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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Waking up to Maury

Last week I picked up a remote control for my TV. It has been over a year since the 20" APEX TV I bought from Costco stopped responding to its factory remote. I had, at one point, discovered a neat little trick to make the old remote work for a few brief moments: all I had to do was throw it against the ground with some force. But one day I threw it a bit too hard and the flimsy thing fell apart. Since then, I've cut down my TV watching because my two favorite channels, Rogers Sportsnet (channel 22) and the Food Channel (channel 56), are more than 30 manual clicks away from each other. There have been days when I've wanted a replacement so I could take advantage of the free cable service I get, but I've had a hard time parting with twenty dollars for the only replacement model I can find that will work with my brand of television, a yellow SpongeBob SquarePants unit--I kid you not. But it would seem that serendipity has succeeded where determination had failed. While strolling through the local Radio Shack The Source by Circuit City last week, I happened to spot a store-branded remote with an inoffensive design for only 14 bucks. A quick scan of its compatibility list confirmed support for my TV, and I've been using it happily since then.

The reintroduction of a remote control in my life has brought a whole new world of convenience. I can now check the scores and watch the latest Iron Chef reruns in bed before I nod off. More importantly, I have regained the ability to program my TV to wake me up in the morning. Today I awoke to the pleasant cacophony of the Maury Povich show. This morning's show was based on the classic ugly duckling story and featured formerly unattractive people confronting past tormentors with their "new hotness". If you've never been nudged out of your slumber with the words "Uhh uhhhnnnn honey, you can't have none of this now! That's right, this be the new hotness!" I highly recommend you try it. I'm waiting for the "Who's your Daddy" episode, so I can wake up to Maury's solemn "You are not the father" followed by the triumphant cry of "I told you! In yo face beeyaaaaaaatch!" from the newly acquitted father-not-to-be.

All I need now is a George Foreman grill and six pieces of bacon (if you don't know what I'm talking about, talk to me or Tiff so we can introduce you to The Office).

Your Favorite Jerk

Friday, March 24, 2006

Card shopping

I went to get a birthday card for my Dad and an anniversary card for my folks a couple of days ago. As always, this turned out to be a challenging exercise. For starters, most of the cards in your typical Carlton store are just appallingly ugly. To make matters worse, those few cards that pass the most lenient aesthetics test are almost always marred by either cloyingly sweet text or utter nonsense. The odd card that manages to passes both visual and mental inspection presents the final hurdle: they always look dangerously familiar, making you wonder if you got the same card last year.

This time, I almost made a fatal mistake when I picked a beautifully arranged anniversary card that was addressed to Mom and "Dad". I did a double-take when I saw the quotations around the word 'Dad' but quickly realized that I was browsing under the 'Mother and her husband' anniversary section. Yikes! Imagine Mom and Dad hanging that one out for all to see.

I had really wanted to deliver those cards in person this year, seeing as it's Mom and Dad's Silver Anniversary. But with my schedule in May, I would have a hard time justifying a one week holiday next month. So it looks like I'll just have to celebrate with them when they come out here in June.

Your Favorite Jerk

Sunday, March 19, 2006

And so it begins...

Tomorrow morning at 9:30AM I will present my work at my pre-reclassification committee meeting. If the committee thinks there is enough steam in my project for me to carry on in the PhD program, I'll have another month or so to polish things up for the real reclassification exam in early May. If not, I'll have till the end of the year to write up my MSc thesis and could be done school in about nine months! In a way, I'm relieved to know that the decision is out of my hands now. A few months ago, I was really struggling with the decision to spend 4 more years for a PhD, second guessing myself and wondering what I was doing. But now that I've made my decision to at least take the pre-reclassification step, it's comforting to know that the rest is in God's hands.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006


The bunny and I were a little restless tonight; his restlessness stemming from boredom, mine from anxiety. To combat this terrible state of being we decided to let loose and make a rock video demonstrating Bunchkin's masterful head-banging. VoilĂ :

Your Favorite Jerk

The wind behind my back

It's eleven at night and I've just finished a long day at the lab. Now comes the brief ten minute walk south to a warm room, a soothing shower, and some welcome conversation before bed. Tonight the walk home is more brisk than usual because I've got a strong wind at my back, giving me a firm push homeward. I've observed that the winds in this city always seem to blow from the north down to the lake. This peculiar path of the wind coupled with a natural, gentle slope down to the water always makes the walk home a lot easier than the walk to work. Although maybe it might have something to do with my state of mind, too.

