Monday, December 24, 2007

Breaking News

This just in:

American Corn Pops both look and taste different than the Canadian Version.

And now back to your regular program.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I remember when you were here

I have made my very own club. Anyone can join and it's pretty easy to get in. Staying in, however, is a different story. The "First timer's club" is, as the name suggests, for people who have done something for the very first time. First time on an airplane - you're in. First time at a foam party - you get the idea. For no very good reason I have decided that the club membership expires one week after the first timer incident. The challenge is to stay in the club for as long as possible. For younger people this isn't a problem - their lives are full of first times. For guys like me, who have just turned 31 (I'm still riding that first timer high) things get a bit more challenging. It is true that I often shout out "First timer's club" when Capital M and I are driving in a new area of the city but I think that's kind of pushing it. Real first time events tend to stick in your memory for years (like riding on top of a van and going under a rather low tunnel bridge at break neck speeds).
So to you, aspiring member or person seeking membership renewal, be safe, have fun, and never stop having first times.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dr. Impossible

Tomorrow starts the beginning of "National Novel Writing Month." I just heard about it today and it's a pretty neat though ambitious idea. Simply put - writers are to write a short 50, 000 word novel in the month of November. I did the math (of course) and a person would have to write 1667 words per day. That brings back memories of trying to write 2000 word papers the day before they were due while in university- not an entirely pleasant experience. However, it's the idea of a deadline that is supposed to give people the push they need to write.
I'm going to meet with a group this evening who seem to have intentions of pulling this off. This is not to say that I do exactly, but who knows. At the very least I may actually start meeting people in this very large city.
Now before the e-mails start pouring in, let me say that I still intend to post a few blogs during the Na-No month (assuming I get really into it), so worry not.
In other news, I wore two costumes today. One was subtle and the other obvious. I borrowed a cowboy hat from the absent M, put on a bandana bandito style and went as a cowboy to work. For the subtle costume, I wore a shirt with a slight stain and was "the guy who doesn't know he's wearing shirt with a stain" but the irony was that I did, obviously.
And there I go breaking Carrol Burnette's 2nd rule of comedy, again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the execution of all things

At 4:00am last night I woke up to the phone ringing. I'm not sure why but waking up to that sound really scares me.
It was a wrong number, unsurprisingly. The woman, who spoke no English, seemed put out by the little mix up (shouldn't it have been the other way around?) I hung up the phone, went back to bed and felt my heart pounding in my chest as I tried to go back to sleep. Ten sleepless minutes passed by. My heart rate was finally slowing down when the phone rang again. I didn't get up to answer it. My reasoning was the woman would hear the answering service, realize she had the wrong number and that would be that. Meanwhile, my heart pounded harder with every ring.
Fifteen minutes later the phones rang again. Part of me didn't believe it was actually happening. Why now? Why me? By the time I picked up the phone there was nothing but a dial tone.
I checked the caller history and discovered that a new person had been calling after the initial phone caller. What are the chances of that happening in the 4:00am hour? Both numbers were from Toronto and I called the second in hope of preventing a third call.
The first time I tried there was a sudden hang up. I tried again and I could hear a woman's voice when the line was answered but she doesn't hear me and she's also making no sense. I hung up, put the phone on my night table and waited for the next call in bed.
Some time shortly after 5 Am it happens.
"Please stop calling here, you have the wrong number."
There is a slight pause and woman, maybe high, says "what, what?"
"You've been calling here for almost an hour and it's the wrong number." I don't know why I don't say it as angrily as feel. Maybe it’s because I could have avoided this if I had just answered the phone the second time it rang. It's not really bad luck that's caused this, just a bad decision.
"Oh sorry," she says.
I lay awake in bed until my alarm went off less than an hour later.

Tomorrow is Halloween. I have no subtle costume ideas and no one to notice (or not) even if I did.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

ready to go

My downstairs neighbour has started her own dating agency. I'm not sure I understand how the matching process works exactly but I do know that it involves meditation and yoga on the part of my neighbour. Every now and then she has a get together for her hopeful clients and tonight is one of those nights. For the past few hours I have listened to the arrhythmic drumming of a tubla, muffled conversations, and laughter. As such, on some level I would say this evening would appear to be a success.
My neighbour even stopped by to invite Capital M and me over for some food. However, Capital M is back in Halifax for the next week and I declined the offer - I wouldn't want the female clients to be disappointed when they found out I wasn't on the market.
I’m kidding, of course. I think my neighbour is secretly hoping to get Capital M in her pool of daters. She already told M that she’d be perfect for what one of her clients was looking for.
Maybe it's just as well she's not here...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hard wire

Surprisingly, a lot of people have recently written in asking the same question:
Can you eat an entire loaf of raisin bread in one weekend?

