Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October update

I've started two new photography classes, Photoshop II and Wedding and Portrait. Both classes are interesting so far, and once I'm done them I'll only have five more classes till I get my photography diploma.

I was also assigned baseball at work, which is a much better sport than greyhound racing, although the greyhound articles are pretty easy to write. With the playoffs on, and the Jays in the news lately it's been a lot of fun writing at work. I don't know what will happen when the World Series is over, hopefully I get hockey or football, but I'll probably get squash, or rowing.

After my post last time about Sudbury and my car being booted, I got an email from the CEO of Sudbury's Green Party, which was a nice surprise.

A couple weeks later we were in Ottawa for the  Spoken Word festival and the poetry slam finals. Kate and I were both disappointed with the poetry, although the Montreal team was good. It seemed every poem was about God, or how bad wars or, or other horrific things. It was the end of the competition so much of the artist's best work had already been used, but still. I'm not a huge fan of the poetry that centres around violence, or the evil of man, I'd rather read an essay about those things than hear a three minute piece of art on it.

I am writing for an online magazine called Pucklife (at pucklife.ca), so far I haven't actually written anything, but I did interview Ben Maxwell, a second round draft pick from the Montreal Canadiens who is playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs (their AHL affiliate). The issue with my article is scheduled to come out sometime in November, and I still need to polish it and get it approved, although I don't really think it would be rejected.
I've only read one issue of the magazine so far, but I thought the writing was pretty good, the ideas and voice of the magazine specifically. It was relaxed, but not ridiculous like some sports magazines.

I'm rather shocked that Rob Ford got elected in Toronto.  Here's a guy that was caught being physically aggressive with a high school football player when he was a coach, he got into a drunken argument with a couple at a Leaf game, and he was charged with refusing to give a breathalyzer test while driving. People usually do that when they're drunk. He's also insulted, the Chinese, the gay community, and he thinks bikes shouldn't be allowed in Toronto? What's next? No pedestrians? Anyway I'm sure Ford would fall over dead if he ever set foot in Montreal because of all the bike lanes and acceptance of other people, so I'm glad I'm here and he's there.

Our cat supply is down to four after the kitten was sent to another foster home. I would have rather returned an adult cat than the cute little kitten, but what can you do. One thing we can do is never sleep again as the mother of the kitten roams the house at night with incessant meowing and the other foster cat climbs on our bare skin with her claws out. Occasionally two cats will meet on the bed and a fight will ensue, or something will crash somewhere in the house. Generally it's pretty fun times at Cat Paradise.

Compounding the sleep issue is the coffee issue at work. I donated four bucks to the coffee fund, then I bought an 11 dollar tin, went to the bank to take that four out and whatever anyone else had put in only to find the money gone, except for a couple bucks in quarters and a boatload of nickles and pennies. It took two weeks for everyone to drink my coffee and not one looney has been put into the jar. Today I brought in my jar of instant coffee, that's my new coffee system, so far it's working pretty well.

So that's the crap I've done lately, most of it anyway. I had Thanksmas with my family, but since you are all 80% of this blog's readers I didn't think it pertinent to write about it since you were all there. I am enjoying my Montreal Canadiens set, it included a bucket, four glasses, a bottle opened, and some coasters. The bottle opener had a poor design that only Kate could use so we got rid of that. The bucket has become a tool used to clean up cat pee from the front hall, and one of the glasses helps me get the kitty litter from the bag to the litter. The other three glasses are among our best pint glasses now so it's a nice even split of how the pieces were used. The coasters will probably be broken out at the next poker game. Kate also loves her cooking pot.

That's all for now. Go Leafs Go.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sudbury: yeah

We got back from Sudbury late Sunday night. We drove up Thursday night to prepare for a conference that Kate's dad was giving. Kate and I did the food prep and the prep for the hall that the dinner was in. We supplied lunch on Saturday and Sunday as well, bagged lunches.

It was quite busy for us. It's remarkable how much work goes into cooking for 35 people. I barely even dealt with food and I was busy all weekend. My tasks included picking up items, carving pumpkins, delivering goods, setting up tables and chairs, cutting vegetables, putting together bagged lunches, and of course a lot of barbecuing.

