Saturday, December 12, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay comes to Ottawa

re⋅lay –noun
[n. ree-ley]
1. a series of persons relieving one another or taking turns

Today the Olympic Torch officially arrives in Capital City and will be in the region until Monday, December 14th. There will be a bunch of festivities and dignitaries at City Hall this afternoon, including a performance by the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Pipes and Drums.

But the fun will really start this evening on Parliament Hill, with performances by Gregory Charles and Tom Cochrane. The arrival of the Olympic Torch will also launch the illumination ceremony of the 25th edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada.

Hot chocolate and BeaverTails® will be offered from 5 pm to 8 pm (while quantities last).

I’ll leave you with the only Tom Cochrane song that I know (care of David Letterman):



For more information on today’s events please see the following:

Ottawa City Hall
Parliament Hill.
2010 Olympic Torch Route




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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Win A Trip To The 2010 Olympics From Chasing Distractions!

con⋅test –noun
[kon-test]
1. a competition between rivals, as for a prize

Well not really from Chasing Distractions, but in my effort to get myself to the Olympic Games (as a volunteer), I decided to enter some contests. Being the nice guy that I am I thought I would share them with you too.

The following companies are giving away a free trip to the 2010 Olympic Games:
Good Luck to all that entered the contests. Don't forget I could still use some donations for my ‘Help Send Me To The Olympics’ fund.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Moments

mo⋅ment –noun
[moh-muhnt]
1. an indefinitely short period of time

Radiolab, an amazing podcast btw, recently did a five-part session on death, starting with their hour-long podcast called After Life. The whole series was inspired by David Eagleman's book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives.

After the five part series, RadioLab presented a film on the celebration of life, and I thought I would share it with you:
Moments by Will Hoffman



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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chasing Distractions Turns 1!

birth⋅day –noun
[burth-dey]
1. a day marking or commemorating the origin, founding, or beginning of something

Well it is official, I have been writing this blog for over a year now, off and on of course. The year began off on a bad note; I was suffering from a case of depression or some sort of quarter/mid-life crisis. I had just turned 30, broke up with my girlfriend, cut myself off from friends and family and suffered from a bad case of insomnia. It took awhile but I clawed myself back from the brink with the help of many distractions.

Now a year later I’m not sure much has changed. I’m still lonely, I’m still broke, but I have learned something from this all, and that is I get everything I ever want. And I mean everything. All I have to do is ask for it and the universe provides, from careers, to friends to girls to trips and prizes and all the highs and lows that come with it all. I have asked for all of it. The question then remains, why I am I still unhappy sometimes?

Originally I set out to write this post explaining that this blog had a good run, but I’m generally happy now and I have nothing to complain about anymore. Because really, that’s what blogging is all about right? Complaining?

I don't know, maybe I'll just stick around for a little longer.

If you’d like to give Chasing Distractions a birthday present, why not leave some comments, promote my Help Me Volunteer At The Olympics post, or simply donate to my ‘Get Me To The Olympics’ fund.



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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Neked Sundays

re⋅lax –verb
[ri-laks]
1. to reduce or stop work, effort, application, etc., esp. for the sake of rest or recreation

It’s been quite some time since I last updated this blog. With a busy work and school schedule I haven’t had much time to chase any new distractions. Since today is yet another Neked Sunday, a day of rest where not even clothes are mandatory, I finally have some free time.

On Saturday, November 21st Chasing Distractions will turn 1 years old. For this momentous occasion I am hoping to plan another Suit Up! I recently acquired a very stylish Ron Burgundy’esque suit from Value Village, it made its first appearance at a Mad Men party a few weeks ago and has been sitting in my closet ever since. CD’s birthday seems to be a good occasion to crack it out again. I will keep you posted.

Want to give Chasing Distractions a birthday present? Well donating to my ‘Help Send Me To The 2010 Olympic Games In Vancouver’ fund would be the best present ever.



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon Boy – Hoax or Tragedy?

hoax –noun
[hohks]
1. something intended to deceive or defraud

Earlier today I was made aware of a breaking news story via twitter with the hash tag balloonboy.

It appears that a 6-year old boy had climbed into a homemade weather balloon, where upon the tether was released and the balloon, with the supposed boy inside, rose into the air. For three hours Denver police, the National Guard and local media helicopters tried, to no avail, to rescue the boy. The balloon eventually landed safely without anyone on board:



As of this moment it is still not confirmed if the 6-year old boy, Falcon Heene, is safe, if the whole stunt was a hoax, or some horrible horrible tragedy. Hopefully everything turns out okay.

The Heene family, known for their chaotic parenting, were recently on television on ABC’s reality show Wife Swap. You can read more about the Heene family here, and check out Google News for updated information on the Balloon Boy.

Hoping he is safe, and without any sense of irony, I will leave you with the Heene Boys musical debut Not Pussified:



UPDATE: The boy was found, safe and sound, hiding in a box in the attic. For more information see the article in the National Post.



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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

World's Longest Dog Fence

fence –noun
[fens]
1. a barrier enclosing or bordering a field, yard, etc., usually made of posts and wire or wood, used to prevent entrance, to confine, or to mark a boundary

The other day I was asked to create an interesting page revolved around dog fences. Well what better way then the to find some pictures of the World's Longest Dog Fence, Australia's Dingo Fence. Check it out, and if you are a Digg user, please give us a Digg.



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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creeping Out Sara – Tegan Quin Responds To NOFX Song

in⋅ter⋅view –noun
1. a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of one or more persons from whom material is sought for a story


Today, via Grant Lawrence at CBC Radio3, I got a chance to ask Tegan Quin how she felt about Fat Mike’s memoir entitled ‘Creeping Out Sara’ where he sings about meeting one of the Quin sisters at a German music festival. The song was released on the new NOFX album called Coaster. If you would like to hear her response, check it out here - (just fast-forward to the 25 minute mark).