The short answer is: We don't know yet.
Half way into the weekend and half the loaf is gone, so odds are yes I can. However, at some point 'self restraint' will come into play and that very well could turn out to be the 'TSN turning point' and prolong the bread's life. As well, I am planning on eating something else besides raisin bread for my next few meals. But, don't make any bets just yet - this is still anyone's game.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Columns of steam

I was in Zellers today and saw a cookbook called "The Rookie Cookbook." On the cover was a man tearing up as he cut an onion. So here's my question: how many onions must a man cut before they no longer burn his eyes?
I don't know how many I've chopped but I do know that it hurts it just as much now as it did 12 years ago. So tell me Jean Pare, when does the pain end?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Riding in the backseat

There are hundreds of little smudges on the windows by Laptropolis III. Three windows, all decorated with the nose imprints of two cats. Their ears have become finely attuned to the sound of Marzi's car and they bound across the room when they hear it approaching. It's almost like having dogs except the cats aren't consistent. Sometimes they leave their mark on the windows, others they stay sleeping on whatever surface has taken their fancy that day.
By this point both cats have earned many different nicknames, the most current are: Private Brown (usually cat #2) and Stinky Nickels (usually cat #1). Perhaps 'earned' is misleading - cat 2 (usually) hasn't joined the armed forces and cat 1(usually) doesn't have smelly change.
Fortunately for me, they take my songs about them and nonsensical nicknames in stride. Though this could explain why they tend to prefer the company of Capital M. Or, they're just waiting for better nicknames.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Not goin' back

My first teaching assignment was a bust. I was supposed to teach a grade 12 English class but it ended up being a terrific waste of time for myself and the students (all three of them). They should have been in a beginner ESL course; instead they were advanced grade level by level because they were paying for the course and would have gone to another private school for the credit. The private school system is so corrupt that even when I discovered one barely literate student cheated on his grade 11 final exam nothing happened - at best he was told not to do it again. This isn't to say all private schools, just the new, unaccredited ones that are hoping to make a quick buck offering students who have no interest in actually learning, the credit to say they did.
I recently saw a job posting from the school. I think it's trying to tell only qualified people to apply but it reads quite differently (I swear this is directly from the job posting - I haven't altered a word):

Since the large volume of application, we strongly suggest people who have no idea of student recruitment, please do not apply for this job. We are looking for employee who has strong background of student recruitment, or has great recourses and connections with students locally or internationally

This has to be one of the most unintentionally funny things I have ever seen. If only the job posting I saw had been written that poorly I may not have applied. If only...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mr. F

"I've got my health" that's what went through my mind when I stood up on the bus and felt something sticking my pants to the bus seat. I usually check for gum, fluids, or other undesirable substances before I sit, but I was sleepy this morning and my guard was down. I love Toronto Transit.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Love love me

Tomorrow I have to tell a normally developed, 40 year old man that he shouldn't be looking at porn on the school computers. This will undoubtedly be an awkward conversation.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In which Jesse V tries to solve a crime and fails

Here are some deductions on the theft of my bike:
  1. The bike thief only recently saw my bike before it was stolen. If not, it likely would have been taken long ago
  2. The thief had to have staked out the scene, there are people around during the day and he/she had to know that no one would respond to the motion sensor light triggered at night when people walk near the area where the bike was locked up
  3. The bike thief is able to easily identify high end bikes, and is not interested in bikes of little monetary value, case in point - mine was stolen, Capital M's was left behind
  4. The thief may have used a truck or van, it would make for a much faster get away than fighting to get the bike in the back seat of a car
  5. The thief is skilled and had the right tools for the job. The entire lock was taken with the bike. A closer examination of the the crime scene revealed absolutely no evidence that the lock had been broken, cut, or shattered. Moreover, it was a high end lock and would take some skill to open
  6. The thief does not live in the neighbourhood. See point 1, and it would be foolish to try and sell or ride the bike in a place where I might find it
  7. The thief did not steal the bike for personal use. See point 6, and given the skill involved with picking the lock it is likely the thief has done this before
  8. The bike will not be stripped down and sold as individual parts. Selling the parts would reduce the potential for profit. Moreover, selling the bike requires one single transaction, if the parts are sold individually there is a chance the buyer may only want one or two components.
  9. The bike thief must have a fence. Beyond Craigslist or the classifieds, how else could a thief sell a hot bike that most people would consider too expensive even used
  10. I have phoned 24 bike shops (no exaggeration) and very few of them claim to sell high end used bikes. What they say and what they do may differ, but it is likely that most people would probably spend hundreds of dollars for a new bike, not a used one.
  11. My bike may no longer be in Toronto. Based on my deductions and the fact that so few shops deal in used high end bikes, it would seem that a fence would have better luck unloading the bike across the boarder
  12. I did get the name of three shops that sell stolen bikes - however I was also told that it's difficult to see the merchandise. Now I need a) a car b) some form of crime fighting glove c) a way in

