The Logical Philosopher

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Prequel: buns, music, glasses & phones.

No posts this weekend - I was out of town all weekend listening to Coldplay live in concert. But fear not as I did manage to outline some material in my little black blog book. I will post later this week, but in the mean time here's a sampling of my trip and some potential future posts to keep you interested:

  • Impromptu Cinnamon bun taste testing tour: You will be surprised as to where the best buns are in Vancouver. There will be a test on this later.
  • Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer: We realized why we actually thought they were cool back then. 10 years from now we'll be saying the same thing about Britney Spears. Oh wait, we're already saying that...
  • Blue tinted glasses: Life changes in 50mph gusts while on a ferry in the pitch black night. Who knew a 18,000 tonne boat could rock that much?
  • Cell phones: the new zippo lighter of this digital age.

And last but not least, overheard at dinner:

So we had this new guy in our office and I was in charge of supervising his work on the latest assignment. After a few minutes of talking at the photocopier I said to him "Don't I know you? You look really familiar. Did you go to X High School?'
"Umm, yeah,...we used to date" he replied.
"Ohhhhh. Well I'll just leave you here to make the copies."


Friday, January 27, 2006

Bus Etiquette: please don't pick your nose

After catching the bus a few times this week I have, as a public service, complied some simple bus etiquette guidelines for people to consider.

I will start with a warning: For the love of God, if you are going to get on the bus and sit in the back row picking your nose using the entire lenght of your finger(s), at least make sure nobody is watching...

  1. Is it NOT considered cool to be a new mother on the bus with your 3 month old baby while trying to reclaim your pre-child body by attempting to squeeze into your halter top, thus exposing a stomach of stretch marks and c-section incision marks.
    Mental note for situation similar in the future: keep inside voice about the halter top and strech marks inside your head because new mothers can pack a good punch when emotionally unstable about their post-baby looks.

  2. When a mentally challenged individual is on front of the bus repeatedly pulling the stop cable, even thought is has already dinged, it is probably not the best idea to to keep jerking the cable at the back of the bus. Although this does immediately rocket his hand back up right after he pulls the cable it is a no-no in the cultural etiquette book.
    Sometimes etiquitte and funny can't be used in the same situation, and in retrospect this was probably one of those moments...whoops.
  3. Is does, apparently, also run afoul of bus etiquette when you make a run for the departing bus and have the following occur: when it stops again you only put your foot on the open door ledge and retie your shoe before walking away in the direction you came. That is "so dastardly immature," or so the old english man sputtered to me today after the bus drove away from us.

This concludes my seminar on bus etiquette. Thank you, and have a nice ride.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I really don't like eggs

I really don't like eggs, no matter the culinary situation. Trust me on this one.
"Daddy, wake up!" exclaimed my three year old, clamoring breathlessly onto the bed. "Mommy made brek-fest for all of us. Lets go!"

"Uhhmmmm" I moaned, trying to use the pillow as a shield from the morning light. "What time is it?" Although the three year old doesn't have the ability to tell time he can at least read the numbers off the clock, thus allowing comatose parents to get the time without actually opening their eyes. What a useful and cool parent trick! It's like one of those talking alarm clocks, only I need to clothe, feed and play with it on a daily (hourly) basis.

"It's eight zero eight," he announced with three year old pride. Ahh, up at the crack of eight, meaning my wife sacrificed her sleep to get up with the kids first - either that or she got up to have a quiet house then the kids heard her and got up to destroy her moment of tranquility. Padding downstairs I was greeted by the smell of french toast and syrup wafting out of the kitchen. Mmmmm, liquid sugar and carbs baked in a crusty pastry of whipped eggs. Not liking syrup or eggs I realized I was on my own for breakfast this particular morning.

"Morning. I made you some french toast for you," I heard my wife say. At least I think it was her as my eyes were still half closed. French toast or no french toast - I just don't do mornings well.

"Mmm, thanks." I mumbled as I opened the fridge in search for a can of coke to get my day going.

"The kids like it, can you share a piece of yours?" she asked, reaching over to cut some up into standard issue cube sizes for a 1 year old. I looked over at the kids plate and saw a giant ocean of syrup with small pleasure craft of french toast bobbing along.
When I was three and was allowed that much syrup for breakfast, I liked anything served to me as a side garnish for it too. Liver? You bet! Chick Peas? No problem!Beets? Bring on Aunt Jemima, I can do it all!
"Yeah sure. You know, if you leave it as one piece, then there is less to pickup when she throws it everywhere."

