Thursday, December 29, 2011

A change of plans

While I don't intend to stop writing, I have decided to move in a new direction. I won't be applying to a Master's program at Concordia this year, although not due to poor grades. I got an A in my Milton class and an A- in my South Asian Literature class. I won't be applying because I got a full time job. I'm still going to finish the classes I've already signed up for, including Video Game Theory, and I might still apply for the Master's program next year, but I think this job is going to be much more valuable in the long run. I also think that I can continue writing and be successful at it without the Master's.

I began thinking about not applying for the Master's when I realized I would be competing for entrance with people who are already published. I've also had great feed back on my writing, both creative and academic, which is a confidence boost. My goal for 2012 is to get something published, probably with a small press, but possibly with a magazine.

There is writing in my new job as well, which is with a software company called Telax. It's technical writing and web content, but writing nonetheless.

Till next time.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I read an article in Forbes explaining how people don't understand all the hard work the one-percenters put in to getting where they are. What I have to say to that begins with this: phooey. First, here's the link to the article.

I don't completely agree with the Occupy movement, although I think it's an excellent step towards a movement that I, and probably many others, can really get behind at some point in the future. I also don't begrudge people working hard and getting rewarded for it, in fact that's what I think out society lacks.

The article mentions an artist who sells a quick sketch of a person. The customer then complains of the high price for a mere five minute's work. Yes that person isn't taking into consideration the 25 years experience the artist has. His five minutes of drawing is worth much more than my five minutes of drawing,it's true. Here's what I can do in five minutes:
But what the author of this article, John Tamny, misses is that no one is saying the one-percenters don't work hard, but we are saying that they don't necessarily work harder than everyone else. Yes Arron Rodgers avoided 'partying' for study, a common theme in the article as if not partying makes you rich, or maybe that partying prevents you from being rich, oh wait I forgot about Paris Hilton, who is rich because she partys. 

Does Mr. Tamny really think that some of the guys that worked in the Sudbury mine for thirty years are there because they didn't work hard enough? Because they wasted their youth partying? Or maybe he thinks they're all just stupid. In my opinion those guys work much harder than almost all the one-percent. They're the ones we should be thanking, not the one-percenters. And considering the job they do and the exploitation of Sudbury mine-workers over the decades, they don't get paid nearly enough.

It's this ridiculous idea that the one-percent are somehow above us that people don't like, and Mr. Tamny is only enforcing that fictitious concept. No one, believes that the one-percent should get paid minimum wages. Those of us who want change only want to see some more equality. It is simply not possible for anyone to work hard enough to deserve multiple billions of dollars, a few million, maybe, but not billions. 

Mr. Tamny, many people work hard and avoid wasting time and struggle everyday. Should they be thanking the one-percent that own the companies they work for and refuse to pay them adequately for their efforts, or should they just accept that they screwed up somewhere along the line?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wow, a new post.

I knew it had been a long time since I had written a blog post here, but July 18th? It seems as though someone must have hacked in a changed the date for some sinister and bizarre reason. It's not that I haven't been writing, I've been doing much of that, although not as much as I should be. Isn't that always the case? It's like exercise that way, or not eating delicious non-healthy foods. So where to begin?

The writing I have been doing is for school and work. School has demanded more reading than writing so far, but the creative writing class has given me a chance to write a fair amount. I think some of what I've written is rather brilliant, but some could be bettered by a cat terd with a pencil stapled to it. In reality, my work is somewhere in between those two, which is where it belongs, for now. The important part is that I'm learning. And next semester we'll be doing a lot more workshopping so I expect that will help my writing enormously.

Work has been consistent, although not as plentiful as I would like, but it's building up. And in case you want to see where I've been spending my blogging time, you can read the Telax blog here.

We lost one of our cats a couple weeks ago. Jedi's owner came to take her back to Toronto, and Jedi has adjusted surprisingly well. I think she may have been thankful to get away from the other cats, and who could blame her?

Well my crap pad is telling me that I've got a whole list of things to do before Kate and I head out to see Contagion and settle in at Station Des Sports for the Leafs/Habs game tonight so I suppose I should wrap it up here. Hopefully I'll be able to post more frequently over the next couple months, but I make no promises. I've got a lot of crap to do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Creative Writing

I've decided to pursue a MA in creative writing and things have actually been progressing rather smoothly, partly because I'm not dealing with the University of Toronto anymore. Concordia has been extremely helpful in helping me find my path.