Thursday, September 20, 2007

everywhere the cat goes

This past Tuesday Capital M and I went to see Rilo Kiley. I like their music but I'm not as big a fan as she is. That being said, the show was awesome. The music totally rocked and being around a band that good was nothing less than inspiring. I could could keep gushing but I think I've made my point.
Well I'm on the subject of music I have thought up part of a song. It's called 'Prepositions'* and it goes like this:


I'm stuck between trying to remember and forget,
but while I'm here I can't get by and I just can't get ahead,
For so long you were above me
now you're just beyond
I guess it's time I should be moving on

*'Prepositions' is not intented for serious audiences

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Frozen Lake

The following transcript was recorded at 6:12 A.M Tuesday, Sept 18.

Fruit Fly: Hey!
J.V: Go away.
F.F: Excuse me, but I was just wondering if I could have some of your banana. Things have been pretty sparse around here since you took out the compost.
J.V: That was part of the reason why I took it out. You could can go out too you know?
F.F: I could... but I kind of like it in here. Are you going to be done with that banana peel any time soon? Oh, and is there any chance you could pick up some strawberries on your way home tonight?
J.V: Listen, it's really early and I'm not up for this right now, why don't you just sit in the windowsill and watch the sun rise, quietly.
F.F: Someone didn't get enough sleep last night. Fine, I'll watch the sunrise, but I called that banana peel.
(there is a short break in the conversation)
F.F: Holy mother of Honey Dew Melon! You didn't tell me there spiders around here - are you trying to get me killed?
J.V: (sigh) no, I just forgot. Fruit Fly, meet Hoppy. Hoppy, Fruit Fly.
Hoppy: Oi! What's all this then? A little breakfast party and I'm not invited. And it looks like you have a good spread.
(A high pitched fluttering of wings is heard moving a short distance away)
I'm hurt, I really am. Do I not keep the gnats away? Day and night I patrol these windows and this is the thanks I get. I have a mind to leave this place right now.
J.V and FF: You should!
J.V: Hoppy, it's a big world out there, right across the driveway is a place called the 'garage.' It's a wonderful building filled with all kinds of things you'd like.
Hoppy: I know what a 'garage' is, I'm not stupid. My great-great grandmother migrated from there. Unless they did some renovations before I hatched it's still not heated - no way am I'm going there.
J.V and F.F (disappointedly): Oh...
F.F: Well, this has been a fruitless morning, both literally and figuratively. I think I'll go and wait by the compost bucket - unless you were planning on bringing that with you.
J.V: Fine, the banana peel is yours, but only in the bucket.
F.F: Sweet!
Hoppy: And what about little old me? Do I not get a parting gift?
J.V: Besides a warm to place to live free of natural predators and a steady supply gnats?
Hoppy: Oh right. Speaking of which, I see one now. I'm off then.
J.V: (sigh)

Monday, September 17, 2007

paint it black

I will warn you now that this story doesn't really go anywhere, it's just something I remember from my childhood and a mystery that will forever linger in my mind:

I lived in something of a paradox when I was young boy. On one hand, I had a neurotic, over protective mother, on the other she worked 12 hour shifts and I was given a great deal of freedom during that time.
At the age of 6, I was a 'latch key kid.' I had a red cord around my neck that held both my house key and a key to the bike shed of our apartment building. My bike, quite possibly the best inanimate friend a kid could have, was a combination gift from an aunt and my grandfather. My aunt had found it, derelict along a stretch of train tracks. She brought it home and my grandfather fixed it up, painted it black and later presented it to me (to my knowledge he never worked on a bike before or after that). It wasn't my fist bike but it was definitely one of the most memorable.

We had some awesome adventures that bike and I. With the exception of winter, when I would be towing a toboggan, I was always on my bike when I was outside. I can remember outrunning guard dogs on a stretch of private property. Or at least feeling like I was outrunning them - there were two signs posted on a road that ended somewhere I was too afraid to travel to the end of, one said, "Private property, keep off" the other "beware of dogs." Whenever I rode my bike on the road I wasn't supposed to be on I could hear dogs barking and I peddled all the faster because of it. Eventually I would get to a path that took me away from the private property and when I could no longer hear the dogs I felt as though I had out-biked them. There seemed to be a greater logic to what I was doing back then but I can no longer remember, or even figure out, what it was.

My bike had something that resembled a banana seat but it was a little thicker and perfect for doubling real life friends who either didn't have a bike, or couldn't access the one they owned. It was also always up for exploring any forested area that I could peddle through, launching off jumps or the always popular and stylish 'pop-a-wheelie.'

