Monday, November 29, 2010

Yet another late night at work.

Yep, 6:30 and I'm still here. I sure do know how to live it up.

Piece of advice, though.

Here's what not to do:
  1. Spend an hour and a half writing a quiz, eventually armwrestling Microsoft Word into submission.
  2. Print it off.
  3. Close the document.
  4. Because you've been at work forever and your judgement is all cloudy and fuzzy, OBLITERATE THE QUIZ FROM YOUR COMPUTER even though you said you'd send a copy to a colleague before you left so she could look it over tonight or first-thing tomorrow morning.
  5. Spend another 45 minutes re-creating the thing from a blank document.
The countdown on the wall suggests 14 more school days until the break.

Please get here, Christmas Holidays. Please. I beg you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The new Kings of Leon album.

Yeah, I know I've pretty much disowned this band, but in the grand scheme of all things universal, my opinion doesn't really amount to a hill of beans, does it?

At any rate, I figured it'd be worth my time to check out their latest release, Come Around Sundown. I will fully admit that I didn't pay for it. But, to that fact, I will also submit this retort: this band has made me put down good money for two very shitty, very mainstream, exceptionally average albums before this one.

* * * * * * *

Executive summary: Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Detailed summary:

It's loud, compressed out to maximum volume 99% of the time. Every last bit of sonic room is filled with rhythm guitars, echoes of all sorts, cymbals, harmony vocals, and assorted flotsam and jetsam.

Tracks 1-3 aren't so bad. They're a little more subdued, and the third cut, "Pryo," is almost easy to listen to, except when they decide to get all arena-rock towards the end.

The fourth cut, "Mary," wants to pay homage to 1950s early rock-and-roll, but does so in the loudest possible way, which undercuts the whole effort.

Number five, "The Face," is clearly going to be released as a single. By golly, when did this band turn into shitty late-era U2, anyway?

"Back Down South" contains hints of fiddle, but seriously, the whole thing is dripping with way too much reverb.

Track #10, "Pony Up," sounds like KoL trying to be XTC.

My favourite track of the lot is #11, "Birthday" — not just because the ol' odometer is flipping over in a couple of days, but because it actually has the audacity to be (relatively) quiet, most of the time.

Overall, this album's structure is a lot like Because of the Times: the first half is front-loaded with big, loud stadium-rock numbers; then they sit back, relax a bit, and make tunes that (I presume) the band wants to make, rather than the record company pushing this thing.

Just for fun, I queued-up Aha Shake Heartbreak right after listening to Come Around Sundown, so I could contrast them right beside one another, and WOW. Listen to anything on the last three albums, then listen to "Milk" from ASH, and... holy crap. The earlier stuff sounds like it's being played in your living room with the band trying hard not to disturb the Crazy Cat Lady* downstairs, in comparison to the later stuff which aims to annoy people forty miles away.

Conclusion: The new album isn't bad, per se; the production annoys me more than anything. The song structures are really conventional, which isn't surprising seeing as how they've gone on the record to say they want to appeal to as many fans as possible. I'm glad I didn't buy this record — I'm saving my pennies for the new Bees album, and hopefully Sonic Boom has the vinyl — and I will delete it from my computer forthwith. But, if you let me at the original tapes so I could make it sound the way I wanted... yeah, I think we'd have something to work with here.
* She's actually been pretty calm these days.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And now, a very important message.

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, this urgent message is brought to you by a couple of erstwhile Englishmen. Heed their advice, or pay the consequences.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Please just shoot me now.

I've never had a cold be so intensely bad for so long. Normally I get a sore throat for a day or two, have a day of sniffles, a day of chest congestion, and I'm home free. This is DAY FUCKING EIGHT of feeling really shitty, and I've just about had it.

For the past four days I've been hacking like a chain-smoker. On Friday night, when out to dinner with a friend, an admittedly-delicious (and normally rather innocuous) club sandwich triggered a coughing fit of epic proportions. I think the rest of the Kelsey's probably thought I was trying to infect everyone with the bubonic plague or something.

Saturday, the bro came down, we watched a whole lot of Eastbound & Down, ran around town a bit, then hooked up with a couple of friends and headed over to Grossman's. The band was good, the beers were tasty, and we even got to see a bit of high drama: two women bolted from the dance floor, they had words, one poured a drink on the other, who batted the pint glass out of the pourer's hand, and the pourer stormed out the door. Fun! What better way to cap off the evening than with "a plate of BBQ pork" from the Kom Jug, then? (Seriously, that's what Mike/Bob Sacamano ordered, and by-gum, that's what he got.)

