Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Another One Bites The Dust

29 January - Very little productivity today - highlights included finishing one book (Hearts In Atlantis - infinitely better than the movie but still not amazing) and starting another (Birds Without Wings - great writing and story but first real impression that the style and structure is completely identical to all of Mr de Bernier's previous efforts - a bunch of stories broken up into chapters and randomly shuffled together and all moving (very slowly) to some unknown conclusion).
One of my coworkers, Dimitri, has been off for the past few days due to a problem with his bike and I thought it was kind of strange that he'd not been in for three days - even my bike doesn't take that long to fix. My suspicions were confirmed by a call today and lo and behold, he has quit the business. He'd been voicing his dissatisfaction with the job for some time and was really annoyed by his microscopic commission cheque last month. I have to say that i'm not really surprised about it though - he's not a person who likes to be rushed and whenever I saw him ride past on his trusty iron cruiser, Frenchy, he'd always be going at the same languid pace with nary a care in the world. It's a real pity because he was one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and we'd often meet before clocking on for our morning coffee. Still, I'm pretty sure we'll be staying in touch regardless.
Had planned on going to see one of my other co-workers' band at night - Flowers, a rather young lad who's currently struggling with living away from home for the first time, mentioned putting our names on the door and I headed downtown in the evening, ostensibly to go see him. I had myself an awful Tim Hortons coffee and a very nice Tim Hortons doughnut while I was steeling myself to find the club when I was confronted by Jason, another Novex courier, and his bird who were wandering the Vancouver streets. Ended up chatting with them for about two and a half hours in the fluorescent glare of Canada's favourite franchise. Mainlydiscussed the trials and tribulations on the courier industry and shard tips with each other on shaving valuable seconds off our runs and complained about the myriad number of things that just annoy the hell out of us in this jobs - also discussed the possibility of doinga bit of running together. I had gone for a rather short (only 40m) run out to the lake in the afternoon and despite not getting into the 'zone' and being even more sore all over because of it I still felt reasonably righteous for having done so. In any event, when me and Jason parted ways it was approaching 1am and I was still sore and tired and the idea of going to see some very loud music was not that appealing. Must be getting old.

Sunday, 29 January 2006


27 January - For some reason most of today I was in a terrible mood. It was raining and it was pretty cold for much of the day and I also kept on finding myself carrying ridiculously heavy and awkward bags and boxes and I was going all over the place but still not doing many trips. Feeling completely black I found myself having mini tantrums whenever I was alone in an elevator and i'd be muttering like a tourette's sufferer whenever I was out of people's earshot. I don't think too much of the new dispatcher, he's nice enough for the most part but he's not nearly as efficient as good as our old one and he gets stressed easily, and his stress is completely contagious. Two incidents stand out - one, dropped an item off and the girl asked if I could take somethingthat hadn't been ordered yet. Confirmed with dispatcher that I was taking it, told the girl to mention that Biker 313 already had it on board when she put the order through. Ridiculously heavy and a really bo which had to be strapped to my bag. I had to put on other heavy and awkward crap and it was ages before I could get rid of it. The order never came through on the Blackberry and the place where it was supposed to to wasn't addressed. Eventually got rid of it and when the order did finally came though she'd put it on the cheapest job and had mislabelled the size. I don't know the exact dollar amount but it wasn't a helll of a lot but basically she ripped me off. I don't know why anyone would deliberately f**k over a courier over a matter of a few dollars saving to the CORPORATION they work for. The other incident was ... I could have sworn there was another one. Still, it was Friday so when it was over it means its over for the week. Had some really good Thai food for dinner and watched one of the more entertaining time travel films, Back to the fuure, which is really good despite having potentially the worst explorations into the concept of paradox ever (not nearly as bad as Time Cop, but not nearly as good as the Monkeys).

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Australia Day

26 January - Was reminded of Australia Day in a couple of emails and made a couple of half hearted efforts to rally myself to celebrate it but was just feeling too sore and tired to do anything at all when I got home. Work was not completely enjoyable today. Lots of riding but nothing really thrilling. And more than one incident that put a dampener on it. Once it got dark and I headed home the heavens completely opened up and I was absolutely frozen and sodden and my glasses got completely covered in water and I was half blind. On the very steep climb up the hill on the last leg of the journey I hit a car as well. Not in the sense that I was hit by a car but I hit him. He was completely hugging the shoulder of the road and I was scraping by the edge of the kerb and I couldn't see much. The traffic was at an absolute standstill and I just knocked his sidescreen mirror (it bounced back completely). It was completely my fault but at the time I felt completely justified in swearing abuse at him for hugging the kerb (it was completely internal of course). Once I got home and actually considered the events I felt very guilty about it but ... If it happens again i'll probably feel the exact same way.

National Pride

26 Janiary Addendum - Did end up going for a couple of beers and some exotic Japanese orderves with Rene at the overpriced local, Stellas, so, I followed Australian tradiition of imbibing on all national holidays of any significance.

Night Of The Underdogs

25 January - Smoove B riding for most of the day today. Pretty crisp but clear morning and and a bit of bleak rain but I seemed to go in a pretty steady direction for most of the day. Lee was still very apologetic about yesterday's issues but today was mostly good. Did end on a bit of a bummer as I had to go all the way across the Burrard Bridge just to return one item and then I was told that iwas done while I was over there and it was only just after 4. The microeconomics of the job are quite easy to ponder over. The amount of money one makes when they're just puttering along is really bad but it can go up significantly when you move fast and their is enough work to support the movement. But over the day you can really get pushed hard and the extra remuneration really doesn't increase proportionally to the effort made. I was reasonably occupied all day and I was moving efficiently but I wasn't taking enough trips with me when I was moving to get the money up. The pay is all worked out automatilly using a computerised system. Each job has a value assigned to it. When the job is marked picked up on the Blackberry half of that amount is assigned to the driver. This half is then multiplied by the driver's commission rate and this is what the driver is paid. When an item is marked as delivered (requiringa POD to be entered) the remaining half is then multiplied by the commission rate and paid. If an item gets given to another driver then the half gets paid to them (multiplied by their own commission rate, of course). The commission rates differ between drivers and different jobs have different values depending on their weight (sometimes), distance and urgency. Take the last job of the day, which was a return. I picked it up (got paid), dropped it off (got paid), it got stamped, I picked it up again (got paid) then held onto it for a while. Normally one doesn't go over the side unless theree's a few things to take over or a lot of things on the other side that will get taken back. So, by taking the job all the way over tehere meant I was only getting a quarter of its total value for expending a great deal of effort (going all the way over there and coming all the way back). Needless to say, I wasn't happy. Did pick up my new glasses this afternoon though but haven't removed my contacts in order to try them yet. Can only hope that they work but they look pretty cool anyway.
Did a bit of reminescing with Excel when I got home but other than that wasn't very productive. On one of the movie channelsiit was Night of the Underdogs and the features were (ad free even!) The Karate Kid with one of all time best bad guys in the form of Kreese and one of the most bafflingly contested but completely inspiring (complete with Joe Esposito;s rocking Your The Best accompanying) extended tournament scenes over. After that it was Sylvester Stallone's debut. Watching Rocky I was enthralled by the proto-training-montage. The scenes are unforgettable and inspiring but not as frenetic and overcaffeinated like the training montage video clips that we see today. It is undoubtedly the singular common anscestor of all training montage scenes today, a Y Chromome Adam if you will. In my mixed up memory I seem to have gotten Rocky I and II intermittently entwined and it was almost like seeing it for the first time, I really couldn't remember exactly how it all panned out. I knew it would be INSPIRING though.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

The Pain! The Pain!

24 January - Another early morning wakeup which was not helped by the fact that every part of my body was aching from yesterday's return to exertions. It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt. Still, made it hard to leave my bed in the morning. The days are already getting longer and I'm starting and finishing in daytime (although still dark on the way to and from work) - it's amazing how the length of the days can change in just over two weeks. A Blue Canada didn't seem too much different from the past 3 months of a Red one but the few couriers that I did speak to about last night's result certainly didn't seem too happy about it. Really busy today - not so much in morning, which was good because I had to get my brake pads and a part of my deraileur replaced (deraileur was probably broken in the accident and the brake pads just don't last in this job) and I also had to do some banking as I received my first ever pay cheque from worker's compensation, so obviously my claim was considered legitimate. Whilst at the bank igot some cash out and received my first ever Canadian fiddy, i've been here for about three months and have never owned a note that was higher than a twenty. There seems to be a lot of concern about forgery and nearly all places have machines to check that notes are real and most places have a policy that they don't even accept fifties or hundreds because of this concern. It was really horrible in the afternoon, a couple of the couriers dropped out during the day for various reasons and Lee, the new dispatcher got a bit frazzled. He sent me all over the place without any plan at all and at one time I went to three buildings in a row only to find that the packages that I was meant to pick up had already been scooped by someone else. First time I've lost my temper with the dispatcher since I started this job. Admittedly, he apologised later on and I was quite surprised at how quickly my ire cooled. Still, ii almost fell asleep on the ride back home because I was so tired. I find it quite strange that I get exhilirated when I know i'm doing a very efficient route - dropping and picking up in the same direction yet when i'm going from back forth without any real plan I get really worn out. I'm probably doing the same amount of riding but the knowledge that it's not efficient makes it that much physically harder.
Tonight, being tight-arse Tuesday at the video store, meant 'Enduring Love', which turns out to be based on a book by Ian McEwan, whose books seem to be falling into my lap of late. On one level it's pretty much a 'Fatal Attraction' style stalker movie but it also has Mr McEwan's signature rational vs spiritual arguments in it and it was definitely a good movie. One cliché which seems to pop up in every movie about a psychotically challenged individuals is the presence of what I call a 'psycho wall'. When the hero tracks down the location of the mentally unbalanced person (s)he always finds a wall meticulously covered with magazine clippings, crazy-arse poems, drawings, photographs etc all of which say immediately, the person who made this collage is crazy. John Malkovich did it in In The Line of Fire, Rhys Ifans did it in Enduring Love, Kevin Spacey had a whole apartment of it in Seven (or Se7en, if you'll abide by the 7334 5p33kin spelling), William McNamara did it in Copycat, and ... there are many others, i'm sure, but four is enough to be a cliché.

