulies as Taryn and feature a number of snakes invading an aircraft, in a desperate attempt to kill aboard. That said… in the unlikely event that a movie ever comes of that idea, perhaps we should just star in our own film, and simply ignore plot, trying instead to cram as many different things into as possible. This explains the lengthy post. (By the way, I know that my Snakes on a Plane joke is somewhat dated. Let me quickly point out: I don’t care. SoaP is immortal.)

Taryn arrived from her apparently excellent MSc interview at UBC on Monday, around 5:30, after successfully navigating Vancouver, Tsawassen, the Strait of Georgia, Swartz Bay and Victoria. This is notable for a few reasons, not least of which was that I have trouble navigating my own apartment building’s hallways, preferring as I do to walk into walls and posts. I was waiting for her when she got off the bus, and though we hadn’t seen each other for a few years – neither of us can actually place our finger on the last time – it was easily smooth from the beginning, like there hadn’t been a day between us. The part that was less smooth, of course, was that I had to quickly escort her to another bus stop so she could get to my place, and I could get to work. I was closing down The Restaurant that evening, so I wasn’t able to clear out until just shy of midnight. While I don’t wish to say my service suffered from my anxiousness to get home, there’s a very real chance the last couple of clients were asked to order their desserts “directly to Megan, that woman in the kitchen over there” and were given brief instructions on how to run our coffee maker behind the bar. (*Note: kidding, of course. I give people GREAT service incredibly well regardless of what time of night it is.)

After getting myself back to the apartment, I dragged poor Taryn out of her bed where she was happily trying to ignore the time difference and the epic flight. We then went for a walk up to Mt. Tolmie – arguably my favourite place in Victoria – in order to check out the stars and the night view of the cityscape. The only challenge was avoiding the steamed-up cars parked directly in front of the “No parking between 11pm and 7am” signs. I also learned just how miserable I am at pointing out the various locations in my city when I don’t have the advantage of daylight. Sample conversation:

  • Taryn: “What’s that big cluster of lights over there?”
  • Chris: “Ummm… lightbulbs, I presume.”
  • Taryn: “Oh. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that.”
  • Chris: “Aaaaaiiieeeeee” * “falls” off cliff *

The next day was earmarked for whale watching, but since we were on the waitlist to do it for free (I know, ladies, it’s hard to imagine just how generous I am with my money) – we had the bulk of the morning and early afternoon to wander around Victoria and the harbour. There’s a photo album of some of the sights over at Flickr (the link is also at the top-right of my blog), though of course you’ll see a few photos interspersed throughout this post. We first wandered out to Fisherman’s Wharf, a moored collection of houseboats, in order to marvel at people with the best view of the harbour and the least amount of privacy in the world. Following that, we moseyed up to the Victoria Legislature and sat on the lawn, just talking and enjoying the gorgeous weather. (I know, ladies, it’s hard to imagine just how exciting the events I plan are.) While whale watching went off without a hitch, we were sadly orca-free… getting to see only the majestic and rather anti-climactic view of humpback tails flashing in the air for a few seconds before disappearing for 20 minutes. On the plus side, this did give us time to plan the more climactic evening.

With the politics inside, would Taryn be wearing a “Party” Hat?

There is – at the Empress Hotel – a rather snazzy little lounge called The Bengal Room. This is a nice place to visit, decked out to match British India. So Taryn and I decided to get snazzed out and head there for a pre-dinner drink, before relocating to The Restaurant for dinner. I tried to be all cool and order an ‘off the menu’ martini – basically, just a dry Hendrick’s Martini – but the Empress was plum out of Hendrick’s, so I had to settle for a slightly less manly drink (one that contained a number of rums and fruit juices and only wasn’t served with a bar umbrella, since they apparently didn’t exist in colonial India.) Taryn forbid me from ruining the ambience by letting my slick happy fingers make the camera button sing, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. After our aperitif, we retired to The Restaurant. Since I routinely recommend oysters as a part of my job, I figured it was only fair that I actually try one or two, to see how much I like them. I happy to note that the more flavourless an oyster is, the better the experience, though I really do enjoy the rather sweet taste of the Kumamoto… and I could be easily persuaded to do that again. It was also nice to try the Pecan Salmon, since I’ve been recommending it as “my favourite thing on the menu” for the last 3 months.

