Another survey about me

About five years ago (see [[Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Geoff Sowrey]]), I sent out a survey that I got from a friend of mine. The results of that survey were not only enlightening, but also quite humourous in many cases.

Inspired by a quiz I got from Alex, I thought I’d do the same thing again, but this time, include a lot of other people that hadn’t been on the list the first time around. The idea, of course, is to see how the responses might change.

The quiz, incidentally, is about me. The idea is to see how much people know about me, and also what they think of me. (The about portion is rather revealing, since all of that information is now on my website.) The rest of it is interesting from a certain perspective. Interviewees include close friends, old friends, new friends, family, and co-workers. The hope is to get a broad spectrum.

Is this egotistical and self-centered? Of course it is — if you think for a second that it’s not, you’ve got a much higher opinion of me! I don’t engage in this sort of thing very often, but I couldn’t resist. That said, though, I think I’m going to leave this as the last survey I do. For now, anyway.

Some of you are a little *too* honest.

So I started off the quiz with the following quote:

I woke up in a soho doorway
A policeman knew my name
He said ‘you can go sleep at home tonight
If you can get up and walk away’

A few people got this. In my last survey (see [[Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Geoff Sowrey]]), I’d quoted Sting’s “Nothing About Me”. This time, I tried to stay in the same vein of questioning someone. I think the quote I chose was a little too vague, though, as I was trying to keep it a little more difficult. It’s “Who Are You?”, by The Who. The song is also the theme for “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”.

And onto the questions! (Anything appearing in [] brackets are my comments.)

  1. My name?
  2. Okay, if you don’t know who the hell I am by now, something’s wrong. The correct answer, of course, is “Geoff Sowrey”. Some of you, for whatever reason, put only “Geoff”. On Jeopardy, Alex Trebek would be giving you trouble for not being specific enough. (Well, that, and not supplying your response in the form of a question.) A few others even put my full name: “Geoffrey Benton Sowrey”, something I only ever heard when I was about to get in a lot of trouble from my parents.

    Some of the other answers included:

    • Son of Worf (it’s true you know) [Not according to my birth certificate]
    • Geoff Sowrey..Esquire [Ain’t got the fancy watch, and I don’t look like Alex Winter]
    • Geoff Sowrey (not Jeff Sowery) [Damn straight!]
  3. Where did we meet?
  4. No correct answer for this, obviously. I met a lot of people in a lot of places. Most of you were in university or Critical Mass.

    • Critical Mass
    • Scott Elliott’s dorm room University of Waterloo
    • South A, University of Waterloo
    • Sometime during Frosh Week
    • At the old Critical Mass office.
    • On a road in the middle of summer before the last year of high school
    • Criticalmass..6th floor
    • Sometime during Frosh Week – can’t remember, I was drunk, everything was a blur for a few years
    • Mr. Getzinger’s math class
    • The dungeon of Critical Mass
    • University of Waterloo
    • 2076 Gatestone [This was the family home I grew up in]
    • U of W, Village 2, Frosh Week, Sept ’91
    • Math class. Grade 10
    • SES San Jose [Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose]
    • Officially? Probably at some CM drinking event [Sad, but likely true]
  5. Take a stab at my middle name…
    • no idea
    • Benton ( I cheated, I’ve been to your website) [A lot of people could have aced this quiz by going to my website.]
    • Not a clue
    • Tiberius or Luc?
    • Bob
    • Clive?
    • Tiberius 🙂 maybe Norman? [I’m sensing a Star Trek theme here…]
    • Oh crap…I know this one I really do…unfortunately my mind fails me at the moment.
    • Robert 😉 (I have no real clue, so that was really just a stab.)
    • Andrew
    • can’t recall if I ever knew it but – Robert
    • Benton (I think…) [This from a guy I’ve known for 17 years…]
  6. How long have you known me?
  7. I threw in a long list of people who know me for various lengths of time. Why? Because people change over time, and it helps to have people who’ve seen me at different periods over that time.

