Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just a thought.

Walkley Bowling has a great new contest where you, the CHEZ listener, can win tickets, trip and hotel room stay for the 2008 NHL All-Star game in Atlanta. This contest kicked off last Saturday with a return to Walkley of the CHEZ team. And by that, I mean me. I sat there for a few hours, had two beers, gave out a few bonus codes and took down some names for the contest. When it was time to leave, I headed off down the Queensway. Around the Eagleson exit, I hit a raccoon. It was sitting in the fast lane, and as I crested a small hill, there was nothing I could do. I ran it over, the car thumped up into the air, and my heart thumped up into my chest. I was absolutely pertrified. I have never hit an animal in my life, and this was a really scary thing. I mean, I just KILLED something. Not a pleasant experience, I tell you.

As I got off at the very next exit, Castlefrank, I went through a Ride program. I guess I seemed pretty nervous. After all, I had just killed a raccoon, and I was still awfully jumpy. So they made me take the breathalyzer. I passed, of course, but it got me thinking. If you blow over .08, you are drunk. It is drunk driving, whether you blow a .09 or a .45. It is an absolute. Which is a good thing, I suppose, it really keeps people honest. But when it comes to speeding, there are different levels. You go 20 over the speed limit, you get a certain fine (I don't know what it is - I have never been caught for speeding. I mean, I have never sped. And got caught). You go 30 over, the fine is more. You go 40 over, even more than that. And 50 over, you are street racing, and your car is taken away. You get caught doing that, not only is your car impounded for a week, you are also going to pay between 2 grand and 10 grand in fines.

So you could pay ten grand if you're caught street racing. Granted, street racing is a dangerous and idiotic thing to do, and it does kill people. But is it really worse than drunk driving? Is it really worth that much more of a fine? Drunk drivers kill way more people than street racers, I'm sure, and it seems to me the fines should at the very least be equal. Perhaps a sliding scale on a similar scale. If you blow over on a breathalyzer and you are at .09, that could really be an honest mistake. If you blow a .27, you are under no illusions you are able to drive home. You are just as much of a risk to the people on the road as a street racer. I think the two offences are remarkably similar, but the scales upon which they are based are a little too dissimilar.

The world conspires to make me feel very stupid.

This morning, I had to run to the gas station on my way to work. My girlfriend was supposed to leave me 50 bucks for the gas. She made 50 bucks in tips over the last four days, so we could buy gas and I could make it to work, hooray! I searched everywhere, but I could not find the money. I wavered between waking her up at 3 a.m. to ask where she put the money, but then I decided I'd bite the bullet, use my card, and replace the money in my bank later today. I got to the station, filled up the tank, and went in to pay with my bank card. Insufficient funds. I did not have 55 bucks for gas. So I left my wallet with the guy at the station, ran back home, and searched for the money once more. When I still could not find it, I had to wake Jen up. I shoved her gently, but she seemed pretty upset at being wakened up so early, so when she told me the money was on the table by the door, and it actually wasn't, I decided it was a better bet to just take her bank card and buy the gas that way, rather then risk one of those murders that happens when someone is wakened up six hours before the alarm is meant to go off.

I grabbed the card, ran back to the car, and zipped back to the bus station. And by that I mean gas station. I know, I could easily have gone back and just edited that, but I am too lazy and I feel like typing. I got back, showed the guy the new card, and he handed me back my wallet. At which point I noticed it was unusually fat. Yes, she had slipped the money directly into my wallet, and I had torn the house apart like a moron attempting to get my ass to work. And I had left that money with the gas station attendant as insurance against my lack of money. So now about getting my ass to work. By this time, I am half an hour later leaving than I normally am, which means I will be 29 minutes late for work if I don't hurry up. It may well be for people like me, who find themselves scrambling to get to work in time, that those laws about street racing were created. More than once on the queensway, I looked down to see that I was in fact doing more than 50 over the speed limit. I slowed down to 148 to avoid serious prosecution, and made it to work...seconds too late. In the end, I may as well have relaxed and driven like a sane person. I guess there's at least one good thing about working as early as I do - there isn't a single car on the road to impede one's progress toward the goal, no matter how late I am.

