Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Cult Of The Facebooked

I don't have a Facebook account. Usually this statement is followed by a look that says "he's a witch, burn him!" from the person unfortunate enough to be conversing with me at the time. Many a bar encounter has culminated in the phrase "Add me to your Facebook."How many marriages across the world now begin with such a request? And how many end?

Likely, this reluctance to participate in what seems like our generation's meeting place is something to do with the fact that I don't like where it's going. All of the functions and applications that are specifically designed to pry. I was on Facebook before, a long time ago when Dinosaurs roamed the earth (did they do anything other than "roam"?) and most people thought Wikileaks was some sort of epic plumbing disaster.

I would receive angry messages splashed across my wall. Some would question why I'm not responding. As if we're in the middle of a phone call and I put them on hold to go on vacation. Facebook etiquette dictates that you immediately inform everyone including friends, friends of friends, their friends' friends, that guy from the bar who added thinking your name is "Charles David Walsh" (my serial killer/don't-want-to-piss-you-off-so-i'll pretend-i'm interested-in-talking-to-you-name) and tech-savvy animals of your relationship status, your likes and dislikes, your recent outings (accompanied by pictures), your phobias, your food allergies, and now where you are at that exact moment. No longer is facebook creeping an appropriate term. Now it's approaching the legal definition of stalking:

"Facebook recently introduced “Places I checked in to,” a feature which allows friends to see your logging-in location. This application uses the IP address to identify the location from where the user logs onto Facebook and posts the location on the user’s wall. A more detailed description, including a map of the location, is then provided by clicking on the location link."

When you click on the map, a list of the user's nightmares appears as well as their fears, followed by a list of local stores that sell night-vision goggles and kitchen knives.

Ok, I made that last part up.

Despite not having an account on there, the Cult of the Facebooked has taken its toll on MY social network. One friend of mine insisted that I water his plants while he went on vacation. It seemed like an odd request, given that he had no plants and it's common knowledge among my circle of friends that my last plant-watering exercise led to the untimely demise of another friend's cherished cacti. But I agreed. It was then he gave me instructions as to how to log on. The guy wanted me to water his plants on Farmville.

This madness has to end.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Responding To Formspring Questions Is Still Cool, Right?

As you know, I have been curiously absent from blogging life for the last little while. Don't worry, I haven't been off gaining real life friends or anything. I've just been getting harassed to do work by people who assure me that's what adults are supposed to do. I still don't believe them. Anyway, submitted for the approval of the midnight society, (surely it wasn't just me who watched Are You Afraid of the Dark?) I bring you random Formspring questions from the past few months, along with my answers (because otherwise this would be very pointless. Well, more so.)

Has a rumour ever been spread about you? (Anon)

There have been many. That said, the best one was probably when I was living in the UK and someone started a rumour that me and this popular girl were going out. Granted, the rumour was probably started as some sort of evil-maniacal plot by one of her "besties" but for those three days in March when I was 15, I was king of the world. Then came the day when someone asked her and she didn't even dignify the question with a response. Well, I suppose hysterical laughter is a response. Sweet girl.

Do you have a place where you like to go, just to get away, or head to after a long day? (Asked by SunGiants)

Hmm. Not especially. I mean unless you count the pub? Most of my days are spent at home working and then in the evening hanging out with friends (at the pub). Maybe I should start going to other places, but then who would hang out with my friends at the pub? It's a double-edged sword really.

Oy vey when are you going to meet a nice girl and give me some grandchildren? (Anon)

Well, that's a good question, especially considering you're likely not one of my parents who would probably think Formspring is some sort of miracle mattress. I've met plenty of nice girls in my time. None of whom wish to split the cost of children with me, nor consider the other horrid biological matters that would likely preface such an event taking place. That said, thanks for the question... weird Formspring parent.

Let me think of something deep... why did you start blogging, and what has it meant to you to be a blogger

I started blogging because real life friends, Sarah and Allison (Sarahbration and My Quarter Life Crisis) had asked that I do so, and given my inordinate amount of free-time during that stage of my life, I complied with their request. Perhaps it was merely an attempt to ensnare one more follower for their blogs, but their commitment to getting me to do this blog cannot be overlooked. It's been an interesting experience so far, being a blogger. The events in my life that would usually be left unnoticed have now been commented on and enjoyed by others. I really appreciate some of the kind comments I've received and since starting this blog I have begun getting writing work as a direct consequence of others reading my rambling stories about my cat and assorted drunken adventures. It's a strange world.

What was you favorite musical group/singer when you were in junior high or high school?

Like all teenage guys living in England, I was obsessed with Oasis. I wish I could say I've moved on to more cultured musicians in the intervening years but I still listen to their music now. It's hard to say why. Stereophonics were also a big favourite then. At the moment, I'm listening to a lot of Ray Lamontagne and other "Talented Guy with Guitar and Beard, That'll do." type music. See Damien Rice and others.

Ok well that about wraps up this edition of "questions that were asked 7 months ago on Formspring but Rob's replying now in lieu of actually writing a blog post". Tune in, in 7 months time when I'll probably have come up with a more creative title. Savvy?

Monday, September 6, 2010


Given enough time and resources, there is no limit to human kind's capacity for invention. Some may use their time for profitable pursuits, (if the music gets annoying, and it will, skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds and the border between North and South Korea) others use their time for brilliantly conceived comments on procrastination 2.0. I however am taking my break from my writing work to blog.

As I opened Blogger, I noticed this new feature titled "stats." They seem a little off to me. No, not because a surprising number of billions of Earthlings have resisted the temptation to view my blog. But according to the stats, I'm getting more page views from Kazakhstan and the Philippines than I am from entirety of Europe. So for all those in Astana (yes, I looked it up) and Manila that have little else to to do on a rainy? Thursday than read about my visit to the train station, here's to you, and to procrastination. Keep those page views coming and i'll keep up with the destruction of the English language. Deal? Thought so.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Future of Music Videos?

The word genius is over-used. This is especially true in my house since I changed my middle name to genius after I successfully hooked up my own wireless. But this is GENIUS. If you like Arcade Fire and feel like witnessing the future of music videos  -

Try to resist the temptation to type in any major waterways, oceans and the like. It doesn't work. I was looking forward to seeing our protagonist splashing around in his runners. All the best ideas are ruined by small flaws.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1st

So marks my return to the blogging world. For those of you who are concerned with such matters, I am alive and healthy. Well, I'm certainly alive, anyway. Those unfortunate few who saw my last soccer game would have every right to laugh at my inistence that I'm healthy. A grown adult should never have to utter the phrase "stop the ball for a second, let me catch me breathe." 

You might be wondering what I've been up to in the intervening days since my last blog post. No? Okay, well for those of you who don't care, here's an awesome picture which pretty much sums it all up.

As I alluded to before I've been "playing" for an out of shape football team every week. The problem I find with playing on a pub team is that you get 90 minutes of good exercise in and then conclude the evening with a few pints of Guiness, therefore nullifying the effect of the night's exercise. Isn't that how catch 22 works? Or irony?

While we were sitting together at the pub, one of my friends showed me the pictures from the last game. She somehow managed to make it appear as if I were running in almost every one. My teammates were as surprised as I was. "What kind of setting is this and can I have it for my life?" I asked.

My physical abilities were tested even further last Sunday when a friend of mine asked me and a few of the other guys to help him move. I hate helping people move. Yet, I've done it often enough to become some sort of Grand Master at it. I don't know what it is, but fate keeps leading me in the direction of people that need help moving.

So there I was, on a cold, wet Sunday morning discussing with three other guys the best way to lift a fridge. The move took hours and hours. Mainly, because the host kept opening doors to more rooms each with heavier and more awkward to move items in them. "And here's the room where I store all my ballroom chandeliers and pissed off Komodo Dragons. Lift with your knees, boys."