On Saturday night, when talking with my brother and friends, we spent some time in a bar with some live music, so I had to get a little shout-y. This is hard on the voice even when I'm not sick — teaching sorta wrecks it a little each day anyway, and loud bars don't help — but when you essentially have to give it 110% for a couple of hours just to be heard, you don't sound too good at the end. Last night when I went to bed, I sounded really croaky; this morning, when I first spoke, I barely had anything there, and that freaked me the hell out. All day I've made a conscious effort not to use my voice (after my brother left), which has been really strange; it turns out that I talk to myself a hell of a lot when I'm alone.

Anyway, today, I swear, I've tried to be productive. Not very hard, mind you, but I did try. I did manage to get the main parts of what I had to get done for tomorrow for this Ministry/ILC writing gig tonight, and tomorrow I just need to fill in some gaps and bundle this off to the bastards. (Why did I sign up for this, anyway? Becoming Education Czar of Ontario isn't going to be a cakewalk, I suppose.) Granted, after banging out the first few bits of it, I got really sleepy and zonked-out for a two-hour nap on the futon here in the spare room, but hey, a fella's gotta do what a fella's gotta do.

...marking? What marking? Oh, you mean the giant pile of it that I didn't touch? Well, there's always tomorrow. Ugh.

(Seems like a common theme, doesn't it?)

Fuck this, I'm tired and sick. I need to sleep. This shit can wait until later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Here's how my "day off" went.

It's funny, on professional development (PD) days, kids assume we get the day off, too.

Not so, muchachos and muchachas.

Normally we get subjected to guest-speakers and workshops which are mildly-interesting at best, and eye-gougingly boring at worst. But, I got sent a flyer from UofT a few weeks ago which advertised a day-long program for the PD day, put on by the Faculty of Engineering, catered lunch provided. I put the call out to the rest of the department: "Do you want to stick around the school and be put through hell-on-earth, or do you want to go downtown and learn neat stuff and get fed?"

All but one of us signed up for the UofT thing, and I have my doubts about the holdout.

Unfortunately, the day got off to a rousing start just after 5am, when I woke up with possibly the most excruciatingly painful muscle cramp I've ever had in my life, in my left calf. Apparently bananas (and the potassium they contain) help with preventing muscle cramps, but I've had four bananas in the past three days, so fuck you. My calf is still sore as hell.

My cold is at the point where (a.) I'm hacking up bizarre things (e.g. I may or may not have coughed up my gallbladder), (b.) my throat spontaneously gets as dry as the Sahara and I'd better have water at the ready, and (c.) my voice is 90% gone and all breathy and hoarse and wheezy and not sexy in the least, unlike a couple of days ago when it was all low and Barry White-ish (but yet when I tried to sing something really low to try and take advantage of this new vocal range, I found it impossible to control the pitch, so I was all over the place, and thank goodness I live alone).

Apparently my cold also causes run-on sentences.

I'm not used to taking the TTC downtown during the thick of rush hour — the closest I came was a few years ago, when I took a course at UofT which started at 8, so I guess missed the peak busy-ness by getting on the bus at 7:15. I never really thought about the sardine-tin situation on subways south from St Clair at 8:20 on a weekday, but I sure found out about it today. If we're supposed to all be good citizens and taking transit, how on earth can you fit more people on those trains?!

At any rate, once I got down there and all settled-in, the day was actually pretty interesting and fun. A bunch of us made roller coasters using pipe insulation and masking tape, and ours totally worked on the first try (and every subsequent run); lunch was delicious; and we had a really good set of round-table discussions on various issues facing students making the transition from high school to university courses. A fruitful (but slightly physically painful) day, for sure.

I just hope I'm well enough to do a little drinking on Saturday night; the bro is coming down, I'm going to try to get another couple of people together to put together a posse, and grand adventures will be had around town.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quasimedical treatment semi-update #2: Sweating it out.

Perspiration: Hoodie, track pants, extra duvet... woke up a little tiny bit moist, but not that "sweaty," really.

Symptoms update: I feel a little better overall, but I have a headache and the cold has now gone down into my chest. The sore throat is mostly gone.

Somewhat baseless hypothesizing: It's hard to say if the change was because of the sweating or my body's natural reaction — colds change anyway — but I don't think a sweat-a-thon would necessarily do any harm. If you think about it, that's what fevers are all about: your body is trying to make life miserable for whatever pathogen has invaded, so if you pile-on the blankets, you're helping out, right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quasimedical treatment semi-update: Sweating it out.

If you've shared a bed with me — and if you're reading this, chances are you probably have, because I'm a whore — you know that I'm generally quite furnace-like under the covers, and no, I'm not intoning any innuendo there. I generate a lot of heat. Hell, even in the winter, I'll probably only sleep in boxer-briefs, with one cotton sheet up to my neck, and a duvet up to my waist.