With the water still beckoning, though, Taryn and I spent the next day on a private guided kayak trip to Seal Rock to observe the harbour seals. Harbour seals are pure comedy. They lack the necessary musculature in their limbs to be able to amble their way along the rocks, so they wait for high tide to float of the rocks, then swim and eat, to return to settle on the rocks in low tide. They are referred to by the locals as “rock sausages”. They have the energy level of avocados. They are, in short, ranked right up above “house cat” and “Student with Research Grant” for least work done in a month. We got to hang around with the seals, though, and had a blast kayaking our way through the harbour.** At the recommendation of Kayaking Doug – our tour guide – after we got off the water we went to Darcy’s for Caesars and onion rings, adding another stop to our eventually exhaustive list of drinking establishments frequented (the final tally: 7 – Irish Times, The Bengal Room, Nautical Nellie’s, Darcy’s, my house, Smuggler’s Cove Pub and The Airport White Spot (though we avoiding drinking, per se, at the last one)). The Caesars were of excellent quality, and having nothing to do aside from prepare for visitors to my place that evening, we enjoyed one or three over a brief period of time, then bussed it back home.

The Yellow Dart

I still needed to provide snacks for the people coming over, so we went to the local grocery store. Apparently buying groceries after Caesar-ing is a fun experience, since Taryn forced me to put back many of the 17 boxes of frozen snacks I’d attempted to buy. The evening, though, was fun and filled with failed and successful attempts at Poker and an awful lot of beer and vodka. Taryn decided that she loved me based on the fact that I had a bottle of lemon juice she could use to flavour her vodka/waters… thus proving that the easiest way to ANYONE’S heart is through their stomach… or possibly liver, anatomy not being my strong point.

With Taryn taking off soon, Thursday morning necessitated a brief visit to the pool in order to shock us into wakefulness, then a relaxed day of wandering the UVic Campus – apparently Taryn didn’t believe me about how many bunnies there are all over the place, nor that they stalk you in a manner reminiscent of Monty Python – and having lunch at Smuggler’s Cove before enjoying the views over Cadboro Bay. It was a pretty peaceful and contented way to conclude the visit.

I Iz in ur grass, waitin for to pounce!

Of course, that’s not where the visit concluded. There first needed to be a rules-free game of Scrabble, in which Taryn attempted to use the words “Dover” and “Dylon” and a rather nerve-wracking wait for the bus to the airport to show up, which it decided to do 20 minutes late. All was well and good, though, and Taryn and I headed up the airport at the top of the double decker bus, perched at the very front, watching the mountains in the distance and the sunlight reflecting off the water. The goodbye was hurried and rushed – those at the airport always are – and she was on the plane and off to Ontario. Already, my life seems a little bit quieter and more drab. I think I just miss my friend.

** Note: The only thing more pathetic than a harbour seal is the cormorant. This is a bird that feeds on fish, and thus lives in and around the ocean. However, since God apparently has a twisted sense of humour, these poor birds lack the necessary oils to be able to fly when wet. Thus they’ll dive to be able to eat, then spend the next 20 minutes standing on a rock, waiting for the sun and breeze to dry their feathers. How this creature lives long enough to reproduce remains a mystery that baffles naturalists.

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VicNotes 12a: Now with 75% More!

What in Sweet Blazes is he up to now?

I normally aim for around 1000 words an update… or in photographic terms, ‘one’. However. This past week – and I’m a little late posting, as will be explained shortly – was action-packed with things worthy of writing. So I’m tempted to split the post up into VicNotes12a, and VicNotes12b. This allows you – the patient reader – to find an easy division into two parts, should you wish to read half in one go, and the other half later. It’s kind of like one of those ‘Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’ books, only instead of having really interesting unique options (“You see a moray eel coming towards you through the murky waters. If you try to sing a duet from The Little Mermaid with it, turn to page 14. If you want to fight it, using only a rock and your teeth, turn to page 33.”) – you have “If you want to read about Chris playing hockey for the first time 14 years, go to VicNotesA. If you wish to read about Chris’s adventures with Taryn, whom he hadn’t seen for something like 3 years, then go to VicNotesB.”

Thus…

VicnotesA: Hockey Night in Canada

I possess a pair of “SuperTacks” skates. They’re a little on the vintage side, what with the surface rust on the blades, the crumbling leather on the boot, the plastic showing through the toe and the fact it’s about a size 11 for my size 13 feet. However… when I put them on, I skate like the wind. That is, if by skate, you mean “trip over the blue line in a manner reminiscent of Bambi” and by “like the wind” you mean “like a three-toed sloth during siesta”. Thus, when I was invited by the baseball lads to play hockey last Friday night, my excitement was barely contained. They could see how thrilled I was by the nervous twitching of my neck and look of a hunted partridge in my eyes. Night, of course, is a very appropriate description for ice time that begins around midnight and wraps up at 2:00.