    • few months [about two, actually]
    • A little over three years
    • About 15,329 freezees ago… [I don’t think I’m ever going to live this damn freezee thing down.]
    • about 4 years
    • About 17-18 years
    • 13 years and change (holy crap!)
    • Far far far too long (15 years)
    • I would say a little over 4 years now.
    • Since July of 2000, so that’s makes it 4 glorious years now 🙂
    • Since 1991 – so that would make it 13 years almost exactly.
    • I think it was English 251A. Which was winter semester of my second year. So January 1994. I guess that means a little more than 10 years, but on and off.
    • Well, Sept 91 to Sept 04 –> 13 years?
    • 3+ years
    • Since grade 10. I prefer not to think about the time.
    • about 5 years
    • 2 years, more or less
    • 30+ years
    • Long enough to be around when you didn’t drink. :))
  8. How well do you know me?
  9. How well can you really know anyone? It’s a loaded question. There’s no way to know someone so well that you can predict them 100% of the time. (There are those who claim they can do that of me, but I’ve got more than enough examples to bring that down to, say, 98%…)

    • Probably fairly well I think
    • Well, thirteen years ago I though I knew you pretty well, and I’m betting you haven’t changed that much…
    • well, from your online journal I’ll occasionally peek at.
    • I would say pretty well… but I’m sure there are a lot of things I would be surprised about.
    • Only familiar with about the first 3 layers..
    • Fairly well, however, I’ve wanted to know you way better for a long time now…… but I digress
    • Well, I think.
    • Sorry to say, not very well anymore…
    • Better then most not as well as all…for God’s sake I can’t even remember your middle name at the moment.
    • Honestly, not very well. We see each other once in a blue moon and email infrequently. I like what I know though.
    • Not sure [Yeah, not a good sign, as this is my sister…]
    • So-so… we did room together for about a year though.
    • pretty well considering we’ve lived together for over 2 years [my roommate]
    • too well
    • not as well as I used to
    • I’d say pretty damn well.
    • Far far far too well. [I should note that this particular person has a PhD in Psychology…]
    • Man, I don’t know if I ever knew you — hell, I don’t think you know who you are…
  10. Do I smoke?
  11. Not on your freaking life. Those of you who know me well know that I’m violently opposed to it. Thoughts of detonating every cigarette manufacturing plant and burning all the tobacco fields in one fell swoop help me out on those days when I’m feeling really low.

    It seems that in most cases, that view has come across pretty well.

    • HA HA HA…that’s a good one….
    • Hell no
    • Absolutely not
    • No
    • Not when I knew you, and I seriously doubt that you’ve started in the meantime
    • Nope
    • Not a chance
    • I think NOT. But am not 100% certain what bad habbits (sic) you may or may not have picked up.
    • God no.
    • Nope, only when thinking.
    • Only the good stuff I hope, but otherwise no.
    • Only when lit on fire…
  12. Do I believe in God?
  13. Another loaded question, and a touchy one at that. Last time, I was a little hesitant to say whether I did or did not. Perhaps it is time for the official word.

    There are a lot of religions and faiths in the world, centering on deities and figures of all kinds. With so many different views in the world, and the fact that I’ve been (thankfully) exposed to several of them, it’s awfully hard to point at one specific deity and say: “That one is the right one”. Wars have started over that, as we all know.

    Obviously, the god in question here is the Christian God. There is significant amount of evidence of God’s work, at least as told by the Bible. (Naturally, the same can apply to the work of multiple other gods and omnipotent beings.) Direct proof of God, such as Him appearing on street corner, hasn’t really happened since Moses had a chat with a burning bush (in private, I might add), so some of this might be purely hearsay. So while I might have trouble in the existence of God, I certainly believe in the idea. And aren’t ideas often the most key thing?

    To put it all in perspective, though, I keep an open mind. There’s a lot of belief in the world, and it’s all different for a reason. It’s entirely possible that none of it is right. But if any of it gives people a sense of meaning, then it can’t be all wrong.

    Of course, none of this stopped any of you from trying to guess:

    • Uhhhh, I dunno. I think so, but perhaps not in organized religion.
    • Which one?
    • That depends on whether The Force could be described as God.
    • I *think* you’re a believer..but agnostic..
    • Nope
    • I don’t think so
    • I’d guess that you believe at least in principle, you certainly have an uncanny ability to make yourself look like Jesus Christ, but you’re not a churchgoer or anything.
    • I think so, but not sure…
    • Not so much.
    • Isn’t that between you and God? Or not.
    • Some form of deity I think.
    • I think so, but aren’t a devote follower.
    • dunno
    • not as far as I know
    • I think so.
    • Kahless is a god right? [Kahless was the first Warrior King of the Klingon Empire and legendary mytho-historical Klingon figure. Yeah, it’s a Star Trek thing.]
    • Perhaps the best answer I’ve received, though not this time around, says it best:

    • Someone has to be responsible for creating you.
  14. What was your first impression when you first saw me?
  15. First impressions are everything. Some of them are good, some of them are … different.