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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Californication – The Television Show

hon⋅ey⋅pot –noun
[huhn-ee-pot]
1. a pot, as of glass or silver, for storing and serving honey

Craig Stephens' honey bear #2

The last few days I’ve been recouping from the 31st birthday celebrations that recently occurred in Montreal in la bell province. It’s not that I drank too much and am getting old – even though the latter is the case, also the former – but it is more to the fact that I caught a cold, or possibly the flu while I was away. The flu du cochon as I have been dubbing it. But as per usually I digress…

While I was wasting away in bed trying to overcome this sickness that still rides me like some demented jockey from hell, I received a text message from a good friend of mine. To paraphrase:

’Is it weird that David Duchovny in Californication makes me think of you?’

I, crazy with sickness, thought she was talking about Kalifornia and had to immediately watch the movie. I had no idea what she was talking about, ’I think it's his voice and phrasing, No wait... it's also his smirky, shruggy, mannerisms‘. As it would later turn out she was actually talking about the television show Californication, where coincidentally enough Duchovny plays a writer in both that TV show and the movie Kalifornia.

After sitting in my sick bed, missing a day of class and three days of work, I have to honestly say Californication is one hell of a television show. A new distraction to chase, and you all know how I love chasing distractions. I would have to recommend this show to anyone who likes smart, sexy, funny, hot television. Duchovny stars as Hank Moody, a drug and sex addicted writer juggling a 12-year-old daughter, an ex-wife whom he still cares for, and an insatiable appetite for beautiful women. Maybe my friend is right, that kinda sounds like me right?

In case you are wondering about the honeypot reference in this post, well I think the Urban Dictionary’s definition of honeypot would be more suited.

Speaking of honey, I learned something new today about our sweet treat. I went to the store to get some honey, ginger, lemon and tea to help battle this cold of mine and for the first time noticed that the bottle has the following warning: “Do not feed honey to children under 1 year of age”.

What the…?

But it's true, honey can actually cause botulism in infants.

On that note VALE! (just practising my Latin)



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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google On The Go

Goo·gle -noun
[gōō'gəl]
1. A trademark used for an Internet search engine. This trademark often occurs in print as a verb, sometimes in lowercase


A few months ago I told you about a free 411 service from Google. This past weekend I learned that you could also use Google for free via text messaging. If you are like me and just have a regular old cell phone, i.e. not a Smartphone like an iPhone or Blackberry, you can still access Google to answer those pressing questions that come up in our day-to-day lives. Simply text your question to 46645 (GOOGL) and within seconds you will receive an answer. It’s a great way to get restaurant information, directions, local weather forecasts and so much more.





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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Honest October

hon⋅es⋅ty –noun
[on-uh-stee]
1. the quality or fact of being honest
2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness

Sober September came and went without any problems. People are still a little unsure why I bother with my 30-days of abstaining from alcohol, I like to look at it as a bit of a cleanse, a nice little break for my liver and a personal challenge. Life can get boring pretty quickly without ever challenging yourself, testing your mettle as it were.

So in that respect for the 31 days of October I will not tell a lie – from a little white lie to a flat out big lie – they are all completely off limits. In honour of this challenge I have officially dubbed the month of October Honest October.

Trying not to lie for 31 days can be challenging for anyone, but especially for me. Like many of us I carry my fair share of secrets about my personal life. My professional life however is entirely based on lies, as a writer that is essentially my job, to lie to you. In order to make this challenge work I had to set up a few guidelines for myself:

1) Anything to do with work is exempted from the challenge.
2) If I am asked a direct question that would require lying to save a secret, well I have the option to just not answer the question.
3) I have only told 2 or 3 friends, and now anyone who reads this blog, about my challenge. This is a personal challenge to be honest, not a month of confessions.

Sober September, Honest October, I wonder what I should do for November? Any suggestions?



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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Help Send Me To The 2010 Olympic Games In Vancouver

vol⋅un⋅teer –noun
[vol-uhn-teer]
1. a person who voluntarily offers himself for a service
2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay

When I got home last night in my inbox was an offer for a volunteer position at the 2010 Olympics working with the Freestyle Snowboarding and Skiing team. I of course accepted the offer right away.

I will be working with the maintenance crew maintaining jumps, landings, moguls, etc. Essentially, I assume, I will be standing out in the snow all day with a shovel – although it doesn’t sound very glamorous I’m very much excited to be part of this historical event.

Canada has hosted the Olympics only twice before. The first time was in 1976 for the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal and the second time was at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Both times Canadians did not win a Gold Medal in any event. It is the hope by many that the 2010 Games in Vancouver will be different, and I have a chance to be part of that.

I’ve got quite a bit of preparation to deal with before I go. Essentially I will be gone for a month and have to figure out accommodations while I am in Vancouver, perhaps subletting my apartment, finding a place to store my car, arranging a deal with work and booking a flight.

All of these things cost money, and as you may know I don’t have a lot of it. If any of you who read this blog want to help my plight, please spread the word and/or donate what you can.

On the right side ---> yup right over there - is a Donate Button, and anything will help – 50¢, $1, $10, whatever you can spare.

Thank you to everyone in advance.



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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Learnin' Latin With Chasing Distractions

blog -noun
[blŏg]
1. A weblog

I decided today that I would start up a new blog in hopes of helping me study. So if you are at all interested check out my new blog, Learnin' Latin.



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Monday, September 28, 2009

Barney’s Version – The Novel

ur⋅ban leg⋅end –noun
[ur-buhn lej-uhnd]
1. a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humour, moralizing, or horror
A few weeks ago I finished reading a humorous, yet somewhat sad tale called Barney’s Version, written by Canadian author Mordeecai Richler.

