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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Expensive mistakes and cheap sake

"Can I check your coat?" the Japanese waitress at Yoshi's asks me as I enter the upstairs restaurant. My instincts tell me something isn't right because very few reasonably priced Japanese restaurants in Vancouver offer coat-check and even fewer have authentic Japanese waitresses. I opt to hang on to my jacket in case unforeseen circumstances force me to beat a hasty retreat later in the evening. Fred, Tomlin, and Jeremy have already arrived and are seated at a table by the window. I notice none of them have checked their coats. Something is definitely up.

Almost as soon as I am seated, Fred whispers to me with some embarrassment that we've, in fact, made reservations at the wrong restaurant. Rather than the Japanese skewer place with hip ambiance and cheap beers that Fred and Tomlin had had in mind, we are instead sitting at what may well be the second most expensive Japanese restaurant in town. We are in too deep and there is precious little we can do, save ordering drinks and desserts and leaving at the earliest convenient moment.

The others order the cheapest sake on the menu--some twenty-dollar colourless antifreeze concoction served in a warm waterbath--while I try my hand at coffee and tiramisu. The waitress stares at me with an expression that's somewhere between bewilderment and annoyance, and tells me in heavily-accented English that both coffee and tiramisu are unavailable. I settle for green tea ice cream and Jeremy orders two--yes, two--pieces of sushi.

Moments later, the other members of our party arrive and are told of our predicament. I spend the next twenty minutes sneaking periodic glances at Chef Yoshi, the restaurant's owner, to see if there is any obvious signs of anger--thankfully, the chef is preoccupied with a couple at the sushi bar, who are presumably ordering real food. At this point, I realize that the fastest way we can leave is to somehow convince Jeremy to spit out his sushi in disgust and scream, "What is this @$*^? It tastes like raw fish and rice!!!!" But a quick look at the Chef and his deftness with his glistening knife quickly convinces me to abandon that idea.

The rest of the guys down the warm sake in shots and we quickly collect the bill and leave. Total time spent at one of the finest sushi establishments in Vancouver: 35 minutes. As we speed-walk out of the restaurant, I clutch my leather jacket and breathe a sigh of relief for not having checked it earlier--I'm doubly thankful I didn't use Yoshi's parking lot either. Whew.

Your Favorite Jerk

Sunday, December 18, 2005


My 10 year-old comrade-in-arms haunches over and quietly makes his way with me along the ridge from which the two of us plan to surprise our enemy. Heavy breathing from the long trek up has fogged up my safety goggles, letting me see things only as blurry, indistinguishable blobs--from here on in, the success of the campaign, and indeed my very survival, will depend on my young companion, a boy who only minutes ago was a total stranger. My intrepid friend is not big for his age, but what he lacks in bulk he more than makes up for with heart and determination. I catch his steely gaze and am confident that I am travelling with a good man.

Neither of us are experienced fighters. In fact, I suspect we look awfully goofie crawling along the ridge holding stock rental guns and sporting ragged automechanic overalls. But both of us know that it is not the equipment which makes a good soldier, but his will to survive and to vanquish his enemies. As the ridge starts to angle down, we both realize it's time for action: I click off the safety on my gun and pull the cock, ready to spray anyone unfortunate enough to fall victim to our brilliant ambush.

Suddenly, from behind me a voice shouts, "MURRAY!" I don't know if 'Murray' is code, or if it's simply the name of my little friend, so I quickly turned around with my gun and shout back, "What?" But before I can hear a response, I hear the distinctive splat of a headshot straight to my mask. As white paint streaks down my visor, I realize that I had misheard: the enemy soldier wasn't shouting "MURRAY", but rather he was asking if I wanted "MERCY", a way to surrender rather than take a close range shot to the head. Seeing me go down in front of his very eyes, my young companion screams out "MERCY MERCY!!!!" without a second thought. I have clearly misjudged the boy; he is not at all intrepid.

Your Favorite Jerk

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I know this is hard to believe, but I actually like standing in line for things. There aren't many other things you can do that allow you to literally turn around to see the progress you've made without having to do any real work besides simply being. But last night, I might have gotten too much of a good thing when I had to line up for almost an hour at the Air Canada counter to check in my one bag. The only saving grace was that I managed to catch my flight despite looking obviously flustered, and sweating profusely at the security checkpoint.

Back home for a couple of weeks now. MSN me if you want to chat, or call me if you're in Vancouver and want to do something.

Your Favorite Jerk

The noise cancelling headphones were SUPER!!!!!! I managed to sleep through the first hour in quiet bliss. For the first time on a flight, I actually managed to hear the dialogue in the inflight's too bad it had to be from Russel Crowe.

Tomlin, we're at Phil's house tonight watching the game. I'm not sure if you're in town yet, or if you'll check this blog before then, but if you do, call me or Phil, k?

Do take good care of the bunny <3

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Growing up

As I left the lab at eleven o'clock last night and began my walk back home with the falling snow as my only companion, it suddenly dawned on me that I am growing up. It's kind of exciting, isn't it?


The meeting went exceedingly well :-) Tonight, I think I'll catch up on some sleep.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


In 24 hours I will be in a room with three people who are more knowledgeable than me about the very subject I will be presenting to them. These people will then ask me questions for which I will likely have no answer, and they will furrow their brows--albeit ever so slightly--when I tell them so. On the plus side, in 26 hours I will not care about what will happen in 24 hours. By then my biggest concern will be with my still undone Christmas shopping, my packing for the trip home (I'm gonna miss the bunny and his friend :-( ), and sadly, my trip to the dental surgeon's office a week from tomorrow for my wisdom teeth extraction. Call me in two weeks. I should be in a better mood and better able to talk when the swelling goes down. Cheers, all.

