Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Everyone Loves a Parade

Yes, that is me with Mario Andretti! This was one of my highlights from this year's Products Parade.

But Kef, what is this Products Parade of which you speak?

My first response to that is who are you? None of my friends' grammar is that good. Next response is to describe it to you.

Every year the Tire has a Dealer Convention. This is where each of the Associate Dealers of our some 500 stores gather in one city for meetings, fun, etc. Part of this event is the Products Parade. I and the rest of Team 188 come in here.

Each buying team is responsible for several booths at this trade show type gathering. They can bring in vendors, product displays, or new store merchandising ideas for the Dealers to look at. Now if you have nothing to do with retailing, then you are probably bored already, so I will quickly move on.

My part, and the part of the rest of my team, was to get ready for the show, then man the booths. Tuesday and Wednesday were setup days then Thursday and Friday we were on. The best part about the week was the funny stuff that I and my team got into, and the funny pictures I got of a lot of this happening. The last post shows some of the fun of the setup days. Colic will never live down that "smile" if you can call it that.

Other highlights included:

The "one hour" mid-day trip back to the office.
Truman (on the cell): You seen Colic?
Harrison: Colic is MIA!

The morning stop at Timmy's.
Colic (on the cell): TRUMAN! We love you! So... We were wondering... since we're coming to get you... if you wouldn't mind... maybe... if you have time...
Truman: Colic. Tell me what you want before I strangle you through the phone.

The cool stuff they had at the show. That is a real Orange County Chopper.

The chics hanging out on the cool stuff they had at the show.

Relaxing with the freebies near the end of the show.

Or, just relaxing in general at the end of the show.

This is Stewie, our current co-op. His name isn't really Stewie, but Colic thought he looked like a Stewie, so that is now his name.

We can celebrate with friends that we made it...

After the final tear down.

And it is always good to catch the boss looking confused.

All in all it was a fun, if not slightly stressful week.

And, a few days away from the desk does wonders.

All for now,

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Maybe I'll just keep watching

Just got done watching the CSI season premier. Remember how I said how much I love that show and that I was mad at my guidance councilor because I could have been an awesome CSI?

I was wrong.

I think I need to stick to watching the show and not dream about actually having the job. Today while watching the excellent first episode of the season, I almost puked.

**Side note: I contemplated long and hard on what phrase to use there. Puked, threw up, regurgitate, yakked, barfed, lost my lunch, tossed my cookies, whistled beef, did the technicolour yawn... Puked seemed to work, but I need to let you in on the process.

If the visual representation of the scene in question was enough to illicit a gag reflex, then I can only imagine what it would be like to be there...smelling it.

That's all I will say as I don't want to give anything away to those who may have taped, PVRd or Tivod it. I will say though, that "Technically that makes you a cannibal" will go down in history as an instant classic line from this show. And Sara is still hot. (Just needed to point that out.)

In work related news, the Dealer Convention is this week so I have been down at the CNE for most of the week setting up, and then today displaying our booths at the show. There may be some funny stories to tell when it is all said and done. And I may have some funny pictures to go along with those stories. I'll have to be careful with that however, I still have to share the power cube with the rest of Team 188.

Ah heck, how bad could it be? Here are some preliminary favs from setup days!

All for now,

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Wedding Singer?

First off, let me say Congrats to Rob and Erica! I am so happy for the both of you and may God bless you in your new life together.

Yes, I was at another wedding. That's four this year, plus my cousin's next month to make five, plus I missed one as it was the same day as my Sis'. It's getting a little crazy as I have mentioned before. But, I love weddings. The ones with dances are the best because you can catch your friends doing some crazy stuff.

Like dancing:

Sometimes you just gotta shake it I guess.

Oh yeah, that's Kelford. He also likes to sing:

To the ladies...

Of course, sometimes my friends catch me doing crazy stuff too.

But I get them back.

I might not survive this one ;)

All for now,

(oh yeah...more photos of the day here)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Have you seen this?

This is Su Doku. Su Doku is a puzzle. I like puzzles.

Puzzles keep me occupied on the bus to work. Puzzles wake my brain up in the morning when I am in a bit of a fog. Puzzles keep me sharp and force me to think logically.