In a response to a book of memoirs, written by his sworn enemy Terry McIver, protagonist Barney Panofsky decides to give the true version of his life, as McIver’s memoirs paint Panofsky in a very bad light. Panofsky, an old man, recants his time spent in Paris as a young man, how he became a widow, divorced twice, the father of three children, a television producer in Quebec and the suspected murderer of his best friend. Throughout the novel the reoccurring themes are dealing with loss, with guilt, loneliness and the ability a person has to rewrite their memories as to make them more bearable.

The moment I read the last word I scribbled down this note:

Barney’s Version makes me flash forward on my own life, I don’t want to grow old alone

To date I continue my ever-lasting battle with loneliness and each day that goes by I get a little older and a little more certain that this funk is here to stay. In just six short days I will be the ripe old age of 31 and since I started writing this blog nothing has changed for me. I’m still alone. I’m still broke. And I’m still…

Next on the list Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.



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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sober Septembers

tee⋅to⋅tal⋅er –noun
[tee-toht-ler, tee-toht-]
1. a person who abstains totally from intoxicating drink
For the 4th (or maybe 5th) year running I am off the drink for the month of September. With only a week to go I have never felt better – well in actuality I feel no different at all. The only difference can be found on Saturday and Sunday mornings. As a typical social weekend drinker (i.e. binger), my day-to-day routine never included the drink, other than those odd days where a spontaneous social event happens on a school night.

Speaking of school night, tomorrow is my first quiz in the Latin, wish me luck or Bonam Fortunam!

Back to the drink, or lack there of. One thing I have noticed, which is a bit shocking, happened last Sunday afternoon. Typically I spend Sundays doing absolutely nothing. Just lounging around the house, watching movies, reading etcetera. Quite often on these lazy Sundays, or neked Sundays as I have dubbed them, I would come down with a case of the emotions. These random crying, laughing emotional outbursts usually brought on by commercials – yes for some reason commercials make me tear up. I contributed these uncharacteristic emotional responses to the hangover and a body that was chemically out of whack. However, the same emotional outburst happened last Sunday when not a drop of alcohol had been involved. Either my body is still cleansing the last of the toxins or I am slowly going crazy (one-two-three-for-five-six-switch-crazy-going-slowly-am-I-six-five-four-three-two-one-switch…).

Many have asked why I do this – why take 30 days off each year? ”Is it for Ramadan?” they ask. No it is not, as I am not Muslim. But hey, if you really need a reason, then ya sure, it’s for Ramadan.

In short Sober Septembers are great way to transition from a Soused Up Summer to an Alcoholic Autumn. So tell all your friends, maybe together we can make this a nonreligious/spiritual annual fast.

Only one week left. Man, am I ever thirsty.



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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gray Days Make Me Feel Blue

im⋅pul⋅sive –adjective
[im-puhl-siv]
1. actuated or swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses
These overcast gray days always make me feel blue. I can’t help but look at my life on these days and feel sorry for myself. I guess I need more vitamin D.

Speaking of gray, the other day I found not one, but three gray hairs. It’s a sad state of affairs when you realize you are getting old and there is nothing you can do about it…

It is these type of days I mourn for my wasted life – being broke, lonely, and growing older by the minute I decided to give online dating one more shot.

This time things went well. Maybe it was luck of the draw, my slimmed down profile, or new profile picture, who knows, but I received many more contacts than I did before, from people that actually seemed pretty decent too.

I started a 2-week long correspondence via email with one of the people I connected with and a few days ago we met up for a date. In my mind it went well. Great conversation and laughs, I felt I was just charming enough and that there was some chemistry between us, but in the end I was wrong.

Maybe I blew the ending by not sealing the deal with a goodnight kiss, I didn’t want to be presumptuous, I am a gentleman after all. Or it could have been the text messages I sent not 10 minutes after the date stating what a good time I had. It might also have had something to do with me adding her to Facebook the next day, (she never did accept my friend request) whatever it was I never heard from her again.

What can I say, I’m impulsive, and in her I saw everything I wanted in a relationship. Came on too strong, or just not right for the dating world?

Whatever it is I better figure it out soon because I’m getting tired of doing everything alone and pretending to myself that everything is going to be okay. It’s exhausting.



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Friday, September 11, 2009

Me Talk Latin One Day – The Education

Lat⋅in –noun
[lat-n]
1. an Italic language spoken in ancient Rome, fixed in the 2nd or 1st century b.c., and established as the official language of the Roman Empire.
As mentioned in my review of David Sedaris's book of memoirs, Me Talk Pretty One Day, I feel inadequate about being a unilingual person in a bilingual city.

My hope was to brush up on my French skills, but I began to realize something - it’s difficult to understand verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections in another language when, quite frankly, you don’t really have a grasp of what they are all about in your own language.

So rather than go back to grade one and start English all over again, I decided I would take a different approach. I figured that since many languages have Latin roots, that maybe if I learned Latin first it would not only help me to understand English better, but any other Latin based language I choose to learn there after, such as French and Spanish.

That is the plan anyway.

Today was my first day at the local University learning Classical Latin basic grammar and vocabulary skills and I can already tell I am in for a rough ride.

Wish me luck – or as the Romans may have said ‘votum mihi fortuna’.



