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Saturday, February 25, 2006

This too shall pass

I read a short story yesterday, and after much paraphrasing, it goes something like this:

One day, a powerful king decided that he wanted to humble one of his exceptionally capable servants by sending him on a wildgoose chase for what the king believed was a nonexistent magical artifact, a ring that could bring despair to a happy man and hope to a sad one. After many months of searching, the servant returned to the king, who believing he had taught his servant a lesson in humility, smiled and asked if he had found what he was sent to retrieve. To his surprise, the servant produced from a velvet purse a silver ring with four words etched across its face. When the king saw the writing on the ring, his smile disappeared and, though he was powerful beyond description and wealthy beyond compare, the king quickly fell into despair. Those four words? "This too shall pass".

I really think I need to have a mental ring like this to chasten me when I can't feel my feet touch the ground, and to encourage me when those same feet are crushed by the burdens I must carry. All things in this life, whether good or bad, shall pass. I realize now that it's important to not dwell on the moment so much; I must not cling in vain to fleeting moments of euphoria nor wallow pitifully in times of despair. In the end, I must focus on that which is not ephemeral, that which was not promised by man, but by God.

Yours humbly,

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stall mystery

Something rather disturbing has just happened to me, and I'm trying to sort things out in my head by putting thought to paper. You'll have to forgive me if my writing appears incoherent. The events of the afternoon have shaken me up a little, and I'm doing the best I can to make sense of it all. I must warn you that this post is not for the squeamish, so anything you read beyond this line will be at your own discretion.

I was answering nature's call this afternon (the first one, not the second) when I notice the guy in the stall next to me start doing a little shake. This is, of course, no big deal because "the shake" is the traditional flourish with which most of us men finish our routines. In fact, I'm inclined to believe that this odd little jig is some sort of evolutionarily favorable mechanism that has helped our ancestors elude predators like the wooly mamoth and the tyranosaurus rex. "The shake" has never caused me to bat an eye, but what this gentleman proceeded to do next caught me by surprise, and I almost had to go home for a new shirt.

Midway through his shake, the man started making noises that sounded like "dwaaaaannnnng bwannnnng dwounnnnng", but with more reverb and nasal pressure. I don't really know how to describe this sound more accurately beyond saying that it resembled a "springy" sound, not unlike something you'd hear on a Saturday morning cartoon (think Warner Brothers). When I heard these odd noises, I came close to emitting some sounds of my own--though mine would have been more easily decipherable, something along the lines of "what the ****, man?". Thankfully, I managed to avoid saying anything to avoid further awkwardness and merely gave the man a quick glance to make sure he was alright. For all I know, the poor fellow might have relieved himself too quickly and the ensuing vacuum in his bladder caused by such a rapid expulsion may have caused his lower body to implode. Stranger things have happened, and I wanted to give the man as much benefit of the doubt as I could reasonably afford.

To my surprise, I saw no sign of a medical emergency. Instead, the gentleman looked me straight in the eye and gave me a firm but quick nod. This gestured frightened me a great deal because now I wasn't sure if I had inadvertently been dragged into some type of duel. Crazy thoughts ran through my head: perhaps this man was brought up in a very territorial culture, and by merely standing in the stall next to him, I had challenged his position in the world, and now I was obligated to engage in a type of...sword fight (pardon the imagery) with him. Talk about a bad way to finish off an afternoon.

Thankfully, the man showed no obvious sign of anger or aggression and casually walked to the sink to finish up. But in hindsight, this whole thing could have turned out to be a lot uglier than it did. Perhaps next time, I will follow the cardinal rule of the men's room, and use the toilet instead of the urinal when the adjacent stall is occupied.

Your Favorite Swordsman

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mrs. Lynde is properly memorable

There has been some talk lately that the book club may do a series on the ever-so-Canadian Anne of Green Gables shortly in the future. This has me led to reminisce about my brief but unsuccessful encounter with the book two summers ago, when Cindy, delighted that I had enjoyed Salmon Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, suggested Anne as the next logical modern children's classic to tackle. Sadly, the residents of Green Gables failed to entertain me, and I only managed to read half of the book before moving on to another more interesting one about the untimely passing of a dog.

