Sunday, November 30, 2008

I just don't know what to make of this.

Funny? I think so.

Sad? A bit, yeah.

American? You bet your ass. (Emphasis mine.)

* * * * * * * *

First kiss saved for wedding

CHICAGO — Won't kiss on the first date? How about waiting until marriage?

Chicagoans Melody LaLuz and Claudaniel Fabien shared their first kiss yesterday at the altar.

The two teach abstinence at the city's public schools and practised what they preach to their teenage students.

The Chicago Tribune reports the couple had never kissed and had never been alone together in a house.

A friend of LaLuz says wedding guests cheered and stomped during the two-minute smooch between the 28-year-old bride and 30-year-old groom.

LaLuz and Fabien say they have no worries about how they will spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas.

* * * * * * * *

Insert jokes and witty one-liners here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Last day of thirty-ness.

"You know, J, you're just hitting your prime. Guys from their late-20s to their late-30s, they're just finding themselves. They're confident, they've established careers, they're mature but not old."
— random friend, trying to console a weeping JTL

I kid, I kid.

I'm fine, really.

The phrase "youth is wasted on the young" comes to mind quite frequently these days, and I think there's a lot of merit to it. Does the average 15-year-old realize the genuine lack of responsibilities they have — show up at this building every weekday at 9, do what you're told, and it'll all turn out relatively fine — ?

(Grammatically awkward, yes, but it conveys what I want it to. Take that, Merriam and Webster.)

I'd like to think, and I'm pretty sure of myself here, that my spot in life is pretty good right now. I know I've written about it before — recently, even — but things are rolling along fairly well. I'm in good health, relatively OK wealth, and I'd like to think I'm a little bit wise... I mean, sure, I'm not friggin' David Suzuki over here, but I'm pretty sure I've picked up some tips and pointers along the way somewhere.

So, yeah, there we go. Come on, thirty-one, let's see what you have to offer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

TD Canada Trust? More like TD Don't Trust Us Because We Suck At Security.

Three months ago, right around the time I took my glitzy/glamorous trip to the Canadian prairies, I got a little phone call from TD Canada Trust, who was nice enough to give me a little plastic card to which I can charge stuff, and pay for it later, I promise!.

"Sir, it appears as if your credit card's security has been compromised. Come on in and we'll mail you a new one."

Not knowing if I'd receive the new card in time for my western sojourn, I nervously waited until the thing arrived in the mail, not two days before I was about to take off for a week and a half. (I had my Mastercard at the ready.)

Tonight, I got another call from TDCT — "Sir, it appears as if your debit card's security has been compromised. Come on in and we'll give you a new one on-site, because we'll be a little less douche-y this time, we promise."

So, after the guy on the other end of the phone managed to tell me that the closest TD branch that was open at the godforsaken hour of 7:25 pm (are there people still up then? Golly!) was at "990 PAH-pay Avenue" (i.e., Pape), I headed off in pursuit of plastic. Luckily, the teller was cute.

The thing that gets me about both of these situations is, they can't really tell you what sorts of shenanigans went into the compromising of your security information; specifically, they couldn't tell me tonight where someone first tried to use my card number. This would be extremely useful information for the people that actually use the things... How/where did this happen? What should I do differently? Should I stop scribbling my card's PIN and my Social Insurance Number on bathroom walls in dive-bars across our fair city or something? Little help over here!

Anyway, while I'm pleased that TDCT (goddamn it, get a shorter name... how about "Dominion Trust"? After all, every Dominion store I know of in the GTA has changed its sign to "Metro", so that frees up that name, sort-of) called me up promptly both times, I'm miffed that there appears to be very little follow-up in terms of finding out how to prevent this stuff in the future.

(Should I just stop using my cards to send money to Nigerian princes? Seriously, people should know if His Most Excellent And Holy Highness Atu-N!dongo is on the up-and-up or not.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A heated argument.

David Rees, cartoonist in charge of Get Your War On, has been making animated shorts of his GYWO characters for the past little while... and they're absolutely dynamite.

Go here for the latest clip. "I'm like Seymour Hirsh on this shit!" Priceless.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The frailty of life.

So, my grandma had a stroke over the weekend. The prognosis is not good; at the very least, it appears as if she's comfortable. Now we wait, and that's the hardest part.