A New Day Dawns (After I've Been Up For An Hour)

23 January - Alarm went off at 6 o'clock AM! I've forgotten what it's like to get up when its dark. I donned my uniform and ate my muesli and drank my vietnamese coffee before gingerly got onto Baby Blue. It was raining very finely and despite not getting saturated my glasses were constantly covered in a sheen of droplets and it was a cold damp. My wrist wasn’t feeling too good at first but after 9 when the hospital pharmacy opened I bought myself a very expensive velor wrist splint (i've got a prescription so I claim it) and it propped me up beautifully. It completely locked my wrist and even took some of the strain off it completely and I really had no problems from then on unless I was hopping kerbs. My legs and back and arms were still sore from yesterday's probably ill-timed run and it was wet and cold all day but just being back on the bicycle was such a relief after over two weeks of physical sloth. What seemed like most of the couriers appeard to be very happy to see me back on the road, which was nice. After it was all over met up with the others (including a new guy, someone who used to work for us a while back), Jason told me how he came off his bike in the exact same way as I had, whilst crossing railway tracks no less, but, luckily his head (helmet) took most of the impact so he was okay. After it was all over I headed home and then met K8 for vegetarian curry (???) and a mango fizz (very nice) before drinking beer at Stellas (home of the way too pushy serving staff). Wouldn't you know it, K8's dog's name is Lilly. And onto more somber news, today was election day over here which i'm hoping will mean an end to the godawful political ads plaguing the television. One of my main sources of information for political snippets was always the one line news reports that are played on the TVs in the office elevators and i've been away from them for so long that I really didn't know what was going on. I try to engage but the local and national news never seems to be interesting enough to read and i'm ashamed to say I probably still read the SMH more than I do the Globe and Mail. Although couriers are not a a political lot I'd be hard pressed to believe that they are going to be excited at the idea of a conservative government coming into power, which it appears is the case. They were favourites and they've won. I've seen a few scare stories on the internet and in the papers about the fascist and unforgiving state that will result from Stephen Harper's government but they've still onlygot a minority government anyway, none of their domestic policies are really going to affect my life in the short time that i'm here and I really don't think he's going to be able to make much of a dent in Canada's essentially liberal foreign policy. It is always worrying to see more of the western hemisphere sliding inexorably to the right but it's certainly the fashion at the moment. I saw Stephen Harper's victory speech, which was very conciliatory and graceful, but victory speeches ar hardly ever prescient of a politician's future actions. Also interesting to see the victory speech of jack Layton, the leader of the NDP, whho only have about a tenth of the seats, an increase but still hardly worthy of his exultion. The speeches were all mainly in English bbut interspersed with French, whiich seemed to give them a lot more gravitas but thhat probably only because I didn't understand what they saying. So, I'm sorry that my Canadian neighbours are going to have to live with a conservative government but other than that i'm not too fazed..

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

South Side

see myself in the pouring home
see the light come over now
see myself in the pouring rain
i watch hope come over me

yeah, yeah
here we are now, going to the east side
i pick up my friends and we start to ride
ride all night, we ride all day
some may come and some may stay

here we are in the pouring home
i watch the light man fall the comb
i watch a light move across the screen
i watch the light come over me

yeah, yeah
here we are now going to the west side
weapons in hand as we go for a ride
some may come and some may stay
watching out for a sunny day
where there's love and darkness and my sidearm

hey, elan

here we are now going to the north side
i look at my friends as they start to ride
ride at night we ride all day
looking out for a sunny day

here we are now going to the south side
i pick up my friends and we hope we won't die
ride at night, ride through heaven and hell
come back and feel so well.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Back in Nirvana(s)

22 January - Woken up at some ungodly hour by K8 saying sorry, sorry, sorry, I really want to make it up to you. I told her that she could start making it up to me by calling back when I was awake. I eventually stumbled out of bed at about 10 and after some breakfast and checking of emails (none because nobody at home has emailed me with fabulous tales of what's happning in their lives in Sydney) I laced on my Mizuno Nirvana's and I went downtown to St Pauls to get Diagnosis No 4, this time by Dr Kirk Holohan gave me the fourth interpration of the x-rays, which is that the radiologist's conclusion from all of the x-rays is that there is no fracture of the wrist at all and that it's just a sprain. That was good news because it means a quicker complete recovery time but he said that pain should be the decider as to when i'm ready to work again. He gave me a prescription for a medical splint that I can wear (and hopefully claim from WBC) that will give me some support but is mainly for protection from further damage if I fall on it again but the specialty shop where I could get it from was closed. Yesterday when i'd gone in to town to get my bike serviced by the and got it done by the new very friendly and very talkative mechanic he'd been raging that it was my right wrist and not my left because he had the perfect splint at home which he would lend me for my recovery. He'd used it after a particularly bad, self caused wipeout where he'd completely fractured his wrist and arm. It's amazing how helpful this guy is compared to the other two arseholes who work in the shop. I then went to the Denman Running Room where I was to meet some people for a run in Stanley Park who i'd met over a community internet site. The two who turned up were two girls about my age who were both keen to start doing some distance running. They both seemed to indicate that they'd done a little bit in the past but when we started it soon became apparent that it wasn't going to work. I've naw been treating my body like a temple of late, unless i'm a rampaging pagan who is pillaging that temple, and I've not run at all for a couple of months but that couldn't bring me to their level. I'm not tooting my own horn or criticising these girls commitment to running but we'd run very slowly (which can be harder than running fast sometime) for about five minutes then they'd stop and walk for five minutes and then i'd try to get them moving again and then it was rest again. And after about thirty minutes of this one of them jumped ship. After this we headed back toward's Margaret's car alternating between running and walking and then I was on my own. We agreed to call for a rerun but I don't think I'll be up for it. My pulse wasn't moving at all when I ran with them and even though i'm sure they'll improve a bit if we keep going together we are really incompatible as running partners. Running partner have to be at least approximating each other's ability or the stronger one can't get any benefit out of it and can even develop injuries by having to adopt a much slower running style. I'm going to have to look for someone more suited or even just stick by myself for a while. After I was left on my own I did go for a run around the seawall, which is a pretty long course and I did I kept moving the entire distance although my nose and lungs were not being kept in check by my reduced pseudoephadrine intake. A lot of spit was left on that Seawall. Very happy with the run and I think I might keep it up. Still, once it was all over and the running heat wore off the drizzle, cooling sweat and ambient temperature did make for a very cold wander back home. Home didn't offer much in the way of distraction but it rarely doe

Monday, 23 January 2006

Back On The Bike

21 January - Finally got back on Baby Blue today for the first time since the accident. My splint seems to be causing more discomfort than the actual sprain, which is still slightly painful but I think that the disuse of my wrist is what's causing the worst of the trouble. So, after some disappointing Fet pancakes I headed downtown to get a tuneup and see a movie (oh, yes, another movie). The New World was pretty typical of my limited experience with Terrence Malick, a little bit confusing but very beautiful to watch. I don't think its the best movie about the origins of modern America that I've seen but it was still great to watch. Quite a few people didn’t seem to think so though and there was more than a couple who walked out before it was over (it was pretty long, truth be told). Also finally purchased a new pair of spectacles and will pick them up during the week - they're not essential to daily functioning but it will be good to be able to rest my poor corneas from their constant contact lens companions every once in a while.
While I was wandering around a few shops I was asked if I wanted a free back screening from a chiro in a running shop, not having nowt to do for the next 5m I agreed, knowing what to expect. I've already got a bit of scoliosis and lo and behold they told me that there was a problem but I could go and see him for an initial examination at half price which would then be followed by a bunch of treatments at full price. Sorry mate, i've been to more qualified (and more expensive) doctors than you who've given me a more realistic idea of what can be done - which is not much.
Came back home and finished reading 'Whale Rider', which was not as good as the movie but consdering its a standard high school text in NZ that's not so surprising and was just settling in to watching Zoolander when housemate Mark asked me to accompany him to a friend's house for some beer and mexican food. It wasn't long before someone suggested that we play a 'drinking game'. Feeling a bit wary about letting myself in to a Canadian game where i didn't know the rules and being pitted against regular players i was a bit relieved that 'Kings Head' turned out to be the exact weird-ass game that i sometimes found myself playing back at home with Madames Angel and Sandy Kerswill and Messuires Oscar and Dale, only minus the dreaded sing a song or act out a dramatic scene. You can go to the other side of the world and they're still playng the same ridiculous drinking game - the world sure is flat as Thomas Friedman might say. Survived that for a few hours before i headed out to Clark Drive where i was to rendesvous at a printing press where a local band, Ladyhawk, was playing, with K8, a winsome Flash courier who i've known for a while. I got there at 1015, presuming to meet them there and got a call at quarter to 11 with a shout that she was waiting for her ride and she'd be there soon. Not long after that, the band, started. They were very good, although very, very loud, and the very small venue was packed like sardines although it had a door open to afford some oxygen replenishment to the seething masses of young, cool Vancourites. Waited and waited and waited before trying K8 on the phone and SMSing for her timeframe. Eventually at half twelve after a very small amount of vacuous chatting with no message and the music coming to its conclusion i headed home and ate some toast before crashing out.