"Oh, good point," she said as she looked up at me just in time to catch me reaching into the fridge for something. "You're not going to eat it, are you?" Her tone instantly changed as she saw me standing there with a pear and knife - Homestead Security Advisory just jumped to Level 2 (Blue): Guarded. General risk of saying something stupid without knowing.

"Errr,...wellll" I start, quickly realizing the dead end situation I just got myself into (again). "I don't like the egg taste," I weakly protested, making the squishy face like the kids do when they don't like something. It gets them off some of the time so nothing to lose, or so I hoped.

"You should be polite and eat it." Homestead Security Advisory just jumped to Level 3 (Yellow): Elevated. Significant risk of saying something stupid with or without knowing. "Here try a piece," she coaxed, pushing over a cube (standard issue size of course) for me to eat.

"Thanks for breakfast, I really appreciate it, but I..." I started to say before getting cut off.

"You should be polite and eat what I made for us all. The kids like it." Another subtle tone change with "the" mothering look thrown in. Homestead Security Advisory just jumped to Level 4 (Orange): High. High risk of saying something stupid regardless of the situation. Now don't get me wrong - I like eggs, but just in the right context. For example, they are great in chocolate chip cookie dough, as well as made into meringue pie toppings. Also something to consider is that my better half is a great cook, but some things (eggs and brussel sprouts) just can't be made to taste good without copious amounts of ketchup or beer.

In a last ditch effort to both avoid hitting a Severe Homestead Security Advisory alert (Red level 5), and eating the french toast, I realized I had one verbal pitch left before I either imploded or was set free with my pear. With one final line I put it all on the table, "You realize that if I was eating with the Queen I would be polite and eat whatever is put in front of me." I continued on with an air of confidence, like a man who realizes he may not have to eat french toast that day and is rejoicing in the fact, "But I propose there has to be some leeway with your wife of eight years?"

Without skipping a beat she replied "No, I am the Queen. Now eat the french toast I made for you."

Damn! The Jester has been banished from the court. To top it off I think we're having brussel sprouts for dinner tomorrow...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Moving from blogging to writing

Shifting from Blogging to Writing: payoff or payout
Since I started reading several online blogs over a year ago I have noted a slow but sure movement of print publications emerging by bloggers. It's almost as if us bloggers are Clayton Christensen's Disruptive Technology of the writing world. Finally, an applicable analogy from my MBA that I can use in my blog for real. How cool is that.

I often wondered if people could turn blogging hobbies into writing occupations successfully - and now I am sure one can. In support of my statement I refer you to Dooce and Kottke - both quit their day jobs well over a year ago to blog full time. A few other high profile notables include:
Payoff up and coming: Today, Opinionistas unveiled the real person behind the anonymous blog - and as my blogging partners and I privately suspected she wasn't some 50 year old disgruntled male at a NY law firm. Not to disappoint she came out of the blogging closet as a 27 year old female lawyer, moreso disillusioned and disappointed with her career direction. And, contrary to the 50 year old, balding male we all suspected, she was hot, long haired brunette to boot! Her next step, after quitting her job, is to devote more time to sleep and her novel, the latter based on her blog. No cash flowing in (yet) but with the existence of a literary agent on her contact info, you can be sure it will be coming.

What about cash flow NOW? Read the small print on Heather Armstrong's website (Dooce). This professional blogger charges $390/month per advertisement and by my guess by her ad count & space that gives, on the low side, $5k/month in revenue. Now, at 75,000+ hits a day I would assume there are some large hosting costs to navigate but still, that's pretty good cash flow. At my daily hit rate I estimated it will take me about 20 years to get that good. So much for me having cash flow now.

"What do you really want to do?"
"Let's just be writers and live a life of luxury."
"Yeah, that was probably the dumbest thing that ever came out of my mouth."
Swiped from (
September 2004)

I probably outline 6 or 7 stories a week, but only 2 or 3 good ones make it to the blog. I alternate between contemplation and writing, interjected with several rounds of refinement. The goal is to crescendo into a literary fever which hopefully makes me sound like the philosophical, bibliophile person I wish I (sometimes) was. This translates to 3 or 4 hours to distill a rough thought into an appealing and entertaining post. As for cash flow this means at $5k of income a month I would be paid $100/hour to blog. Holy crap - How do you like 'dem apples...