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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coming Through Slaughter – The Novel

jazz –noun
[jaz]
1. music originating in New Orleans around the beginning of the 20th century and subsequently developing through various increasingly complex styles, generally marked by intricate, propulsive rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, improvisatory, virtuosic solos, melodic freedom, and a harmonic idiom ranging from simple diatonicism through chromaticism to atonality.
I recently finished Coming Through Slaughter by Canadian author Michael Ondaatje. At only 156 pages it was a bit of a tough read. The novel is a fictional story about a real life New Orleans jazz musician named Buddy Bolden. Set in 1907 the book is written like jazz is played – all over the place – so at times it was a bit hard to follow. Overall I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and would recommend it to anyone, and if you are a fan of jazz music, all the better.

Next on the list is Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler.



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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Play and Win On A Rainy Saturday Afternoon

game –noun
[geym]
1. a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators
It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon here in Capital City, staying inside mourning the loss of Summer I’m beginning to feel a little bit bored and a little bit anxious with my financial situation. As you may know, when boredom and anxiety hits I turn to the internet to find some distractions.

Today I stumbled across a site called SkillAddiction.com. This site hosts free online games that you can Play and Win prizes ranging from as little as $5 to upwards of $1,000. The games vary from strategy, action and arcade games to puzzles and card games. If you become a member you can join up to 5 different types of tournaments, including head to head, group tournaments, and progressive jackpot tournaments. The site may be relatively new but they already boast thousands of members and over 50,000 tournaments running daily. With over $10,000 already won by players this could be a fun way to try to pay down my enormous debt.

The only shortcoming I have found with the site so far is the time it takes to actually register. After stumbling across SkillAddiction.com I excitedly sign-up for an account, after close to 30 minutes was still waiting for my verification email. Although it does take some time, it is well worth the wait, so try to be patient, you will thank me for it.

If you end signing up for an account leave your user name in the comments section and I’ll challenge you one of these days. I have to warn you, I got some skills.




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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Folly With Facebook

ad⋅dic⋅tion –noun
[uh-dik-shuhn]
1. the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma
Other than the most notable problems, those concerning privacy issues especially in Canada, Facebook has become to be known as the root of all evil. There are stories of people being fired, not landing a job, students getting expelled from school, and relationships ending in ruin all because of Facebook.

Before social networking websites the only times these things could happen is if someone close to you, whether it be your co-workers, your references, your teachers of your friends and family dropped the ball and put your character in a bad light. Now anyone can tag you in an embarrassing photo, video or note for the world to see.

Granted there are steps you can take to protect yourself, and many of the potential problems can be avoided if you use social networking responsibly. However this is a relatively new technology and the problems have never had to be dealt with before. Many people will require some education on how to responsibly use social networking. Especially the younger people, it’s scary for me to think that they will be the first generation where their entire life is documented digitally, never to be permanently erased.

Thankfully for myself, my highschool years are comprised of a few memories in people’s heads and a couple of pictures, most of which have been lost or destroyed.

For my own experience with Facebook I found it had become an obsession. Working from home, alone, I have been cut off from any type of social interaction. Facebook filled that void. But when my habit became checking the News Page every 20 minutes I knew I was addicted. I kicked the habit cold turkey in the winter of 2008. And like any addiction I actually went through withdrawal.

After a few months of being Facebook free I went back to that monkey and placed him on my back. It’s been 2 months now, sensibly using. I think this time I might have it beat.

Hmm, I wonder if anyone has written anything new on my Wall…

For more reading on the Folly of Facebook check out the top 10 reasons why Facebook is Evil.



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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Trouble With Twitter

lone⋅ly –adjective
[lohn-lee]
1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
I was encouraged by my boss to open a Twitter account last year. If you don’t know what Twitter is let me explain.

Twitter is essentially a micro-blogging social network that allows you to post updates of only 140 characters. My boss thought by having a Twitter account it would help with marketing for our clients. Potential partners would easily be able to confirm I am a real person and not some link spammer from India.

Being a regular user of Facebook, Twitter was easy to get the hang of. Essentially your ‘tweets’ are the same as your Facebook status updates.

However the major difference I found between Facebook and Twitter is this – on Facebook my contacts are actual people I know, friends, old highschool pals, acquaintances and even previous one-night stands. On Twitter however my contacts are complete strangers, excluding of course the few people I actually know, like MwiStar from The African Accent.

At first I would update my Twitter account with all the nonsense stuff I was doing in the day along with posting links to some of my marketing contacts. That was until I watched this episode of SuperNews!Now I just can’t do it anymore. I feel ridiculous, and have to laugh at some of my contacts personal updates. I keep thinking ‘None of you have any friends!’.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Problem With Plenty Of Fish

damaged goods –noun
[dam-ij-d goo-ds]
1. a person who is impaired, corrupted, or defiled

A few months ago at a dinner party the topic of Internet dating came up, specifically two sites Plenty of Fish, a free dating site apparently run by one guy out of his Vancouver apartment, and a paid site called eHarmony.ca, developed by Dr. Neil Clark Warren. Two of my friends were trying out both of the sites, without any success. The complaint with eHarmoy.ca, besides the monthly fee, was the amount of time it took to actually get a chance to speak with someone. With Plenty of Fish, although it was free, the quality of potential mates was not really there. Although these two friends were not happy with the results, they kept their accounts going for well over 2 months.

I have always been a big proponent against Internet dating. When asked why, my only real argument was that it was too easy. Finding someone should not be like going through a catalogue and ordering merchandise. There is no thrill, no butterflies, and no spark. These were just assumptions on my part, so ever being curious and constantly Chasing Distractions, I decided to test out the world of online dating.

