Monday, December 25, 2006

Absent Marks

The Obligatory Christmas Day Post

I thought maybe I had it all wrong: why would Ryerson, charming school it is, make its students Fall 2006 marks available on Christmas Day. But I checked the e-mail I had been sent a number times, and there it was: "Fall 2006 grades will be available via RAMSS at 8:00 am on Monday, December 25th."

Around noon, I checked. Nothing. No marks posted.

Around 20 minutes ago, I checked Publish or Perish, and saw Kerry had posted one of her marks. So, I checked RAMSS again. Nothing. No marks posted.

I read the rules again: "Please note that your grades will be withheld if you have any outstanding obligations to the University." I checked my account summary in RAMSS. I don't owe anything to Ryerson, but the school owes me some $220. A nice gift indeed, if I get it.

So, I'm clear of any "obligations" to Ryerson. What's the problem? Why no marks?

If I were to make a Christmas Day guess (and you only get to make these on Christmas Day), I would guess that the person who is to mark me, the marker we shall call her, has forgotten her deadline. So if the marker a.k.a. we know who I'm talking about forgot to do her job (ahem - again), then I have no marks to see until the marker does her job.

I hope this isn't the case, but it's the only plausible explanation that comes to me so late on Christmas Day.

Of the gifts I got none came from the online stream.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Staying Awake

Christmas Eve Shift All About Not Getting Too Bored

Since I've got to work, I've read the Sunday New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, visited my approved links to the left, and am about to start in on the year-ender and year-starter New Yorker issue. Not bored yet, but that's because I'm becoming a professional at avoiding boredom when the only options are a) be bored and b) be bored eventually.

I walked through the PATH to work today: only homeless-looking folks and people drinking coffee. One person had a copy of the Toronto Sun, still Toronto's worst newspaper. On Friday, some friends and I saw an intentionally bad movie called "Eragon." How bad is the film? Consider: in print ads in the New York Times, "Eragon" quotes the Toronto Sun's good review. 'Nuff said, my friends.

The streets of Toronto looked empty until I stepped out of the alley I was in and saw the the big ones (King, Yonge, etc.) had some life.

It's Christmas Eve after all. And I have avoiding boredom to get back to.

Have a great Christmas, everyone.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Final Semester

A Continuation in the Series of Speculative Writings About the Final Semester

I'm a few days away from finalizing my final semester schedule. If I can make a switch, it's between the radio documentary and freelance; I'll take whichever I can get.

Both of those classes may sound more ambitious than the great journalism class, but I'm making the switch in the hope of making my final semester more like a short 13-week epilogue to a 91-week story.

I've realized that I have no ambition as I walk to the end of my school career. I've given up on winning any of the School of Journalism's awards, like the best journalist. And I doubt I'll apply for any of the work-based awards, like best business feature.

My ambition, you see, has been replaced with the realization that winning any of these awards means nothing. I can't remember the last time I read a story about a great Canadian journalist who also won the J-skool's top journalist award in his or her final year at Ryerson. I can't remember, because I doubt it's ever happened.

That doesn't mean the School of Journalism's awards are meaningless--okay, it does mean those awards are meaningless. The student journalist who works hard towards winning any of the awards is wasting time. Besides that student impressing the parents, he or she has proved nothing in the "real world."

So, I'll show no ambition in my final semester. I'll write my assignments, and go on with my business, and after the 13 weeks evaporate like a dab of water on a hot summer day, it'll be close to the summer, the one that doesn't end with going back to school.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Festive Season

Merry Christmas, and Go Fuck Yourself

Everyone who knows me knows that this is my favourite time of year. It's a chance to avoid the family, and with the extra time, make people I don't know miserable. Now that I'm at the start of three off days ahead of the weekend, I have time to do what I like doing best: act the jolly asshole.

If I'm to have any success, I need a plan of action, one I'll share with you, so you can also spread holiday misery.


Never ending lines and unreasonable customers make retail workers an easy target to antagonize. One of my favourite games I like to play on this crowd is "Oh, I already have it."

Find an obscure item, something a store would be foolish to have more than one or two copies of, like Taylor Hicks new album, "Shit" (a great stocking stuffer for someone you hate).

With said item in hand, go to a stock clerk who looks overworked and tired, and ask him to find you a copy. If you're lucky, the stock clerk will wearily search for the item and actually find it. As soon as the clerk hands you the found item, show that you already have it. Then WALK AWAY.


While many clerks deserve to be abused, it's actually a duty to abuse many customers. One effective way is to play "I'm sorry. I thought this was the returns cart."

Find a customer, who looks easily annoyed, to follow around the store. When the customer moves away from her cart, grab something from it and walk away. Don't go too far, because you want to continue to remove items from the cart until you're caught. It's better if you can take something from the cart in short supply, like a Nintendo Wii or a Pope Benedict XVI bobble head.

When you're caught, if you're successful, the customer will be annoyed and angered. When she confronts you about grabbing items from her cart, coolly reply that you thought it was the returns cart. Then WALK AWAY.


In the spirit of giving, many people foolishly donate pocket change to charities during the holidays. But if these charities were in such need of money, they would steal it like the people who run MADD.

