Sunday, January 29, 2006

week-end?

This being Sunday, you'd think that I'd already have been well into my weekend. Instead, I'm going into the office this morning - again. Meh, I need a vacation. Somebody, get me outta here!


The gorgeous waters of the expansive Pacific at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California (2005). I wish I were spending my weekend here instead of at the office. I took this photo with my Olympus Stylus 35mm last January (on a day I wasn't at the office).

Thursday, January 26, 2006

under the southern cross

G'day! Fourscore and, um, 138 years ago today, Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in New South Wales to begin his gubernatorial (haha, gubernatorial) career as the fledgling penal colony's inaugural governor. Though it probably didn't seem like such a momentous occasion at the time, the very first Australia Day was nevertheless born and, pretty well ever since, January 26 has been a day of celebration for our friends in the land of koalas, didgeridoos and vegemite.


From left to right, downtown Sydney, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (2000). Of all the urban waterfronts I've seen, I still think Sydney's is the most spectacular. I took this photo with my Kodak F300 APS from the back of the ferry to Manly Beach.

Actually, I was going to bore everybody with another one of my Australia travel stories but luckily for you, it's getting quite late here tonight, so we'll have to leave it for another day. Before I sign off though, just want to wish you all a very Happy Australia Day, whether or not you're situated under the stars of the Southern Cross. If you see a kangaroo today, make sure to give it a hug!


Lazing about in Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia (2000). I didn't take this photo, my friend Cathrin did. She's now at home in Sweden with her new baby girl.


Yes, I know I've posted this picture on this site before but it's the only file photo of a kangaroo and koala I have on hand, ok? Note that the bear isn't Australian but as felix's daily starfish and waffles' Editor-in-Chief, he acts as our goodwill ambassador in most of our international dealings. Happy Australia Day!

Monday, January 23, 2006

decision 2006: soda or pop?

It's the eve of a national election here in Canada, the second one in 18 months. (Now together everyone, a sarcastic "Yippee!!") But regardless of who ends up winning, I predict that the triumphant party will struggle with the tall task of bridging the gap and reaching out to the other side. No, I'm not talking about the heated rivalry between Liberal and Conservative but rather a division that runs much deeper in the psyche of all Canadians ... yes, that's right, I mean the long-running debate on whether one refers to his or her soft drink as "soda" or "pop."


The Canada Citrus Crush: a.k.a. the drink that saved Confederation.

Now, even though I'm still in my youthful, sexy years, I've had the opportunity to live in several different parts of this great, diverse country. And at each stop along the way, I've always been fascinated at how some people say "soda" and others say "pop." But who's right and who's wrong? Well, this patriot says it's about time that the issue be settled once and for all. Why? Because as wannabe Canadian Sam Houston once stated: "A nation divided against itself cannot stand!"

Therefore, in the interests of saving Canada, we here at the non-partisan headquarters of felix's daily starfish and waffles have been working all night to come up with a solution ... and in these early morning hours, I believe we have the answer. We present you with ... (drum roll, please) ... the Canada Citrus Crush, a carbonated drink so neutral, so whitebread, so middle-of-the-road, so devoid of visionary leadership and, most importantly, so infused with alcohol, it is guaranteed to unite this divided nation faster than you can say "gubernatorial." Haha, gubernatorial. I love that word.

Canada Citrus Crush
0.67 oz. Vodka
1.35 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Club Soda
4 to 6 oz. Five Fruit Citrus Juice

Pour the ingredients in the order listed over ice in a tall juice glass. Stir and garnish with a slice of orange. Drink and get liquored up!

P.S. Note the name of the drink is the Canada Citrus Crush and not the Canada Citrus Soda or Canada Citrus Pop. Am I a political genius, or what?

P.P.S. I am really, really drunk right now.

Interested in learning more about the soda versus pop controversy? While researching the background for this post, I stumbled upon this interesting website. Go there and find out whether or not you're in the majority in your particular part of North America.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

my simulated reality tv life: episode eight

The most popular simulated reality series in prime time, My Simulated Reality TV Life is carrying the type of momentum that couldn't be stopped even by a lethal roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris himself. Miss the last episode? Click here for a rerun. New to the series? Click here to start at the very beginning. Now don't touch that remote, tonight's episode begins ... now!


Simulated Felix gives baby Felicia a bath in the washroom sink after discovering this is a more effective way to bathe the cute little newborn than hosing her off in the backyard.

Episode Eight
When one wants to learn how to swim, there are swimming lessons available. When one gets a new job, there's on-the-job training. Why, then, is there no formal course available for those who want to be good parents, which is maybe one of the most important jobs around?