You'll notice that Su Doku is a number puzzle. I am way better at number puzzles than word type puzzles. There are two reasons for this. I don't think I have that broad a vocabulary, (I use the thesaurus a lot,) and I can't spell. With number puzzles, 3 always comes before 4, 6+8 always equals 14, and there are only 10 digits for me to make any number I could possibly want. With words, there are 26 letters, multiple ways to spell words depending on location, (honour vs. honor,) and "i" definitely does NOT always come before "e", especially after "c".

I've always had a bit of a calculator head or analytical mind. My favourite subjects in high school next to music were math and physics. I was on the Math League team, (it's like Reach for the Top but math only,) and the Science Olympics team, and even in band I could tell how far out of tune someone was by counting the beats of the offset frequency vibrations. Wow I was a nerd!

I guess I still am a nerd because these puzzles really keep me occupied. I mean, head down nose in the book don't talk to me occupied. Just ask me how many transit stops I've missed since I got this book.

Three. In two days. Twice on the same trip.

Monday at lunch I picked up a book of Su Doku puzzles from the local Indigo. Good deal, only $4! Well, my ride home consists of two subway stops and a 25 minute bus ride. When I was on the train, I didn't even look up until I had finished one puzzle and noticed the doors were closing on stop three of two. At this point I actually considered going to the end and riding back, (only two more stops north, then three back.) I rushed the doors though and made my way to my bus.

On the bus the tunnel vision returned. Again, I looked up only as I finished a puzzle and thought to myself as I looked out the window, "Hey, there's the pizza place I like. Funny, I thought that was two stops past the bus stop for my apartment." It is. So now I had a fifteen minute hike back to the apartment. Just enough time to get into another puzzle right? I got a little bit smarter at this point and put the book away. Otherwise I'd probably end up as a hood ornament as I crossed the street.

So I learned my lesson right? Nope. Next morning I get out the book while on the bus. Luckily the bus route ends at the subway station and I have to exit to go to the train. The subway stop I need however has less distinction. I almost trampled an old lady when I lunged at the doors.

I drove to work today. Don't worry, the book's at home.

All for now, Kef...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Loooonnnngggg meeting

The after meeting meeting of the board meeting I was just at was good. But that means the length of the night was not good.

Too tired. Even my vocabulary is not good. Talk to you all tomorrow.

All for now,

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm at a place called Vertigo

Monday was supposed to be a good day. I know this sounds weird for a guy that works an office job, but there is a very good reason that I will explain in a minute. I was on my way to work, driving my car as there was somewhere I needed to be after work, when I encountered a problem:


(note: if you can't believe this actually happened or are tired of me complaining about my car, you can skip ahead to here "******" to hear about the good part of the day)

BAH! Driving along Eglinton, (a main street in T.O.) trying to make the shift from 2nd to 3rd gear, and the clutch gets stuck. And this is not just the "slow release on a cold morning" stuck. This is a "someone put a block of wood under the pedal" stuck. Luckily I have some momentum and I can get on to a side street. I force the car out of gear to prevent a stall and proceed to try the clutch again. When I press down I hear a "click" which was probably more like a "ka-snap" and then the pedal is free. Free as in not actually moving the clutch any more, just swinging free under my left foot.

Naturally my first reaction is to laugh. But it wasn't an amused bit of laughter, it was more the insane cackle of a madman. I think I may have scared a girl walking to school. Next action was to call the dealership to ask them what they screwed up when they put it back together last time. He can't figure what it might have been, but offered to pay for the tow back to the shop.

So I am back on the bus and off to work to make plans for the after work portion of this day because I will not let this trouble ruin what I have in store for the evening.

Monday was the day I had tickets to U2 at the ACC!

That's right, I went to the first of four shows of the Vertigo tour here in Toronto. As always, the good old Irish boys did not disappoint. They came out with Vertigo of course, then came right back with I Will Follow. One of the latest hits, and one of their first. They really know how to play to the crowd that spanned ages from 8 or 9, to those into their sixties or more. The crowd that I went with was a bit like that. Me, The Roomy, Katie, Giggles, Warren (the girls' Dad) and Tim (their Uncle.)

