dal niente

Month: February, 2010

Processing

I joined a gym with [Terminator] a couple of weeks ago and it’s been a good week.  A great week in fact, culminating with a great friday.  Let’s recap.

Monday, I had the day off.  It was a statutory holiday at the hospital, so basically, and departments normally open from Mondays to Fridays were closed.  Back when I was working in Emergency, there was no such thing– after all, when does the emergency department ever close?  I mean, I worked mostly the overnight shift– that’s the system’s way of saying fucking never.

The Operating Room department has me on a strict diet of 6am to 2pm, Monday to Friday, except on statutory holidays.  If there’s some reason to celebrate, you can be sure that we get that day off.

Did I mention that I love working at the OR?

-=-=-=-=-=-

So, I come back to work on Tuesday, and let me tell you what everyone who works a 5 day week already knows– touching base with a 4-day work week, after a 3-day weekend usually, usually blows.  Not only are you not in the mood to work because your DNA has somehow reconfigured itself in an extra day to expect to wake up a noon instead of at 5am, but all the shit that happened during the weekend while the world contintued to turn means an extra big pile of things to do in your inbox on your desk.

I think that there are probably a lot of you out there work office out there, but for some reason, I have a hard time finding a ‘normal’ job.  Not that that’s bad.  Tuesday morning, for example, one of my officemates was going to empty the recycling bin into the confidential master bin (patients documents are confidential and need to be shredded) when she found something interesting.

“Huh.  Someone must’ve dropped this in here by accident.”

“O’rly.”

“I think we need to fill out the incident report form for this one.”

“Yeah.”

She had found a human appendix in the recycle bin.  I mean, sure, it was still in a specimen jar in 10% preservative poisons to keep it fresh, but it was an appendix that should’ve gone down to pathology about a week ago.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The basic way that it works is that the OR requires three primary clerks (of which I am now one) to operate smoothly, or/run effective damage control during really bad days.  This trio consists of the Control Desk Clerk (DC), Booking Clerk (BC) and the “10 to 6” Clerk (10-6).  The 10-6 clerk is so named because his/her shift is the only one that runs from 10am until 6pm (as opposed to the CD who starts at 7am and the BC who starts at 6am).  The 10-6’s main tasks are to replace the CD and the BC stations during their breaks, and to handle post-operative reports.  I was hired to be the 10-6, which, in my opinion, is pretty damned sweet: I’ll get to sleep in a bit every morning, and be done work in time for dinner.

Well, for complicated reasons, the OR has been running on two clerks since late November; basically without a 10-6. That means that they’ve been 33.33% down in (wom)manpower for the past few months.   And there’s only a certain amount of bitching that Captain Kirk can do until Scotty just can’t keep up anymore, if you know what I mean.  Since Novermber, there’s basically nobody who’s been assigned to post-operative reports, which is really, really big problem, because legal and statistics departments get fidgetty when they’re left in the dark about what’s been going on for the past few months.   [Mickey] and [Chere], the DC and BC, have basically been doing post-operative reports on the sides during department lull times, or staying after work.

By the time I started training with Mickey to learn about the Control Desk, they were about two months behind in post-operative reports.  We didn’t even touch that stuff because there was enough that I had to learn about the department that I was pretty busy with other coordinating tasks without even really needed to sit at a keyboard.

Tuesday was my first day training in the Booking office under Chere and man.  This is where I’d be mostly a sit-down office worker in the traditional sense. That was some training.

Basically, Chere sat me down, did maybe a dozen post-op reports with me, and then, half a work day later, told me to basically get to work.

“….that’s all there is to it?”

“Well, no… but frankly, the boss wants us to be up to date by next week, and we’re still almost two months behind in post-ops.  And I’m behind in booking, so you’ll have to survive for now.”

So basically, I was supposed to be trained for 2 weeks at Booking.  Instead, I was trained basically for half a day, and for the rest of the week, I’ve been crunching post-op reports.

Aside from the occasional appendix in our recycle bin, there are so many things about the way a hospital works that I just look at and wonder if the greatest miracle of life is how our insane healthcare backroom happenings don’t kill you.  Seriously: how does this place even run without just spontaneously imploding?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Regardless, I like working under this kind of pressure, and Post-Op reports are actually kinda interesting.  I like to phrase the situation such that I’m the reinforcements, who’ve been sent in to make everything right.  It’s surprisingly less far from the truth than you would believe… Mickey and Chere have not taken a day off in about 3 months because they simply can’t.

Working in Booking with Chere is a lot more chill than up front with Mickey, because Booking is in a backroom two-person office space.  I have my own desk, my own comfy chair, my own computer.  First thing I did was hide a copy of Firefox on the HD, rewire the speakers (which previously didn’t work), patch music into the computer through my Android, and then adjust the chair specifically for me.  In that order.  Oh, right. And then I went to mattress with those post-op reports.

-=-=-=-=-=-

I brought in some guava candies from Chinese New Years, and they were a real hit with the ORAs, (“operating room attendants” who are basically orderlies).  We’ve started a candy exchange, whereby I supply them with guava candies, and they supply me with mango candies.  God how I love mangoes.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

During the weekend, I also joined the gym with Terminator, as I said, and man, it’s nice to do that kinda stuff with him again.

I do enjoy getting in shape to a certain extent, but only indirectly.  If you gave me an easy way to have the body of a Greek god, I would take it (provided it didn’t cost too much) because intrinsically, I’m a lazy person.  My life has always been a bit of an ecliptic dialectic between my laziness and my need to conquer though.  In that way, most things I do make me feel good because I’ve exercised superior willpower to persist, in spite of otherwise superior laziness.

If there are difficult things to do out there, training with Terminator is one of them.  Although physically it’s impossible to look like a god after just a week of solid training with him, mentally, you feel like one because it’s not an easy regimen.  It really is the sort of training where you want to give up most steps of the way.

It was nice also because I get to reconnect with Terminator, which is something that’s been really difficult since I moved in.  When I first moved into the apartment, I was just starting to work night shifts, and he was also still in the first months of dating [SoCool].  Our schedules were difficult to coordinate and there wasn’t much opportunity for us to really sit down and have a good broversation.

The gym though is his sanctuary– his space away from the rest of the responsibilities to the world.  Therein, we can talk.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Part of the reason why I ended up going to the gym with him actually was because his usual partners, in my opinion, are a bunch of lazy bastards.  One of them is [Wraith], who you may remember from about a half year ago, who at my worst moment in a long time, I wanted to punch in the face because of the [Kingston] issue.  Well, in if  you can’t remember him, let’s summarize the main aspects that come up when anyone thinks about Wraith: he hasn’t been working for over two years; at some point, he decided that, despite any form of income, he would spend the majority of his inheritance on galavanting around Asia for several months; at this point, he spends most of his time blowing money on alcohol, parties, or at the casino; he also has a gym membership, was supposed to be Terminator’s training partner, but hasn’t made a single one of their appointments in over a week.

I guess if you needed me to be brutally frank, Wraith is a loser.  I’m not even saying that because of the Kingston thing– that’s water under the bridge, as far as I’m concerned– I’m saying this because this man has accumulated so much debt and is such a whiner in person at times that it boggles the mind how he continues to function.  I think that the money quote, when his friends tell him to get a fucking job, is “I’m not opposed to working!  Really! I just… hate… looking for a job.”