    • Geek
    • Hyper, funny and a little bit on the qwerky(sic) side.
    • Cool, at least I’m sharing my room with another computer geek … wait, is that a 386? NOOOOOOOOOOO! He has a better PC than me!
    • I though (sic) you were a little intense…
    • John Ritter-esque
    • you made such an impression i don’t remember haaha [That was at the Kelowna party (see [[Download Overload, the Critical Mass Kelowna Getaway in Westbank]] — just about everyone was drunk]
    • Who is this star trek geek?
    • Um…too long ago to remember
    • He’s cute
    • A little nerdy but really nice.
    • Finally, a cure for Dave…
    • Too long ago to remember.
    • Freak!
    • Don’t remember, before 10 [Uh, minor thought — you were a BABY at the time, sis! Even my memory ain’t *that* good.]
    • complicated individual [This person interviewed me for my job at Critical Mass, so that’s saying something. Not sure what, though.]
    • Oh man, since I was probably drunk, I don’t really remember.
    • “Caffeine..this guy has ingested a lot of caffeine”
  16. My age?
  17. Officially, I’m currently 32 years, two months, and 14 days. If you look at it from my behavioural aspect, I’m 18 years old, with 14 years experience. But for laughs, here are some of the other ages some of you thought I might be:

    • 33 I think
    • 31
    • About 21,654 freezees…[Again with the freezee thing! Let it go, already!]
    • You were born on July 16, 1972, so you are 32, which means next year you will be as they say here “Christ’s age” … the age he was when he died. [Yeah, if this ain’t a foreboding sign, I dunno what is.]
    • 33? Age is just a number, what really matter’s is how old you are at heart.
    • Let’s see…just a wild guess but….32??? [For the record, this guy has the EXACT same birthday as me.]
    • 31 or 32…I know you just had bday in July.
    • I am 30, which probably makes you 31 or 32. My powers of deduction say 32. [Good deduction!]
    • 30’s?
  18. Birthday?
  19. Although I tend to post this on my website every year (or so), I in no way expect *anyone* to remember it. (Heck, I even forgot my birthday one year.) I’m lousy at remembering some birthdays, so don’t worry at all if you can’t remember what it is.

    • July 16 [Obviously, the correct answer.]
    • Some time in the summer. I could look it up, but I’m too lazy right now.
    • I’m sure you have one – most humans do
    • June
    • early fall? is it today?
    • No idea… I don’t think I’ve been invite out for your b-day and now that I think about it, I’m a little hurt.
    • July 16th or 17th.
    • hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeelp! Do you know mine? [Uh… nope.]
    • Late summer, early fall.
    • I don’t know – I am sorry. As soon as Stefan gets me a new palm I will document all these details!
    • omg i always forget july 16th? [“OMG”, in case you’re wondering, means “Oh My God”]
    • February?
    • can’t recall
    • Another stab in the dark…July 16th????? [See note about same birthday above.]
  20. Colour hair?
  21. Just so you know, naturally, it is brown.

    • Dirty Blondish [Haven’t had any blonde on my head since I was a kid.]
    • Brown, but it’s thinning. [Yeah, great, thanks … I appreciate that …]
    • Dull brown [I’ve since changed my conditioner, so hopefully not so dull anymore]
    • Dark blonde
    • Probably at least once a month (Grecian Formula), what’s left of it anyway [Yeah, thanks, great. I don’t dye my hair, as much you want to believe that I do.]
    • Brown. Definitely brown. Ish. [Definitely-ish? Is that like “sort of exactly”?]
    • Brown
    • brown like [As opposed to “exactly brown”?]
    • Light brown
    • chipmunk brown [Is that Alvin, Simon, or Theodore?]
  22. Colour eyes?
  23. A bit of a tougher one. A previous girlfriend once told me that they changed from blue to green to grey on any given day. I suspect that it might be lighting. I think they’re normally blue, though.