I duly put my skates in my knapsack and biked to the other side of town to have them sharpened, though. After being laughed out of SportChek by the clerk who didn’t want to touch my skates for fear of “irreparably damaging them” (aka: breathing on them), I made my way over to a Source for Sports, that was much kinder. The polished off a lot of the surface rust and refrained from comments more disparaging then “Playing for the Ottawa Silver Sevens, are you?” I also purchased a hockey stick. After considering the shaft’s flexibility, the curve of the blade, the comparative costs and the materials used in construction, I bought the stick endorsed by the most random NHLer they had. That would be “Olli Jokinen.”

After biking home with my new stick across my handlebars, inadvertently wiping out car mirrors and unsuspecting dogwalkers, I made it home and began to assemble my hockey uniform for the evening. As mentioned above, I last played this game on ice when I was about 8 years old. Thus, I was a little short on the correct protective equipment. I ran over a mental checklist. “Skates? Yup. Stick? Yup. Helmet? Can get at arena. Shorts, shin guards, mouth guard, contacts, jock strap, shoulder pads? Nope. Jersey? 27 to choose from.” I was tempted to rip our phone book in half and duct-tape them to my legs, but I figured I didn’t want to look ridiculous. Instead, I wore long-underwear protruding from underneath my Hawaiian shorts, with my broomball jersey, skates from the 50s and my backup pair of glasses wedged into my overly snug helmet. (For those of you who knew me at Acadia, this is eerily similar to my ‘Beveridge Knights Broomball uniform. All you need to do is replace the bike helmet with a hockey helmet, and my pure white walking shoes with the awesome skates and you’ve got it… as this photo shows.)

Yes, I Wear this in Public

After the people I met at the arena had all returned from the “really important thing they had to do” briefly after I showed up (I don’t know what it was, but I’m guessing it was sad for them, since they all returned out of breath, wiping tears from their eyes and clutching their sides), we got the game underway. I am happy to report that I was able to play a decent game of hockey. My skating wasn’t actually as bad as I’d rather direly predicted to myself, and courtesy of playing road hockey with my little brother, my stick-handling skills and goalie faking abilities were pretty good. Sure, I may have been spun around so fast it looked like I was in a whirlpool. Sure, I may have been able to stop only by gliding gracefully into the end boards with a sickening crunch. Sure, I may have taken a hard wrist-shot to the chest on one occasion, leaving me with a bruise the size of a grapefruit. And really, I may have been able to skate backwards about as well as I splice genes. But all in all, it was an absolutely brilliant experience. I even got off a few shots, and set up one guy on a smooth breakaway. My own breakaway was ended with a dazzling spinorama, where I stopped on a time, rotated 180 degrees and whipped a backhand just wide. Of course, that little sequence occurred because I accidentally lost the puck, turned so fast I nearly fell over and somehow managed to smack the puck with my stick as I tried to regain balance… but no one needs to know that.

Following that, of course, Jeff and I took a little side-trip to Wendy’s in order to indulge in a sandwich PETA has recently called “the single most damaging thing to animal lovers anywhere ever”, the Baconater. We felt that the calories provided by two beef patties, two slices of processed cheeefood, a bun lathered in mayo or butter, absolutely no veggies but SIX strips of bacon was a worthy use of our hard-earned calorie buffer. The fact it was at 2:30am didn’t seem to faze our thought-process, nor did the fact that I felt like a wounded water buffalo for the next 24 hours.

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VicNotes 11: In One Minute…

A Moment or Two

I’ve been bragging about Victoria’s gorgeous weather non-stop to anyone foolish enough to have the common courtesy of listening while I talk. I even mentioned – and this is a sure sign of just how cocky I’d become – that since I’d started work at The Restaurant some time ago, I’d yet to be caught in the rain whilst biking to and from the downtown core. Two days after having said this, of course, I went through a charming 5 day spell of being drenched to the point that I looked like a kitten used as muskie bait. Only not as cute… or as disturbing of an image. With the exception of when I went out for a walk in the rain to geocache and photograph, and I knew full well what I was getting myself into, this was an unpleasant experience. Every day I would arrive home, bedraggled and crookedly bespectacled, bemoaning the bursts of water from the sky. With no-one else living at the apartment, of course, I just sounded like a babbling idiot, talking to myself about the weather. Which may be the anti-acme of coolness.

