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Bill

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Don't have a LiveJournal of your own? [01 Jan 2025|12:00pm]
*** IMPORTANT NOTICE TO THOSE WHO USE THE guestofbiw ACCOUNT: The password has been changed. There really hasn't been anything new added there in quite some time, but if you're interested in the new password, please let me know, and i'll reply to you by email.

If you're a Real Life friend of mine and you don't wanna miss a beat, click this link to read what's behind the cut.Collapse )
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[28 Nov 2008|06:20am]
 Wow.  It has been a long time since i've written anything here.  I thought it had been a long time since anyone had written anything here.  But i was wrong.

I don't really have the motivation to get back into LJ with anything even remotely like gusto ... but it may be time to rethink my relationship with it.  Well, that time is not exactly now, of course, because i have to go to work in a few minutes ... but soon.  Yes, soon, i will return to reconcile with LiveJournal...
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'Tis The Night Before OSCAR... [23 Feb 2008|10:03pm]
...and i'm runnin' a bit late for work, so i can't chat long.

I'll be in Creston tomorrow night, and i'll be watchin' the big show from the comfort of my hotel room. I wonder what kinda show it will be, with the writers just returning to work a couple of weeks ago. My hunch is that the writers would have had all sorts of ideas while walkin' the line -- it'll just be a matter of gettin' those ideas onto the stage. I'm looking forward to it...

As i've mentioned before, i've been a bit disappointed this year at the difficulty i've had in seeing the nominated films. But i guess that just happens sometimes.

So, the final score is:

Seen 'Em -- 31 of 44 nominated films (70%), compared with 77% last year

Across The Universe
American Gangster
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
Away From Her
The Bourne Ultimatum
Charlie Wilson's War
Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Golden Compass
Gone Baby Gone
In The Valley Of Elah
Into The Wild
Juno
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
No End In Sight
Norbit
Once
Persepolis
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
Ratatouille
The Savages
Sicko
Surf's Up
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood
3:10 To Yuma
Transformers
La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

Missed 'em

August Rush (Original Song)
Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) (Cinematography, Directing for Julian Schnabel, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay)
Enchanted (3 nominations for Original Song)
I'm Not There (Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay)
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

I have seen all the films nominated in 13 of 21 categories (excluding Shorts):
Leading & Supporting Actor & Actress categories, Animated Feature, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.

And this is who i would like to see win in some of the categories for which i've seen all the films:

Best Actor -- Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Best Supporting Actor -- Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)
Best Actress -- Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Animated Feature -- Persepolis
Original Score -- 3:10 To Yuma
Best Picture -- No Country For Old Men

...but i don't really feel very strongly about any of 'em. I enjoyed most of this year's films very much -- i particularly enjoyed watching some of them at home on my new TV! -- but i don't think this year's awards will be swept away by any one film ... and perhaps that's a good thing.

I hope that everyone has a happy Oscar night!
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5 Days Until OSCAR... [19 Feb 2008|04:38pm]
Another Sunday night in Creston -- another disappointing evening at the movies.

There's one "bucket" where i think The Bucket List belongs, i tell ya. First things first, the film opens with narration from Morgan Freeman -- right there, that's a cliché on top of a cliché, isn't it? But it's not just that. Freeman, in character as one of the two old guys in the movie, is talking about the death of the other old guy, played by Jack Nicholson. So, the audience is led to believe that not only does Freeman's character live to tell the tale, as they say, but also that Nicholson's character dies first. Before Freeman's character dies.

Wrong. And wrong again.

Sorry to spoil the end of the movie for you, but Morgan Freeman's character dies first. But not to worry, Jack Nicholson's character dies too. And to make all of that perfectly clear, Morgan Freeman comes back to narrate the final minutes of the film -- post-mortem.

But it's not just the narration that i have issue with, even though it feels as though someone at some point must have said, "Hey Meathead, we can't have a dead character narrate the film -- at least not without some artsy irony." And then Rob Reiner said something like, "Hey, uhh, how would ya like to try this here chair? 'Cuz that one's mine!" The film feels like a collage of scenes pulled together like letters in a ransom note. Some are from the New York Times; some are from the Weekly World News. Well, okay, there's probably not one from the New York Times, but a good handful from the Toronto Star.

Back to the standings, loyal readers.

From this year's list of 44 nominated films, i've now seen 29:

Across The Universe
American Gangster
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
Away From Her
The Bourne Ultimatum
Charlie Wilson's War
Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Golden Compass
Gone Baby Gone
Juno
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
No End In Sight
Norbit
Once
Persepolis
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
Ratatouille
The Savages
Sicko
Surf's Up
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood
3:10 To Yuma
Transformers
La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

1 film on DVD, right here in my living room ready to go:

In The Valley Of Elah

1 film showing in Kelowna tonight:

Into The Wild

Nothing playing in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon that i still need to see!

That leaves me stumped for 13 films:

August Rush (Original Song)
Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) (Cinematography, Directing for Julian Schnabel, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay)
Enchanted (3 nominations for Original Song)
I'm Not There (Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay)
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

Once i've seen In The Valley Of Elah and Into The Wild, i will have seen all the films nominated in 13 of 21 categories (excluding Shorts):
Leading & Supporting Actor & Actress categories, Animated Feature, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.

Still, 3 of the Big 8 categories have eluded me -- i won't be able to as completely invest myself emotionally in the awarding of statuettes for Directing, Adapted Screenplay, or Original Screenplay. This disturbs me.
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12 Days until OSCAR... [12 Feb 2008|04:06pm]
Every Sunday night, while on my layover in Creston, i go across the street to the Tivoli Theatre to see whatever movie it is that they're showing that week. A lot of the time, they have a terrible movie. This week was one of those weeks. I saw National Treasure: Book Of Secrets, 124 minutes of my life that i will never get back.

Just now, i finished watching Gone Baby Gone, one of this year's Oscar-nominated films, in the Best Supporting Actress category for Amy Ryan.

And i have some questions.

Does anyone remember the last time Nicolas Cage was in a good movie? Has Jon Voight ever been a good actor? What the hell were the great Helen Mirren, Ed Harris and Harvey Keitel doing in a piece of junk like National Treasure: Book Of Secrets? Would that movie have been any less horrible if i was familiar with the backstory of the film's 2004 less-specifically-titled prequel, National Treasure? Or would that just be a combined 255 minutes i would never get back? Yes, i said 255 minutes for those two films.