It was like the moving house edition of Narnia. He would open wardrobes that were inexplicably full of other wardrobes and furniture. Sadly there was not a talking lion in sight. I think if you're going to ask me to help you move, a talking lion is the least you should offer. The day ended quite well though, as we all sat together in the now empty shell of a family home and he discussed with us his memories of the house. Oh, but now I have to get him a housewarming gift for his new place. Does it ever end?

So that's a quick update of the last few weeks in my world.

In conclusion, I'm still alive.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tom and X-Tina

Long after the last call bell rang, as the empty beer glasses were being collected and readied for the next night on the front lines of my hometown's battle with alcoholism, I went inside to unravel the scroll that had become my bar bill and haggle with the bartender over which internal organ I could comfortably live without, in order to settle up my debt. After eventually deciding upon using my card to pay, I walked outside toward the collection of plastic tables and chairs that comprised my friends' drinking HQ for the evening. As I made my way over, I was stopped (accosted) by a young lady who was drunk beyond anything I had seen before. She asked me to sit with her and her friends, and because she offered me free beer I enjoy meeting random people, I agreed.  

While I'm generally quite good at coming up with conversation topics for the times when there is little or nothing to say, this was not one of those moments. I had spent the first few moments of my conversation with this young lady simply trying to get her to repeat my name.

"Rob, " I said.




"Yes, fine. Tom." (At least it was a real name. Sorry, if your name actually is Rom.)

Her name was Christina, at least that's what I deduced from hearing the name screamed across the table by her equally drunk friends who spent the duration of the aforementioned conversation telling me that I should be sitting with them. She instructed me to hand her my phone so she could put her number in there. She typed her name slowly and carefully and listed herself as "X-Tina" (marriage material). After I asked why her number looked so "ridiculous," she told me she lived in Guelph. So, in search of anything to say, I asked: what people do in Guelph for fun, apart from leave?

She breezed past my hometown insult by talking about birds. I can't remember exactly what was said. I was obviously in no position to attempt to take notes at this point. But I do remember agreeing to part-ownership of some kind of parrot at a future date because I recall trying to convince her that parrots can fly. She might have got them confused with penguins. (Again: marriage material). I guess I must have found something amusing or interesting about the conversation, as it continued for 15 minutes or so; long after the beer at her table had been consumed initial buzz of meeting a random person had worn off.

My friends, noticing this ridiculous scenario (me talking to girls) taking place, were staring, mesmerized across the now empty patio area of the bar. Perfect time for my future wife here to try and plant one on me. I saw her approach coming thankfully, because a full twenty seconds before any sort of leaning action started, she began closing her eyes. Long enough for me to position myself away from any possible contact and probably long enough for me to have Googled "quick exits from awkward situations."

As she leaned in to try and kiss me, my natural reaction was to slowly pull away so as not to make a huge scene. "Wait, wait.." I asked, to no response, as the bar fell eerily silent with almost everyone on the patio watching the gory scene unfold. After hanging there for what felt like maybe a minute or so with just the warm  night air brushing her lips, she opened her eyes to me, sat leaning back in my chair and grimacing, scared to look at what surely was going to be either A) A very embarrassed person or B) A very angry person. As it turns out, one of Christina's pet peeves is when a guy refuses her advances so she chose option B). I was learning so much about her.

"Who the fuck do you think you are?" she inquired.

"Tom" I thought to myself as I walked away slowly.

"You're not good enough anyway," she added, quite convincingly.

And with that Christina and her friends, one struggling mightily to give me the correct finger, huffed their way down the patio stairs towards the anonymity of the sidewalk, clinging onto the railing as if dangling off a four-story building as they went.

The next day I sent a text message to her exotic Guelph phone number telling her that I was genuinely sorry for upsetting her and adding that I hope that didn't ruin her evening. No reply. Shame, I think Tom and X-Tina could have really been something

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In The Hospital

I am sick to death of being ill. Last Sunday, after a lovely 3-hour wait in the local emergency room, replete with a screaming girl who had some sort of cut on her face and a coughing, spluttering chorus of disease-ridden adults, I found my way to a doctor, who informed me that I was quite unwell.

Allow me to take you back to my Sunday morning:

Feeling under the weather, I decided to go against my friends' wishes and decline their invitation for 10am drinks at the local watering hole and instead decided to watch from my home base as England were taken apart by a rampant German team in their second round World Cup match.

At half time in the game with England 2-1 down, I received a text message from a girl I had been seeing, we'll call her Amy,  informing me of her intention to never see me again. Caught up in the game highlights, I forgot to reply. I'm sure there is some sort of connection between my football-watching and her relationship-ending. Anyway, England were losing the game and I could tell that I was feeling rough because the game seemed to pale in significance against my urgent need to find the best position for me to lay on the couch - facing the cushion. The fact that England were 4-1 down by that point probably had something to do with it too.

From my position facing the flowery couch cushion I fashioned a text message to Amy which was supposed to say "Maybe we can get coffee soon and talk?"

Instead, on review, it read "Maybe when coffee tweet?"

I did not receive a reply to my Shakespearean attempts at salvaging the relationship. Sad and feeling like my head was inside of a constantly beating drum, I decided I had to try and sleep and maybe magically, sleep will fix whatever was happening with my body. It did not. I woke up to the sound of my heartbeat in my skull, amongst other gory symptoms that are unfit for publication and concluded that I must make my way to the local disease-orium.

I was greeted at the hospital by a young man in baby blue hospital fatigues and matching white mask who asked me if I had been seen by anyone. I turned around and glanced fleetingly at the constantly opening and closing emergency room doors. I wasn't aware I had to make my entry in secret. I told him I had made my way to the hospital undetected and would prefer to continue this intriguing conversation post treatment. He provided a form for me to detail my bodily complaints, which I hastily filled out as all manner of diseases and injuries revealed themselves to me, like a disgusting conveyer belt on the worst gameshow ever.

Triage was next. I rolled up my sleeve so the Triage Nurse could take my blood pressure. She told me it was really low, in way that suggested I was doing something to influence the results.

"Hmm, your blood pressure seems a little too low," she said as she sat back in her wheeled-chair, folding her arms and pausing like a police officer waiting for an admittance of guilt.

And then, as is the way in these sorts of places she calmly followed up with a defeated shrug and said ;

 "Well, anyway, take your form to the next window and a doctor will be with you soon."

Soon, in hospital terms is not like the soon you are I know. Hospital soon is an altogether different kind. The kind which can span anywhere from 10 minutes to the day Steve Jobs eventually takes over the world and makes us his i-slaves who help him build his fort that will protect him from those large-thumbed Blackberry hordes.

In this case, soon was around three hours. I would have made use of those three hours, but given my state, all I could do was call my family and ensure that nobody sat close to me in the hospital by coughing excessively and looking intensely at anyone who even dared look at the plastic red seat beside my own.

Just as I was perfecting my cough, a group of people scurried in,  surrounding a girl with a cut on her forehead who was obssessively asking each of her posse whether it looked okay. It did not. But not one of her friends were ready to admit it.

 "It looks okay, " said one.

"It makes you look edgy, " added another, hilariously.

The blond-haired girl paced the waiting room and in her increasing angst continued to make various appeals to the Triage Nurse to let her in first, ahead of the bleeding children and the pale elderly humans who comprised the rest of my fellow emergency room inhabitants.

Eventually, it was my time for them to look under my hood and assess the damage. I was guided through the hallowed doors to the treatment area of the ER and onto a hospital bed by two nurses who, after setting my decrepit body down on the linen sheets, attached me to various machines who's job it would be to monitor everything that occurred in my body for the near future. It is nearly impossible to rest when your heart-monitor flat-lines eleven times over a ten-minute period because of "system maintenance," helping you to receive nervous glances from everyone in the room, even though you are sitting up and thus clearly not dead.