We also faced our share of danger (more real than the dogs). There were some bullies who lived in an area that I inadvertently entered one fateful day. They took my bike and I went home in tears. The captain, with all the anger of a irate mother bear, found the boys who took my bike and made them bring her to it (they had said they couldn't get it). They had industriously placed it in a shallow hole and covered it with tree branches in the forest not far from where they lived.

We also came across a mystery that I am sure is much darker than I realized in my youthful innocence. One day, while biking to the pool, I took a short cut through the woods behind some businesses and came across a group of kids gathered around something. I asked what was going on and a boy I went to school with said they had found something. Curious, I got off my bike and went over to see . They found something alright and to this day I have no idea what they found. Semi-buried in the ground were about a dozen, maybe more, little baggies carefully tied off at the end and filled with a thick, fishbelly-white paste like substance. The bags had all been carefully placed in the ground and unfortunately I don't remember how they had been discovered. I also remember a really unpleasant smell that radiated around the baggies. Smells are supposed to be a memory trigger and I have never come across a similar scent. I also remember getting a feeling that something wasn't right about this - all of us did because we all seemed to have a collective urge to leave. I'd love to know what that was, maybe it wasn't anything but there are a lot of things I can't remember from 23 years ago and it must mean something that I can remember that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I can go twice as high

I travel roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes to and from work each day. I won't bore anyone with my 'time wasted' calculations but rest assured I have done them (I'll have spent one entire month communting out of a year). Like so many others in Toronto I rely on the transit system, though I think I travel further than most. My epic journey requires 2 buses, one subway and one above ground subway (parway?). What do I do with all of this time you may ask? Among other things, I read.
The following is a list of the books I have read this year - most while commuting:

Straight man - Richard Russo
If I could be like the story's protaganist when I'm older I'll know I've done something right. I highly recommend this book

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows - J.K. Rowling
The wizard did it, in the garden, with a candle stick (how could you not read this if you've read the other six?)

Meaning of Night - Micheal Cox
A truly great feat of story telling - highly recommended

American Gods - Neil Gaiman
More than anything the tone of the book was so ominious that I felt tense just reading it - I'd recommend it for that alone

The Mapmaker's Opera - Béa Gonzalez
I mentioned this one before - read it!

The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
None of the characters are likable, the story doesn't really go anywhere and other authors have handled the post-colonialism theme better - not recommended

Crow Lake - Mary Lawson
Lawson, I want the time back that I wasted while reading your book

Teacher Man - Frank McCourt
It meant more when I thought I'd be a teacher, he's a little too self critical sometimes but it shines when he retells his classroom experience

The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
I really don't know what to say about this one, I'd lean towards "huh?"

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
More like - the perks of being a messed up kid - maybe if he'd been a real wallflower I'd feel more kindly to this book

7th heaven - Alice Hoffman
Hoffman's use of magical realism is dissappointing as it doesn't tend to lead to anything. Not a bad book though

Shoot the Moon - Billie Lets
This would be a good not-feeling-well kind of book

Slaughter House 5 - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
I wish I understood this one better - still recommended

The #1 Ladies Detective Agency - Alexander Mccall Smith
I really liked this one

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
Not as as good as American Gods but good enough for a few trips to and from work

Seduction - Catherine Gildiner
Interesting but the protaginist does not resolve all conflicts (if this were Shakespeare she'd be dead) I'd still recommend it though

With Child - Laurie King
It is what it is, a book about a street smart, motor bike drivin' lesbian cop

Books I couldn't finish:

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
I'm sorry Jane I really am but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get into this book

Nights of Rain and Stars - Maeve Binchy
Even though there were only 30 pages left I couldn't bring myself to read one more - I'm ashamed I read as much I did

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

* Ashcroft Church

I won't lie, it would be impossible to pretend otherwise - I never liked Anderson Jeffries. He was my rival before we knew what the word meant. Our families attended the same Church and we were often left together in the care of the Sunday School teacher Ms. Higgins. For a short time we were the only children in our small church. Regardless of the number in her charge, Ms. Higgins doted on Jefferies and I was merely an afterthought. Even as small a child Jeffries seem to capture the attention of everyone around him with his subdued magnetism.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

thanks a million

Arthur P. Milligan writes: Jesse V. I'm tired of reading your blog because I feel like you only write good things about yourself. A truly interesting autobioblog would have both the good and the bad. You come off as little more than one dimensional and flatter than a stock character in a Maeve Binchy book.

