Monday, August 29, 2011

Ladies, Pucks, Blades, and You

Hey folks!

It’s been a while since my last post. Life gets hectic sometimes, and in my case the blog is what fell behind. I can say though, that I have a fantastic reason to write this post, and I hope you will agree.

As you may or may not know, sometimes people get sick. Sometimes people are even born sick (shitty, right?). In a lot of these situations, the only thing you can do is research the disease and try to find out how to take it behind the woodshed and give it a whippin’. Since research takes money, there’s a demand for kindhearted people to raise funds for such diseases. A friend of mine, Beth Snow, is partaking in an event intended to raise money for research into Cystic Fibrosis. She is playing hockey for 10 days straight.

Ten. Days. Straight.

Not “a game for ten days”. “One game that lasts for 10 days, 24 hours a day” is more like it. The event is called the “Longest Game 4 CF” and it is going on right now (watch a live webcast of the girls playing from here… as of this writing they’ve been playing for 84 hours straight). When done they will have set a World Record for the longest hockey game and hopefully have raised a bunch of money for CF research. You can donate to Beth’s efforts here: As an alternative plan, you can live a sad and shallow life. Your call though…

In order to wrap my head (and yours) around this ridiculous fundraiser, I did a bit of a Q & A with Beth before she began cursing her skates. I have commented where appropriate:

You have your PhD. Can I call you Dr. Beth?
I wouldn't have you call me anything else! ;-)

What, exactly, is the "Longest Game for CF"?
The Longest Game for CF is an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest ever game of hockey. The current record of 10 days was set by a group of men in Edmonton in February, so we are going to play for 10 days and 65 minutes. This is one, continuous 10-day-long game of hockey. That's 243 hours of hockey… Put another way, this one game is equivalent to three seasons of NHL hockey. (PAUL: 3 seasons of NHL hockey? Sweet Merciful Crap!)

All of this is being done, of course, to catch people's attention so that we can raise money for, and awareness about, cystic fibrosis.

Have you lost your marbles? Seriously… aren’t PhD’s supposed to be smart?
I'm sure they aren't lost, exactly. They must be around here somewhere.

If you have not lost your marbles, were you in possession of marbles previously?
Oh yes, of course. They were very pretty.

Why CF?
The event is the brainchild of Val Skelly, an incredible woman who lost her dear friend Lucia to CF. Val wanted to do something totally huge, something so epic that everyone would have to sit up and take notice to promote awareness about CF and fundraise for CF research. Being a hockey player, she came up with the idea of playing the longest ever hockey game!

One of the amazing things about raising funds for CF research is that we know the research makes a huge difference. 50 years ago, a child born with CF didn't live to see kindergarten. Today, thanks to research, half of people with CF live to see 40 years of age. That's an incredible amount of progress in a relatively short period of time. But we still have a long way to go, because people who have CF live with a very debilitating disease every single day of their lives and they die a lot sooner than they should. We need funds to continue the research!

Did you ever consider a charity that fights marble loss and marble-loss-related illnesses?
We did consider it, but to the best of our knowledge, there are only 40 people on earth who have marble loss-related illnesses to such an extent that they'd play hockey for 10 days straight, whereas CF is much more common. 1 in 25 people of Caucasian descent are carriers of this genetic disease, as are 1 in 46 people of Hispanic descent, 1 in 65 people of African descent and 1 in 90 people of Asian descent. There are approximately 3,000 people in Canada and 30,000 people in the US who have CF.

As well, as I mentioned above, incredible progress has been made in improving treatment and extending longevity for people with CF, whereas we are pretty sure that those with marble loss are beyond hope of ever finding a cure.

How much are you hoping to raise as a team and as an individual?
I'm aiming to raise at least $3,000 by the time the game starts on August 26th. Collectively, we want to raise $400,000!

You are all awesome. What about the event itself? How does it work? Can people leave the building?
We are not allowed to leave the Burnaby 8 Rinks property. So while we won't stuck in the building the entire time, we are only allowed to be in the building or to hang out in the parking lot. The world is going to be a very small place for us in those 10 days!

Is it refereed?
Yes, the Guinness Rules require that there must be two referees on the ice at all times, so our committee has been working hard to recruit people who can skate, who like wearing stripes, and who have a lust for power to be volunteer referees. (I think we may even still need a few more refs, so if you are interested...)

Are you allowed subs? I don't mean sandwiches.
Each team is only allowed 20 people and whoever is dressed and on the bench when the puck drops to start the game constitutes the two teams. No substitutions allowed, so if anyone gets hurt, your team just has fewer players. And we can't switch teams either, so if 5 people were to get hurt on one team, that team would only have their 15 remaining players and the other side would not be allowed to share theirs.

Because we are only allowed 20 players per team and it is physically impossible to stay up for 10 days without eating, sleeping or taking care of other, um, biological functions, we are setting up schedules where we will play for about 4 hours and then have 4 or 8 hour breaks. In order to do this, at any one time we will only have 6 skaters and a goalie on each team. This means that when you are on your 4 hour playing shift, you will be physically on the ice for almost the entire 4 hours. This, of course, assumes no injuries. If anyone goes out with an injury, we'll either have no sub on the bench or have fewer 8 hour breaks.

Man, where did I put those marbles?

That seems like a big time commitment. Did everyone quit their jobs to do this, or are you all hobos?
I cannot speak to the hobo nature of my teammates, but I'm taking vacation. I know at least one person in the game is a teacher and so she's on her summer vacation (but has to be in class to teach the very next day!) and I know at least one person who is taking unpaid leave to be able to play. The rest of them are probably hobos.

How many fighting majors do you think there will be, just to get some rest in the penalty box?
The desire to sit in the penalty box will likely be outweighed by the sheer terror of actually getting hurt in a fight, resulting in the team losing a player. Also, I don't think any of us will have the energy to swing a fist.

Are there periods? If you don't Zamboni the ice a couple of times won't you eventually just be running around on the floorboards?
There aren't periods, exactly, but we do get 10 minutes to clean the ice for every one hour that we play. Apparently the Zamboni normally takes 10 minutes and 15 seconds to clean the ice surface, so we are going to need to employ some kamikaze Zamboni drivers who can shave off that 15 seconds, because the entire thing is being videotaped and the Guinness people will be watching everything to make sure we followed all the rules exactly. And the Guinness people do not put up with no 15 extra seconds of ice cleaning time.

Has Vegas set an over-under on goals scored for the game?
Excellent question. I'll have to check with my bookie on that one. But I do know that in the 10 day long game that the men in Edmonton played in February, the final score was 2090 to 2010.

In related news, I hope to get my first ever hat trick during this game!

I have been reading a lot of Harry Potter Lately. If it gets out of hand is there any chance someone can catch a golden puck for an additional 150 points?
Absolutely. Which reminds me, I need to pack my broomstick to take with me!

What about the spectators? Surely people can watch?
For sure! We are playing on Rink 1 at Burnaby 8 Rinks, which has room for spectators (I believe you can even sit up in the bar and watch, if you are so inclined). And we definitely want spectators to come and cheer us on - the more, the merrier! I'm also hoping that people will show up with funny signs. Because funny signs make me skate faster. (PAUL: Note that the game will be streamed live here:

Where do you sleep?
We will be having RVs set up in the back parking lot that we'll be sharing amongst the players. So it will be kind of like camping but without the wilderness, lakes, greenery, campfires or anything that makes camping good.

Speaking of which, how are you eating during this?
During our breaks, we are going to be fed the most delicious foodstuffs cooked by Chef Brian Wong of the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel (though he'll be cooking for us in the kitchen of the Delta in Burnaby, what with it being much closer to the rink and all). Brian is spending his vacation cooking non-stop for 40 hungry hockey players! All the food is being donated by Save-On-Foods, which is pretty awesome. (PAUL: Rock on Brian!)

In addition to having a chef cook our meals, we will have volunteers to do our laundry, take our skates for sharpening, and go on Starbucks runs to get our coffees. I may never want to come home after treatment like that!

What, exactly, will everything smell like when this is over
I don't even want to think about it. I can only hope that I'm so delirious from over-exertion that I lose all sense of smell by that point.

Are there any sponsors you'd like to thank?
Indeed there are!

Canlan Ice Sports (owners of Burnaby 8 Rinks) is our presenting sponsor, as they are donating the rink, the dressing rooms, and space in their parking lot for our RVs for 10 days!

Save-on-Foods, as I've mentioned, is donating all the food to feed the players for 10 days. That's a lot of food!

CBC is our official media sponsor. (I wonder if they are going to call it Hockey Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night and Day and Night in Canada?)