How is it that Gone Baby Gone made it through the theatres and onto DVD without a buzz? Do we still hate (pretty much first-time director) Ben Affleck that much for Gigli (or ... well ... pretty much anything else he has ever done)? This film was a wonderful example of storytelling, i thought. And the aforementioned Ed Harris was great! And has this been a great year for Casey Affleck, or what? He has done very well playing the role of the understated, conflicted, yet strong hero -- in both Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. And Ben, buddy, if this is the kinda film you're capable of making behind the camera, stay there -- for the love of God, stay there -- and let your little brother Casey do what he do.

Very soon, i'll be heading out the door for Vernon, where i hope to see a screening of The Golden Compass at 5.

Until then, here's the score...

From this year's list of 44 nominated films, i've now seen 27:

Across The Universe
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
Away From Her
The Bourne Ultimatum
Charlie Wilson's War
Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Gone Baby Gone
Juno
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
No End In Sight
Norbit
Once
Persepolis
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
Ratatouille
The Savages
Sicko
Surf's Up
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood
3:10 To Yuma
Transformers
La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

2 films on DVD next Tuesday:

American Gangster
In The Valley Of Elah

Only 1 film in Okanagan Theatres this week:

The Golden Compass

Nothing playing in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon that i still need to see!

That leaves me stumped for 14 films:

August Rush (Original Song)
Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) (Cinematography, Directing for Julian Schnabel, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay)
Enchanted (3 nominations for Original Song)
I'm Not There (Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett)
Into The Wild (Supporting Actor for Hal Holbrook, and Film Editing)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay)
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

Only 8 of 21 categories from which i've seen 'em all:
Leading Actress, Animated Feature, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, Best Picture, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing

Frustratingly, 6 of the Big 8 categories still elude me!
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18 days until OSCAR... [05 Feb 2008|07:58pm]
This past week was less successful than the previous week, no thanks to my late arrival in Vancouver on Thursday morning, preventing me from seeing one of the many films i could only see there.

So, from this year's list of 44 nominated films, i've now seen 23:

Across The Universe
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
Away From Her
The Bourne Ultimatum
Charlie Wilson's War
Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Juno
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
No End In Sight
Norbit
Once
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
Ratatouille
Sicko
Surf's Up
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
3:10 To Yuma
Transformers
La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

4 films on DVD soon:

Gone Baby Gone - on DVD 2/12
Into The Wild - on DVD 2/12
American Gangster - on DVD 2/19
In The Valley Of Elah - on DVD 2/19

3 films in Okanagan Theatres this week:

Into The Wild
There Will Be Blood
The Golden Compass

4 films i'll have to see in the Vancouver area:

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon)
Enchanted
Persepolis
The Savages

And 11 films that can't be seen (almost) anywhere:

August Rush (Original Song)
Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
I'm Not There (Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay)
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

4 of 21 categories from which i've seen 'em all:
Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, and Sound Mixing

I'm feeling a bit discouraged at the large number of films that are simply not showing anywhere anyhow. Why is it so difficult for someone as determined as i am to see a full quarter of this year's Oscar-nominated films? In fact, the list of can't-see-'em-anywheres has grown from last week!
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25 days until OSCAR... [30 Jan 2008|08:28am]
I think i've made an honourable leap forward in the number of films i've seen since the nominations were announced last week, but i'm a bit concerned about that lengthy list of films that can't be found anywhere. I guess time will tell...

So, from this year's list of 44 nominated films, i've now seen 19:

Across The Universe
Atonement
The Bourne Ultimatum
Charlie Wilson's War
Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Juno
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
No End In Sight
Norbit
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End
Ratatouille
Sicko
Surf's Up
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
3:10 To Yuma
La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

7 films on DVD now, or soon:

Away From Her
Once
Transformers

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford - on DVD 2/5
Gone Baby Gone - on DVD 2/12
American Gangster - on DVD 2/19
In The Valley Of Elah - on DVD 2/19

Zero films in Kelowna Theatres now!


9 films i'll have to see in Vancouver:

August Rush
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon)
Enchanted
The Golden Compass
I'm Not There
Into The Wild
Persepolis
The Savages
There Will Be Blood

And 9 films that can't be seen (almost) anywhere (so far):

Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay) -- the only place to see it in BC is Victoria!
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

3 of 21 categories from which i've seen 'em all:
Costume Design, Makeup, and Original Score

Of all the films i've seen this past week, i have to highly recommend Juno and The Kite Runner. They are both strong 9s (out of 10). Juno will grab you from the minute the opening titles begin -- they're so "indie" and endearing -- and the entire film is clever and wonderful. And The Kite Runner might take a little while to reach you, but once it does, it never lets go -- you will care deeply about every character in the film, even a couple who you might have disliked at first. I would also give strong 8s to Atonement and 3:10 To Yuma, with a special mention of the latter for being the first film i watched on my new TV!
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The Road To OSCAR ... but what will we find when we get there? [22 Jan 2008|02:54pm]
The Writers' strike will quite likely cause the Academy Awards show to go the way of the Golden Globes -- winners will be announced at a press conference, rather than the traditional red carpet and really big show.

Still, if anything might seduce me back to LiveJournal, i think we all knew it would be this: my annual race to see every nominated film. Nominees were announced today, and the awards will be presented (or, at least, announced) on Sunday, March 23rd. This year, i will be in Creston overnight on Oscar night -- you may recall that last year i was on my way home from Creston on Oscar Sunday when my bus broke down, causing me to be six hours late ... missing the much of the live broadcast of the show!

This year's list of nominees (not including short films) comes from 44 different films. So far, i've seen 12:

Across The Universe (Achievement in Costume Design)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing)
Charlie Wilson's War (Supporting Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Eastern Promises (Actor for Viggo Mortensen)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Actress for Cate Blanchett; and Costume Design)
Michael Clayton (Actor for George Clooney, Supporting Actor for Tom Wilkinson, Supporting Actress for Tilda Swinton, Directing for Tony Gilroy, Original Score, Best Picture, and Original Screenplay)
No Country For Old Men (Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem, Cinematography, Directing for Joel & Ethan Coen, Film Editing, Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Adapted Screenplay)
Norbit (Makeup)
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (Makeup, and Visual Effects)
Ratatouille (Animated Feature, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay)
Sicko (Documentary)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Actor for Johnny Depp, Art Direction, and Costume Design)

11 films on DVD now, or soon:

Away From Her (Actress for Julie Christie, and Adapted Screenplay)
La Vie En Rose (La Môme) (Actress for Marion Cotillard, Costume Design, and Makeup)
No End In Sight (Documentary)
Once (Original Song)
Surf's Up (Animated Feature)
3:10 To Yuma (Original Score, and Sound Mixing)
Transformers (Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects)