At times like this, you can't help but be a little reflective in terms of life, death, and parts in-between. You wonder, Am I making the most out of today?, or Do the people I love know I love them?, or What kind of legacy will I leave when I'm not around anymore? Tough questions, often with tough answers, if you answer them honestly.

Our family has never really been big on hugs; maybe it's the WASP in us (which is pretty strong). However, in the past few years, there have been more and more popping up at family gatherings, both big and small... most notably including my grandparents, and especially my grandma. The last time I paid them a visit this past summer, we had a good long chat about anything and everything under the sun, including this exchange which I don't think I'll ever forget:

Grandpa: So, is there any chance you might pack up and get a job back this way?

Me: Ah, well, you know, down there in Toronto, I've got a pretty good thing going, I think.

Grandma: Really? What's her name?

She never usually zinged one-liners off of people, but I must say she got me that day.

I've been extremely lucky with bereavements in my family; the last person close to me to pass away was when I was in Grade 9, which is a while ago. Hopefully I'll be able to deal with The Call when it comes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This could change your life.

This is, very probably, the greatest thing that has ever been created on the Internet.

Go. Do it. You know you want to.

ADDENDUM: Make sure your sound is on.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A possible PhD program.

You know how, back in 2006-ish, people whose names were thrown-about as US presidential candidates would play all coy with reporters asking if they were going to make a run? "Well, I can't really answer that, although I'm in consultations with some potential people to begin pre-preliminary talks about thinking to maybe form an exploratory committee to possibly look at considering a stab at running. But the first thing I do, after I ask the Little Lord Baby Jesus for guidance, is sit down and talk with my family."

Well, in terms of me doing a PhD in education at OISE, I'm about at that stage (minus the family thing, unless you count my scores of illegitimate children in places like Haiti). I'm nosing-around their programs — apparently they have a "flexible-time" PhD program which can let you arrange stuff around your current job — but I'd have to make sure that (a.) it fits my schedule, (b.) I can get adequate funding, so (c.) I don't have to live like a shit-broke student, which would (d.) suck.

As for a topic of research, I think it would be interesting to be able to figure out how to measure, in an overall kind of way, how well a given set of curricula is meeting the needs of the students in a given educational jurisdiction, and how to persuade governments into spending the time and money into more, and more-frequent, in-depth analysis of how well things are going. A lot of places in the world do this — but the catch is that these are places that look at shitty metrics such as standardized test scores, which have a list of their own problems the length of Michael Phelps' so-called "wingspan." (I hear it's seven feet!)

Anyway, I hope I can do this from more of a classroom teacher's perspective, rather than that from an education professor who's spent the past several decades locked up in the Crystal Palace (to borrow a Queen's-ism). You gotta "keep it real," except when keeping it real goes wrong.

Didn't like people playin' on her phone
Kept it real
Other inmates "kept it realer"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The World Series ended two weeks ago.

If anyone needs me between March 16 and 19 inclusive, I'll be watching baseball in Florida.

Yep, just bought the plane tickets. Supercheap, too. Everyone in Toronto flies out of Buffalo; because of my southwest Ontario connection, I can stay at my parents' overnight and fly out of Flint, which is a ridiculously small and charming airport (yet has a surprisingly large number of destinations).

So, if it's mid-March and you have a hankerin' for baseball and palm trees, you're more than welcome to tag-along.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

No, Junior, you can't.

Brilliant little piece from The Onion earlier this week:

Bush: 'Can I Stop Being President Now?'

WASHINGTON — In a press conference held this morning on the White House lawn, President Bush formally asked the assembled press corps and members of his own administration if, in light of today's election, he could stop being the president now. "So it's over, right? Can I stop being president now?" Bush said after striding to the podium in a Texas Rangers cap and flannel shirt, carrying a fully packed suitcase. "Let's just say I'm done as of now. Presidency over." When informed by Washington Post reporter David Broder that his presidency would continue through early January, Bush stared at him quizzically, sighed, and shuffled silently back into the White House.

Sorry, Georgie, you're gonna have to play with the new kid for a couple of months before you can go back to Crawford to clear out all that brush.

Looking down the barrel of a gun.

It's more than just a stupendous song by the Beastie Boys off Paul's Boutique; it's what I do every year as November, and my birthday, rolls around.