Another major sponsor is Richport Ford Lincoln - this is the place where Val works and they've been incredibly supportive of this whole endeavour.

BC Transplant is also a sponsor, as many people with CF require organ transplant.

And then, of course, there are countless donors who have given individually (you can see a list of most of the people who've donated to my fundraising campaign on my donation page:

And finally, please pimp your blog ( for my readers via an eloquent haiku.
I don't know if I'd call it eloquent, but here goes!

Hey, you know what's good?
Not To Be Trusted With Knives
Dot Com. OMG.

Did I mention that I suck at haiku?

So there you have it. If this sounds ridiculous, it is. PLEASE donate to this effort. This is a group of girls making an incredible commitment of pain and suffering so that others don’t have to. Throwing a few bucks into the pot is not too much to ask. You can donate to Dr. Beth specifically here:, or to the team in general here:

Good luck ladies!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Situ

I am an extraordinary sitter. I think it’s because I have such a sitting resume: I have spent literally years of my life sitting. And it’s not all one kind of sitting, I have explored the gamut of sitting, to the point that one could consider me, dare I say, a connoisseur of sitting.

It’s not something that’s come easy to me by the way. When I was young, I didn’t always like to sit. Sometimes I’d want to just run around, it was all anyone could do to get me to sit. Fortunately, like many child athletes, my parents pushed me in subtle ways. Books, toys, pleading… they knew that if I was to be the sitter I am today, I would have to commit to sitting in my youth. Oh sure, they made sure I had a complete life, but today I am capable of sitting for over 15 hours a day! Do you have any idea what that would do to a person who isn’t properly trained? And that’s not even counting the 8-9 hours of cross-training I do lying down every night!

There are many ways a person may sit, and many purposes for that sitting. Sometimes I’ll mix up my sits, using a “lounging sit” at work, or throwing a “gaming sit” out there when watching a movie. Sure it’s showing off, but when you’ve got it, flaunt it, right? I worked hard for this body, I’m not going to let it go to waste leaning am I?

When any high-performer looks back on their career, they’ll invariably point to the times when they couldn’t do what they loved as the worst days. Whether it’s because they got sick and could only bear to lie down, or when an injury sidelined them; it’s being taken out of the game that hurts the most. I’ll tell you… you don’t want to be in a room of accomplished sitters when a hemorrhoid sufferer walks through the door. Everyone tries to act normal but you know every one of them is thinking the same thing: “That could be me.” One long car ride too many… a hard bench… too much cheese… it’s tough knowing how quickly sitting can be taken away from you.

For me, the hardest time I ever had as a sitter came not from my career, but at home. It’s not an easy thing to talk about given the personal nature, but if marathon survivors don’t talk about their experiences then those going through the same thing will feel alone, and that is the far greater tragedy in my mind. In my instance, my wife was stricken by the marathon bug, and we knew that the only way we were going to get through it was together, no matter what that meant for my sitting. I knew that everyone at work would understand how important it was for me to spend that time not sitting, but you still can’t help thinking about everyone else sitting while you're not, logging hours that you are unable to. Inevitably you find yourself thinking “Will I be the same sitter when I come back?” Only time will tell.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Time of Your Life

I want to do the following things right now:

- Play video games
- Go for a run
- Write
- Hang out with Erika
- Play guitar
- Learn how to shoot a F$%^#ing hockey puck properly

Why? Because I want to:

- Be good at my job
- Be in good shape
- Be a good writer
- Be a good husband
- Be a good guitar player
- Be a non-pathetic hockey player

When you look at this list though, how many of those things are actually possible to put serious time towards in an evening? Maybe 3 at the best? And that’s assuming you’re ok with not just vegging out a little after work.

Now let’s think about how many times a week you need to do the things on List A in order to accomplish the goals on List B. I would argue that if you actually want to accomplish the items on List B at a high level you need to do them at least 3 days a week, and if you’re not already good at them you need to do them 4 times to get any better. Oh sure, you can do things less often, but then you end up with this:

(If that’s not enough, you can come over and I’ll play guitar for you)

My point is, as you get older you need to pick: Do you want to be an expert at something or do you want to be average? Personally, I think many people focus on too many things and as a result float along as average in a bunch of areas. If you want to be an expert though, it becomes pretty clear that you need to let some casual interests fall to the wayside… and trust me, it’s hard to swallow that if I’m to be an expert writer it means letting go of some long-dreamed dreams. I’ll never have a wicked wrist-shot, I’ll never be able to wow a campfire with the guitar, and I’ll never be a pirate. But those are the sacrifices you make.

Since Erika's in Vancouver, I've settled on Writing, Running, and Games tonight. This concludes my writing, and now I'm going for a run.

How do you split up your time?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Change You Can't Count On!

I need someone to explain the concept of Change to me. Not “This shirt smells, time for Plan G” kind of change, I mean the jingle in your pocket kind. Why do I still have Change in my life?

For starters, I understand that for a couple of thousand years this was a highly effective way to move your money around. You had to walk a long way into town, so better to carry a few coins than a half-dozen cows right? I mean, this was a Class-A innovation in world history, right up there with fire and the concept of zero. But hasn’t Change fallen upon tough times lately? Isn’t the luster gone, just a bit, from Change? There’s new upstarts in town. First it was paper currency (“Phaw,” says Change “It’ll fall apart under my kind of workload”). Then there was letters of credit and cheques (“Sure, you can stockpile funds but most transactions are going to need me”). After that we saw credit cards, who had a great run but now there’s debit cards giving Change and Paper the old one-two (“Oh Paper, I’m so sorry”). Now there’s the internet, credit cards, debit cards, cheques, pay-by-phone; and they’re all making it easier than ever not to pay any attention to Change at all (“Spare some change?” says Change from his bundle of rags). And above all this, Change has been slammed, positively SLAMMED by inflation! Just when Change thinks it’s gaining ground it gets devalued to the point that nobody pays with Change as a first option. It’s only when you’re desperate!

Do you know what got me thinking about this? I was at the drive-through, and the fetus working the till tried to pull the old “I’m going to lay your receipt on your hand in order to create a perfect ramp upon which to slide your Change into the space between this window and the car so that I can pick it up later trick” but Erika managed to thwart her, only to give it to me using basically the same trick, which led to me angrily jamming a mixture of American and Canadian Change into the overflowing ashtray and ranting about why this was a part of my life anymore! And really, it doesn’t need to be. I can fill my 1L steins with beer, thank you very much. I don’t need Change to do it for me.

Bring on the completely digital economy, I’m done with Change.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow up to Portugal foods!

I just discovered this is what a Monkfish looks like. Seriously? The most tasty new animal I was exposed to in Portugal is some sort of Tim Burton nightmare creature?

Although to be honest, I do feel a sense of pride in eating something that looks like it could have bitten my arm off. Even if I did just eat its tail. With butter. And never having seen it.

Hear me roar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

P90 Hexed

Well, we’re now at day 45 of Paul’s 90 day challenge! For those of you who remember, I started blogging and working out every day, following the P90X program. Since we’re at the halfway point, why don’t we recap?

Ok! Let’s see… umm. Well, I’ve blogged semi-consistently. Aaaand, I did a bunch of P90X in a row. And then I didn’t. But I was on vacation, so... well the internet was sparse. And I couldn’t very well put a chin up bar in my suitcase could I?

AAAH! Stop looking at me like that! I had perfectly good reasons for not sticking with this friggin’ program! For starters, I didn’t like it. What the hell is the point of doing a fitness program where every day you stare at a chin-up bar and think to yourself “I wish I could just go for a run”. How broken is that? Running is good for you! I should just be able to go for a run! I should be able to write a blog that uses less exclamation points than periods!

Ok, let me break it down. P90X in a nutshell is: 3 days of weights, 1 day explosive training (think “jumping”. It’s called Plyometrics), 1 day yoga, 1 day endurance training, 1 day rest or stretching, and 3 days a week of core abdominal work. I’m a gonna go through each element now:

This is done well. If you want to put on muscle you need to hit each muscle group once a week, and they do this by breaking the days down into Chest & Back, Arms & Shoulders, and Legs & Back. Wait… wasn’t that Back in there twice? Yes, that’s the one failing of the weight programs, where they acknowledge that most guys who want a “Beach Body” don’t care about leg workouts. As a consolation they dumb down the leg workout and throw in extra back work, which is ridiculous. Just give me my leg workout, I don’t need to look like I’m riding a chicken.