Moving day - the easy and the hard.

I am getting worried about my moving day. We have a couple of friends showing up with trucks, we're only going a couple of cblocks, and we already have our entire house in boxes, so we should be fine. But I helped two friends move on the weekend, and it can go one of two ways, it seems.

On Friday, I helped Heather move. Heather is Ted the traffic guy's girlfriend, and she is moving to Timmins to join him. She had no one who could really help lift the heavy stuff, so I said I would assist. She said her family would be there to help, and I figured things would go smoothly. Her family WAS there, all very nice, all very average at best when it came to moving. You see, her mom could not lift much because of some medical problems. Her grandmother was there also, but...well, she's a grandmother. Tough old broad though, she certainly gave it her best effort. And her aunt and uncle were there also, and I thought uncle - great, there's someone who can help me with the couches and such. Well, her uncle is, quite literally, a midget.

Of course, Heather went with U-Haul, and when she showed up for the truck, they couldn't give it to her at the time they had agreed upon. There were seven trucks in the parking lot, the reservation had been made for noon, the service elevator was booked for one, but there was no way they were getting a truck until one of the three people behind the counter got up, went outside, talked to one of the six guys outside, got one of them to inspect a truck, and hand the keys to Heather. This process would take six minutes, but it would not get done for another hour and a half. (Has anyone EVER had a good experience with U-Haul? I ask because I have never heard anything but horrible stuff.) So while they were out getting the truck, I moved absolutely every heavy thing in the place to the elevators. When they finally got back with the truck, I had just a few minutes before I had to leave, so we did the couches, and got them on the truck. It was me on one end, THREE of them on the other!

The next day, I helped Danny Ray move. He's a friend of mine from the rugby and waterpolo teams in high school. He was moving off the army base into a house he just bought. He had twelve guys helping him. All of us either football players, rugby players, or military guys. There was nothing in that house that couldn't be moved by two of us, with the possibly exception of the washing machine, which took three. The dryer? Up and out like it was nothing. The biggest, heaviest dresser I have ever seen? Two people, into the house, done. I showed up at noon, and had to leave by 2:00, and I still spent the last half hour standing around with a beer in my hand because there was literally nothing left to do. Smoothest move ever! I have recruited some of the boys to help me move on the 29th, since I have never seen anything go so quick. And because they actually seem to enjoy moving stuff. If all it takes is beer as a reward, then so be it! I just hope things go that fast!

Best golf week ever!

I had two goals this year. One was to break 100 for the first time. The other was to beat Doc. And I accomplished both feats on back to back days. On Tuesday, I went to the Meadows, with Adam the Sales Weasel and one of his clients, Alvin. Although I had to listen to a lot of sales-speak, a tone of "moving things forward" and "at the end of the day", I managed to focus, to stay calm, to persevere and to excel. I shot a 48 on the front nine, with two pars, and I bogeyed the 18th hole in order to finish with a 51 on the back nine for a 99! The guys suspected me of cheating after I launched a 3-wood from the rough on the 17th hole, about 210 yards to the green, and put the ball on. Only, it went through a tree, so I didn't see it land, and I searched for it in the water under that tree, decided to hit another shot from near the water, and only then did I see my first shot, next to where the second came down. But it was legitimate, and I truly did break 100.

Then yesterday, I went out to Pakenham with Doc and Mark Papousek and Billy Barnes. Beautiful course, Pakenham. But tough. And it beat us both up, (Doc and myself - Mark shot a 77. But it's his home course, so of course he was good at it.) But I shot two pars on the front, two on the back, and I beat him. Doc had three pars - every time, I had a par on that hole as well. In the end, I didn't just beat him, I destroyed him. (The 10th hole I had a 5, and he had a 10, and he never fully recovered.) Tied after nine holes, I pulled away and finished 12 strokes up on him. This was partly thanks to some pretty good play by my standards, but moreso thanks to some incredibly lousy play by Doc's standards. When we got back to the patio for the beer, Doc attempted to adjust the scores so they would appear more favourable to him, wondering if he would perhapos have won were it a skins game. Nope. I would have won that one 12-6. A thouroughly dominant effort on my part, if I do say so myself. And I do. I may have shot a 108, but I won! I can now quit golf altogether. My goals are accomplished.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Parents are nuts.