November is a Perfect Storm of Shittiness, for myriad reasons:

1. The weather is lousy.
It might snow, it might not. It gets increasingly chilly, but it's not that January-cold which can be dry and pleasant. It rains a lot and it's greygreygrey. November is the absolute crappiest month for weather, and I challenge you to name a month which is worse.

2. Zero holidays.
July has Canada Day, August has the Civic Holiday, September has Labour Day, October has Thanksgiving, December has Christmas, January has New Year's (and a little break so the kiddies can write exams), they cooked up Family Day for February, March has March Break, April has Easter, May has Victoria Day, and June is just generally jubilant. Notice something missing? I do.

3. It's my birthday.
Last year was good because (a.) I turned a major milestone which suggested copious drinking, and (b.) it was also my Champagne Birthday, which also suggested drinking. This year has neither of those charms, so it's merely an opportunity for the odometer to click by, louder than more ominously than it ever has before. Another 12 months closer to death! Hooray!

(Actually, I should take back my dark outlook on aging. The whole thing about "youth being wasted on the young" is completely true; sure, you're young and full of piss-and-vinegar, but you wouldn't know what to do with the freedom your youth brings you if you had two hands, a flashlight, a map and a case of Red Bull at your disposal. I think I'm in a pretty good spot right now, being reasonably responsibility-free, aside from my job, but old and hopefully wise enough to realize that I've got a relatively sweet thing going.)

* * * * * * * * *

Any ideas what I should get my parents for Christmas? I've resolved to be done the bulk of my present-shopping by the end of this month, mostly because I hate malls during December.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What the wacko-Right are saying.

There's a blog I check occasionally, called Woman Honor Thyself. Don't let the overwhelming pinkness fool you; there's some pretty sinister sentiment going on. She makes Bill O'Reilly look like Gandhi, without a word of a lie.

(Also, don't read it for too long in one stretch. It's exhausting, and it'll just get you really, really mad.)

Anyway, I decided to pop over there today to see what she had to say about Obama winning the US election last night. Incidentally, of late she's been referring to him as "B. Hussein Obama" or just "Hussein Obama," and if she has to write out the word "Muslim," she'll intentionally misspell it (maybe so Google doesn't return a hit on her site for that word, I'd wager to say). Y'know, just to give you a little heads-up about what to expect. Today's post started off like this (multiple fonts and sizes and boldedness removed for clarity):

November 4th, 2008: A Day of Infamy.

Not since September 11, 2001, have I sensed such utter sadness and disbelief.

And yet I see Conservatives “congratulating” this man.

For the first time in my life, I am ashamed of my fellow Americans.

They have blindly but knowingly elected a baby-killer, terrorist sympathizing, enemy of the United States Constitution and of Israel….to the White House.

Barak Hussein Obama is not the legitimate President of America.

Without Acorn voter fraud, voter intimidation, financing and support by the likes of Soros, radical Izlamic terrorist groups, and the Media in his pocket, this day would not be unfolding as the Nightmare it is.

Barry Hussein Obama is, and was all along, nothing short of a political fraud.

He misled and misinformed anyone gullible enough to overlook all his terrorist associations, about who and what he truly is.

Ah yes..Hope, Change!….and a breath of fresh air from a campaign wreaking of duplicity and treachery.

What Barry Hussein Obama a radical, committed Socialist who is chomping at the bit to impose his version of a Marxist dictatorship upon these United States of America.

All the while... advancing the interests of his secret love: Izlam.

Sharia financing is right around the next bend.
Wait and see.
Free speech for anyone criticizing Islam will be squelched via abuse of the “Fairness doctrine.”

Whoops! She left a non-misspelled "Islam" showing! I bet she'll fix that, though.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that people like this no longer have Their Man in charge anymore. And it feels pretty damn good.

The verdict.

Yes he did.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote results.

Three classes' worth of students (one Gr. 12, two Gr. 10), and it went like this:

   Obama/Biden (Democrat)  . . . . . . 52

McCain/Palin (Republican) . . . . . 5

Don't know/don't care enough. . . . 11

Paris Hilton (write-in) . . . . . . 1

Spoiled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Well, there you go. The kids have spoken!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I love Canadian politics.

Yeah, the US gets a lot of attention.