Sunday, 22 January 2006

Google defies US over search data

Stolen from the BBC ... Google fights back ...

The internet search engine Google isresisting efforts by the US Departmentof Justice to force it to hand over dataabout what people are looking for. Google was asked for information onthe types of query submitted over aweek, and the websites included in itsindex. The department wants the data to tryto show in court it has the rightapproach in enforcing an onlinepornography law. It says the order will not violatepersonal privacy, but Google says it istoo broad and threatens trade secrets. Privacy groups say any sample couldreveal the identities of Google usersindirectly. And they say the demand isa worrying precedent, because thegovernment also wants to make moreuse of internet data for fighting crimeand terrorism. However, the Department of Justicehas said that several of Google's maincompetitors have already complied. Act blockedThe department first issued a requestfor the data last August. It wants: A list of terms entered into thesearch engine during an unspecifiedsingle week, potentially tens ofmillions of queries A million randomly selected webaddresses from various Googledatabases.The US government is seeking todefend the 1998 Child Online ProtectionAct, which has been blocked by theSupreme Court because of legalchallenges over how it is enforced. Google's refusal to comply promptedUS Attorney General Alberto Gonzalesto ask a federal judge in the state ofCalifornia on Wednesday for an orderto hand over the records. But Google's lawyers said it would fightthe order. "Google is not a party to this lawsuitand their demand for informationoverreaches," associate generalcounsel Nicole Wong said in a writtenstatement. "We had lengthy discussions with themto try to resolve this, but were not ableto, and we intend to resist their motionvigorously." Search decisionsGoogle has also said that providing thedata would make its users think it waswilling to reveal personal informationabout them, as well as givingcompetitors access to trade secrets. One of its search rivals, Yahoo, said ithad already complied with a similargovernment subpoena "on a limitedbasis and did not provide anypersonally identifiable information". And Microsoft said in a statement thatit "works closely with law enforcementofficials worldwide to assist them whenrequested". "It is our policy to respond to legalrequests in a very responsive andtimely manner in full compliance withapplicable law," it said. BBC News Online is on the web atbbc.co.uk/news

A difficult shave

20 September - Decided to shave today for the first time since Christmas Eve. It would have to be the longest I've gone without any attempt to curb the growth of hair follicles coming out of my face. Although I did have a two (or was it three) month record of staying away from a close shave whilst travelling I was still using my then functional beard trimmer, which has sadly given up the ghost of life these past three weeks. My mighty beard, whilst not of Peter Phelps in Ned Kelly stature, was pretty goddamn thick and I had to go throw two razors to actually get rid of it all. The razor would just slide over the clumps of hair, especially around the chin, them being too big to fit between the gaps on the triple bladed sword of Antar-Khan. Whilst there are definite advantages in letting the beard grow long enough to provide a grip that will pull the hair far enough out of the follicle so that when it is cut it what is left is completely under the surface there is a point where it can get too long to be conquered by conventional weapons. Nonetheless it was a close shave with no nicks and I'm certainly feeling the cold Vancouver breeze now that it's gone. Last night's lack of sleep resulted in a rather late wakeup and it wasn't until 1pm when I finally made it out the back gates not that I really had any specific plans to go anywhere. A few more movies have arrived at the local cinemas that have piqued my interest but truth be told I'm really suffering a bit of movie fatigue. I'm also suffering printed word fatigue, the result of last night's insomnia was me plowing through Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat, an examination of horizontal economic relationships and how the globalisation is now inevitable. He writes a bit too much like Bill Bryson for my liking (he has too many "wonderful friends" to back up his conclusions) and it did have the unfortunate effect of scaring me into thinking that I should return to the IT industry before I get completely left behind by my six months going on one year (or maybe more) sabbatical. Basically, I'm getting a hunger for some physical activity. If I return to biking on Monday that should restore some of my vigour but I want to get a bit of variety in and it will still be a while before I can risk anything that requires the use of my dwindling guns.
Went downtown to do some library exchanges and went to the Cambie for a beer where I bumped into the Brickyard crowd who have migrated there (the bike and live music friendly brickyard has shut down and is due to be reincarnated as a 'sports bar') and then went out to Kitsilano where I met Dimitri for a chat and a beer or two. Got chatting with the drummer-singer for the pub's band who was very fond of Australia and dedicated his favourite Australian song to the Australian traveller in the crod (it might have been me) - it was Crowded House Everywhere You Go ... fool.

Friday, 20 January 2006

I can't sleep

It's almost 3am and I can'get to sleep

Running out of subject headers

19 January - The most exciting thing about today was a visit to JJ Beans for an overpriced café late with a rorsbry and cream muffin. I had to return the DVDs and whilst there I borrowed Lord Of War, which was an absolutely brilliant movie about gun running. A little bit predictable at times and some reasonably cliched characters from the ammoral hero, brother who’s a f**kup, oblivious wife, malevolent but more experienced bad guy, etc. Completely unapologetic look at one of the more unseemly industries in today's world. I've seen a LOT of movies in the past few weeks and this one would have to be near the top of the list. The rest of the day wasn't very exciting so I’ll keep this blog uninformed.

The Fug and The Glug

18 January - My head is in a fug and my sinuses are full of glug. God, I hate having a cold. From the weird body temperature fluctuations to the constant nose blowing and the hallucinations that inevitably happen when you're in bed at 5am waiting for the sunrise to come even though when it does come there's no way that you're able to enjoy it. This cold is the first i've had since arriving in this country and as I recall it may be the first i've had since leaving Australia. I wonder if it's hitting me harder than it would in Australia - is it a different virus that I have now than what i'd have in Oz or is the cold virus as much of a traveller as we humans are? With avian flu popping up all over the world and it being the next big disease to hit the human race it makes you wonder how its less lethal cousins travel around. The wrist is feeling a magnitude or two better. I'm hoping if I splint it up I should be able to ride next week - I think I shall go to the hospital on Sundee rather than Mondee so I don't waste any time getting back to work. Everyone knows what a workoholic I am ... Went for breakfast at Bons, which was not as pleasant as it could have been. A real greasy spoon diner and the pancakes aren't nearly as good as my own or the ones at Fets and the eggs are quite obviously straight out a chicken run ... but it's cheap and the atmosphere is friendly enough (warm your cup up for you, hon???). Dealing with the bureaucracy of the Workers Compensation Board is getting to be a bit of a drag and my travel insurance company is making it very difficult to make my claim for the various knick knacks that have run away from me during this trip (camera, contact lenses, spectacles etc) but I seem to have a lot of free time at the moment. The wrist is keeping me away from work but now this cold is keeping me in the house and i've got nowt to do but post eleborate ramblings, watch movies, read books and deal with various incorporated bureaus. Today's book is Filth by irvine welsh, always good for entertainment and the movie for today is the hulk (say what you will about it - it's crap, of that I have no defence, but it would have to one of the most beautiful fantasy fight scenes in movie history - the hulk against a bunch of US military helicopters and tanks is one of the most mind blowing bits of cinema i've seen in ages and i've just seen King Kong so there's some stiff competition). After Rene got home he treated me to a rather large herbal remedy and we watched 'Two for the money', a rather confusing and not very entertaining movie about sports gambling. I'm still not sure if it was for or against it, perhaps i'll never know.