I like this, but it’s not necessary for most folks. It’s good for any explosive activity though, and if you play hockey or basketball it’ll be excellent. Paul approved.

Holy crap was this the most ridiculous experience ever. Erika and I tried it out, here’s how it went:

PAUL: Wait, what am I supposed to do right now?

ERIKA: Warrior pose I think

PAUL: What the hell is that? I can’t see the TV, he’s got me looking at my balls and then just shouting out random nouns like they mean something to me!

ERIKA: When did we switch to Warrior 2?

PAUL: Dammit! I’m jumping ahead to Right Angle Pose, at least I’ve seen a photo of that.

ERIKA: Ouch!

TONY HORTON (on the TV): Then back into Warrior 2, reverse, 2, , 1 and out


ERIKA: ARGH… why won’t he ever tell us how to do anything properly?

TONY HORTON (on the TV): And calm yourself… focus on a pleasant thought

PAUL: I’m holding Tony… we’re looking into each other’s eyes… he can’t get to the surface… he’s not struggling anymore…

The guy never repeats anything, never gives any clear instruction, and acts like you should be relaxed. Suffice to say that if they really cared about my inner peace this video would end with Tony Horton being gored by a rhino.

You’re not going to get in good cardiovascular shape in front of your TV without an exercise machine. Leave your freaking house.

Rest is important, but to be honest, I think the stretching option is only in there so that they can claim to have 90 straight days of training available. Stretching needs to be done more than one day a week to be effective.

I really think this is good, especially making sure it’s done 3 days a week. The downside is dealing with Tony’s “look at me!” personality over and over again since you see the same video 3 times a week.

So the take home message? If you want to gain muscle you would be fine with the weight workouts and abs three days a week. Then go for a couple of runs as well, even on the same days as the weights if you want. There’s no reason not to do cardio the same day you do a weight workout. You don’t need to eat up all of your spare time with this thing, it’s pointless.

Also, as a side note it’s incredibly annoying that the whole time you watch these videos he says “Left” and “Right” meaning his left and right, instead of yours (since you will naturally want to mirror image the screen). Staggeringly frustrating.

So that’s my P90X summary. See you on Wednesday!

Post to come!

I have been so bad of late! I will be posting later today though, so bear with me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trip Recap with Pictures!

I have been remiss in my posts!

Erika and I just returned from Portugal on Tuesday, a 21 hour slog via Philly that culminated in the joy of having Erika’s bag not make it onto our connecting flight, despite a 4.5 hour layover. I can only assume the TSA agent assigned to her bag had extremely small hands. In going through the photos on my phone though, I realized that I have a bunch of miscellaneous thoughts that started which I haven’t shared, so here’s some of my miscellaneous holiday thoughts:


This was the “window” in our hotel room:

If you walked up, you could literally just step out onto the roof (see below). A recurring theme when you go to Europe is “Your safety, Your problem”. I am a fan of this. If you fall off a ledge because there wasn’t a rail, well, you decided to walk out there in the first place right?

I was actually quite impressed with the packaged food in the Glasgow airport. It had these convenient “traffic light” labels, which is coincidentally a design tool I use. No need to make things overly complex right?:

Here’s a description of what the labels meant:

I think this is a really effective way of getting across the relative healthiness of things in a simple manner. It certainly affected my choice. And the package opened really simply as well, just peeling aside so that it was almost all a recyclable cardboard instead of being predominantly plastic:

I know you’re all thinking “Well how did it taste?” Um… it tasted like a low-fat sandwich packaged in cardboard. So there’s that.


I already mentioned this, but we biked out to Sagres and were surprised how close we were able to bike to the cliff’s edge:

I like food in pots:

Especially when they look like this on your plate (monkfish, potato, and shrimp):

The end
All good things coming to an end, as this is our last night in Lisbon:


Two final images. For some reason our plane was billowing clouds of something, which is, um… weird

And finally, it’s so good to get home. Or as close as US Airways will let you:

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Erika and I are on the bus leaving the Algarve right now (the picture is from Sagres, we rented bikes and rode to where we took that photo. Directly behind me is a 400 foot drop straight into the ocean, great spot for a picnic!), but I thought I'd share a story from Glasgow given that I couldn't post it before due to lack of available Internet.

Erika and I had decided that we would walk to one of the parks in Glasgow (they're quite nice), then find somewhere nearby to have dinner. We wandered in the general direction of one, and at first things were fine. Shopping, touristy kinds of things going on. But then it started to get progressively more sketchy. Erika didn't seem to notice, and may have thought I was overreacting. I said as much, but she rolled her eyes in that way that says "oh come on, nobody is going to stab you in broad daylight in a major city 3 blocks from a Marks and Spencer". We soldiered on.

See of you can guess which event over the following 20 minutes led us to decide "we should get out of here before someone stabs us in broad daylight in a major city 3 blocks from a Marks and Spencer":
1. Seeing people spill out of a pub blind stinking drunk and swearing at each other, and it's 5pm
2. Stepping into that same pub and having a guy stare at me for the entire duration of our time there
3. In the pub washroom: LADY: "What brings you to Gallow's Gate?" ERIKA: "Oh, just grabbing a pint" LADY: "SURE luv... HAH!"
4. Discovering the area of town we were in was referred to as "Gallow's Gate"
5. Seeing a pigeon that I'm pretty sure had AIDS
6. Watching a drunk old man stumble and fall off the curb
7. See a different old man stumble into a bus stop ad-board, cut his head on the glass... then relieve himself on the sign

Good times!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mmm... meaty

Through a combination of the weather (see above), crappy Internet availability, and not wanting to ignore Erika; I have not been posting much. I do have a nice list of topics to post about now though, and since I got up early today here's one:

It always surprises me how much meat there is on an animal. This though occured to me when looking at the shrimp we had for dinner last night. Those suckers are little more than one big hunk of meat with a head. But when you think about it, why not? Realistically what else would an animal be made out of if not guts and meat and connective tissue like bones 'n things? (name trademarked in case I ever divert into voodoo and want to open a shop)

Naturally this got me thinking about insects. Shouldn't eating a bug be much the same experience as eating a shrimp? I think it all boils down to the ratio of guts to meat. When I think of a shrimp I think of a big hunk of meat, whereas when I think of a bug like a beetle or a spider or a cricket I think of a little bag of goop. Everyone who was a kid stomped on a bug or two in their youth; it's tough to get that imagery out of your head. Shrimp are made of meat and bugs are made of guts. End of story, thanks for coming.

Or is it? After all, if I dropped a Smart Car onto a pig it's not like ham and bacon would go shooting all over the place. No, it would be the guts, just like all the bugs I stomped on as a kid. I guarantee you that if my first experiences with pig guts as a child had been in the form of Smart Car stompings instead of hot dogs I'd feel a lot differently about eating anything that came from a pig today.

So maybe there's a lot more meat on a bug than I've been willing to consider? Seems likely. Not that I'm about to do an anteater impression in my back yard with a chunk of garden hose and a fur coat, but in the right circumstance I woul now be willing to at least try an insect. With a good sauce. Like when I first tried shrimp (those suckers looked like bugs... gross).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Trying the local food

However, this is what Erika had:

Hers was tastier.Just had an awesome day on the beach in Faro with Erika. This was my dinner tonight:

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Glasgow now, with only passing Internet availability. Next post will hopefully be via Portugal!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fashioning a Post

For some reason I've been thinking a lot about fashion on this trip. If you know me at all you'll understand how weird this is. I'm not what you'd call a "fashionable guy", or a "snappy dresser", or even a "person who doesn't buy the same shoes three times in a row."*

The funny thing is, I'm actually able to break down the mechanics of fashion pretty well at a rudimentary level. Erika will say something like "Should I wear a necklace with this dress?" and I can muster a response along the lines of "I don't think so because the shape of your collar is meant to draw attention to your neck and shoulders, so the triangle of the necklace would go in the other direction and ruin the effect." Then I'll put on my black pants and brown shoes and leave the house.**

See, the problem is that I have no ability to look at the whole picture when it comes to fashion. I can get into the core principles but I can't look at a closet and pick out an outfit that doesn't look like something a drunken lumberjack would wear into town to get groceries. It's basically the opposite of food. I can tell you in a heartbeat if something is damn tasty, but if I have to tell you why the flavours work together I'm at a complete loss.***