As a person, personality-wise, he’s actually pretty fun if you manage to avoid the lifestyle subject completely.  When I came back from SK, I didn’t know that any of this was going on so we even played a fair amount of Left 4 Dead and Gears of War 2 together.  We’ve even done a few rounds of Settlers of Catan.  He’s not in my primary circle of friends, although there was a time when I think I was experimenting with the idea of it– but everything I hear about him from Terminator, SoCool and [Zak] seems to rub me all the wrong way.

Anyway, I think that he’s one of Teminator’s closest friends.  While I related to terminator because of the Martial Arts Club and because we began to train at the YMCA together, Terminator and Wraith used to be in the computer science program together.  I think that it’s a different, although equally important brotherhood that comes out of surviving a program together.

Botherhood is kinda tough though because when those brothers are in trouble, you want to help. I suppose brotherhood is in large part about wanting what’s best for your brothers.  You learn, over the years, that while you are expected and can expect backup, sometimes the real blood is when you volunteer your help, even when it’s not asked for.  That’s what family is about, I think– it’s about annoying eachother with the best of intentions.

Well, I think that Terminator is taking a lot of poison damage in his mind because Wraith, and some of his other friends, are living the easy life.  On one hand, I think he wants what’s best for Wraith, who is really digging himself an abyss that even bankruptcy won’t save him from– on the other hand, he’s jealous of Wraith’s lifestyle of infinite imaginary money to do whatever he wants, just because of a line of credit on the condo he owns thanks to an inheritance.

I see it wearing down on Terminator.  And, I want to help him– but I can’t.  His concern for his downward spiraling friends isn’t his only problem– Terminator himself is depressed with his own life.  He needs a change.  It’s not only that it’s not exactly my place, it’s that I really, really can’t do anything to help him unless he decides to change, in the same way that he’s trying to egg on Wraith.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I went out to a late dinner and drinks with [SiB] last night, and that was a nice conclusion to my week thus far.  We went to Tokebi’s.

Every now and then, we end up going somewhere other than Tokebi’s.  Mostly, I think, because [Paladin] gets bored of the place, but I think that we’ll probably end up going there for a long time.  It’s got the right atmosphere… not too crowded, it’s got pitchers of Rickards’ Red for a decent price, as well as Korean grill/pot foods.  It’s also always nice that you can hear yourself think in a barr and grill nowadays.  I find that one of the big problems with too many watering holes is they try to make the place way too themed– either with way too much Irish music, too much rock music, or too much anything… too much noise, to put it simply.  Tokebi’s is nice because it’s never too loud in there.

Anyway, SiB is coming off of a hiatus from the world at large.  For the last couple of months, he basically did nothing but go to work and play videogames.  Not exactly healthy from a physical or mental point of view.  But, at least he came out yesterday, and we had a good long chance to just talk about things.

It’s always nice to catch up with friend.

-=-=-=-=-=-=

I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s not the only one.  Who was in a funk, I mean.  It’s not just SiB, it’s not just Terminator– me too, in a certain sense.

It has in large part to do with [Supergirl] being out of town– I did basically what I always do when I’m depressed.   Which is, block out the ability for me to have idle processing time.

I refer to my brain like a CPU, and I think it’s a pretty accurate analogy– a CPU is essentially modeled, at least philosophically, after the brain, so it makes sense that they’d be related.   My brain has a certain amount of processing power, and it operates at a particular clock speed.  When I’m at work, there’s a certain amount of passive processing power that’s being used just because I’m at work– background processes like “no swearing,” “no scratching,” and “no kung-fu magic” take a bit of power to maintain.   A sense of humor, balanced with a sense of self preservation, also fall into the passive background processes catagory.  Whatever remaining processing power I have is focused on work.

But during free time?  I’m actually really good at changing moods completely, sorta like jacking in and out, almost like loading an application.  When I’m in work mode, I really, really work.  All systems are focused on it.

When I’m gaming, or watching a movie, it’s the same– it takes up processing power.

Sometimes, I need more processing power.  Complicated problems take processing power for example.  If you want to solve something and need to figure out all the angles, think a few moves ahead… you need to have processing power to spare.

The higher your clock rate (the speed at which you’re processing) the faster the drain on your batteries.  So, when you’re thinking nonstop to do things, it tires you out.

Ever since Supergirl left, I’ve been trying to drain my batteries as quickly as possible.  I know, and she’s pointed it out, draining myself to the point of exhaustion is not a good way of dealing with the long distance of a relationship.  But could I help it? I missed her terribly, and I didn’t know any other way to fill up the sudden gap in my life.  I mean, when you spend practically everyday with someone, and then suddenly, they’re gone, what do you do with all that time? All those extra batteries? All that free processing power?

The thing is, you might have energy to spare to do other things, but the processor is still hung up on the things that are gone.  That’s the difference between a machine and a human– you can configure both man and machine, but the human subconscious is not something easily configured.  And my brain, by default, is set to think about Supergirl.  She’s that important to me.

So important that on some days, she was a background process that made everything feel better.  I see single people complaining about how there’s no such thing as love, and then I’m reminded by that voice in the back of my head that’s hers: “I love you,” it whispers, from that range that you can only hear because she’s right next to my ear.  On other days I can hear her making her best mock annoying anime cat voice saying “gambatte!” when I’m doing something really tough. 

On other days though, when nothing is going on at all… my mind goes back to her, because she is the default thought now.  She’s hardwired into my OS and I cannot change that.

The only way I could deal with missing her, if that’s the perspective I got jammed in, was to overload my processor with more immediate things and kill my batteries as quickly as possible, forcing a shutdown and reset.

But not that any of it matters— she’s coming back to Montreal in less than 12 hours.

And then she’ll take her place where I like her best– in the foreground.
🙂

Advertisements

What’s New

When the Google branded phone, Nexus One, was announced in a press release, I rolled my eyes.

I couldn’t wait for it to come out. I really couldn’t.  But it wasn’t because I wanted to get my hands on it.  ‘Twas because, like whenever a new iPhone or iPod (and now iPad) or whatever was announced, I’d have to suffer months of hearing rumors and suppositions about all the ‘gamebreaking’ technology that would be introduced.  Which, mostly, turn out to be bullshit.  It’s one of the reasons why I go to a videostore and randomly pick up the box to any video game, and don’t read reviews in advance.  The hype usually doesn’t help.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Google.  Not because of their ideals, or any of the promises, or the whole philosphy of “don’t be evil” or how they just basically human cannonballed themselves in the middle of ‘net aged computing, but because of what they actually deliver.  I use craploads of Google products: I use Gmail, Reader, Agenda, Docs– my phone is an Android based one.  Even when I was using my old HTC smartphone, I patched over the default MSN integrated  For the last two months while [Supergirl] was out of town, I kept in touch with Gtalk and a phone app that allows me to send voice recordings via email.  I run Google Desktop to keep my shitloads of data organized.

But Google is not news by default.