Thursday, 19 January 2006


17 January - Got woken up at the ungodly hour of 745 by a phone call from the Worker's Compensation Board. The woman was very aggressive and almost a bit accusatory in her tone to me but maybe it was because I was still a bit groggy and last night's dosage of pseudoephadrine had worn off and my head was glugged up with mucus. Went over the facts of the case for the umpteenth time (i don't like using the term umpteenth but I can't for the life of me remember how many times i've had to recall the details of that day - it's been a lot). After about 25m we were done and I was just trying to zone out again when the girl called me back to go over the crucial detail of how to spell my name. Ooh, that's a very interesting name, where does it come from? Standard story is surname - Hungarian via Slovakia; first name Hippy. I can just imagine the perception that all the people have of Mr and Mrs Cucvara from Australia - why would they name their son Saxifrage, the father must be a pot smoking doofus with tie-dyed shirts and the mother is a kaftan wearing flower child. Well, they'll never know my secret ... Popped an Advil cold and flu tablet with the active ingredient being my favourite drug, pseudoephadrine. For years whenever I had a cold I would always tough it out with the occasional echinacea pill and maybe i'd just load up on Vitamin (pronounced like vita-wheat) C and it would take a few days to a few weeks to recover. Last year I thought i'd try out some generic cold and flu stuff and I couldn't believe how quickly it all dried up. Pseudoephadrine is fantastic! It's got me thinking as to what normal ephadrine is like? It's still annoying having a cold, probably caught off my housemate, mark (you should be thanking me for giving it to you!! Why on earth would I ever want to have a cold???) but at least it's at a time when i'm already out of action.
Although, I did get buzzed at around 9 by BJ, my manager, with a sad sack story of woe of how a bunch of bikers couldn't be found and begging me to come in for a few hours. I still can't ride the bike but I agreed to do a bit on foot for a while and it was nice to be doing something for a while. However, being a foot courier is a far cry from the freedom of being on a bike. It takes so long to get between buildings and you still get just as wet. We also have a new dispatcher who started today, Lee, who i've apparently met before but I can't for the life of me remember who he is. He seems very nice, which is more than can be said for Chris, who was fired specifically for NOT being nice. I was only out there for a couple of hours and my hand ached a little but it seemed like the cold (the disease i'm carrying within my gene's survival machine and not the temperature, although that wasn't spectacular either) was what really caused the most amount of bother. Headed home and tried to pass out unsuccessfully but did manage to get through Richard Dawkin's River Out of Eden. A continuation of the Selfish Gene and the blind watchmaker, it's very good and full of little statistical experiments which prove evolution but this one contained a true legend of genetics which was one of the most beautiful scientific theories that i've ever read. I've heard about it before but have never really considered the implications of it - Mitochondrial Eve, a real woman who existed about 150,000 years ago (probably in Africa but potentially in Asia) who the entire population of the world is actually descended from. She was not the first woman by any means and she had thousands or probably millions of contemporaries who are also the ancestors of some of us but every human being in the world today counts her as one of our ancestors. That she existed at all is obvious but how the scientists calculated where and when she lived is amazing - I won't spoil it. There's also Y-Chromosone Adam who we also all share as a great (insert many more greats here) grandfather who probably lived 60,000 years ago and his story is also interesting but it doesn't have the beauty of us all coming out of the same womb ... What's also interesting is how some creationists have seized on the idea as proof of their theory even though the theory that proves mitochondrial Eve's existence completely blows creationism out of the water.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Hurrah! My scaphoid is not fractured ...

16 January - ... but it appears that another bone in my wrist is chipped so after almost twenty eight years of sprains, scrapes, pulled tendons, torn corneas, embarassing surgeries but NEVER a broken bone I now have to add that particular calamity, experienced by many, to the list. The third visit to the hospital with the third doctor seeing me confirmed the worst. One advantage is that there is nothing I can do to fix it and riding my bike isn't going to cause any more damage but the pain is still too extreme to be working so it's going to be at least another week before I can go back to work. And i've got to go back to the hospital next week for another check up at the awful Emergency ward. Not a hell of a lot of people at the ward today but it's still painfully slow to get processed. Me and the girl behind me were bitching rather vocally about how long it was taking - we were standing in front of the triage desk for about 10m with the nurses just chatting away before one of them told us that we had to step to the window (about 1m from where we were standing) to get processed. I have to wonder what the nurses thought we were doing queuing in Emergency? We weren't there for our health. Actually, wait a second, we were. Another completely miserable rainy Vancouver day - I bumped into a few of the couriers who complained about the weather and that made me feel a little bit better but not much. A few errands had me walking all over the city and I got completely saturated from the waist down but my "system" managed to keep the rest of me dry.
Rented out The Constant Gardener and watched it with Aaron (outgoing housemate) and Kevin (incoming housemate). Was a very good movie, very similar to the book although a few plot glitches (melded, added or omitted characters resulted in a some amusing age paradoxes, at least they were amusing to me) seemed to miss the director's eye and there is always the inevitable simplification of such a multi-faceted book but it was great watching regardless. Now, have to think of something chea- to occupy tomorrow (and the rest of the bloody week).

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

The Best Blonde Joke Ever

How far would you go???

Cold But Clear

15 January - A late start to the day due to previous evening's festivities not helped by the fact that it appears that I may be coming down with a mild strain of influenza, hoping it's just cold but at least work seems to be out of the way for the moment. Wandered up to Main to meet Dimitri for a late breakfast at Slickety Jims, a reasonably decent café with a moderately amusing menu (the freshly slaughtered vegetables comment drew a chuckle) before wandering around a few used book stores (an overpriced ian mcewen and irvine welsh caught my eye) and had a walk around False Creek before the cold got to us. No rain today but the lack of clouds meant there was nothing to hold what little heat the sun brought and the dark clouds over the mountains didn't forbode well for the morrow. Once again, at least it looks lke work is still out of the question. Had a bit of a Transporter marathon after I got home. The first one was absolutely awful - so many plot holes I almost gagged. At least there was an icy-cold angel of death nemesis to give it some oomf. The second was so completely over the top and so ridiculous that one couldn't even take it seriously, so it was actually pretty entertaining even though it ripped off everything from Ransom to James Bond. It also appears that we have a new housemate as of today, a friend of Chad's, and a goofy newfy to boot, which may not bode well, but at our brief meeting before he crashed out he seems nice enough. We're now back to the full contingent of six people although Aaron, the other Aussie, moves out at the end of the month (i'm still wondering which one of us drove him out) which will have us back to five again (a much more preferable number but it won't last).

Monday, 16 January 2006

Pacific Spirit

14 January - Wrote a very long post all about today but somehow it disappeared. Very disappointing as it means i'm going to have to try to recall all the wit and wry comments that just flowed earlier on in the evening. Planned to see a bit of the outdoors today and headed out to Pacific Spirit park at UBC. Took a while to find the entrance to the walking trails from the bus stop but a couple of nice dog walkers set me in the right direction. Apparently the park was extensively logged years ago but it's all grown back, despite being a very young forest it still certainly appeared to be pretty wild. Not the roughest terrain i've traversed by any means, the walking was pretty easy although there were a few vertical staircases built down to the seaside which got my heart pumping a wee bit. Saw lots of squirrels and a beaver dam but no beavers and one woman who I accidentallystartled made note of her relief that I wasn't a bear so i'm presuming there are black bears in the region as well (obviously didn't see any though). Whilst walking along the Spanish trail I did come across two black dogs who crossed my path - they weren't very big and they weren't very vicious so i've got to presume that they hadn't been trained by Nazi soldiers to attack and rape the locals into submission but you never know. However, their owner did seem to be a little bit Aryan, so you never know. Wreck Beach was very picturesque, very calm and with pebbles for most of the coastline although there was some rather grey sand at some points. There was a sign that said that clothing was optional at a couple of points but I think that the 3 degree weather convinced the beachgoers that it wasn't the best way of enjoying the seaside that day. However the cold weather didn't stop a fair multitiude of hippies/homeless setting up temporary residences alongthe shore. Every good day has to have something go wrong and for me it was the loss of my camera case somewhere along Wreck beach. I retraced my steps and had no luck which was kind of annoying but at least it wasn't the camera itself. Took a while to find my way to the bustop get home but made it in time for a screening of 'Escape From New york', a classic set in the post apocalyptic world of 1988 New York where the president of the usa has an English accent and wields a machine gun and is a stellar example of Kurt russell's actingand mullet weilding abilities. Also went out to one of the local drinkingholes for a few pitchers with one of the housemates and came home later than i'd planned.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

I thought I was off work

13 January - Friday the 13th didn't bring any bad luck today, at least none that I know of at this point in time. Wandered out to Kingsway Mall, about 40m in the pouring rain for the closest shoe repair store in order to get my trusty Nike hiking boots repaired (considering that i've had them since 1994 they seem to have held up pretty well). Had to beat down the price after the ridiculous quote the woman gave me. There was no chance of me not leaving the boots there because I wasn't going to take them with me into downtown and I sure didn't want to take them back home with the weather being what it was. Never really dried off for the rest of the day but did escape the rain for a few hours with a matinee screening of the Ringer, which was a decent way to spend two hours but not exactly a great cinematic experience. While I was downtown I paged one of the other couriers on my radio so that I could meet up with him to pick up my commission cheque. While I was waiting for him to turn up BJ (the driver manager who's acting as dispatcher until they get someone to replace Chris) buzzed me to beg for me to pick up a trip that he couldn't move. The reason why he couldn't get any of the bikers to do it was because it was a 10lb box but I had nothing to do so I was happy to do it (however, I soon regretted this because trying to carry a 10lb box with only one functioning arm is not the easist thing in the world). Killed a few hours with coffee, banking and searching through optometrist's stores for a new pair of glasses before meeting up with a few of the bikers for dinner at Nagez, home of the Ukrainian grandma of Granville St (she's just like the grandma you thouht you'd have if she was nice and from the Ukraine) where me and Dimitri were enthralled (???) by stu's view on everything from his dislike of his brother's wardrobe and his lifelong desire to make guitars and bed a woman of every ethnic group in the world. Not as interesting as it sounds. Did finish reading Amserdam by Ian mcEwen, which was excellent and started reading another I got from the library. I thought it was written by steve Martini, who I seem to recall was an author of some renown (i've never read any so I can't be sure of their quality) but upon getting home and opening back cover it appears that it's by Steve Martin, the Hollywood actor, so I'm considering giving it a miss ....

