Friday, April 23, 2010

The Story Of Tatoo The Cat

I believe we're coming to the end of our time with Tatoo the cat. He's getting close to a year old although compared to Brewski he still looks like he's closer to a month or two, of course that doesn't stop the little guy from tackling Brew when his back is turned. It's difficult to tell how Brew feels about Tatoo. Sometimes when I hear his growl I look over and sure enough Tatoo has tackled him and they're wrestling in the ground, back feet with claws out swinging at each other. Other times I look over and they literally have their arms around each other and Brewski is licking Tatoo's head, growling the whole time.

When we first got Tatoo he hid under the bed, he was terrified of all humans, although somewhat friendly with the cats. Over these few months he's slowly become trusting of us and he loves the other cats, especially Brewski. Even this morning we made another breakthrough. Usually it's tough to pet him. If he only sees my hand then he likes to be pet, he likes to chew on my fingers, but if he notices the rest of me he flees in terror. Bed is often a good place to pet the cat as the bulk of my body is hidden. Usually however if I try to pet his head or get my own head too close he'll run off the bed. This morning I sat right up and he let me pet his head for a couple minutes before getting scared, at which point I stopped petting him so he wouldn't run off the bed.

I believe he's ready to go to a new permanent home, or more I think there may be a family ready to take on the cat he is now. Of course there are a few things that Tatoo is going to need, patient owners probably without small children but only because I doubt he'll even let children touch him and a family with kids should get an animal that they can touch. He's also going to need another cat since he identifies very well with other cats and I think he'll be lonely without another cat since he may not ever become fully trusting of humans. One big positive is that he is extremely gentle with his claws, I have no fear of him actually hurting me when he's clawing at my hand, maybe the odd little nick here or there but he doesn't pull them right out when we're playing. I also don't notice him attacking furniture. About the only thing he does destroy is toilet paper rolls and that he will do in abundance if you give him the chance. He's quick about it too. turn your back for just a minute with a roll near him and you'll have a good ten minute clean up on your hands.

Unfortunately we may very well be the ideal owners for him ourselves and I believe the SPCA expects many foster people to simply adopt the pet they're fostering. Our goal wasn't to obtain another animal, it was to help animals that need help adjusting, learning to trust people, or just a place to stay for a month or two and there are other animals that need help. I don't think many people would have wanted Tatoo at the time we got him but I think there are many that would now, at least I hope so. If the situation is even that Tatoo would be put down we could never give him up but I don't relish the idea of having three cats.

So I'm going to go back to the SPCA next week and tell them that if they can find another family that wants Tatoo based on my suggestions then that's great and we can take on another problem animal. If they can't then we'll keep Tatoo and we won't be able to foster any more animals.
I would much rather help animals like the Tatoo was when we first got him than accumulate a herd of cats but I'm at the mercy of the SPCA and their experience here so we'll just have to wing it from here.

Either way I will be happy, we saved Tatoo from a put down list which he was on because he needed someone to be patient with him and provide a stable environment for him to gain confidence on his own schedule. I like the animal and I don't mind keeping him, again three cats is a bit much but we'll live, but there are many other animals that can be saved. Families don't go into the SPCA and take the scared kitten, they want the playful one for their kids, or themselves. It's just life I suppose and a kid should have a kitten that he/she can play with but it still breaks my heart to think that little kittens and puppies are being put down because some jerk has taught them in their first few months of life to be fearful of humans and now no one wants to adopt them. With violent animals it pains me less, it still sucks since it's usually not the animals fault, but they are violent and there are so many that need help you have to draw the line somewhere. The animals that are gentle but scared deserve a second chance but I wonder how many actually get one.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rat Dinner

I attempted a staged shot with the rats this morning. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to for a couple of reasons. The light in my apartment is not the best so I need to slow my shutter speed. Once the shutter speed is low the camera has to stay still, no problem, however the subject has to stay still and if you've ever owned a rat you'll know they never stay still. Even when they're sleeping they're climbing the cage or running in the little wheel that we don't have but would possibly one day like to. Ok I'm lying about what they do in thier sleep but they really are figity when they're awake.

In this shot I had a cat as well and while they're a little easier to work with that the rats they're still not the best as staying still. Anyway here's a couple of the best. I'm going to create a new post on http://www.joedeclara.com/ with some rat photographs but I don't think these are good enough and now the sun is gone behind a bunch of giant nimbus clouds so I'll make another attempt in the future. That doesn't mean I can't post them on here of course.