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Supporting Actor for Casey Affleck, and Cinematography) - on DVD 2/5
Gone Baby Gone (Supporting Actress for Amy Ryan) - on DVD 2/12
American Gangster (Supporting Actress for Ruby Dee, and Art Direction) - on DVD 2/19
In The Valley Of Elah (Actor for Tommy Lee Jones) - on DVD 2/19

4 films in Kelowna Theatres now:

Atonement (Supporting Actress for Saoirse Ronan, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score, Best Picture, and Adapted Screenplay)
Enchanted (3 nominations for Original Song)
The Golden Compass (Art Direction, and Visual Effects)
Juno (Actress for Ellen Page, Directing for Jason Reitman, Best Picture, and Original Screenplay)

8 films i'll have to see in Vancouver:

August Rush (Original Song)
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) (Cinematography, Directing for Julian Schnabel, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay)
I'm Not There (Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett)
Into The Wild (Supporting Actor for Hal Holbrook, and Film Editing)
The Kite Runner (Original Score)
Persepolis (Animated Feature)
The Savages (Actress for Laura Linney, and Original Screenplay)
There Will Be Blood (Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Art Direction, Cinematography, Directing for Paul Thomas Anderson, Film Editing, Best Picture, Sound Editing, and Adapted Screenplay)

And 9 films that can't be seen anywhere (so far):

Beaufort (Foreign)
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Foreign)
Katyn (Foreign)
Lars And The Real Girl (Original Screenplay)
Mongol (Foreign)
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience (Documentary)
Taxi To The Dark Side (Documentary)
12 (Foreign)
War / Dance (Documentary)

Now isn't the time for comments and predictions -- the mass media does a fine enough job of that ... but i have to say one thing: once again, the Animated Feature category is a joke. I've heard that Persepolis is amazing, but i've heard that from CBC Radio's "Q" host, Iranian-Canadian Jian Ghomeshi ... and Persepolis is based on the work of the Iranian-French writer, Marjane Satrapi. I'm looking forward to seeing it. But where is "The Simpsons Movie"? Did they not submit it? It was far more entertaining than Ratatouille! Hell, even Bee Movie was better than Ratatouille!

Anyway, as you can imagine, compiling this journal entry has been incredibly time consuming, so i should run along with the rest of my day ... which will now -- no doubt -- include a stop at the video store, and a visit or two to my local multiplex(es) tonight!

Oh yeah, and for a couple of last year's highlights, check out these old entries:

"A road less travelled ... this year ...", the 2007 version of today's entry

"...with connections in Kelowna for OSCAR...", my sad Oscar Sunday story of road failure
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Track 10... [30 Nov 2007|10:50pm]
Two great 80s tracks. Two great 80s bands. One great running time.
Don't try dancing to it. It often sounds like Roger Taylor and Mike Joyce are throwing drumsticks at each other. But other times, it sounds like Johnny Marr is playing to Simon LeBon's phrasing.
I'm really far too embarrassed to tell you how many times i've listened to this, but i assure you it never sounds the same twice.
This is something i've been playing with -- off and on -- since September of 2006, never being able to figure out how to make things mesh better. But tonight it occurred to me that it doesn't need to mesh better. It is its dissonance that makes it so delicious. The fact that i haven't made any splices or dices makes the synchronicities all the more compelling.

I hope that you'll have a listen and that you'll enjoy it. (Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what the letters in the title stand for!)

"G.O.W.O.F."


My earlier releases are:

"I Love Like That" (January 2005)
"Fakeout At The Stakeout" (January 2005)
"Apocalyptic Language" (October 2005)
"Apocalyptic Language (Paul Owens Belinda Mix)" (October 2005)
"Now Is The Time" (October 2005)
"Three Breaths" (March 2006)
"Everything Is Holy" (March 2006)
"Housedrops" (September 2006)
"The Only Avenue" (December 2006)


The dates above will link you to each song's original posting here in my journal.
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If only "bird" really was the word... [18 Jun 2007|12:03pm]
Last night, while getting ready for work, i was listening to CBC Radio One's "Writers & Company". The host, Eleanor Wachtel, was speaking with author Ian McEwan. In Eleanor's introduction, she said that she had been "reading Ian McEwan" for a long time ... but i had never heard of him.

I found the interview interesting, and i enjoyed it. In conversation, McEwan made reference to Kingsley Amis and Leo Tolstoy. I had a familiar feeling that i didn't belong in the room -- i had never heard of McEwan, i have never read any Tolstoy, and i've only ever read one book by Amis (Lucky Jim -- and i can't even remember if i enjoyed it). I'm sure there are many people who can't even claim as much as this, but still, i felt silently ashamed.

How can i even think that i might one day write a book when i have read so few?
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Stricken... [18 Jun 2007|11:41am]
Yesterday morning, a bomb ripped through a bus in Kabul, leaving nothing but a charred skeleton, throwing the mutilated bodies of 35 people in every direction.

Today, Canadian airports will begin screening all passengers against a "Specified Persons List" in hopes of making air travel safer.

Last night, in Kamloops, i needed police assistance in keeping a passenger from boarding my bus.

The man did not have a ticket -- only a receipt for return travel between two other points. When i told him he'd have to present a ticket, he stormed off, out the front door of the bus depot. Once i had completed my paper work and boarded my bus to conduct a head count, i discovered the man hiding in the washroom -- he had not locked the door, so that the "occupied" light would not be lit. When i asked him to get off the bus, he refused and caused a disturbance on the bus. When the police arrived, he gave them a hard time too.

When i got to Cache Creek, i tuned in to CBC's "Fifth Estate" -- they were airing the story of Stephen Marshall, the Cape Breton man who murdered two sex offenders in Maine before shooting himself in the head while on board a Greyhound bus bound for Boston earlier this year.

The concurrence of these things strikes me.
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The Good and The Bad. (Morricone not included) [15 Jun 2007|05:29pm]
I just got back from a very quick two-part errand trip.

My first stop was at work. Our new bid period begins on the 26th -- my bid time is on Sunday. Presumably a number of positions would have been bid on over the last few days that i've been off work, and i didn't want to wait until later tonight to see how things were going. It turns out that the math is not overwhelmingly in my favour for being able to hold a regular run this summer.