I rested my head gently in slow-motion on the industrial strength pillow and listened to the conversations of other unfortunate souls in the cramped and dark emergency ward. Next to me was a man who, every time someone came in and asked him how he was,  would say "Not great, I mean look where i am." and then laugh to himself and wait for the other person to laugh too. Mr. Popular had about 300 visitors over the 3 hours we shared a 40ft squared piece of the universe, each beginning with the same query, and receiving the same response.

The nurses station was occupied by two female nurses who were comparing their hospital outfits like they were at a fashion show in Milan,  "Oh, yours has ducks on it. Very cute," and a male Doctor who was resting his head on his hand and staring at a piece of paper, looking bored with the persistent chaos that surrounded him.

As I zoned out staring at the ridiculous "If you're feeling unwell, welcome aboard " boat poster on the wall above the nurses station, a doctor made his way inside the room towards my heavily-blanketed bed.

Talking with doctors is often confusing for me. They expect me to understand what they're saying, so long as they say it in a calm way and use patronizing hand gestures to articulate their point. I nodded along and unconsciously agreed that it would be best if  I go for an ultrasound. I was taken to the ultrasound room by the hospital porter, a man who more closely resembled a tree than anyone I've ever seen. He grabbed the entire hospital bed with one arm, almost lifting it, and turned it around while holding the door open with the other arm.

From there it was a 5-minute magical carpet ride to the ultrasound room, which I was placed outside in the brightly coloured waiting area along with four other people, all aligned in our hospital beds like we were about to compete in a race around the hospital. Judging by the condition of those elderly women, I would have won that race quite handily, too. Instead, I was called in for my ultrasound by a young girl, who looked around twenty-five. She was quite attractive, which made the whole ultrasound experience quite awkward. I tried to break the tension.

"Have you had anything to eat today?" she asked, for probably the 15,000th time that day.

"I could go for a bite, " I responded.

She steadfastly refused to break character, although the faint hint of a smile seemed to suggest she at least appreciated my attempts at humour. I decided against adding further comments ("Don't tell me whether it's a boy or girl, I want to be surprised." etc.) and just sat back and wondered whether that ultrasound gel that they use is really necessary. I still don't think it is.

The tree-man came back to taxi me to my HQ on the hospital emergency ward which would be my home for the next couple of  days

"How are you feeling now?," I heard faintly

"Not great, I mean look where I am."

Home sweet home.

When the Doctor next came back to me  he scrawled on a piece of paper and held it in front of my face like a hostage remonstrating for the camera in one of those kidnapping videos. Instead of saying "tell my wife I love her" the note described the medication I should be taking for the next month.

Pleased with the official diagnosis and assigned course of treatment, I was now able to relax a little as the nurses poked and prodded their way to helping me on the road to recovery. After a few days of rest and daytime TV, I am now able to be a human being again : going outside, meeting people - even playing football again (albeit for a quite out-of-shape pub team).

As much fun as my hospital experience was, I would rather not do it again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bloggerstock: The Story of What's on My Desk

I have recently joined an organization which randomly pairs you with another person from the blogosphere so that you can write on their blog under an assigned topic for each month. No, this is not a cult. It is actually quite cool, you'll see. 

I was selected to post on Kara's website at so that's where my post will be lurking for those of you who enjoy my writing. You sick, sick, people, you. 

The following entry comes from my Bloggerstock cohort for this month - Essie. After reading the following entry, head over here - to read more from her. You won't regret it. I promise.     

The Story of what's on my desk

This is the true story of what’s on my desk:

A PC.  My husband bought it at Incredible Connection before I took all his money in the divorce. And also his PC. And his desk.

Divorce is awesome.

But I thought that I should aim for at least a few more words and something at least remotely interesting so I tried to lure a mythical creature onto the desk with a bowl of cream (no really – read Bryan Froud, that’s how you do it).

In all seriousness, I suppose the only thing that stood out for me when looking at that plain pine desk was what WASN’T on there: our wedding picture. It used to balance precariously between the pens and books and dead minitiature potplants. In the months after our separation we delicately started removing the photographs, but it doesn’t really help. You still see them in the spaces where they’re not.

Of course, the whole dance of marriage is so bizarre, I don’t really blame either of us for figuring out the steps. I remember feeling somewhat pissed off at the tiny, plain piece of paper the pastor handed us. I expected gilt edges and curliques – not a scrap of office paper with handwritten details and crude signatures. Thinking back that is probably symbolic of the whole thing – a watered down but weightier version of what you hope for.

There ARE still elements of him on the desk. A heavy stone I picked up in a mine in Kimberley and brought home for him to use as a paperweight. A plastic bunny we got in cereal box. A ceramic fairy we bought on honeymoon. A pen he had stolen from me that I stole back.

Whatever we are to one another now, wherever we live – you never really separate from one another. You become part of each other’s stories, even if your lives split in two. Despite everything that happened I do like that a part of him is always in the back of my mind and even on top of my desk.

PS. But I’m not giving it back.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Quadrennial Pub-Hopping Vacation

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. But I assure you, It's far more important than that."

-Bill Shankly

As you may or may not know, tomorrow marks the beginning of the quadrennial most important month on planet Earth. Groups of 11 men from 32 nations around the globe will be fighting for the right to call themselves Masters of the Soccer Universe, while billions of others, such as myself, watch on television. To onlookers, this ritual is slightly strange. To those on the inside, it is equally as important as over-celebrated life staples such as food, water and Justin Bieber. It is because of this event that I will be blogging less in the next month.
Now, I understand you may be concerned for my well-being during my welcome absence from your life, so I have concocted a plan : I have created a Twitter account, from which I will be regularly updating people and assorted computer proficient animals on the various banalities of my existence, as is Twitter's purpose. Follow the link for 140 characters per serving scoops of my drunken existence (plus random World Cup news.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dear Phone Company

Dear Phone Company,

Not only did Mr. Patrick Owen Doors give you a fake number (mine) but he also gave you a fake name. While I have come to enjoy the brief chats with your various Customer Service Agents for the past few weeks concerning this matter, I will have to ask that you stop now. I will, of course, pass on your urgent message for Mr. Paddy O' Doors concerning his account status, but one would assume that not being real might hinder his ability to be concerned about tangible real-world matters such as telephone bills and account statuses.

Love always,


P.S : Same goes for his wife, Patricia.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Waiting For The Train - Heartfelt Memories of a Night Best-Forgotten

I don't mind taking the train. Despite the seemingly toxic mix of sky-rocketing ticket prices and floor-scraping service provided in hateful spoonfuls by our local rail operator, I still enjoy the train-going experience. It is on this subject that I find myself writing this blog entry. I know, I can't wait to read it either.

Arriving at a fashionably late 9.42pm for my 9.30pm train, I knew that I would be looking at an almost hour-long wait for the next Westbound train to screech into the platform to mark its 10.30pm arrival. Waiting at the station has become a common occurence. But as an avid people watcher, the wait usually goes by quickly for me. Sadly, the same cannot be said of my fellow inmates trapped in this public transit prison, as they edge away from the people-watching foreigner, looking at their watches nervously as they pull their belongings tight to their painfully uncomfortable steel seats.

As I was walking up to the Ticket Office to confirm that I would be serving a 45-minute custodial sentence in this railside Alcatraz, I noticed that a group of teenage girls were squawking at the tired old Ticket Attendant. They were, it seems, upset over the cost of a ticket. While I completed agreed with their central complaint, I felt sorry for the elderly gentleman behind the plexi-glass who, presumably, was not the multi-millionaire benefactor of this railway extortion operation, certainly not if his grey apron and matching nametag was anything to go on. No. "Station worker Francis" was just a victim.