I don't remember much about Anne anymore, but the severe Mrs. Lynde has a line in the book (I think she may have cribbed it from Jonathon Swift) that I've always liked and found appropriate from time to time: "Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed". Now, I know, of course, that going through life with such a terribly defeatist motto would be foolish and unnecessarily tragic. But there are moments when I think I should learn to expect a little less to avoid meeting disappointment when lofty expectations unexpectedly fall through.

Okay, enough with my waxing philosophical about silly aphorisms. Here's a practical demonstration of it: I opened my breakfast bag this morning and found not one, but two muffins! See? No expectation but a pleasant (and rather filling) surprise! Now, if I were to expect another round of such generosity tomorrow morning, I'm sure you'd find me a very pouty boy, indeed.

Your Favorite Jerk

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

To my favorite ballerina:

Thank you for being my oasis in a desert of tedium.


Friday, February 10, 2006


Okay, I know I've been whining a bit lately about how much work I've got lined up, but this is seriously getting ridiculous. I went over the contract today for the workshop next week, and instead of only having to be there for a couple hours everyday, I'm expected to be there from 8:00AM to 9:00PM every day, including the weekends. And now I find out that I have to give a 40 minute talk three weeks from now. Don't forget, of course, that I'm also taking a course which has promised to assign two more 35 hour projects before the end of this month. GAH!!!!!!!

On the plus side, those of you who know me well know that I post here more often here when I have looming deadlines, so expect to see a lot of me here.

Your Favorite Jerk

Please be gentle when you see me in the coming weeks. My inevitable lack of sleep will most certainly reduce my tolerance for snark, whether delivered facetiously or with malice; so please try to tone down your snark levels accordingly to avoid getting back humorless stares. The real me will return shortly, I hope. In the meantime, please bear with my cranky proxy, for whom I apologize in advance.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pleasant distractions

Image hosting by PhotobucketI'm stuck in the office with a stack of work to finish and very little by way of distraction to help combat my frustrations, when I come across this awesome Chuck Norris shirt with a picture of my hero delivering a swift roundhouse kick to the head of a deer above a caption which reads, "Chuck Norris doesn't go hunting, he goes killing". Wow!

I still associate Chuck Norris with his Degree anti-perspirant commercials of the early 90s, wherein he does a roundhouse kick at the camera and tells the audience that "the best defense is not to offend." Of course, even as a kid I knew that was a bogus ad: Chuck Norris didn't sweat, and any kid growing up watching a man like Chuck Norris conduct his business could tell you that the real best defense a man can have is an unforgiving roundhouse kick to the face of his opponent.

*Gives frustrations a swift roundhouse kick. HIIIIIIIYAH!*

Your Favorite Jerk

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Waning (gadget) lust

While chatting with Ivan over MSN today about the latest developments in computer hardware, I became aware that lately my gadget lust has been waning. This is a rather remarkable realization because ever since I got my first computer (a 486 DX with a blazing fast 33MHz processor, an unheard of 8Mb of RAM, and a whopping 128Mb harddrive) at the age of 10, I've been wanting something bigger and better every couple of years. But I've had my current computer for over three years now, and I have very little motivation to go look for something faster or more powerful. In fact, over the holidays I went to NCIX in Vancouver to get something for my dad and found the showcase display computer almost repulsive. A few years ago, the sight of a machine with the latest NVidia graphics card, dual CPUs and a terabyte of space might have moved me to save up for an upgrade. But as I stood there staring at that mostrosity of a machine, decked out with transparent panels and neon lights (wth?!?!?), all I could think of was how loud the CPU fan, graphics fan, PSU fan, and two case fans would be in my room. Have I prematurely aged or something? At the age of 23, I really shouldn't be worried about noise. The very thought of my rapidly turning into an impotent old man who complains constantly about noise and technology is enough to keep me up at night. Thankfully, I have been ogling the newest iPod nano, so maybe there is still some virility left in me yet.

Your Favorite Jerk

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lovely weekend

I hate to open a perfectly good post with a worn cliché, but I'm afraid I will have to bring out the old 'calm before the storm' label to describe my weekend, because it so perfectly conveys my view of it. Before me lies weeks of talks, reports, and a brief but intense TA stint, so this may well have been the last weekend in a long while where I can afford to snuggle up with a good book, a warm blanket, and a comfy pillow without looking at the clock. Was I productive this weekend? Absolutely not; and that's what made it so great :)

Your Favorite Jerk