Being in the perpetual state of 'brokeness' I opted for the free dating site and created a profile on Plenty of Fish. Within the first few days I noticed something wrong with the potential mates on the site. No one seemed to respond to any of my emails. After changing tactics and slimming down my original contact I started to receive responses. After building what I assumed was an appropriate time on back and forth communication I attempted to plan ‘dates’, a time a place to meet someone for a drink or a coffee. It was at this point where everyone backed off. Excuses were made, or strange requests such as they would only agree to a date if I could lend them money first.
It may be hard to get the sense of someones personality through email and instant messages, but one thing that does stick out is when people are not right in some way. Now I know at this point if you have been reading my blog that last statement is ‘like the pot calling the kettle black’, but it is true. In my opinion, Plenty of Fish seems to deal in damaged goods.
Or it could just be that I am the one that is damaged goods... nah, that can't be right.
Maybe I should finally take down this ‘motivational' poster my ex-girlfriend gave me:




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Friday, August 7, 2009

The 7-Minute Morning Workout

ex⋅er⋅cise  –noun
[ek-ser-sahyz]
1. bodily or mental exertion, esp. for the sake of training or improvement of health

A friend of mine shared this 7-minute workout with me the other day. It may not seem like a big deal, 7-minutes is not a long time, but after three days of doing this I can already feel it. And let me tell you these 7-minutes are hard, really hard.



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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Twelve Days Of Bluesfest

per⋅fect at⋅tend⋅ance –noun
[per-fekt uh-ten-duhns]
1. the act of attending an event without missing a day
The Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest was twelve days long this year, and being a trooper I managed to go every single day, no matter how much it hurt me. I would love to do a review of every single show I saw, but after seeing over 80 artists I think this post would take me forever. So this is going to be less of a review and more of a list of bands I saw. Please feel free to read them in the tune of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’:

On the first day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Amanda Rheaume, Van der Graaf Generator, Amos the Transparent, Monkey Junk, The Black Keys, Sergent Garcia

On the second day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Brothers Chaffey, Holy Fuck, Iron & Wine, Metric, Oumou Sangare, Ben Harper, The Road Hammers, Elliot Brood

On the third day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
The Stills, Okkervil River, Sam Roberts, Jackson Browne, The Dodos, Steve Earle, DeVotchka, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats, Arrested Development, Peter Voith Trio

On the fourth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Jill Barber, Hey Rosetta!, John Vanderslice, Rachael Yamagata, Punch Brothers, Curumin, Matisyahu, FEMI KUTI, Jesse Cook

On the fifth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Girl Talk, Land of Talk, King Khan & BBQ Show, Jenn Grant, Neko Case, Thunderheeist, Joe Cokcer, Mother Mother, Kid Koala

After my fifth day of Bluesfest Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio3, who had found me on Facebook to ask if I would do a live fan review of the festival, tracked me down. Hungover, and maybe even still a little drunk I agreed. If you ended up missing my live radio debut you can still give a listen to it. Look for the entry that says 'Live on CBC Radio 3: All Request with Wintersleep!' and hit the Play button for Ottawa Blues Fest Fan Review (Crozon Ottawa)

On the sixth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Gym Class Heroes, Stone Temple Pilots, Basia Bulat, Great Lake Swimmers

On the seventh day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
The Zombies, Ice Cube, The Yardbirds, Xavier Rudd, Toots & the Maytals

On the eighth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
The Arkells, Silent Disco, The National, KISS, Beast, Skydiggers, K'NAAN

On the ninth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Shout Out Out Out, Busta Rhymes, Mick Taylor, Les Claypool

On the tenth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Cake, Blue Rodeo, Paolo Nutini, Dave Mason, Clem Snide

On the eleventh day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Poorfolk, Woodhands, Otis Taylor, Ludacris, Drive-By Truckers, Black Mountain, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Low Anthem, Louisiana Red, Rhythm Council, David Lindley, The Deep Dark Woods, That 1 Guy

On the twelfth day of Bluesfest I went to go see:
Deer Tick, Handsome Furs, C.R. Avery with the Sojourne's, The Dead Weather, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I ended up winning the Perfect Attendance Award. I think it was the first time ever in my life that I have had perfect attendance. My Mom would be so proud.



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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Free 411 From Google

in⋅for⋅ma⋅tion –noun
[in-fer-mey-shuhn]
1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance
1-800-GOOG-411
(1-800-466-4411)


Google has recently launched a new 411 service. The best part is it is free, and you know how I like free stuff. Check out this video for a little more information. I’ve already programmed the number into my cell phone... that should save me a couple bucks a month. Thanks Google!





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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

United (Airlines) Breaks Guitars

jus⋅tice  –noun
[juhs-tis]
1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness

While waiting on the tarmac in a United Airlines jet, Halifax musician, Dave Carroll looked out the window and to his horror saw the baggage handlers actually throwing his guitar around. Upon arriving in the city, where he was to perform, he found that the thrown guitar was actually broken.

After months of frustration trying to get compensation from United Airlines he eventually got a final "No!" Being a singer-songwriter, Dave Carroll did what he does best - he wrote a song and made a video.

I wonder how long United Airlines will hold out before they compensate him. My guess is by the end of the week Dave will be in possession of a new guitar and maybe even some travel vouchers.



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Sunday, June 21, 2009

NxNE – Day 5

de⋅feat –verb
[di-feet]
1. to eliminate or deprive of something expected
The Boat cruise took a lot out of me, so after getting up and eating some garbage food from McDonalds, I decided to blow off the last day of NxNE and make the long drive back to Capital City. Three out of Five is not bad, right?

We'll see if I can do any better on my home turf when the 12 days of Bluesfest comes along in July. Wish me luck.



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Saturday, June 20, 2009

NxNE – Day 4

missed out –verb
[mis]
1. to fail to take advantage of
I awoke feeling a little rough so decided to take advantage of the late checkout and sleep in. Unfortunately I slept in too long and wasn’t able to use the pool, sauna, fitness centre or waters slide… not that I would really have done all that, but the sauna might have helped the hangover a bit.