Even though we're well-meaning and are head-over-heels in love with our newborn, the simulated me and Bridgette could have used a little more coaching in the parenting department. Let's face it: mistakes have been made. First, there was the unfortunate experiment of trying to be environmentally-conscious and not diapering baby Felicia, thereby letting nature run its course to extremely messy results. Then, there was the time we tried to bathe her by spraying her with the garden hose - yikes, she didn't like that. Oops!

Luckily, little Felicia is proving to be a resilient (and forgiving) baby, and Bridgette and I are starting to slowly get a hang of this whole parenting gig, as can be measured by the decreasing number of visits from the friendly, neighbourhood social worker. Although it's still early days and we definitely aren't out of the woods yet, Felicia may yet grow up normal and well-adjusted - in contrast to her parents!


Still perfecting her technique, Bridgette loses Felicia under a storm cloud of baby powder during a regrettable diaper change.


Fortunately, Bridgette's innate "zerberting" abilities provide reason for optimism.


One of the best things about being new parents is having the opportunity to play with your kid's fun selection of toys. In the above picture, Felicia's teddy bear appears to be having a heated discussion with Bridgette about this week's New York Times bestsellers list. "That Harry Potter is nothing but a dirty little whore!" argues the bear in emphatic fashion.

And oh yes, finally some news for simulated Felix to report on the job front ... I got a new (legitimate) job! In the army, being all I can be as a new recruit. Sure, it's going to be physically-demanding and the pay is piss-poor, but with a new mouth to feed and Bridgette on unpaid maternity leave, it's time for me to step up and be a simulated man. And besides, I get to carry a gun!

***
Will simulated Felix and Bridgette continue to improve as parents or will Felicia be forced to pin her own diapers? Will simulated Felix make it through basic army training without accidently blowing somebody up? Can Bridgette get herself back into shape so she can resume her once-promising semi-pro soccer career? Be sure you tune in to the next episode of My Simulated Reality TV Life to keep current on the continuing adventures of simulated Felix, Bridgette, and Felicia!


The simulated me, dressed in full military garb, preparing for another long day of target practice and push-ups. Let's hope the simulated government doesn't decide to ship me off to another continent to fight in a meaningless simulated war.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

photo of the day

It's been a very long and stressful week at work. Not much interesting to write about today. So how about just a picture? Hope you're having a good weekend.


Looking east from Alamo Square, a view of the "painted ladies" row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street, with the skyline of downtown San Francisco emerging from the ubiquitous Bay Area fog in the background (2005). Photo taken with my Olympus Stylus 35mm, which is now missing-in-action. If you're the one who stole my camera, give it back!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the guggenheim museum dingobear

Welcome to the Guggenheim Museum Dingobear, the sixth and arguably, best, art museum in the Guggenheim* universe. Unfortunately, the Guggenheim Dingobear is not yet particularly well-known among the circles of the international fine art elite. Well, tonight, we're going to take the first steps toward changing that, as we begin to profile the extensive holdings of the museum exclusively on felix's daily starfish and waffles.

* Note: the Guggenheim Museum Dingobear is, in no shape or form, affiliated with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation of New York.


Untitled, by Unknown Artist. c. 1999-2000(?) Watercolor on cardboard. Hangs in the Pablo R. Picasso Wing of the Guggenheim Dingobear, also better known as the North wall of Felix's apartment.
***
Can you read Chinese script? If you can, and can translate into English for (Chinese illiterate) me the poems written alongside the dragon, you qualify to win a prize! To see the Chinese characters more clearly, click on the photo to magnify.
***
I acquired the above painting along with two other priceless treasures at a store in the stupendously outstanding Changi Airport, Singapore, for the princely sum of 10 Singapore dollars (that's about 7 Canadian dollars or 6 US dollars) while en route to Seoul and Vancouver from Brisbane in August 2000. Angele would frame and matte the painting for me a couple of years later. One of the things I always loved about her was her ability to see, and bring out, the beauty in things. I kinda wish I would've told her that when she was still around. Maybe next time, should our paths cross again ...

Friday, January 06, 2006

second season

When I was back home visiting my folks over the Christmas holidays, I had the chance to sit down with Steve, an old buddy of mine, and catch up over a few drinks, during which he reminded me that our 10-year high school reunion was coming up this May. After hearing this, my mind formed three thoughts in rapid succession: (1) I'm getting old (2) has it really been 10 years? and (3) I'm not sure I want to go to my high school reunion.


Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada (2003). Although I went to university in neighbouring New Brunswick, having the opportunity to be in Nova Scotia - and, therefore, Atlantic Canada - in 2003 after a three-year hiatus brought back a lot of memories. I took this photo of the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove on a rainy and blustery July afternoon with my Olympus Stylus 35mm. Interesting factoid: the Peggy's Cove post office is inside the lighthouse!

***
Surely, human memory is underrated in its capacity to hold vast quantities of information on past occurences, events, and incidents. But human memory is also a bit funny in that easily accessing much of what's stored up there can often be a difficult proposition and, by no means, an on-demand operation. Even funnier is how some old memories thought to have been long forgotten are triggered by something seemingly and completely unrelated.

So, that in mind, I think it's funny what I'm remembering right now: a book they made us read in English class, when I was in my senior year of high school. Namely, The Second Season of Jonas MacPherson, by Lesley Choyce. Good book, from what I can recall, but also a bit of sad book. Set in Nova Scotia (which is one of Canada's Atlantic provinces, for those of you readers out there who aren't from my country), the hero of the story is Jonas MacPherson, an old, lonely, recluse of a man who's mourning the recent death of his beloved wife while simultaneously struggling against the impending day of his own death. And in the twilight of his days, there are memories and flashbacks of his life. Quite a few of them, in fact, each representing a chapter in the novel. And for whatever reason, tonight, one of those chapters has been sticking out in my mind.

The chapter goes, more or less, something like this: imagine a gorgeous fall, Nova Scotia morning where the sun is shining but the air is crisp (or, if you're an American, think New England in October). Picture a teenaged Jonas hiking along the endless, rocky Atlantic shoreline. He hikes for miles and miles, further than he's ever gone before, crossing numerous creeks and streams that are emptying out into the sea. Then, on a whim, he decides to follow one of these creeks upstream into the woods.

Now picture a canopy of red, orange and golden maple trees lining both sides of the salmon-filled, fast-flowing creek. Jonas, filled with a sense of adventure, is overjoyed at the propsect of trekking through untouched nature. Something compels him to hike toward the source of creek, so he does. Deeper and deeper into the woods he goes until he finally arrives at the source, a bubbling brook. He stops for a moment, takes a look around and decides to dip his hands into water to get a quick drink before he turns the other direction to head back home. Except when he tries to do this, he slips on a slippery, moss-covered rock, bangs his forehead and is knocked out cold.

It must be hours later when he finally awakens. Standing over him is a beautiful girl who's dressed in rags - but even still, she's the most beautiful girl that he has ever seen. She has a look of pity, concern and compassion on her face. Without saying anything, she helps Jonas up and leads him by the hand, away from the creek. Jonas, still dazed and confused, follows without protest, as if this were all a dream.

They stop when they arrive at a dilapidated, ramshackle, log cabin. Silently, the girl takes him inside and sits him down on a tree stump on the dirt floor. Without a word, she dampens a cloth and begins cleaning the cut on Jonas' forehead. By now, some of Jonas' coherence is coming back and he starts to put a few facts together ... the rundown log cabin ... the girl's shoddy clothes ... the fact that the girl doesn't speak and appears to be deaf. All of a sudden, Jonas has simultaneous emotions of wanting to help her and feeling badly at how he's inconvenienced her with his clumsiness. So he blurts out something to extent of, "I'm sorry - I'm so sorry."

The girl reads his lips and takes offense. Immediately the look of compassion on her face turns to one of anger, then rage. She throws him out of her cabin, hitting him all the while, and furiously motions toward the creek, gesturing for him to leave, to get out of her part of the woods. Shocked and dismayed, Jonas obeys, follows the creek downstream back to sea, and goes home.

After thinking about the girl all winter, early the next spring Jonas once again hikes far along the shoreline, looking for the creek he had followed upstream the previous fall. He doesn't find it. The next year, he looks again. Once more, no luck. Then, finally, the year after that, he follows a salmon-filled creek lined with maples on both sides and, after a considerable hike, rediscovers the familiar cabin. Except now it's been completely abandoned, and any trace of the girl who presumably once lived there, is gone.

In this case, lightning doesn't strike twice.

***
Tonight, this is what I remember of a book I only read once 10 years ago. How accurate a depiction I just gave depends on of how well my memory recorded it - and if I were to guess, it probably wasn't all that accurate. But what I do know is that when I was reading the book at the time, I remember thinking to myself that if I had been in Jonas' shoes and had hiked up along that creek and met that beautiful girl, I wouldn't have fucked things up by saying something stupid like "I'm sorry."