Which is why me thinking about fashion is a bit odd. But I've been in London for a few days and have thus been exposed to some cutting-edge fashion as it were. It's tough not to notice the differences to the rest of the world after you've been here for a while, and above all else the thing that stands out is just how many different styles there are. I'm used to living in a place where that variety just doesn't exist. Every girl in Vancouver or Seattle seems to decide at once what's fashionable this year and then either go with it or put on some gore-tex because it's raining again (I worked in a bar so I've at least got a decent sample-size to work with. I'm also a guy, so looking at girls isn't exactly an unrefined skill of mine). In London however, women are way more likely to dress in a style appropriate for their body type and shape. Makes sense though right? They've got a bunch of options to pick from! Sadly, this means that looking fashionable in a place like Vancouver requires you to either
   a) Be lucky and have the body type that's in style this year
   b) Move, or
   c) Look bad

Here's an example: I have seen a number of very fashionable women here sporting a haircut that can only be called "The Lisbeth Salander". If you've read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or seen the movie you'll know what I mean, but here's a photo from the movie (the version around here is more sexy, less harsh though):

The haircut itself is basically very rockerish, with short sides and a fair bit of the 80's in there. On the right girl it can look smoking hot (minus the nose-ring, I'm not a fan), and I say "on the right girl" because on 99.98% of the population it would make you look like Ronald McDonald with an undercut. But what's a girl to do if this becomes the style that leaks out into the general population this year? My sister went through this in high school: To this day she can't look at photos of herself with that haircut and not tear up (at gunpoint I would not include a picture of it in this blog. We'd probably never speak again and we have a good relationship).

I'm not sure if I have a thesis that I'm getting at here. It's more just an expunging of thoughts. But if I did have one, it would be that our perception of the average woman in a city like London as being more fashionable than elsewhere is wrong. They're just exposed to more options.****

*I wish I was joking about this but I'm not. I went shopping with Erika once and she helped me pick shoes. The next two times she let me go on my own under the mistaken belief that I now had the fundamental skills required to pick shoes for myself. Instead I just bought identical new ones under the belief that I could wear the same style of shoes for 5 years and nobody would notice. After the third pair I was informed that this is not the case. Who knew?

**Actually no, I wouldn't do that. Erika told me not to.

***Game design is a different beast, if you don't understand what's going on at both a macro and a micro level you're DOA. At my core I would say that I'm a pretty mechanistic thinker when it comes to design, but if you can't experience the final product in your brain and say whether it's fun or not well, you're going to make some pretty crappy games in your career.

****Yes, a woman could be as fashionable anywhere on the planet. The difference? In Vancouver you have to read magazines and then order clothes from Milan. In London you see it on your daily commute and then try it on in the store. A bit less of a hurdle.

NOTE 1: I recognize that you can replace Milan, Paris, New York, Tokyo, etc. in this post wherever I've said "London". Please do so as you wish.

NOTE 2: I realize I don't spend any time talking about men's fashion here so let me summarize the differences I did notice:
  a) some guys wore cufflinks

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tweets I would have sent while drinking on Canada Day if I had a data plan in England:

There are 12 different ways to qualify as "fashionable" in London. In Seattle? 1

There are an ass-ton of people dressed in red in Trafalgar Square. Some of them are even Canadian.

I think the rest of the planet sees Canada as the folksy uncle who makes pun jokes when he comes over.

When did Blue Rodeo get appointed Canada's global musical representatives? I'm assuming this was by acclimation?

Walk up to someone and say "I loved Duck Hunt" really fast. Now you know why we're all giggling.

"I'd like a round of tequila and a round of sambuca." How could this possibly end poorly?

An hour later and they haven't arrived. I guess my question has been answered?

Mmm... red bull. (insert sloppy make-out sounds here)

I think when I decided to only bring two pairs of shorts on this two week trip I grossly underestimated the amount of beer I would spill on them over the first 3 days.

I need one hundred thousand cc's of cheeseburger STAT!

Hm. My taxi driver has an English accent. That was unexpected.

The Future Will Have to Wait

Can someone explain to me why I pay for anything but data anymore? Seriously, let's look at the things I'm forced to pay for that I could easily get with a data plan:

Landline = Skype or cell phone. This is the easiest one, and that's assuming you even want a landline, which I don't. Comcast is having a REALLY hard time wrapping their heads around this idea btw.

COMCAST: We have a great offer for you to add a landline to your plan!

ME: I don't want a landline.

COMCAST: But it's very cheap.

ME: Cheaper than free?

COMCAST: How can you say no to a landline for $7?

ME: Well, you're giving me a lot of practice for starters.

Really? You're charging me piecemeal for data than you squeeze through a different pipe and which doesn't cost you anything? HOW IS THIS LEGAL?

This is the thing that chews people up the most, myself included. Everyone I know who has cable says some variant of "If I could just get live sports I wouldn't need cable anymore". Sigh.

Sadly, this is why the awesome future we have the the technology for will not come to fruition any time soon. Too many companies who know it's better to maximize profit over awesomeness.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Absentia

My family has some problems with absent-mindedness. It strikes to different degrees with each person, but rarely does it skip someone entirely. In my instance, I am one of the rarer victims, but I think I get disproportionately angry when it does happen.

Take today for instance. Erika and I are heading out on vacation, which is awesome. Given that I still can't drive, Erika was behind the wheel while I was navigating our way to the long-term parking. Due to its cheap and long-term nature it isn't exactly directly adjacent to the airport.

We brum down the highway.

ERIKA: Which way do we go now?

ME: Just move over a lane and go straight through.

ERIKA: Really?

ME: Yep!


We continue sailing down the highway.

ME: Take the next exit here.

ERIKA: It's the same exit as the airport? That doesn't sound right.

ME: ...

ME: ...


There's always a moment that everyone goes through when they've done something stupid where their brain searches desperately for some way to partition blame. "I can't be that dumb," their brain reasons "someone else MUST have had a hand in this!" And so you can see why I was so choked that not only had I managed to take us a half hour out of our way by directing Erika to the airport instead of the parking lot, but I had somehow managed to do it all on my own. Don't get me wrong though, it's not like my brain didn't try to share the credit:
"She really should have been reminding me that we were going to the parking lot"
"How was I supposed to know that the shuttle service was for people and not cars?"
"If it turned out they were having free parking week at the airport I wouldn't seem so dumb now, would I?"

Alas, but in the end it turned out to be my fault alone.

At this point things were still ok though: We weren't that far (according to the map on my phone), and we had buffer left to burn through because, much to our chagrin, we seem to be that couple who doesn't estimate time very well. Heck, according to our map we were only one U-turn and a 4 mile drive down International Boulevard away from getting parked, checked in, and on our way!

Now folks, let me tell you what I learned about International Boulevard today. This god-forsaken stretch of pseudo-highway is the most painful hunk of red light misery a human being can be subjected to. I don't know which Cro-Magdon urban planner got drunk and decided that there should be a 5 minute light every 200 feet, but they should absolutely be sentenced to drive this broken stretch of pain and misery until they are capable of little more than shaking, crying, and begging for mercy from the people who use it every day. Not that they're likely to get it.

And another thing... you know those lights you get to where you're thinking "Why can't I drive right now? NOBODY IS COMING THE OTHER WAY!" Every light was like that, and 5 minutes long to boot. I swear to god that a family of ducks crossed the intersection while we were waiting, and that was just during the left-turn signal. Aaaargh!

In conclusion, we did get there, I am on a plane, and the only way I ever drive down International Boulevard again is in a back-hoe. Unless I absent-mindedly drive down it again. Dang.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Working Late, but with Purpose!

The crappy thing about going on vacation when you're not an hourly employee is that you never actually do any less work. Oh sure, you get to not be there for a little while, and that's great. But there's really only two options:
1) Do more work before and after you go
2) Do a LOT more work when you get back
Option B may sound better because hey, it's only on one end of the trip right? Weeeelll, that also means that someone messing up your shit while your away is a foregone conclusion. Not intentionally or anything, but if you don't get those balls rolling downhill people are just gonna push 'em where they think they're supposed to go, which isn't always where you thought they should be.

And thus I have been at work late once again, pushing balls downhill. But in two days... PORTUGAL BABY! W00T!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Confessions of a Binge Gamer

There is no higher praise that I can give a game, no greater honour that I can bestow, than to delete, destroy, dismantle, or sell it. Unload it, throw it away, scratch the DVD; just make it stop working.

Because I am a binge gamer.

I don't want to be one, but it's an unfortunate reality of my psyche. I get into a good game and the world just drops away. I lose track of time, I think about the game when I'm not playing it... it's actually a bit disturbing. I'll sit down to play a game at 8pm, then realize Erika's hollering at me to come to bed because it's 1am and she wants to go to sleep. I'm left saying "Really? Where did the last 5 hours go?"