All night they rocked out a good mix of the new and old, sometimes changing them up a bit, and other times just letting us all sing while they listened. They brought back some favourite memories of mine by coming out for the first encore, Bono dressed as he was back on the Zoo TV tour and playing Zoo Station. Then, they nearly brought me to tears with an acoustic rendition of Yahweh, my personal favourite from Atomic Bomb.

All around it was a great show, and I know why I keep going back whenever they are in town. Even when we got in the van at the end of the night to rehash the best moments, and lament the fact that they didn't play Mysterious Ways, we know that we witnessed a group of masters at work. A group of men that have made it their business to move us in more ways than one with their chosen craft. A group of men that have, and will, continue to bridge age, race, and gender gaps with their brand of entertaining. A group of men that I can wake up the next morning and feel comfortable, if not a little proud of sharing with others the fact that I saw U2 live.

This morning was tough. DiPede was there and we wanted to talk about the show, but Colic was mad that she couldn't go. She seemed angered by something I did, too. I mean I thought I was being thoughtful by calling her voicemail from my cell during Sunday Bloody Sunday to let her hear.

It might take a Timmy's or two to make up for that one...

All for now,

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More from the office

Time for the Tire Moment of the Week!

This week goes to Truman again. She was having a rough day Friday. Her shoes that looked like they should have been comfortable were hurting her feet, things were not going her way, and I guess her lunch kinda got away on her. I'll play it out for you.

Scene: At the Subway at lunch. Kef, Colic and Truman decided they needed to get away from the desks for a little bit. We had finished lunch and were getting to the point we should head back...
Truman: I have to go to the bathroom. [stands up]
Truman: My foot hurts. :(
Truman: And there's lettuce on my chair. :(
Truman: And now I'm becoming one of those girls that complains about everything. :(

I couldn't help it. It was kinda cute and it made Colic and me both laugh so it gets the spot this week. There were a couple other moments that were in the running this week and I feel they deserve honourable mentions.

Honourable mention #1: At the start of this same lunch on Friday when we were still deciding where to eat. Standing on the corner of Yonge and Eglinton.
Colic: How about Spring Rolls?
Truman: Meh
Kef: Meh. The bagel place?
Colic: Meh.
Truman: I'm off bagels. (more on that later)
Colic: How about Swiss Charlet? (it's what she calls Swiss Chalet) You guys feel like a quarter chicken?
Kef: ummm...
Truman: ummm...
Colic: You don't have to get the quarter chicken, you could get the kaiser on a bun.
Truman: The kaiser IS the bun.
Colic: [confused look] Oh yeah!

Honourable mention #2: This one stems from a challenge that was put forth to the members of my power cube, by us, so I guess it is basically a self-challenge. Our buying team number is 188. So, we have started the Team 188 Health Challenge. It started as a way to cheer/egg each other on with regard to becoming healthier in our day to day living, instead of just talking like we might at some point get healthy.

The Challenge has the following five rules:

1. Must work out twice / week.

2. Only eat chocolate once / week. (Excluding chocolate milk)

3. Must bring lunch twice / week.

4. Must drink 1.5 L of water / day.

5. Must eat one snack of fruit or vegetable / day at work.

They are pretty simple rules that may seem easy to follow, but we wanted to give ourselves something we could achieve before setting the bar too high. Rule 2 comes from the fact that our team has somewhat of an addiction to chocolate. Mini candy bars, Tim Horton's hot chocolate, etc. But, one of the only things that keeps Truman coming in to work each day is her chocolate milk in the morning, so we decided that it was probably healthy enough to let her have it.

We have each set personal goals for this challenge and are measuring them with a weigh in each Thursday morning. I brought in my scales that give weight and body fat percentage. Now, I can't post what each team member's stats were or the only thing you would be reading from now on would be unfinished manuscripts published posthumously to this blog, but I can tell you what we learned from the first weigh in:

The girls don't need to participate in the Team 188 Health Challenge, only the boys do.

Upon recording each team member's first weigh in, I did some research on body fat percentages and what they mean. DiPede and I have some work to do. The girls on the other hand have a head start, in fact we discovered that Colic is actually in the range they attribute to athletes.

