Choosers Can Be Beggars

Most of my Blog seems to be recollections of things that have happened to me years ago, rather than recently. I’m not sure if that’s an indication that I have led a rich life, or if I have recently become a boring person. Oh well. I suppose we go with what works, right?

It was 1992. Our high school hosted a trip to New York for us “higher grade” types. It was a good trip. We managed to pack a lot of things into the short time we were there, and it didn’t really feel as rushed as you would have thought. We managed to even sing “Oh Canada” on the Liberty Island ferry. I started us in a rousing take of our national anthem in response to a query about where we were from, and thought I would get killed. But it all turned out all right.

The part of this story that is cleverly highlighted by the title of this Blog is the period in which I broke off from our group (Led by our tour guide, who was inconspicuously dressed in bright red, waving a bright red umbrella around) to wander for a couple of hours. I walked quite a distance, passing lots of interesting shops and restaurants, as well as some strange men in an alley smoking what appeared to be a rodent.

On 5th Avenue (near Trump Tower), I passed a beggar on the street. He was dressed in burlap or something, and was lying down in a sleeping bag in a cardboard box. He asked if I could spare a quarter (and I hadn’t really seen another panhandler in a while, so I gave him a dollar).

His change container was behind him, and as he rolled over to deposit his change, his “garment” opened at the chest slightly, revealing a nice business suit underneath. I felt dirty, and used.

Shortly after, I came upon a woman in an alleyway in a cardboard box. Her arms were like toothpicks, and she had been eating what looked like a very old piece of chicken. I gave her significantly more than the other guy. But I don’t know if she could even get up to use it. No business suit underneath her clothes, to be sure.

I was haunted by her sunken eyes all day. And I felt sick when I thought of the guy on 5th Avenue, who probably had a job, and was making some extra cash at lunch.


TGIF (How Many Times Have People Used THAT Title?)

Yesterday was a passable day. Actually the work portion was passable. The parts in between and after that were good.

Well, time at work was ok. Things seem to be getting on my nerves lately. Lots of people asking questions while I’m trying to get stuff done. People will be people I suppose. It just ends up making the days longer, and I don’t really feel all that productive. So it’s nice to be able to spend time on breaks or lunch away from it.

I had lunch with Shaun today, which was a lot of fun. I have a lot of weird friends, but they are weird in a good way. We each have overlapping senses of humour so it makes for a refreshing escape from work, whether we are just e-mailing each other haiku poems and limericks, or having lunch together.

Shaun and I laugh a lot when we hang out. I’m not sure if everyone thinks that’s a good thing, because when we laugh it sounds like we’ve just hatched some crazy scheme. We talked about how we used to film movies in high school rather than do a stand-up presentation.

I told him about how Adrian and I used to make movies about Romeo and Juliet that involved Star Wars crossovers complete with crappy special effects and creative camera usage. I’ll have to dig those up sometime, if I still have them.

We talked about different topics, and enjoyed our Cheddar Club toasted subs from Mr. Sub. They are so good. By the time lunch was over my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. We talked about making a ninja movie sometime with a really twisted plot device that we may or may not reveal.

I ended up working a little late because I wanted to get some more done. I didn’t end up really getting as much finished as I wanted, but every little bit helps. It’s nice that the weekend is here. I relaxed with my wife, ate some dinner, and just chilled. A well-deserved break.

I think that being sick, and not sleeping well have affected my ability to keep my mind focused on things lately.

Of course, that doesn’t explain this new obsession with blogging, does it?

There’s Something Going Around…

Why do most of the critical tasks at work seem to pop up just before I leave? I’ll never understand this. I think this is the general rule for everyone. The most dire emergencies happen when you are on your way out the door to go home.

These emergencies affect the way people think, I believe. The rationality seeps out and leaves a big pocket of illogic. Observe the following conversation that I experienced once a long time ago…

Person: [Looking perturbed.] Why did you send me this document?
Jorge: Pardon?
Person: You sent me this document at lunch, and I don’t understand why you did it.
Jorge: I still don’t know what you’re talking about.
Person: [Becoming impatient.] This document for job X, you sent it to me.
Jorge: I didn’t. I haven’t even sent it out yet.
Person: I can show you. Hold on, I’ll go get it. I need to print it out.

[Person runs back to their desk on the other side of the floor to print out an e-mail that they could easily just read the header of. Person comes running back, paper in hand looking disappointed.]

Person: Oh. You didn’t send it. It was another person.
Jorge: Okay.
Person: Do you know why he sent this to me?
Jorge: [Incredulous] Huh?
Person: Do you know why this person sent this to me?
Jorge: I’m afraid I can only tap into the mental collective of people that share my name.
Person: [Looks up from deep thoughts.] Huh?
Jorge: Nothing. You should just e-mail that person and find out.
Person: [Trundles off.]


Zip and Tuck

It seems to be crazy story-telling day…

In the interest of beating Dave to the punch (referred to in the comments of my last entry), I am going to post this story about us. It took place years ago, when we first went white-water rafting together.

We decided to go with Wilderness Tours. They have a big “Barn” facility with a bar in it, as well as a dance floor, and a patio. During the evenings, they have a party for the rafters. We decided to go to the fire pit, where there was a stage and some singing going on.

There were twelve of us, but only a few of us engaged in drinking of the heavy kind. I’m not sure if it was the Okanagan Cider, or the beer that plunged me into darkness. Perhaps it was Dave’s Sicilian Kiss (Amaretto & Southern Comfort) that sped me along the Inebriated Interstate. All I know is drinking almost an entire 26 Oz bottle of Screech after the aforementioned alcohol is probably not really a good idea.