As it stands, there are only two positions still available -- the same night rotation i've been holding since January -- one with Tues/Wed off and another with Thur/Fri off. And there are six operators ahead of me who will bid before i do! And considering the surprises so far (one driver coming back from an LOA that i didn't know about, another driver bidding a regular run instead of the spareboard where he usually bids), there may yet be some surprises. Let's hope not. Of the six yet to bid, i know that one of them will certainly take one of the last remaining night trips, leaving one for me. If any of the other 5 decides to also take one, i'll be on the Spare Board for the summer (or at least until a vacancy opens up). I'm very sure that 2 of those 5 will not take a night trip; 2 others i'm reasonably sure won't; and another, whose bid time has actually now passed, i have no idea about. I could call Dispatch again to ask about this guy's bid, but they must get a ton of such calls from impatient lowenders like myself ... and i already called once this afternoon. I'll just wait until tonight to find out what that guy did.

So, here's hoping that i'll either get that last position, or someone will leave a vacancy soon -- either by going off to train new drivers (all 3 of our local instructors have currently bid on positions), resigning (those happen all the time!), or injuring themselves (also ridiculously common, although of course, i wish nobody any serious injury).

On a happier note, i bought a new camera this afternoon! Quickest, easiest purchase ever! After yesterday's little trip, i was reminded of how limiting my 5-year old camera is, and how much more i might enjoy my time in the great outdoors if only i had a better camera. So, after an aimless browse of the limited selection at Costco yesterday afternoon, i clicked over to the FutureShop website this afternoon.

One of the first models that popped up was the Fuji FinePix A900 for $200. I did a quick Google search, read a few pages, and decided just like that to get one! My last camera, purchased in an equally quick fashion in the summer of 2002, in preparation for a trip to Ontario, is also a Fuji FinePix -- the 2600Zoom.

Head-to-head, i've upgraded from 2 megapixels to a whopping 9 megapixels; the "Zoom" of my old camera is also improved with my new camera -- from a 3x optical zoom to a 4x optical zoom, and from a 2.5x digital zoom to a 7.6x digital zoom (total, that's from 7.5x to 30.4!) -- i should be able to get much better pictures of birds in trees! Of course all those megapixels take up quite a bit of space. The largest memory card i have for my old camera is a 64mb card; i just bought a 2 gigabyte card for my new camera!

And what a deal! My old camera was on sale for $429 in 2002, plus the memory card and the batteries and taxes and stuff -- so much that when asked if i wanted the extended warranty, i said no thanks! If i had said yes, my camera would have been replaced when the battery compartment hatch broke a couple of years ago ... and i'd have been able to avoid the embarrassing use of elastic bands that have held my camera together since then.

But this one? -- $200 for the camera, $30 for the 2gb memory card, and $30 for the extended warranty -- with taxes, under $300! Woo hoo!

Another good thing about this new baby, it takes AA batteries, so it's easy to always have fully charged backup batteries ready. A lot of slimmer cameras use batteries more like cell phone batteries and it's not so easy to have an extra battery handy.

Well, it's almost time for my pre-trip nap, so i'm gonna run along, read my manual, and catch some zees.

Unless, of course, i end up on the Spare Board, on call 24/7 and can't ever really travel more than 30 minutes from home, look for new and improved pictures from my trips & trails soon!
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In Your Face, Unbeliever! [14 Jun 2007|11:04am]
It has been some time since i've shared the exciting adventures of a non-work day.

I slept in yesterday morning, spent some time chatting with a couple of friends online, spent some time at Facebook, made myself a list of errands i wanted to do, got my shit together, and i was out the door before 3pm. I know i know, most of the day was already gone by then! ... but that's just the way it goes.

I wondered how many things i'd actually get done, knowing how terrible i am at accomplishing stuff. My good friend Jon told me -- without hesitation -- that i'd complete precisely seven of my errands. Let's see if he was right:

1. Dropped off rent cheques to my landlord for July '07 to June '08.

2. Made my monthly payment against that mountain of GST debt of mine.

3. Went to Rona and picked up some new lava rocks for the barbecue and a replacement halogen bulb for my patio light. While at Rona, i bumped into Angela and Kim from Kelowna Cabs -- we had a nice chat -- they're movin' to a new office, the fourth in seven years! ... but they own this one and the strata building they moved into doesn't have light fixtures!

4. Checked my PO Box for mail. The highlight -- the June issue of National Geographic (still get it every month, but sadly, i haven't read one in probably a couple of years!)

5. Went downtown to Mosaic Books, an independent book shop, to have a look for some books that might help put the wind behind my sails when it comes to getting out there and doin' some road trips on my days off, to see more of BC! I was especially hoping to find -- but not holding my breath for -- a copy of a book published in 1979 called 126 Stops of Interest in Beautiful British Columbia. Instead, i picked up three other books: Okanagan Trips & Trails, A Traveller's Guide to Historic British Columbia, and Stories of Okanagan History: The 70th Report of the Okanagan Historical Society. Trips & Trails is made up of 66 chapters, each chapter being a ... trip or trail! -- this book is incredibly suitable for the checklist freak in me! I think i might just head out toward that first "chapter" today! The Traveller's Guide is also arranged geographically, but it's more prose-like -- i'm not sure yet how i'll use it. And the Report of the OHS is an annual publication -- a collection of stories written by local amateur historians -- i bought one each of the first two years i lived out here ... and then forgot to the next few years. I wonder if backissues can be ordered...

6. From Mosaic, i went down the street to the library, where i thought i should find a copy of 126 Stops of Interest ... but no such luck.

7. Next stop: Zellers. I went in to buy some swim shorts ... not exactly 'cuz i swim ... 'cuz i don't ... but just in case while on my travels to these places i might want to wade into a lake or something. And there was a sale on Fruit of the Loom ... so i bought some new underwear too!

8. Then, across the street to Chapters. Another fruitless attempt to find that nearly 30-year old local interest book. But i didn't walk out empty-handed -- i picked up a book called Carving the Western Path: By River, Rail, and Road Through BC's Southern Mountains -- a prose history of travel through much of the territory i travel through on a daily basis -- it looks like a really good read.