For me, it's still payup time as I wrestle tirelessly with my perceived lack of writing talent. Yes, five years of engineering and drafting patents will degrade anyone's writing skills, but my MBA hopefully resurrected some flowing prose that runs in my family:

  • Engineering work made me write simple, short & to the point.
    i.e., John drank beer with his friends after dumping his girlfriend.
  • Patent drafting work made me write long winded fact based content with 1 long paragraph as one legal sentence . Need 1 entire page as 1 sentence? I was your man!
    i.e., John drank copious amounts of beer from a round and tall glass, while at the bar with his friends, all the time while Mary waited patiently at home in her kitchen, baking cookies and hoping that John would be home in time for dessert instead of leaving her for the other women in his life like he had discussed on the phone earlier that evening...
  • MBA made me learn how to not write short, nor an entire paragraph as one legal sentence. Flowing prose with the occasional "synergy" and "strategy" terms thrown in for good measure.
    i.e., John was drinking again, toasting new found freedom with his buddies at the local bar. "I told her tonight", he boasted. "She's out of my life but somehow didn't get it." "I heard she's still at home baking cookies for you," piped up Martin, pouring another round for the group. "Yep," John noted, his attention wandering towards the new group of ladies that entered the establishment. "But you know what they say - you can look at dessert as long as you come home for dinner. Well, I'm a dessert for dinner kind of guy, you dig?"

Now which one would you rather read? Thank God I did my MBA but in retrospect you'd think I would have learned it would have been easier not to learn writing three different ways...

Maybe, yes, one day in the distant future I will hit payoff but that's not the point or goal of this blog. Rather it is to write some contemplative and amusing stories for some of my family & friends. If any others get entertained, inspired or motivated to do something, all while giving me a outlet for some of my recent experiences, I'm happy. If you like my posts and blogroll, link or pass them on, I'm really happy - like a fat kid on a smartie!

Besides writing this gives me a real reason to read other blogs. "It's not entertainment I'm surfing the web for honey - it's research!" "Yeah, whatever. Just go change the dirty diaper".

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mr. Cab Driver

Don't you hate it when you get in a cab and the driver launches into a tirade about drugs...

"The drugs these days, they're crap....I remember when marijuana actually took the edge off! Not now, no! And that meth, let me tell you about that meth..."
My reply: ", this is good, I'll walk from here. And keep the change." Today was a good day for a short ride and a long walk.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No more kids

Don't you hate it when you're making the moves on your wife, then as soon as she starts to giggle the next thing you know there is a 3 year old running into your room yelling "Hey guys, what's so funny!? Did you tell a joke or somethin'?"

"Yeah, and you weren't part of the punch line"

I hate that too...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Seinfeld meets the transvestite & the drunk

As promised last week I've got the story of the drunk & transvestite encounter....
So I'm sitting in the downtown library using their computers to type a post out and I hear the guy next to me muttering profanities at the computer screen. He was typing then backspacing, typing then backspacing, typing then backspacing.... after a few minutes of this he really leaned into it. BAM! WHAM! THWUMP! The sounds grew louder as he started to hit the keys harder, with more than a few people looking over to see what the noise is. Finally, after a frustrating "uggguuuuhhhh" escapes from his clenched teeth I hear him directing some commentary towards me.

"Hey man, can you help me out here? This shit for computer ain't workin'. I keep typin' and all I get is these big letters, unless I hold this shift thingie down all the time with one hand." Bing bing bing bing bing! We seem to have a winner here folks - he had that glazed over "it's almost but I'll start drinking anyhow" hollow look in his eyes...and given that I was thinking I didn't want to cause a scene in the library - I'd rather wait for a more seedy bar as it would make a better story.

I glance at his screen and the last half of his paragraph is all in caps. "Yeah, try this" I say as I reach over and quickly unlock his Caps Lock button, pushing a few keys after to make sure it was working right.

"Heyyyyy," he drawls, the idea light starting to glimmer in his eyes. "How'd you do that? I need to write that one there down." Ahhh, my good deed done for the day, another computer illiterate person saved from SHOUTING IN THEIR EMAIL'S ALL THE TIME.

My brief thoughts of computer superiority were shattered with a huge KA-WHUMP by the drunk at the end of the row, his head impacting the computer desk, bouncing off with his body spilling into the floor. He nonchantly pulled himself up, sitting back down and began moving the mouse around like he was working....even though the computer wasn't on.