This started a bit of fun with the team. You see, Colic is what you might call, a "girlie girl." Athlete is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of her. For example, earlier in the summer Truman and I were talking about softball which we both play, when I mentioned I got a triple. Colic asked what a triple was. Yes, it may be an honest question and I am not criticizing, but it is not a question an "athlete" would ask.

So, when Colic discovered that she had the body fat percentage of an athlete, she got up and proceeded to "run" around the power cube while singing the Rocky theme. (Bonus points to the first person to tell me the title of the “Rocky Theme” song.) So, except that there wasn't any real dialogue involved in this incident, it might have been this week's Moment.

Now I think I am going to go get this week's chocolate out of the way early.

All for now,

Friday, September 09, 2005

Stupid car

There she is, and she's back on the road. If you've been following along, you'll know I was a little worried about what this was going to cost. All told, it wasn't as bad as I, or several others I know that "know" about cars, thought it might have cost. For instance, when my step-dad heard about the blown engine, the first thing out of his mouth was, "there goes $5000-6000." Yikes. In the end, the following was done:

Engine - out of a wreck, with only 41,000km, which is 63,000 less than I had, ("good news!" the optimist says)
Rad - replaced and filled with coolant of course
Thermostat - new
Timing belt - new
Fan belt - new
Plugs and wires - newer, (the ones in the wreck were better than mine)
Fly Wheel - Machined
Oil change
Transmission fluid changed
3 back recalls completed, (apparently when I moved I stopped getting them)

All for the low low price of $2650.
Plus the original $90.
Plus the time at the Tire $45.
Plus the tow across the city $60.
Final damage $2845.

The guy at my dealership was really good, and did help out a lot compared to what I was quoted elsewhere so it is hard for me to complain too much.
But it still SUCKS! This goes as far as the dreaded Completely Sucks. The farthest down the scale of the Westside Awesomeness/Suckiness scale. BAH!

Oh what I could've done with $2845...
I could've bought my new camera AND two lenses and been well on my way to being a famous photographer.
I could've gone to Sydney and learned how to surf.
I could've seen 167 movies, and had a drink and popcorn, (I hate popcorn, but I could've had it!)
I could've bought 1,085 Starbucks Grande Americanos, 2,473 Twix bars, 28,450 sour keys, or 284,500 gummie bears, all of which would have made me WAY happier then spending that money on my car. Again I say BAH!

What can I do? I guess I'll have to go back to selling used shoelaces for extra cash...

All for now,

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

There is no joy in Mudville...

Ok, so last week when we had our "last" baseball game I thought that would be it, and I was fine with it. It turns out that there was some misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a player for playoffs, (read: they had some ringers) so we came to a compromise of a rematch tonight.

So now I have to drag out my glove and cleats again and I am not that excited about it, because as I said before, I was ok with the transition into winter sports happening soon. But I slowly get my psyched up for the game and we go out tonight to better last week's performance.

Getting down 11-0 after three innings was not a good start.

They were hitting me left right and centre. I may have struck out one in the first three innings and they actually got to ten batters in the third, (ten batters is the mercy rule in all but the last inning.) But, in the bottom of three we turned on the bats. We started chipping away at the lead and the defense was holding to three or four batters an inning. When we finally get to the bottom the seventh inning, (last inning,) the game is tied 15-15. We need one run to win the game and get to the next round of playoffs.

First batter strikes out. Second batter gets a single. Third batter a double putting runners 2nd and 3rd with one out. Next batter grounds to the pitcher and they turn to 1st quickly and are ready for the throw back home so now it is 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Next batter is Hopper, a spray hitter that can literally put it anywhere there is green. Pitcher gets one strike then throws four away to "intentionally" walk him. See, you can't walk a guy on purpose to get to a girl batter in this league. The penalty for walking a guy on four straight with no strikes is he goes to 2nd and that would have won us the game. So the pitcher gets the strike then throws four to put him on 1st so they can load the bases and have a force out at each spot.

Their problem was the next girl batter for our team was a chick we like to call Boomer.

When Hopper was being walked, you could see that she was not happy. You could tell that she thought it was a cheap thing to do and I'll bet that she thought they were just trying to get past a guy to have an "easy out" with a girl batter, even though the loading the bases for the last out strategy was sound. You could see her just steaming, itching to show this team what a big mistake they had made putting her up at the plate.

