Category Archives: Life

An Old Alternative is New Again

Radio station 104.9 is back!

At the end of 2005, the radio station at 104.9 suddenly and violently changed format from mildly alternative to Spanish. In a swoop, one of my favourite and commonly punched-up presets in my car became obsolete.

Of course, my habit of cycling through radio stations to find something good playing right this second (a habit that my sister shares, although I am a rank beginner compared to her) included this old favourite stop for quite some time after the changeover. And me. I’m so dumb. I would stop on this station and lean forward, listening hard. Like in five minutes I’m going to “figure out” Spanish.

Eventually I removed the preset from the list. Acceptance. And closure.

But it’s back, baby! As stated on a concise bulletin on MySpace (thanks Krysti!), 104.9 is now back to its old format, which I would describe as “very much like 105.3 except slightly softer”.

Spread the word. And enjoy the reincarnation of an old friend.

5K Racist (or “Cheaty Gonzales”)

Even though they still ooze, my toes have healed enough to allow me to run again. On Tuesday, the gym at work sponsored a little 5K race. It was not a giant affair — only a dozen people entered — but I was pleased to managed to win pretty cleanly. I took off right at the beginning and never looked back.

Or did I?

The course followed the loop around the campus. Not being quite 5K, we also had to run down Seaport a ways and turn around. See map.

Cute little four inch pylons with cute little arrows drawn on them like happy faces marked the course. OK, cool. I saw a bunch of them, as they directed me around the loop and down the straightaway towards Redwood City.

I ran down Seaport, and eventually I saw two large orange pylons and a metal bar ahead of me. So I planned how I would jump over the bar and turn around and come back on the other side of the pylons. As I got closer, I realized that the bar was actually a downed light pole. Wow, pretty severe. How about that.

I turned around and finished the course, easily in first place, running in 20:10, almost two minutes ahead of the fellow who came in second. The fellow who arranged it congratulated me, and told me I won the $25 gift card for first place.

As I overheard him talking to someone else about how he set out the course, I started thinking how lucky it was that the downed light pole happened to be right at the turnaround. Then I remembered how those pylons were much bigger than all the others. That’s when it dawned on me: that was not the designated turn-around point.

Sheepishly, I went to him and said, “Um, I think maybe I cheated.” I explained what happened. Another racer chimed in that the actual turnaround point was only maybe 70 feet after where I turned around, so he agreed that my margin was sufficient to make no difference to my first place.

It sure made me feel stupid though. Maybe I do have an athlete in me. I just wish it wasn’t in my brain.

On My Toes

I cut my toenails last week. For normal people, this is an event of utter insignificance. However, I have this problem with ingrown toenails on the big toe, and I guess when you cut your toenails your body says, “Hey, something’s happened here; toenails too short. I’m gonna pick up the pace!” and they start growing faster. For me, that means they grow deeper and deeper into the flesh on the side. Sure enough, a couple of days after I cut them, I could feel pressure on my right big toe that I recognized as the hints of an ingrowth that could possibly blossom into full-fledged toenail irritation.

So Monday morning I called the podiatrist and went in Tuesday. He explained to me my options: remove the edge of the toenail; or remove the edge of toenail AND the corresponding nail matrix so that the toenail is permanently narrower over the toe, which should hopefully ensure that I never get this problem again. I breathed a heavy sigh, and opted for the more extensive surgery.

I had both sides of both toes treated. Each toe was injected with an anesthetic. Then the doc used this tool to pop the edge of the toenail out, and he trimmed it ALL THE WAY DOWN to the nail matrix (where the nail grows from). If I weren’t numb, I would totally be telling him anything he wanted to hear. Instead, I was watching this graphic, bloody surgery with half-interest like it was a television show I’d already seen.

Then he jams these acid-tipped rods to burn away the nail matrix cells, and scrapes it out with a tiny melon baller. And repeats. Three times for each of the four locations.

He told me it could take up to six weeks to heal. And one of my feet did hurt last night enough to wake me up. But tonight — less than 36 hours after surgery — I was wearing my shoes again, walking around pretty much normally. I think I could even run if I needed to.

Wow. Good choice. And I still get the joy of changing the moist bloody dressing once a day, which appeals to some bizarre gross-out animal instinct in me.

Cutting my toenails will no longer induce pangs of dread. A feeling I don’t think I’ll miss.