9. Last stop: Costco. I had a good shop there, with one startling glaring exception -- they didn't have any of the 2L jars of relish! -- it's an "inactive" item! But there are always highlights, and i know that my list of Costco highlights is often a highlight of my journal entry...
- Pillsbury mini pizzas were on sale! ... so guess what i'll be eating every day for the next 2 weeks
- little cans of Dole juice were on sale! ... and that was good timing 'cuz i had to get some juiceboxes (or cans) for lunches
- frozen fruit salad -- i love the stuff! -- i can't believe it took me so long to get hip to that trip!
- buffalo chicken breast strips were on sale! -- everyone loves breasts, even chicken ones ... but then to batter them and coat them in buffalo sauce? ... what could be better?
- sundried tomato turkey & chicken sausage -- they even look good raw ... can't wait to get the new rocks in the BBQ and grill these babies up!
- a tasting-based impulse buy -- a tub of "Harvest Medley" salad -- it was very tasty and has all sorts of good stuff in it -- rice, bulgar wheat, barley, dried apricots, celery, carrots, dried cranberries and mung beans (i don't know what "mung" is, but i sure hope it's not a typo!)
- some beef jerky -- i've never been much of a jerky guy ... but i've found that while driving, those pepperoni sticks are pretty good, certainly better than eating potato chips, less work than shelling sesame seeds ... and although i'd have preferred to find some of those pepperoni sticks at Costco, the jerky might be okay...
- a big ol' 2L jar of sandwich pickles -- nothin' makes a salami and cheese sandwich taste the way a slice of dill can!
- and just for fun ('cuz i deserve it), the first volume of "Family Guy" DVDs -- instead of replying to Facebook messages last night, i sat in front of the TV and watched 4 or 5 episodes ... funny stuff, that show, funny stuff

Speaking of funny stuff, i was walking down an aisle at Costco behind an old man, who i can only hope had no idea i was there, because just as i was passing him, he let loose a slow ripper, if ya know what i mean. Oh man. If ya gotta, ya gotta, but jeez man, how 'bout a shoulder check first?
Also while at Costco, i had a look at the selection of digital cameras they have -- i think i might buy a new one soon. I bought my camera five years ago, it's falling apart, it's only a 2 megapixel -- i want something with better resolution, a more powerful zoom, and with a nice quick startup. A new camera would be a nice companion as i go about on my "trips & trails".

Two of my errands got passed by -- i didn't go into Staples to buy new pencils (no rush on that) or a notebook -- i want a notebook to use on the road while travelling to different places, to make notes about where photos are taken, etc. And i also forgot to go to a dollar store to buy some more incense -- i like smoky smelly stuff...

I went to bed around midnight last night ... for a nap -- or so i thought. Even though the cats woke me up around 4, ticked that their upstairs food dish was empty, i went back to sleep for another four hours or so. The cats are funny. I've got those big gravity-feed food dishes for them -- one upstairs, just outside my bedroom door, and one downstairs in the kitchen ... but they're so clingy, i guess they simply cannot eat downstairs if i'm upstairs! It's a wonder they eat at all when i'm away! The downstairs dish had plenty of food in it, but as far as they were concerned, they might starve to death if i don't get up NOW and fill the upstairs dish!

Speaking of cats, i think Danger is living up to his name again -- i better go see what kinda trouble he's getting into now. He really likes going next door ... and the damn neighbour's no help -- he's nice to him! -- he should be on my side and turn the hose on the little bastard every time he goes over there! *** nope, can't find him. He'll be back soon enough i'm sure ... especially if i close the door ... he always seems to hear it close then he'll come running and whine and cry until i open the door ... and then he'll sit outside the door and won't come in. Ha ha...

Well, the morning may no longer be young, but the day still is -- i think i'll send this off, spend some quality time over at Facebook, and then hit the highway. I changed my schedule a little bit this week -- the guy ahead of me in seniority, Tony, took an opportunity to leave our rotation and go on the spare board -- this allowed me to bid for (and win) his work, which will put me in Vancouver on Saturday afternoons instead of Friday afternoons until the end of the current bid period (less than two weeks from now). In shifting from my work to Tony's, i ended up with an extra day off this week. I very nearly made myself available for extraboard work ... but then i thought better of it -- i should take some pleasure in an extra day off when i can.
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One reason why i love my job... [12 Jun 2007|05:16pm]
Yesterday morning, around 3:40, i was driving along a straight stretch of BC's Highway 3 -- "The Crowsnest Highway" -- just west of the tiny resort community of Christina Lake, when i was struck by the sudden perfect beauty of the picture before me.

Directly in front of me, barely twenty degrees above the horizon was a sharply defined crescent moon against a clear, cloudless sky -- the cool blue-black lightness of near-dawn. On either side of the road, tall evergreens were boldly silhouetted jet black. In the distance were the forested slopes of the Monashee Mountains, and beyond them, the still snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk Mountains. The view was breathtaking.

With the cycles of the earth, the sun and the moon, i knew that it could very well be years before the scene in front of me would again appear just as it was in that moment. Even minutes later, as the sky grew lighter, the moon would begin to fade, and the silhouette shoulders of the road would become fuzzy. With no other vehicles ahead or behind for miles, and most of my passengers sitting behind me sleeping, i knew that what i was seeing was mine only, and only for a short time...
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Won't you get hip to this timely tip... [06 Jun 2007|02:18pm]
LiveJournal used to be the one website i couldn't go a day without visiting. And i wasn't alone. Many of my friends were there too. And we were writing -- reading and writing, thinking, commenting, discussing. It was hard work compared with the new kid on the block -- Facebook -- where all we ever really do is post pictures and swap soundbites.

Okay, that's not entirely fair, but it sets up the comparison i'm drawing with the title of this entry -- LiveJournal is the old Route 66, and Facebook is the newer smoother faster colder and harder Interstate Highway System.

I'm guilty myself. According to my LiveJournal Profile page, i created my account on October 25th, 2004 -- in that time, i've posted 610 journal entries and 3179 comments ... i've received 2247 comments. Thanks to the magic of backdating, i've posted comments in 1986 & 1987, 1998 to 2000, and of course, 2004 to 2007. In recent months, i've written very little. Fourteen entries in January, 18 in February, 25 in March, only 9 in April, 1 in May ... and this will be my first in June.

LiveJournal still dwarfs Facebook in functionality -- writing journal entries is a snap, i can pick and choose who is able to read each and every entry, i can hyperlink text, insert photos, even insert photos that hyperlink to other things. With LJSeek, i can do a text search of my entries, and with LJBook, i can create and print a .pdf version of every entry. So why is it that i never write there anymore? And why is it that my LiveJournal Friends page (where my friends' entries are aggregated) seems to ring a death knoll? The twenty most recent entries on this page date back more than three-and-a-half days and include entries from only six friends -- a couple of years ago, it wouldn't be uncommon for my Friends page to only date back less than a day and include entries from nearly 20 different friends!

It's not so much that i'm lamenting the passing of LiveJournal. It played an important role in my life for a period of time -- a surprisingly short period of time, now that i think of it -- but i have some apprehension about the future. Facebook enticed us all over here because of its sleek design, smooth handling around corners and intuitive interface -- it was clearly worlds above the then-leader in the social networking world, MySpace.