The librarian looked over and contemplated getting up, but seemed to reconsider when the individual on my right jumped up. "Oh my," exclaimed she exclaimed "are you ok honey?" She got up to help, fussed over him then sat back down. "Did you see that?" she asked, turning to me. "What a shame. I hope it doesn't leave a mark." I was sitting there thinking I'm sure leaving a mark on his forehead was the least of his problems of the day. She turned back to the computer and then started to primp her hair in the computer screen reflection....and then I realized...holy crap - those were MAN HANDS! She was a HE! Maybe that's what Mr. Caps Lock was writing about when he got his button stuck!

Jerry: She had man hands.
Elaine: Man hands?
Jerry: The hands of a man. It's like a creature out of Greek Mythology, I mean, she was like part woman, part horrible beast.
Elaine: Would you prefer it if she had no hands at all?
Jerry: Would she have hooks?
Elaine: Do, uh, do hooks make it more attractive, Jerry?
Jerry: Kinda cool lookin'...

Man, if I was Seinfeld I would have an entire episode ready to go here: I was sandwiched between a transvestite and Mr. Caps Lock, all while a drunk was attempting to "use" the computers but really looking for a place to sleep while sitting up. At least he took the attention off Mr. Caps Lock, or was it Mrs. Man Hands? In the heat of the moment, It really was a hard choice to call. It was like having a mix of Kramer, George and someone Newman would bring over all in the room at the same time....

Definitely something I would have seen on Seinfeld, but after looking around I couldn't see a Superman toy anywhere...Maybe next time I'll write it into a script and pitch it to NBC.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hey Old Navy, you suck

Dear Old Navy,

So let me get this straight - I come into your store and spend in excess of $260 and I still need to purchase a clothing gift box for $1.73? WTF? Last time I checked even Zellers gave boxes away. Do you think you are Birks or something? Is there a limit I have to reach before I get a free box? And no, a HUGE shopping bag with Old Navy on the side is not the same as a box to wrap my presents up in.

And to the manager that came out to answer my query: telling me to walk over to the Gap and ask for a free one was the lamest answer I have ever heard. I don't think you even had the intelligence to realize they are the same company as you.
It's not about the $1.73 and if you had have been out of boxes I would have been ok with that... BUT some things I need to take a stand on just in principle. Paying $1.73 for a box after spending $260 is one such principle I stand against.

I am looking forward to shopping elsewhere from now on.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Disgruntled and Freaky

There is a large Call Center in town that contracts its staff out to some larger, very recognizable companies such as AT&T. It is funny because we are in Canada yet since all the calls they get are from the US they are told to tell the customers they are located in "a city just north of Port Angeles in Washington State." Why is this funny? Go look on a map - there is no US city north of Port Angeles since it happens to be on the water where the US/Canada border exists. Where is Rick Mercer when you need him?

But I digress from my original intent of my story...

Last week I had to take the bus which happened to be full of riders that were obviously on their way to the Call Center for the start of their shift. They are easy to spot - either very young or very old employees, and the fact that they work on phones apparently means their work attire is not an issue. I suspect since the job pay is fairly low, about $10/hour, and they aren't really in it for the love of the job.

About ½ way into the bus ride the driver pulled over and said to everyone "Ok, listen up people. All those going to the Call Center there is another bus coming right behind me to take you directly there. If we don't shift you over we'll fill up at the next exchange and you'll all be late for work." Apparently the "late for work" really rifled them up as several of them said to the driver "if we're late we get fired." Boy, am I glad I don't work there...I would get fired at least 4 times a week in my current job, and that's rounding the average number down...

Since my stop was near the Call Center I chose to get off to get a more direct routing, but as soon as I did I knew it was a mistake.

As if on queue about 25 of the 30 people lit up cigarettes, and then started to bitch about their jobs, the customers and the pay. Then the bus showed up and they all stubbed out their cigarettes and put them back in their pockets. I guess they were saving them for the bitch-fest home.
After getting on the bus I overheard the following 2 conversations, most of them are fairly representative of what I usually hear - disgruntled and freaky.

Conversation #1 - Customer Dis-satisfaction is our goal!

"I hate this job" stated a young girl, a small sampling of her eyebrow piercing glimmering through her long pink and black bangs. She looked about 25, still going for the goth-alternative look in a vain attempt to recapture her youth.