As these young girls "like"d and "omg"'d their way through their confused complaints: "Like, how much does it cost you to print a ticket?!!" etc,  I caught the eye of another woman in the station. She gave me an eye-roll and then mouthed something like "stupid teenagers." My lip-reading is awful, though. She could have been trying to say "stooping meat-haters" - in any case, my reaction was to smile and then, sensing the anger in her mouthed words, nod sternly in agreement with her cloaked pronouncement.

It was my turn next to speak with Francis.

"What?" - the first word spoken in my relationship with Francis was a crossed one.

I could tell that we were going to be close friends.

"Hey", I began.."Could you tell me when the next train is arriving?

"Ten Thirty," said my new best friend, without looking at me.

I would have used to the wait to get to know Francis a little better. But then, I feared any further questioning would have been instantly followed by my swift and violent death via the sharp end of a pen attached with thin, knotted string to Francis' workspace.

10:10pm: By this point there was only twenty minutes left until the train arrived, so I went to take a seat in the steel chair-like contraptions that stalked the perimeter of the station. Using my peripheral vision while playing around with my phone, I could tell the man sitting beside me was glancing at me periodically.

I looked up and my red-haired trench-coat wearing chair neighbour used this opportunity to ask me the following question : "Would you like to read my newspaper when I'm done with it?"  An intriguing question, since, it seemed to suggest that he wasn't done reading now, but i would be first in line to recieve his newspaper after he's finished.

Confused, I responded "Sure.. thanks." 

"Okay, I'll let you know." Chair Neighbour said, continuing to read.

I couldn't deal with these head games anymore, so I went outside to enjoy some yard time in the fresh night air. By this point, the gang of gaggling teenagers had made their way outside too and were taking turns to puff away on some sort of community cigarette. The eye-rolling woman from inside was picked up in an expensive car, and in the process of locating the leather front passenger seat with her rear-end she leaned out the door long enough to advise the noisy smokers to  "start acting like fucking adults and be quiet, because my friend is a police officer and he would have arrested you if he saw what you were doing inside."  Odd, how the promise of a quick getaway can bring out the honesty in people.

10.24pm :  It was almost time for my release. I followed the advice of the LCD screen on the right-hand side of the station entrance and made my way to Platform 1, from which point my getaway vehicle would escort me home. Bounding up the stairs to Platform 1 like a gleeful child, I almost tripped on the final step in my excitement, only sticking the landing thanks to some fast reactions and the motivation of a rather large  mysterious blue stain on the once concrete-coloured concrete floor.

10.32pm: There was still no sign of the train and a skunk made its way across the track. I noted to myself that I should not run across the tracks and jump in the bush on the otherside, as it appeared to be infested with rodents. As I was going over the possibility of spending the night with the bush-dwelling animals, the train bell rang out in the distance. About time.

The feeling of seeing those green and white carriages make their painfully slow way towards the station was worth the $10 alone.

I watched the station get smaller in the distance from the window of the quickly-accelerating train.

Free, at last.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Write Me Up a Prescription, Stat!

I'm not much of a scientist. Sure, I walk around my house in a white lab coat and say "stat" while giving orders to anyone within ear-shot. But other than the odd game of buck-a-roo-operation that I personally invented, I've never dabbled in the sciencey stuff. Yet, I've always held out hope that one of my theories would be proven true.

Well, it's finally happened : science has caught on to the idea that Guiness, the world's favourite meal in a glass, is actually good for you. Apparently, as well as being delicious and mysterious, Guiness can prevent heart-attacks.

From the BBC :

"They believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.

The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - taken at mealtimes."

And my favourite quote from the entire article :

"Pregnant women and nursing mothers were at one stage advised to drink Guinness - the present advice is against this."

Good thing they mentioned that, eh ladies?

Now that science has finally figured out that a pint of Guiness per day might actually be good for you after all, maybe they can start working on the intricate calculations required to make people stop drinking more than one pint. They should ask the guys who invented Molson Canadian, 'cause they nailed it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Man's Trash

Today my next door neighbour is having a garage sale. It's an exciting day in the life of a neighbourhood when a person puts their belongings on  plastic tables beneath the afternoon sun and offers up their memories at bargain prices. After a brief 2-minute mosey next door, I discovered that today's memories include but are not limited to such items as :  picture frames, a coffee maker, a microwave, a Nascar toy collection and possibly best of all, a t-shirt that reads "what's up, bitches?" (Sadly, its XXL fabric expanse would have acted as a blanket/parachute for my not XXL frame. One man's trash and all that.)

Every 20 minutes or so, a new person comes by to wander around the smattering of tables on the front lawn - lifting the coffee maker to check for breakages, measuring the picture frames (I'm assuming to see if the t-shirt would fit within) and pressing buttons on the once white-coloured microwave.

If this afternoon's gathering is anything to go by, bikers love garage sales. Earlier, there was a wave of black leather riding atop a sea of silver steel outside my living room window. That must be the infamous antiquing gang out of Hamilton, Ontario.

The event is now coming to a close it seems. The initial neighbourhood buzz about the microwave finally ebbing way, the remaining items are being packed (read : hurled) into a cardboard prison from which they will surely never escape; not if the ominous black marker label "basement stuff" is anything to go on.

About twenty minutes ago, midway through this blog entry I had the idea of giving them $20 to buy everything, and then immediately setting up my own table outside on my lawn and re-selling their items for profit to the numerous folk still lingering in the area. But obviously I decided against the idea, for fear of  A) being referred to as the "the guy who sold me that t-shirt," and B) upsetting a neighbour who may have some sort of gang affiliation.

All that's left now on the lawn is a sign that reads "Cheap Housewear". I think I just figured out how they could make use of that t-shirt AND save money on their heating bills.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Being Routinely Random

I have noticed a trend to my posting. As I don’t have a Wednesday Whine or Friday Fish Post (patent pending), I employ a random posting method to my blogging.

At least, I thought it was random.

I thought I was just posting whenever inspiration struck (inspiration is interchangeable with a ceaseless masochistic urge based on whether you're the writer or the reader) but after a quick glance over the previous few weeks of posting, it seems the majority of my scribblings are published either on a Tuesday or Thursday. It's a significant comment about my life that even my randomness is entirely predictable.

It's the blogging version of the Minority Report. Somewhere tucked away on Blogger is a tiny dwarf dressed as Tom Cruise  (it could even be the little entertainer himself in there, he's been quiet recently) seeing my every action before I complete it. But instead of precogs like in the movie, there's just a balding guy in overalls, holding his newspaper, who glances above the folded page of his creased sports section only long enough to say "Eh, Tom, it's Tuesday/Thursday, must be time for another blog post from that guy."

I'm selling the movie rights as we speak.

My only routine event is that of the weekly quiz night at the local pub. Every Monday night from the hours of 8.30pm to 9.30pm EST, myself and a few friends compete with about 7 other groups, of varying ages for the one of the fabled Grand Prizes (usually a t-shirt).

Of course, trivia in all its forms is inherently biased against younger people and so my debates with the quizmasters on whether indeed it was Fleetwood Mac the band or Stevie Nicks alone who released a certain song, are rarely decided in my favour and wouldn't be even if Stevie Nicks was on my quiz team. (My friends now randomly blurt out "Quite frankly, I don’t believe Fleetwood Mac ever existed, " mimicking the manner of the quizmaster on that fateful day.)

The very thought of me missing quiz night brings shrieks of displeasure from my friends, who protest that they will greatly miss my inglorious attempts at solving the simplest of mathematic questions on the quiz - "Rob, what are you doing? We've already solved that question. The equals sign means we got the answer."

It is in fact rare, despite the lack of success, that I miss the event which has sadly taken pride of place in my otherwise empty social calendar.

Although I've been making a concerted effort to be completely unpredictable, it seems that I have failed admirably but miserably. As with my Monday nights, my blogging has been curiously plagued by the regular schedule fairy. See you on Tuesday, for my next random post. Unless I wait till Thursday. Rebel..