But i'm not comfortable with the direction Facebook seems to be going, in allowing all these "applications" to clutter up the works. Anyone can create an application and everyone is adding them and using them to the point where the only activity going on at Facebook on my News Feed is who added what new application. What happened to all the fuss about how Facebook is revealing our personal information to third parties? -- and here we are all jumping onto this application and that application, freely opening all our personal information up to any high school kid with a computer who has created a useless "application" for the Facebook platform! Another scourge -- common from the LJ days too -- is the meme -- useless, entirely unscientific quizzes and ridiculous random generators littered with spelling and grammar errors designed only to stroke the egos of geeky kids locked in their rooms sitting at their computers and exploitive website designers earning ad bucks on the backs of adolescent insecurities.

Facebook itself was created by one such kid -- Mark Zuckerberg was not yet twenty years old when Facebook launched three years ago. We can only speculate on his true vision for Facebook, but i think we can claim some ownership to it, for it will become what we make of it.

From my days of working in a record store, i began to learn how the mind of the masses is certainly a terrible thing to taste -- what sells in the largest quantity is most often of the poorest quality, while the truly wonderful and beautiful stuff collects dust on the shelves. As a group, we're the biggest bunch of dummies on the planet. We each claim to want peace, but we are still exterminating our own race at a monstrous pace.

What i'm trying to say is that i'm disappointed in seeing the potential of Facebook slip out of view, in favour of its most senseless time-wasting features. We are the lowest common denominator ... and i think we really need to rise above that, and harness this powerful tool for what it can be!

I'm absolutely thrilled that Facebook has created such a welcoming environment -- perhaps it was LiveJournal's focus on writing that kept so many people away. I often thought that my world would be a better place if only all my friends had LJ accounts, and that they each wrote something about their lives every few days or so. And now it's not difficult to see how Facebook is actually moving further in that direction than i ever could have imagined, re-connecting me with nearly every person i've ever met ... or so it seems. I've been having some wonderful messaging conversations with several people, some of whom i've never been very close with before, or perhaps haven't even seen for 20 or 25 years! Facebook's photo tagging feature is gold! -- how amazing that i can post a picture and point at someone in the picture, instantly directing them (and all their friends) to my picture!

What i'd really like to see more of though is this: "notes", as Facebook calls them. Why doesn't anyone write anything? It depresses me that so many of us are here, but so few of us have anything to say.

My own distressing lack of motivation to really accomplish anything in my life is just a microcosm of the real world, i think. In each of our own lives, we may sometimes feel that we're getting shit done -- we're going to work, maybe even contributing to the greater good as part of our job, we're earning a living, supporting our local economy, maybe we're raising children, we're getting the grass cut and recycling our plastic beverage containers ... but really, what are we doing? How are we really enriching ourselves and the world we live in? Building profit for others, accelerating unsustainable growth, killing our planet and ourselves...

Many of you are doing some very wonderful things with your lives, but most of us are not. Everyone tells me how glad they are to hear that i seem to be so happy with my life ... but i'm not even sure i am. I mean, sure, i'm happy with many aspects of my life -- sometimes i really feel that i'm headed in the right direction. I know that i'm a good person, i know that i have some passion for life and a genuine interest in the lives of others. But sometimes, i really don't understand why i do the things i do -- or more accurately, why i don't do the things i should. I'm exhausted at trying to keep pace with life -- i'm shocked at how many days have passed when i have done nothing of any true importance to anyone. I'm overwhelmed with disappointment and i long to know what fruition is really all about. Yet i rarely even take the first step towards it.
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Addiction, Fulfillment, and Ful-empty-ment [16 May 2007|07:16pm]
A classic characteristic of addiction is when the behaviour begins to interfere with other aspects of a person's life. Maybe you gamble away your rent money and get evicted from your home. Maybe drinking a lot makes you mean or abusive and your personal relationships suffer.

The internet is no less a vice than drugs or alcohol or gambling. When i was self-employed -- even before Facebook -- i would sometimes find myself going to bed far too late to get up in time for a productive day at work. I know i'm not alone in this. For some it's a social networking site, for others it's porn, or an obsessive compulsion to contribute everything you know to Wikipedia, or maybe it's World of Warcraft or plain old PlayStation games. We've all sat in front of a screen of some kind for way too long.

Right?

When i started my new job a year ago, i was pretty good at gettin' a good 8 hours of sleep before every trip, and arriving at work an hour before my scheduled departure time. Lately, i've been binging and purging in the sleep department -- a few hours here, a few hours there, and way too much somewhere else.

A couple of weeks ago, stepping away from Facebook to make a short journey away from the internet to buy cat food (so that the critters would stop biting my flesh to see if it tasted as good as IAMS), i got in my car, turned on the radio ... and there it was! Facebook is everywhere! Jian Ghomeshi was discussing it on his new show, "Q".

So i know that anything i say here about Facebook is neither going to be new nor particularly provocative, but nonetheless, i've been thinking a lot about it. (Not dreaming about it though, like some people -- some people who probably won't even read this because he's too busy on Facebook to read his LiveJournal Friends Page ... Good thing i import all my LJ entries into Facebook.)

***

Again, this afternoon, stepping away from Facebook, feeling almost as though i needed to ask its permission, i hit the road to tend to some errands.

My first stop was at Toyota. I had received a letter from them telling me of a free umbrella offer with my next maintenance visit ... and, as i have not yet taken my car in for its first oil change, i thought now was as good a time as any. It's suggested that oil and filter service be performed every 8000 km (or 6 months, whichever comes first). Well, i hardly ever drive my car -- i'm not yet at 6000 km after 9 months. Still, i thought, i'll head in there, get my free umbrella, take advantage of their "Express Lube" service and i'll renew my insurance from the Autoplan agent in the showroom while i wait! Nope. No "Express Lube" service at Kelowna Toyota. Sorry. The soonest i could get an appointment would be late Tuesday afternoon. Today's Wednesday! Sorry, i'm not good with appointments -- i'll try again some other time. I wonder what the deal is -- are Toyotas breaking down at every turn? Or are they selling so many of them that the service department is just too small?

Next stop: Greyhound, to find out the latest on the contract talks. In a nutshell, we voted 65% against the last offer and a strike notice has been given for midnight tomorrow night. Talk is that it won't come down to a strike -- there'll be another offer, and then another -- as many as it takes to keep us working until that 35% acceptance climbs up to 51%. Personally, i wouldn't mind having a few days off...

