Friday, June 27, 2008

Gone Fishing

Come 5am Saturday morning I'll be pointing the rusty van towards Orillia to rescue BandGeek from 'band camp'. Assuming she has not gone feral and does not require medical intervention, we'll continue northwards for a week-long sojourn at Dee's family cottage - located in the environs of Parry Sound, Ontario.

This is all to say, I'm going off-grid for a week or so. With my dearth of posts in last few months, this is unlikely to be noticed. But let me leave a little something behind:

We have a neighbour cottager who has been living on the bay year-round. He keeps sane by keeping a blog. And, no, it's not post after post of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".

The venerable JediBoy has dipped his toe ever-so-slightly into the land of Machinima. It's a first effort, okay? Okay?

Now for the Ick Factor. Verne Troyer - he of Mini-Me fame - made a sex tape. Inevitably, it has been released into the wild. A bit of Googling will find a clip. OMFG. Just....OMFG. But you know you'll peek, won't you?

So long for now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Bill Gates Made Me Smile Warmly

While Kerouac had something else in mind, I'm sure, I recently took an odd little road trip of my own that I'll never forget. Nor will I ever remember it exactly as it happened. Really, all I'll ever remember is the lump in my throat, a surprise discovery at 120kmh, and Bill Gates' handiwork.

The Beginning: My oldest spawn - known 'round these parts as BandGeek - was nominated by her school to attend something called a music leadership camp. She was obviously excited (along with proud Mom and Dad) about the opportunity to spend a week away from home - with other teenaged grownups - getting some professional music instruction. On the other hand, she quickly grew tired of the "last summer at band camp..." jokes that seemed so necessary to me. It's true - we are merciless at our house.

And so it was that last weekend found me driving BandGeek, 3 of her school chums, and their assorted backpacks and instruments some 3.5 hours north to OELC. Up the mighty-yet-boring 401 we went, across the bland 407, merging onto the fearsome 400, veering northeast on 11 past Orillia and, eventually, down a single winding lane that stops at Lake Couchiching. The time flew by for me, listening to these 15 and 16 year-olds making their own fun and even including Old Crazylegs. It is a rare occasion that I get to see BandGeek in her natural setting - not my daughter, but her own secret person - and I loved it.

The Middle: We were met at the camp gates by a teacher/counsellor and given our instructions. First was a stop at the registration tent to be checked-in and given cottage assignments. Next was a visit to a small building where the obligatory camp shirts would be dispensed. After that, the boys in my charge would proceed down one path to settle in while I would escort the girls down a separate path to their own cottages. This would leave the kids an hour to explore the grounds before their first 'camp meeting'.

In all of this, something emerged the ether - I was leaving BandGeek on her own. She'd be gone for a week - a long way from home and without parents or any other family nearby, keeping her safe. This was a 'first time'. I marvelled at that thought for a minute, but I didn't let it bother me. She's a good kid, an independent kid, and she'd be okay.

Ssoon she hugged me good-bye and whispered, "I'm going to miss you, Dad". Then the lump - out of nowhere - was hard in my throat crowding my tongue. I choked it down. I told her I'd see her in a week and assured her (and me) that it would be fun. A moment later, she was off with her friend to explore.

The End: I walked along the shore of Couchiching back to the van, with nothing left to do but go back the way I came. I had no more purpose now, other than to call home and let them know I was coming. A few klicks down highway 400 with the van cruising at a comfortable 120kmh, I slid a newly-burned Peter Gabriel disc I'd ripped from one of my old cassette tapes. The first notes of In Your Eyes played, and there it was - a sound out of step. It was a 'wrong' sound, but a familiar trill that I couldn't quite place even though I knew it shouldn't be there.

Gabriel rasped through the chorus and then the sound was there again. A trill, followed by another trill, and soon several more. Then it was clear to me. It was the 'MSN sound'. It was that little warbly trilly sound when someone you're chatting with on MSN says something while you're chatting with someone else. It was BandGeek. I remembered she was using my PC to chat with friends while the PC was also recording the Peter Gabriel cassette. I'd messed up the process and somehow recorded all the sounds on the PC - not just the cassette. While I was reasoning this out, there was an explosion of trills. BandGeek must have in fine form that night - jungle drums and party lines for the Internet Age. I laughed out loud.

I suddenly felt better, less anxious. BandGeek was there with me when I least expected it and sorely needed it. I resolved to bug her a little less about wasting hours on MSN. And I resolved to hug her tight when 6 days would bring me back to Couchiching.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'V' is for.....Ventilation?

I hate buying clothes. Strike that. I hate having to buy clothes - going out deliberately to shop for an article of clothing. With the possible exceptions of underwear and jeans, wandering around stores looking for something to wear generally feels like a criminal waste of time that invariably ends with bad feelings all round. I chalk it up to the fact I spent my formative years (far) East of Adelaide where genuine Levi's were for fancy boys with real money.

So, of course, I was shopping for clothes last weekend. In a little less than 2 months we'll be traipsing through a Central American rainforest and, according to Dee, I'm woefully under-clothed for the expedition. I've seen National Geographic and I know the lack of modesty shown by the locals down there, but Dee has seen too many Tilley Endurables adverts to let me off the hook.

Out I went - and I think I did pretty good, too. I got myself a lovely pair of overpriced NASA-designed jungle pants that can turn into shorts. They're made of space-age materials that block the Sun's evil rays and, apparently, never get wet. One of the dozen or so tags on the pants uses the phrases 'wicking action' and 'extreme punishment' quite a bit, so I'm pretty stoked to see the kinds of adventures I'll be having when I wear these pants. I'm thinking: Kathleen Turner (the '80's version) and golden idols or something.

I also picked up a couple of shirts put together by the same Nobel-winning scientists. They're even separate colours - pretty unusual by guy standards. But here's my beef: I can't find V-neck t-shirts anywhere. I like V-necks. They ventilate well, they don't feel constrictive, and they afford an oppotunity to display a bit of chest hair when the need arises. But these space-age polymer shirts are, like, crew-neck or something. When I wear them I spend all my time pulling the front of the neck opening like some kind of lame Rodney Dangerfield impersonator.

Perhaps they'll keep jungle spiders from falling down my neck. Oh, the sacrifices I make for eco-tourism...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Something For Everyone As World's Collide

I don't know what to make of this actual headline:

Daughter of George Lucas in Auckland fight

Somewhere, I imagine, the gods are laughing at us.

Because You're Never Alone

My Innertube friend, Kid Dork, had a Very Bad Day recently - so this post is for him. The rest of you can chat amongst yourselves for a bit. This will only take a minute.

KD, you obviously had a karmic meltdown on Monday. So here's your silver lining: you made me feel much better about my own Monday. You see, I spent Monday in jury duty. Just a whole day of sitting around, really. Normally, I'd appreciate a day away from the Evil Megacorp who pay me to implement their evil designs. But this was actually a day off that was inconvenient because I have a billion deadlines that would drive me to work a bit in the evening.

Not cool.

To make matters worse, the courthouse air conditioning was busted. Even the fans we're offline, so there was absolutely no movement of air - save the occasional fanning of legal pads from listless legal types. The high points: lots of free ice water and I was not selected for a trial jury on this, my second trip to jury duty.

Still - there was no spilling of Tim's liquid energy and no one rammed my ancient minivan. So thanks, KD. You've given me perspective.

And for that, here's a little pick-me-up I'd been saving for a special occasion. I hope you don't already have one. Enjoy!