Friday, 13 January 2006

Do You Know The Muffin Man???

12 January - Set my alarm reasonably early this morning and I very reasonably slept right through it. It was raining pretty miserably today so I suppose that's one advantage of not being able to work. Last night's boredom did have one drawback, it spurred me into doing some work on my room with a pretty gung-ho tidy up and I even did some basic decorating, which almost cheered me up. One wall is now dedicated to maps. It's a pity I threw most of the ones that I gathered in the various cities I travelled through but i've got my battered old Vancouver map up there with one of Hanoi and a 3D map of Phnom Penh (it sounds a lot better than it really is - I was very disappointed when I opened up the 3D map for the first time and was not confronted with a laser hologram of the city or a pop-up of all the major sites but merely an isometric view with a couple of buildings drawn in). There's also the map of Vancouver drawn on a Swiss Deli brown paper bag that one of my co-workers very helpfullydrew for me before I left Sydney (it was rather strange how well informed he was). Today's mission was to finally see ScienceWorld, the fun filled playhouse that teaches you all about the wonders of science. The Bibliotheque I went to in Paris was incredible and this was like that, only much, much lamer (and with a lot more anklebiters around). There were a few interesting exhibits but the other kids wouldn't let me play and all of the fun physical things required two sturdy hands (although I did hoist mysself up half a metre with one hand and a pulley system). Still, another thing ticked off. Wandered into downtown wit the intent of picking up my cheque from one of the other couriers but by the time they arrived I was already home. Did meet up with most of my copworkers and a few other couriers, all expressing sympathy for my plight. It's not terribly busy at the moment so I think most of my co-workers ar quite happy with me being off for a while longer. Also met the muffin man, an old gentleman named Herb who brings in sunshine muffins for the couriers every Thursday. At first he eqyed me warily asking if I was a courier but upon hearing my tale of woe he gladly pressed one into my inured hand. He runs a prayer group somewhere downtown and they pray for the whole of Vancouver (i think it needs a lot of prayers myself) and him and his wife used to bring coffee and muffins for the meet. Somewhere along the line, about 12 year ago, his wife thought it would be nice to give the leftovers to the hungry couiers on dunsmuir st and so began a tradition which continued on since then. His wife is now gone but a friend of hers bakes them exclusively for the couriers and every thursday he brings a bag of them in for us. Very sympathetic about my injury, maybe his prayers will help. Visited loreia down at her puband had an overpriced beer befpore getting saturated on the way home. Well, at least I got out of thhouse. Also watched Wedding crashers in the evening which was very amusing - bit of a fantasy land premise but very OTT opening scene and Vince Vaughn's energetic performance was hilarious - tthree stars.

It's not the pain, it's the boredom

11 January - Haven't been terribly active for the past few weeks anyway, but this wrist injury is very inconvenient. All of the things I could be doing with the time off work like going on a few mountain trails, going climbing or even the prohibitively expensive snowboarding are completely out of bounds because of the injury. Started a few things that I've held off on for a while but it's still pretty chilly and intermitently raining so there's very little incentive to leave the house. Daytime television is straight off the list, the books I have are not exactly riveting and the internet is more a pain than a pleasure at the moment. Struggled through a housemate's DVD of 'Pitch Black' in the afternoon but it didn't too much to alleviate the horror of being a convalescent. A few of my tasks today included making some phone calls and I had to navigate the labyrinthine network of the IVR to speak to a real person. All of the little tricks I knew to bypas the machine (the one benefit of working for telcos for five years) don't seem to work over here and whilst I really dislike punching in numbers on a menu I abhor talking and repeating myself to a machine and I just give them the silent treatment and hope that I'll eventually get put through to the humans. The evening included a brief stint down to the post office and a very cheap and sickly sit down coffee and muffin combo to allow me to absorb a bit of Vitamin A before returning to the house and the couch where I risked watching the predictably tedious second instalment of the hopefully short Chronicles of Riddick sage that completely wasted its good stars who should have known better and intensified my contempt of its bad stars. Keith Urban's space mullett was memorably amusing though.

this is an audio post - click to play

Coder In Courierland

It's scary how much this guys experience my own - same industry (IT), same inspiration (William Gibson's Virtual Light), same thoughts ... Spooky:

Thursday, 12 January 2006

I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out

10 January - Had a few small missions to do today including making a two hour journey into Richmond to sign two forms with Novex for the workers compensation. On the way I stopped off at City Hall and got my brand new shiny red 2006 courier licence plate (i'm now number 035) but had a nightmare of actuallygetting to the office. Once there I had a little bit of a chat with my manager clarifying a few pay issues i've suspected and was planning to say hello to the few people I know there including my dispatcher, chris. It turns out that chris was 'let go' yesterday for being ... Well, for being a bit of a bastard. I have to admit that he can be quite curt and offensive over the radio but it didn't bother me too much because he was very good at getting me around when it was busy and he seemed to like me (most of the time). But, apparently his mouth got him into trouble and he's gone now. The driver manager even asked me if i'd be interested in training to be the dispatcher - while it's nice to be thought of for "promotion" the whole point of working in a courier firm was to be on the bike and there was no way I was going to get an office job in that place! Managed to cadge a lift back into town from of the surly drivers who started to open up just before he let me off and after a few things from the shops I met up with Rene to head off to my first hockey game, the Toronto Maple Leafs v the vancouver canucks. I'd pretty much decided that I would support Toronto only because I was so sick of having Canucks games forced upon me in the household and mark lent me his leafs toque to wear to the game but I may have backed the wrong horse. Great spectacle, more like a concert than just a game - it's really fast and a little hard to follow (easy to tell when someone scores obviously but the game keeps on pausing and I never knew whether it was a penalty, a time out or, god forbid, a tv time out [Pop Quiz, asshole!!!! "It's TV, it changed everything, changed the way we think forever. I mean the first time they
stopped the game to cut away to some fucking commercial that was the end of it. Because it was our concentration that mattered, not theirs, not some fruitcake selling cereal."). All pretty enjoyable from the boston pizza bazooka (exactly what it sounds like) to the bizarre orca blimp (that makes you feel like you're in a surreal giant fish tank) and the amazing skating skills that ar second nature to the players - a bit of a spectacle. Vancouver won 4-3 and if i'd just been loyal to my locality I would have been less disappointed. Then again, i'd have been a lot more disappointed if I had any interest in sports whatsoever so i'm not too upset. Afew beers to commiserate with a rather morose Rene at the Cambie and then a rather greasy Megabite pizza afterwards finished the night. In any event, have ticked off another Canadian task. What ho, what ho, what ho.

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Write Off

8 January - Sunday was a bit of a writeoff, considering that I arrived home around half five in the morning and didn't get to bed until after six. Television and John le Carre followed but leaving the house wasn't a high priority. Wrist is still pretty tender and swollen but it doesn't seem to hurt unless it gets bumped or if I try to do anything with it. Haven't been able to shave or wash my hair since, which is kind of annoying considering the last time I did either of those things was late last year (and i'm aware of the fact that this makes it sound worse than it is). My beard clippers, which served me very well through my tour of Nam (and other associated tourist destinations) have seemed to have finally given up their immortal ghost and may soon have to be consigned to the scrapheap of history (or at least the scrapheap of 1949 East First Ave), hence I will either have to buy new ones or i'll just have to rely on the blade (or I could grow a big bushy beard just to annoy my parents). Had a bit of good luck with the Sunday screening of Shawshank Redemption, but they censored it (how can you censor THIS film???) and the experience was not quite as good as it could have been. Is there a line snuck into that movie that is 'all prisoners, return your cellphones' or was I just hearing things? Despite the censor's diminishing editing hacks this film is still pure poetry. It's got an incredible story and is so perfectly put together and it really is the perfect example of what a movie can be.

More Gamma Rays

9 January - first thin was calling Novex to let them know that I wasn't coming in and then calling Work Cover to start the ball rolling with getting the benefits confirmed. Back to the hospital for more exposure to high frequency phaser beams. The new diagnosis 'suspicion of scaphoid fracture', which is less reassuring than the last one but it's only a possibility and can be ruled out (or confirmed) next week when I have another x-ray. One good thing is that the doctor said the best thing was just stay off it and give it some rest and there's no special therapy that will hasten recovery. Likely that i'll be covered for lost wages as well but only the minimum and its not great when most of your wage is commission but better than nothing. A few other errands in downtown resulted in an umbilical jewel and two tickets for tomorrow's hockey game between the Maple Leafs and the Canucks. It's apparently the one of the biggest games of the year in Vancouver and tickets are very hard to come by. Two of my housemates are both pretty hardcore Leafs fans and it's not often their boys come to town. Have to decide which one I'll give the other ticket to. Let the bidding commence, I say. I better not try to bilk either too much or I might just not wake up one morning and they'll have two tickets to share between themselves. I still haven't learned to watch the game on tv but the live version of a game is always such a different experience from the televised one and it's also something I prmised myself i'd do some time when I was over here. Afew lines being drawn in the household tonight - some of the kitchen items have been withdrawn to private use only because one of the housemates pots was chipped whilst he was away. Oh, the humanity.