    • Blue-ish Grey
    • Bluish I think
    • I certainly hope not.
    • Guessing — green-grey?
    • Fuck. Um. Brown?
    • Blue
    • Brown
    • I think blue or greenish
    • Hazel
    • I want to say brown or hazel, but am not sure.
    • hm good question. brown?
    • blue-ish grey I think
    • Blue/green?
    • umm – Brown
    • muskrat brown [Muskrat?!]
  24. Tall / average / short / fat / average / thin?
  25. Height: 5′ 10.5″. Weight: About 180 lbs (up from about 172 earlier this summer, due to a heavier workout at the gym). Need to lose a little more blubber in a couple places, but I’d say “average” all-round.

    • average. average (was on the verge of more than average there for a while) [Ain’t that the sad truth? Having your metabolism slow down really sucks.]
    • On the shorter side, average build.
    • Thin… But there’s still plenty of time.
    • Average-to-tall. Hell, you’re all short to me 🙂
    • That depends on the decade. Mostly average average
    • Thin
    • Average Height, Average body type.
    • Average
    • Average height, and lookin’ smokin’!
    • Average height…around 6 feetish, come on…you’re all buff now from the gym! YAY!!!
    • I think average height and average weight, maybe a tad on the thin side the last I saw you. But that was about 4 years ago!
    • Shorter than me and thinner that me. But average, I guess.
    • never one to judge
    • you were average build when I last saw you
    • no longer fat..thanks to..you know who. [This is the guy who kicked my arse for over a year in the gym. Thanks, dude!]
  26. Do I have any siblings?
  27. One biological sibling, Cathy (my sister). She’s now married, so I do have a marital sibling, Craig (brother-in-law).

    • Yes
    • One sister and one brother in law
    • Younger sister, Cathy.
    • Yes. Your sister.
    • 1 sister
    • You have a sister, who’s an accountant or something along those lines.
    • Yes, Cathy
    • Uh huh a sister.
    • I believe a sister. ::looks sheepish::
    • Yes. Sister. Cathy
    • sister?
    • Sure do, best sister in the whole wide world [Can’t argue with that … if I do, she’ll kill me]
  28. (If opposite sex) Have you ever had a crush on me?
  29. [I screwed this question up. There was supposed to be a second part that reads: (If same sex) Have you ever been jealous of me? Oh well, such is what happens when you don’t proof-read.]

    • No. [Don’t get much more blunt than that, does it?]
    • No, but I do think you are cute!
    • Definately …. wink wink
    • Sorry, I can’t say I have. [Thankfully … that was a straight guy.]
    • I feel left out. Why Geoffy, why? Do you not care about me anymore???
    • No comment
    • Nope. But I like you anyway. ::smiles winningly::
    • you’re a very fetching man. [Says another happily committed straight guy.]
    • Dear god no.
    • I never crush and tell
    • N/A, but if I did have a crush on a boy… Nah. It’d never happen.
    • If I oppose sex? Oh, Opposite… never mind.
  30. Whats one of my favorite thing to do?
  31. I don’t think I really have a favourite thing. Most of you seem think it’s trains (just because I talk about them a little too much, I guess). A lot of you hit on writing, which ain’t far from accurate, I’d have to say. Surprisingly enough, none of you mentioned Alex…

    • Send really long messages too all the people that have ever lived in your area code — we love you anyway 🙂
    • Go to movies
    • Write
    • Watch Movies, chase trains, eat sushi, hang with friends.
    • Trains, Trains and more Trains oh yeah and you’re male so masterbate (sic)….. [Old university roommate. Suddenly, I’m glad I don’t live with him anymore.]
    • Blog
    • Watch movies, and chase trains
    • Talk incessantly about steam locomotives [Am I really that bad? Wait, don’t answer that.]
    • watch movies [Could have said trains, but he didn’t!]
    • Sit in the dark before bed, and meditate to music. [I used to do this in first year at university.]
    • Watch movies, travel, play with trains. [Hard to play with the life-size versions, and I haven’t had a trainset for years.]
    • I know you love driving your mini. I would bet reading is pretty high on the list. And I know smart-ass comments are up there too. [Insert smart-ass comment here.]
    • Watch movies and listen to music. And blogging.
    • anything with trains
    • Chase trains across the prairies. [Actually, I prefer the mountains.]
    • write in your journal?
    • Follow trains, drink beer, eat sushi, watch movies. [That almost sums it up pretty well, actually.]
  32. Do you remember one of the first things I said to you?
  33. Ask the same question of me, and in many cases, I’ll probably give you a blank stare.