So there's some little girl who's riding the school bus, and gets really freaked out about going to a public school for the first time, and she runs off the bus and pukes in front of some concerned mothers. Those mothers tell the bus driver they will take the little girl home, since she really can't go to school if she is tossing her cookies around. The girl is delivered home, at which point her mother freaks out! Some stranger is bringing her kid home! What happened to the bus driver? How could he leave her daughter in the hands of someone who may well be a child-slave trader? Heads must roll! OK. You're a parent. I sort of get being overly protective and worried about the welfare of your child. But in my experience with parents who become instantly angry about anything of this nature, the poor driver was in a no-win situation. These parents become furious when anything out of the ordinary happens - their child comes home with different shoes. Their child had pizza for both lunch AND dinner. Whatever. The point is, this same parent likely would have been furious with the bus driver had he continued to the school, with the little girl vomiting all over the bus, and forced her to get out on the other end. Why wouldn't you have her sent home! You bastard! Rarely have I ever sympathized with a school bus driver. In my day, one of my sole missions on my way to or from school was to create some kind of entertaining meltdown, like the time my driver got out of the bus, left it parked at the side of the road, and walked around the block to clear his head. Now THAT was fun. But this poor driver deserves a little more compassion than I have seen in our local media lately.

International! Design! Competition!

There is a terrific picture in the paper today of city councillors Doucet and Hume, standing outside Landsdowne Park. Both of them, staring wistfully into space, contemplating what might be and what might have been...showing strength in the face of adversity, as Landsdowne is going mostly unused. You see, they are going to be holding an International! Design! Competition! to find a new use for the park, now that nothing at all happens there ever. The competition will pit International! Designers! against one another to come up with a plan that fixes up the existing buildings for a new use, while at the same time maintaining the historic aspect of those buildings. This is being done because the people in Ottawa are too lazy to come up with an idea themselves, and they would prefer to have others do it. I have but one suggestion for the people in charge of the Landsdowne Park International! Design! Competition! and it is this: You know what would be really great in our football stadium? A football team. Mull this over please, and if you take my suggestion, I would like to be presented with the grand prize, which as I understand it is six pairs of Birkenstocks and a one-year supply of Ottawa tap water.

Best excuse ever.

Some judge is being charged with sexual harrassment. Apparently, he invited some guy from his office up to the cottage, and on the ride up he reached over and placed his hand on the guy's crotch. When the guy pulled away, aghast, the judge said he was merely checking to see if the guy's pants were thick enough. It was going to be cold at the cottage, you see. Now THAT's quick thinking. I guess the guy complained, even though this was all that happened. I am reasonably certain that if this was a woman who had "assaulted" him in this way, there would be no complaint. Even if she was hideous and he wanted no part of it. When I was in high school there was a guy on our waterpolo team who used to delight in snapping our bathing suits. When we found out he was gay, it came as a very small surprise to say the least. But the ten other guys who had been "snapped" never complained. I mean, if you're gay, you have to make advances on other men somehow - no harm done. Sexual harrassment laws are very convenient when people are squeamish and afraid of their own shadows. This poor judge! I hope he finds true love in prison, where I'm sure he's going to have to go.

The damn government is ruining my plans!

A few years ago, as an experiment, I voted twice in the same election. I went to vote in the place where I was living, and then again, I was with some friends from my old neighbourhood where I still had an address, and just as a lark I tried to vote there also. Well, it worked. I was on both lists, or at least they let me vote both places. All I needed was proof of my address, and I had that everywhere. Who knows, I had moved so much that year I could maybe have voted in seven ridings. Of course, in order to maintain the democratic process and not to screw with the final results, the second time I spoiled my ballot. And by that I mean I voted for the Green Party. But these glitches happen all the time. 80,000 people vote every year by mail. Mail! You can't tell me that that is a difficult thing to screw with.