Tuesday, 10 January 2006


7 January - Saturday morning brought little more than aches and pains but I managed to prepare some cereal with great difficulty.
Went to 'Jeans Queen' and found myself a nice scarf and cowboy shirt that didn't go together but may match other things in my limited wardrobe. We will have to see. Read a bit of 'The Constant Gardener', a taut political thriller set in Africa and my first John le Carre experience (very taut and very thrilling if the back of the book is anything to by). In the evening I went out to the Cambie to meet my friend Susan for a few drinks which carried on to the SoHo (does every city have a place called the Soho?) and then onto Eric's house, an amazing little pad in the west end (does every city have an area called the west end as well???) . The place was pretty small but the front room had its own bar and the whole place was decorated to look like a swish little nightclub. There were martini prints on the walls, mood lighting (probably a remnant of christmas but still very appropriate) and some cool little bits of objects d'art that were probably stolen from the Ritz. Eric is a physiotherapist and made some vague promises about giving me a free session on my hand but that could have been the alcomohol talking. A little bit later than I would have planned but fun night nonetheless.

Monday, 9 January 2006

The Wounded Soldier

6 january - Woke up early today, but not for work. Set my alarm for eight but was unkindly woken by my Blackberry's alarm which is always set for six - managed to very easily get back to sleep but was up to call in to can work for the day. My shoulder and arm were adding to the general throbbing that was still coming from my wrist. It didn't come as a big surprise to Chris and there is a bit of a surplus of riders at the moment so it didn't cause any trouble. Struggled around the house for a while tryingto make myself some breakfast and a coffee. Took a while and eventually decided on going out for something to eat instead. Headed downtown to try and make something of the day and found myself at the library where I got some fat but populist tomes to entertain myself through my invalid state. Bumped into Dimitri, who'd suffered his own minor mishap that day, but I stayed away from the core where I might be questioned for my lack of bicycle and uniform. Downtown really isn't all that exciting when it's rainin(which is obviously was) and I escpaed the afternoon by heading into Tinseltown to see Spielbego's latest, Munich. Very good movie with a strong moral core condemning violence but a trifle long and a bit of a squeeze on the bladder. Made my way home after this for Ibuprofen, Mongalian takeaway and South Park. Arm still hurt quite a bit through the night, hoping to get some relief in the next few days. I've forogtten what it's like to be a temporary invalid - couldn't imagine what it would be like to go through this on a more permanent basis - will try to remember what it's like when i'm all better.

Saturday, 7 January 2006


5 January - Awfullu cold and wet morning butit mostly stopped around 10ish and it cleared up quite nicely. I was sent out eastways to Port Vancouver, quite far ou from downtown and one of the items I was to take was a big box of freshly baked cookies with a helium balloon tied to the end of it. The reason why a biker had to do it was because the owner was adamant that the cookies not be moved by any driver who smoked (because they would stink up the cookies) therefore I was assigned (i supposed she prefers vancouver's carbon monoxide and car fume vapours infusing her cookies than cigarette smoke). I had the helium balloon streaming behind me for about half an hour but as I sped over the viaduct into the east side it detached and went up and up and on to freedom. i'm not sure if they missed the balloon when I dropped it off but I would soon have bigger things to worry about than an upwardly mobile helium Happy Birthday balloon. My next destination was Port Vancouver, a truck infested industrial area and train tracks verywhere. it was one of those train tracks, slick with the morning's rain, that sent Baby Blue flying out from under me leaving me crash into the pavement, landing on my wrist and head. I really heard more than felt my head hit the ground and despite it being a solid whack the helmet absorbed the impact perfectly and I was still clear of head enough to thank myself for not even considering to succumb to the helmetlessness that pervades this industry. The sprain to my wrist took a while to manifes but started to progressivelky worse very rapidly. As for the bike, he seemed to be absolutely no worse for wear other than the fact that the handlebars and front wheel had completely spun around backwards. A very uncomfrtable ride back to the core was not helpd by the fact that I kept on getting new trips on my Blackberry and I couldn't alert my dispatcher to what had happened because the radios weren't working. As soon as I got back to downtown I locked my bike up and just walked the trips I had left on me to their relatively clustered destinations and made my way to St Pauls hospital for my hand which was really starting to throb. Got in touch with chris who rambled a bit about one of hi own accidents before making some vague promises how I would be taken care of. The emergency ward is a really depressing place - not too crowded but full of miserable people with miserable injuries and the majority there seemed to be regular visitors. When they admitted me they took down all of my pertinent information down to all contact details and visa details (none of which I had on me) but didn't spot a single piece of real ID . The quote for the treatment went from $444 when I told them I didn't have BC Medical to $288 when I was on working holiday to nothing when it was an accident on worktime. The x-ray showed up no breaks which was a big relief but the perfujnctory examination beyond that didn't leave me feelinglike they did all they could do. My wrist was put in a splint and I was sent on my way. Obviously the day was over for me so I signed off and took the Skytrain home , puushing my bike along with my good hand (woe to the offficial who would tellme that I couldn't take my bike on the train before 6). Eventually got home, not 5 metres from the front gate my courier bag strap got bizarrely entangled in the back wheel and I had an excruciating 5 minutes of very painful and frustrating effort of trying to disengage my strap with one hand while being draged down by the bike that kept on threatening to roll (entangling the strap further and yanking me down) or just fall over (taking me with it). First thing first I had to decide what I was going to do for the pain. It was either slug back a few whiskeys and have a joint to relax or take a few of my dwindling supply of nurofens (not sure that those thing should mix). The nurofens won out but they seemed remarkably slow tto take effect. When rene returned home a while later he wasted no time in helping out by rolling a spliff, something I wwas completely unable to doo with only working hand. Marijuana is many things, not all of them ppositive, but one thing it is abnsolutely eexcellent at doing is relaxing one who is in physical pain. While I was spacing a while I feltcompletely detached from the now persistent pulsing pain that my wrist was now feeling. It turns out rene was given written notice bbecause he hadn't paid rent (it had eoonly been two days! I'm sure there is a bit more to the story but it was still a very excessive reaction by the landlord). Apparently they talked it outlater on . Did Rene a solid by emailing a bunch of pictures he'd taken on my camera of him taking down a huge tree to his girlfriend. Somer absolutely increidble pictures which i'll post up sometime of him in action. Watched two very interesting movies as well, Runaway jury, a fasst paced john grisham thrilller attacking the gun industry (very smoothly translattd from the cigarette company attack from the book but otherwise very faithful). Excellent cast, most notably in the supporting actors who were in the jury like luis guzman, bill nunn and the inestimable maori chamelon cliff curtis. I was quite shocked to find myself emotionally moved when the motives ffor the heeroes ar revealed. It may be trash but it's highly intelligent, well acted and well made trash and I loved it. The second movie was 'Kung fu hhustle', the chinese made stephen chow vehicle which was very entertaining with incredible balletic dancing aand over the top CGI wire-fuu fight scenes but the plot was nonsensnical at times and, even worse, completely lifted from the matrix in parts. I exxplained my annoyance to a housemate at the obvious plot gaps in the film and his respoonse was predictably dismisive. 'it's a movie, man, how can yuou expect it to be real when it's got all that crazy ass fight stuff'. A film can be abstract and not necessarily make sense but it should always be properly constructed or it just seems like it's a half arse job. All of the amazing visuals can be wasted if the movie doesn't make sense. But, it was fun anyway. I's ironic (well, at least one in one of the more popular common usages of the word ironsy) that the timi actually have a desire to recouint the detailed events of a day is the one time that it's really difficult to type them out with only m left hand (thank god, the left is okay). It's ver difficult to do thing for myself at the moment and I really miss those times when i've had someone close to help ith intimate thing like contact cleaning or even getting dressed but the housemates, especially rene, have been very helpful. Rene cut up a mango for me and washed some dishes and aaron did me the seemingly inocuous favour of tying my shoe laces. Really hoping my right hand recovers pretty quickly. Tres annoyment.

Aubergine and Fuschia, what, are you gay???

4 January - Last night's late night South Park episode ensured that I went through four rather than my usual three snoozes this morning and I had to hustle to get into town on time. I needn't have bothered as I had a lengthy wait for any trips to start me off regardless. It was beautiful weather in Vancouver today (well, it wasn't raining anyway) and despite it not being busy I was at least occupied for most of the day. Had the same brake issue flare up again today as well as screeching gears (i do love Baby Blue but he is a bit of a problem bike) and after I returned from the side I just had to take him in for an emergency service from one of the two surly mechanics at Simons. I had to take a loaner bike for the afternoon and let me tell you, they are weird. The loaner bikes from Simon's are Specialized bikes of reasonably decent quality and are in fair condition but they're weird. They've got a really short frame and the handlebars are on a really longstem. When riding it you're set completely upright and it feels like i'm riding around on a penny-farthing. I prefer a high seat and long frame with low handlebars for a more streamlined racing position. I also felt a bit lost with not having clip-in peddles, my feet kept on slipping off but eventullygot sorted out. Was very impressed by a few well thought out and perfectly executed runs that I performed in the afternoon - but nobody else was there to appreciate it except me and the dispatcher, .. But I knew ... Completely dead at the end of the day (45m of sitting outside 885) but I had a good chat with one of my co-workers, Stu, who was having concerns about being ripped off by the company. I assuaged his fears by explaining how the pay system worked and how he wasn't being ripped off (not in the way he thought anyway), we just get crap pay. After work headed over to a friend's, Brad, house for some orange juice and a chat - he's on the middle of ripping his apartment to pieces and redecorating - another friend of his came over and they were engrossed with the detail of hat he'd done and what he was going to do. Despite it being a pretty gigantic job that he's done (ripped up floors, putting down wood, installing new appliances, doing the lighting etc) to me, decorating is f**king boring. I guess i'm just not as gay as I thought I was.
After struggling through this I came home and went out for an incredibly overpriced beer at one of the local drinking establishments (the one with a far too pushy bartender) before returning home to find our long lost Newfy housemate has returned. Now I have to share a bathroom again, f**k.