Screech is a funny thing. This elixir of the East coast imbues one with strange powers. It granted me the power to jump up on the performance stage (where a guy was playing guitar earlier and left the microphone on) and tell a joke starting with the punch line. From there we moved to “the Barn” area where I discovered that I had the power to dance to techno while standing on some stairs (not very smooth at all). After this, my powers waned, and I decided to have a lie-down on a picnic table located on the patio of the establishment. One of the bouncers came by and told us to leave (not very politely). I told him to watch his tone. Of course, the words probably came out like a Pentecostal zealot speaking in tongues…

Dave valiantly accompanied me back to the camping area. It was slow going. I think I chundered a couple of times on the green mile back to the campsite. Dave insisted on keeping us moving, in case the Nazgul were looking for us, I guess.

Memories of that journey are hazy (I actually had to phone Dave while writing this to verify a few things). Needless to say, I knew that I passed out a couple of times. They eventually got the car to haul me back to the site. The next day I woke up fine. Rafting was fun, and no-one got injured. My mutant ability to bypass hangovers was in full effect, earning me a cool rep. But little did I know that the events of the night before were to haunt me for the rest of my life…

Two years later, we were going rafting again at the same place. We were eating some chow the night before we were to hit the river, when Dave walked up to me and asked me if he could talk to me in private, away from everyone else. I agreed, and we took our pints to another table.

” So, I’m not sure if you know this, ” Dave began, ” And I kinda wanted to tell you in private. “

” Sure, ” I replied, sipping my Sleeman’s, ” Go ahead. “

” Well, ” Dave looked at me earnestly, ” You remember the walk back to the campsite two years ago? “

” Yeah. “

” There was a point along the way back where you had to pee. So you pulled out your equipment and pissed. And then you fell over. “

” I don’t remember that. Did I fall in my own pee? “

Dave laughed, ” No. You fell off to the side, and rolled down a small hill, away from your puddle. “

” How the hell did I not notice when I woke up? “

Dave sighed again, ” I, er, did you up. “

I was taken a bit by surprise here, ” Um, what? “

Dave shook his head, ” Don’t worry, I didn’t have to do the ‘tuck‘, ” his right hand made a motion like a gopher diving under his left arm (a large gopher, I might add), ” Just the ‘zip‘. “

I looked at Dave with some amazement and admiration. He was definitely a true friend, ” Thanks man. And thanks for telling me in private. I mean, it’s not really THAT embarrassing, eh? But still, it’s nice to know before everyone else. “

” That’s what friends are for, manus, ” Dave stood up and picked up his beer, ” Let’s get back. “

We walked back to where our friends were sitting, and his girlfriend (now wife) Sarah looked up and said 7 words that made me laugh and cry at the same time….

” Did he tell you the pee story? “

Best friends are such a pain in the ass….

Gourmet vs. Food

The word “gourmet” is an interesting word. As a noun, it indicates “a connoisseur of food and drink”. As an adjective, preceding the word “meal” it would denote some kind of sumptuous delicacy. It is also a deceiving word. It is so much larger than the word “food”. Three letters larger in fact. So you would expect a gourmet meal to be much better than a meal.

However, this is not always the case.

– We interrupt this rant to bring you some important background information –

During the end of January and first few weeks of February, Toronto is abuzz with Winterlicious. A gastronomic celebration of cuisine all across the city. During this time, a lot of high-end restaurants have a prix fixe menu to allow mere mortals who don’t have a lot of cash to sample their food (this is not the only reason, but this is the reason that my wife and I go). It is excellent, as the average entrée cost at some of these places can be twice as much as the Winterlicious prix fixe menu price (usually including appetizer, main and dessert). The wine pairings are also well done. A couple can walk out of there spending a cool $100 or so for a decent meal and wine.

– We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant –

We went to a “high class” establishment on Saturday for dinner with some friends. Mrs. J made the reservation back in January, and it was going to be a nice night out. I suppose we should have been duly warned when she read a review stating that the portions were small at this place.

We arrived, checked the menu (usually they offer different choices for appetizers, mains and desserts), and ordered our meal.

I will briefly sum up my own experience by saying that the goat cheese tart was small but okay. The main course (duck) was succulent, but too small. The dessert (créme brulée) tasted like charcoal, and was about 2 tablespoons worth of dessert. Not exactly worth $30 in my opinion. It’s a good thing we ate before we went (just some appetizers, but they helped to fill the void).

I suppose it was disappointing because the place looked great. Sophisticated, even. And while the background noise was a bit loud (you can’t fault people for yapping at the top of their lungs. Oh wait, you can…), it was still comfortable.

The simple fact remains: It can be the coolest looking eating establishment in the world, but if the food tastes like excrement, then it is going to fail. Well it should, anyway. Lucky for them, not every critic cares for taste. Some critics are blown away by the presentation, rather than the taste. I, for one, would rather eat a simply designed cube of food that tastes good than have a meal that looks likes a portrait of the last supper but still tastes like doo doo.

A lot of these new places open up with the promise of a wonderful dining experience. When they get their positive reviews, the food quality goes down the toilet (or perhaps the food now comes from there).

This is, by no means, written to dissuade people from trying “nice places”. In fact, we have had great experiences with other restaurants. But keep in mind that there is a lot to be said about some of the less chic places, too.

Support your local hole-in-the-wall!