The worst is when Erika goes away for scientific pursuits. I'll wake up on a Saturday and say "Hmm... maybe I'll play a little bit of Game X* before I get into the meat of my day. Then I proceed to play for 8 hours straight. And when I say straight, I mean straight through with no breaks. Suddenly the phone rings and it's 7pm, I'm looking away from the game for the first time and not thinking "Better get the phone"; I'm thinking "Oh Lord on high, I really need to go to the washroom" followed closely by "Holy crap am I hungry!" It's like my entire system shuts down when I'm in that state of what game designers call "flow".

Fortunately, I'm pretty well aware of this issue and can tell when it's a problem with a game. For instance, I've been playing a game on my iPhone called Dungeon Raid. It looks like this:

The crux of it is that you'll draw a line through similar tiles, or you can draw a line through swords and enemies to destroy them, like this:

When you do that more tiles drop from the top, and you level up over time based on killing enemies:

And that's pretty much it. That's the game. It goes until you die (enemies hurt you if you leave them on-screen). Sure, there's some other nuances that I'm not getting into (classes, races... other D&D things), but that's the game in a nutshell. Yet I can't... stop... playing. That's the real reason there was no post yesterday. I blew my posting time on Dungeon Raid.

Does this make me feel good about myself? Ah, no. So I have granted you, Dungeon Raid, the highest honour I can bestow upon a game. I have deleted you from my phone. Because it's a whole lot easier to have the will to do that than it is to have the will to not play you.

Now I need to find a new game. I've been hearing good things about World of Warcraft... maybe I'll give that a try?

*NOTE: Other games I have binged on include: Fallout 3, any Level 5 game I've played, Morrowind, Oblivion, All Halo titles, Portal, Peggle, Bookworm, Dynomite, Puzzle Quest, everything BioWare has made... you get the picture. And let's not forget the King of binge games: Civilization

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How the HST/PST Referendum is Like Video Games and Cheese

There's a lot being said right now in British Columbia about the coming HST/PST referendum, and about which way people should vote. When a topic like this arises that has some complicated parts to it, I tend to listen to those I trust who are either specialists in the field, or who have taken the time to educate themselves thoroughly.

For instance: If there were a referendum on video games and cheese being held in the province, you might ask yourself "Do I have the time necessary to devote myself to playing a bunch of games and sampling the delectable cheeses of the world? I fear that I do not!"
Well, what if there were another way? In this case, you might think to yourself "Who do I know and trust that eats a lot of cheese and plays a lot of video games? Well, there's Paul! Perhaps I'll ask Paul his opinion, as he's certain to have insight I could not aquire in the next several weeks!"

And you would be right. No matter how many video games you play and how much cheese you eat, you simply will not be able to understand the issue the way I do in a month without having some prior experience going in.

So on the HST/GST issue, I would listen to experts like my friend Randy who is a tax lawyer, or the economists who are saying that the HST is the best thing for the province. Because I don't understand tax law, and I'm not going to pretend I do on such an important issue.

But maybe you like cheese. And you've been hearing a lot about video games lately. That Plants vs Zombies was fun, wasn't it? If that's you, maybe consider watching the video below. It's 15 minutes long, and if you can't be bothered to watch it for 15 minutes maybe you should try an alternate strategy in deciding how to vote. Like listening to an expert.

There's some confusion about what the votes mean:
Vote NO if you want to keep the HST
Vote YES if you want to return to the PST

Mr. Zamboni Driver

I had hockey last night. There is never a shortage of crazy dudes at American hockey rinks, as there was last night, and 9 times out of 10 they drive the Zamboni.

I know that the Zamboni holds a hallowed place in the memories of Canadian youths, and as someone who grew up watching the late-80's Canucks I can assure you that seeing that ice-maker go round the rink was often the best part of the game to a ten-year-old. But let's be honest with ourselves: once you get beyond the regal grounds of an NHL rink the kind of guy who works as a Zamboni driver dips well into the sketchy. I'm not saying that every Zamboni driver is a sketchy dude mind you, but if your kid comes home from school and the guidance counselor has circled "Zamboni Driver" as their top career match you're probably not popping the bubbly. In fact, you might want to check their backpack for pot.

Now, I can't say for certain that American Zamboni drivers are any worse than their Canadian counterparts since I only played hockey for a couple of years in Canada. But I can at least share with you the kinds of drivers I have experienced:

THE RELIC: This guy has worked the Zamboni since 1963. He had his driver’s license revoked after his cataracts went, and it takes 20 minutes for him to resurface the ice. Somehow it comes out perfect. You never see him except when he’s on the Zamboni. He’s the best.

THE NASCAR FAN: This guy realizes that he only works when he’s resurfacing the ice, so he gets it done as quickly as possible. Everyone suspects he has a stopwatch and is always trying to beat his best time. He leaves so much water on the ice that you’ll get soaked when you stretch unless you go to one of the vast swaths of ice that he didn’t touch at all. He’s the worst.

THE STONER: This guy would have written “Zen and the Art of Zamboni Driving” but he’d rather live it than write it. He might be high right now, or his body may just not know any other way to operate. This guy has it figured out though: He has a job that’s not too hard, that’s virtually impossible to get fired from so long as you show up, and since he’s not too motivated he gets to just chill out all day for the rest of his life. Rock-on Stoner Zamboni Dude.

THE CREEPSTORE: This was the variant we got treated to last night. This is the “Oh God I’m so lonely won’t someone please just talk to me even though I’m incredibly loud and socially awkward and will drive you away in moments but the 3 minutes of human interaction I might get if I trap someone in a corner is what I live for and oh God I’m loud and awkward and lonely” variety. You kind of feel sorry for this guy, but not sorry enough that you don’t regret talking to him.

THE WORK-RELEASE DRIVER: This guy steals your shit while you’re playing. True story: A girl who plays on one of the teams in my league had a lace break and had to go to the locker. She found the Zamboni driver rummaging through their bags and carrying a bag with their wallets. He tried to threaten her, but despite being 6 inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter than the guy she was carrying a stick. He ended up dropping everything and running away never to be seen again.

That’s the Zamboni guy.
Working on a post that I can't finish on my phone, will be up in the morning.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Released into the Woods

I'm sorry I haven't posted the last few days. I went off into the woods to do some camping and figured I'd post some interesting stories from the road. Instead I had no cell coverage. C'est la vie.

That said, camping is fun. This is a confirmed fact. If you don't think so you have either:
a) Been raised improperly by parents who were raised improperly, or
b) Been attacked by a bear.

I guess there are other shades of gray in there, but I think my definitions hit 90% of the cases so I'm going to stick with them as stated. For instance, this trip was plenty o' fun even with "the fishing incident".

So here's the story: Erika and I decided we wanted to go out onto the little lake that's near the campground. We decided to go fishing, since Erika loves fish about as much as anyone can love something that doesn't blink*. I rowed us around the lake for a while, but eventually Erika insisted that it was my turn to fish.

In all fairness, I haven't cast a fishing rod since I was about 9 years old. My memory of the process consists of: Push this button and line comes out, spin this reel and line comes in. So given that I had seen Erika playing out line behind the boat for us to troll, we had this conversation:

PAUL: Where's the button to release the line?
ERIKA: Just pull on the line and it will come out.

This worked fine and dandy until I got a nibble that stole my bait and I reeled in. I decided I would cast this time.

Now folks, this is where the disagreement kicks in. I was of the belief that our previous conversation meant these newfangled lines didn't have releases like the technology I used in the mid-80's. Erika counters with the fact that she never said there wasn't a release and I didn't clarify before casting (apparently you just pull it out when trolling, if you use the release it effs everything up. I know! I didn't know that either!)**. One thing we can both agree on though: When you don't trigger the release on you reel and you cast as hard as you possibly can to make absolutely sure you out-throw your wife, you're going to destroy any hope of your fishing line staying in one piece. You'll also end up with a large splash very far from your boat that pretty much puts an end to the fishing. On the plus side, we were able to salvage the floater that was, you guessed it, floating 25 feet from the boat.

Apparently I still have some things to learn about fishing. Camping though? Camping's awesome.