My BA is only a three-year degree, although after a couple conflicting reports I've been informed that a three-year is adequate. The problem is the marks I attained during those three years. Of course as it is in life, I am much more driven to attain the marks I need now. And so I must prove that to be the case.

I've earned As in two courses so far, a grammar course and a creative writing course, but it seems the judgement of acceptance is dependent on English Literature courses. So before I am accepted into any Master's program I must take a handful of English Lit courses. Today I had a meeting with the head of the department and determined which courses would be best suited for me.

I had already been accepted into a creative writing course for the fall, although that mark will not help me very much. I still intend to take it, but I've also added four other courses. Along with the creative writing course I'll be taking a Milton class, in which the only reading is Paradise Lost, and Southeast Asian Literature, both are fall classes. The idea is to show that I can earn As in a diverse range of genres. In the winter session I'll be taking Video Game Theory, looking forward to that one, and English Renaissance Drama. I'll also probably need to add a third winter class, but I have to wait for space to become available in either 17th Century Prose  and Poetry or Contemporary Canadian Fiction.

I'll be applying to the Master's program in January. They'll look at my portfolio, which has already gained me entrance into that single creative writing class, and if it's good enough, they'll look at my marks. I'll need to add poetry to my portfolio, that will prove most challenging since my poetry tends to be horrible, and I might need to write a play as well, or at least part of one. If I can achieve As in the fall classes, I should be accepted on the grounds that I also earn As in the winter courses.

I've already purchased some of the books I'll need so I'll have read them by the time class begins, something I would have sneered at thirteen years ago.

Aside from the obvious challenges of course work, some of these classes are scheduled in the morning. That is going to interfere with the potential for work, but I am working a fair amount at home writing for a telecommunications company, and I'm hoping that my French will earn me a job in a bar or weekend work somewhere. I'm also going to try to get money from other sources, mainly research grants, or possibly TA work, although I'm doubtful that I'll earn a TA position, and these sources of income will only become available to me once I'm actually in a Master's program.

The Creative Writing Master's is a two year program, and if I fail to be accepted, I could be accepted into an academic program, also two years but without the writing workshops that accompany my first choice of Master's programs. The thesis for the Creative Writing Master's is a novel or collection of work, which is much preferable to a research paper, which is required for the academic program.

I expect it to be difficult, but if I can get the As I need, I'll be fully confident that I'll do well in the Master's program itself. I've also got to mention that without Kate's support I wouldn't have been able to even get this far.

Well the rain has stopped so I'm going to head outside and begin my preparation for the fall semester by reading Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer is hiding around the corner with a baseball bat, watch out!

Much has happened in the two months since I last added to this blog. My father and I rebuilt our rooftop terrace, I'm two months into full time French class, and the summer is in full swing. Oh yeah and the Boston Bruins won the Cup! I'll be sure to have a post up about that soon on my other blog,

My French is coming along, Kate says it's improved significantly, and I can finally understand what people are saying, most of the time. I'm signed up until September, and I'll probably continue into the fall, depends on my employment situation. Speaking of which, my freelancing is coming along. I have steady writing work with a telecommunications company and photography work for a soccer league. It's not enough to give up on a full time job search, but it might be by the fall. If so, and if not as well, I intend continue my schooling at Concordia.

I'm only two courses away from a French certificate, and I am looking to get into a Master's program. Unfortunately I have a fair amount of work to do before applying for a Master's program. For one, I only have a three year degree plus a handful of courses. I would be very close to the four year degree if all the classes were taken at the same school, but they weren't so there could be much bureaucratic crap to deal with. I'm hoping that  just having the equivalent will be enough. The other issue is my GPA from 13 years ago. I've already taken two English courses at Concordia and finished both of them with As, but they weren't English Lit classes, which it seems are the only classes counted when looking to get accepted into a Creative Writing Master's. So I could be looking at a year or two of English Lit classes before I apply for the Master's.   Thankfully, I like English Lit classes, and now that I've got some grammar training under my belt (which was always my biggest downfall) I should be able to pull As.

The cats are doing well for the most part. Princess, who has quite a lot of fur, is very lethargic when the mercury rises, and I'm afraid we haven't even come close to the temperatures we're going to see this summer. Go Global Warming! Charbonne has a very unfortunate skin problem. She has a bunch of little scabs and she's missing hair! Good for the heat maybe, but not for the soul. --Do cats have souls? I think they deserve to have them.--The vet said it's probably an allergy, but I've changed everything I could except the condo itself and no luck. At least she doesn't seem bothered by them.