So now the big issue I am reading about in all the papers is this muslim woman controversy, where the powers-that-be are saying they should have to remove their veils in order to vote. You MUST be able to see someone's face before they vote, mustn't you? Well, except for the mail-in votes. And the places that need ID, but don't look at your picture or your face. But the big question I have is...how did this ever become an issue? How was this ever brought up as something that needed looking into? Does any politician really think that there could be a swing in the election when the 37 muslim women in Canada who wear veils decide to show up en masse and vote two, maybe three times each? Travesty! Imagine a riding where the difference between a Conservative candidate and a Muslim Party candidate comes down to a mere six votes, but eleven women have voted wearing veils? How can you know if the results are real?

Even the Muslim community doesn't understand the uproar. They say that these 37 women are used to lifting their veils for such things as border crossings and university exams, and as such it really isn't a problem if they want to force them to do it come election time. So...who cares? Where is this furor coming from? NO ONE actually cares about this. Well, I'll tell you who cares, and where the controversy is coming from. Guys like me. I had created, unbeknownst to anyone, government included, a sinister plan to ruin the election system during the next federal election. I was going to announce my cnadidacy, and run for office in my Kanata ward against the estimable Gordon O'Connor, on a platform of sending all our squeegee kids to Afghanistan, legalizing heroin and crystal meth but not weed, gay marriages for everybody except interior decorators, and the abolishment of the phrase "moving things forward". I was then going to create an army of voters, almost 100 in number, and outfit them with muslim-style veils. They were going to go to every polling station, and vote nine hundred and seventy times each. This would give me 97 thousand votes, which would likely make me the winner in the riding.

Then, once I was elected, as the only member of the Furious Manatee party in parliament, I would not participate in any discussions or assemblys at all. I would spend my time in the house of commons flicking skittles at Pierre Polievre, until he physically attacked me. Then I would put him in the figure-four leg-lock I learned from my friend Darryl Pickering, and make sure they got it on TV when he cried. I would then be the most popular political figure in Canada, I assume, and I would start to table ridiculous legislation. No more taxes on condoms! Triple the taxes on Birkenstocks and Starbucks and Lifestyles brand condoms! Re-introduce Capital Punishment, but only for treason and theft of condoms! After a while, the rest of them would be awful tired of me tabling condom-related proposals, and they would vote for, and agree to, the first thing I tabled that was not condom-related. It would be a proposal that outlined a plan for everyone working in the house of commons to get a big raise. It would pass in seconds. But I would have hidden in the proposal, very carefully, a clause that stipulated that this raise would go into effect only after our military invaded Swaziland.

The invasion would take place. As the new head of the Swaziland invasion task force, I would personally be in control of a sizable portion of the world's banana crop. I would take over the world's banana trade, one boat at a time, becoming a sort of banana-related crime lord (but still sanctioned by our government, of course, remaining, on the surface at least - above board.) And from there, I would eventually take over the world. I can't go into the details, in case I find another way to get myself into this position. I don't want to divulge too much about my plan. My only problem now is that our government has seen right through me and my plan, just like they CAN'T see through a veil. But mark my words. They cannot stop me. They can only hope to contain me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One more thing that makes me smile.

Now that we have the Platinum Nation and the points system, and our own little Air Miles racket going, we no longer, on the Doc and Woody show, give away prizes on the air. No more "be the tenth caller" or "go ahead and stump us" and so forth. I like this, because it always felt obnoxious to me. Only 4 percent of people who listen to the radio play phone contests at all. OK, I might have made that stat up. I think I may have heard it somewhere. At any rate, the vast majority don't play. Which means that every time someone is on the phone, trying to win a gift basket from Suzy Shier or whatever, it can't be that entertaining for 96 percent of the listeners. Sure, when someone wins, and they get really excited, it sounds great. But that happens only with huge prizes (eg: a key for Toys for Boys), and even then not that often. People say "oh, thanks." And hang up. And for the lousy prizes (and there are a few), there is virtually no reaction at all. Then it's people playing just for something to do.