    • No…
    • Nope.
    • Hi! I’m Geoff! [Hey, I never said I was an original thinker.]
    • I am not sure what you said, but you were laughing.
    • a joke about being a selfish american? [Am I really that uncouth?]
    • No, again before 10 [It was probably “Keep outta my stuff!”]
    • I am in the neutral zone!!!! [Also long after I met this person, conveniently also one of the instigators of the penny fight]
    • Prolly “so tell me about dynablow er…. dynamo shit?” [Techie stuff. Don’t ask.]
    • Probably had to do with star trek [Probably not, actually, the whole Trek thing really didn’t kick in until a few years later]
    • Something about a party
    • “Can I grab you some breakfast?” Said to me while I was sitting at my desk with a severly (sic) sprained ankle.
    • ummmm. Uh. Nope. It was all in class in the beginning and I am still trying to block out that particular class!
    • Penny Fight… Or was that Angry Romanian, Angry Romanian… [I was the *victim* of the penny fight, and it was *Mad* Romanian. Both events were well after I met him.]
    • Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudddddddeeeee
    • “I LOVE FUCKING CHEESESTICKS!” [See [[Critical Mass Town Hall]] ]
  34. What’s my favorite type of music?
  35. If you’ve seen my CD collection, you know I don’t have one. I go through phases, though. I have no idea what my current phase is, however. I think I’m still in my jazz mode.

    • Rock
    • Rock, I suppose.
    • Sting, Kim Mitchell, Anything Chris likes. [Not entirely true. Kim Mitchell gets lumped in with rock, and Chris likes some stuff that I don’t (and vice versa).]
    • The sound of dropped frozen Kit-Kat bars on our kitchen floor. Or was it Rock? It’s been a while — you might be into Britney Spears nowadays… Oops I did it again…
    • Not sure, your tastes vary as much as mine.
    • hmmmm….. Pink Floyd [I do like them, but Mike was the one who *really* liked them.]
    • You don’t have one favorite type of music. [The correct answer.]
    • Hmm good question..I know nothing about my own musical tastes so attempting to identify yours is virtually impossible for me.
    • …. oh boy. ::starts drowning::
    • Not sure, but you wake up to The Tragically Hip’s “Music at Work” [Got tired of that. Now it’s Jack FM.]
    • Don’t have a *favourite* [Cathy should know … she’s got quite a few of my CDs]
    • Just about anything on CD. [Don’t forget the 8 track!]
    • i think you like everything except country [I used to hate country, but I’m finding the new stuff ain’t so bad … must be from living in Alberta]
    • tough one..very eclectic tastes..i would say..new age jazz..
    • dunno
    • I think you were fairly diverse in this area
    • Hmm. Not sure.
    • whatever genre David Bowie is this week. [Ha ha ha…]
  36. What is my best feature?
    • Eyes… something else, but too embarrassed to say
    • your laugh [Some people might debate this one, calling my most irritating]
    • Smile
    • The Observer’s Log. 🙂 [*Sniff* … thanks, man!]
    • Computer knowledge
    • Loyalty. I guess.
    • Your passion for things.
    • Your ass….. hahahahaha [For the record, this is one of my aforementioned university roommates.]
    • Your sense of humor….or is it your loyalty….pick one.
    • A great heart.
    • Humour. Definitely your humour.
    • Computer smarts.
    • your personality
    • loyalty [No-one’s ever mentioned loyalty before, and it’s shown up three times. Being part dog probably helps.]
    • Your ass….. I have to agree with Brian on this one.
    • loyalty
    • sarcastic humor
    • Odd sense of humor and strangely innappropriate (sic) wisdom. [I asked about this one. Apparently, it’s about having wisdom beyond my years.]
  37. Am I shy or outgoing?
  38. I used to be shy. Painfully so. I used to totally overcompensate and come across as a raging freak of nature. Only though coaching from my friends Chris, Stuart, and Therese did things slowly turn around. That’s not to say that I’m completely outgoing now. Probably more in the middle than anything else.

    Of course, the level of outgoing tends to vary depending on level of alcohol consumed.