It's time to play "Fake Left, Turn Right."

Approach a hapless charity volunteer. She wants you to give money, but the only thing you should give are looks of disgust. But today, you won't give anything. You need to be convincing in your approach: make eye contact, and reach for your wallet. Get to a couple of feet from the volunteer, and make note of her hopeful smile. Pull out a bill or two, pause, and put the money back in your wallet. Then WALK AWAY.

These three games bring me loads of joy every holiday season. But remember to always punctuate your acts of Christmas cruelty with a wonderful, toothy smile. Just because your victims frown, doesn't mean you shouldn't show your joy.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Last Published

It's Been A Week

My blog post drought has nothing to do with avoiding my blog, but everything to do with my laziness to come up with something worth writing about.

So, I've taken the easy way out, and decided to write about not writing. Isn't this the writer's cheapest way of writing?

I remember in first-year reporting (oh, "Yawn," right?), when at my most desperate moment, I considered making my final assignment, a column, about not having an idea to write.

I didn't write that shit column, but another: one about my hatred of GO Transit. That column, which today would probably be better (keyword: "probably"), was devoid of any wit and it had literary aspirations. It was stupid, and I misused a cliché -- misused a damn cliché.

Today, I'd say I'm a better writer than I was then. I'm a better blog writer than I was in February. I cringe at some of my previous posts. I'll cringe at this one.

But I'll survive, and come back to write something "new," something good, and I hope, something better than the last thing I wrote.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Coming Home

A Bunch of Incomplete Thoughts on a Return to the Old Desk

Tonight is my first night back at the CP online desk. In the last seven weeks, I've worked one shift here on the weekend. Everything is familiar and mostly unchanged.

There are new flatscreen monitors and there is a new copy send box, but those things aren't entirely different than what I left. The Leafs are losing, too.

I started tonight's shift bored almost instantly. I searched for gum from one of the four packages (is that too many?) I had in my bag. I'm chewing some now, and I hope the minutes move faster.

For some reason, I can't get "Albion" out of my head.

(Unliteral) Yawn.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

$75 Mistake


Everyone knows that the job of the driving tester is to fail the driver. If a tester can find a reason to fail a driver, then pat-on-the-back, it's a job well done.

So when I made a dumbass, impatient mistake in my G test this morning, I knew I failed instantly. The mistake: making a right on a red when I should have waited a few more seconds.

The tester told me that he failed me for only that reason. The yellow sheet I got at the end barely had any mistakes checked off, with the exception of the giant fuck up I committed.

There went my $75, and here comes another god damn headache.

Considering I've spent less than 70 hours driving a car in the five years I've had my G1/G2 license, I shouldn't be surprised to fail my first attempt at the G. But considering I only made one mistake, I'm hating just a bit more than usual.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hold On?

Recycling Old Issues

It seems almost ridiculous that someone so online-inclined (online journalism stream, online journalism jobs (I've held three), and online time-waster), that I'd have a hard time discarding old papery things, like magazines from two years ago.

Hell, it makes no sense when I know that the magazines I'm holding on to for some unknown future reference are being catalogued on more than one Internet database. And the beauty of these Internet databases are they are keyword searchable. If I remember a story I once read in some magazine two years ago (good luck), then I could type in a keyword and find the story (maybe). And you already knew that.

So why would I hold on these old magazines, sitting collecting dust? I'm not sure. But lately I've been trying to shrink the space my things occupy. I'm going for minimalism; making it possible to pack quickly and go. Go where? You tell me.

But if I've already dropped the old magazines in the gray box, I'll be a bit quicker in leaving.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Get Drunk

Drinks on the Union

I thought I had been drunk before. But I found out I hadn't been until last night. Oh, the boozing I did.

In attempt to get back some of my union dues this year, I decided to take up the Guild's offer to pay for my (and everyone's) drinks at the union-sponsored Christmas party. I went drink-for-drink with Tim: hard liquor with a few shots. By the time the student onliners decided to head to the second party that had started at a karoake bar a little further on Front Street, I was a staggering mess.

The other time I thought I had been drunk, I felt I could shake off the effects of the liquor. At the free drinks bar, I had only gone into a 'greatest hits' routine of Canadian Press insults. At the karoake bar, I was trapped, making consecutive dumb comments and probably coming off as a drunk-ass moron.

The moral of all of this (god, I hate this construction), is to make sure everyone else is as drunk as you, so they won't remember much. I think I might be in the clear.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Beyond April

Continuing the Theme of Looking Ahead

It's almost too easy to forget that after June when I have a degree, that I'll still only be 21. At that time, I might be working at Canadian Press or some other media outlet. But I'm not entirely sure that's the right thing to do.

Today, I don't see how I'll be working full-time in June and actually be doing something I want to do. And should I do it? Should I work somewhere strictly for the money and forget happiness? I've done that for six years, do I really want to start life after school that way? But I know that happiness isn't instant, and that I'll have to fight for what I want.

I have three choices to consider beyond April:

- continue to work part-time at Canadian Press
- work full-time somewhere
- take a break from school (permanent) and work (temporary)

Those three choices keep spinning in my head.