My gym membership ran out, but I got a membership to the local pool (which happens to be where I take French classes too!). It cost 15 bucks for a year, expensive I know but the place is very new and clean so I figure it's worth it. We're back at it in my flag football league as well. I've switched to centre, which means I'm snapping the ball, it's tough but I'm getting it down. We're 2-2 and improving every game. My softball team's record is not quite as good. We're 0-8 or something. I'm one of the two pitchers on the team. We pitch underhand balls and strikes to the other team, very fun. I've only got one strikeout so far, but I also got one strikeout! I was quite surprised, it was a ten-pitch at bat too. It would be better if we won, but still I really like pitching.

Well that's the update for now, I'm off to write a couple case studies for that telecom company I mentioned.

Friday, April 15, 2011

RIP Ee-Grek

Double-V's brother Ee-Grek died sometime early this morning. I knew it was going to happen last night or today because he wasn't moving much and wouldn't eat or drink on his own. I had him on the remaining pain-killer, so I don't think he felt very much. He had a couple of seizures that must have been strokes which hopefully numbed him that much more.

They were both good pets. The only real damage they caused was to Kate's mom's nightgown, which Kate left a little too close to their cage one night. We were in Sudbury for the weekend, staying at Mary's (Kate's mom) house, and Kate had borrowed one of Mary's nightgowns, a bright red one. She didn't actually sleep in it, but wore it in the evening and dropped it on the floor at bed time. In the morning she put the nightgown on and went cooking in the kitchen with Mary. Eventually, Mary noticed a sizeable hole in the nightgown and asked what had happened to it, suggesting that perhaps the rats had gotten a hold of it somehow. Kate insisted that our beloved rats would never do such a thing, and that Mary must have mice in the house, sneaking around at night chewing holes in clothes left on the floor. The matter was dropped until I woke up and checked in on the rats. The first thing I noticed was a bunch of red material tucked away in a corner of the cage. When I emerged from the bedroom and saw the giant hole in the red nightgown Kate was wearing I mentioned that the rats must have been chewing on it during the night, pointing to the red material in the cage as evidence. Kate apologized for both the destruction of the nightgown and the blaming of the damage on fictitious mice.

We got the pair from the SPCA, the humane society in Quebec basically. They were almost full grown when we got them, and over the two years we had them they fattened up quite a bit, especially Ee-grek, who was more inclined to stay in his cage than investigate the house. Dube was much more adventurous. He would often leave the cage and sneak his way to the cat food bowl on the far side of the kitchen and living room. I would see his running back and forth from the cat's food to behind the couch, where we was storing piles of cat kibble. Once I even found Dube on top of the coffee table. The legs of the table are well under the actual top, making the climb for Dube a treacherous one, but also one that he evidently made. I was quite impressed actually to see him on top of the table, and I spent ten minutes trying to figure out how the hell he got up there. I finally concluded that he must have muscled his way up.

I know some people don't like rats. Many guests have commented on it. The tails are long and scary, people are afraid they'll bite them, and the stigma with rats of course is that they carry disease, but they really are good pets. They train very easily, and while they do tend to pee wherever the please, they almost always poo in a litter if you provide one to them. They also never bite, some can of course if they're wild, but if you get a Fancy Rat (the domesticated breed) they don't bite. Sometimes I gave them soft food, like wet cat food, from the tip of my finger. At first they want to grab it and run, mainly so the other one can't get any of it, but they kind of test if out first and when they realize the only thing to grab is your finger, they stop and just lick off the food. They can cause some mischief, they can grab onto things, and they love to gather material and paper. If you leave an important document out where they can reach it, they will destroy it for you. I don't know if dogs will actually eat your homework, but rats most certainly will.

We're probably not going to get anymore, at least for a while. For one the rats at the SPCA tend to have viruses that lead to pneumonia. The rats are in close proximity, and the virus just spreads through them all. Ee-Grek didn't suffer from pneumonia, but Dube was very often on anti-biotics. Unlike human anti-biotics, rat anti-biotics are expensive and do little to cure the problem. He ended up being rather expensive. Many animals are put down in Montreal, hundreds of cats a month and who knows how many rats and other small creatures, but it's hard to justify the expense, at least right now.

We will miss the rats, but I think they both lived pretty good lives for rats, and both died fairly quickly and with a minimal amount of pain and discomfort, as far as I can tell anyway. I mostly sad that the little guys didn't even get to see one Leaf playoff game in their whole lives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RIP Double-V

Double-V, one of our rats, died last weekend. He wasn't moving on Saturday morning, and he didn't move much all day until he finally died around 10pm. I had some pain killers for the rats so he was pretty drugged up for the final few hours. He had been sick most of his life and often on anti-biotics, and two and a half years old for a rat is pretty old.