Thus it was with some happiness that I biked to work yesterday under a gorgeous blue sky, a cooling breeze and a general sense of serenity. It was one of those moments where everything came together and I had a deep sense of serenity. I’ve settled in, have a fun and well-paying job, the beginnings of a network of friends and the imminent reality of one of my best friends coming for a visit in less than a week. (That would be a certain Ms. Klarner, daughter of the aforementioned tall-father ). On top of all that, it appears that the third bedroom in my appartment shall no longer be filled only by a somewhat sketchy and spray painted box spring I’d dragged into the house my first day here, but rather by one of the fellows I met at baseball, Jeff. He’s agreed to move in, meaning that the last month or so of VicNotes will actually have some new protagonists. Seriously, I’d started to feel like I’d been writing the sequel to Castaway. I had an inanimate object that I’d given personality that wasn’t destined to make it to the end, but provided the bulk of my conversation with someone else. (Okay… correction from earlier: talking to The Desk about the weather was the anti-acme of coolness. Mea culpa.)

Flowers in Rain

The Raining World-Champion of Flowers

That said, I have managed to at long last find my first real indication of Victoria’s decidedly left-wing nature. To be fair, the fellow smoking up in a parking garage that I encountered my first week qualified as a sort of precursor to that list, but since I could find a similar occurence not 10 feet from my own backyard in Acton, it didn’t really count. As a brief aside, you know you grew up in a small town when the spot where the cool, rebellious youth gathered to plot their subversion of rules was the back of the government-operated Post Office. I wonder if this was ever pointed out to them… In any case, my left-wing wonder was discovered whilst I biked home from a work shift on Saturday. There usually is about as much traffic on my route home as there is rainforest in Slovenia. However today, cars were parked up and down the road, and foot traffic made the street look like it was lifted from an informative video on Japanese population density. The city had closed Moss St. – a fairly long street, as I was to discover – for a paint-in. The entire street was lined with professional artists, working in the sun/drizzle on their latest creations, and displaying their art to the viewing public. It was a brilliant community event. Now – you may wonder, “Okay. Public art. Kinda hippie, but not really a southpaw duck.” This is because I had yet to mention the following attendees:

  • The couple holding a banner decrying military health insurance fraud, and passing out pamphlets to confused passers-by who hadn’t realized this was a major issue
  • The fellow dressed as Spiderman, complete with mask, holding a sign that read “Free Hugs”
  • The artist who, dreamily staring off into space, explained his latest work thusly to a skeptical consumer (me): “This piece is about 2/3rds done.” “Really?” “Yeah… the other half I still need to do.” “Oh. Of course. The other half.” “Well… you know what its like when you’re 90% of the way there.” “Right.”

Needless to say, I now feel like I’ve gotten a bit of a better taste of my beloved adopted city.

Having mentioned both taste and conversations that follow a more strangled route than the Sea-to-Sky Highway, I have segued rather smoothly into The Restaurant, my favourite and greatest source of entertainment and writing material. The winners this time are twofold. First, I had a customer sit down, and in a strong southern-American accent and tell me that he wanted – and I quote – “a great, cold Canadian beer, something the locals drink… *heartbeat spacing* a Budweiser, please.” Sometimes all you can do is smile and nod. Second, I had a group of 7 men who came in for a table, all in their late 20s I would hazard. This in itself is unremarkable. What changed it up was that all, save one, were men of fairly slight build. And yet, all save two, ordered the 20oz bone-in Cowboy Lollipop steak. This is a steak that is approximately the size of a tractor tire. The steak itself can be used to bludgeon would-be attackers. Two of them were capable of feeding 300 piranhas for 23 days at a local pet store. This is a steak that the cow itself would be shocked could exists. And they ordered FIVE. And one fellow finished another one’s. These guys were my heroes.

Finally, I have a random throwaway note. Sean and Matt – my brilliant former roommates – were forced to listen to me complain ad nauseum about the failings of Windows Vista. This is an operating system that, apparently, has made improvements to the older Windows systems. (I’d originally typed “older, fully functioning Windows systems”, but really, who am I kidding?) Vista – for those as yet unfamiliar – appears to be the worst case of masculinity envy I have ever seen. The MAC-PC ads that explain how good Mac is at ‘life stuff’, and how good PC is at ‘numbers stuff’ have apparently stung and prodded Microsoft into trying to become like the hip and cool Apple. Here is my problem: I have no desire to be hip. Nor cool. If I did, I wouldn’t use the word ‘hip’. Nor would I have purchased Vista. Apparently, though, Microsoft decided that pretty colours and loud bangs were an excellent substitute for quality product. Here’s a tip, though: when adding more flash than Carribana, don’t forget to keep the functionality that squares like me buy you for!!

Now, I told you that story to tell you this one. Vista allows me to control the volume levels on different programs from a single mixer. This improvement alone is worth every piercing alarm I get when I try to delete files, open webpages or move the mouse faster than 6 pixels a second. Vista: you’ve got some ‘hip’ in you after all. Or at the very least, broken hip.

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