From Greyhound, i made my familiar stop at the offices of the Canada Revenue Agency -- carved another thin slice from the turkey that is my GST debt.

Then, i attempted to tackle another tax item -- my income tax from 2005 and 2006. I know what you're thinking, and you'd be right -- we really are less hurried out here in BC. I tried to get it done at H&R Block before the deadline, but they were busy -- appointment only. By now, two weeks after the 2006 filing deadline, i thought i could walk right in there and get 'er done. I was half-right. They were booked up with appointments, but someone hadn't shown up, so they squeezed me in ... or at least, they started to. The old lady who was helping me wasn't all that quick with the computer, but she was kind enough to try her best to get as much done with me before the other ladies told her to get back to the appointments that were beginning to stack up. We got '05 finished, and she said she'd try to get most of my '06 finished later, but there were a couple of things i needed to do -- i told her i'd probably see her next week.

From there, i went to renew my car insurance -- i'm up to a 35% discount now. Next spring, it'll be 40%. They asked me a curious question -- if my car "sleeps" at my home address. Well ... i thought, they probably want to know where it's parked at night ... but the truthful answer to that would probably cost me more money ... so i just told them, "Yes, it sleeps when i sleep". Ha ha -- i didn't even say that it sleeps where i sleep. Sure, my car spends a lot of night-time hours parked at the bus depot, but who's to say that my schedule might not change? So, my insurance premiums have gone from $149 a month to $129 a month. And a good thing too...

...'cuz fuel expenses just keep climbing. I mean, sure, i hardly ever have to put gas in the car, and i probably don't really have to put premium fuel in it -- it's not like i'm pulling a trailer, or climbing mountains, or needing to evade the po-po in high speed chases -- it's not even my car ... but still, i like to treat it well. And treating it well means fillin' 'er up with Shell V-Power ... at $1.349 a frickin' litre! I put 36 L into my 42 L tank and it cost me just about $50!

Next stop: Costco. And the inevitable sense of emptiness that follows. It used to be that Costco would be the sad highlight of my social calendar -- i'd go every week, even if i didn't really need anything. But lately, i've been staying home on my days off. See above. Costco was kinda fun though -- some pretty girls, of course -- there are always pretty girls at Costco -- everyone needs to eat! And here for your amusement are some of the things that specifically, if only momentarily, excited me:

- the 35-pack of 500 ml bottles of water -- seriously, can you think of anything else that's packaged in 35s?
- a 4-pack of Idahoan scalloped potato mix, not 'cuz i need 'em ('cuz i don't), but because i noticed the little star on the price card that only few of us know means that it's on its way out! -- i was one of the last to buy this product ... and for some reason, that made me feel special
- Angus burgers were one of this week's coupon items! -- i was thinking, i should get some burgers 'cuz i haven't barbecued in months ... and wouldn't ya know it, they were on sale!
- i bought a jar of antipasto because they had samples, on crackers, and it was pretty tasty, and i thought, hey, maybe i'll finally eat all those damn crackers i've got
- a 3-pack of Tony Roma's hot sauce (asst. flavours) -- all out of Frank's Red Hot, i needed more hot sauce, and Costco isn't currently carrying Frank's, so i thought i'd try Tony Roma's ... and it's not bad ... on my leftover Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready pizza!

Speaking of Little Caesars, remember when the Hot-N-Ready was just a medium Pepperoni pizza for $6 or something? And then they came out with the Hot-N-Ready Hawaiian for $7? And now they have the Hot-N-Ready Supreme for $8. I'm wondering where it will end. Will we one day be going into Little Caesars to pick up a medium Hot-N-Ready Deluxe Super Duty Special Amazing pizza for $20? And it's not even like they're "ready" anyway -- i had to wait a good five minutes or so. Still, money better spent on pizza, i think, than McDonalds or something...

As i was leaving Costco, i felt as though a piece of soul was being left behind. I don't know what it is about that place -- you just feel like you're under another power when you're in there, and when you leave ... and they draw that line through your receipt (seriously! what's up with that anyway?!) ... and ... i don't know. I just feel so empty inside.

But i'm all better now. Back home. With my cats who love me. And Facebook, which i must worship.
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Life of POT Pi? [28 Apr 2007|04:43am]
I'm sure i'm not the only one who thinks that Yann Martel is a lunatic. Right?

Case in point.

And this would seem to be the Prime Minister's unofficial response:
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Wildlife and the Wild Life... [24 Apr 2007|04:10pm]
I can't believe how quickly the weeks pass me by! The months even -- it's almost May!

My trip to Creston this week was rather heavy on the wildlife. I counted 26 deer -- mostly in the first couple of hours outside Kelowna -- and probably another dozen maybes. Then, approaching the Kootenay Pass, i saw a couple of big horned sheep. And i saw a rabbit along the way too -- i know, rabbits aren't that exciting, but they're still pretty cool to see scurrying along at the side of the road -- if nothing else, it's a small reward for scanning those ditches so carefully as to see something as small as a rabbit.

On the way home today, i saw a couple more deer -- i don't see as many on the return trip because it's during the day (my trip out leaves Kelowna at midnight). But a big score this morning was only a few minutes out of Creston. I thought i saw someone walking along the opposite shoulder of the highway ... and then as i got closer, i thought it was a horse, walking away from me, following the fog line ... but with no rider, i thought, holy crap, how odd that a horse would be walking by itself along the road -- it must have bolted from a farm or something, and the poor thing was headed straight into the mountains -- who would i call, i thought. But then as i got closer, i realized it was not a horse ... but a moose! (No antlers of course, or i'd have known much sooner that it was not a horse). He started to gallop along the shoulder until i was nearly upon him (or her) when it stepped off the road, down an embankment towards the creek -- i never did get a really good look at it.

A little later, past the summit, near where i had seen the sheep yesterday morning, i saw a very large mass on the road, blocking most of my lane. I put on my hazard lights and slowed down, knowing that i'd have to cross into oncoming traffic to get around whatever it was -- it was too big to be a deer carcass, i knew that. As i got closer, i could see movement. And then ... i saw it. It was a small black bear (probably less than 300 lbs) ... eating what looked to be an elk! I couldn't have been any more than a bus-length away from it when it finally looked up from its breakfast and scampered up the embankment away from the road. That was only the second bear i've seen since i started with Greyhound ... and i'm guessing the only bear that i'll ever see eating an elk at the side of the road!