Little did I know at the time that less than a year later, I would choose to leave the comforts of home to go to university three time zones away, clear across the country in Atlantic Canada. Funny thing, by the time I got there I had forgotten about the book and never once during my four years on the East Coast did I think of The Second Season of Jonas MacPherson. Consequently, I never did hike up a salmon-filled stream in the middle of the maple forest only to hit my head on a rock and meet a gorgeous deaf girl.

Well, at least not that I remember.

So there you have it, in my most crap-tacular post yet, that's about all I have to say tonight. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned here someplace or a moral to this story, but at this hour in my sleep-deprived state, I'm in no condition to think of it.

Before I sign off, I just have one last thought: I'm not sure I want to go to my high school reunion.

Monday, January 02, 2006

my simulated reality tv life: episode seven

The adventures of simulated Felix and pregnant Bridgette continue in tonight's all-new My Simulated Reality TV Life, the simulated reality show so wild and crazy we would be crazy to make this stuff up. Yep, crazy. Foggy about what happened in the last episode? Click here for a quick refresher. New to the series? Click here and start at the beginning. I hope your popcorn, hot franks and soda are ready to go, because tonight's episode starts in under three seconds.


"What were you thinking?" The simulated me gets a stern lecture and a $50 fine from policewoman Demi for selling liquor in front of my house without a license. $50! A little excessive, don't you think? I mean, come on ... only like, half of my customers were minors.

Episode Seven
In retrospect, I guess I should've known that the big money I was making through the unlicensed sale of liquor on my front lawn was too good to be true. Damn laws! They always get in the way, even for victimless crimes. But there's no time to philosophize about the flagrant shortcomings of our legal system, because here come the cops. Think, simulated Felix, think! We're going to need a good story to get ourselves out of this one.

The police officer gets out of her cruiser and begins walking toward me. Apparently not being able to come up with a decent explanation, I expediently abandon my post behind my "lemonade" stand and run into the house. No way she'll look for me in there. Stupendous plan, simulated Felix!

But somehow, the brilliant plan fails when there's a firm knock at the door. I slowly answer with a nervous smile and the policewoman, with her arms crossed, does not look very happy. Ohhh, geez. As you might expect, the officer begins angrily lecturing me about my poor lack of judgment. You know, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah. And blah.

As the conversation grows longer, I start to become concerned she's going to cart me off to prison. Hmmm, better pull out all of the stops. I put on my sad, puppy dog, "I'm sorry" face. The police officer abruptly stops yappin'. I cringe as she delivers the verdict of ...

A $50 fine. Phew! All things considered, I'd say I got off easy. As an added bonus, wife Bridgette, who's been napping during the entire incident, doesn't even wake up. What a relief! I would've really been in trouble then. Thankfully, no creature on God's green Earth weasels himself out of sticky situations better than the simulated me! (Well, with the exception of possibly the weasel).


Pregnant Bridgette and the simulated me spend a quiet evening at home playing chess. And no, the fact that we're playing chess DOES NOT imply that we're nerds.

Getting back to Bridgette, her tummy's starting to get pretty huge. I guess nine months in my simulated world goes by rather quickly, and it looks like the baby is going to be arriving very soon. Exciting stuff! But also nerve-wracking stuff. You can kind of tell Bridgette and I are getting a bit anxious in anticipation just by all the time we've spending with each other. But of course, this makes sense since we're very committed and definitely in this together. After all, it's uter-US, not uter-ME.

Then, one morning, Bridgette begins yelping like a wounded coyote. The time has come! I'll spare you details of the gory miracle and get straight to the part you've been waiting for. It's a ...

Girl! A beautiful baby girl. She's bald as a cueball and makes funny gurgling noises, but we love her anyway.

And for naming purposes, I'm very glad it's a girl. It means that I don't have to be one of those pompous, egomaniacal dads who names his son after himself, suffixed with a Jr. Felix, Jr. Ha! Could you imagine? Instead, I'm free to name my little girl whatever I want. So I come up with the only name that's suitable for her: Felicia. Yep, she's definitely a Felicia. It's a really nice name, don't you think?


A jubilant Bridgette feeds baby Felicia a bottle. No word on whether the bottle contains formula or milk that's been pumped from Bridgette's left boob.


Bridgette says good morning to Felicia. Haha, check out the confused look on simulated Felix's face. By the way, doesn't Bridgette's figure look amazing only two days after the birth of Felicia?

What adventures await for Bridgette and I beyond them thar hills of simulated parenthood? Remember to tune into the next episode of My Simulated Reality TV Life and find out!


Clink!! Toasting a new baby and a new year, simulated Felix and Bridgette celebrate with a glass of bubbly. Happy 2006 from simulated Felix, Bridgette, Felicia and the rest of the cast and crew of My Simulated Reality TV Life.