Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Not great, to be honest," I said to the cab driver when he asked how I was. He proceeded to tell me about how bad his day was going—flat tire or something—but all London's beautiful women made it better, he said as he almost ran one over. I grunted and nodded, but even as it was happening it felt like a dream.

Willow was dead when I arrived at the animal hospital. Hit by a car. She looked so ... normal lying there, like she was just resting. Except she wasn't excited to see me, snorting and waving her little white-booted paws in the air. Sometimes when I came home and she did that, I'd try not to react, because books say spoiling them when you arrive home just makes them miss you more when you're gone. But ...  oh God ... I wish I spoiled her every time I saw her, which already wasn't enough ... I wish I fully appreciated every single minute I got to spend with her, whether it was relaxing on the couch or cleaning up her puke. And I am going to miss her so much now that she is gone.

In my few hours of sleep that night I dreamed about taking Willow for a walk in this beautiful weather. Just another ordinary day with her.  I was thankful to my subconscious for that. I also dreamed that the shrivelling little plants I keep on my windowsill had grown giant green leaves, reaching their full potential. I think the two dreams were related.

Even when I'm awake, my brain keeps trying to make sense of it. When my thoughts briefly wander from the topic, the grief will snap back to me in some new and horrible way. Sometimes it comes back fuzzy, like it really was a bad dream. A bad dream, or just a flight of dark hypotheticals that I mentally test-drove, as I'm prone to do when an idea for a horror story comes to me. Another minute, my mind acknowledges the reality, but tries to fit it into a puzzle, like this was supposed to happen; some natural endpoint to a series of events that preceded it. Or it's just a temporary challenge to be overcome if I can fit the pieces together.

It really happened, it can't be undone, and there is no reason to it. It was random and it was terrible. I guess that sums up life, for those of us still living it.

At least I have memories that will, one day, bring me happiness. I love you so much, Willow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Puaj! More PWTIC Publicity

Oh hey, I forgot to mention that my other blog, Putting Weird Things in Coffee (which is about putting weird things in coffee) has gotten some more publicity.

This brief article appeared in an actual physical newspaper in Argentina called Clarin. Er, Clarín. I guess this is a big deal, because according to Wikipedia, it's Argentina's largest newspaper.

Kinda similar to the Macleans article, except it actually mentions the blog's URL.

By the way, that article is the result of like 3 pages of questions and answers.

For an article that actually used my brilliant Q&A skills, check out City Pages' article on Putting Carr Valley Cheese in Coffee. Monica, the reporter who interviewed yours truly, actually sent me the cheese to try, which I appreciate so much. The results of the cheese experiments are being rolled out on PWTIC itself.

Also, I'm trying to figure out how to pronounce PWTIC. Since it is spelled similar to "pwned", which is pronounced like "boned" with a P (or just "owned" if you're a snobby leetspeak purist), I figure PWTIC is said like "po-tick". "Pwuh-tick" is kinda funnier though. I dunno.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Kinect by Any Other Name

One of my best friends just had a daughter. She went through her first few days of life without a name; just this generic mini-person with nothing to refer to her as. She now has a lovely name, but I can understand the difficulty in coming up with one that will serve her well for the rest of her life. One piece of advice I heard was that "she'll grow into her name."

This doesn't only apply to people.

Microsoft bizarrely unveiled the name of its new camera accessory: Kinect1. HEY I GET IT. It's "connect" but also kinda-not-really looks like "kinetic." That probably sounded really good to a committee of Microsoft suits, on paper, but it comes out sounding like a spelling-impaired teenager's AOL username circa 1995.

But let's not forget the name of the system the Kinect was designed to compete against: the Wii. We laughed when that was announced, oh how we laughed (ok, I still laugh whenever someone says "play with my Wii"), but it's become accepted. Naming it the Wii wasn't the huge mistake that some people predicted it would be.

Similarly, #itampon was a trending topic on Twitter the day Apple announced the iPad. Now, it's lusted after without a second thought.

It's funny how arbitrary names really are. We give them a lot of thought before they're created, but after that, even the dumbest names are grown into. Then again, I may be biased, as a guy who goes by "Phronk."

1 BTW, I'm watching the Microsoft media briefing on the Kinect right now, and it looks pretty amazing. Controlling everything (not just games) with just your body and voice is pretty futuristic shit. Soon Minority Report will look quaint.

Er... "Kinect tracks your skeleton as you move." Maybe it'll be creepy HAL futuristic, too.