After checking out I decided to head back to my cousin’s apartment for a little more rest. I passed The Details on my way to the subway station and they invited me to the Six Shooter BBQ. I asked them to call me once they confirmed I was able to get in for sure because the BBQ was all the way down by the beaches and I didn’t want to go to just be turned away. Plus it was raining. And did I mention I was hung over? In the end I never ended up going. I needed to rest up for the Boat Cruise.

Since I was in town I got in contact with The African Accent and tried to coax him out. He declined the night before, but was a maybe for the festivities for the Boat Cruise, where there was to be DJ’s, bands and as the fuzzy picture shows, nude painted models. He never showed and definitely missed out.

After the boat cruise I was planning on going to The Horseshoe to thank Grant Lawrence personally for the passes, but the cruise was so good hic I never made it.



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Friday, June 19, 2009

NxNE – Day 3

fate –noun
[feyt]
1. the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed
The day started off slow, I had a bit of writing to catch up on so I didn't end up going out until the late afternoon. I decided I was going to give my cousin and his wife a break and rented a room downtown at the Delta Chelsea. They set me up on the 15th floor with a view of Yonge Street. I could almost make out the stage set up at Yonge Dundas Square, so after I settled in I strolled down to catch Black Hat Brigade’s set.

After some dinner and a shower I was ready to see a show that I was really looking forward to, Coeur de Pirate. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as I arrived at the Dakota Tavern the line-up was already around the block. The doorman told me that they were overcapacity and it was now a case of one-in-one-out. Later I would find that this was not true and in fact it was another case of the industry guest list ruining it for the rest of the fans. In fact I have a credible source that says not only was the Dakota way below capacity, but Coeur de Pirate’s manager had to come out and ask why they were not letting anyone in. The answer – industry guest list first.

Feeling dejected, again, for having my beginning of the night ruined by NxNE’s industry guest list policy I was at a loss of where to go next. I almost planned to work my way up to College street to see some of the 9pm concerts before making my way back to Yonge Dundas Square for the Wintersleep show, but at last minute decided to cross the street to The Painted Lady to enjoy a pint of Guinness and listen a few minutes of a PEI band by the name of Boxer The Horse. That decision proved fateful as the rest of the night could have been quite different if I decided to walk up to College Street.

Not wanting to miss any of the Wintersleep show I left The Painted Lady early and walked down Dundas Street in search of a streetcar that would take me to Yonge Dundas Square. I ran into a couple asking a man about the very streetcar I was looking for. I asked if they wanted to just split a cab, but the girl said she was really looking forward to experiencing a streetcar for the first time. As it turns out our NxNE experience was very similar. The girl, originally from Winnipeg, who I am dubbing Superfan Jenny, arrived from Ottawa on Wednesday, where she had been visiting her sister. We both had tried to get into the Coeur de Pirate show but were turned away and ended up going to The Painted Lady for a pint of Guinness. Amused by our coincidences I mentioned that I was staying at the Delta Chelsea, and of course they were as well. I said they had me on the 15th floor, they were on the 14th floor. It turned out that her boyfriend Jon is the front man for a band called The Details and they were performing at NxNE. I missed their show on Thursday by a matter of minutes when after Papa Groove I decided to take in a documentary, which I also missed. Furthermore, every show the night before we were all at the same venue, probably even standing right near each other.

We ended up taking in the Wintersleep show together and bought each other rounds of Mill Street Organic Drafts from the beer tent. Although Wintersleep put on a great show it paled in comparison of the new friendship we were forming. I met the rest of the band members from The Details after the show and we all headed down to the Drake Hotel to take in Halifax’s Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees. Afterwards the band and Superfan Jenny called it a night and we planned to meet up the next day. I would see the band one more time in the morning, where they invited me to a party, which in the end I declined.

After I left the Drake Hotel I ended up at The Reverb and attempted to dance the night away to the sounds of the Parallels, 84.85 and Kenny Glasgow, but in the end the drink was too much for me and I headed back to my hotel room to pass out, alone, but happy for the experiences I had.

And that, Dear Reader, was my 3rd, and what would be my last, night at the North by Northeast festival in Toronto.



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Thursday, June 18, 2009

NxNE – Day 2

ac⋅quaint –verb
[uh-kweynt]
1. to make more or less familiar, aware, or conversant
2. to bring into social contact; introduce
My cousin decided to blow off work and join me for a day at NxNE. I haven’t seen him in awhile and we were never really that close so it was a good chance to get to know him better.

We started the day out at the Hyatt Regency with Rah Rah, a pretty good band from Saskatchewan. Followed by Papa Groove, a very unique band from Montreal. During the Papa Groove show my cousin leaned over to me and said “They look like a bunch of tour buses crashed and these guys are the survivors.” And he is right. The lead singer resembles Lenny Cravitz, the bass player is a white guy with long dreadlocks sporting a cowboy hat, there was a 5-piece brass section, two guys on keyboards dressed as pimps, three drummers and I think one or two other guys on guitars. You really have to see it to believe it.

We rushed over to the National Film Board to check out a documentary but, still feeling the pints from the previous night, I misread the schedule. The documentary was being screened at the Hyatt Regency – the very place we just left. I begged off doing anything else for the rest of that afternoon and took a much-needed nap.

Feeling refreshed, we headed back out on the town. Our first stop was Lee’s Palace for the Outlaws and Gunslingers show. I ran into Amanda Putz and listened to The Swallows and a compilation of Jim Cuddy, Royal Wood and Oh Susanna. The line-up was a little too country for me so we jumped the streetcar to Queen St. West and just made it in time for The Burning Hell show at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, followed by The United Steelworkers of Montreal. Apparently the Horseshoe does not follow the maximum capacity requirements, so by the end of the Steelworkers show the place was jam-packed. Feeling slightly claustrophobic we left and ended the night off at the El Mocambo with You Say Party! We Say Die!, and die I did. Exhausted, I made it an early night and went back to my cousin’s place to rest up for the weekend.