Ocuh! Flatter than someone in a Binchy book - you go too far good sir.
Normally the loss of a reader wouldn't mean much but being that you are one of the few people who consistently checks this site I'd hate to see you go. It is true that I don't tend to do dwell on the mundane, the depressing, or any of the other darker moments that comprise 'the human condition,' but for you Mr. Milligan I'll reach back into the archives and bare my soul to the world.
- When I was in grade two I stole carrots from a garden. Actually, I never took anything but I was with some other kids who did. I'm sure they were good carrots, being garden fresh and all.
- I was almost given some form of disciplinary action for pretending to be a grade nine student when I was actually in grade 12. The grade 9's had a sub one day and I took a seat before the class began and said I had just transferred from 'the big city'. In an unsurprising turn of events I took the joke too far and managed to waste the entire class telling stories of my inner city life. Then, in a moment of extreme arrogance I told the sub I was really in grade 12 after the bell had rung (I somehow thought she knew I was joking). Needless to say she wasn't happy.
- I have been a in total of two fist fights in my life. The first one was with a friend in elementary school. We had the obligatory circle of kids shouting "Fight! Fight!" around us. After trading a couple of blows I said "let's be friends again" and that was the end of that. I don't really remember how it started but I'm glad it ended. The other fight happened much later and I really didn't do any fighting. I just curled up into a ball, and thought of my mind as an uncarved stone.
- The list could go on, and probably will later but 6:00am is coming faster than I'd like and I should call it a night. I hope this helps flesh out my character.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Break the bed

Here is something few people know about me:

Most of these blog entries come off as mostly lighthearted and hopefully slightly comical, but there was a darker time in my life - a period that called for extreme measures and I have no choice but to admit that I took them. In a previous post I had mentioned my 'casual crime fighting gloves' that were good for dealing with petty crooks and small time Johns. What I didn't mention were my 'crime fighting gloves.' Sadly, no photographic evidence remains of these symbols of justice but I will try and describe them as best I can.
The gloves were comprised of two separate yet equally important parts: A streamline black ski glove provided the hand protection needed for dealing with society's toughest undesirables. Attached to the outer wrists of the gloves were the pointed ears cut off a batman mask. They added a 'fin' look that no one would deny meant business (the clear packing tape used to adhere the 'fins' was slightly distracting but it was kind of hard to see in the dark).
I don't have the numbers to prove it but I'm pretty sure crime was down my first year in university. Between the two sets of gloves I pretty much had all types of criminals covered.
Unfortunately for the good guys, I lost the pair of crime fighting gloves, and one of the casual crime fighters in this house fire.
Now I feel their loss all the more as my bicycle was stolen last night and I truly wish I could do something more than feel blue at its loss.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Put on the Red light

A few weeks ago I was sleeping soundly in my bed; given the time of day this was the right thing to be doing, when a noise woke me up. At first I thought it had been something from a dream but then I heard it again, it was the sound of a woman crying, or perhaps sobbing is a better word. I sprung out of bed and looked out the window and sure enough there was a woman on the street, about 20 feet away, hunched over and deeply upset. A quick look at Capital M told me all I needed to know: it was going to take something much louder to wake her up.

I threw on some shorts that, upon reflection, were not decent to wear in public and headed outside to see if I could help this woman in distress.

It was about 5:00 in the morning and the world consisted of different shades of purple. My boxers, clearly visible from the gaping hole in my shorts had changed from tropical to twilight themed. My brain, which managed to get me this far in very little time, now slowed back down and wrapped itself up in fuzzy sleepiness. Which is why I asked a woman who was clearly very upset "are you all right?"

She seemed not to hear me, although her body posture did seem like she was at least aware of my presence. I asked again, this time a little louder. She turned around and looked at me. She was about 5'5 and looked to be in her mid to late 30s. Her hair was long, curly, and probably dirty blond but looked more like mauve. She wore tight jeans and I'm pretty sure Capital M would say they are not currently in style but I can't be certain.

"Want do you want?" Came her barely audible response.

"I heard you crying." I replied. "Is there anything I can do for you?" I'm not sure what I was expecting her response to be but I do know it wasn't what she actually did. Her sobbing started all over again. She crouched down low to the ground and jumped up, spastically turning her body in the air as she did so. When she resumed her footing she leaned back hocked a huge lugee, giving her spit extra distance by leaning forward as it projected from her mouth. Fortunately, she didn't aim at me.

While she was doing her best to give her phlegm a fitting send off the ratty plastic bag she had in her hand fell to the ground and a few needles rolled out. She jerkily bent down and picked them up.

"Do you want some company?" She asked when she stood upright again.

"No, that's alright," I replied. She didn't take this well. There was more spastic jumping, more spitting and another bag mishap. It then occurred to me that this might not look good. Here I am standing on the street in very ripped shorts with a woman who is probably a prostitute and crying loud enough to wake up the neighbourhood (except Capital M). Nothing I said seemed to have any impact on her and I thought that it may be best if I called the the police and hopefully they could help where I had so miserably failed.