Ok this tiger fondling simulation is creepy too.

Enough live-blogging.

Edit 3:24 pm: Oops I forgot that the whole reason I started posting this was to lead up to showing you this awesomely-named hot sauce my parents gifted to me yesterday:


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Halifax Reducks: Great Graves

Remember last time I was in Halifax and I witnessed the surreal scene of a girl in a prom dress torturing some freakish bird creature? Well, I caught up with said bird creature when I returned recently. This time we were with a dog1, and apparently the thing learned to fight back. It must have felt threatened, seeing a less useless animal, and fucking came at our fucking faces, hissing. That's scary enough when you know what you're dealing with.

On the up side, the freak bird found itself an equally freakish mate.

But who cares about things that are alive? I find graveyards fascinating. A gravestone is the only semi-permanent visible relic that remains in proximity to these bodies we inhabit our whole lives. The textual messages on them have to be meaningful yet brief; they're like everyone's final Twitter update.

Despite dying so long ago, Smardon's grave is in perfect shape. I love the faux raw rock slab and the crooked cross. And his final message—"God alone understands"—is intriguingly cryptic. I see so many possibilities in that message and the dates that his family died.  I like to think he was a hitman.

Alexander Keith's original grave is nothing special:

But beside it is something a little more extravagant:

We take beer seriously around here.

Others keep it simple:

Although having them side by side gives them some meaning, no?

Just having a funny name can leave an impressive final message:

wheres mario lol
That's just unfortunate.
Some people put emphasis on the wrong words:

But aside from all the hilarity, there is heartbreak to be found in graveyards:

This creeped me out:

And this:

I found the graves of the survivors victims of the Titanic disaster to be particularly emotional. It was unsettling to see rows after rows of graves, all with the same date on them, most of them too young to die.

Many don't have names.

It's touching that someone cared enough to leave flowers here:

Unfortunately, disaster victims aren't immune to funny names:

Perhaps it's tactless to make fun of dead people. I mean no disrespect; if they were alive, I hope I could laugh with them, not at them. But they are dead, and thus unable to experience either joy or offense. If it's okay to find humour in living people with funny names, it's even more okay to do so with the dead.


1 This dog:

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Search Terms Used to Find, Volume 8

Here is how people got here:

  • how to be interesting to talk to
  • real pictures of zombies
  • picture of man in a turtle shell
  • freak trevor out

  • i'm scared of internet dating
  • various fucking types
  • old people fucking & sucking
  • midgetsluts
  • dominican hookers in punta cana
  • self indulgence attractions in london
  • western university devito porn

  • i never used to fart but now
  • why cant i keep things out of my mouth
  • roll up the rim win blow job
  • volume of a oreo
  • mcgriddle plural
  • accident, cakes
  • parapsychology microwaves

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tweeting With the Stars, Volume 5: Deepak Chopra, Volume 2

This is hardly worth mentioning, since me and Deepak are already good buddies, but I thought this exchange was interesting.

A few days ago, Deepak tweeted:

To which I replied:

And he replied:

Which is still mostly meaningless (as usual), but at least he admitted his mistake.

I was somewhat kind to Chopra in my last post about him. But after following him on Twitter for a while and seeing him getting clobbered in debates with smart people, I've come to the conclusion that he is either deliberately misleading people, or just really clueless and deluded. In either case, he shouldn't be getting rich by taking buttloads of money from people.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Book Review: World War Z, by Max Brooks

World War Z was not what I expected. Brooks' previous effort was The Zombie Survival Guide, and I thought World War Z would be his attempt at a straight-forward zombie novel. That is not the case.

The book can be considered a collection of very short stories that take place in the same world (which happens to become overrun with zombies). They are in rough chronological order, so an overall timeline develops, but characters only rarely appear in more than one chapter.

The amount of detail, breadth, and creativity in these tales is incredible. Brooks is well aware that no segment of society is safe in a worldwide zombie apocalypse. Stories cover everyone from Paris Hilton and her chihuahua to the K9 units in the military to the soldiers who specialize in fighting zombies under water.

Each chapter is great as a standalone story, and that's both the book's greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Just as you're getting into a situation, the chapter ends. There's something to be said for leaving the reader wanting more, but when there is no more, it can be frustrating. Many of the ideas here are so damn good they could have been expanded into full novels of their own, and sometimes I wish they were.

Still, bite-sized giblets of zombie goodness are better than nothing. World War Z is essential reading for anyone who loves the living dead as much as they should.