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I've Adopted A Vice

Well, it had to happen eventually. The cell phone I had been using for 4 years met a predictable yet untimely end last weekend when it threw itself off the shelf and onto the floor, thus ending our relationship together in a cataclysm of shattered plastic and strange buzzing noises. It was a shocking event, as you can imagine.

But I jumped right back onto the cellular horse and bought a Samsung Vice. The ability to take pictures and create videos is so new and facinating to me that I haven't even been responding to calls or text messages. Sorry if you've been trying to get a hold of me, Mom.

God knows what else this contraption can do. I half expect to press a button and have some sort of digital genie to appear and grant me three wishes, the way the girl at the Virgin Mobile store described the phone. All I understood was 3G (translation - faster downloads) and cheap mobile internet (translation - friends hate hanging out with me. "I don't care if you want to talk about your problems, this cat walks on two legs, LOOK!").

Just like the beginning part of most of my relationships, there has been a lot of swearing and confusion, ("We're dating?") but hopefully this could be the start of something special.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Movie-going and Movie-staying

Last night, a friend informed me via text that they had just walked out on "literally the worst piece of shit I have ever seen at a movie theatre." After a brief conversation back and forth confirming we were talking about a movie, I questioned him as to why anyone would pay $15 and not watch the entire showing.

I have never once walked out during a movie playing at the movie theatre. I often wonder what motivates those that do. Are they saying that their time is so precious that they simply cannot afford to waste another moment watching this film? "Get out now. Enjoy your life, while you have it", they say to themselves as they leave a human-shaped hole in the movie theatre wall, in too much of a hurry to stop and locate the exit.

Sure, there are movies that I have thought about walking out on. Like the moment you step out of your vehicle, take a sly glance at your blind date through the restaurant window, and see her dressed head to toe in Nazi SS Uniform, the movie “Knowing” with Nicholas Cage was practically begging for me to seek a quick and defiant exit. But I stayed. Two hours and who the f knows minutes later, I left my seat safe in the knowledge that I had sat through what I can only assume was some sort of crude joke being played on the motion picture industry by Nicholas Cage's hairstyle, which has now brilliantly taken on a life of its own.

Perhaps I just don’t see enough movies to have ever walked out on one or perhaps this is yet another in my blog's continued series depicting my veracious laziness? It could be the thought of hey, at least it's a free place to sit for the next 2 hours, that might be playing a small part in my commitment to the movie-going cause. I feel like going to a movie is similar to going to someone's dinner party, and leaving the movie is like jumping out of the window before the meal has been served. You've brought the booze, you've agreed to go, you may as well put up with the 2-hour conversation about cacti of South America. You may even enjoy it.

To those who were unwillingly dragged to see either "Daddy Day Camp" or "The Informant!", you had a very hard choice to make. I, however, sat through both. (movie-style slow hand clap).

But don't go and see “Clash of the Titans” - my friend says its shit.

Hmm, I don't like ending my writing with a swear word so let's go for a question in the rather arrogant assumption that others will comment; have you ever hated something so much that you've walked out halfway through? (And NO, this blog doesn't count.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Proposal For Future Technology AKA : The Reason I'm Poor

Google has come up with some brilliant inventions to help us navigate web.  Few of these Google creations come close to the "translate this page" button for simplistic brilliance. For what has the internet era been about if not bringing people around the world together to form one giant amorphous multinational blob of Justin Bieber fans? My proposal to Google is this - change the "translate this page" function to include different forms of speech.

For example,  I would love to read an article on the BBC site that reads as if it were written by a drunk guy at a bar : "Dude, wait, dude, Obama's speech, man, on Healthcare.." Or an article written using valley girl language: "Like, Obama announced that he would be insuring more Americans, and the Republicans were all 'Like I'm SO sure." Or as if it were written by a drunk valley girl : "Like wait, Obama's speech on heathcare was .. totally awesome (BBC reporter breaks down in tears)".

Make it happen, Google! Otherwise I'm giving this one to Steve Jobs. And we all saw what he did with my giant Iphone idea.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exorcising My Exercise Demons

In an attempt to force my lethargic self to exercise, I went out and bought a basketball last week. Basketball and football (soccer for those of you residing in North America) are the only sports that I’ve ever enjoyed playing and since I have a basketball area within 100 feet of my house it seemed like my ideal choice.

(Surely it's a sign of how lazy I’ve become that the walking distance to the activity area is the main factor in my choice. My self-created mixed UFC/Yoga sport didn't quite take off. Otherwise I would be 40 feet away from my backyard , where I would be exercising by punching opponents indiscriminately in the face while balancing on one leg, draped head to toe in neon yellow lycra and trying to find the path to higher consciousness. )

Anyway, back to the original point of this post. I will now be exercising more, which will add balance to my current lifestyle of sitting, eating and napping. So, if anyone here lives in Burlington, Ontario, you can wander by and either laugh, join in, or just stare in amazement at how a grown man can be so unskilled at the simple act of throwing a ball through a hoop.

I'm off to watch the best basketball documentary ever made - Space Jam.

As I was writing this entry, and this isn't really related to my exercise regime at all, I just received a delightful spam message via Skype:

- FREE Live Video and Audio Chat 24/7

- 1000's Of Hot Members Joining Daily

- Anonymous Email System For Member To Keep You Safe & Secure"

Now, all I can think in response to this is; if it can use an email system, I think you should put it to far better uses than that.

Those exclamation marks do make the cheating wives!!!! sound enticing though.. hmm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Version of the Troublemaking Days

In my younger days, I considered myself to be a well-behaved kid. Although I avoided doing homework like the plague and then pretended that I somehow caught that plague to avoid gym class (or PE as us Brits call it), I rarely got into trouble at school. But when I did there was usually some sort of ridiculous story behind it - with that in mind:

Somebody had written "Rob (insert last name here) is hot" on one of the giant tables in the school library. According to the Librarian on duty, the only possible reason for this ungodly announcement was that I myself  had pronounced it to the world, in thick black marker, on the library's oak table. This bizarre assumption led to a conference call between the teacher in my next class and the Librarian, on speaker phone which detailed "my" deed for my classmates to hear and then look at me with the same sort of disgusted confusion people have when they see limbs being lopped off by a crazed psychopath in a horror movie.

I trundled off down to the library where again people I knew greeted me and watched as I furiously scrubbed off the offending material. I never did find out who wrote that on the table. My theory: the Librarian did it.


Earlier still in my educational internment, there was a science teacher called Mr. Wood, who for some reason completely despised me; the way one would despise someone who had murdered their entire family and who had then sent them a flip book every two weeks, depicting the murder taking place.

His irrational hatred spilled over one day in the classroom. As I previously noted, I rarely completed homework. But on this particular occasion, I had finished all my work the previous evening and so came to class prepared for the mundane onslaught of science that was my High School biology class. However, my friends were not.

Usually, my friends were the sort to get things done on time and to a good enough standard to maintain decent grades - so, I took advantage of this opportunity to help them out, and allowed them to quickly use my homework as a guide for them to scribble down some notes on some silly little science study that comprised our homework. We were assigned some nonsense textbook work during class so that Mr. Wood could put his feet up, relax and mark our homework. I knew as soon as he started looking at me over those ridiculous reading glasses of his there was trouble brewing.

The tiny bespectacled man called my friends and me up to the front of the class and when we got there he separated us, the two of them on one side, me on the other. And then, in classic Mr Wood style,  he against all the odds somehow managed to locate the wrong end of the stick :

"Why am I not surprised that you've copied your friend's work, Rob?"

The response in my head was bouncing back and forth between "because you have the mental capacity of a tree" and "What..The.. F!!??.".