First pitch - perfect strike, just what Boomer wanted. She never takes the bat off the shoulder unless she has a strike against her.
Second pitch - swing right through, line drive to the gap in right centre. Easily a stand up double and the winning run jogs in from 3rd!

Boomer showed them what a big mistake they had made putting her up at the plate.

We won the game and made it to the next round of the playoffs. Well, remember that this was a rematch. This wasn't a planned game and didn't really fit in to the schedule. Guess when the next round of the playoffs was. Right after the game I just told you about.

We lost this game, 17-5, and I don't really feel that any details are worth it. I could make excuses. In fact I will. I was tired. I pitched ten innings all told tonight. My backup was tired too, (even though I think she pitched way better than me the second game.) We were all tired. But they were also a good team...are a good team. We have known the Rebels for years and I always like to play against them. I hope they do well in the next round.

So now I go to bed in pain. Yes, I hurt myself playing baseball, it can happen, and I don't care if people laugh at me at work tomorrow. My hip hurts, my knee hurts, and my hand hurts, all from a single that I never should have even thought of stretching into a double.

It was worth it for the look I got from the coach on 1st!

All for now,

Monday, September 05, 2005

Good thing that picture fell behind the desk

A photo of photos. This is how I decorate. I take pictures of stuff then put it up on my walls to look at. We've been in this apartment for more than a year and a half and this is the first bit of "decorating" that has been done in the main room, (other than the paint which helps a bit.) But until this weekend we had three really big, empty, brown walls.

Now we have two! But it's a start. Heck, I still don't have curtains.

I had a pretty lazy day. But to be honest, I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. I mean, I did some laundry, but that is just going up and down in the elevator a few times. The machines really do all the work. I hung up those photos, but really that was just the hammering of four nails as they were framed more than a week ago, (hurray for procrastination!) I went for a walk, but that was just down to the Pizza Pizza because all I have to eat in the house is frozen breakfast sausages and milk.

The crowning achievement of my day however, was the fact that I watched eight hours of CSI. That's right, other than the walk, and the break to play playstation with a couple of friends that came over, I did nothing but watch Grissom and the team solve the crimes of Las Vegas with their quick wit and the awesomeness of science.

I love this show, and I mean I truly enjoy watching it. It is the only show I make a point to watch each week. In fact it may be the only show I watch other than sports and Sportcentre. It reminds me that science rules, (Thank you Bill Nye.) It reminds me that you can't get away with a crime, (and that makes me feel better.) It reminds me that the guidance councilors at my high school sucked, (I totally could have been a CSI.)

Watching this much of the show I love in one sitting though, has started to remove a bit, (but just a bit,) of the magic. I start to realize where Hollywood steps in to keep us glued to the set hour after hour. Here are a few of examples, and I'll apologize ahead of time if I ruin the experience for any of you.

1. The phone always rings at just the right time.
Not only do the callers wait until the very end of the important conversation that is currently happening, they more often than not provide the key information the CSI was just waiting for. The other side of the coin is when the caller phones at just the right time to bail out the CSI from a conversation that isn't going so well, (like when Grissom has to deal with that egotistical sheriff that moonlights as the President's head of security on 24.)

2. The CSI in Las Vegas sometimes get lucky.
That is the only word I can think of for this one. I'll give you an example. Sara and Grissom are looking at the pictures on the wall of a patient in a mental hospital. They are noticing the dark nature of the art he has created and discussing the origin of the images. One of those nature versus nurture conversations. Sara reaches for one of the drawings and it falls off the wall and behind the desk. To retrieve the lost drawing they move the desk out and this reveals a ventilation grate. Sara tests the grate and it opens easily to reveal what I can only describe as a whack of evidence.

3. Tests and searches happen much faster for the Las Vegas CSI.
When you put a fingerprint in the computer to look for a match, it takes minutes. DNA tests come back while you're still on shift, and almost always with conclusive results. Autopsies are performed immediately and the doctor can always walk the CSI through the most important part so they can help form the conclusion. The Photoshop techs are better than any I have ever seen. Did you know there is a wipe that completely restores a person's face to it's original state?

I still love the show. I just think I need to stick to the one hour a week, (with maybe one or two reruns a week.)