I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds and podcasts, and frankly, I’m fed up of how important people try to make Google.   Especially with the release of Buzz, it’s like Facebook all over again– people are crying privacy violations as if it matters.  Does anyone remember when anyone cared about privacy back when Facebook first came under the limelight?  Reminder: you probably still use Facebook in spite of it.  I’m not saying it’s smart. I’m just saying that we, or at least I, don’t care about hearing about it anymore.

I don’t even care about a Buzz versus Facebook debate.  The subject of this post is that Google is not always news.  So I would really appreciate it if the feeds and podcasts I subscribe to, including non-tech related ones, please shut the fuck up and stop regurgitating for the upteenth time about “power user tricks for Buzz” or how another person things Google is evil for incredible levels of data.

Tell me once.  The first time I hear it, that’s news.

But stop. Repeating. Yourselves.

That being said, after I finish this post, I’m going to drop a bunch of RSS feeds specifically because I’ve realized that they have nothing new to tell me– they just steal news from other sites and tell me the same thing a day or two later, and that’s just annoying.

Why we aren’t Responsible

Regarding the previous post:

Boasting the highest number of post-secondary students  in North America, local industry and commerce are tailored to both support– and take advantage of– the student demographic. Contemporary education, inasmuch as I have experienced it in Montreal, concurs with the observations of the author.  It deals almost exclusively with “what” and “how” we are educated, as opposed to “why“.  This, I believe, has to do with the educational institutions inexorable relationship with the capitalist economy.

Up until the late 80s in Montreal, we were required to study Christian doctrine as a starting point for some sense of social duty and morality. With time, education began to shift focus to what the author identifies as the material circumstances of the adult world.  It wasn‘t just that higher education was more career focused; mandatory Judeo-Christian religious education in public schools was deemed unconstitutional, replaced with “moral education” classes.  These were, in my opinion, was the last bastions of Lindeman‘s “organic teaching.” Even in these classes, the “why” mentality had all but disappeared from adult education by the early millennium, replaced with a cursory, non-commital devil’s advocate approach to the exploration of popular ethical issues such as capital punishment and abortion. The separation of technical, knowledge-based education from experienced, wisdom or faith based beliefs is something that shifted the social responsibilities of teachers.

Montreal’s educational policies entrench at value-free positions for a reason: increased representation in multiculturalism, especially thanks to a growing immigrant populations.  With divergent religious and cultural beliefs, a common morality or social agenda isn’t easily agreed upon.  With increasing civil rights awareness, it becomes increasingly risky to engage in value-ridden policy making.  It seems to me only natural that if adult education is inadequate at explaining why we should be educating adults, in addition to the economic factors the author cites of Brookfield, it is because educators are hesitant to commit to an idea of what we should be teaching.  We leave it to the students to dictate what they want to learn.

In a capitalist employment market, students want to fulfill a checklist of prerequisites towards their careers.  This creates creates the demand that the post-secondary institutions are trying to efficiently supply answers for.  Education is an industry.  I don’t believe, for this reason, that we are likely to see any increased organic thought in contemporary adult education, at least not if it is economically or politically inconvenient for the institution.  Even if educators are genuinely concerned about the lack of social awareness in the programming of post-secondary education, they will find that without a great deal of ministry backed commitment, the technicist model will continue to marginalize the organic indefinitely.  Morality and social responsibility is, simply, an inconveniently complicated position, both culturally and economically, to hold.  Nobody wants to be held responsible.

not How, but Why

Taken from: The Modern Practice of Adult Education: A Postmodern Critique by Derek Briton, the State University of New York Press ©1996, StateUniversity of New York. All rights reserved. http://www.sunypress.edu


No good can come from avoiding the essential issue. There is a deep-seated conflict in this country concerning adult education and we may as well confront it… There exists at present two schools of thought with respect to adult education… The first, I shall call “mechanistic” and the second the “organic.”…Those who represent the mechanistic viewpoint seem to believe that adult education…always means extending something which is already here… The ideas with which they surround adult education are consequently quantitative, if not static in character. At best, such persons seem to think of adult education in naively instrumental terms… On the other hand, those who hold the organic point of view assume at the outset that adult education… is not merely “more of the same”; that is, an extension of something which the privileged already enjoy, but rather a new quality and a new dimension in education…, a right, a normal expectancy, and not charity. Its purpose is to do something for adults which cannot be achieved by conventional education. (Lindeman, 1938)

It was somewhat of a relief, after learning that university courses in adult and higher education were courses concerned almost exclusively with questions of technique, to find in Eduard Lindeman’s writings confirmation of my own experience and concerns as an adult learner. For, by that time, I had learned that my unease with the dominant vision of adult education was something neither faculty nor my fellow students shared. Expediency, I had learned, was the order of the day: to spend time debating whether a certain course of action should be pursued or not was a waste of time. After all, institutions or employers made those sorts of “messy” political decisions. Adult educators need only concern themselves with how adults learn, not why. The modern practice of adult education, I had been assured, is a scientific enterprise, an endeavour untainted by moral and political imperatives. Value judgements, questions of intrinsic worth, notions of the common good are metaphysical (my word, not theirs) issues, I had been told, theoretical concerns that are of little consequence to a field of study committed to the “practical” dimension of life.

But while I gained some solace in reading Lindeman, I also came to realize that to replace adult education’s obsessive preoccupation with how adults learn with a genuine concern for what they should learn would require more than a rebuttal of its scientific underpinnings. For while the conflict Lindeman identified in adult education fifty-five years ago remains unresolved to this day, there is a major difference between the modern practice of adult education and the nascent field of practice Lindeman described: the “mechanistic” school of thought has come to dominate the field to such an extent that all “organic” visions of adult education have been relegated to the margins. The instrumental perspective that now informs the modern practice of adult education has become so entrenched in modern consciousness that its reified concepts now appear sacrosanct. The commonsense assumption that the modern practice of adult education is a disinterested, “scientific” endeavour that need not, indeed, should not concern itself with moral and political questions has become all but impossible to question because the field’s normative base can no longer be addressed within its narrowly defined, depoliticized, dehistoricized, technicist, professional discourse.

With these factors in mind, I realized that any convincing critique of the modern practice of adult education would have to do more than undermine the world view that informs the field’s technicist, professionalized discourse; it would have to identify the factors, the forces, and the conditions that prompt adult educators and adult learners to accept an instrumental vision of adult education, even though to do so is to abandon the ideals of democracy and submit to a growing loss of personal freedom. In an address to a gathering of adult educators, Lindeman suggested that the increasing acceptance of “mechanistic” adult education may be attributable to a failure, on the part of adult educators, to clearly articulate the “organic” nature and social purpose of their endeavour:

It seems inescapably clear that people do not know what we mean by adult education. Their confusion does not derive from lack of awareness that adults are capable of study; what they do not fully and clearly comprehend is why adults should study. As adult educators we have not been clear in our own minds, and consequently the situation with respect to motivation for adult learning is one of muddled confusion. (Lindeman, 1938b, p. 49)

Yet while Lindeman is willing to entertain the idea that “perhaps we have all along been using the wrong word,” recognizing that “adult education is a prosaic term which seems to place emphasis upon genetics rather than upon educational aims,” he recognizes that, ultimately, “the word itself cannot possibly be our main difficulty because language, being always responsive to changing meanings, is flexible and we can make the term mean whatever we choose.” He concludes, therefore, that “the real difficulty lies deeper than the mere use of words.” Brookfield (1987) offers an indication of just how much deeper this difficulty lies.