In spite of my protestations and some fairly honest mea culpas from my friends, I was forced to redo the night's homework (this time in "my own words"). I was also forced to explain in an essay why "flagrant plagiarism" has no place at school. I copied most of the plagiarism essay from an article in a magazine. We cheaters never learn.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All The Things You've Wanted To Know But Were Too Apathetic To Ask

I've decided to add Formspring to my blog. This is in part due to the fact that a lot of other people are doing it, and like the myth about lemmings, i'm into following the crowd, despite the fate that might lay ahead.

Ask your questions and I will do my best to answer. If I get questions from people other than my own Mother ("Where were you last night?".. "Why can't you find a nice girl?"..etc) then I shall feature them on my blog. I know - Instant stardom for you.

Now, try to contain yourself enough to find the Formspring box on the right-hand side of this page.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"You Are Disturbing Me. I Am Picking Mushrooms."

I just read a story about a reclusive genius in Russia. He solved a century-old math problem and was thus awarded a $1million prize from a fancy mathematics institute in the States for his efforts. He lives with his mother and sister in a small apartment in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, he refused to accept the award. His reasons for the refusal are unclear at this point. I choose to believe that he just doesn't care about money.

While the story itself is almost certainly destined to be turned into another one of those "Beautiful Mind" type movies, this quote from the man himself pretty much made my day:

"You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms," he told a journalist who managed to get in touch with him."

He's just a smart man who wants to be left alone to pick mushrooms.

You can read the full article here :

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Charlie Brooker - Your New Favourite Writer

Charlie Brooker is brilliant -

On talent shows: "A bit like watching a show in which children line up to be punched in the face by Santa Claus. Absolutely riveting for all the wrong reasons."

— Charlie Brooker

His postings on The Guardian's Comment is Free site are an inspired collection of hilarious musings on almost any topic imaginable. A week ago, he did an existentialist article on the subject of time. I think I've read and re-read it about 15 times now. The first paragraph alone is one of the best of any article i've ever read. (Ok, i've only ever read 3 articles before. And two of those were on the subject of Family Guy vs South Park)

Hopefully you enjoy it as much as i did. See me for any English to North American translation.

A Cat Owner's Guide To Our Feline Overlords

Blog friends, it's that time - The time you and I both knew was coming: my first post about my cat. Now, I'm not sure if his cat friends read blogs, so I’m going to call him Melvin in order to protect his identity. Even though he is instantly dislikeable and probably has no friends.

Melvin  is an annoying, grey rat-like creature. At night, he will wait until I am about to sleep before wanting attention. In the early hours, he will claw at my door until I cannot stand the 4am doorstep screeching concert any longer and let him in. Then, on entry he will try and bite me - my head at first, and then after each swat away, he will try biting other parts of my tired body until he gets the reaction he wants: sworn threats on his life, followed by food.

Cats wait for no man. We are slaves to our feline overlords. We attend to their every whim. They live in a world where you feed them, provide them with shelter, play with them, and generally treat them like gold. They do not care.

The common household cat is a strange creature with ridiculous behavioural patterns. For example, when and only when my Grandmother stays with our family, my own kitty captor will constantly attempt to scale the television stand in our living room until he makes a successful attempt to the summit, knocking all pictures, clocks and books down from their lofty position until he proudly arrives at the peak, therefore overseeing the entire room like some sort of flea-infested sniper. It's as if this is some sort of trick he saves for my 90-year-old Grandmother, and he waits eagerly for her arrival every 6 months. The problem for my family is that my Grandmother hates this trick. I think that's why he likes it. She yells at him. "Why does she keep doing that?" my Grandmother asks. (All cats are female in my Grandmother's world.)

Cats. Are. Evil.

And yet, millions of people around the world share their houses with these creatures. Why? At this point I was hoping I would have answer. I do not. All I can think is that it's similar to a medical problem I like to call Dane Cook Fan Syndrome - You hate something so much that you're compelled to spend endless hours with it just so you know you're human because of the angry reaction.

As I type this, Melvin is trying to crawl onto my laptop and bite my fingers, attempting to grasp them with his claws like a kid using one of those toy grabbing machines. Or me, using one of those toy grabbing machines. It must be time for food again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

As Time Flies By

We used to sit on her porch and talk until six, sometimes seven into the bright summer morning - quoting Simpsons and laughing together about the random events of the previous evening and the strange things that happened within our particular group of friends. We were "regulars" for the night shift workers at the local 24-hour coffee shop, where we would get slightly stale, but very free bagels and other baked goods when their new orders came in overnight.

Walking to go get a much-needed haircut a few days ago, I bumped into her again, as she was picking up her son from the local kindergarten.

I had met her son before, a year or so earlier. He calls me "robrob" now. I quite like it. Seeing my close friend walk her progeny back from school that day though, it hit me: my friend whom I used to mock the coupled masses with, was married, with a baby, now a child. It's probably my fault, to be fair. When she asked me back in 2003 whether she should date this guy from her college class who had shown an interest in her, I said she should go for it. In my defence, I had no idea my approval of this hopeful young man would lead to this - me being the unwitting instigator of a life-long relationship including children. Children! How does this work? I mean, well I know the basics. Seeing friends with children is still terrifying to me, though. Because here I am, a 26-year-old man, hobbling into the dark unending abyss of adulthood: a place where you're supposed to "settle down", get married and have little versions of you, you 2.0, and I still struggle with basic skills they teach you in adult training camp, like cooking and laundry and not yelling at your brother when he clearly cheats at Mario Kart. Who knew Wario was so fast?

I'm hoping there will be a day soon where everything just clicks into place and I start becoming more mature ; because soon it might be time for “robrob” to put down his videogames and hop into the abyss - terrified, yet hopeful. Mostly terrified.

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

While we should be celebrating the women in our life on a daily basis for having to put up with us; today is the day marked out in the calendar as International Women's Day and so I would like to mention a woman who has inspired me - my Grandmother.

I remember the day clearly: my Dad and I walked through town on a rainy, dark Saturday afternoon and arrived late at the charity shop where my Grandmother worked well into her seventies. My Mum had asked that we go there to help her put away these giant boxes filled with clothes. We arrived just in time to see my Grandmother pulling the last of these giant boxes across the carpet towards the backroom to go with the other 10 boxes she had previously moved. "You look cold, boys. Let me make you some tea, " she said, as she emerged from the stock room and grabbed towels for both of us to put on our rain-soaked bodies.

During our final conversation together she asked me to take care of my Mother and Sister. With her as their role model, it will undoubtedly be the other way around.

Happy International Women's Day to all.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Boy Eats World

This is what it will look like when Ben Savage comes for the human race. Consider yourself warned.

P.S - Why yes, it is a slow news day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Game Of Life - 50's style

I don't like new boardgames. There's nothing that bothers me more than when people add "extreme" to something to make it sound more exciting. "Extreme Jenga" is still putting blocks one on top of the other until they all fall. (I was just trying to learn if there is indeed a difference between "Extreme" and regular Jenga when I noticed this :"Jenga, the blockbuster of all stacking games . " Best. Tagline. Ever.

My friends and I played the old school version of the Game of Life the other night. Naturally, we began the evening by looking at ridiculous Youtube videos (I love that this video has 16million views) while drinking domestic beer, so by the time the big game began it was already well into the evening.

I had never played The Game of Life before. And so I imagined that it would be quite similar to the real game of life and by the end of the playing I would be referring to everyone as a "scamp" and viewing anyone who looks slightly different from me with great suspicion.

It was around the time that I was rewarded with 50 new dollars for climbing Mount Everest that I realized this might be the greatest game of all time (besides Guess Who, of course). Though, unfortunately, since the game was invented in the 1950's, it's very sexist. If you pick up a"you had a boy!" card, you're awarded 300 dollars. Whereas if you get a "you had a girl" card, you get sent to marriage counseling. I was sent to marriage counseling 3 times over the course of the game. I suspect my mountaineering exploits affected marriage. My other accomplishments during the game included :

  • Discovering uranium near my house (award 130 dollars) (apparently back then this used to be a positive thing).

