Thursday, November 30, 2006

Me Night

Tonight is a Me Night. Andrea's flying out to visit friends on the east coast first thing tomorrow, and the 1st Annual Gentleman's Weekend at the Cottage doesn't start until Friday evening. Tonight is mine, all mine.

Once I'd taken care of a few errands that I'd been meaning to get around to, I proceeded to cook up a massive steak and some mashed potatoes, then sat down to some Dr. Phil with my heart-attack-on-a-plate and a cold bottle of beer. Next on the agenda is a little music and reading, to be followed by a solid hour of pirate-related video gaming. By the time I was hired at the new job, this was pretty much what I was doing every night, so I was getting a little sick of it. Now that I'm busy again, this is a real treat. The circle of life, it moves us all.

It's taken until around now to get everything squared away for the weekend. Jake was kind enough to offer to check in the kittens. This is critical, as the little geniuses regularly spill their water bowls and manage to get themselves stuck behind the fridge. Sometimes both in the same twenty minute period.

I've been trying to get over a bad case of the Office Plague for the past few days, and it seems to be on the mend. It no longer feels as though someone's stuff a regulation softball inside my sinuses, so that's a huge improvement. I'd originally planned to combine my pirating with a glass of scotch and a cigar, but something tells me that office plague and tobacco smoke won't play nicely together.

I was hoping that we might have more unseasonable warmth for the upcoming weekend so as to make the porch-going experience a bit more pleasant, but the weather for the next week appears to be crappy with a chance of horrible. I don't think I've actually seen "ice pellets" on a forecast before.

Fortunately, most of what is planned for this weekend can be done strictly indoors. It includes beer-swilling, steak-eating, cigar-smoking, poker-playing, and whiskey-drinking. Not necessariy in that order.

I'm out... have a good night, and I'll have more on this after the weekend.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Some Thoughts

It feels as though someone has stuffed a large grapefruit into my sinuses, but aside from that it's been a good weekend.

Once the dust settled from the renovations at my apartment, things ended up looking pretty good. The wine-stained green, spangly counter top in the kitchen has been replaced with something low-key, tasteful and, most importantly, stain resistant. I'm starting to grow rather fond of my apartment, even if it does have, ahem, "character". (Read: Stalactites on my living room ceiling.)

I was thinking the other day about the kind of charities I'd like to see out there. Not to disrespect traditional methods of delivering foreign aid, but I think that if you deal with the overt symptoms (ie. hunger, disease, malnutrition, etc.) but not the root causes (ie. economic disadvantage, inadequate education, poor security situation, oppressive political environment), the aid you deliver won't actually change anything.

What I'd like to see is an adaption of micro-credit lending that would give micro-grants to local organizations that are working towards political freedom, basic human rights, gender equality, conflict resolution, and economic and educational opportunities.

I'm thinking of something sort of similar to the online auction model, where you can browse based on your price range and interests, and then pick a project that works for you. Regardless of whether you wanted to vaccinate Romanian orphans or provide office supplies for Puruvian womens' rights advocates, you'd be able to find a project that worked for you.

The one issue is accountability, but I think there are ways around that. In almost any given country, you have diplomats, journalists, travellers, writers, government officials, etc., etc. Similar to the way you'd ask a local professional to vouch for you when you apply for a passport, the aide recipients could get local and international officials to vouch for an organization's credibility.

There'd be several benefits to setting things up this way. First off, you'd be supporting some very important work around the world. It's not a pleasant truth, but there are many individuals and organizations who do not believe in democratic government, human rights, or freedom of opportunity for the impoverished. Those who do support these goals deserve support that they don't often receive.

Next, you'd be providing a forum for people with similar goals and interests could share ideas. Rather than having to reinvent the wheel a hundred times over, people can learn what works and what doesn't, and change what they need to make it work in their own setting. If it works, great. The results are evident, and the group gets more funding. If not, then it's back to the drawing board - with even more incentive to get it right the next time, lest someone log some negative feedback.