While in Creston this week, i barely left my room -- once to go to Subway, once a little to go to 7-11, and once again later because the fire alarm had gone off (for who knows what reason). I watched two movies on the Turner Classic Movies channel.

First, was The Story of Seabiscuit (1949). It stars a just-barely-adult Shirley Temple with a just-barely-detectable Irish accent ... not in the title role. It was okay, a 7 out of 10, i'd say.

Then, i watched National Velvet (1944). I'd never seen it before, and had always wanted to ... but you know how it is -- never got around to it. I thought it was great! Of course, it stars a very young Elizabeth Taylor and a 20-something Mickey Rooney. The acting was very good (if maybe a bit melodramatic, but that was the style then), the story a bit implausible at times, and the writing was emotionally powerful. A very strong 8 out of 10.

So, i'm home now. Off work until late Thursday night. My plans for my days off? Well, as usual, i've got a ton of stuff i'd like to get done.

I think i'll spend some time with Facebook first -- i've been away for a couple of days and it seems there's lots to catch up on. Then i should probably get my taxes ready -- i still haven't filed for 2005, and they're after me to do that -- the plan is to go down to H&R Block tomorrow morning when they open with all my reports and stuff and get them to do 2005 and 2006 for me. I wonder if i'll owe much -- or maybe nothing at all -- with my taxi business in '05 and half of '06, i should have plenty to write off. We'll see...

And after i've done that, i might reward myself with some IKEA-building!! I have that new Billy bookcase to put up, and fill with CDs -- that should be fun!

And maybe i'll get to posting some more scanned photos to Facebook. All sorts of fun stuff to do tonight / tomorrow. Woo hoo!

EDIT: Just going through the IMDB pages for those movies now, and i see that Seabiscuit was one of Shirley Temple's last films! I wonder why that is...
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Who? Me? [14 Apr 2007|11:43am]
A strange thing happened to me yesterday afternoon when i went out to run some errands. While waiting at a red light to make a left turn at a busy intersection, a semi-truck and trailer pulled around the corner in front of me, making a left turn. The driver seemed to do so rather aggressively, fully crossing into the (unoccupied) left turn lane to my left, pouncing on the rear bumper of an old man in a mini-van, blasting his air horn for a good 3 or 4 seconds, before slamming on his brakes and even putting the transmission into reverse for a moment before completing an immediate right turn into a parking lot.

Being a driver of a large vehicle now myself, i'm rather mindful of other drivers' behaviour, and i thought that this behaviour was shockingly dangerous ... so i turned to have a look for a logo on the side of the trailer. It was for a driving school! I recognized the name of the school and knew that their offices were on the property that this truck had just pulled into. When my light changed and i made my left turn in front of the school, i turned my head to see if they might have a phone number listed clearly enough that i could make a quick call. They did.

When someone answered the phone, i asked if the driver of the semi- that had just pulled onto the lot was a student or an instructor. The person i was speaking to seemed not to understand what i was asking, so i repeated my question, adding that i had just witnessed a very poor example of professional driving. I was asked what i had seen. So, i asked if i was speaking with a manager. The person said he was not a manager but he gave me his name and asked if he could help. He asked me to tell him what i had seen. So, i told him. I explained that i was a professional driver myself, and that any student that badly out of control with Greyhound would not likely be allowed to stay in the program. I mentioned that i knew that we all make mistakes from time to time, but it's especially important to remain professional when driving a vehicle clearly labeled, as this one was. He seemed concerned and assured me that the driver was a student, and that he would speak with both the student and the instructor and that my concern was being taken seriously.

Some time later, i received a phone call. It was this same person i was speaking to from the driving school. His call didn't surprise me too much -- while talking to him earlier, we lost our connection and he called me back, using call display. He told me that he was calling me from home because my call had been on his mind all the way home from work. You see, it was not a student driver who i had seen driving the truck. It was him. He was an instructor. He explained to me that he was doubly embarrassed -- first that he had driven the way he did, in such an unprofessional manner, and then that he had tried to cover it up by lying to me. He then went on with some of what i would consider to be self-serving rhetoric, telling me how sorry he was not to have given me the respect i deserve. I told him that it took a lot of courage to call me back, and that in doing so he had exposed himself to great risk. I'm sure he must have considered the alternative -- that i might have followed up my first call with another, at which time it would be discovered that i was lied to. I told him that i had no intention of taking this any further -- and i don't -- and that's why i'm not naming him or the school here. But i also told him that having recently gone through a 6-week driver training program with Greyhound, that a driver instructor can have a great influence on young drivers, and that he had an incredible opportunity to help our workplace -- the road -- be a safer place. He told me that he agrees, and that he takes pride in the work he does, and that was especially why he was so disturbed and disappointed with himself for his behaviour. He thanked me for making the call, and for offering him this learning experience ... and stuff.

The cynic in me says that he was fearful for his job. I could easily report all of this to the school's management, or to the body that regulates driving schools. The cynic in me also says that without another witness and no evidence that he either drove dangerously or that he tried to cover it up, any complaint would be an exercise in futility.

The optimist in me hopes that he will truly remember our chat, and that he might learn some patience and regain some sense of how important his job is to the safety of others.
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I've been bumped... [13 Apr 2007|02:46am]
Yup. Bumped. First time.

Part of the dark side of seniority ... or, in my case, a lack thereof.

Brian came back to work from the disabled list -- he bumped Luigi. Luigi bumped Bill. Bill bumped me. And i had to bump Craig.

When i went into work Wednesday night and found the bump notice in my mailbox, i felt kinda violated -- it was the first time that someone had exercised their seniority over me in such a manner.

And rather than go to the Spareboard, i exercised my seniority over the new guy, Craig -- the only guy (so far) with less seniority than me in our division. I felt pretty bad about doing it, but it's all part of the game.

So i'll still be doin' the same work, just one day later in the week than before. So, instead of goin' out to Cache Creek tonight (Friday), i'm off work now until tomorrow night (Saturday), when i go to Cache Creek and continue along with the same rotation i've been doing.

So yeah, i've got a Friday night off. And i really don't know what to do with it. I'll probably just end up hangin' out at home ... which i'm okay with, really ... but a Friday night off -- i don't know -- it just seems that maybe i should be doing something special. Oh well...

Things might change again next week. I've got my name on a "permanent vacancy" -- same work that i signed up for a few weeks ago -- 10 return trips to Vancouver every 2 weeks (4 on / 2 off / 6 on / 2 off). It doesn't get assigned until Thursday, and there are all sorts of people who might sign it, but so far, i'm the only one. We'll see what happens...
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