"I thought this was your day off?" her friend noted. At least I think it was a girl, but I was thrown off checking for gender as I sat semi-transfixed at the pointy, studded dog collar she was wearing.
Actually, what I really was doing was wondering if the pointy studded collar was installed to help to keep her awake during the day. I suspect dozing off in your chair and impaling your chin on a stud would be incentive not to sleep at work...
She roller her eyes and grunted "Yep, but I need the money so I'm seeing if I can get some overtime in today." With obvious distain for her probably not-so-chosen profession showing through in her tone she continued on, "I'm in a pissy mood too, but I'll feel better once I get to work and take it out on a customer that wants help with something. I'll just deny them some services they want for free, or try to up the charges." You go girlfriend! Were you the same crazy customer disservice employee I talked to a few months ago when I had to call about my Visa balance that had overdue charges because I didn't pay my $2.00 balance on time? She did say she was in a small town just south of Detroit...

Conversation #2 - 40 year age gap is downright freaky

The second conversation was downright freaky. It was between an older woman, at least 50, and a youthful man, probably not over 20. And I'm being overly generous on his maturity and erring on the side of youth for her. I didn't get the impression a 40 year age spread was improbable...

"I like your retro clothes," she said to him. 'They remind me of when I was your age! I didn't know they sold things like that. Where do you get them?"

He was sporting tight fitting wrangler jeans with a Pedro Sanchez style shirt. With the exception of the missing bolo tie his attire would have made Napoleon Dynamite proud. "I get real retro clothes at the thrift store... wayyy more authentic. I'm always on the lookout if you know of anywhere."

She then got this sly look on her face. "Oh, that's great. I have a bunch of older retro things from when my husband was still around. They would probably fit you and they are just sitting in boxes anyways." I sat thinking that if I had to wear clothes like that when I was married, I'd be gone too, abducted by the fashion police and imprisoned for crimes against all trendy dressed people in the free world.

The retro junky confirmed he was a Napoleon Dynamite wanna-be after all: "Sweet!", his eyes lighting up like he had hit the retro jackpot of the century. As his endorphins surged at the prospect of getting a hit of authentic retro smack I don't think he caught her look - the sinful cougar / preying mantis look that screamed "oh yeah, I'll teach this boy a thing about retro baby! Mmmmmm-u-mmmm!". It was one of those things - should I warn him, should I not? Nawwwwww, I think I'll let this one play out.

"Maybe you can come by one night to pick them up?" She was totally gunning for a home run with this young man and he didn't see the train even approaching the ballpark. Fat? Overweight? Old? Yep, but so was Babe Ruth whe he was still around knocking homers out of the park...This was getting freaky. Fortunately we arrived at their stop before I could hear any more of the conversation. I think it was for the better that I not know the outcome...
After overhearing many similar stories since the Call Center opened I felt like there was a high potential to be assimilated into their bitter cultural norms if I worked there too.
Although some days, it would be an excuse to be bitchy all the time.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

No regrets

Overheard at the bar last month: Don't you hate it when you wake up the next morning with your date next to you and the following conversation ensues: He says "I feel guilty." You respond "But why?" His slow reply "Well the ex really isn't an ex....". Ohhh...

It's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done.
New Years is upon us and blogs are abound with new years lists and resolutions - I hate it already. I am not one for New Year resolutions, as believe if you really want to do something you obviously don't want to do it if you need to wait for a new year to start doing other words if you don't have enough willpower to put down the Krispy Kreme and get on a bike then get off the biking path and make room for those who really want to be out there. And no, I'm not talking about celebrities dressed up as obese people and acting out in public.
If your motivation to do things is a New Year's resolution, I suggest you are setting yourself up for failure.

You may have noticed my '43 Things' listing on the sidebar. No, the aren't my New Year resolutions, but rather a short term, dynamic and evolving, "to experience and accomplish" list. If you come back and read this posting in a year it will have totally changed - some will have been removed and others added.

Like Stephen Covey said, "Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly."

So, as you move into the New Year I hope you get to accomplish what you really want to do, and that your motivation doesn't fade with the passing months. I'm looking forward to the next year, in particular blogging and writing more. It motivates me from look for some exciting, humorous and insightful posts coming up...

Coming up this month: the story about the transsexual and homeless man at the public library. What a visual. I wish I missed it but like a horrific traffic accident sometimes you just can't peel your eyes away from the carnage.