Note Tatoo licking his chops, I just wish it was in better focus.

Yes this is the sort of crap I do during the day these days while everyone else is working.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Habs In Tough And Les Station Des Sports Sucks

When the Habs were up 4-1 going into the third period against Washinton last Saturday night I had only two thoughts in my head. Where the hell is my food? and Wow the Habs could beat the best regular season team in the league in the first round.

We went to Les Station Des Sports near the old Forum. It was packed for the game so they suggested we go down the street to a karaoke bar which was owner by the same guy. This point is important because Les Station Des Sports sells 4 quart pitches for 17 bucks. It's a great deal. We managed to find room, ordered a giant pitcher between four of us and took a look at the menu. Standard stuff, I ordered a cheese burger mid way through the first. It was 2-0 Habs by then and I was texting Kate that I was in shock that the Habs were off to such a great start. On top of leading the series 1-0 and the game 2-0 they ran Jose Theodore out of the game. Here's a guy who won the Hart trophy for the Habs, now they're scoring goals on him like he's a lacrosse goalie defending a soccer net.

The pitcher goes down fairly quickly and we order a second midway through the second period. I think the score was 3-1 but I was deeply engrossed in conversation and barely paying attention to the game figuring the Habs have got it all wrapped up. When it was 2-1 I was slightly concerned but then it was 3-1, then 4-1. The game was no longer tops on my mind. The beer was doing it's work and my stomach was growling.

Finally before the end of the second period a bunch of food comes from the main bar, same owners, one kitchen. It makes sense, it's fine the kitchen is two doors down, it's just a hamburger, no problems. The food sits on the counter for 15 minutes so the staff can take inventory. Remember this place is called Les Station Des Sports, they also own the Cock and Bull. At least that place has an appropriate name. Finally all the food has been distributed, unfortunately it turns out none of it was for us.

Second intermission I've completely forgotten about the game and I'm slowly getting angry that we've got no food and super giant pitchers of beer to drink. I would have stuck to bottles if I knew they were only going to pretend to feed us.

Third starts and shortly into the period the food finally comes. It sits on the counter for 20 minutes while the staff inventory it. I should note that it's a 4 dollar hamburger so I have little to complain about but still. Finally the very last of this second round of food comes to us. Worst hamburger ever and I've eaten many a horrible high school cafeteria hamburger. This thing was burnt all over and drier than sand. I'm literally choking it down and chugging what must be my fifth pint from these stupid giant pitchers.

It's only after I've finally finished this terrible terrible cold as hell burnt piece of crap that I notice the score is 5-4. The Habs must have had the same burger at intermission. Between discussing the worst food we've all ever had, the fries and poutine were both cold too, and watching the game I'm left debating which is worse for the city of Montreal: a Washington comeback or the fact that this horrible place exists.

5-5 OT. The food is not sitting well.

6-5 Washington I mange to keep the food down but only because I hadn't eaten in 45 hours thanks to Les Station Des Sports. (I write it out a lot so Google picks it up and maybe I can save someone else's Sunday morning.)

I know it's a bad sign. I don't stagger very often but after helping finish 8 quarts of beer on essentially no food I'm a bit tipsy. The next day I'm not feeling good. Probably similar to how the Habs felt that morning. The good news is that I will recover from the hangover, never go back to that bar or it's affiliates again and I'll be good as new by Monday (which is true it really happened). The bad news is that the Habs are not going to win this series. Game 2 was the biggest game 2 I've ever seen. The Habs went from almost taking the first two games from Washington in Washington to letting them come back from a huge deficit in the third period. I think I actually saw Halak hand the confidence of the team to Ovechkin after the game.
Maybe they can recover back in Montreal. Maybe they won't think about how they squandered a 4-1 lead and blew an oppourtunity to put the Caps in a really bad spot down 2-0 with two games in Montreal ahead. But I doubt it.

Sure enough I check the score last night while in my camera class 4-0 Washington, 5-1 final. Washington is done being the pushovers they were for the first 5 periods plus an OT of the series.

I doubt Montreal is going to win another game but it's going to be closer than a 4-1 final looks. If Montreal had kept the lead in game 2 I'm sure they would have won a game at home and gone back to Washington 3-1. Even if it was 2-2 after 4 games they'd still be battling and people would be saying it's any one's series. Maybe it still is any one's series, Ovechkin or Semin, take your pick.