Back in the old days, however, before you could decide whether your platinum points would be better spent on a DVD, a CD, a hat, or a McDonalds coupon, we would have to give all those things out live on the air. And every now and then, Doc would have to take a stand against the sales department, who wanted us to give away something absolutely insulting to the listeners. A free McMuffin and coffee, retail value $1.37 gift certificate? NOT a prize. A DVD copy of "Gigli"? Nope. Free tickets to the Kooky Brothers Puppet Show at the local fair, retail value four dollars. Can't do it.

This was good. It meant the prizes were at least worth making an effort to get. It still boggles my mind what people will grab in the Platinum Nation. A weird, brown, "I like Egg McMuffins" T-Shirt? I have saved my points for this exact purpose...but at least it is their decision. Everything we put in the club goes. Any ticket, any coupon, any movie or CD or any tiny item, it is gone in seconds. We could put Michael Bolton CDs in the club and people would buy them. But people at least can now decide for themselves - do I spend my points on a CHEZ shirt, when I already have one, or do I save them up for an autographed guitar? Or do I save up even more so that next year I can buy a key for Toys For Boys at an auction? One guy I know is collecting crazy amounts of points, and he doesn't even want Toys For Boys. He isn't buying anything from the club at all. All he's doing is waiting, hoping Van Halen will be announced in Ottawa, and he can buy those tickets in an auction. That's it. That's all he wants. But it's entirely at his own discretion, and that's a pretty good thing.

Some things that make me smile...other than KISS.

A couple of months ago, I was scheduled to host the Grand Opening of some restaurant called Philthy McNastys in the Centrum Plaza. I was excited about it, not so much because I knew anything about it, but because it was close to my house. I so rarely get to host anything close to my house. Well, except for that time I hosted the impromptu wet-T-shirt contest at the wading pool in Brewer Park at 3:00 a.m. that night when we met that girls' soccer team near Carleton University...but that was before radio. At least it was within walking distance. Anyway, something happened, no one really told me what, and it was either delayed or cancelled. I guess cancelled, since I see now that we are hosting an event from there on Saturday night. I guess Robin will be live from there, and then he'll move to Scotiabank and be live from there, and then Genesis will play. Thank God Robin is the guy doing these now, this kind of day used to kill me. Not because of the hours and the work (the work is clearly not that hard) but because I had to watch everyone who wasn't me drinking.

We used to have beer in our Travel-Mor trailer. This practice has been discontinued by current management, although a satisfactory explanation has never been provided for me - either something did happen that I never knew about, or someone's sphincter snapped shut with fear at the thought that perhaps one day something WOULD happen. All our intern rock army girls are of age now, I don't get it.

Anyway, I guess Philthy McNasty's wanted us to come and check out their place, so we could talk about it before the event took place pre-Genesis. It was either them sending us a package or, (what I think is more likely) one of our sales people had a buttload of coupons from the place lying around, and dumped a bunch in our bunk, hoping something neat would come of it. Either way, it made me smile. You see, there are two types of radio people. Cynics and moochers. Or, the well-off and the poor. I am a little of both. Well, I'm definitely poor. But I am also a cynical moocher. Cynics would never use a coupon, under any circumstances. We Rogers employees now get a 50 percent discount at Rogers video, which helps me a lot when I am renting movies for Cynical Cinema. But when the discount was 10 percent, or 4 percent, or whatever it was before, I couldn't be bothered asking for it. It made me feel like the old lady at the grocery store who has clipped a bunch of coupons, one for every purchase, and then pays in nickels.