I totally got off on a tangent here. Other than bandying such thoughts back and forth, the weekend was really good. Very relaxing. The grapefruit in my sinuses appears to be shrinking.

I'd appreciate commentary on this idea, and not just the hearty-backpatting variety, either. If this kind of stuff is a priority for you, is this the kind of model that you'd consider using? Why/why not? What sort of things would you do to improve it? What sort of guarantees would you want? I know there are a lot of you out there who have experience, or at least an interest in this sort of work, and it'd be good to hear from you.

That's it for me. I'm sleepy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've been enjoying the swimming lately, although I haven't had the chance to get out there as much as I'd like. Hopefully that changes, as it appears as though Army will not be taking up my weekends for a while, at least. It's been a while since I last slept late, and woke to freshly made cinnamon buns and coffee that could take the paint off a battleship.

The rest of the post is about resolutions. I don't believe in New Years resolutions. I believe that resolve is something that is not time-dependant. Now that I feel like I'm getting settled into Ottawa, I think I'm going to make the following resolutions:

- Swimming. Do that more often.

- Reading. Make the time to enjoy the intellectual books (and the not-so-intellectual books) that have been gathering dust on the shelves.

- Projects. Once I start one, I should see it through. If I can't see it through, I shouldn't start it.

- Honesty. I wouldn't call myself a dishonest person by any stretch, but I've been know to respond to direct questions with versions of the truth I felt were more pleasing to the ear than others. Next time someone asks an honest question, they get an honest answer.

- To become a man of action. If I want to see an idea become reality, then I'm going to have to be willing to stand up behind it and put in the hours. Not to say that a little creative complaining doesn't do wonders for the soul, but let's be honest here - solving problems without implementing or communicating the solution is little more than intellectual self-gratification.

- Silliness. More of that, too. Does that even count if you put "silliness" down as a resolution, like it's something on a 'To Do' list? I'm not sure, but it's probably better than not having it down at all. So, down it goes.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


It's been a long weekend. I was working with the Army this weekend - I'd have to say it's probably my first full weekend since I started with my new job - and I definitely have a new respect for long-term Reservists. It takes a lot out of you to work all weekend, and then be set for work again on Monday. It was a really good exercise, so I'm definitely glad I was there, but I don't think I could do this every weekend.

Andrea and I saw Casino Royale. It was gooooood. Just don't go see it down at the South Keys in Ottawa. The projector broke down with about five minutes left to go in the movie. We were not impressed.

As far as content is concerned, though, very good film. Definitely gives a lot of the James Bond back story.

Okay, it's time for bed.

Monday, November 13, 2006


The weekend's winding to an end, but its job is done. I was able to play no less than four hours of Sid Meier's Pirates!, and I gathered sufficient will power to stage a foray into a commercial shopping emporium for over an hour. This will likely not occur again until December 20th.

I was at the Remembrance Day ceremony down at Beechwood, and I have to say that it was a very nice service. The weather was far from ideal, but it was appropriate for the occasion and was not able to soak through our thick wool uniforms.

Andrea and I went to see "Death of a President", the 'documentary' that's based on the premise that President Bush was assassinated in October 2007. I'm a little surprised it didn't run longer in the major theatres, as we had to go to a no-name cheap theatre to track it down. Overall, I'd say it was a very interesting movie, and did not go out of its way to take any particular side. Just a very interesting instance of, "What if...?"

I'm still trying to plow my way through "The Invisible Man". Although interesting, this book should be prescribed for coffee-addicted insomniacs. I get about three paragraphs in and then, the next thing I know, sunlight is streaming in through my windows.

I wish I had more exciting things to write about. I'm quite happy with the way stuff is going, but it makes for some tedious blogging. I'm more or less certain that none of you care if I enjoyed swimming on Sunday, or if I made pizza on Friday evening. Eh. I'd like to tell you that this blog hasn't just jumped the shark, but you'll have to make that decision for yourself.