  • Discovering an oil well (award 100 dollars).

  • Having 7 children (4 boys and 3 girls).

Not bad for a night's work.

It was just the three of us playing, but i still managed to meticulously avoid victory and so my friend won. Sadly though, she's a girl and so the victory was awarded to my other slightly more masculine male friend, as per 50's sexist Game of Life rules.

I might have to get into board games again. Guess Who is still my favourite. If only for the fact that I invented a new facet to the game called "the desperation question".

This occurs when your opponent has only one piece left standing up and so will obviously win on their next turn. You are allowed to ask your opponent one random question about the person on their card. For example "Where do you think your character buys their clothes?" and then you can guess based on their answer. Rarely do these questions help in leading you to Guess Who victory but they definitely add to the game.

Can somebody help me in bringing old board games back in style?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Up In Smoke

It has come to my attention that almost everyone I know, or speak with on a regular basis, smokes. This is a shocking realization, given that I abhor smoking. At least, I thought I did. Now I'm not sure. I've spent my entire speaking life saying "ah, smokers, disgusting lot they are," (yes, I have always spoken like a Dickens character), yet now i find myself surrounded by the heavy coughs and lingering excuses for their curious habit. I would like to help all my friends quit in one go. But I fear this is going to take a super-human effort on my part. Ridding them of their cigarette holders (hands) is one way to go, but then there may be a slight backlash (albeit one I could easily repel). No, this is going to require some collective thinking.

How best could I rid my friends of this habit? Has anyone had any experience in this area? I've tried telling them about the impact it has on their bodies, to no avail. I was thinking I could set up some sort of reverse intervention. I would gather all my friends in a room and tell them that they have a problem. Or perhaps I should begin with just one of them ? - I know if I can break the weakest link in this spluttering chain, then the entire group will falter. Suggestions?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Posting - Check

I have added another skill set to my blogging resume (to go along with posting almost weekly and making a solid effort to destroy the English language) - Guest Posting!

About a week ago, I was asked by my friend and fellow blogger, Allison, for my opinion on Canadian music. In the spirit of the Olympics, I accepted the challenge. Hopefully this won't be another in the litany of defeats for British athletes on Canadian soil recently. (Well, I'm kind of like an athlete. I wear lycra when I blog.)

For the resulting play list and my humble English opinion on the Canadian music scene, head over to her blog now! Or, you know, when you have the time. No pressure.

All death threats from Celine Dione fans will be forwarded to the appropriate sorting department. Sadly though, i am no longer accepting glitter-based death threats.

Anyway, yes, Allison's blog - check it out and let me know how i did.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does My Blog Look Fat In This?

Finally, my template problems are solved. Just like my fashion sense, I've settled on something which is simple and nobody can make fun of. (Everyone knows tassels are the new black.)

Welcome to Go Forth and Blogeth 2.0; where everything is different except the writing. (The one thing you might have wanted to change, i know.)

This week, I've been exploring the rather crazy world of ChatRoulette. Here's how it works - You're thrown headfirst into a conversation with a complete stranger from a place unknown. It's a simple concept with an even simpler site design. After you hit "play" on the site you'll see a picture of you on your webcam making the "wtf is this?" face. And from there your odyssey begins. You'll see a stranger in the top left-hand corner of the screen and then you can both decide whether you want to talk to each other. You can also decide to not use your webcam, but you might have trouble with people not wanting to begin a conversation with the black screen they see before them.

I've had 3 or 4 long-lasting conversations on the site - with people from all over the world ; South Korea, The Philippines, UK, France... and so i think it's a pretty brilliant concept. The problem, of course, with any new Internet site which is beholden to the unwashed masses, is that users may decide to show you things you might not want to see. This issue can be readily resolved with a quick click of the next button - hopefully before any images are burned into your mind.

This whole idea is nothing new, of course. Chat rooms in their various forms have been around since the 1500's .(May not be factually correct.) This instantaneous face-face connection with a stranger across the globe is something quite different, though, and if they can get rid of the freaks and turn the site into more of a user-friendly group-based area, it could have massive potential for growth.

While most of my would-be conversational partners saw me and immediately clambered for the next button, one out of every 7 or 8 people actually stuck around and had a conversation with me. I talked politics with a guy from Seoul. I helped (i think) a girl from Newcastle, UK solve an issue she had with her boyfriend and I talked with a girl from The Philippines about what they do there for Valentines Day.. apparently in Manila they have a giant hot-air balloon festival (if you need me next February 14th.. you know where I'll be.)

Chat Roulette - Great in theory. Simple. Sometimes weird. It's like we're twins. Maybe that's why I'm addicted to it? If you check out the site, let me know what you think!

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Valentines Boxing Day

Well, the heart-shaped chocolate boxes are already being marked down. The flowers are already dying. Huzzah! It's February 15th! I was supposed to write a Valentines Day post but I spent much of Sunday fiddling around with the blog, a story to which visitors to this pantheon of mediocre writing can and will attest. "All of your blogs have disappeared and your template has changed, " said a worried friend. Fear not, faithful readers ; the blog is up and running and all is well with the world once again. Oh, except Jimmy Fallon is still allowed on television.. sorry can't do much about that. Yet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Thoughts On... (Part 4)


I am the last person who should be attempting to make sense of this subject. As anyone who read about my last date will tell you, my romantic life should serve as a how not to guide for anyone looking for more romance in their own. In the process of looking for the Pam to my Jim, this is what I've learned about making a relationship work :

1) Do not, under any circumstances, if she asks whether you find another girl attractive, any other girl, say "Hell" anything. Hell yes = Obviously you're in love with her then. Hell no = Bit of a bastard. Apathy is your friend.

For example : "Do you find Jessica Alba attractive?"

"Meh, she's OK."

Any other response, even a slight pause for thought, could be taken in the wrong way.

2) Remember everything. Be the guy to remember her cat's middle name, which she told you 6 months ago while you were watching the most important game of the season.

3) Finally, and since I'm getting depressed thinking about romance, if your relationship plane is spiraling into the ground, try to end your time aboard on good terms. There's nothing worse than a bad breakup.

As most people reading this will be women, I'm sure they can offer better relationship advice for guys than I ever could. Ladies, where am i going wrong? Please, be brief.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Thoughts On...(Part 3)

Not so great that one was it? Still, things can only improve..


People care too much about their lawns. I believe most of the world's ills can be traced back to over-zealous lawn care. Lack of water in third world countries - sprinklers. Increased cancer rates in developed nations - weed killing pesticides. There is a lawn-centric man who lives just around the corner from my house. One summer, i swear i saw him use scissors to precisely alter the edges of his 5-metre squared patch of grass.

He spends hours clipping, hosing and pruning this inanimate green happy-place. I can only imagine what the inside of his house looks like; framed pictures of his true love in each stage of its development. Picture 1 is him holding a bag of soil, through to picture 140 of him on his riding mower. He hangs out with his friends to whom, when they say "i would rather watch grass grow than watch that movie" he responds, "Finally!," puts on his 3D glasses, makes some popcorn. runs outside, lays down and stares for hours at his green BFF. "Guys, watch this! - This bit is my favourite.." Forget the other side, the grass is greener on his.

I do not understand people who care deeply about their lawn and i probably never will. Unless you are a sheep, a cow or any other grass-eating quadruped, you have no business deifying this mystery green surface. We have all seen what the love of a lush green grass can do to the world to this point. If we cannot pull back the lawn-obsessed armies, it won't be long now before the phrase get off my lawn! is the catalyst for a war the likes of which we've never seen before : one where everyone will be wearing beige soil-stained gloves.