    • You pretend to be outgoing. But you’re really shy. [Painfully so…]
    • I would actually say that you are shy but have a strong physical presence, is that contradictory?
    • You work really hard at being outgoing
    • Always seemed outgoing to me. But often that is a cover for shyness. [Isn’t it always that case?]
    • More on the shy side, I think.
    • Both.
    • Outgoing
    • I would say a little more on the outgoing side.
    • I’d say a bit gregarious.
    • An odd combination of both, but it works
    • More outgoing – depends on the situation
    • OUTgoing
    • Pretty outgoing. [Thankfully, not ugly outgoing. That would be awkward.]
  39. Would you say I am funny?
  40. At least I’m not a boring ol’ fuddy-duddy. (Yet. I’m planning on being a curmudgeon when I’m old.)

    • Smelling, yes! At least you were way back when. But then again I think all four of us had bathing issues. Except for Roger… When Sandra would show up. He smelled as fresh as a daisy… [Old university roommate. Perhaps a little overtold.]
    • Absolutely
    • Yes.
    • When you relax and don’t try too hard.
    • Often.
    • very funny..sometimes not on purpose
    • I would say you are loud hahahaha
    • Sometimes
    • Son of Worf. Need I say more? [Apparently. ‘Cuz that ain’t funny “ha ha”, more funny “strange”. ‘Course, that might be what you had in mind…]
    • Yes, very.
    • Definitely!!!
    • Can be
    • sometimes
    • But of course
    • Does funny-looking count? You’re not laugh out-loud, tell a million jokes, but you definitely have a sense of humour. [I only wish I had the story list this guy has, or the ability to tell them as well.]
  41. Am I a rebel or do I follow all the rules?
  42. *Sigh*

    I guess I want to be a rebel, for the romance of the idea alone. But as EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU pointed out, I’m a rule-follower. I guess I like order, I like the way things are supposed to work, and get annoyed when they don’t. So much for allusions…

    • You drive 99 when the limit is 100. Duh– rule follower. [Yeah… you should see me drive out here. I think I only do under 100 on city streets.]
    • I think you are a strong rule follower. You may try to be subversive in small ways.
    • Rules all the way.
    • A little of both. (Safe answer, huh?)
    • Follow the rules
    • rules
    • Mostly follow the rules but sometimes they need to be broken.
    • I think you normally follow the rules. You’re level headed.
    • you’re a rules guy
    • audio: “look Geoff a cop!”; Video: car slows down to 10 below the limit. [*Sigh* Old perceptions that I doubt I will ever out-live…]
    • Both.
    • Mostly a play by the rules, though if we get some drinks in you it’s a whole other story.
    • Okay, this question is NOT fair. I knew you most at university. I would have said rebel then.
    • You follow the rules, but complain about the stupid ones. [And by God, complain I do!]
    • Rules, hall monitor, if you will… [And this is from a person who’s known me for only two months!]
    • you’re a healthy mix
    • You follow your own rules, whether or not they conform to the ‘establishment’. [Oh, this one I like!]
  43. Any special talents?
    • You have a beautiful eye for detail, both in your writing and pictures.
    • You could remove Dave from your room single-handedly. Really appreciated that in you. You could also recite all the Star Trek spaceships in alphabetical order. [Actually, I never could. And I’m very happy to have moved beyond that point of my life.]
    • You can make your eyes quiver (ick).
    • Dickensian style writing.
    • Bet you laugh the ladies into bed? [Uh, no…]
    • An inane memory for movies and music triva. You also like to write, and are a photo dude. [Sadly, my music trivia blows when compared to some of my other friends.]
    • penny throwing…
    • You take some amazing pictures.
    • not unless you do that thing with your elbow – lol – disregard that one
    • you know trains like no other person i’ve met
    • Well… none that I’ve experienced first hand… again, I digress
    • Define “talent” heheheheheh.
    • A talent to pick up conversation with a person and not be awkward even after months or years of not having communications.
    • Blogging
    • you have mad jeopardy skillz (sic), if only you’d use them for good!
    • that weird eye shaking thing
    • You mean apart from the Christ thing? How about the lack of nerve endings on the top of your skull, does that count?
  44. Would you consider me a friend?
  45. I’ll assume that those of you who didn’t reply don’t think of me as a friend. (Just kidding!!)

