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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Instant Mixed Messages

Before I get going on this small post, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on my previous "how to lose a girl.." post. Your advice and kind words are much appreciated. Now that's out of the way, please enjoy a short journey into the murky depths of my Monday morning so far :

I had left my computer on overnight to allow an email attachment to download. When i awoke, i noticed i had recieved some instant messages. Nothing new there. However, the messages themselves were quite original. The MSN name has been changed. After each message is my reaction after reading.

Chris says : Listen, you can shove it. Honestly i don't care anymore, i've had enough of this sh*t. You don't care, you don't listen at all and you probably aren't even listening to me right now but i dont give a f*ck. I'm going to tell it to you like it i

What the..

Chris says : it is, you're a whore, you've always been a whore.

I guess i am a little promiscuous..

Chris says : Sorry, man, wrong box.

I must blog this.

Nothing like starting off the day being called a whore. On the plus side, at least i deflected some of Chris's ire from his intended recipient.