The Thermometer Brothers

Two older fellows who were seated at our table were quickly nicknamed “The Vaudeville Brothers” by Sean and me because of their habit of telling non-stop old-timey jokes of increasingly questionable taste. One introduced the two of them as “the thermometer brothers: I’m Oral and he’s Anal!”

On the second or third night, the older fellow was telling a joke whose punch line featured simulated but enthusiastic male masturbation while reciting a poem “Hickory Dickory Dock”. After the long-winded set-up, he got to the unfortunate punch line just as our wonderful waitress Sorvina (from Romania) was trying to place a bowl of soup in front of him.

His first stroke struck the plate beneath the soup with such force that the bowl flew into the air, spilling its contents on his pants, his chair, and somewhat on her. There was a clatter of dishes and the whole table went silent as we realized we were witnessing something most unfortunate.

The resulting mutual apologies and wave of seriousness was palpable, and a senior restaurant manager came by later to add to the stew of sorry.

I must admit to wanting to hear the punch line to the joke even though I knew it would be especially anti-climactic given the circumstance. My wish was granted when after what seemed to be too short a period of mourning, he backed up a couple lines and delivered the finale.

It might have been just my imagination, but it seemed that Sorvina exhibited a little post-tramautic stress disorder when serving our table for the rest of the night. Or perhaps it was just well-placed caution.

The joke is more or less this one.


On the second-last day of my New Year’s Cruise, Sean and I joined our new friend Michelle on the waterslide a few times. At the bottom of the slide is a salt water pool, which naturally attracts one’s attention after leaving the slide. The three of us were in the pool when Sean started doing jackknifes, presumably in an attempt to cause the biggest splash possible (he maintains that a jackknife yields a better splash than a cannonball).

I thought maybe we could make a bigger splash if we did simultaneous cannonballs, so I said “Let’s do a double cannonball!” We got to adjacent corners, I counted down, then we did our cannonballs. Indeed there was a huge splash (I think… I was underwater), and when we surfaced, Michelle and the six or seven kids in the pool were laughing.

That’s when it hit me. “OK, let’s do a group cannonball!” We got back out of the pool and motioned for everyone to follow. Much to my surprise, everyone did so and distributed themselves along the perimeter.

“OK, point to where you’re jumping!” Everyone pointed. No collisions were evident. “On three… one… two… THREE!” SPLASH!

Upon surfacing I noticed two things: the water was white with post-splash foam, and everyone was laughing. Even the grown-ups.

We hung around and splashed around for a while, and did several more group cannonballs with the folks that drifted in and out of the pool. Everyone seemed to love it, and one girl who just watched the first time enthusiastically joined in when we immediately did it again.

It was so fun. Much more fun than it had any right to be. As Sean said, “I like how it takes two thirty something year-old guys to show the kids how to have fun.”

OK, I know what you’re thinking — “What’re you, twelve years old?” Yes. Yes, I am.

The Magic Victory Tour

Got back from our Carnival Victory cruise early Monday morning. It was a fantastic week, best described as a New Year’s Eve party that never ended. So much happened, we were busy pretty much every minute of every day. It was the longest period of time in years that I did not go on the internet.

What could have happened, you ask? We met a ton of people, some of whom were very interesting and a few people that I think will be friends for a long time. Sean’s luggage did not make it on the boat (it went onto the Carnival Valor, only to be seen again when we arrived back home), so that presented some special challenges and adventures. It’s a good thing we’re the same size.