    • I hope so. I just spent the last 10 minutes of my life coming up with ridiculous answers for you — wouldn’t do that just for any tom, dick or harry (who are those three guys anyway?)…
    • God no. (just kidding)
    • Of course I do
    • I would.
    • Absolutely.
    • A distant one, yes.
    • Yup
    • My Canuck friend
    • always
    • Is that supposed to be a joke? [We’re so close, we’re basically the same person in two different bodies.]
    • Definitely!!!
    • Yes. But because of your spirit, not because we have spent loads of time together or have a great big history together.
    • hell ya!
    • Of course you moron. [*Sniff* Only a true friend would say that to me…]
  46. Would you call me preppy, slutty, a homie, average, sporty, punk, hippie, glam, nerdy, snobby, or something else?
  47. Now this is a marked change from the last time I ran this survey. Means I must be doing something right! Now I just gotta figure out what the heck that is…

    • Definitely a slut…HAHHAHAHA, I’d say friendly, with a touch of nerdyness thrown in for good measure.
    • Honey, for the right amount of money, I’d call you anything you want 😉
    • You are you. You are unique.
    • Outdoorsy, almost yuppish
    • Yup
    • i don’t believe in labels
    • None of the above. Maybe a hint nerdy/geeky (but then there are not any of my friends who don’t claim that), funny, intelligent, witty. aring. Passionate about what you believe in (I am thinking of the two of us email bombarding Kim with reasons to ditch a guy).
    • I’m all of the above, so I won’t hold it against you.
    • Glam. Totally glam. or maybe you’re getting to be average. We’re all very proud. [Huh? What? Me? Okay, people, you need to tell me these things! Remember, I’m not fashion-savvy.]
    • I would call you Geoff. A little geeky, but then aren’t we all. [Not quite. I’m sure there are a few who’ll see this who’ll disagree.]
    • something else
    • Average to prudish. [Prudish? Never been called that before.]
    • geeky
    • partially reformed computer geek [Well, it’s a start…]
    • you’re a geek like the rest of us poor souls in this industry
    • Pretty normal. [Thankfully, not ugly normal.]
    • Urban geek. [Woo hoo! You heard it here first, folks!]
  48. Have you ever seen me cry?
  49. Some of you have, but most of you haven’t. I don’t cry very often, and when I do (which is rare), it’s usually in private. Or a really touching scene in a Julia Roberts movie.

    • Does laughing till you cry count?
    • I seem to remember that yes, but I can’t remember when. Oh well.
    • I don’t believe I have.
    • Somehow I think I should answer “yes” but I don’t remember when…
    • No. But I have witnessed you upset over email. [Who hasn’t?]
    • Not in person. Have read about it.
    • I’m sure I saw a tear in your eye, when one of us hit you in the family jewels with that stupid foam brick.
  50. If there were one good nickname for me, what would it be?
    • MacGyver [This was a nickname I got from coworkers eons ago that my dad latched onto]
    • Runaway Bride… Sorry mate couldn’t resist. I mean Big Strong Hairy Hulking… No, that won’t work either. You will always be Geoffy to me. G-off does come a close second though.
    • “mr. angry” [Long story.]
    • Dickens. Dick for short. [Uh. Yeah. How should I take that?]
    • Booty-licious ha ha
    • Train boy [Hey, I’ve been called the Train Stalker, so that wouldn’t be much different.]
    • Nothing comes to mind.
    • Cliff Claven. [A reference to my penchant for calling up useless trivia at bizarre moments in conversation.]
    • Energizer bunny.
    • Skippy!
    • Sorry, don’t have one myself, so I am loathe to give one out.
    • Son of Warf [Said with an East Coast accent, so I’m told]
    • the geekinator ?? LOL jk [“Laugh Out Loud”, and “Joke”]
    • Canuck Ritter
    • Railboy
    • Son-Of-Some-Character-From-A-SciFi-TV-Show-(Ok-Believe-It-Was-Real-If-You-Want)-But-The-Point-Is-Most-People-Don’t-Watch-It-Anymore-Because-Its-Not-Cool-But-I-Still-Like-It
  51. If I were an animal, what kind of animal would I be?
  52. This was a question I threw in, because it offered a lot of possibility for good answers. Thankfully, I wasn’t let down. But no-one mentioned “giraffe”…