That is the cynical, or the well-off radio person. No coupons, ever. The moocher on the other hand, will use every gift certificate presented to him or her, under any circumstance, and then talk up that establishment on the radio simply because of the free meal or the round of golf or the lap dance. Or whatever that may be. I am that moocher. However, those moochers are the poor radio folk. Therefore, they will never use coupons either. Gift certificates fine, but if I have to pay for an entree, at a minimum of 15 dollars, in order to get an appetizer up to a maximum of ten dollars, I am still paying 15 dollars. And I would likely not go alone, so between my girlfriend and myself, I would be paying at least 30 dollars, plus tip, for that night out. I don't have 30 dollars. (Radio folk also, I think I have noticed, tend to tip very well - possibly because every one of us was at one point a waiter or a hair stylist or a gas jockey before we became radio folk.)

Our sales people don't always understand how our brains work. Every now and then they work out well - they will bring in a basket of fresh strawberries, and we will devour those strawberries and rave about them. Or ribs from ribfest. Or some such thing. Or they will get us a gift certificate for some restaurant, and we will talk it up. But more often, they will present us, as though they were the three wise men and they were presenting us with some quality myrrh, with a gift of McDonalds coupons - free coffee with the purchase of an Egg McMuffin meal or some such thing. This does not work. Forst of all, we're not going to talk about McDonalds at all, unless it comes up in regular conversation. Name a sandwich after us, then we'll talk.

What I'm getting at is coupons in general. If you have a restaurant, for example, and you want people to come, because you're new, and you want to do that by means of coupons, make the coupons worth the while of the regular person. Make them really good. When the Lorenzo's next to my place opened it's doors a few months ago, they had a great deal - $9.99 for any large 4-topping pizza. This is a deal I took advantage of many times. I still go there, because I like the pizza. So make your coupons great - like buy one get one free dinners. Or, anything on the menu for $5.99 with your coupon. But don't do the standard lame coupons that everyone gives away, that will only be used by people who are going there anyway. Half priced appetizer with the purchase of any entree (with the exception of platters, chicken wings, quesedillas and bruschetta) limit one per table, not valid with any other offer, no good during happy hour, applies only to orders worth less than four dollars...etc.

I will likely attend this concert-before-the-concert event at Philthy McNastys, simply because it's what we're doing. And if it is great, then they will be talked about based upon the merits of their food and atmosphere. (And not their vaguely ridiculous name.) But the cynic in me will not allow me to bring their coupons, and the cheapskate in me (the cheapskate who has to save every dime for moving day) will not spend any money. I will judge on merit, not on coupons.

NFL season!

This is my favourite time of the year. A time when my Sundays can be spent relaxing, really relaxing, in front of the TV as I watch game after game of NFL football. This is the one ritual of the year that makes me completely happy. (PS - what IS the CFL thinking, scheduling games on Sunday afternoons? I love the CFL too, but come on! Isn't it about time they bit the bullet and made their games Saturday afternoon games?) And it's not just the gambling. It's only partially the gambling (when it comes to the CHEZ pool, it's not like I can win anyway - it's merely bragging rights over Doc and Woody that keeps me going there) it's the anticipation. Anticipation of a great season, a great game, a great series, a great play.

Which is why it was with breathless anticipation I sat down for the start of the Packers-Eagles game to kick off the 2007 season. I am a huge Packers fan. I thought there was no way Favre would lose his home opener in what is likely his last season. I had put all my eggs in one basket, betting on the Packers to cover the spread (not with real money of course). The Eagles were favoured by 2.5 points, last I checked. Which meant that as the game wore down, tied at 13, an Eagles field goal would cover the spread and I would lose. With 59 seconds left, Green Bay was forced to punt, but the Eagles kick returner fumbled the catch. The Packers recovered the ball, with less than one minute on the clock and the game tied at 13. They were already in field goal range, or at least close to it. And...Fox cut to commercials. When the commercials ended, they were in the middle of the PRE-GAME SHOW for the Lions-Raiders game, a game NO ONE cares about anyway! I frantically flipped around to catch the end of Packers-Eagles on some other channel. It was nowhere to be found! Gone! I had to wait to see the little ticker at the top of the Chargers-Bears game to see that indeed, Green Bay had pulled out the victory with a last second field goal, 16-13. In the meantime, I was having a bit of a meltdown. Damn you, Fox broadcasting! Damn you!