So many memories… flight delayed to 2 AM and rerouted to Miami; tall Giedra; lost luggage; the Vaudeville act brothers (“We’re the thermometer brothers: I’m Oral, he’s Anal”); New Year’s Eve party; a smiling fellow who “won $1000” in the casino; Karaoke Rob every night; adorably cute Camilla from Finland; rented tuxes; our lovely Romanian waitress Sorvina; eye movement therapy demonstration from BodyTalk professional Janet; wandering on foot in Grand Cayman; a bike and kayak trip in Costa Maya; happy Michelle using way too many internet minutes; suave Brad from Air Force One; river tubing trip in Jamaica with Lauren and Ali; lame comedy; winning a $50 jackpot by drawing four deuces in Deuces Wild Poker; swimming; the water slide; group cannonball (my favourite!!); hot tubbing; sunning and sudoko; jokes jokes jokes jokes jokes, including the oft repeated lines “That’s what I’m talking about”, “That’s what she said” and “Too soon”; Micky’s balcony room; oh-so-sweet Liz; my FBI shirt; people that would only talk to us once; the beach in Miami; the slippery Australians; running into Ed at the Miami diner; the constant stream of food, especially the lobster and Warm Chocolate Melty Cake WOW; the “Jerked Pork Loin”; the Hickory Dickory Dock soup incident; the chocolate cake room service; laryngitis epidemic; Michelle’s birthday; baked Alaska; Kelly from Austin who loved to touch stomachs (shudder!); the disco with the TVs; the arguing family across the hall; sleeping late; staying up later; Christina’s saga that took her to Washington, DC; buffet open for photos only; cruise directors Tracy and Shelbyville; the Hungarians; the Legends show finale; the crazy old woman in the Newlywed Game; Dr. Kel and Tracy; the dog who would fetch money; phallic pylons; cute gamblin’ FAA rep Kris; Eric’s obsession with the cruise ship staff; the musical interludes during dinner which made a heck of a lot more sense if you participated; “Hips Don’t Lie”; VP Karen; party favours; evil Bruce; hammocks and lost sunglasses; the scuffle featuring super-intensive truck driver Frank; notorious Jeff from Boston and his karaoke intrusions; waiting forever for a cab at the port…

Next cruise, everyone is invited. Seriously.

Happy New Year! (Blargh…)

Happy New Year everyone. Tonight I am flying out to Florida for a New Year’s Cruise aboard the Carnival Victory with my friend Sean. I don’t know what the ship is “victorious” over, but hopefully the illustrious bounty will be shared among the passengers.

Wish me a week of sun, fun and voluminous levels of gluttonous overeating to the extent that it dwarfs the other six deadly sins.

Viva consumption!

Oops! Wrong Venue!

I did my first “international” show in Vancouver last night. It was quite a hectic mess of a turn of events. This is kind of a boring story, but I had to write it to explain what the hell happened to curious victims who may have tried to see me.

I’ve known that I would be going to Vancouver in the first week of December, so I got hooked with a friend of a friend, Vancouver comedian Rob Kraft who emailed me the canonical list of Vancouver venues at I was only going to be in town on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights, so the pickings were slim and there wasn’t much in the way of contact information.

Back in November, I wrote an email to Patrick Maliha who runs the Balthazar showcase on Monday nights. A week or two went by without an answer, so I wrote again. Once again, no reply, so with Rob’s counsel, I found him on MySpace and wrote him there. He wrote me back the next day saying he didn’t think he had any space on the show that night. I got the name of the fellow who ran the Monday Darby’s show by calling Darby’s; with that information, I found him on MySpace and wrote asking if I could get on while I was in town.

I didn’t hear anything from him for quite some time. Finally, just as I was calling Darby’s on a Monday night (with the expectation that he would be there running the show), I checked my MySpace mail account and found that he had replied! “Be there by 8:30 to sign up and I will make sure you get on.”

Excellent. So I sent out an email to a bunch of friends and family in the Vancouver area telling them about the show and started to become stoked about my first show in Canada.

Cut to Monday (and switch to the present tense for dramatic purposes). It’s a stormy, windy day. I get to my brother’s house where I’m staying, and the power is out, as it apparently was in many homes in the region. It’s extremely dark at the house and I’m a little antsy, so I leave early. The plan was to meet at Tim’s house (he’s the common friend of Rob and I) then go to Darby’s. But I was much earlier than I was supposed to be, so I figure I may as well swing by the venue to see what to expect.

I find Darby’s no problem. It’s a pub with an attached cold beer and wine store. I almost leave without trying to go in, but wisely decide I may as well check it out. But the door is locked. Peering in reveals that there is NOBODY inside. There is a cryptic note on the door about Darby’s schedule changing due to some renovation or something, but even so it’s supposed to be open by 4 PM. To make things even more confusing, there is a banner on the pub inviting the public to the Sunday night open nights. Huh?!

The neighbouring beer and wine store has a hand-drawn sign that says in a scribble “Closed due to power outage.” Of course the lights are on inside, so there’s no reason to be closed, but I guess they called it a day, locked up and went home.