Thursday, 5 January 2006

A Cryin' Shame

2 January - Not a very productive day today - did some bike maintenance by changing a tyre and repairing a few inner tubes (and throwing a few more). Headed down to the drive to do a series of objectives that I didn't really want to do but needed to be done - on the way down I walked past a park where there was a small child about three years old, obviously overexposed to Spiderman, who had climbed halfway up a fence but couldn't get down and was stuck holding himself up by his fingertips like a rockclimber screaming for his mummy. My instant reaction was to grab him and let him down but this was complicated by the fact that he was on the other side of the fence and I'd have to try to grab his wrists which would be a bit awkward and also not helped by the stupid checking of whether someone would see it as 'inappropriate'. It is probably paranoia but I could just imagine going into the playground and lifting the little boy off the fence only to have his mother materialising and snatching him off me with wild accusations. It's awful that this is something that has to be considered (or at least thought of) when you see a child in trouble but you can't fault parents with being protective of their genes but obviously this one wasn't too protective because she was nowhere to be found and after a minute another mother (obviously less of a suspicious character than I) came to let him down, all while vocally wondering where the kid's mother really was.
Ended up going to see 'Memoirs of a Geisha' with Rene, catering to his fetish for 'Asian chicks' (athough truth be told he seems to have a thing for all that is Asian), reasonably entertaining but a bit strange. The most striking thing about the whole film was that it played like a fairly typical martial arts film only the heroes were geishas rather than ninjas or samurais. There were good guys and bad guys (girls), the master and the apprentice, the hero coming out of retirement to help a friend, there was even a training montage (tres weird) - nice outfits and Rene certainly seemed to like it. The best thing about it for me was that there absolutely no ads whatsoever and the two previews were suitably intriguing (one I can't remember and one for Sofia Coppala's Marie Antoinette - very inappropriate soundtrack for the teaser, wonder what it all means?) and at the cinema.

Back To The Wet

3 January - Beautiful morning today - it was pretty cool but no ice and the sky was pretty clear. It was pretty quiet in the morning but the weather was pleasant so I wasn't feeling too bothered and I spent a bit of time over the side so I got a few k's in - before I went off I met up with Flowers, one of my copwokers who handed something over to me so I could take it Southside and when I saw him he had his head in hs hands and he looked full of despair, apparently he'd moved out for the first time and he was having a hard time dealing with life. We've arranged to catch up for a chat so I can impart some of the wisdom of my life's experience tohim (or not). I started to regret having wearing my tights and I started to overheat a bit but this was before the clouds came in and the heavens opened up. Once the rain started it didn't stop all afternoon and before long I was completely saturated. It was shortly after this that my brakes stopped working - funny thing about brakes is that they're pretty useful, especially when it's raining - managed to struggle through until I got back to downtown for a wee service from a surly mechanic. It's amazing how much wear couriering does to a bicycle - either that or the one that I got is a turnip. Or, more likely, it's inhabited by an evil spirit. There is a Catholic church on Nelson St so I think i'm going to visit the priest to get the power of Christ to compel the spirit the hell out of my bike! Got out 'Sky High' on the way home (we have tight-arse tuesday over here as well) and despite it being Disney and having the recommendation of 'it's like a cross between Harry Potter and the Incredibles' (which it completely is) I found it to be a much better movie than both. The Incredibles, to me, was mildly entertaining but had a rotten moral core - the bad guy, obviously had a chip on his shoulder but was far easier to admire than the heros in in my opinion. Despite not having super powers he managed to apply himself and almost defeat a whole host of 'heros' who were supposedly his superiors. Sky High was a bit cheesy, a bit American, but entertaining and while being completely predictable it had the right message. That was my opinion anyway. Later on when the other housematts came home we had a bit of herbal remedies and then watched Seinfeld and the first episode of South Park ... Fun.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Citric Development

1 January 2006 - As the new year dawned I found myself at one of the many fruit shops along Commercial Drive. I found myself confronted with a very large selection of citrus fruits and I purchased a selection that included a blood orange (because i've seen them often and once read about them in a 'Tell Me Why' book but have yet to try one), a couple of limes (for cocktails), some ordinary mandarins (because they're quite delicious) and some miniature Chinese mandarins that i've never seen before (they're about the size of a lychee but taste like a very sweet mandarin - to be honest though, the main reason why I chose them was the same reason why I always like to eat miniature things - because I can pretend that i'm a giant eating the offerings of the Liliputians whom i've enslaved). I also got a couple of mangos because they were on sale. The variety of the different orange based citrus fruits that I collected reminded me of a great idea I had several years back. Why aren't there any sweet limes or lemons on the market? The only reason we have sweet oranges today is because of years of selective breeding to boost the sweetness of them. And I have to presume that the easily peeled skins of mandarins are also the result of the Chinese having too much time on their hands and constantly breeding oranges that had the loosest skins. Why didn't the citrus farmers of the world create breed sweet lemons, limes and grapefruits? If a real effort was to be made today to create a sweet lemon or lime it would probably be done using genetic engineering and would involve splicing in fish or cowe genes into the bitter fruit but i'm sure it would only take a couple of generations to make a lime that was at least edible. I think when I get back to sydney that will have to be something I need to work on. For the moment it's going to go on the backburner with my other idea to cross-breed marijuana and tobacco plants to make a leaf that for more easily rolled spliffs. The only problem with that one is that by the time they legalise the first plant the other one will be made illegal. I think that it's an idea whose time has come (well, maybe it's an idea whose time came 5 years ago but I still think it's a good one).

Monday, 2 January 2006

Joke du Jour

A small chuckle ...
A man goes to the zoo.
When he gets there, there's only a dog.
It was a Shitzu.

Auld Lang Syne

31 December - Woke up at 10ish with a little bit of a hangover (tis the season to be drinking ...) but managed to shake it off with my dwindling supply of Nurofen (it's Advil over here but i'm very loyal to my brand when it comes to Ibuprofen) and a very long shower. Jason was packinga van with all of his stuff and it appears that quite a few of the things that i'd supposed were household items in fact belong to him. The kettle, the iron, the monitor for the house computer - I think we'll have to make a mention with the landlord next time we see him. But, for the moment i've got my new cupboard space and that makes me reasonably happy. Moseyed on out to the drive for a blueberry pancake breakfast and finished a few pulpy books (King Of Torts by John Grisham who can still pump out a good page turner and Resurrection Men, a crappy Inspector Rebus tome by Ian Rankin) - need to find something thinner to bring into work. Kept myself busy for the afternoon before heading over to downtown for a New Years Eve party with some friends I met on Christmas Eve (eve's can be very sociable at times). Twas a masquerade party with masks provided for those who didn't bring any (that was me and most of the other guests as it turned out). Drank copious amounts of vodka throughout the night but started off slow and lined my stomach with a fair selection of ordervs so managed to keep it together for the long term. Met quite a few interesting people including a very loud Australian movie set designer over here doing something with Warner Bros - countdown was fun, headed off to another party where I switched to beer briefly (not great after vodka and obligatory champagne) before returning to original place and ended up crashing in downtown. Pretty clean hangover resulted (ah, vodka - you are such a gentle mistress) and I wandered back home, stopping at the IGA (i always thought that stood for Independent Grocers of australia but apparently it's Independent Grocers Association - you learn something new every day) where I tried to buy some strawberries for breakfast but was told they were overpriced and was sold some other overpriced strawberries instead (it was very suureal at the time). All in all, a pretty good nye - if you keept you're expectations low you can never be disappointed. When I got home crap TV was calling and I answered.

Haunted House

Will have to check with the landlord to make sure noone has been died (either by murder or in a more benign manner) in the house. I'm currently home alone and there are footsteps uptairs and someone is opening and shutting doors. It's very strange and I'm really hoping that if there is a ghost it's one of those friendly ones (like the green Class 3 free floating apparition green from Ghostbusters) and not one of the nasty ones (like Casper ... Man, anything with a head that big has got to be bad news) ...

Life Imitating Satire

From the BBC website on 31 December 2005:

U2 'tension' over Bono campaigns

U2 frontman Bono has revealed that his campaigning against global poverty has caused tensions within the group.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that at one stage he was worried his commitment to the cause might force him to leave the hugely successful band.

The singer was a figurehead for the Make Poverty History campaign and Live 8 concert alongside Bob Geldof.

He said his campaigning activities had "raised eyebrows" among his fellow band-members.  

Poverty campaign 'big step'                                                                             
Bono, Mullen, guitarist The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton have been in the group since they first formed as Dublin schoolboys in 1977.