So, last night, eager to try the "Sweat Out the Cold" experiment, I donned a shirt and a hoodie, and pulled the duvet all the way up to my face. When I awoke this morning, I found (to my surprise) that I was not drenched in sweat; I was merely a tad warm.

Tonight's plan: shirt, hoodie, track pants, socks, two duvets. If this doesn't turn me into a sopping wet (and hopefully head-cold-free) sweaty guy, I'll be goddamned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quasimedical treatment preview: Sweat it out.

Around midday Saturday I started feeling not-so-well: headache, hurt all over, sore throat, the usual. Continued on into Sunday, and of course today at work.

A colleague of mine said that her fiancĂ© has a remedy for whenever he gets a cold: before going to bed, he gets all bundled up in a sweater and pants, wraps himself in a comforter, and "sweats it out." She claims that, the next day, he never has a cold — "but I share the bed too, and it's a little gross to have him sweating so much." (For the record, he's a huge beast of a man who's 6'7" and played football in uni; she can't be much more than 5'3" and might, might crack triple-digits on a scale.)

Seeing as how the NyQuil Experiment ended in tingly fingertips and next-day fuzziness, I think I'd be willing to give this one a try. Track-pants and hoodie, here I come.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A worthwhile cause.

If you're looking for a charity to support, there can't be any better cause in this world than the education of girls and women in Afghanistan.

An article in today's Star.

The school itself, with a link to donate quickly and easily online, if that's your thing.

It doesn't take much. Ten bucks helps, and I know you spent at least that amount on fancy pretentious coffee just last week, you jerks.

The Tea Party and history.

You know about the Tea Party deal in the US, I know you do. And, if you're reading this and/or you know me, it's somewhere on the spectrum between "mildly unsettling" and "get the Y2K bunker back up and running if Palin gets the nod in '12".

I've spent some time thinking about this movement, and the one roadblock I keep running into is, "How do conservatives manage to coax people, especially poor people, to vote against their own best interests?" Then again, I suppose "best" is a subjective term, and I have a different view of it than your average Tea Partier — "best" to me means your health care tab is picked up by the country, but to them "best" means "get the government the fuck away from my health care" — and I'd say that I've now thought about this whole idea, just now, more than your average TPer, but that's just a little jab at those wackos. Sorry, folks.

Anyway, this article in today's Star examines the role of the US Constitution (a document I quite like, for the record) in the TP movement.* I think it nicely examines the way some Americans have thought of their country for the past few decades, and how the canonization of the Consitution has worked out.
* I am aware of the connection between "TP" and a "movement" of a particular, bathroom, sort. I may be somewhat nerdy but, above all else, I am puerile.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An apology.

I'm sorry I haven't been writing much lately. I've been stupidly busy at work, and other stuff just seems to find me on the weekends and evenings too. I'm not sure why this school year seems to be so much busier than previous ones, but it is, and by quite a bit.

But, if it matters to you, I do feel mild pangs of guilt when I flip through my bookmarks, see the one for my blog, and think, "Damn, I really oughtta write something."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A whirlwind weekend's recap.

As promised (to some), a full recap of my Weekend to Restore Sanity and/or Fear...

Friday: Flying and Driving
  • flew out of the Island airport on Porter
  • super-nice to fly out of, can definitely recommend
  • met the fellows at Newark, picked up the car
  • hit up a Target to buy sensible shoes and water, granola bars
  • rolled into the hotel at about 2am
Saturday: Standing and Walking
  • woke up a little late for a breakfast meet-up
  • met lovely folks on the Metro and on the streets
  • got handed "Team Fear" signs on a corner
  • joined the crowd by 9:30 or 10ish; already tons of folks there
  • read numerous hilarious signs
  • Roots and John Legend came on and played
  • Mythbusters had us doing the wave and jumping in unison to trigger seismometers
  • Stewart and Colbert came out and made some jokes
  • Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam and Ozzy Osbourne battled with "Peace Train" and "Crazy Train" (you can figure out which comedian was behind whom)
  • score was settled with the O'Jays singing "Love Train"
  • correspondents were funny, crowd was polite
  • good time had by all 250,000-ish attendees
  • Metro was packed afterward so we just walked to the bar in Adams Morgan
  • had some beers, then had some burgers, and then more beers
  • tuckered-out and in bed by 10
Sunday: Whole Lotta Jersey
  • encountered stupid traffic jams on way down to DC; determined not to repeat said slow-assed-ness on way back
  • had great breakfast in Maryland; first encounter with scrapple deemed successful
  • saw lots of New Jersey; some is OK, most is an eyesore
  • saw Christine O'Donnell campaign signs in Delaware
  • sat in front of drunk chowderheads on plane ride back
A hell of a weekend, all told. Definitely one for the books.