I went back inside, unnoticed by the woman, and tried to find the number of the police. However, I hadn't even found it when I heard a man's voice outside. I looked out the window and some other nearby dweller had managed to chase off 'Roxanne.'

I think if had my casual crime fighting gloves this story may have had a different outcome. Nonetheless, it did add some excitement at a time when I would normally be sleeping.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I sure hope he makes it in the end

I could start this off with a direct and pointed comment about the amount of time that has passed since my last post, but instead I'll leave it just like this.

In other blog spot news:

1. I have been teaching at a private school since May. There are many, many things wrong with my job and I'm not overly fond of it but at least I'm teaching.

2. Capital M says I say 'since' like 'sense.' I disagree, I think I've combined the way the two words sound into multipurpose singular word.

3. I recently read 'The Map Maker's Opera' - it gets my 'right on right on' stamp of approval

4. I tried using EBay and the seller stole my money. It turns out there isn't much buyer protection or stealer prosecution. I can't help but reflect on my luck in moments like this - I have my health, so I know it's not all bad.

5. My hair is now mostly grey - this annoys me greatly.

6. I could promise to post more often but I think I've done this before and, when looking over my opening remarks, I obviously have problems with this type of commitment

7. I'll leave things on a odd (and prime) #. In real life I prefer to have things be even (an even # of eggs remaining, an even bunch of bananas eaten at a rate of two a day) I'm not OCD - it just makes sense (pronounced with a mix of 'since')

8. On second thought - I'll stop at 8

Monday, June 04, 2007

oceans and waves and wires

Here's a little something I was told a long time ago:

During the summer, count 10 stars every night for 10 nights. On the 10th night the person you will marry will appear in a dream.

This is actually a lot harder than it seems. I think my record is three nights. I'd remind myself during the day but invariably I'd forget at some point. Although I never had a prophetic dream there is something I really like about this system. It's kind of romantic and tacitly kismet. So next time there's a starry sky look up and pick out ten stars, and even if you don't make it for the full ten nights I hope it will at least make you smile.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spontaneity has brought a third

Penelope Winters asks: Jesse V, what’s your take on prime numbers?

Hey Penelope thanks for taking the time to write in. Prime Numbers huh? Well, as I understand it, a PN is divisible only by itself and one. For example 11 divided by any other number besides 11 or 1 will give a decimal answer. But, are numbers really worth the same value they were worth years ago? Think of it this way, the value of one dollar is always going down – unless shopping at a dollar store but let’s leave those anomalies out of this.
Or think of it like this, way back when people couldn’t count very high, ten would have seemed like a huge number – the ultimate number. This may explain why families kept having more and more children, they wanted to find out what number came next and, perhaps, to show off their numeracy skills to neighbouring families. As well, people of years ago would have valued 1 gram of salt for more than we do now - same with 1 pinch of snuff or even a one room dwelling. A town would have had tens or hundreds of people, a city may have had thousands. Jack had one old cow, Snow White met a mining team comprised of only seven dwarves, and there was only ever one prince charming (this didn’t leave many options for the dating game).
So what, you may ask, is my point in all of this? Well, if we divide a contemporary 11 by the number 3 from the year 1584, I think we may arrive at a whole number - the number 2 to be precise (I’ve used a complex formula for this). As such, are prime numbers really so special? Only you can decide that Penelope.

Ps- in years from now there will really only be 7 letters in your name

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brush your teeth, round and round

Remember the old cartoon about the family of hygiene products that only came to life late at night after the family had gone to sleep? It was called 'the toothbrush family.' I have a theory about two of the characters - there was Hot Rod Harry, an electric toothbrush who, if I remember correctly, did speedy laps around the bath tub (something all electric toothbrush owners are forever having to put up with). As well, there was Suzy Sponge, a rather dowdy girl with little colour or personality. I don't think she ever had to soak up any water in the show, nor was she ever dripping from having soaked anything up. They only thing she ever really did was get insulted by Harry. Here's my theory - the two of them hooked up one day when the family was at work/school. All the rest of the hygiene products were still asleep or 'real' or whatever it is they do during the day. Harry was feeling a bit blue and, having exhausted the rather small pool of available partners, was at loss for what to do. Then he noticed Suzy, perhaps still soft from a morning bath. He quietly raced over to her and after a few sweet words that played on her lonely vulnerability (and maybe a little Barry White for good measure) the two of them got it on. When all was said and done Harry felt disgusted with himself, and Suzy, of course, thought it may lead to something more. And so, to hide his guilt, Harry picks on Suzy.
Just in case anyone is wondering, yes, I am still unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands.

ps- here's a link to a more modern version of 'the toothbrush family' - there's no way it could have the depth the of the old one though.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Every move you make