And whatever you do never ever go to Les Station Des Sports near the Forum is you want to eat anything that's not late, cold and tastes like a road apple.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ball Is Rolling

I don't have a job yet but I did spend 4 hours at Emploi Quebec the other day. Boy that's gotta be a tough job. I walk in and take a number, 16 they're serving 15, and as I wait I hear someone yelling in French. At first I ignore it thinking it was someone just saying something from across the room, like you have a nice day too, but in French so of course I didn't catch it. Then the source comes into view and it some guy storming towards the door. His body language tells me enough, he's hunched over a bit so that it looks like his head is creating all the forward momentum and dragging his body along for the ride. Then I hear another French word but this one I understand 'Tabernacle' (note the pronunciation of that word is different than it's spelling), then he says it a couple more times and slams his palms into the door forcing it wide open. I watch him storm across the street without looking for oncoming cars. Welcome to Emploi Quebec, the unemployment office for you anglos that live in Ontario.

So when it's my turn I tell the guy my story and he gives me a form to fill out to start my file but since they close for lunch from 12-1 and it's 11:45 I'll have to hand it back in at 1. That's fine for me I'm hungry and I know the area fairly well from playing softball in a park near the office.

Lunch goes well, I return to the office at 1:10 and there's a 15 person line up. Where the hell did all these people come from?

So I sit down to wait and surf the web on my phone, no service. How can I not have service? They must have built this building out of lead. So fine I sit and watch the people. Beside me is an older lady with three kids about her and a woman I suspect is the kids mother. The older woman, probably the mother of the mother, is in charge. She barks orders to the kids, who don't listen, while the actual mother of the kids sits and says nothing. One kid doesn't listen to her at all and he runs around playing with things. Finally the older woman grabs him and ties him into a kids stroller and he starts wailing. Great now I'm getting a headache. Finally after a couple more examples of bad parenting they get their stuff down and they leave.

Next to sit beside me is a giant fat man. He breathes noisily and mutters under his breathe. The person currently at the only open counter is taking a long time. I hear the fat man say things like "This is a joke", "Come on", What the F", and he's getting louder and louder I guess ramping up to a volume that the clerk can hear him and feel bad for him, or something. Finally it's the fat man's turn and he walks up to the counter throws a brown envelope at the clerk and immediately walks into the bathroom. Now that was unexpected. Eventually he exits the bathroom and walks out of the building. Not sure what happened there.

Emploi Quebec is not a fun place to hang out.

So when I finally get my turn I'm told that Service Canada still hasn't transferred my file to them but I can still discuss some of the services I can take advantage of. There's a starting a small business plan, there's full time French classes, and best of all they have a book with hundreds of production houses and post production houses. So I gather the information and I decide with my assigned agent that it is probably a good plan to work the summer and take the full time French in September. The main point being that there's more work in the summer. So yesterday I settled into calling current productions in pre-production and while I don't have a job yet I have a full understanding of the steps I need to take to get into the union and I have three sources of production contacts and I've applied to a number of summer productions. Hopefully within a few weeks I'll actually have a contract for a show. It turns out you can't really volunteer here, you can find jobs that don't pay you on Craig's list but if you want the set time required to get into the union you have to work. I'm fine with that, I'd rather work than volunteer.

Of course I still have the problem of not understanding French and it's going to annoy the hell out of any Key Grip that works primarily in French. There are going to be a million new words to learn, I had to learn them all in English a couple years back but I barely even remember them now.

Challenges await.

Oh yeah and I've got a new website. Little has been done on it to date but eventually I'll have some photographs up and further down the road I hope to have some videos. For now it's pretty basic but it's got a pretty catchy url.

www.joedeclara.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1st Round Playoff Predictions

Why not. Everyone gets to make predictions and since I get more and more interested in the playoffs each year the Leafs miss them by now I figured I probably know the other 29 teams better than I've ever known them. Plus no matter how bad I do I'm sure I'll be able to find a 'professional' with a worse record than me.