A number of commentators, Brookfield (1987, p. 196) notes, have attempted to draw attention to the “lack of discourse among adult educators of the important social and political issues of the day.” He notes, however, that “part of the reason for this silence was the manner by which adult educators adopted an adaptive rationale-‘to let arrangements replace goals’…-in their programming activities.” Adult educators, Brookfield contends, “under the pressure of producing a self-financing program…, fell foul all too often to the temptation of allowing the criteria of increased enrollments and revenues to determine the direction of their efforts.” The “deeper difficulty,” then, seems to be that adult educators, isolated within the confines of the field’s depoliticized, decontextualized, instrumental discourse, have lost sight of the political and economic factors that are determining the fate of their enterprise. Any convincing critique of the modern practice of adult education, it seemed to me, then, would have to address not only this “deeper difficulty” but also why some adult educators feel justified, and others even compelled, to relinquish their moral responsibility. Simply to demonstrate that instrumental adult education is not a purely disinterested scientific endeavour but rather a value-laden, political practice that serves to perpetuate the status quo would do little to change the minds of those who embrace the modern practice of adult education. A much more persuasive critique would be one that revealed the intrinsically social nature and moral underpinnings of the technicist world view, a critique that identified not only how the forces and conditions that now serve to mystify those underpinnings came into being but also why they continue to exist.

My hope is that the research this text undertakes will contribute to the development of just such a persuasive critique of the modern practice of adult education. However, it remains highly unlikely that critique, alone, no matter how persuasive or how well substantiated, will ever be sufficient to displace the field’s deeply entrenched technicist ideas, ideas that arose from, and continue to be supported by, very real material conditions. While critical reflection may provide an incentive to question prevailing practices, there is much to suggest that the ideas that inform those practices, once reified, can be overturned only when the social forms that support them are changed. This means that alternative adult education practices-democratic and emancipatory forms of adult education that embody the ideals they promote, for instance-must emerge to engender and support the ideas that inform them before any real possibility of displacing the field’s reified, technicist ideas will present itself. The critique this text pursues, then, is more a justification to pursue alternative adult education practices than an argument to change minds. There are, of course, very real problems associated with putting democratic and emancipatory ideals into practice in the classroom, but these problems must be addressed if any real changes are to occur.

Everybody owes, everybody pays

On a side note:
Anyone want to share some music lists with me? Sign up for my dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTM0NjQ1Njk5 . Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

-=-=-=-=-=-

It’s hard to say at the moment for sure because my bi-weekly paycheque covers one 3-day work week of ER, and one fullweek of OR, but man. What a difference. Not in the good way. I hope it’s because that 3-day workweek pulls my average down, but it’s the lamest paycheque I’ve had in like… half a year. I guess it’s true that the OR pays a bit less than overnights at ER, but I didn’t think it would be this much of a difference! We’ll see though what the paycheque looks like when I’ve done two fulltime weeks.

I was reading the union news while having breakfast in the cafeteria, this morning. I like having meals at the cafeteria because they’re cheap, and they’re healthy. For 1.75$, you get a slice of toast, a fresh fruit, one portion of egg and a drink. Usually, I get double of that, and get some free sausages or hash browns at the same time, and then I’m pretty full for under four dollars without the trouble of waking up early and making a mess that requires dishwashing. ‘Cause I hates teh dishwashings.

So I’m there, reading the hospital news, and there are a couple of unpleasant things going on. It’s pretty new for me to be paying attention to the ‘news’ because when I was working in ER, I just never had time to eat– almost ever, and furthermore whenever I could get away from the department it never coincided with cafeteria hours. As a result, I’ve actually got this really bad habit of eating way too fast, and almost never sitting down, and it’s one of the first things that become apparent when [Supergirl] and I first started dating: I’d just warf down my food like it was the end of the world.

Anyway, first of all, back to the news. There’s one of those annual awards ceremonies for employee recognition in the Quebec healthcare industry, so there’s this big thing going on in full pomp and circumstance. It includes the presence of the Quebec Premier. He’s… pretty famous.

But not for the right reasons. In part, it’s because the people hate him because of his policies for education, and in part, because people hate him for his policies in health care. I used to vote Liberal, now I just don’t vote (which is something I could probably get around to explaining at some point).

It seems like a big assfuck without a reacharound that thie Premier who is constnatly serving special interests and constantly cutting public service spending is daring to go to a public service awards ceremony. It’s pretty fucking bold if you ask me!

42.3%. When I look at my paycheque and crunch the numbers, that’s how much of my paychque goes to health care union dues (most of which are spent trying to bargain with the government for more money, but that hasn’t happened in years), insurance (which in large part goes to paying this province’s ridiculous disability insurance program), and retirement pension contributions (whcih, when I actually retire, will only be trickled back to me at a ridiculously slow rate) and, the largest part, income tax.

Now, I’m a bit of a socialist– I think that it’s important that we pay social welfare taxes.

However!

I do believe that I should be getting more bang for my buck, and that consiering the amount of work I do at my job, I should be getting paid more.

But then again, I guess that doesn’t make me different from the next worker ant, does it?

I guess it’s coming to light because it’s time to do income taxes. And, despite that I’m really good at being disciplined about my spending habits, I just feel that after this much work, I should be worth more, financially.

Sleep for the Wicked

It’s been a long time since I posted.

Happy New Year everyone!


“Look, look. There.  You see that?” [Terminator] asked. 

I stared, and what was I looking at? It was the tired face of Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier 3.  The visage was caked with dirt in a paste of sweat and blood, and the frozen snarl at the corners of the lips betrayed that, under the ‘perfect soldier’ machine exterior, there was a tired man underneath. 

“That’s how I feel,” said Terminator.  “Every. Day.  And I don’t know why.”


There is something to be said about watching movies like Universal Soldier 3.   The original came out somewhere in the early 90s and I remember watching it, because I liked Van Damme.  As a kid, I was crazy about marital arts films.  Ironically, the only martial artist of note who I didn’t like was Bruce Lee.  But Van Damme? There, you see, was an actor.

He’s come a long way from the glory days of his youth, doing blockbuster titles like Time Cop and Bloodsport, but he’s still kickin’.

Every now and then, my roomies and I watch either an old movie or a B movie.  The fact that we do both old movies and B movies is actually relevant.

We, and by ‘we,’ I am quick to include myself, are part of consumer culture, and part of that dictates that in no small way we’re exposed to the changing world.  I don’t mean necessarily in any humanitarian way– I mean when it comes to science, technology, and especially entertainment. I would leave politics out of it, but frankly, that falls under entertainment.

And generally, one of the best forms of entertainment to stimulate our senses is the kind that’s new and fresh.  I haven’t seen Avatar yet; it’s not for lack of wanting, it’s simply that I haven’t had time and don’t think I exactly want to make time just yet, considering that the theatres are still packed with people watching it for the first or umpteenth time.  But I do want to see it.  Why?  Because apparently the visuals are groundbreaking.

The story, however, is not.