Unfortunately one of our two barbeque's refused to raise it's temperature above 200 degrees, which made the cooking of 80 pieces of chicken and four ceder plank salmons quite difficult. But we managed to get get through it and over all the food was considered a success, although there was much stress involved.

One achievement that I think is particularly notable was that despite the hard work, long days, short sleeps, and a great deal of pain on my part from cuts and burns to my hands, we were quite chipper for the entire weekend. Except for one atrocity, and I am not exaggerating with my use of the word atrocity. We arrived in Sudbury at 2:30 am, Friday morning we headed out to get coffee and pick up a couple items. We parked in a TD bank parking lot, didn't use the TD bank, spent 20 min doing out thing and came back to a boot on our rental car.

Now I know Sudbury isn't having the best of times, Brazilians own their mine and they live in perpetual snow and many of it's inhabitants have a very limited education, but there is no doubt in my mind that they targeted our Quebec plates with the hopes of taking advantage of us. It cost 100 dollars to have the boot removed. Yes we parked on private property, but I don't put anyone who comes onto my property in handcuffs and force them to pay me 100 dollars to release them. We had no choice but to pay the stupid money.

There is something to be said about common decency, and the attitude of both the people who put the boot on the car and the people who answered the number posted if you wish to dispute the charge did little to help me accept the extravagant charge. They act as though we're committing some heinous crime. First of all, charge us something reasonable like 20 dollars and I would have slapped my own wrist for them, but 100 dollars and a Fuck You attitude really annoyed me. The people who booted the car were extremely unhelpful in explaining what had happened, and they insisted that it had nothing to do with the bank itself. The police, yes we involved them after the fact, told us that had we complained to the bank we may have gotten off without paying. So the booters, lied to us about the bank, probably knowing that there was a chance we could not have to pay.

I see it everyday at work. I work beside telemarketers who become angry that the people they're cold calling don't want to buy the product. They call them stupid, or ignorant, not to their face, but after they get off the phone with them. They are so gung-ho to be on board with the company that they completely disregard what the company is doing. They're part of the team so who cares if they're selling crap, they have to pretend it's not crap otherwise what do they do for a living? That's right: they sell crap. These booters are doing the same thing, they act as though they're the ones getting rich off people like me, even though they probably make minimum wage.

I've worked in environments like that before. The employees are so desperate to not be working for a immoral company that they just refuse to accept that the company they work for can do anything wrong.

Kate called the number on the 'ticket' to see if we could get our money back. The guy who answered claimed to be the General Manager. Kate asked why they charge 100 dollars, his response was they charged less than any other company in Canada (like that's easy for us to confirm). She asked again where the number comes from, he said the supreme court of Canada said they could do what they do. Not exactly an appropriate answer to the question but fine. Kate asked which case it was, he said it wasn't the supreme court, it was the court of appeals. She asked again which case, he said we should so our own homework, by now he's very agitated even though it's been about a 2 min phone call. Of course we have no intention of looking through thousands of case files for a file that may or may not exist, and the cops had already said that despite numerous complaints the company was legitimate.

Go Capatalism, if I can take money from you without stealing, it's not only my right, but my duty to do so.

So that's my rant about Sudbury, oh yeah later that day someone did a classic parking spot steal, I waited as a car pulled out and another car pushed it's way in front at the last minute. Great town that Sudbury, can't wait to visit again!

At least Kate made the General Manager of whatever the hell that 'company' was called, yell at her for essentially no reason. That almost made up for the 100 dollars. And we did not let it damper our spirits. Oh yeah, the conference was on Globalization and the Work Force or something like that. We were there to cater a conference that supports the workers of Sudbury, they very same people that screwed us six hours after arriving, and again in the Costco parking lot.

So that's the crap we had to deal with this weekend, the parking thing was crap, not the conference, that was a pretty decent experience, although next time we'll need more staff. I'm still exhausted from the work and the long drives that bookended the trip.