We'll start with the East since I know that conference better than I know the West:

EAST

(1) Washington vs (8) Montreal
One benefit to living in Montreal is getting to once again be in a city that enjoys playoff hockey. Unfortunately I haven't lived here long enough to see Montreal actually win a playoff game but they have played four of them since I moved. I don't think I'm going to see them make the second round this year but I do think they'll win a game, maybe even two, this year.
The Capitals finished the season with the most points, they have the most exciting player in the NHL, they have a good core of players behind Ovechkin and a strong defense. The only weakness they may have is in goaltending where former Hart winner and Montreal Canadien Jose Theodore has been named the starter. So the weakest point of the team is filled by a player who might have some real incentive to beat Montreal. It's a tought draw for Montreal and while Washington may not win the East due to goaltending, they'll win this series.
Washington in 5

(2) New Jersey vs (7) Philadelphia
The Devils are the NHL's perennial playoff team although they haven't made it past the first round in three years. Brodeur was passed over for Luongo during the Olympics and even though he'll be 38 next month his numbers this year were right on par with his usual numbers including 77 games played. Unless he falters unexpectedly the Devils will be able to play and win with thier defensive style. Don't forget they picked up Kovalchuk who had 41 goals this season.
Philadelphia squeaked into the playoffs with a shootout win over the Rangers. Had the Flyers lost that game they'd have finished in 9th and the Rangers would have been 8th. That's a pretty high note to enter the playoffs on but that may just mean it's going to hurt more when they hit the brick wall in the Devils net.
New Jersey in 6

(3) Buffalo vs (6) Boston
Boston's off season will probably be more successful than their playoffs after locking the number two pick in the entry draft this year. They lost Kessel to the Leafs and Savard to injury, they're going to lose this series too. Defensively they're not too bad a team but they struggle mightily at times on offense and now they have face Ryan Miller in net for the Sabers.
The only team to score fewer goals than the Bruins this year was St. Louis and Miller has a GAA of 2.22, nuff said.
Buffalo in 5

(4) Pittsburgh vs (5) Ottawa
2009 Stanley Cup, 2010 Olympic goal (OT winner to boot), is there anything left for Crosby to do? Win back to back Cups like his friend and mentor Mario Lemieux is one thing he could do. Strong supporting cast and the experience from last year is going to help Crosby and the Penguins go far, probably.
Ottawa is a solid team this year after missing the playoffs last year with a stronger defense and more reliable goaltending. The loss of Kovalev may make the difference, with him I might call this one a coin flip but without him...
Pittsburgh in 7

WEST

(1) San Jose vs (8) Colorado
Most people expected Colorado to battle for the top pick in draft this year but they managed to play solid early and end up in 8th spot. San Jose has been good for a long time but have yet to cause much damage in the playoffs. If they don't win this series something major will have to happen.
How can Colorado win? Well they were 2-2 against San Jose in the regular season and Craig Anderson won 38 games this year. Matt Duchene has an 'upper body injury' but should play. Perhaps a brutal upset in the making but I doubt it.
San Jose in 4

(2) Chicago vs (7) Nashville
Chicago should also go far this year with the likes of Towes, Kane, and Campbell among others but let's not rush them into the second round just yet. Nashville managed 100 points this season and they're not going to go away quietly. I guess we'll have to say they're going to go away noisily.
Chicago in 6

(3) Vancouver vs (6) Los Angeles
The Sedins are good, very good. Luongo is good, very good. Kessler is good, very good. The Canucks are a good team. The Kings are a very young team with a lot of promise but the Canucks were a young team with lots of promise a few years ago, now they're good, very good.
Canucks in 6

(4) Phoenix vs (5) Detroit
I realize that I've only picked favorites so far but this time I'm going to go against the popular opinion. I also know that Phoenix is ranked above Detroit so if I pick them I'm still picking the favorite but everyone expects Detroit to win this series.
Phoenix is on a big rush, the team is setting records for regular season wins and points and it looks like Jerry Reinsdorf has saved the team. They're going to be hungry to win against a veteran team.
Phoenix in 7

I would have put more time into my Western predictions but the games start tonight and I'm late for a pub meeting. Also no time for spell check.

Yay playoffs!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mon Troisieme Cours de Fran├žais Est Fini


There's no exam this time, just a bunch of tests. I actually have one final class but I've written all my tests and I have a camera class that night so I'm about as officially done as I can get. I need 60s to get my certificate and for the first two classes that was a given. Those profs spoke in English, I could understand the grammar rules. This class has not be so accommodating. I did receive an 83% on my oral presentation but my oral comprehension test mark was only 56%. I was actually hoping I didn't fail that test so the 56% was actually decent. Anyway I'm sure to get 60% after calculating what marks I do know and if the prof goes easy on my lack of participation I may still get into the 70s range.

It's nice to have one less responsibility, especially one that's this important. Somehow being obligated to play softball isn't as stressful as going to class, and the language lab and doing homework, studying for tests, etc... Now all I have to do is work on getting a job lol.