*Actually, we were going to go out in a pedal boat but Erika got excited and came back with a rowboat and fishing gear. This happens from time to time.
**Erika insists that she is only responsible for 10% of the blame. I argue it's more like 100% her, 0% me, so a fair comprimise would be 55% her and 45% me. I think I can find it in my heart to accept that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's been a day of being proud of my city for rallying from yesterday's pathetisadness. It's also been a long day at work as I try to make up for my complete inability to concentrate during the Canuck's playoff run. Better blogs to come folks!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Non-Fan Idiots

Riot now many people are learning a valuable lesson about the modern world. That lesson is: You can throw away a lifetime of potential in a moment of hooliganism. Looking forward to seeing you on the news tomorrow, along with your name and address! You truly are the modern world's fool.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Open Letter to Jackie MacMullan

Today I posted in the comment section of an ESPN article. Yes, I wallowed into that fray. But this article was so biased, so ugly, and so unprofessional that it hit me at a level beyond being a Vancouverite: It hit me as a writer.

Jackie MacMullan herself is a longtime sportswriter, and any woman writing in sports today had the privilege of walking through a door she kicked open. To see something like this made me sad, and I responded. It also ruined my day, but that's the Canuck fan talking.

Read Ms. MacMullan's article here. My response that I put in the comments section is printed in full below. For the record I could find no email address for her, otherwise I'd have written her directly.

I'm not necessarily proud of what I wrote. It's certainly not my best work. But sometimes we lash out, and as an angry fan who doesn't understand why an article directing such vitriol at Luongo is printed yet nothing is written of Boston's fans chanting "Flopper" while a Canuck is helped off the ice with broken vertebrae; well, something has to give.

Her article here.

My response below:

Ms MacMullan,

This is a crass and immature article from a professional journalist. You knew as you wrote it that you had to take the low road, relying on comments by Luongo taken only in part or out of context. In addition, your characterization of him as "turning his nose up at Thomas" is also out of sorts, given that he did, indeed, compliment Thomas earlier in the series.

I sincerely hope that while you wrote this you felt on some level that it was a mistake. That the "letter to Luongo" style was a gimmick, that the misappropriation of comments was unprofessional, and that the fact you would never speak to the man himself this way is evidence of you crossing a line.

After hearing you on the BS Report I can only say I am disappointed this is the first article of yours I've read. I hope that you regret that to be the case as well.

Paul Parsons


I don’t know how I’m going to be able to sleep tonight. It was hard enough on Sunday night, now we’re going into a Game 7?

This is exactly like the night before Christmas, only if your parents were too poor to buy gifts for both you and your brother. And they won’t tell you which one is getting gifts. And he lives on the other side of the country. And you hate him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


My post today consists of one thing: LET’S BRING HOME THE CUP!

See you tomorrow Vancouver.

The 5 Major Sins of Sports Reporting

I am a person who reads and watches fair bit of sports coverage, and for obvious reasons I have been doing much more so lately. Here's my conclusion: the vast majority of sports journalists and broadcasters are catastrophically lazy. What else can explain the complete inability they exhibit to actually cover the sport, and not the peripheral activities that they, more more less, create? This drives me bonkers, because they ostensibly have one of the best jobs in the world (in terms of "how many people would trade places with you"), but have become so complacent that they no longer feel the need to actually put in effort on more than an occasional basis. Here's some news for you guys: If I only worked hard every 4th or 5th time I submitted something my ass would get fired. Welcome to the real world.

So without further ado, here are the 5 major sins of sports journalism:

1) Judging the content of the game based on the outcome
This is the lovely habit of analysing a game in hindsight, denigrating the losing team even though the game may have turned on a single play. In Game 1, Burrows' goal gave Vancouver a collective fangasm, followed by coverage that suggested the result was preordained. Boston scores and the coverage is reversed.
PAUL'S TAKE: "It's so much easier to talk about how smart I am when I can talk about my opinions after they come true"

2) Players Stepping Up vs. Players Making Mistakes
"Player X needs to make something happen out there"
"They never would have scored if Player Y doesn't do Action Z right there"
PAUL'S TAKE: How can a player force something to happen on the ice if every good thing must accompany a mistake by the other team? Are you saying that good players need to me more psychic? Is that what sports psychologists do... telekenesis?

3) The he-said-she-said bull that sports journalists love to foster at post game press conferences.
Hey kids, here's a word of advice: Get your quotes and then write your story. Not the other way around. Too many of these guys spend the game cramming back buffet fare while the game is on, then process that into the steaming turd they call an article during the third period. All that's left is to sprinkle it with some quotes you've garnered through leading questions and you're done. But you know what? A pile of turd with sprinkles on it is still a pile of turd!
PAUL'S TAKE: I don't care about your deadlines. Have some self-respect.

4) Covering the periphery instead of the game
Obviously the best example of this at the moment is the Burrows bite from Game 1*. Yeah, not good for the game. Obviously I'm a homer, but I still don't like to see it. Still, it doesn't need 24-hour news coverage right? Why don't you just watch the game and then talk about that? Maybe some insightful commentary to help me out like this article here? (sorry, requires an ESPN Insider membership. If you don't have that you have to eat turd)
PAUL'S TAKE: "Watching game tape in order to come up with something interesting is hard. Instead I'll write an article I can pound out in 40 minutes and call it a night. And by the way, I'm dead inside. Seriously... I wanted to write plays, but that doesn't pay very well. So instead I write about a throwaway comment from a goalie and hope that I can goad someone else into keeping this train going to prevent me from doing any real work."

5) Talking about stats instead of the sport
Guess what, the internet's been invented. So you don't need to put up a graphic every time someone's on the screen about how many points they've scored since whenever compared to how many they scored before that. If I can look the info up for myself you shouldn't be able to count it as journalism. You want to do something for me? Show me what that player is doing differently now versus then so that I can watch for it during the game and enjoy the experience on a deeper level.
PAUL'S TAKE: You know why people don't do this? Because there's nothing different. Sports have streaks in them, it just happens. Pucks hit posts, balls rim and out, and footballs go off fingertips. But everyone always has to say something even if there's nothing to say. Seriously: I think they shut the oxygen off in the booth whenever the colour guy isn't talking. It's the only explanation for why he's always desperate to jam in some inane comment no matter how little it makes sense. Come to think of it, that would explain why so many colour men sound like they have brain damage...

I have little hope that things are going to get better during this Stanley Cup playoffs, but I will at least mention that the Puck Daddy bloggers on Yahoo! are doing a better job than most, although they do fall into the above traps from time to time (they also didn't seem to know JFA about the Western Conference at the start of the playoffs, but have clearly been watching the games since then).
One more comment I'd throw out there is that Bill Simmons is trying to fix a lot of the problems I mention above with, so if you share my frustrations you should maybe check that out too.

*A note on the Burrows thing: For those of you who think Burrows should have been suspended, I counter with: What about this hit, or this one, or even this one which isn't from the playoffs but is exceptionally reprehensible (you will never convince me it wasn't intentional). None of those hits received suspensions, so unless you would rather have someone traveling at 20km/hr ram your head unprotected into the boards than someone nibble on your finger through thick leather, well, give your head a shake. You're caring about the wrong problems. And no, I wasn't ok with the Rome hit on Horton, but that got (ridiculously) the longest suspension in the history of the Stanley Cup Final so it wasn't included.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Cortisol Kids

I think that my hockey fandom is unhealthy. Seriously, these games really shouldn’t matter so much to me but I just can’t help it. I partially blame my wife. Here’s how a conversation with her should go:

ME:        I’m so tightly wound up… I really don’t know what to do with myself.

ERIKA:   Lighten up Paul. It’s just a game, the sun will come up tomorrow, and everything will be ok.

Instead, this much more likely the response:

ME:        I’m so tightly wound up… I really don’t know what to do with myself.

ERIKA:   Did you wear that jersey last game? Maybe that’s the problem. I ate the same lunch as I did the last time they won, I’m hoping that helps.

It’s hilarious. We’re two obsessed fans who have an inordinate amount of interest in these games, and we just feed off of each other. Every game it’s a tensefest where we try to see whose cortisol levels can get to the point where their adrenal glands actually explode. At one point during the game I was so wound up that I remarked to Erika that if an alien burst out of my stomach and screeched in my face I would probably stare at it for 2 seconds before turning my attention back to the game with barely a thought of “so that’s why my stomach hurt so much”.

Oh well. We’re up 3-2 and that’s what matters. As does the fact that I didn’t throw up at work yet. Bring on game 6!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Post Script

Day 6 of my 90 days of blogging, and today I’m trying to post this via email. Apparently I can just send a mail to a specific email address and ba-boom! Instant post. This is also how I’d go about sending posts from my phone. I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m pretty sketchy about this actually working the first time through. If there’s anything I’ve come to believe about technology in 12 years working with computers it’s that:

a)      Computers only do exactly what you tell them

b)      You have no idea what you’re actually telling them because the instructions were hard coded by a guy at 3am after a month of 70 hour weeks and he never factored in that you would want to back up your computer over wi-fi while watching YouTube and downloading virus-riddled movies over bit torrent.