My Thoughts On... (Part 2)

Well, that first one went well, didn't it? Try another..


I love the effect it has on people. It never ceased to amaze me at school that as soon as it started to snow at the beginning of the Canadian winter, everyone, even the Canadian kids who presumably bathed in snow when they were younger, would stare outside in subdued amazement at the wondrous invasion appearing from the sky. In the UK, a snowday would occur if someone even mentioned the subject on television. The mere prospect of a flake was enough to force people to stock up on canned goods and hunker down for the long haul. That was before this year of course when the weather Gods decided to pull the old switcheroo. Canada, at least here in the Toronto region, has received barely any snow this year and my friends back in Manchester have been sending me Morse code messages from beneath mountains of the icy white stuff (snow).

In a way I'm sort of delighted, if a little terrified by this turn of events. Some might see this as a sign of the forthcoming weather apocalypse Al Gore has been proselytizing. I, however see this as an absent message from above saying "Rob, if that is your real name, you've done too much shoveling these past few years. Take a break. Watch The Office."

I've also enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather because of the complete lack of ice on the ground. If there is a patch of ice somewhere on the sidewalk, i will find it. I could be used as an ice detector for the elderly as they make their journey to the bingo hall. After the detection you can usually find me flipped, feet flying through the air attempting a midair calculation to figure out the softest part of my body to land upon. I hate ice, yet quite enjoy snow. The combination of snow and ice is the great winter-time paradox. While you're enjoying the moment, naively gazing at the wonderful world around you, you're unknowingly one misstep away from being left on your backside in tears. (Speaking of which, please join me in three days for my Valentines Day post. I'm sure it'll be quite uplifting.)

Without snow, we wouldn't have the children's animated feature The Snowman (1982) which practically all my great Christmas memories are founded upon. No matter how much I try and hate it for the ice and freezing temperatures it comes pre-packaged with, snow will always have the innate ability to make everything seem better, if only for a retrospective moment. Where's my shovel?

My Thoughts On... (Part 1)

Somewhat foolishly, i invited a fellow blogger to provide me with a subject for my latest blog entry. Now, what i received was not so much a subject, as a combination of unrelated words. But i like to follow through on such matters and so here we go. I've decided to write separate posts on each word. This could take a while. Feel free to grab some dinner, live your life, have children, retire and then come back to me for your golden years.

Here are the subjects provided to me : Grass. Snow.Water.Batman. Romance.

Hmm, here goes..

Without it, we would all die. Sure that might sound extreme. But Batman is very important to me, OK? Whereas most winged creatures spend their time squawking and desperately begging for food from their human overlords, this hybrid is a lifesaver and he does it all while wearing tights. I've never worn tights before. But can safely say that if i did, it would diminish my life-saving abilities considerably. Although if you do ever see me running around in tights and a cape, get out of my way yeah? I have lives to save. Or I've become clinically insane. Maybe that's where the phrase "batshit insane" comes from? Perhaps friends of Batman created it. "Did you hear about Martin?" "Oh God, yeah, he's gone batshit insane. I saw him running through a field in tights and a cape, screaming about some guy called the Joker."

If i had to choose to be any superhero though, it would be Batman. His powers don't come from technology, like Iron Man. He isn't from a distant planet, like Superman and he isn't overly concerned with hiding his true sexuality, Spiderman...

Batman uses his drive for vengeance as his superpower and that's a lesson for kids everywhere. You don't need special powers or technology. Just put on a cape and some tights and go kick some ass. Or help people, whatever. Thwack!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can I Get Off My High Horse Now, Please?

My athletic prowess is generally limited to a quick game of Frogger on those old arcade machines. (I get winded if it starts to carry on too long.) So horseback riding seemed like a bit of a stretch, but my girlfriend at the time had told me many times before she wanted to try it, and for her birthday this seemed like the perfect occasion to give it a go. Plans were made and YouTube horse riding lessons were viewed. I would be a pro.

It was on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon that we arrived at our gated destination. After a quick and formal introduction to the various horses in the stable, we met with the instructors who guided us through the ins and outs and the for-the-love-of-God, don't-touch-them-there's of horse riding procedure. I was told that the animal that would be my partner for the 2-hour country stroll was named Daisy. Aww, Daisy. Probably the kind of animal that's used to carting around 50-pound children. How would she possibly manage to get through a 2-hour stint with this full-grown adult man on her back? When Daisy was guided around the corner of the stable by a legion of staff from the facility, however, I was shocked to see that Daisy was only marginally smaller than most apartment buildings.

As the instructor gave me a knowing head nod, in the "what are you waiting for? get on". kind of way, that only a sporting instructor can do, I looked around expectantly for a Sherpa or two to emerge from the stable doors to guide me on the steep incline toward the distant summit of this majestic animal. No such luck. I was the last of the group to get on my horse. And so I suffered through the muffled laughs and sssh's of the children and their parents who had joined us for the trip as I grabbed and pulled my way up. Once I had successfully grappled with Daisy long enough, she eventually allowed me to rest on her back. I was already out of breath, yet still defiant and proud of my negotiating the trip to the vast wasteland of Daisy's peak. After a faint tug of the reins we were in business.

There was an instructor leading the excursion, followed by the riders who followed single-file through to an instructor at the back of the group as we made our way around the dusty trails in the woodland. The views were picturesque and my girlfriend seemed to be enjoying the journey so I felt pretty pleased at this point with my idea. All was going well. At least, until Daisy noticed a creature in the field ahead, possibly a dog. I got an inkling that all wasn't quite right in Daisy's world when she started making grumbling noises. What happened next would vastly alter the intricate dynamics of my relationship with Daisy.

Before the trip, I was informed that riding a horse would be just like driving a car. But, in my experience at least, cars, when they notice other, smaller vehicles, generally don't charge through other cars, in the process making those other cars angry at your car and by extension, you, the poor soul "driving" it, on its' way to a destination only known to the car itself.

"Kick her!" I heard in the distance from the instructor at the tail-end of the group as Daisy galloped through the crowd. Kick her?! I would do no such thing. The horse had been in control this whole time and i refused to anger her anymore by flailing a stray size-10 human foot in the direction of her gigantic equine hind leg. I like animals. Not enough to stop eating some members of their community, obviously. But enough to know that physically kicking them would be wrong and, in this situation, blatantly stupid. "Pull on the reins!" was another piece of advice offered, this time by the instructor in front. What? You mean that tiny piece of errant plastic which couldn't restrain a deceased feline let alone a charging horse? A piece of plastic that had been discarded by the charging animal about 100 yards back as trees whizzed by us in a blur? No, that was no longer a viable option.

We eventually ended our terrifying 2-minute romantic jaunt by resting in a nearby field. She had decided it was better to stop and eat some dry grass than continue her chase and, as my heart-rate started to slow down to a mere 300-beats-a-minute, I was delighted with her decision.

Daisy and I were guided back on to the woodland path by the instructors who were appalled at my refusal to obey their ridiculous mid-gallop commands and now she, to her credit was quite calm and quiet. It was as if the last few moments of our time together were just a run-of-the-mill everyday event for Daisy, as she trotted her way around the rest of the paths.

After we had negotiated the rest of the trail and I had para-sailed my way down to the ground, I was greeted by my still laughing girlfriend. My near death experience had apparently made her day. I had unknowingly provided her with a perfect birthday gift. As we watched Daisy being led back to her stable, she turned her gigantic neck and looked back towards me, as if to say "you're welcome."

Now, 3 years on, I have not forgotten the eventful hours that Daisy and I spent together. And if I'm feeling especially brave, I might even consider going horseback-riding again, once the night terrors end.

PS. Don't let this put you off horseback riding. This sort of event is rare, I'm sure. And although most of the people on our trip were under-10 years of age, each of them had little difficulty managing their animals.