Ee-Grek is obviously old, but he's doing fairly well. It seems rats become paralyzed in their old age, and Eeg doesn't move very well due to paralyzation in his hind quarters. I also suspect he had a stroke the day after Dube died. He starter having seizures, and he keeled over to one side. I noticed that some of the Gatorade he was drinking was coming out of his mouth, which led me to think he was choking or something. I pumped his chest and he seemed to recover, but a few days later I noticed his right paw is always curled up. I think he had a stroke on his left side and has even less control of his body now. During my research of senior rats, I read that they often have strokes when they're older. I don't know how much time Eeg has left, but I'm making sure he's comfortable and dry. I have to change his bedding often since he just pees where he is and then sits in it.

On to more uplifting news though. I went into my final grammar exam with an 85% average. I expect to get an A- at least, hopefully I can score an A though. The exam was tougher than I expected it to be. I think I got the right answer, but it took me a long time to determine that "via" is a preposition. I got my Camera II mark back and it was an A, straight As in my camera classes with four to go; I've finished six classes so far.

Back to sad news, the Leafs once again  missed the playoffs, but at least I can absorb the Habs' playoff run. I suspect they won't do as well as last year unless Price pulls a magic act out of his butt, but the first round Boston/Montreal series should be a greast one to watch.

I start full time French classes in May. I had an evaluation yesterday, and I'm in level three of six. I'm pleased with that, my knowledge of French grammar is what got me into the third level. Hopefully my coversation will quickly catch up. The classes are 20 hours a week so I expect to be quite busy once it starts. Each level is quite a few weeks so if I chose I can take these French classes for quite a long time.

Kate is finally home from her work trip so I must finish up here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm at the half way point of my grammar class, and I've noticed a significant improvement in my writing already. Or perhaps it's best to say that I'm been able to find numberous mistakes in my recent writing that have now been corrected.

It's amazing how easy it is to make minor mistakes. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the English language, but looking back at my writing I've found verb tense errors, comma splices, and a host of other minor problems. Many of these mistakes aren't obvious, and readers, for the most part, would not even notice them, but sometimes of course the errors can cause confusion.

I think my favourite exercise is correcting adjective placements. One we looked at last night for example was this sentence: "When nine years old, my father took me on a camping trip." Most people are just going to make the logical connection and understand what was meant by this sentence, but it actually means that a nine year old person took their kid on a camping trip. Fun stuff indeed.

I know I still have much to learn, but the progress I'm making is surprising and welcome. I'm avergaing about 85% in the class, and I had the top mark on the last assignment. My current assignment consists of rewriting paragraphs to make them consistent and grammatical. It's much tougher than some of the other things we've been doing, but it's also exactly what I want to practice and learn.

I'm also volunteering for Habitant for Humainty as a writer. So far I've only written a press release, but there is talk about a website and a newsletter, which I will be responsible for. I look forward to the challenge and the responsibility.

I also have a new article coming out in the next issue of Pucklife magazine. I posted my first article on my other blog, and I will post my most recent article there once the new issue has been released.

So that's the crap I've been doing of late, and I should have another update soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Valentine's Day miracle

There is a moment in every relationship that sets the stage for either a breakup or the relationship's permanent solidification. This moment can happen at anytime, from a first date to many years into the union. That moment occurred for Kate and me on February 12, 2011.

We were at my friends Gord and Lisa's house when I looked down at my feet and saw that I was wearing socks that didn't match. I knew I was wearing them earlier in the day, but I had thought to change them before I left. I guess I forgot. I commented on my predicament.

"My socks don't match!" I exclaimed.

They were similar in design, but one was clearly black and the other dark blue. We all took a moment to absorb the tremendous shock of the moment. Then my eyes moved to the rest of the party's socks. Gord had matching socks, so did Lisa, Kate did not. Then it dawned on me why I was unable to find the match to either of the socks I was wearing. Kate was wearing both of them. That's right we each had one sock from two matching pairs of socks. The odds of this happening are akin to the odds of the moon suddenly turning a man into some kind of man-bear-pig. I have to assume it was a sign from whichever God you believe in that we are meant to be.