Their front man is famed for making on-stage statements about global poverty during U2 concerts.

However he said his fellow Irish rockers were "hugely supportive spiritually and financially of the work I do, but they are in a rock'n'roll band and the first job of a rock'n'roll band is not to be dull".

"So we have to be very careful about just letting me go too far," he said, adding that the band's drummer, Larry Mullen, times his on-stage "rant" on poverty.

"There was one point when I thought 'I'm going to be thrown out of the band for this stuff'," he said.

"People just openly jeered and I felt like I was a weight around my band's neck for doing this kind of work." The singer said he had been concerned that his stance would "wear out our audience", but he did not think this had happened.

"People are smart out there. They know what you are doing, they know the compromises you are making, they get it.  

"Our audience feels like they have a stronger voice through me, and the band can see that."

The other band-members now recognise that U2's audience appreciate what he is doing, he said.

He added the agreements on aid and debt cancellation at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July were "a very big step" towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

But he was less positive about this month's World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong.

He said he was "completely gutted" by the lack of a breakthrough on fairer trade for developing countries.

... And from the Onion on 7 December 2005:

Rest Of U2 Perfectly Fine With Africans Starving          

SAN FRANCISCO—Rock band U2, currently on tour in North America, is well-known for its human-rights advocacy, particularly its ongoing campaign to eradicate poverty in Africa. Less known to fans of the Irish supergroup, however, is that the lion's share of these efforts are made by lead singer Bono. The three other U2 members are perfectly okay with the dismal plight of Africa's poor.

"Yeah, that Africa stuff is Bono's thing," The Edge said. "I don't mind if he pursues other interests, but I really try to focus on the guitar riffs that give U2 its characteristic sound."  

Bassist Adam Clayton, while "not opposed" to Bono's tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for impoverished Third World citizens, is apparently too busy to spearhead an anti-poverty initiative of his own.  

"I was happy to help out with the Live 8 thing," said Clayton, referring to the July mega-concert benefit. "But ever since I discovered rock 'n' roll in the mid-'70s, music has been my passion, and I'd be lying if I said it was something different, like helping people."  

Clayton added: "I don't have a problem with [Bono] trying to save Africa. Who knows, it might inspire some decent songs. But just as long as it doesn't interfere with the band."  

In 2002, Bono started an organization called Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa to raise awareness of the deep health and economic crises that cripple much of the continent. His fellow bandmates, however, do not lose any sleep over the debt crisis facing many African nations.  

"If I could wave a magic wand and cure Africa's problems, I would do that," drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said. "But someone has to take care of the more practical, day-to-day stuff that Bono doesn't really bother with. Like, for example, how's the next album going to sound? How're we going to keep our live act fresh? I can't tell you how many millions of decisions go into making one Elevation tour."  
Enlarge Image

A starving African, who is of little concern to the other members of U2.  

Mullen added: "You don't win 14 Grammys feeding Africans."  

In the rare moment they have free, Clayton, Mullen, and The Edge said they choose to relax and rejuvenate, without letting the plight of Africa's starving and disease-afflicted millions weigh too heavily on their minds.  

"I have a garden to tend to when we're not on the road," The Edge said. "There's nothing wrong with taking care of your own little corner of the world. I work very hard in my garden."  

When asked their opinion about Bono's prospects of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize within the next year, the music-playing part of U2 could not stifle their groans.  

"We had a big scare last year when [Bono's] name was put forward as the new president of the World Bank," Clayton said. "I mean, I have nothing against it, but it would just be more work for us, because we'd be left with the very challenging task of finding a new lead singer."  

During live concerts, U2 audiences are treated to a stunning audiovisual experience, with Bono periodically giving his opinion on social and world events between songs. During these interludes, the rest of U2 is often conspicuously silent.   "When Bono starts telling the audience how messed up the world can be and how we should work together to make things better, I usually just zone out," Mullen said.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

Minimum Wage Day

29 December - Tis a grim time of year to be a bicycle courier. Rather miserable morning as I headed in to town in the dark, spitting down a bit and quite cold but not so bad that my hands were freezing before I even got there and not so bad that tights were required. Hardly any work is going on around town today and it all had to be split up between five of us. When it's really dead like this the commission never gets higher than the minimum wage we earn for the hours we put in so it's hard to get excited about hustling for work, because there's no guarantee that getting rid of a trip fast will result in another one being put in your pocket. This didn’t stop one of my co-workers from scooping one of my trips and me having to commandeer it from him at the elevators but i'm sure it was accidental (will have to keep an eye on him because he's done it before - not that it really matters because if you scoop someone (take a job that's been assigned to someone else) the dispatcher will usually ensure that the person who it was assigned to gets the money). The cursed wheel has had a slow leak in it for about a week (so has the front wheel but it's not so bad) - at first it would need to be pumped up every night. Then it needed to get pumped up every hour. By mid morning today it had to be pumped up every time I left a building. It wasn't a problem - i'been expecting this so I was carrying a spare on me and as I had nothingurgent on at the time (i hardly had anything urgent all day). I flipped my bike and took the wheel off and then pulled out the offending tube and got out the replacement. It turns out the replacement i'd bought from Simons had a road wheel valve on it which didn't match my pump. There was no point in fitting it because I wouldn’t be able to pump it up and I couldn't ride it or even properly wheel it so I had to heft the whole thing on my collosal shoulders (think Atlas bearing up the heavens from Mt Olympus) and lug it over to Simons (about six blocks away) only to find out that it was closed for another half hour. Then I realised I couldn't find my pump. I managed to get in touch with jason, a coworker, who went for a quick search where i'd been (couldn't find it) and he came to rescue me with his road bike pump which I could use to fill the tyre I was stuck with. While I was waiting one of the mechanics showed up and i told him they're mistake and asked for a replacement he said sure, ''But let me get into the shop first, man!' - i'm sorry, but I just thought you might be wondering why one of your cstomers is hanging around outside your shop with his bike upside down and wih the wheel removed. Man, those mechanics are assholes. Anyway, hardly a disaster. Lots of downtime - some of the couriers were having breaks of over an hour or more but every time someone bought a coffee or lit a cigarette or went around the corner to do whatever it was they do around the corner that's when you'd hear the beep for an urgent trip. The downtime must be doingwonders for the café at 885, overheard one courier saying 'Man, i've spent more on coffee than i've made in trips today' (and exaggeration is not a part of the Canadian vocabulary so he probably meant it). Struggled through the day somehow (luckily I had a National georgraphic in my bag which made it slightlky easier - I need to find a THIN book to bringwith me - all the books at the the library are hardbacks - damn them!) annd came home and watched 'Be cool', a movie that just didn't make it. There's a lot I could say about theis movie is so bad but i'm just too drained from the efforts of watching it that I don't want to have to relive it by explaining all its numerous flaws. So I won’t.

If you want him, come and claim him!

30 September - The upcoming departure of my my housemate, Jason, has resulted in the availability of cupboard space at head height. So, in a swift move designed to confuse my enemies and pre-empt their own claims on the valuable wall estate I moved all of my meagre condiments and tinned foods into the new vacancy. No more smashing my head against the fridge and putting my back out every time I want to make some toast.
I presumed that end of year and end of month might make the day at work slightly busier thathe previous day but I was wrong. Incredibly quiet day but somehow (according to dispatcher who seemed to be in remarkably good spirits that day (could have had somethingto do with the fact that he admitted he was still drunk when we first spoke at 8am in the morning)) I managed to make twice as much money than anyone else that day and so I was let off early. Generally, pretty enjoyable day - went in to get my brakes adjusted at Simons and was very pleasantly surprised to be able to deal with (shock, horror!) a nice mechanic! He led me into the back where we were snarled at by the usual guy but incredibly friendly and extremely talkative. I hope I get to deal wth him next time (although not if i'm in a rush because he sure likes to talk). Also had a run-in with a doorman at one of our regular clients. I asked him if I could use the washroom and he refused and then had the temerity to threaten to call my boss because I didn't get him to sign the paperwork (we NEVER get regular clients to sign) properly. Put me out for a bit - maybe people ar rude because they're upset with their station in life (bike mechanics wish they motor mechanics, receptionists wish they were executives, security guards wish they were anything else) or maybe it's because they're just assholes. After my shortened day I has a milkshake with Dimitri and then we headed to the Brickyard where we had a small toke of something illegal (hey, end of year celebrations!) before I headed home and got myself an authentic Montreal poutine to quell the unnatural desires that were rumbling in my belly. Whilst waiting for it got a call from the dispatcher, apparntly I was holding onto the key for a certain dropbox in town and I had to get it back in before the end of the day. Very annoying but Dimitri met me halfway (after i'd consumed my poutine of course) - and not exactly halfway. Dimitri is a splendid fellow in all regards but rushing is not his favourite thing so I met him closer to three quarters of the way in but all sorted and still home pretty early. Received a call from a fellow Vancouverite, mr Matthew Gray, who reassured me that the weather does get better in the summer (although the worst of the rain is yet to come according to most of my sources). Went out for some drinks with some people back in downtown later that night - met some very nice people and a few whackjobs but that's what happens when you go out. I suppose - still, looking forward to bringing in the new year tonight (this year's been pretty good so i'm not going to make my usual moans about hoping that the next one will be better than the previous - but, bring it on nonetheless!)