I hear a lot of people complaining about that, actually, but that doesn’t make it bad, does it?

My point is this– what do an old movie and a B movie have in common?

It’s that you know how it’s going to turn out.  It’s predictable.  It follows certain cliches, certain memes, so that when you hear the music you know the knife is next.  You’ve seen so much of it that you just know how it works.

Yet we still watch it.

The reason for that is because if you can develop an appreciation for it, then it’s good– and that which is good can be fun.  We’re not here because it’s original– we’re here because it makes us feel good.  That feeling isn’t something that ever gets old, is it?


On the other hand, 

there are certain times when we don’t want the cliches.  We don’t want our lives to be the mundanity, the routinity, the boringness.  We want to live an exciting life.
 
But what hold us back?  It’s hard to say.
 
So why is it that sometimes some people get so caught up with unconvincingly trying to tell me that things are okay, when it’s clear to me that they’re just saying that? Who are they trying to convince, I wonder: it’s hard to tell if it’s me, or themselves.


  
I was having dinner and drinks with [U1] a couple of Tuesdays ago, and it was fun.  It’s nice to hang out with her because, first of all, unlike most of my guy friends, she is a girl, and offers a unique perspective on things. Not that she’s a feminist or something, but she comes from angles that my male friends either don’t consider or, ironically, don’t have the balls to bring up.
 
You never really know where life is gonna take you.  She’s recently completed her undergrad in biochemistry, but is now finding that she’s got some interest in the law class she’s taknig for fun at UdeM.  Who knows where we end up?
 
If I took a look at 10-years-ago me, he probably wouldn’t have thought that he’d end up working in the OR of a Children’s hospital, actually being responsible for important things.
 
[Zanshin] often asks me this question: do you feel like an adult?
 
The truth is,  I don’t.  Well, maybe that’s not entierly true– I certainly feel like an adult when I’m paying bills.  But everything else?  It’s a big game to me, and sometimes I feel like an idiot who is just button mashing, trying to make up for strategy or skill with persistence and luck. But, realistically, I suppose whatever gets the win?

And what’s the difference between someone who deserves a Darwin award and someone who doesn’t?  The one who makes the cut is the one who adapts to a situation.  The more fucked up the situation you’re exposed to that you survive, the better you do overal.  You have adapted, and you can now add that kind of crazy situation to the list of things that you know how to survive.
 
And some of those stories might even make for interesting dinner conversation.

 
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when I feel that I’ve been “penciled” in to someone’s schedule. I mean, don’t get me wrong– I like it when people make the time for me.  And I know that people have busy lives.  But I don’t like it when someone has a busy day, and just fits me in, when they could just say “This other day is better, because then I won’t be rushing.”
 
I don’t like it when people are rushing to get something over with afterwards.  I don’t like it when people are late either for that same reason.  People who have to rush to get to you or rush to get away from you?  Slow the fuck down, organize your life better.  If I’m not supposed to be on this schedule, don’t put me there– I don’t like half assed attention.
 

    
I haven’t really told any of you about how so far, I love the OR.  This wasn’t anything like the transition into ER.  This department involves roughly the same amount of medical staff as down in the ER, but things just function more directly, and more smoothly.
 
Down at ER, it took me weeks before [Mar], my old boss, found a pair of scrubs for me to use.  When she did, she got me a pair of XXXL ones, when my lean build puts me at Medium on only my fattest days.  In 13 months of working there, nobody in manamagent gave me any straight answer or help about how to get a locker.
 
At OR, within my first hour of training, I had both a locker and fitted scrubs.
 
Not only that– but the OR has an automatic scrub exchanger. I’ve got this nifty little magnetic swipe card that I can use to check out fresh scrubs.  Whenever I want them wash, just swipe, deposit dirty scrubs, and exchange for clean ones.  All automated.  I’m certain that the machine isn’t cheap, but meanwhile, downstairs, [Mar] is installing fucking computer trolleys (little wheeled holsters for computer towers— like, where the fuck are we supposed to take these things anyhow? Why do they need wheels? They DON’T!); she’s spending 500$ out of renovation budgets to repaint her office space; she’s having glass panels installed around the department to make it look cooler…. meanwhile, staff in ER are always catching viruses and stuff, and if I had to point fingers I’d say that the fact that we have to launder our own scrubs at home has a lot to do with that.  ER has like… two extra printers and an extra photocopier, wheras, OR makes due even though we don’t have a photocopier, or even a fax machine.  We run with our memos to the nearby departments downstairs.
 
I think it’s in large part because ER has gotten fat and bloated– it’s the first line, so from a public relations point of view, it’s probably the one that has to be the most spiffy.  OR on the other hand looks decrepit, but it’s sort of like a late years Millenium Falcon– this thing has taken a beating, but it gets the job done, and it’s quick on it’s feet compared to some other ships with all the bells and whistles.
 
The work is still a bit stressful because I’m always acutely afraid on some level that I’m forgetting something, but [Mick], my trainer, assures me I’m doing a great job.  It’s my 5th day in OR and my training is about a week ahead of schedule (that’s how good Jinryu is at his job).
 

 
“It means they have to remove both.”
 
“Oh, shit.”
 
“Man, can you imagine that? He’s ten frikkin years old! He’s never even fired that thing before!  He’s never even teabagged anyone yet!”
 
“Tragic.”
 

I unsubscribed from the FML RSS feed, because, frankly, the kinds of stupid shit I find there isn’t even amusing anymore. I mean, sure, some bad things happen, some pretty good moments where somebody gets pretty shafted.  But still, now that I work at the OR, that stuff is pretty lightweight compared to some of the really interesting ways that people get fucked up.


I purchaed an Ion USB Turntable for my dad.  We’ve got a collection of LPs in the basement that were before my time I think– I remember messing around with my dad’s turntable back in the day, but I don’t remember actually listening to an actual record.  There’s one wall of our basement that’s basically lined with LPs.

The turntable I’m buying him operates at 3 speeds, has it’s own built in speakers, and also has as USB hookup so that you can rip your LPs onto your computer.  Now that my dad is retired, I guess I worry a bit that he’s bored at home all the time.  He recently told me that he didn’t want to pay the 60$ admission fee to the Montreal 42km Marathon, which bothers me a bit– it’s not as if we’re strapped for cash, and 60$ certainly isn’t a lot of money.  Which leads me to believe that there’s something else going on in his head, that he doesn’t want to tell me about.

Anyway, I figure, resurrecting the old LP collection might be something fun for him to do.

Ever since he figured out how to use Youtube, his interest in computing has gone up exponentially– last month, I signed him up for his own Gmail account.  He uses it to email my uncle in Ontario.


I think it has a lot to do with the health problems in my family, plus that I’ve worked with both dying youth and dying elderly, but mortality is one of those things that’s ever present in my mind.  It’s a bit tougher, granted, to see people around you growing older, because you’re so close to them. Because I spent time away in Korea though, and now that I’ve moved out and only see my family intermittently, it’s become more apparent how things are changing with time.

I remember, one time, when my dad got into a particulary loud yelling match with my grandparents, that one of my [Aunt SH] asked me to the side, crying– “Always be nice to your grandparents, you got it?”