Realistically, most of our interaction with computers come from us trying to do something, realizing that didn’t work, then learning the workaround that does work. Rarely is anything a 1:1 “I wanted to do something and it worked”. So while I’m certain that I may be able to post this over email, I think it’s much more likely that I have done something wrong, and will shortly discover what that is. The fun part for you, the viewer, is that I intend to just leave those errors up. You may bask in my shame, as I work out how to make this happen.


If this doesn’t go up at all I may have to revise my plan…

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Multiverse is Out to Get Me

Ok, so a few days ago I posted how much confidence I have in the Canucks and that I believe them now. That it’s not hyperbole and they really are the guys who are going to bring Vancouver the cup. So what do they do? They punch me in the neck. Why? I'll tell you why: The Multiverse.

There’s a theory in physics that every possible outcome from a given situation spawns a new Universe. So in one Universe you go left, in another you go right. This extends to everything that may potentially happen. Maybe a leaf falls, maybe it doesn’t. Two Universes. Obviously this means that there is an infinite number of Universes, since there’s pretty much an infinite number of things that could happen between The “Big Bang” and “Whatever Happens When We Literally Run Out of Time”.

But wait, there’s more! There’s also consciousness (getting a bit more metaphysical here), and in some schools of thought your consciousness just wanders through the multiverse following “the path of least resistance”, aka the most probable outcome of any situation. So while it’s theoretically possible to suddenly develop telepathic powers and direct them at the unsuspecting ladies of the world, it’s much more likely that you’ll learn a few magic tricks and discover that whipping them out at the bar has the same success rate as whipping out… well, you know.

So here’s the thing: Why does my consciousness follow the freaking path where the Canucks must repeatedly build me up and KICK ME IN THE FACE! I want to believe, and trust me, I still think we’re going to win in 7. But the fact that this, of all things, is the most probable path for my consciousness to take through the multiverse is complete and utter bullshit.

I still believe in the Canucks. But I’m mad as hell at the Universe.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easing Up a Smidge

The thought occured to me that if I blog every day, I may potentially end up teaching myself to write crappy. I like writing well, and I like making jokes. If I write every day for 90 days I'm probably going to suffer on either the quality or humour fronts. So I've decided that I'm still going to write every day, but am going to tone it down on most of the days, and give 'er on others. Keep coming back though... I'm just not going to force it!

On that note, see you tomorrow folks!

This thought has been brought to you by a very tired Paul who just wants to go to bed.

Halo... is it me you're looking 4?

One of the hardest things about working in the games industry is keeping your dang mouth shut. We are by definition creative people. In fact, the path that got me into games started with a realization that I didn’t enjoy the job I had at the moment because there was no creative element there (a very long time ago I was a Systems Analyst for the Canadian Department of Justice). The downside to having that creative itch is that you want to share those creations with other people. Oh sure, there are creators out there who say they “do it for themselves”. Personally I don’t buy it, given that those people most often sell their work, in which case they’re also explicitly stating what it’s worth to other people (If I had to point a finger at someone who may actually believe that sentiment it’s George Lucas, because God knows that guy isn’t making movies for anyone I’ve ever met). Truth be told, I want to make really high quality stuff that will be seen by as many people as possible. By the way, I believe the first part of that sentence leads to the second.

When it comes to games, the hard part is the gestation period. In this day and age it takes a while to make a game, especially when you set your bar high. The creative process can make some absolutely delicious sausage, but you really don’t want to eat it before it’s ready. And so we wait. We are creators working in relative obscurity, occasionally getting pieces of the whole to the point where we can say “This… this says something about what we are trying to achieve here”. To you, those are the trailers and screenshots and podcasts; and trust me: we look forward to those moments as much as you do. We look forward to them because those are the times when we get to share our creations with the world, little islands of appreciation in the marathon between ship dates. We create so that you can enjoy, and I hope that everything I do is enjoyed by someone or I wouldn’t make it.

Being able to say that I am working on Halo 4 is fantastic. I came to 343 Industries because Halo CE made me want to make games for a living, and I wanted to create the next installment of this fantastic franchise. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but for now I’m happy we were able to share our teaser trailer with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed sharing it.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Canuckleheads No More

It’s actually unhealthy how much happier I am when the Canucks win. Seriously… I think I have a problem. Should my life really be this caught up in whether my team puts some rubber in the other teams net more times than they do in ours?

Yes, dammit! I’ve waited 33 years for this. Years of disappointing ends to seasons, years of shifting attention to the draft (how you doing Edmonton?), and years of thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I live long enough I’ll get to see the Canucks hoist the cup. And now with the Canucks only 2 wins away is seems like an eternity ago that I literally hucked my couch across the room in disgust (sadly it wasn’t an eternity ago, it was in the first round. Erika can attest; it wasn’t my proudest moment).

And here we are: Best team in the regular season, momentum building through the playoffs, full of grit, skill, heart, and laser-focused on getting Vancouver their first cup. Did I mention we’re 2 wins away? I am… wait for it… optimistic. How can this be? Normally cheering for this team has less “happy optimism” and a lot more “tennis racket to the groin”. If I had to sum up the experience of cheering for the Canucks over the last 3 decades in a single YouTube clip, it would be this:

So why the sudden optimism? Why have the fans changed their outlook from the fear and dread that plagued us in previous years? I’ll tell you why: we’ve come to the collective realization that this whole year hasn’t been about hyperbole. All of those “We believe in the guys in this room” and “One game at a time” quotes we’ve been getting all year… they meant it! Somewhere along the way Vignault got it into this team’s heads that the reason you say those things to the media is because that’s the right mindset. It’s what you do if you want to win. And so the fans are responding. If the players believe in themselves as strongly as they seem to, well, the fans can do it too.

Go get ‘em guys. Bring us home our cup.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

90 Days of Blogging

As mentioned previously, Erika and I just ran a marathon. Yay! Now the bad news: I haven't gotten off my ass since. Seriously, this is a problem! Sure, I've played a couple hockey games and some basketball, but there is a definite theme in my life consisting of "If there is a goal I will train my butt off. If not... meh".

Let's look at the history:
- Trained regularly for a half-marathon in 2003. Ran 9 times in the 8 years following.
- Trained religiously 6 times a week for the last 5 years of my judo career, then switched to eating cheese as my principle defining characteristic post-retirement.

I need goals people! This is part of the reason why this blog has been so abysmally spotty, without a concrete commitment to get my mojo running (like the Ladies Only football pool) my mind tends to wander. Next thing I know it's 1am and I'm browsing the Internet for rutabaga recipes even though I couldn't pick a rutabega out of a police lineup if it mugged me.

So to solve the aforementioned problem, I'm doing some goal-setting in a public forum. That way if I slip you all can hold me accountable. I figure that since I'm hella better at sticking to athletic goals than I am to mental ones, I'm a gonna link 'em!

This all leads us to P90X, the framework for my plan. By the way, if you haven’t heard of P90X let me assure you: I have never felt more douchey than when discussing this fitness program. It's basically just a bunch of workout videos that you do over a period of 90 days, with the unfortunate side-effect of making you sound like an utter knob (and the “X” stands for “eXtreme”. I am not making that up). What I actually DO like about this thing is that they say it is hard, and you will work your butt off. That has a much better ring of validity to my ears. Plus, I know several people who've done it and swear by it so what do I have to lose?

How does this tie into blogging? Well, for all 90 days of the workout program I'm going to write something to this blog every single day. And I'm not going to subject you to a day by day retelling of the workouts because, well, I want you to actually read this blog. Sure, I might take inspiration from something I've done in the program, but the goal is to work out the brain along with the body. We'll see how I do.

I did my first workout today… see you tomorrow!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seize the Day

I think that everyone who starts a blog has the same thought: “What if nothing interesting happens?” This seems like a death knell for the blog, and I think a lot of people try to do interesting things simply so that they have something to write about. Hell, I was all set to write about the marathon that Erika and I did two weeks ago… that’s interesting, right? (note… I will still write that post!)

In retrospect I think I should have been more concerned about the alternate option: “What if something interesting does happen?”

Let’s be honest, the things that happen to us unexpectedly are generally either inane, in which case we have to dress them up to make them interesting; or negative, in which case we don’t want to talk about them. Fortunately for the readers, I was born without a sense of personal shame. Just ask my wife about me walking around the house naked… she’s always yammering about “the blinds” being open. It’s just kind of a hum after a while really. The net result though is that I don’t really mind exposing things that others might be inclined to keep private, such as the grand mal seizure I had last weekend.

