When We Was Fat

This picture is from December 1999 or thereabouts, one of only a handful taken of me while I worked at the computer department of London Drugs. It was the last time I worked in retail. It will remain the last time I work in retail. I do not like retail. Don’t let the grin fool you. Pokemon just does that to you.

The two notable things here are:

1. No gray hair.
2. Fat. Do you think that shirt I’m wearing is kind of baggy? It’s not, really. I just had it mostly untucked to cover up the fact that my midsection looked like I had ingested a tire intact.

ld-pokemon-cropped

Here’s the full uncropped version of the same photo (click to enlarge). You can see the festive holiday decorations (a single red bow) and Viewsonic 17 inch monitors were going for less than $600. Such a deal. One day I’ll write about how I was forced to quit my job there and less than a week later three people in the department got fired. Good times all around!

ld-pokemon-big

I am the sty in the eye

Within days of each other I get both a sty in my eye and my most fun organ (hereafter referred to as my MFO) decides it is suddenly going to become infected again and no longer be in a pro state (see what I did there?) Every time I put my right foot forward I get a small jolt of pain in my abdomen. It’s great aversion therapy to keep one from walking about on a hot summer day. But I’m going for a 25-minute jog tomorrow no matter what so I insist my MFO co-operate fully in this matter and stop being a nuisance.

Whilst I strolled about today gnashing my teeth with every other step, I observed that pretty near every young male (let’s say 40 or under) had a distended belly, as if they were bodily trying to empathize with the malnourished children of some impoverished African nation. Having had this sort of prominent midriff myself until recently, I know that it is in fact a kind of malnutrition that causes this. I call it The Twinkie Diet but it goes by other names, too:

  • Ronald McDonald is My Father
  • The Sugar & Fat is Where It’s At Regime
  • Chocolate is a Food Group, Right?
  • Jolly Elf Fitness Plan
  • My Shirt Doubles as a Tent Diet

I now regard the movie WALL-E and its depiction of our future aboard the Axion as prophecy. Choose your super-reinforced hover chair today!

How to read this blog, Part 3

How to Read This Blog, Part 3
by Creole Ned

I’ve made a few tweaks to make it easier for people to comment on my ramblings. First, you no longer need to have me approve your first post but you do need to verify your account through an e-mail check. I’ve also included the option to upload a custom avatar although at the moment they seem to be defaulting to a bit tinier than I’d like. Finally, the Site Admin link has been renamed to Site login to better reflect that it’s where you any reader/user can login to adjust their profile settings or add an avatar.

Enjoy!

How to read this blog, Part 2

How to Read This Blog, Part 2
by Creole Ned

In which I explain the various links for those who are averse to clicking.

Bloggy Friends

Paladin’s Playroom Paladin has been part of my gaming group the Martian Cartel for many years. He blogs occasionally, one of those “when the whim strikes” kind of guys.

Sam-K.net The blog of Samuel Kimpton, man of the Internet! Sam is also part of the Martian Cartel and writes occasionally, focused on things of geek interest and the travails of home ownership. Sam is also a gadget kinda guy. I suspect one day he will build a really smart robot that will lead us to SkyNET.

scatterdad Tim Everett’s blog, since superseded by his addiction to Facebook. Tim owns the house I live in and has many cogent, witty and at times caustic observations. His blog is rarely updated as of late.

Other stuff

Broken Toys Scott Jennings has written about MMORPGs for many years (originally as “Lum the Mad”) and has worked in the industry at Mythic, NCsoft and other companies. His insights are often thought-provoking and amusing if you enjoy the meta discussion about gaming.

Martian Cartel forums The forums for the gaming group I became erstwhile leader of back in its founding year of 1999. We chat about more than just games now but the group has been on the decline for a few years and activity has waned.

My Facebook page Like this blog but with fewer words.

How to read this blog, Part 1

How to Read This Blog, Part 1
by Creole Ned

This site is divided into six categories:

  1. Dating
  2. Gaming
  3. General
  4. Health and Fitness
  5. Photos
  6. Writing

Every post has at least one category attached to it. The content of each category is as follows:

1. Dating There are no entries for this because I am writing about my dating experiences elsewhere, therefore this category should have been removed but I forgot. Oops.

2. Gaming In which I share my gaming experiences or write about games like roughly one billion other people on the web do. As I don’t game as much as before, these posts are becoming less frequent. If you are not a gamer there is probably only a 50% chance you will find my insights worth reading. I arrived at 50% by just making a number up, kind of like a review score!