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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NxNE – Day 1

let⋅down –noun
[let-doun]
1. disillusionment, discouragement, or disappointment

On Tuesday night the great people at CBC Radio3 hooked me up with two passes to the North by Northeast music festival in Toronto. So Wednesday morning I woke up early, jumped in my car and made the 500 or so kilometre drive to The Big Smoke.

The first night was a bit of a bust; the rain began just as I got in line for the Arts & Crafts show at The Courthouse, and to add insult to injury they were only letting in people on the industry guest list. After standing in the rain for 2 hours, dejected, I decided to leave and hailed a cab to The Drake Hotel. A cool pint of Guinness and the sounds of The D’Urbervilles, lioness and Woodhands made up for the disappointment from the beginning of the night.



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Friday, June 12, 2009

UPDATE: CBC Radio3 Goes 100% Canadian - Sorta

hy⋅poc⋅ri⋅sy –noun
[hi-pok-ruh-see]
1. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude
Today Steve Pratt, Music Director at CBC Radio3, anounced on the Radio3 Blog that they would stick with the current mix of the web radio station, which is 100% Canadian. Although this is good news, the people spoke and the powers that be listened, there is a few caveats when it comes to 100% Canadian. I'll let Steve explain further:

Why did we choose to only include Canadian music and artists in our rotation?
It's a long list, but here are three big reasons:
  • To many of you, CBC Radio 3 is synonymous with all-Canadian independent music already.

  • We believe this music format makes a huge impact for Canadian musicians.

  • In a world of musical offerings, 100% Canadian is distinct.
One tiny caveat:

We're celebrating, but we're not bigots.

A quick note to those among you who will call for our heads if there's even a shred of content that can't be deemed ‘100% Canadian:' while we will play 100% Canadian music in rotation day in, day out, we will also continue to reserve the right to play what some may consider 'non-Canadian' music when we feel it makes sense. For example we might:
  • Play bands that feature Canadians prominently, even though they don't technically qualify as ‘official Canadian Content,' like the new Buck 65 collaborative project, Bike For Three.

  • Play a cover! If a Canadian artist is covered or remixed by a non-Canadian artist and people are talking about it, we will feel very comfortable playing that song for you once or twice for context, as we recently did in our Remix Special Podcast.

  • Broadcast a non-Canadian band at a live event because they're on the same bill as several amazing Canadian acts, as we did two years ago at Pop Montreal.

  • Make an occasional exception: Our recent CBC Radio 3 Session with Neko Case, who is American, but is widely considered an ‘honourary Canadian.

  • 'Embrace an artist's choice, if a guest host or artist wants to play a favourite track or talk about influences.
Basically, our rule of thumb will be this: if it feels Canadian and if audiences consider it a relevant and essential part of the celebration, enjoyment, and discussion of Canadian music and culture, we're gonna play it. As Sloan put it, "if it feels good, do it." That's what 100% Canadian means to us.


So in other words CBC Radio3 Goes 100% Canadian - Sorta.



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Free Events In Ottawa This June

fru⋅gal –adjective
[froo-guhl]
1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful
2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager
Yesterday I brought my car in for it’s semi-annual inspection and an oil change. Well the total tab ended up costing me close to $600. With the months entertainment budget now blown I decided to look for some free things to do in Capital City for the month of June.

June 12th (to 14th)
Westfest

This year you can look forward to the best in Canadian and Local Ottawa multidisciplinary arts, including music, performance art, literature, spoken word, media art, visual art, dance, theatre, and live animation. Westfest is located on Richmond Road, between Golden Avenue and Island Park Drive. Tonight’s musical acts include:
Arctic 7:00 - 7:45 PM
Jenn Grant 8:00 - 9:00 PM
Danny Michel 9:30 - 11:00 PM

Check out Danny Michel’s video for Feather, Fur and Fin:




June 13th
Indonesian Festival 2009

Embassy of Indonesia will be presenting “Indonesian Festival 2009”. There will be a bazaar (furniture, handycraft and traditional food), kid’s activities, traditional cultural performance and workshop, and trade/tourism promotion for the whole family. This event will be held at the Embassy’s premises at 55 Parkdale Ave from 11:00am-4:00pm.

June 16th
Bloomsday In Ottawa

National Irish Canadian Cultural Center is proud to announce the’ Inaugural Celebration’ of ‘James Joyce Bloomsday ‘ to be held at St. Brigid’s Cultural Center, 310 St. Patrick Street. Readers, Musicians and Dancers from the Irish Community, will combine to present Drama, Music and Irish Dance in a mosaic of the Performing Arts, reflecting every day life in Dublin around 1904, the year of ‘Ulysses’ debut. Doors will be open at 6:30 pm and the event will conclude at 10:30pm with the Cash Bar closing 11pm. Information: 613-225-1830

June 17th
Mens' Health: Golfing Injuries

Free seminar on Men’s health: Golfing injuries, presented by Joel Villenueve, Naturopathic Doctor, at Rainbow Foods 1487 Richmond Rd. 630-7:30pm.
Information: 613-726-9200

June 19th
Arts Cafe concert, Austrian Embassy

Love, Rage and Altered States: The Mind in Austrian Music Concert by Justin KOLB (piano) and François MAI (text) with music by Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Robert Starer. How do emotions affect the music of great composers? In this duo performance virtuoso pianist Justin Kolb and psychiatrist-author François Mai will address this question and highlight how Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and others expressed specific feelings in their music. Sheraton Hotel, 150 Albert St. 7pm