Your Favorite Jerk

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Moving somewhere

I'm going to be moving slightly north of my current place of residence in June. Yesterday I went to see it and it seems like a very spacious and clean bachelor at 420 sqft. I think the place I grew up in Shanghai was about 350 sqft and it housed three generations (me, my parents, and my grandma) quite comfortably for many years. Right now, I'm very relieved that I got a place at all and I'm doubly thankful that it's so close to where I work and has all the amenities I had wanted at a reasonable price. Let me know if you can help me move in June; I promise I'll buy a few cases of two-fours to help make it a memorable afternoon!

Elsewhere, I'm a bit stressed about my pre-reclass meeting a week from next Monday. On the bright side, I should get some valuable--albeit direct and possibly critical--feedback on my project, which should paint a clearer picture of where I'll be in the next few years. In any case, I have a one year lease--as well as other..."stuff"--that will bind me to this city for yet a while longer. Let's hope for mild winters and smooth committee meetings.

On a completely unrelated note, I really think I've neglected to build up meaningful friendships with other guys since I've moved to this city. I attribute some part of this negligence to simple laziness and a lack of desire to build strong ties to people in this city last year when I thought my stay here would be very temporary. It was easier just to talk with people I trusted and felt comfortable back home on the phone and on MSN. But lately, I'm starting to feel a sort of isolation here. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that nothing beyond superficial friendships has blossomed here; afterall, you reap what you sow, and in the last year and a half I've sowed very few seeds and sowed them in woefully shallow soil. Maybe I should pick some male-bonding skills, like binge drinking or something equally masculine. On second thought, maybe not :-)

I should probably end off on a less melancholy note, but I think I rather enjoy this bit of auto-psychoanalysis; so please bear with me a little longer while I indulge this whim and talk more about myself to myself to figure out why I've not made any edifying friendships here. You see, it's not that I don't like people; I do. And it's not that I'm callous, antisocial, or insensitive; I'm not, though I will allow that at times my penchant for deadpanning may lead others to think I'm as all three and worse. The real problem is that I find it very difficult to open up to other guys (save for the occasional welcome exception like the Theological Toddler). I find it much harder to talk about my misgivings, my weaknesses, and my failures with other guys than with girls, whose genetic makeup, I find, predisposes them to deal with other people's problems with more grace and empathy. But something tells me this sort of bias isn't entirely healthy. Once in a while, it might be beneficial to hear another guy tell me that he's going through the same problems and is faced with the same difficult choices and decisions. Now all I have to do is find someone in Toronto who'll fit that bill--call now, operators are standing by.

Your Favorite Jerk

Monday, March 06, 2006

These socks were made for trashing

I can't seem to keep a proper inventory of socks in my drawers for some reason. No matter how careful I am, I keep losing them to attrition by wearing holes in them or losing them in the dryer. As a result, I go to Chinatown every so often to pick up more socks. My favorite sock merchant is a guy on Spadina, who sells really thick, fine quality socks from the back of his van. For a crip fiver, I get three pairs that'll keep me warm all winter. And since he operates from a van with no fixed address, he's always having silly paperwork mixups with the Canadian Revenue Agency, which means he can't collect GST and PST for them. But the "store" hours are a bit dodgy, and sometimes you can go weeks without seeing him hawk his wares.

It so happens that yesterday was an off day for my sock merchant, so I had to go elsewhere to purchase my socks. I regret to inform you that not all socks in Chinatown are create equal. The ones I bought from an old lady on Dundas street looked good at the time, but when I tried to put them on this morning, I noticed my hands were covered with black pigment from the socks. It's like they were coloured with newspaper ink or watered down tar or something equally filthy. I don't think I'll be able to wear them before soaking them in water for about a week. What a waste of five dollars; I should have gotten the Sugar Bear (Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp) t-shirt instead.

Your Favorite Jerk