3. General The inevitable catch-all category. Random nonsense about life, media and anything else that doesn’t fit into the other categories.

4. Health and Fitness Currently I lift dumbbells three times a week and jog three times a week and it is here where I chronicle my hi-jinks, ranging from pulled muscles to getting rocks thrown at me by ill-mannered children. I also chat a bit from time to time about diet and food choices. If these things don’t set your heart a-flutter, safely ignore!

5. Photos When I add images to my gallery I post about them under this heading. However, I am currently debating over how to add photos to the site and my current hodgepodge method means I’m not adding nearly as many as I could. On the one hand, entertainingly bad pictures from my youth are going unshared. On the other hand…well, the exact same thing.

6. Writing Here I talk occasionally about the process of writing and books I have read. Mainly I discuss my ongoing writing projects, whether they are exercises, short stories or one of my novels.

Now that you know more about each category you can better choose how to read through this rich tapestry I call my blog. Or just skip all this and skim for saucy words like “hooters” and “malfeasance”.

Spam enough for the world

If only this was actually edible. Food shortages would be over.

Random stats on the spam-pruning here after a little over four years of activity:

Akismet has protected your site from 2,599 spam comments already, but there’s nothing in your spam queue at the moment.

WP-SpamFree has blocked 722 spam comments.

Like Lord of the Flies with estrogen

This past Wednesday I was in the middle of Week 6 of my jogging plan, a pair of 10-minute runs with a three minute walk between. The 10-minute runs are a little over three complete laps. On the second run I’m motoring along and notice about four girls at the little playground near the northern baseball diamond. Three are younger, perhaps 6 or 7. The fourth is bigger and older, probably around 10 or 11. A cursory glance makes it clear she is the leader.

As I jog by the first time, enjoying the music on my Sansa Clip, I observe the big girl leading the others in some kind of cheer that is directed at me as I go by. I can’t hear the exact words but the tone from her is unmistakably sarcastic because if there’s one thing I know, it’s the sound of sarcasm. I do a mental eyeroll, note how precocious they are and jog past them. They resume their previous activities.

The next lap the same thing happens and again I run past without acknowledging their presence. The third time and when I am on the cusp of completing my jog I go by and sure enough the cheers erupt as I move past. They are, if nothing else, devoted to their shtick. But then I feel something plinking against my back. Many little somethings. They are throwing gravel at me. I come to an immediate stop and pause for just a moment. This is where I wished I had a picture of their faces, for it is at that moment — when I had stopped and altered the course of events but had not yet made clear what was going to happen next — that I wanted to see their expressions abruptly shift from evil glee to uncertainty. I walked a few paces toward them, still being serenaded by whatever song was playing. I looked at the leader, holding her imaginary conch shell and simply said, “Don’t throw rocks at me.” I turned, finished my jog and left the park without looking back.

Now, the gravel at the playground is small so getting showered with it did not hurt at all and I’d previously witnessed a couple of kids playing the “Let’s throw rocks at each other or actually just stand there and I’ll throw rocks at you” game so the whole thing didn’t surprise me as much as it should have but I do still ponder what the goal of the leader was. Did she want to provoke a confrontation and if so, to what end? To prove her authority over the others as their superior? To establish at as early an age as possible that men suck and throwing rocks at them is about as good as it gets? The simplest explanation is that she is a budding sociopath or in the old school language, a mean kid.

Friday’s jog was to be an epic 25-minute journey but with the thermometer reaching 30C and the sun blazing mightily in that way it does, I only managed about 16 minutes or so before my head started to hurt. I had a good pace going and without the weather being so fiendishly warm I’m confident I would have made it otherwise.  The small bonus was it was too hot for any kids to be present, psychotic or not. The only others around were a few couples (the guy is always as white as physically possible, glaring like a slab of ice under the steady eye of a relentless Arctic sun) and a few other nutty joggers. Onto Week 7 Monday.

A matter of trust

Walter Cronkie died yesterday at 92 after a long illness. A poll conducted in 1972 hailed him as “the most trusted man in America”. When you consider how villified the mainstream media is today, it is all the more remarkable that people found him not only trustworthy but extremely so. The time of the Big Three networks and their evening anchor-focused newscasts has long since faded and Cronkite retired from his position way back when it was still relevant in 1981, but he remained a vital, active voice until the end of his long life. We are probably better off with today’s diverse, more accessible news delivered mainly through the Internet and organizations that are not beholden to large corporations but Cronkite’s passing still feels a bit like the loss of innocence, the unwelcome silencing of a reassuring and patronly voice.