Okay, time to rescue my long-lost uncle from the clutches of the evil Baron Von Montbatton. Or something to that effect.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I heart Brazilian spam

I got an odd message from an e-mail addres with a Brazilian extension:

"Oieeee, primeiro eu vou pedir para você mil desculpas.. rs

Você tinha me pedido para achar aquela foto lá, e fiquei de ver para você, só que acabei me enrolando aqui nas minhas tarefas e acabei não tendo tempo.

Mais espero que você me desculpe, e me diga senão valeu a pena esperar só esses diazinhos :-).. rs

Só não vai deixar aquela pessoa ficar sabendo que te mandei essa foto, senão ela vai acabar me matando.. rs

Bom confio em você, só em você, e espero que você me perdoe.. e goste muito do presente.. rs

Eu não consegui enviar a foto para seu email diretamente, então para não demorar mais ainda, guardei ela no meu fotolog, é so você ver ela por AQUI

Se caso não funcionar aí, é so clicar AQUI

Beijões e manda um abraço pro pessoal ai. Lu (só para os intimos) A. Garcia"

Once Altavista's BabelFish has had a crack at it, it looks something like this:

"Oieeee, first I go to ask for for you a thousand excuses. rs You he had asked for me to find that photo there, and I was to see for you, that I finished rolling itself here in my tasks and only finished not having time. More I wait that you he forgives me, and he says senão to me was valid the penalty to only wait these diazinhos:-) rs He does not only go to leave that person to be knowing that I ordered this photo to you, senão it goes to finish killing me. rs Good I trust you, only you, and wait that you it pardons me. e likes present it very. rs I did not obtain to send the photo for its email directly, then not to more still delay, I kept it in mine fotolog, is so you to see it for HERE If in case that not to function there, he is so to clicar HERE Smacks and order one hug pro personal ai. Lu (for we only intimos them) Garci'a"

I hate it when I finished rolling itself here in my tasks, and only finished not having time. It's okay, A. Garcia, me it pardons you.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It's been a busy couple of days. Elena and some of her friends were in town this weekend, and we threw an impromptu party here at the place. You never know how these last-minute things are going to turn out, but this one was a blast. Elena and her friends have some damned hilarious stories, and I had a few laughed-til-I-cried moments. Good times.

I'm starting to feel as though I'm more settled into Ottawa. I think I've got a bit of a routine going - nothing that I'm tied down to, but something that lets me keep on top of errands, work and exercise while giving me time for fun, socializing, movies, side projects and XBox. It's hard to find a good balance, so who knows how long this'll last, but I'm enjoying it while it's here.

We had a beautiful day yesterday - after a pretty gross week, temperatures spiked in around 10-15 Celsius. I had a lot of errands to run that day but I found time for a walk, and I'm really glad that I did. I've also started swimming on a fairly regular basis (2 x per week) at the nearby community centre, and that's really helping. I hate exercise that feels like exercise, but swimming is a good way to unwind after a long day.

I've been on a blitz recently, and am particularly proud of my recent order. It included two new Presidents of the United States of America CDs, the second of which I'm currently enjoying. The name may not immediately ring a bell, as they were big about ten years ago, and then seemingly faded into obscurity. For the longest time, I thought they only had a single CD. Oh, how thrilled I was to find out that they had many more...

Their music is silly, fun and irrelevant, without trying too hard to be funny. It's enjoyable music even if you never pay attention to the lyrics, but if you do have a close listen, you'll find most of their songs are dedicated to things like peaches, kitties, the Death Star, candy, Tiki gods, etc. So much fun.

Seriously, if you haven't heard the Death Star song, go find some way to have a listen. It's hilarious.

Andrea and I are going to see Borat later tonight. We're excited - I've been a fan of Ali G. and assorted characters ever since I was introduced to him by my brother-in-law two or three years ago. Borat is, by far, my favourite character. I have big hopes for this movie, and hope there's a good crowd in the audience tonight.

Question: Do you like the Presidents of the United States of America? If so, do you have a favourite song?