Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In school, math was not my strength (five years of counting 7000 packs of cigarettes each night solved that problem). English, on the other hand, was.

My spelling was well advanced of my age, and I taught myself how to read (through the aid of Star Wars read-along books...back when they came with records tucked into the back cover, then also when they came with audio tapes).

I was reading Stephen King by age 10 (Cujo has a particularly inappropriate chapter for a 10-year old), and Douglas Adams by 12.

It was the only class I ever did consistently well in, until my last two years of high school when video productions became an option.

I love words. I'm fascinated by punctuation. I am excited at the prospect of good grammar.

And I am utterly furious that the language I know as English is regularly raped and abused by people who claim to speak it.

The biggest offender of recent years? Guard yourself for truth:

Google is not a verb.

That's right. I have had entirely enough of people telling me to "google" things. Just as I do not refer to tissue as "kleenex", nor do I ask for a "coke" when what I really want is a Sprite, I refuse to "google" something what what I really want to do is "search for a topic on the internet".

No, I do not care how many dictionaries include a company name as a transitive verb. It is not. No matter how many times advertising asked us "Do you Yahoo?", I don't believe anyone actually has Yahooed anything. I certainly don't recall numerous news articles relating to the addition of "Yahoo" into this dictionary or that as term referring to the use of an internet search engine.

So why "google"?

What is so special about "google" that it deserves a permanent place in our language, with a definition that does not necessarily require the use of the Google search engine in order for the term to apply?

That's right. "Google" is intended to be a general term. It's defined as being any internet search query using any internet search engine. You might find yourself "googling Webcrawler on Yahoo" if you're not careful.

I recently found myself in a heated argument about this very topic. When I decided to stop, accepting that my opponent would not be swayed on the matter, I was told that I should "Pick [my] battles".

Pick my battles? The entire sum of my post-secondary education - many thousands of dollars thereof - revolves around the English language, either in it's application or it's construction. The addition of a word like "googled" to the dictionary is like having someone piss on my face: I didn't ask for it, I don't want it, I don't appreciate it, and it is as offensive as it is abusive. Pick my battles? Hell, this is the battle I spent most of my life preparing for! The problem is that I'm hopelessly outnumbered, and most of the enemy doesn't even realize that they've started a war.

I don't substitute numbers for words. I know how to use a comma and an apostrophe.

I know how to spell apostrophe.

I do not err when employing the variations of your and you're or too, to and two.

And if everyone on earth who had ever used "google" as a verb were to die tomorrow, I would be one step closer to knowing true happiness.

Because I would still be here.

And I would have one less battle to fight.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


For someone as opposed to social interactions as myself, you might be surprised to know how infrequently I shop online. Having had my credit card number stolen and abused (repeatedly - that's a tale for another time, however), I tend to limit my online shopping to rarities that cannot be found within a reasonable distance from my home. And yet my habit of collecting things and an impulsive nature lead me down crowded aisles more often than not.

I really like buying things. I'm obsessed with technology - gadgets, toys, electronics. Likely a side effect of growing up in the 80's.

Now, as a relatively responsible adult with a pretty decent credit rating (and the heart of a kid who never really wanted to grow up), I want to buy neat things. It doesn't help that I can walk past a big box electronics store, a huge media store, a 3-floor bookstore, and a comics & collectibles shop on my way home from work.

The problem with all these wonderful stores is the same problem with everything else in my life - they are brimming with people.

When I go to buy a new dvd, I just want to get in and get out. I don't want to have to wait. I don't want to have to fight my way past people clamouring over Larry the Cable Guy or Scary Movie 3. I hate other people's taste in movies!

When I have to brave the comic shop, I don't want to have to wait until other patrons shuffle their huge, Comic Book Guy asses over to the cash register before I can do my shopping! Why did the owners of this store arrange the shelves to make the aisles so narrow anyway? Don't they know who most of their customers are?

And Christmas.