My dad isn’t a bad person; the fact is that he just has difficulty expressing himself. It’s a problem he inherited from his parents.  As a result, they do say a lot of things that hurt each other– not in that way that leaves you pissed off and feeling righteous, but in the way that if you look closely into their eyes and the way they breathe afterwards, the way that just leaves you feeling tired and old.

I don’t think I’m someone who will handle growing old very well, to be honest with you.  It’s not that I feel old at heart. It’s something that comes up pretty often in some of my conversations with [Zanshin] and [Paladin], as a matter of fact: we don’t feel like adults.  And that is in spite of all the things that I see around me.

The only time I feel old, really, is when I’m injured, sick, or paying bills.

Otherwise?

The other day, in my inbox on my desk, was a bucket.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Cool huh?” smirked [Mickey].  She held up the bag.  “It’s cut off right at the middle.”

I read the tag.  It was a surgically detached femur from a ten year old.

Now, maybe I’m a bit fucked up, but whose day wouldn’t be lighter and more joyous with the discovery of a human child’s femur in your inbox?


Seriously though, despite that I take my job and my life seriously, I think it has a lot to do with understanding the rules of the system and then really trying to have fun with it.  I think that the mistake that a lot of people make is to really get too caught up with the rules… they want to play their cards just right so that they hope that they’ll get where they want to be by following formulas that lead from A to B.

In reality, especially in capitalism based north america, we should learn perhaps from the lesson of marketing– not just that you should sell yourself, but that things need to look and feel good.  On one hand, it’s important that you look good to others– but, you know, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it. The point of free market economy wasn’t to just make things pretty– it was meant to provide the playground for competition and innovation that would improove the overal product.

That said, one’s objective shouldn’t just to get noticed or look good– it’s to do something well through innovation; it is to look good through passion; it is to harness a playfulness in your everyday life that trickles down to a product that people will buy from you because they are inspired by the quality of life you exude.


“Staphylococcus aureus is bacteria that lives on human skin and it can also live in the nose. The usual antibiotic used to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus is called methicillin. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus are not killed by methicillin and are said to be methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)”

A patient came up to OR today with MRSA (known in French as SRAM), which is not great.  It’s what was known in the late 90s as the “hospital superbug” because MRSA infections aren’t killed by pennicilin.  What kinda wigged me out was that there didn’t seem to be a single person in the department who really knew what precautions we should be taking.

I’ve worked in isolation wards even before I started in at the Children’s over a year ago, but…. still.  I can’t help but wonder how this province lives with standards like this!  I can’t blame anyone around me… it’s clearly a management shortcoming.  In general, I think that isolation knowhow seems to be pretty awful over here… the MRSA example today was pretty telling, but there was perhaps an even easier one to draw on: the swine flu pandemic.

Down in ER, when swine flu was in full squeal, things were just handled in a retarded retarded way.  (Jump to the months in question in old entries and you’ll hear no end to my bitching.)

I dropped by ER a little while ago to visit my friends in the Admissions office.  I stopped by the main ER as well, but to be honest… the people who were working day shift are the people I have the least of a relationship with.  There are fulltimers with positions during the day shift, and those people are just tired of their lives or something.  One of them didn’t even turn up when I said hello, she was so used to the practice of ignoring people standing in front of her while she was on the phone.  The other said hello, how’s it going, and that was all, so I didn’t stick around.

The people in Admissions though, I got along with those folks really well. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to work with them directly, and that we had very different tasks– that way, we could never mutually see how lazy we were, and since we were on good terms, it was the sort of relationship where we’d run into eachother and pretty much exchange professional services, like a buncha mercs who had agendas made understandable through money.

Most of my friends during the day shift are hence in the admissions office.  It’s unfortunate that my current hours don’t allow me to run into the evening and night crews though– I guess when my job hours switch to 10 to 6, things will be nicer like that.


I ran into my former boss and she tried to make pleasant.

“Oh, hello stranger!” and then she introduced me to the person she was speaking to as “oh, he used to work here, but he abandonned us.”

In my head, my subconscious, trained in years years of videogaming, reflexively generated an image of me drop kicking her in the face.  Thankfully, years of martial arts training reflexively held me back.

Passive aggressive shit like that reminds me about why the ER was a shitty place to work.  There are a lot of things to love about the place, especially the public you serve and the people who work alongside you to serve that public, but there are those who spend so much time with arms crossed having improptu hallway meetings that you just… you wonder why.  MRSA precuations are one thing– that’s an ignorance thing on the part of employees that’s not necessarily their fault.  But wasting time? Politicking?  All day? That was a problem with my former boss that I couldn’t stand.  It’s no wonder that the ER has such a high turnover of employees.


I should probably mention that I’m lucky to have made the final decision to switch to the OR.  But, I can’t claim all the credit.

I mean, sure, there’s a lot of benefit to being a daywalker again (at least, as soon as I’ve acclimated completely– sunlight still triggers a sleep reflex in me…).  At first, I hesitated because of other reasons though– I’d really found my niche in the overnight work: free food; a great nursing team; independence of operation; a relatively easy workload; better pay.

So why did I switch?  I think she felt guilty at the time, so I assured her she wasn’t the only reason– but the fact is, the main reason I switched was so that I could spend more time with [Supergirl].

I’m not used to this, really.  I like to think of myself as being really independent and free minded, but I need to be able to spend time with her.

These past few months that’s she’s been away in Asia have been some of the toughest months of my life, and certainly the toughest in our relationship.  We’ve gotten into fights, we’ve argued, I’ve made her cry… but somehow we always bounce back.

I think she might actually love me for the cold hearted, fucked up bastard that I am.  And I love her right back.

Why wouldn’t I quit a job for that?
I think that this is the way I always thought it should be– that having someone, really, having someone, for this or that, however you want to say it– results in everything simply being better.
How can I ever feel tired?

Alexis Nihon (part 2)

Alexis Nihon has changed a lot since I first set foot through windtunnel connecting the mall to Atwater Metro.

Perhaps the most significant changes from then to now for me have to do with L’enjeu and La Veille Europe.

L’Enjeu was the name of the arcade and bar that was found there. It was there that I spent a fair amount of my time outside of Dawson College, either between breaks, before school, after school, or when I should have been in class.

I met [Killer] and [SiB] at L’Enjeu. There were others, such as [TheClay] and [Fisher] of course (who could forget them!) but Killer and SiB were the only ones who I would hang out with in school. [NitroNilla] started played Steet Fighter Three pretty late in the era, but he’d become a regular as well. You’ve heard these arcade stories before though, so I don’t need to get into those. L’Enjeu changed names a few years back, and it closed down even more recently. All that remains is a darkened unused corner of the mall, oddly fitting it’s old nickame, “the Caves.” It’s doors remain shut and still like the maw of dead dragon.

Adjacent to the Caves was a quaint little place called “La Veille Europe”, which was a european style sandwich, cheese and coldcuts joint. Of course, they had all that other imported stuff too: like the cans of citrus soda embossed in italian; the greek pastries; the random soccer balls with English soccer club insignas on them. It had this theme going for it, something like a family general store owned by a buncha immigrants who did things in the way of ‘back home,’ and truth be told, in the grand scheme of Alexis Nihon’s budding self-procliamed fashionista image, it didn’t really fit in. But then again, that’s probably why this was found in the metro level and not on the top floor where all the food court franchises were.