This is an improvement?

This ad is currently running on gay.com (yes, this neatly cuts off the cries of “Gay!” right from the outset):

before_after_ad

Normally a makeover is meant to be an improvement, if I’m remembering my definitions correctly. In the Before shot the guy could probably stand to get acquainted with a comb but other than that he looks like a pretty casual type, someone you’d go with to a Pearl Jam show then relax afterward at the pub with a couple of beers. The post-makeover guy looks like a total sissy nancyboy — and he still needs the comb. The only thing I can think to do with this schmuck is snap his bow tie to see if he starts crying. Blech. I think the marketing gurus need to spend a little more time on this campaign.

Jogging a go-go

Today I began Week 5 of my 9 week jogging plan. I approached it with some trepidation because Friday’s jog found me coming up a bit short on the last five minute segment, mostly due to the sun beating down on me like some giant hot thing and making me want to pass out. Today, however, it had cooled off and was overcast, so that wouldn’t be a problem. To further distract myself, I picked up a cheap 2GB Sansa Clip so I could focus on music rather than my lungs burning. For today’s run, which consisted of three five minute segments I chose:

  • Boney M, “Rasputin”. It’s hard to beat disco for jogging. It keeps you going. As a bonus, the song is over 5 minutes long.
  • Pink Floyd, “One Slip”. Also 5+ minutes. I actually find the lyrics of this song insipid: “Then drowned in desire, our souls on fire, I led the way to the funeral pyre” — uh, what? I can’t even begin to decipher this. It’s like someone partook of some peyote and tried to rewrite “Evil Woman” as a love song. Or something. But the song moves, Dave Gilmour plays his guitar and that’s the important part.
  • Blondie, “Atomic”. It’s good until you get to the bridge or whatever them fancy music people call it because the song slows down a lot at that point. It feels like a good place to rest, whether it is or not.
  • Bananarama, “Venus”. More disco, hooray!

The music not only provided ample distraction, I think I actually jogged faster than before and when “Rasputin” ended after the third 5-minute segment, I checked my stopwatch and found I had jogged almost a minute longer than I was supposed to. Madness!

I like it.

A brief tour of China Creek Park

As mentioned previously, I jog at China Creek Park, which is near the Broadway campus of Vancouver Community College and the proverbial stone’s throw from the Millennium Line SkyTrain station. Here, via the magic of pictures, is a glimpse of the park from a non-satellite perspective.

First up, a wide shot of the park (click for a larger version):

chinacreek-overview

Here you can see both baseball diamonds and the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines on the left. You can also make out the mulch-covered trail that runs the perimeter of the park and is where I jog. The trees provide meager cover on a hot, sunny day but the park overlords have thoughtfully provided a fountain:

chinacreek-fountain-far

Unfortunately, cretinous youths sometimes stuff reeds into the fountainhead (which can’t be removed with your fingertips), causing the fountain to spray water in a whimisical but not practical-for-drinking manner. And I know it’s kids that do it because all kids are evil.

Also evil, however, are crows.

chinacreek-fountain-close

At first I was ready to blame the appearance of soggy bread in the fountain on some spoiled child with a fussy palette (“I don’t like crusts!”) but then I espied a crow a short distance away with a great hunk of bread stuffed in its beak. It watched and waited as I took my picture, then flew over to dip his bread, au jus-style. I have to confess, it’s not really evil for the crow to do that. If nothing else, it suggests he is more civilized than many of the people who use the park. For example…

Here we see the small playground area and how the gravel has spilled onto the path. The fence is there to prevent tots from being brained by errant baseballs, a good plan if ever there was one. The jog before I took these pictures, there were a pair of kids here, each standing on one side of the fence. The one on the playground side was playing the game “Let’s throw gravel through the fence at the other kid!” The other kid did not seem to like this game so much.

chinacreek-gravel

The small brown sign warns about coyotes in the area and offers advice on what to do in the event of a coyote experience. I forgot to get a picture of it but will try to do so on a future visit.

Finally, what I had cheekily called rice paddies in the Google Maps image turned out to be a community garden growing along the hillside on the northwest corner of the park. Apparently poo has a special place there, for it gets its own sign:

chinacreek-garden

The garden is a variety of flower beds, trees, bushes and vegetables, very nice and in full bloom this time of year. Although festively colored, the poo sign kept me from entering into the garden directly. It was too reminiscent of a minefield warning and I’ve played Company of Heroes. I know what mines can do.