It’s hard to fully explain my experience with ‘the stalker.’ It’s not that it is emotionally difficult, although for about two years after I left the college I had a recurring nightmare that I was in an empty mall being chased by a knife wielding ‘stalker’ and her roommate. Nothing even close to this happened in real life but there is something about finding out that you’re being watched that can be deeply unnerving. I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the difficulty – how to explain the subtle nuances that when added up form something not subtle at all, but rather something sad, and desperate.
It was 1996 - the year of ‘My name is Jesse V, I am 19 years old and this is not happening.” This little saying first sprang up during the summer (life #3) but it carried over nicely into the school year. I have already mentioned my roommates in a previous post, they have a part in this too, though a small one.
It is also worth mentioning the physical setting of the student residence since it bears heavily on what happens (and later provides a set up for a ‘three’s company’ type of misunderstanding). Each residence consisted of five floors with two apartments per floor – as such we shared the bottom level with another apartment of four girls. Perpendicular to our residence was another tower. My bedroom window had a charming view of the sidewalk and the many legs and feet that went in and out the door to the college – sometimes I felt like I was moving museum display. With my window at ground level and so close to the door I think it was almost impossible for people not to look in. My room also had this awful smell and every now and then I would do a tribal dance with this package of floral scents in an attempt to make my room smell better. If anyone happened to look in as they walked by I hoped they enjoyed the show. I could have closed my curtains but 1) I really enjoy sunlight 2) I had two little plants that enjoyed the sun even more than me 3) I was stubborn.
I had also resolved that year to work hard in my studies. (Something I did do but have never been able to exactly replicate since.) As such, I was often sitting at the desk that was by the window. I wanted to start the year off right - I read my textbooks, I took notes, and not long after classes began I started to feel like I was being watched. I’d look out the window but saw no feet (and no legs), a quick glance at the other student residence revealed no people in its windows. This carried on for almost all of September. I was starting to wonder if I was developing some sort of paranoia or if some latent mental disorder was starting to surface.
One evening a friend was over and, after sitting at my desk for a short time, had the same sensation. We had been friends since elementary school and I had told him about the feeling I couldn’t shake. He devised a plan. I’d sit like I normally did; he would crouch down and spring up as soon as I felt like someone was watching me. It worked. As he shot up, another head, two stories up in the tower perpendicular to mine, shot down. This was neither the beginning and most definitely not the end of my time being stalked. Little did I know that my stalker wasn’t working alone and that this incident only seemed to make her braver.

I guess this will be a three parter.
ps- the awful smell was in the room prior to my moving in, and in case anyone's curious, neither scented candles nor shaking a scented floral pouch while doing a tribal dance did much against it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

* Easton Sr. Boys Cricket

When asked what he'd like to do after his team won the Easton Sr. Boys Cricket match, Anderson Jeffries simply answered "Keep winning." I thought this was obvious- that's the whole point isn't it, to keep winning all the way to the final match? But of course the fans and the press ate it up. "Jeffries 'Keep Winning!'" the headlines read the next day as if he had said something wonderful and witty at the same time. The addition of the exclamation mark was at odds with the serious expression on his face in the photo below. If there was any joy in winning Jeffries didn't show it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The big guns

Here's a post I started writing this past summer. It's still not finished but I'm pressed for time - there's quite a bit more to this story and I'll finish it later:

I’m writing this to preserve a moment in time that many may find hard to believe (I know I do). It starts off, as so many of these stories do, when I was a younger, thinner man. Having just finished both Canada World Youth and my first summer at Camp Chief Hector I was heading off for my first year at a community college. It was a hard year as I was removed from all the people that had come to have so much meaning in my life. It was also hard because I really didn’t want to do a year of upgrading. My marks in high school were generally in the low 50s, with the exception of math which stayed much lower. I was capable of much more but chose to do the absolute minimum, and in some cases not even that much, and this was my penance.
I lived in a four bedroom apartment at the college residence. Looking back, I can’t help but feel that my indignation at having to pay $210 a month for rent was a bit naïve. My roommates were something out of a teen gross out comedy, only I didn’t find it funny. The guy whose room was right next to mine was a former member of a satanic cult who found redemption through heavy metal drumming. He was a in the music programme and I’m not sure what I disliked more – his drumming at 3:00am, the severely messed up girl he brought home one night and who then wouldn’t leave (the first morning she sat in the corner of the kitchen on the floor and wouldn’t get up), the hamburger he thought it was okay to freeze and thaw multiple times and had turned green/grey colour (I was torn - he could eat it, as he seemed about to, or I could (and did) tell him that it was long past being safe to eat), his friend ‘captain Dan’ (I later found out that Dan didn’t like the ‘captain’ nick name so it then became ‘admiral Dan,’ he didn’t like that one any better), or the time he mentioned having crabs while he was in his underwear and sitting on the couch.
My other two roommates lived down the hall and passed the living room. One of them was an aspiring coke user and, if he could have afforded it, full time drunk. The other, R2 I’ll call him, had some strange ideas that I am certain will make him the centre of several news programmes. You know the ones where people look for answers and insight into the mind of a deviant and terrifying criminal. “He was a quiet guy…”
None of my roommates ever went to their classes. They slept in to the early afternoon (or late after some hardcore drumming). The two guys down the hall smoked a lot. We lived in a basement apartment and some days I would come home and see a haze of smoke blurring the number on our door. It was certainly not an ideal living situation. However, those three paled in comparison to someone else I met that year - 'The Stalker.'