But would the leader of a major US political party play an old game from the '60s called "Hip Flip" with an interviewer wearing a plaid tam? One of ours would; namely, Jack Layton. Hell, the same interviewer even once nailed the late, great, Pierre Elliot Trudeau on the question of rock and roll at 24 Sussex.

Also, I just want to go on the record to say I love Nardwuar the Human Serviette. I just watched him interview Whitby metalcore band Protest the Hero on The New Music, and while I'm not a fan of theirs in any way, shape or form, I have to admire how they handled Nardwuar's accusation (dug up through meticulous research) that their lead singer had never heard a song by the Pointer Sisters.

(Folks, it's either type random shit here on my blog, or mark physics tests. I think you can see which one has won, for now.)

A mock US election.

Tomorrow in my three classes, I'm going to hold a secret-ballot election, with the following choices:
  • Obama/Biden (Democrat)
  • McCain/Palin (Republican)
  • I don't know enough about the US election to fairly cast a vote
I'll let you know the results tomorrow evening. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Quebeckers prank Palin.

Read, and listen.

Productivity, and an observation.

This extra hour totally rules. It's ten minutes to noon on a Sunday morning, and thus far I have:
  • cooked myself a kickass breakfast
  • watched "Meet the Press" and a bit of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"
  • done a sinkful of dishes
  • finished reading this week's Sports Illustrated
  • planned how I'm going to repartition my computer's hard drive
The verdict: move the clocks back an hour every weekend!

* * * * * * * * * *

There are a lot of interesting things that have happened in this US presidential election: the nomination of a terrorist latté-sipping elitist secret-Muslim candidate, the Palin fiasco, the incredible amounts of money raised and spent, the aimless wandering of John McCain in front of Brokaw's teleprompter during a debate, and so on. But the recent financial clusterfuck has prompted some extremely unique insights into a possible sea-change in American economic/political dialogue.

First move: Obama. Tax plan says rich should pay more, little guys get tax cuts.* Plays well.

Response: McCain/Palin. "This is no time to be experimentin' with socialism." "I don't want to redistribute the wealth. I want to make it so everyone can be successful!" Et cetera.

Lots of American people: "My life kinda sucks right now, so yeah, let's have those rich bastards pay a little more. I'm dyin' out here."

For my money, though, the best lines have come from a couple of rich white guys who have said stuff like, "Well, you know, I've done pretty well, I can afford to pay more in taxes." (John Kerry comes to mind.)

I've been a political junkie for the past decade or so, and I have never heard anything like that be uttered from the lips of any prominent American (the likes of Noam Chomsky excluded). We've grown so accustomed to The Powers That Be being such devotees of unfettered, unregulated capitalism (on both sides of the border), this kind of statement could be viewed — and rightly so — as a giant bolt from the blue.

So, will this banking/stock market meltdown result in a vastly different set of American paradigms when it comes to how they view their own social contract? "From each according to his wealth, to each according to his needs," to quote Marx? If the American economy remains in the crapper for a good long while, don't be surprised if it comes out the other side a vastly changed animal.
* I've often thought that, if all you have in terms of fiscal policy is whether you raise or lower taxes, you're not thinking hard enough. Keynes would be very disappointed in you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This just ain't right.

The classic rock station here in Toronto, Q107 — which I believe has been trying to set a record for "Most times playing 'Takin' Care Of Business' by BTO" for the last decade — has started playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from Nirvana. Today I heard it for the second time; the first time I assumed I must have unknowingly flipped the dial to the Edge, but this could be no mistake.

I get it: the song's from 1991, and that's 17 years ago. Most of the students I teach weren't alive when the thing came out. If you want to define this song "classic" status in terms of sheer age, then fine — I mean, when I first started listening to classic rock in about 1992 (namely, to Detroit's WCSX, which I could pull in from my parents' house), 17 years before that was 1975, and I know for a fact that station played stuff from that year and newer.

But Nirvana is different. You can trace it back through various roots and influences to band such as The Melvins, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and farther back to bands like The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash. Very few of these bands (with the puzzling exception of The Clash) ever see the light of day on classic rock stations, so it stands to reason that Nirvana shouldn't, either.

I'm not sure why this whole situation makes me feel so violated, but it does. Nirvana is just too important in music history to relegate it to the same station as The Cars, Steve Miller and Fleetwood Mac — popular bands to be sure, but fairly inconsequential.