All for now,

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tire Moment of the Week

Remember my work colleagues? Remember the tidbits of wisdom that I get from them and the fun we seem to have. Well we do. To refresh, I share what I call a power-cube, (others might call it a pod,) with Truman, Colic, and DiPede. We started a new tradition this week.

The "Tire Moment of the Week."

It sounds pretty big, and it should probably be the "Team 188 Moment of the Week" but we started it, so we get to name it. This whole thing started with the original Quote of the Now which was, "Autumn is like Sunday." This indescribably brilliant piece of wisdom came from the mind of Colic, but at the time we did not know it was only the beginning. We started to notice that on occasion, the silence, or current conversation, was broken by an astonishing, yet completely random statement by one of us in the power-cube. This moment was usually followed by great pause, then me saying, "I'm writing this down."

And so started the List.

The List is the series of sticky notes along the ledge of my shelf on which is written all of the noteworthy, uncanny utterances. It was decided that at the end of each week, we should choose a favourite from the weekly List. So, at noon today, Friday September 2nd, we made the call on the first ever Tire Moment of the Week.

This one needs a little background, let me set it up for you:

Part 1: Monday morning, DiPede arrives at work and relates the tale of his summer roller hockey team. They spent most of the season in last place but by some miracle, they squeaked into the playoffs, won a series of games, then defeated the best team in the league for the championship. Each player on his team received a medal to commemorate this event. Naturally feeling proud of this accomplishment, he brings the medal in to share with the team.

Part 2: Completely unrelated to Part 1: Truman is preparing for what we call a "Big Think" meeting off site for the remainder of Monday and Tuesday. They will be thinking strategically about her business and basically ripping it apart piece by piece, so of course she is a little nervous.

Part 1 and 2 come together:
Truman: Ok peoples! See you all Wednesday. Off to the big meeting. Wish me luck!
DiPede: Wanna take the medal?
Truman: Yeah Ok! [takes the medal, folds the ribbon, and places in her pocket]
Colic: [bursts out laughing]
Kef: This is going on the list

All week we would come across a moment and wonder if it was the next big one, but every time we did we kept coming back to the fact that Truman took DiPede's hockey medal to the "Big Think" as inspiration.

Some times it's amazing we get so much, (read: anything at all,) done!

All for now,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Seasons change

Another season comes to a close for the Wishing Well mixed softball team.

First game of playoffs was last night. Last game of playoffs was last night. Kinda sucked. It was a team we beat early in the season, then lost to later, but when I gave up two home runs in the first inning and another in the second, I knew we were in for a tough one. A few mistakes, (other than me serving up meatballs for them to knock over the fence,) and not enough bats finally did us in though.

I can honestly say that I wasn't that sorry to see this one end though. I mean, don't get me wrong, losing sucks, but that feeling passed pretty quickly this time. There was some strange goings on in the league this year, fighting and complaining and the like, so I wasn't too upset to see it over.

As baseball comes to a close however, it has me thinking of my winter sport.

That's right, it is almost time again for CURLING. Yes, curling. For my winter sport I carry a stick, (broom actually,) but rather than wear blades on my feet, I hurl 44 lb stones down a painted sheet of ice. I won't try to justify the sport to you. Just know that it is fun and it was invented by the Scots. Yes, the same people who brought us golf, bagpipes, and my favourite, caber tossing.

In other completely unrelated topics, it is long weekend coming up. Labour day! I get to celebrate the fact that until I retire, I will be spending about one third of my life "labouring" toward some kind of freedom. I guess I can celebrate the fact that I am working, or can work. Plus this is a holiday we in the North share with our US neighbours, unlike some of the other long weekends. You know, we celebrate dead Queen's birthdays, they celebrate dead President's birthdays. I think we should celebrate birthdays of people who are alive. I think they would appreciate it more. Heck, I always take MY birthday off and I totally love that!

This weekend I am not going away though. No cottage or camping or trip of any kind, (can't really afford it right now.) I am however taking care of my friend's cat. I think by taking care, they just want me to make sure it is fed for the next few days, but I am going to make sure it gets some attention, too. In fact, I think I am going to try and train it some new tricks.

I wonder if it can climb the curtains yet?

All for now,