Theme only goes so far of course, especially as far as starving students are concerned. La Veille Europe might be that kind of place that every student appreciates it’s friendly staff are the sort who really make you feel like a young adult, and not just some punk kids with a few dollars. What kept students coming back though was the food– the food was healthy and pretty cheap. Perfect for students breaking out of highschool who are unhealthy or broke, because they smoke, drink, or do marijuana.

I’d go there almost daily with Killer before heading to L’Enjeu… it was a routine, and it became a tradition. There were a couple of people who worked the two cash registers who knew could scan things, but if it didn’t scan they knew the numbers to everything in the store by heart anyway. There was one man working the meats and sausages counter, another working the sandwich section that that gave you way better than Subway. Later on they added a stand with a mini-press grill where they’d serve you perrogis with onions and tzadziki sauce. That became a later-era favorite.

So everyday, we’d line up at the sandwich line and chose two random coldcuts that we wanted. If you got it all dressed, the sandwich was practically a salad dish in a bun, that’s how much there was so much in there. The guy would ask us if we wanted a sauce, and we’d always go for the house special. It was just some basalmic vinegar and herbs, but we liked to think that in the midst of cold winters not unlike the one right now, it made us feel more mediteranean somehow. Killer and I are both Chinese. “What the hell is basalmic vinegar?” we’d think, like a buncha farmers out on the town.

The nice thing about a sandwich from La Veille Europe was that it came wrapped, and optionally cut in two. It was easy to handle, you could tear off or roll down a bit of paper at a time. It was mostly clean food. So, you could take that sub into the arcades and eat while walking, then standing. You’d put your tokens on the arcade’s dashboard to signal your challenge, and while you studied the opposition and got an idea of what you’d be up against, you were munching away, providing your gaming body and brain with the much needed fuel.

Yes, we’d spend so much time in those arcades that we’d have to eat before going in there. Some of the classics, like Time Crisis 2 and House of the Dead, as light gun shooters, required physical stamina to play for extended periods of time– thus, the food.

I suppose you can say that the main reason for Alexis Nihon’s popularity despite the fact that it had nothing really geat in it was that it was home to many conveniences. There’s a dentist, a health clinic, an optometrist. When it first opened up, my friends and I went to Nickels more than a few times and gorged ourselves on the Celine cakes served there. If you’ve never tried it, a Celine cake was something that cost about 8$ and weighed about 4 lbs in chocolate, icing, and fudge.

Some people I knew got hired at the Canadian Tire in the mall. I knew others who worked at the computer shop that used to be there, now gone, that I’d browse occasionally for games.

Religiously, some went to the dollar store for their can of pepsi, while some others went to the coffee shops for their brews.

Couples bought promise rings for their loved ones at the local jewelry shops, and flowers from the florist there. The Laura Secord had lineups leading up to Valentines’ Day.

For those of us who trained, on rainy days when we’d gone out and soaked through our shoes, we went to Athletes’ world and bought an econmomy pack of fresh, dry socks. Or at the Sports Experts, we’d go in and try out overpriced boxing gloves, pretending that we could afford to be as luxurious as brand name equipment, never really spending more than the few dollars it cost for the cheapest of boil-n-bite mouthguards.

There are many memories that come out of this mall, which was where we both got shit done, shot the shit, and just wasted time doing shit all.

Alexis Nihon (part 1)

While I attended high school at Royal West Academy, life was characterized by two things categories of activities. There was the official world, which were the academics the extra-cirricular activities that I’d attend during breaks or after school. I was in a whole bunch of clubs, teams and groups. To name the bunch that I can remember off the top of my head: chess club, backgammon club, D&D club, Magic (The Gathering) Club, darts club, intramural volleyball, inter-school volleyball, intramural badminton, flickerball, intramural handball, prefects, marching/concert band, jazz band, centaur theatre club, the school BBS…. You see, every year at RWA, we needed to earn three extra-cirricular activity credits– one was for a cultural credit (something that made you more cultured), one was for a community credit (some sort of volunteer or community work), and one was for a sports credit. Each club was worth one credit in a given category, with the exception of prefects (for which I was the head boy in my last year) and band (for which I was an officer for a couple of years and even earned the highest awards upon my graduation), which were worth two credits of your chosing, since they took up more than twice the amount of time of normal credit activities. I still earned something like ten credits or more every year, but whatevs, right? I didn’t really do them for the credits– I mean, I had more than enough. In part, it was to pass the time.

Despite doing all these things, I stuck to the same small group of core friends throughout highschool. It was a small group that developed slowly over time. I think grade 7 was all about being totally lost, and trying to see who of the other prisioners I could ally with.

But that was all the stuff that fit in category 1: the aboveground stuff.

That doesn’t include that activities I can’t remember, and it doesn’t include the things that we did just for fun or profit that didn’t earn us any credits. By the time I was in grade 11, I wasn’t just well networked with everyone (mostly people came to me, because I wasn’t necessarily their friends, but they knew to find me). I was running a highschool underground of loansharking, documents forgery, black ops (breaking into teachers offices) and blackmarket software and games. You have to consider that this was all at time where 14.4 modems still weren’t standard in houses, the Internet was far from being domestically widespread, scanners were prohibitibly expensive (especially for a poor highschooler) and CD burners were just becoming publicly available. Despite that I lived a sheltered life back then, I was pretty industrious, even given my circumstances, if I do say so. I knew a thing or two about investing, and sometimes that meant in hardware, sometimes it meant studies, sometimes it meant people.

It wasn’t that I was particularly outgoing or anything like that. I think it was because of my sheltered upbringing that I was so active at school– it was the only place that my parents would let me go to. It just seemed natural that if that was to be my playground, naturally, I would play.

But I’m not here to talk about high school. What I’d like to write about is what happened that changed after I graduated from highschool and went to college. And though Dawson College itself represented a major era, there was, like with Royal West, the ‘underground’ era which paralleled the time of my official education with a different branch.

Part of that branch was found here, in Alexis Nihon.

download

speechless

I was lying on the couch in my apartment, playing Mercernaris 2: World in Flames on the Xbox 360, when [Terminator] came in.

“What? Why aren’t you playing Mass Effect 2?” he asked, astonished.  For those of you who don’t know, Mass Effect, the original, was one of the best NorthAm-style RPGs (as opposed to what I consider Japanese RPGs) that I’ve ever played.  (Find more info on Wikipedia, or on the dedicated http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_Wiki.)  It is, standalone, one of the most complete and immersive worlds ever created in fiction, let alone space opera science fiction.  And then they made a sequel.

“I only found out about it like… yesterday, to be honest,” I explained, as I drove my hijacked Chinese anti-aircraft armor through a shantytown, sending ripple-reinforced sheets of tin and dirty wooden planks flying everywhere.

“And you didn’t buy it?”

“Well, it was sold out. That, and I don’t have money at the moment.”

He threw up his hands.

“Oh my God, you’re such a liar!”

You see, Terminator always gets on my case about not my money spending habits, but the lack thereof– my money saving habits.  It is one subject on our small list of subjects which we can never see eye to eye on.  In part, because I think his perspective is stupid– and in part, because I don’t take the time to go through explaining my point of view to him.