Not quite sure what to do, I drive to Tim’s place. I’m still early, but I need to use a phone because my mobile does not work in Canada. I borrow their phone and start calling everyone, uninviting them. Then I check out Comedy Couch on Tim’s computer with him. The Darby’s show is nowhere to be found on the list of venues. It’s still in Google’s cached version of the page, so I know I’m not completely crazy.

Tim and Rob and I go down to Darby’s again so we can be there at 8:30. Same situation — pub and store closed, empty. We go back to Tim’s.

I decide I’m going to crash the other Monday night show I’m already been turned down to, if for no other reason than to meet some local comics. I call my brother, and he’s at Darby’s with a bunch of people. So I tell him about Balthazars, and he decides to come along too.

Rob also comes along, and we find Balthazars, get decent parking. We meet Erik’s gang of five at the front door and I recognize Patrick from his photos. I ask him if there’s any space and tell him we have a large party. He suggest he may be able to get me on.

Well, long story short, I was third up at Balthazars with five minutes, which I stretched to seven. It went okay… not great, but not absolutely terrible. I was a little distracted by a gang of noisy, chatty folks off to the right that were sitting in a part of the restaurant that I didn’t even know existed until I got up on stage. That’s always a surprise to find out the audience is twice as large as you thought it was going to be. All in all, it went reasonably well considering how chaotic things were leading up to it. And “those bitches at the table in the corner” (as the waitress reluctantly described to me) bought me a drink. I never found out who it was and whether they bought it because they were so noisy or because I was so charming. Probably a combination of the two.

I also found out that the Darby’s show is no more, and last Monday was the last show. Nice. So in a way, I was lucky that the power went out because that made me (1) go to Darby’s early and (2) have Darby’s close, giving me a hint that the show would not go on (but not for the reasons that I thought!).

So to those of you that I invited, sorry it didn’t happen. And to those of you that had to find out it was canceled by going to Darby’s and having essentially no information, a double red-faced embarrassed apology. And to those of you who now wished you had known about the show that I ended up doing instead at pretty much the exact same time as the other one was scheduled, a triple apology. Next time I’m in town, I’ll keep you posted.

Lesson: the more you plan, the more that can go wrong.

Satellite of Love

The other day I was browsing around the InterWeb.. and I came across this interesting satellite photo. (Opens in a new window)

It’s doctored, of course, since there is no cloud cover .. do you remember a day without clouds all across the earth? But it’s still a great picture and fascinating in what it shows.

First off, it’s clearly winter in the northern hemisphere, since the snow completely covers Canada and even dips down into the United States a bit in the west and near the Great Lakes.

What’s also interesting to me is how most of Europe is completely spared the snow cover. I grew up firmly in the depths of the white, where snow would first fall in October. It might melt, but a “permanent” snow would eventually fall, maybe around late November or December, after which we knew the ground would be white uninterrupted until March or so. I thought this was normal, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t, even in parts of Europe that were just as far north.

Another thing you see is that besides Canada and Russia, there are only bits of the world that actually have to deal with snow, and a lot of it is due to mountains. The snow in California is only because of mountains. Same with China, northern India. For some reason, Turkey has a lot of snow. That’s kind of a surprise to me.

Another thing I find fascinating is the water color. Look off the coast of Florida, in the Caribbean. For some reason, the water turns a beautiful blue when shallow, just like the beautiful blue you expect on beautiful beaches. I don’t know why it does that, but it’s pretty spectacular to note that this blue is visible even from space.

You can see a lot of macro geographic features. For example, you can see how British Columbia (the westernmost part of Canada) is incredibly rough and mountainous. I always thought that you always saw mountains no matter how far you drove. It turns out there aren’t many places on earth quite so rugged. Maybe that’s why I’m not as impressed by mountains as people who grew up elsewhere .. I thought it was normal.

You can also really see areas lacking vegetation .. deserts. There’s a big desert in China (is it the Gobi?). You can see the absolute vastness of the Sahara in northern Africa; it looks like it’s been scraped clean of green with a rough steel brush, all the way through to Saudi Arabia. Compare it to how green and lush Africa is just a few hundred miles south.

Looking at South America, it’s pretty obvious where the Amazon rain forest is, and where the mountains of Chili are on the west coast.

And you can see how little is actually green in the United States during the winter time… just bits of the southeast and parts of California.

Indonesia is incredibly green and lush. Most of Australia is desert, although the green parts are pretty apparent. New Zealand clearly is more fertile than Australia.

I love maps.