My portfolio is beginning to grow, the Distributel flyers were made and with little to do this summer except some conversation french class and work on working for money I should be able to grow it further. I see a lot of patio pictures in my future. I guess there's still that camera class and I want to take some editing software lessons although I'm still not sure which ones to take. Hopefully I'll find that out as I start calling post-production houses for jobs. I guess the summer will still be pretty busy.

Still it will not be without some fun. We're going to try and head back out to BC this year and we're going to hit New York City. I've not been to NYC before so it should be fun. There are also quite a places in Quebec to go camping, Kate has not been camping before and I've not been in something like 15 years so I really look forward to that.

On a more disconcerting note I've noticed the new cat Tatoo keeping too close of an eye on my rats. I've even seen just a wisp of that little ass shake they do before they're about to pounce on something. The rats are pretty big and they live up high but Tatoo can still jump the gap. I'm fairly certain the rats can take care of themselves. Should Tatoo decide to jump to the rat ledge here's what I suspect will happen.
1) The rats will immediately notice the cat
2) The rats will immediately assumed the cat is bringing them food
3) The rats will run to Tatoo as quick as their tiny little legs will carry them and start sniffing him looking for the food he has surely brought for them.
4) Tatoo will suddenly have two rats milling about his legs and he'll quickly leave the area
5) The rats will be disappointed that Tatoo left without dropping of his food parcel.

So I'm not to worried. The related picture insists on staying at the top of the page. Now you know why it's there anyway.

I haven't chosen a domain name for it yet but stay turned for my new web page, the Joe DeClara photography webpage.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April

Is it me or is it hot in here? It was like a summer day on Saturday and it's April. I saw a snow pile as big as a motorcycle in 27 degree heat. I had to open all the windows in the apartment to cool down. Then of course today it goes back to more April like temperatures and overnight the open window made the floor feel like ice, even the cats are rushing to get off of it and up onto chairs and beds. I guess they're always running around crazily like that and they're going to have a new place to run around crazily in soon it seems.

We had a home inspection on the house we put an offer into and the place seems to have nothing wrong with it, nothing major anyway. So now we wait till June 15th and the place is ours. We've got the apartment till July 1st, the day everyone in the city moves, so we'll use those two weeks to do a few things to the new place. The main thing we want to get done in that time is some re-varnishing of wooden stairs and railings and probably some painting.

In French news I got 83% on my oral presentation but only 66% on my writing test. I thought I would do well on the writing test but there was an oral comprehension portion of it that threw me off. Then I had an oral comprehension test that I haven't got back yet but I think I did very poorly on it. Wednesday I have a grammar test and after that I'm done. I need 60% in all classes to qualify for the certificate which I will undoubtedly achieve, I am hoping for something in the 70 range actually and if I study up for this grammar test I could easily get that. After this class I'm going to switch to something else for the summer.

I've heard from three seperate sources that the government of Quebec will pay $1,000 a month to people who take French full time. It could be perfect, I need to work on my French with practice and conversation, I don't have a job, I like getting paid $1,000 anytime and I live in Quebec! Anyway once this extended government holiday is over I'll get a meeting to see if I qualify. What do you do for a living Joe? I learn French for the Nation of Quebec.

I also attended my first Camera class which was great. I missed much of it due to one of those French tests but the part I was there for was pretty interesting and all we learned was the history of cameras and how to care for your camera. Next I think we're getting into the light spectrum, it will be interesting to see how he teaches the light section of the class. Surely he's not going to get too scientific but knowing some cool stuff about light myself will make that lecture pretty interesting.

Foster cat is getting better and better, I've pet him a couple times. He doesn't climb on you or even come near people much but he sure likes Brewski. Follows him around, tries to cuddle up with him. The only time he comes near me is when he wants to chew on my toe or claw at my hand.

Last week was a write off for many things, Kate and I had the stomach flu. It was terrible having it at the same time. Kate got it about 3 hours before me so she had time to get into a routine before I became useless to her. I also didn't have it nearly as bad as Kate but Sunday night was still a night that I think we'll both remember for a long time. The nausea didn't leave me till Friday.

On that note I'm off to eat breakfast and start a productive day. Today I need to update my CV with the recent work I've done and find some post-production studios to send it to. As well as do the laundry, study, dishes and meet Kate for beer after work. The life of the unemployed is always hectic and busy.