June 24th
Seasonal Allergies Seminar

Free seminar on Seasonal Allergies, presented by Mark Orbay, Naturopathic Doctor, at Rainbow Foods 1487 Richmond Rd. 630-7:30pm.
Information: 613-726-9200

June 25th
A Free Home Buyers Seminar

Learn how to avoid common pitfalls when buying a home. Speak to the professionals. There will be a Lawyer, Home Inspector, Mortgage broker, and Real Estate Agent there to answer all your Real Estate questions. There will be light refreshments, discounts and The seminar will be held at the Royal LePage Gale Real Estate office Located at 591 March Road, Kanata from 6:45pm – 8:00pm
Information: 613-763-0772

June 25th (to July 26th)
OSA’s 2009 Graduating Class Exhibition

A showcase of emerging artists in the Ottawa region. Work will be on display from June 25 to July 26, 2009 at the OSA Gallery, 35 George St., 5pm-8pm.

June 25th (to July 1st)
Canada Day Festival

The Canada Day Festival has talented performers, unique entertainment and fun for the whole family all weekend until the finale on July 1st 2009 Canada Day! Check out the events in Andrew Haydon Park in the city's west-end to savor foods for every palette and enjoy the colourful entertainment and activities offered by a variety of stellar performers. There's something for everyone - midway rides and games, a mini-circus, a petting zoo, a car show, a water park, face painting, live DJ, band shell entertainment, cultural events and a Canada Day fireworks display.

June 27th (to July 2nd)
Unisong Choir Festival

Over the Canada Day weekend, ensembles of over 400 choristers from across Canada will present four days of free concerts throughout the Capital.

Budget blown and all, I am still hoping to make it to Toronto next weekend for NxNE - so wish me luck.




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Monday, June 8, 2009

CBC Radio3 – 100% Canadian vs 85% Canadian

poll –noun
[pohl]
1.a sampling or collection of opinions on a subject, taken from either a selected or a random group of persons, as for the purpose of analysis

Due to the recent budget cuts in the media, the national broadcaster CBC has had to make hard decisions. Many programs have been reorganized, and some have been cut all together.

On the radio side of things, from my understanding anyway, the budget for recording live shows has now been amalgamated between CBC Radio3 and CBC Radio2. Furthermore the CBC Radio3 web radio station, which boasts 100% Canadian content, is now facing a change in their programming.

Radio3 currently runs two separate stations, one for the web and the second on Sirius radio. Again due to budget cuts CBC will merge the two stations into one on Monday, June 15th. The web station currently features a 100% Canadian mix, whereas the satellite feed is an 85% Canadian and 15% international mix. The question is which format do they go with?

Music Director Steve Pratt breaks down the respective arguments as follows:

For keeping the Sirius mix:
  • it will help draw in a bigger audience that will then be introduced to new Canadian acts

  • we can showcase the best of international music side-by-side with the best from Canada and show how we stack up

  • it better reflects what our audience might actually be listening to.
For keeping the Web Radio mix:
  • our 'brand' is very, very clear (100% Canadian)

  • every song works with full interactivity on the website (international artists do not have pages on New Music Canada, would not be available for inclusion in personal playlists, etc).

  • web radio supporters believe that as a public broadcaster, we should be playing as much Canadian music as possible.
In pure social media form, Radio3 included their listeners in the decision making process with a web poll which closed today at 5pm EST. While I was writing this post the results were just announced:

77% NO – Do not include international music into the mix
23% YES – Include international into the mix

Now it’s off to the powers that be to make their final decision. Either way, the people have spoken so let’s see if they will be heard.



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Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Math Behind Getting Ahead

e⋅qua⋅tion –noun
[i-kwey-zhuhn,-shuhn]
1. the act of equating or making equal

When it comes to emails I normally I don’t like getting forwards. The vast majority of them come from family members and usually I just delete them. Every once in awhile a good one sneaks through, so I thought I would share this one that I recently received from my Uncle:

What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

Then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5
= 96%

But ,
A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And,

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7
= 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it's the Bullshit and Ass kissing that will put you over the top.


I thought I would do a couple of my own:

S-E-X
19+5+24
= 48%

L-O-V-E
12+15+22+5
= 54%

R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P
18+5+12+1+20+9+15+14+19+8+9+17
= 147%

As you can see it takes a considerable amount of effort to be in a relationship. Basically you have to give it your all and then some to keep it going, a total of 147% everyday. On the other side it’s relatively easy to fall in or make someone fall in love with you, it only takes 54% effort on your part. The easiest of all is to have sex. It only takes 48% effort to ‘get some’; I clearly have been trying way too hard.



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Monday, June 1, 2009

The Big Boy Bed

sin⋅gle bed –noun
[sing-guhl bed]
1. a bed for one occupant

Since I was about 19 years old I have been rocking the single bed – in fact it is the same bed I had in college – my grandparents bought it for me in my second year when I moved into an apartment. For 11 years I’ve slept on this narrow bed, which as of late has grown uncomfortable with its springs that have now become sprung. Yet, financial issues aside, I can’t bring myself to upgrade just yet. It’s not a form of nostalgic attachment to some lost love, or a gift from my grandparents. It just seems to suit me, single bed, single me.

I’ve taken quite the ribbing from many people when they find out that I still have a single bed. Friends usually shake their head and tell me it’s time for me to buy a ‘Big Boy Bed’ or ask “How can you even bring a girl home?” or some variation of that question. Although sleeping can sometimes be difficult, I like the closeness my single bed affords, and the limited space has also been know to inspire creativity wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Besides, I take solace in knowing that there was probably only one other guy in the whole world that didn't mind having a single bed:

”I wanna love you every day and every night:
We'll be together with a roof right over our heads;
We'll share the shelter of my single bed; “




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