Monday, February 05, 2007

and then there's no mystery left

I like to figure out the cost of things - not in money but in time spent or people hours. For example, during my classes I would take the number of class hours, multiply by the number of students, divide by 24 and arrive at how many days were being being wasted for all the people in the room.

Tonight I took the formula to new heights:

8 million people who have subscribed to 'World of War Craft'
40 hours of game play ( this is probably a very low average)
= 320 000 000 hours spent playing the game.

320 000 000 hours/ 24= 13333333 days

13333333 days/365= 36529 years

That's crazy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Her own tv show

I don't consider myself to be a morning person. This isn't to say that I'm a big grump and a 'danger' sign should be hung around my neck after the alarm goes off until I've had a chance to fully wake up. However, if given a chance I would happily turn off the alarm, roll over and go back to sleep. If the school day started at 10:00 that would be terrific.
I find it hard to believe then, that there was a time when I would willingly wake up at 6:00am on school days. It wasn't that I had to catch a bus or discovered that I worked well in the morning. My reason was far more lame - I loved cartoons. So much so that it didn't really matter what I watched. Case in point, I woke up at 6:00am to watch Maxie's World, at 6:30 I watched Jem and the Holograms, I think Ducktales came on 7:00 and Inspector Gadget followed that. Cartoons bookended my school day, there was always something on YTV's 'the zone' after school.
Looking back I cannot fathom how I woke myself up to watch 'Maxie's world.' The only thing I can really remember is the theme song. Here's the gist of it - Maxie is a girl on the go, and good times are happening in her world.
I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that popularity seemed to elude me.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A breakfast of failures

My apologies for the infrequency of posts. My days are filled with dusty clouds of chalk and the shaping of minds (probably mine more than anyone else'). In the evening I watch one episode of 'Lost' and then try and figure out my next step. Teaching is like a strategy game. I'm not one for long range planning - I like to have a fuzzy idea of what I'm doing but leave time for whatever may come up. As such free time has become scarce. I have a new appreciation for weekends and, in particular, Friday night - the furthest point away from Monday morning.
This is not to say that I'm not enjoying what I'm doing - it's quite the opposite. In my previous placement I felt like I was being punished for various wrong doings in my life - a lousy cooperating teacher and an impossible to please supervisor (who I probably shouldn't have fought with but did anyway) made for a trying and borderline miserable experience. I don't want to jinx anything but I will say that my current placement has taken a 180 degree turn.
As well, to my surprise I have enjoyed wandering through a unit on poetry. I hated poetry in high school, I didn't care much for it in university and wasn't thrilled about having to pretend to like it in front of students - but I have liked it! Sometimes I feel like a fraud because I spend so much time figuring out the meaning of something and I when I talk about so and so's use of metaphors I think 'do I really get this? are these students really buying this?' I think it helps that I wear glasses.
I will make an effort to post at least once a week - there is time (now I can't help but think of T.S. Eliot when I hear that phrase).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

it was never here

I have not yet established any sort of routine in my life here in Toronto. As such there have been no entries, or even attempted entries on this site for the past two weeks. However, I now have no choice but to start applying some sort of order to how I structure my time. This should have happened one week ago but better late than never.
Moving out of Fenwick was bitter/sweet, but more sweet than anything else. To my surprise the building management bought me a going away gift. Maybe it's because they thought the day would never come.
Christmas was very nice and I surprised even myself for how much I ate over a short period of time.
New Year's Eve was pretty low key as Capital M and I spent it travelling from Halifax to Toronto. It did however mark our six year anniversary which is really crazy (that's 20% of my life for anyone who's statistically inclined). As Mr. von Trapp would say "...I must have done something good."
Cat 1 and cat 2 seemed to remember me. Cat 1 generally hides whenever anyone comes over but she came out from under the bed not long after we returned home.
Alright, I've put off lesson planning long enough - I'm going in. Cover me.
Over and out.

ps- Ikea should change their slogan from "Swedish, for 'common sense' to 'Swedish for 'exhausting'