First some backstory: My biological father was epileptic, quite badly so, a condition that ultimately led to his death when I was very young. Neither my sister nor I showed any signs of the condition though, until 2 years ago when I started to have some problems with speech and comprehension (I’m 33 years old now, my father was diagnosed at 21). Every so often I would lose my ability to speak for a few seconds at a time and anything I tried to say would come out garbled. The same thing would happen while listening to people: they sounded like they were speaking a different language. It wasn’t all negative though. My favourite episodes would happen when I was reading and heard someone talking nearby, it sounded like they were reading the words right off the page in front of me. Now that may not sound like much fun but trust me: when you’re reading Moby Dick and a 5 year-old walks up and says “And half concealed in this queer tenement, I at length found one who by his aspect seemed to have authority”, well that’s just gonna make you giggle.

So at this point, I didn’t know what was going on and while we ultimately decided they were probably some sort of seizure they were at most a minor inconvenience. I was open about it at work, and if one happened while in a meeting I had hand signals at the ready so that someone would know to take over (thanks Schwartz and Graf!). Unfortunately this was happening quite often, sometimes 15-20 times a day depending on my stress level and sleep patterns. In retrospect it didn’t help that I was really stressed at work! I switched roles not long ago though and worked out the relationship between sleep and the episodes, so had actually gotten them down to generally less than 5 a day.

Then last weekend came. I don’t really know much about it, to be honest. I went to bed on Saturday night, then there was a period of major confusion that felt a lot like dreaming but with an uncomfortable air of reality to it. By the time I finally got my head together I was in the back of an ambulance at 4am and the EMT was saying “Paul, you’ve had a grand mal seizure ok?” Then I heard Erika, looked to the side, and saw my beautiful wife sitting there with what you would call “a brave face”.

This is the hard part folks. I will never be able to understand what Erika went through that night. It was so, SO much worse for her than for me. From what she has said, she woke up to me jerking back and forth, seizing up (not surprisingly), and smashing my jaw open and closed. Thank god I sleep with a mouthguard in, but even still I obliterated my tongue and did some serious injury to my back (see the disturbing photo below). Then I stopped. And I mean STOPPED. As in no moving, no blinking, and no breathing. Erika couldn’t get a pulse either, and I proceeded to turn more and more blue. I honestly wish I could take that memory out of her head because when I think about how I would react to seeing her like that it makes me want to throw up, and that’s just from the thought of it. She actually lived it.

After that it was the ambulance, EMT’s, and apparently me dropping a lot of F-bombs. I don’t actually remember that part but I feel confident that every F-bomb was well thought out and valid. Hey, if you can’t drop a couple F-bombs after a grand mal seizure when can you? We went to the hospital and my brain rebooted, I got some meds, and then it was out the door with a phone number and a whole lot of questions.

When you are coming to grips with the fact that you have epilepsy it’s a strange road. I often find myself wondering “What’s that? Is that an aura? Am I about to have a seizure?” Given that I was asleep when I had mine, I have no idea what to expect. I also can’t drive until I’m 6 months seizure-free, and let me tell you that’s gonna be tough. Thank you Erika, and thank you every other person I’m going to mooch a ride from until mid-November (God willing). It’s also not something you can forget about because every night before I go to bed I take a reminder pill and think “Hey buddy… let’s you and me work together and keep my brain from freaking out ok?” On that note though, big shout-out to the folk at Abbot Laboratories: Depakote ER is the shit. Not only have I not had a grand mal, I have not had a single simple partial seizure since I started taking it (the official term for my “episodes” of non-comprehension)! That is awesome, as is the fact that I haven’t shown any side effects so far either. So fingers crossed, and maybe politics is still an option after all!

TANGENT: For a long time I have wanted to go into politics, and I thought that was an impossibility due to my episodes, for understandable reasons:

BRIAN WILLIAMS:  Mr. Parsons, you have been quoted in the past as saying that some elements of a for-pay system could be incorporated into the Canadian medical system in a manner that is beneficial to the whole. Could you speak to that position, and maybe address some of the comments by your opponents that this would amount to introducing two-tiered healthcare into Canada?

ME:  I have no idea what you just said Brian. Not a fucking clue. Was it a question about bagels? Because that’s what I think you were talking about and unless you repeat yourself that’s the question I’m answering.

So that’s my story so far. I’m going to see another neurologist soon (the first one was an asshat. Hey buddy: You see these all the time, I don’t), but that may or may not end up in a blog post. We’ll see. I want to keep these pretty lighthearted, but I needed some catharsis so if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for indulging me.

Take care folks, and give your spouse a hug.

UPDATED: Upon reading my post, Erika wanted to mention that at the time of my seizure I was buck-naked and angry, and had to be wrestled up the stairs by three EMT's who's efforts at covering me up were repeatedly thwarted by yours truly. Maybe the F-bombs weren't all me...

ANOTHER UPDATE: is a fantastic resource, FYI.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I's Smrt

Today was not a good day for my feelings of mental superiority.

I don’t think I’m blowing anyone’s mind when I say I don’t like to feel stupid. In fact, I’d guess most people feel the same way, it’s just that different people have different barometers for success on the matter. Before I dive into the day though, let me clarify some terms for you based on my own decree because in my book stupid, dumb, etc. are different terms:

Stupid: When you do something that, at the moment you realize it, you say “How the HELL did I manage to do that!” *Note: Must be sober

Drunk Stupid: Where you either a) Sober up and say “I am so glad I am not dead. I am going to immediately go apologize/drink some water/make a doctor’s appointment; or b) End up on YouTube.

Dumb: Not knowing something everyone else in the room knows. You can feel dumb no matter what the topic, whether it’s current events, physics, football, what star A slept with what star B… you just need to be out of touch with the topic being discussed around you.

Complete flaming idiot: Same as dumb, except you pretend to know about the topic and potentially have a ferocious argument with people because you heard a pundit/blogger/family member/bus driver say something about the issue at one point.

Back to my day, which should have been pretty straightforward. All I had to do was put some work in, then catch a city bus to the train station and hop a bus to Vancouver (Erika had the car up there already). Instead my day started to go awry last night when I had this conversation in the car with Blaiz, the guy on my hockey team giving me a ride:

BLAIZ:   You’re taking the bus to Vancouver? How much does that cost?

ME:        It’s not too bad. Around 40 bucks, but the worst part is that it takes 4 hours instead of the 2.5 hours it would take to drive. Better than the train though, that takes an hour longer.

BLAIZ:   Each way?

ME:        Yeah.

BLAIZ:   Huh. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just rent a car? It’s about $20 a day isn’t it?




ME:        Yes. That’s a much better idea. Let us never speak of it again.

Unfortunately I’d already bought the tickets so I figured I’d save that little tidbit for next time. To make matters worse, I then proceeded to leave the tray of water bottles, as well as my Nalgene of Gatorade, in Blaiz’s truck when he dropped me off.

For those keeping track at home, I’m up to 2 stupid things and it’s not even today yet.

I thought I was making headway today. Work went well, I packed at lunch, then caught the bus at 3:30pm and went downtown. Timed it perfectly too. I also emailed Blaiz on the way and mentioned that I’d left the bottles with him. He was at work so he went to check his truck. At 4:35pm I go to get my tickets (bus leaves at 4:45) and as the kiosk is spitting out the tickets I notice a little chunk of text on the screen:

Identification will be checked prior to boarding.

ME:        ID… I have ID, my wallet is in my pocket. Why is my heart racing? Bus… bus is going to Canada. I’m Canadian. Have to come home though. To come back all I need is my… FUUUUU!!!!

This phone call ensued. I may not be remembering it 100% correctly:


ERIKA:   Hello?

ME:        HI.

ERIKA:   What’s wrong?

ME:        I’m at the bus station. I forgot my passport. I can’t come to Vancouver now.

ERIKA:   Oh honey, I’m so sorry!

ME:        Sorry that my genes are going to drag down your children’s IQ like concrete underpants? Yeah, I’m sorry too. At this point I’ll be happy if they can be potty trained at all. We might have to consider free-ranging them.


Then, after the phone call with Erika I get this message from Blaiz: “The water bottles aren’t in the car. Must be in the parking lot at the ice rink.” Which, y’know, was exactly what I needed right then.

So today I spent a good 5 minutes sitting in the train station without my passport, watching the bus that I paid too much for pull away, thinking about my water bottles in a parking lot on the other side of town, and eating a cookie.

I felt pretty smart for buying that cookie though.