I used to love Christmas. The first year I was employed and driving, able to go off and do all my Christmas shopping on my own was so marvelous. But over the years, my interest in that has declined. Now, living in Vancouver, Christmas shopping is a nightmare - one that I want to wake from and never have again. What was once a glorious experience of gladly giving gifts to my loved ones has collapsed into a hatred of the holiday season and the consumerism that has erroded my very heart.

Once, I took great pleasure in going to a store and casually walking the aisles, looking at all the interesting things to spend my hard-earned money on.

Now, all I can think is how the experience is ruined by the presence of other people. How much happier I would be if I was just at home, shopping online.

As usual, how much better life would be if there was no one else around to spoil it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Public Washrooms

I hate people.

Callous, insensitive, self-centred. Other people are the worst. Sartre was right, "hell is other people".

But if hell is other people, then exposure to other people and their private bodily functions is the former's ninth circle (Cocytus).

I have a broken stomach. It (like everything else) is constantly against me, and while I am at work it frequently betrays my best wishes, forcing me to visit the men's room.

A short escursion to that foul, accursed place is tolerable at best - assuming no one else is in there.

But if I have lengthy business to attend to in the restroom, then I find myself risking the arrival of a stall neighbor - a punishment for having human needs to attend to that is far more cruel than the comprehension of my own mortality, I assure you.

So I sit, in silence, trying not to breathe too loud, hoping that whoever it is sitting not 12 inches away from me will just get the hell out and leave me alone to do my business in private.

That's all I want when I'm in the washroom! Privacy! If my body makes unpleasant noises or smells, I don't want to have to step out of the stall and look my boss in the eye...and then come back to my desk, only to sit facing him across the office!

Or worse, having my boss enter after me, only to have to sit and listen to him making similarly evil noises or scents. Breathing through my mouth so as not to throw up in my own lap.

It's horrible. And yet who can I blame? We can't not have washrooms. Everyone needs to go sooner or later. When I'm pounding can after can of soda at my desk, my body can only take so much abuse. The same can only be assumed of everyone else. An eight hour day is a long one to not have a place for a moments respite.

But public washrooms? Stalls that are not fully enclosed, ventilated or sound-proofed? Why wouldn't you design them that way? Why these awful open spaces, with walls low enough that I can see over them when I stand up straight?

No, public washrooms are poorly conceived places of terror and woe that more often than not leave me rushing home in furious concentration to relax in the privacy of my own bathroom.

A place where I can lock the door, take my time, and not worry about interruptions or other people's gastrointestinal catastrophies.

I guess the bottom line is that going to the bathroom would be great...if it wasn't for other people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I work in an office.

My job is not glamourous. It is not fun, nor is it at all fulfiling. I am not challenged and I am not paid well.

I hate my job.

That's why I spend time writing this sort of thing from work, and it's also why I spend some time each day looking for a new job.

Now, I appreciate that there's some pretty serious financial issues plaguing North America right now. Depending on who you ask, we're either in a recession right now, or possibly even a depression.

All the same, why is it so damn difficult for me to find work that I'm qualified for?

I'm a published author, yet writing jobs are either for subjects outside my purview or "exposure only". Right. Exposure. Maybe I'll offer that up to the back in lieu of my next mortgage payment. "Oh, sorry. Not enough money. But I can offer you 'exposure'! I'll tell all my friends how great a bank you are!"

I've had short films screened at film festivals in front of a packed house, yet job interviews for industry work end in the interviewers wanting to know just what in the hell I thought I was doing wasting their time. Apparently being a filmmaker does not qualify you for the job of "office flunky". Go figure.

So what's a guy to do?

I have dreams, you know. And I promise you, they don't involve the kind of mental abuse my current employer tosses at me. I might get away with writing and job hunting while I'm chained to my desk, but every time my phone rings my boss looks up to watch me answer it, and the kind of people on the other end of that phone are always, always pissed off.

I get screamed at for about 5 or 6 hours of my 8 hour work day.

Someone recently remarked (snidely, I might add), "That explains so much."

Yeah. Doesn't it just?