As it was Valentine's Day and Microsoft saw fit to award 7x experience in Gears of War 2, Kate and I saw little of each other during the weekend, although it is true that we did nothing of importance on the 14th itself. We did contemplate the purchase of ice skates, but Play It Again Sports was closed so Kate spent the night working on a school assignment, and I watched "Condemned To Live", a 1930s horror movie. Quite good actually.

To be clear, Kate and I feel that V-Day is a bit of a farce, and that school work is more important so we were both fine with not being over-charged by flower vendors and restaurants yesterday. FYI, the cost of roses drops significantly on the 15th; but, since my cats are likely to destroy them anyway (yes, I mean they'll find yours too and kill them), I tend to avoid their purchase all year round.

Interesting things that have happened in the news recently include a few Leaf trades that will allow the team to continue to be adequate enough to miss the playoffs, but also avoid high draft picks, ensuring that no Stanley Cup will touch any member of the organization with a ten-foot pole. Bautista's arbitration has been postponed in the hopes that he can sign a deal with the Blue Jays without he need of an arbitrator, let's hope they get a deal done. Coca-Cola's secret recipe has been revealed (I didn't know it was a secret). And something is happening in Egypt.

Oh yes and it also turns out there is bacteria on raw chicken, who could have guessed? I suppose I should stop feeding the cats raw chicken skin, but they like it so much.  

Tonight in grammar class we learn about parenthesis, dashes, brackets, the proper writing of numbers, and capitals.

I have also made the executive decision to always use the serial --or Oxford-- comma. I do not know if that is the proper use of dashes as that class is still three hours away. Thankfully, I am already well versed in the ways of writing numbers from my many weeks of working as a sports writer so I should be able to concentrate on the difference between parenthesis and dashes.

That's the update. Talk to your later, family and friends, and whoever the person is that reads my blog from India.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tony Clement fail

The Federal Court overruled a decision made by Finance Minister, Tony Clement, on Friday. In 2009 Clement overruled a CRTC decision, allowing a new wireless carrier with significant foreign ownership to operate. The CTRC had defined clear rules about how much foreign investment a company can have and still operate in Canada before the wireless spectrum auction of 2008. When those rules were broken, the CRTC stepped in and told the offending company that they wouldn't be allowed to operate with their current ownership structure. In comes Clement to say we need the competition. The company can suddenly operate, and out goes the CRTC's foreign ownership rules.

The other new wireless carriers were of course upset by this decision. They had followed the rules and now one of them was getting away with breaking them. Not any more.

The Federal Courts overruled the minister's decision, something that rarely happens, and the CRTC's original decision is now being enforced. It turns out Mr. Clement wasn't allowed to make that ruling in the first place. He has a law degree, he went to law school anyway, but it seems his actual knowledge of the law, and what's right for Canadians is a bit off. Next he'll be limiting the amount of information that Statistics Canada is able to gather so that he and his cohorts can get away with who knows what. Wait didn't that already happen?
Clement in private?
Of course the battle will continue and who knows what the end result will actually be, but I for one am currently satisfied with the decision the Canadian government has settled upon.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Been awhile I know

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and I intend to post more often once a month going forward, but like everyone, December is a busy month, and January wasn't much slower.

Christmas was good. We had visitors and we went to Toronto for a few days (mainly for New Year's eve and a hockey game, 2-1 Boston, figures). Upon my return I was greeted with a job at the Concordia bookstore for a couple weeks, that was great and one of the other employees even helped me by asking a prof to let me take a grammar test. I had missed the final day for the test to determine if I could take English 214. My only option was to wait till next term or take 212, but I did not believe that 212 would be very useful for me. So my friend at the bookstore pulled a string and I was allowed to take the placement test. I of course passed that and am currently taking 214, it's hard, but I'm oddly enjoying it. Adverbials, direct and indirect objects, noun phrases and clauses, this week we start on punctuation. I'm actually looking forward to learning all about commas and semi-colon. Hopefully we cover hyphens too. It's pretty weird to be excited about a grammar class I know, but I need an A so I'm glad I'm into it.

I'm also talking Camera II. So far that's been a pretty good class too.

The flag football team is doing well this season. We are 4-0 and one of only two undefeated teams out of 32. We have this weekend off because of the Super Bowl, but we should have little difficulty going 5-0 before four tough games in a row. The playoffs are almost assured which is exciting as we missed the playoffs last season.

I should be watching the Super Bowl on an American feed for the first time in my life, and I'm pretty excited about that.

So yes, a boring update to say the least, but at least it's something. I do intend to spend more time writing this month so hopefully I'll have something interesting to talk about, like how to avoid comma splices.