Your Favorite Jerk

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lumps, humps, and embarrassments

I was reading this Slate article about how absolutely awful the song "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas is, when it occured to me that I happen to have that song on my 3 year-old iPod. It seemed natural to start the player up and listen to the song in question as I read the deliciously sardonic article; so with a few clicks I saw the song show up on the display and waited patiently for the beats to drop. The mini-hard drive spun up like normal, but that was it--there was no music, no beats, and no crooning about the desirable parts of the female anatomy and the undesirable men who would pay anything to have access to them. Now my iPod is frozen with "My Humps" taunting me on the screen. I imagine a visit to the local Apple shop to get it fixed in this state would be rather embarassing, and we all know how I "don't want no drama, no no drama, no no no no drama".

Your Favorite Jerk

Hey Vivs, maybe you can teach your French kids the lyrics to this song in your next class. After having been introduced to lyrics from 50 Cent (by their English teacher, no less...tsk tsk) this song will seem tame by comparison. Just picture an entire class of French high school kids singing "My Hump" with a silent 'h'--comedy gold.

Update: Applying force simultaneously to both the 'menu' and 'play/pause' buttons resets the machine and removes all traces of prior embarrassment. Score! I suspect the problem was caused by the cold weather.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Washing machine tips

It's 10PM on a Monday night, and in the Chestnut laundry room the monotonous drone of washing machines and drying machines fails to hide the tension and anxiety that fill up this flourescently-lit space. Monday is laundry night...for everyone it seems, which is why I--and several other impatient souls--am standing with a full basket of dirty laundry and unable to find a vacant machine to do my wash. For those, who like me, have put off doing their laundry to the eleventh hour, 10PM Monday night is the last train, so to speak. A typical laundry routine requires a 28 minute wash cycle and a 50 minute dry cycle. Throw in another 10 minutes to move clothes between machines, 30 minutes for sorting and folding, and you can quickly see why I must get my clothes in the wash by 10PM if I want to sleep at a decent hour. Of course, everyone else is thinking the same thing, and the result is lesson in supply and demand.

In such an environment, the thinking man will always come out ahead. You see, the limited washing machine problem really has a rather simple solution: it's all about keeping good inventory. The man who keeps the best inventory of the machines in the room will always be first to the wash...and consequently first to the glory, wealth, sugar, and women--though not neccessarily in that order. For the sake of altruism (and also because my parole officer tells me this counts as a service to the community), let me share with you my inventory-management system.

First, I do a survey of all the machines in the room, taking note of machines which are unlit or leaking various machanical fluids. These I put in the "dead" pile. Next I open all the machines that are showing '0 minutes remaining', knowing full well that most of these are only teasing me with their falsly-advertised status when they are, in fact, fully loaded with wet clothes that have not been moved to the dryer. Once in a while I get lucky and find one that really is empty, but on a Monday night I would have a better chance finding a leprechon drowning in a sea of Tide. Assuming all the machines I open have wet clothes in them, I sort them in order of success-likelihood based on their apparent moisture content. Machines with very wet clothes have most likely just finished with their load. These machines are gold, so I put them in the "high priority" queue in order of wetness. Machines with fairly dry clothes are effectively "dead" because their owners have either forgotten about the clothes or are otherwise engaged and unable to retrieve them. Naturally, I put these in the "dead" pile and move on. Having completed the most difficult part of my inventory-building algorithm, I simply walk around the room and place the remaining machinese in the "watch" queue in order of time remaining.

Here's a flowchart you can print out to keep in your wallet for future reference:

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Your Favorite Jerk

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Korean mystery

I think once in a while everyone should be allowed to let his curiosity get the best of him. On most days we really ought not try to satisfy our every inquisitive urge; some things aren't meant to be known by us, and others we simply don't want to know. But here and there, a mystery perfectly harmless, yet unmistakably tantalizingly comes our way and simply demands to be revealed. Let me disclose to you one such nagging mystery that has been leaving me puzzled for the past couple of months. Perhaps, if one of my mere handful of readers decides to cooperate, we shall get to solve this puzzle before soon.

It is no secret that I use a weblog tracker on this page to observe the mirgratory pattern of my readers. For the most part, this is for my personal amusment (see this post about interesting search engine keywords that bring readers to this page). But sometimes, I like to look at the geographic distribution of my readers to see where they hail from. Of course, the internet being what it is--a giant, disorganized no-man's land of links and urls--it is not surprising to find that on any given day this site is visited by people from every imaginable country, including some that I didn't know had even discovered bronze-working let alone internet access. Many of these globetrotting visitors, I suspect, merely stumbled onto my blog in error, and these naturally do not return (I've been waiting so long for my Angolan friend to return that I am finally coming to terms with that fact that he has left me for good). With such fickle international visitors, you can't blame me for getting very curious and excited when I discovered that a reader from somewhere in Korea has been visiting this site on a very consistent basis.

I have, of course, advanced some theories about the identity of this mysterious visitor. At first I thought it was Eviljelly on vacation in his motherland. But I'm under the impression that he is back in Minny now, so unless I'm wrong I think I can safely discount that theory. Next, I started pushing out more radical theories: maybe my mystery Korean visitor is the Korean shopkeeper downstairs who maintains, despite my numerous and adament denials, that I am a Korean student who refuses to speak to him in Korean. But the more rational side of me thinks this is highly unlikely since the shopkeeper doesn't read English...and doesn't live in Korea...and doesn't know my blog on and so forth. So now all my leads are dry, and I must turn to you, dear readers to ask this small favour so that my curious mind may be satisfied: my dear Korean friend, who are you and why do you torment me so?

Waiting with bated breath,

Your Favorite Jerk