We handle our lives very differently, you see.  He tends to, as he says, live more in the moment– I see that as living from paycheque to paycheque, with barely a four figure account in savings despite that he’s turning 28 this year.  I’m not rich, but his smart-ass estimates that I’m worth low six-figures probably aren’t untrue, lets leave it at that.

The thing is, we’re similar in that we’re not working university education career jobs.  I didn’t need to finish univeristy to get the job that I have now, nor did he to get the job that he has.  We’re both good at what we do, but lets face it– we’re not earning six figure salaries.  We’re quite content if we hit that 25k mark without too much sweat per year I think.

But there’s one thing that I understand that he refuses to believe– we’re not going to be young forever.  And some day, when the work runs out for our young bodies, a government pension isn’t going to do jack squat for us.  So, I’ve started saving.

It comes down really to a different standard of living– he needs way more entertainment than I do.  We got into another debate a half hour after the Mass Effect thing– he said that we could use a blu-ray player. I jokingly suggested he should get a PS3, since it makes sense– it’s pretty much the most cost effective blu-ray player out there after all.  He said he’d be up for that– at which point I said I didn’t want one though, why would we need it?  The Xbox handles everything I need gaming wise, since there are so many titles I haven’t even played yet. We could just fork out the 40 bucks or so for an HDMI cable (since mine didn’t come with one) and that’d already be an upgrade.

You see, I don’t care 400$ enough to upgrade from DVD quality video to blu-ray.  It would be nice if everything was sharper, but really?  Does that mean that because we can, we should?

The Mass Effect 2 issue is the same.  I have no doubt it is a good game– but do I need to pay that premium to play it now  when it’s over 60 bucks on the shelf?  As it stands, I’m actually discontinuing my Blockbuster Gamerpass membership (which lets me rent unlimited games per month, one at a time, for the cost of 30 bucks per month) because I want to save those 30 bucks.  It’s not because I’m being cheap– but Zack borrowed Elder Scrolls: Tales of Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed 2, and Boderlands.  If you’re not into games, you don’t need to know them to understand my argument– I have more entertainment than I have time for, and it’s free.  Why would I stockpile more that I won’t use, or won’t appreciate?

I’m the kind of person who likes to cook, doesn’t necessarily like to do dishes.  I love cooking for [Supergirl], I love it when she cooks for me. There’s a certain je-ne-sais quoi that just makes everything taste better.  At the same time, when we go out every now and then, I’m not just paying for food, but for the memory of it– the atmosphere, the walk, the talk.

Terminator though buys takeout food almost everyday for himself and his gf (my other roomie) SoCool and, when you add up the bills, that’s an easy way to burn away your wallet.

I usually wait for tuesdays to watch movies.  He sees them when they first come out.

I go out to the bar with friends, occasionally.  Maybe once a month? He smokes marijuana almost daily.

It’s not rocket math to see how it is that I save at least 40% of my salary, still manage to pay all my bills and my rent, and even some of my family’s.

Does it seem like I’m looking down on him?

In some ways, I do.  Simply.

And it’s not because of our different choices in lifestyle, or our networths, or whatever– it’s this whole attitude that he’s got to ‘teach me’ something about enjoying life.  THis isn’t to say I have nothing to learn about enjoying life, and that he has nothing to teach– but a take no prisoners attitude doesn’t serve much good. I enjoy my life quite a bit, thank you very much.  But you don’t see me going around and starting shit with people because I don’t agree with the way you live.

Mind you, if you ask my opinion, I’ll tell you– I’m not shy about my decisions in life, and I have though through almost everything as much as I can.  There is reasoning behind everything I do, and if you want to discuss it with me, maybe you can add to it.

But to just waltz in and call me a liar when I say I have no money to buy Mass Effect 2?

THat sounds like a silly trigger.  It needs some clarification.  It isn’t that I don’t have money.  And it isn’t just that I don’t have money to waste.  It’s that he and I have different priorities in life– why should his be any more important than mine that he thinks he’s got some right to try and make me look cheap?  It’s a personal attack, really.

That night, I was kinda sick, so I wasn’t in the mood.  That, and I make a habit of not arguing with Terminator.  It’s a choose your battles sort of situation.  I respect him intensely as a friend because he’s solid backup if I’m ever in trouble– he’s dependable whenever I ask and he’s made up of mostly good moral fibre. However, his effectiveness, like the effectivness of many (including myself) also means that he can be a total asshole at times, and there is simply no arguing with assholes while they’re being assholes.

I don’t take him too seriously because if I were to confront him about it, he’s just back down and joke it off, and because the conflict wouldn’t be worth the reward in our apartment setting.  But still….

So I just play the bigger man, and sorta let it drop.

I’m not sure if it’s a testament to how close we are, that we know which buttons about eachother to push and to not push, or if it’s a testament to how little we actually trust or give eachother credit for, that we don’t really get down to the nitty gritty.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Supergirl and got into a bit of an argument the other day.  I’m not comfortable writing about the context of the argument because she reads this Xanga now, but it’s not entirely relevant in any case.

The important part is that I’m trying to like… enforce this transparency between us.  I like that word: transparency.  You hear it a lot in politics.

It’s not that I expect her to tell me everything, nor that I need to tell her everything (stop it with your cliches!) but anything that’s really important is something we can probably work on better together.  This is something that means that, yes, we’re going to butt heads, we’re going to hurt eachother, but at least we’ll be living a real relationship instead of something built on the fantasies of one.  It’s kind of a new approach for me as far as relationships go, but necessarily so– with my previous relationships, I guess that if I had to sum up the reasons why I’d suggested breaking up, it was over lacks of communication.  There was a disconnect between what was being said, what was, and what was being done.

With Supergiril, if I may now be allowed to use a cliche, things are different.  I worry intensely about making her unhappy.  It’s always something that I worry about.  But not so much that I will avoid an argument with her about something important to us.  Part of why I love her so much is because she’s tough like that.  If she wants the truth, she can handle the truth.

Looking about it, there are very few people with whom I have this sort of relationship.  [Zanshin] is one.  I think if anything reaffrmed that to me it’s when we spent time out in Asia together– it didn’t break us, simply.  [SiB] is another.  We were talking about women a week ago, and I told him:

“I’m glad you’re dating again.  It’s much better than the SiB who is single and hating all the time.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” I added.  “We make fun of your dating habits all the time.  But you’re doing the right thing!”

“Wait.  What do you mean? ‘We make fun of your dating habits all the time?'”

Well, the thing is, [SiB], in my circle, is considered to be one of the sleaziest and promiscuous of our friends, jokingly.  But only jokingly, because we love him, and at least he’s putting in efforst to fine the one for him.

“You bastards.”

“But we mean it in a nice way.”

At which point we got into a bit of an argument, but one of those ‘not-really’ arguments where he’s mostly deffending his pride and reputation than really disagreeing with us.  But image aside, he’s a solid guy who we can tell the truth.  In the end he knows that I, we, beleive this of him, and that’s why we can call him names and get into fights with him about anything, because he does it and we do it because we care.

It’s so hard to find people like that in our lives, isn’t it?