    • Moose [I’m having visions of the Moose in “Brother Bear”]
    • Good Lord, I have no idea
    • Squirrel [Okay, I know I’m nuts, but…]
    • ummm ok this one is retarted (sic) [this particular person then sent out the same survey, and kept this question]
    • Platypus, definitely. Why not?
    • racoon…
    • That’s a toughie…
    • A bird soaring high around the world, constantly going whereever (sic) the wind took you.
    • A siamese cat that is smart but far far far too mouthy. [Ouch…]
    • Fork. Oh, nope. Sorry, that was the knife, fork, spoon question. What was the question again??? [What??]
    • Hmm… Maybe a… Ummm… Koala?
    • badger [badger badger badger badger badger badger badger mushroom MUSHROOM…]
    • Klingon.
    • A spastic Siamese cat
    • Let me think about this and get back with you on this one.
    • a kangaroo
    • A Baboon: Wild. Unpredictable. And Loud. Really, really loud. Mind you they are pretty fearless and have one of the strongest social (family) bonds in nature, but in the end, it really all comes down to your ass. 🙂 See Question 19 above 🙂
  53. What city (or place) on Earth would be most suitable for me to live in?
  54. Some of you gave me some great ideas, even if I choose to stay in Calgary!

    • After touring most of North America, I actually think that you fit into Calgary beautifully.
    • Inside a steam train
    • Calgary.
    • Somewhere in Japan, lots of Techie gadgets, lots of sushi what more can a guy ask for.
    • Dunno, wherever the biggest train museum is, I guess. [That would be in Scranton, PA. I guess that means I’ll have to open one here in Calgary.]
    • Oakville [Written by a guy who lives there]
    • you’re there
    • Metropolis… Oh, you did say Earth. Probably Moscow.
    • Probably somewhere in Japan.
    • I think you are likely there now. If it wasn’t suitable, you would likely leave.
    • Nowhere but Canuck-land [Never heard of the place — anyone else know where this is?]
    • Nepal
    • Japan!!!! (hint hint) [Three guesses where this guy lives…]
    • Timbuktu. [Some would argue that I’m already there.]
    • If we’re getting along Calgary is good; if I’m mad at you, Pluto [I love my sister, really I do…]
  55. What’s my favourite word or catch-phrase?
  56. Changes all the time, folks. But glad to see you’re paying attention.

    • A nervous giggle. High-pitched.
    • Say cheese?
    • Neutral zone… However there’s a new word that is threatening to beat it: Alex. Alex this, Alex that, Alex here, Alex everywhere. 🙂
    • De nada. [Spanish for “you’re welcome”]
    • Dude.
    • F*ck me gently with a chainsaw. Probably you don’t use it much anymore… [This is from a movie called “Heathers
    • It’s called shrinkage dammit!!! [Yeah, I don’t get this one, either.]
    • I think you might say “brutal” on occasion, but I might be wrong on that one.
    • Not sure.
    • Jesus…I don’t have that sort of time….
    • Again with the difficult questions… 🙁
    • “I LOVE FUCKING CHEESESTICKS!” [Sadly, I never did document this particular evening well enough.]
    • Come on fat boy. I’ll spork your ass.
    • I don’t know this, but I do know you emphasize the last words of a sentence emphatically! 😉
    • Duuuuuuuu[…]uuuuuuuddddddeeee 🙂
    • Just one? I don’t think you have just one.

Christmas decorations being put up too early

So I went for a walk at lunch today. I do this every so often, sometimes to get some fresh air, sometimes to avoid the sheer insanity of the office, or sometimes to get lunch outside of the Bistro. Today’s little jaunt took me past Olympic Plaza and Jack Singer Hall.

Now this location is of importance, not because it’s a nice place to walk, but because of something horrifying that I happened to see as I walked westward.

It wasn’t a murder, though I would almost consider it on the same level of offensiveness. It wasn’t a massive pile of horse manure, though it stinks just as badly. And to be certain, it wasn’t a giant pimple, though the sight was just as repulsive.

It was fake fir, copied conifer, fabricated flora, hoaxed herbology, swindled shrub, trick trees. It was in the process of being wrapped around poles, unwrapped from huge roles; it was hung across wires, strung above busy noon buyers. It was spackled with bells and balls; it looked like it was right out of shopping malls!

“Excuse me… are these Christmas decorations?” I asked, nervously.

“Uh, yeah…” said the woman tying off a bunch of evergreen, worried what my reaction might be.

Uh, did we suddenly get stuck in a time warp? Is it already mid-November? Hmm… let’s check the calendar, shall we? Oh, look at that. It’s not even close to December…

That’s because IT’S STILL FREAKING SEPTEMBER! SUMMER’S NOT EVEN OVER YET!

I really want to know what set off some idiot’s grand scheme to hang Christmas decorations this early in the year. It’s bad enough that we haven’t even seen Thanksgiving or Hallowe’en yet! It’s still over a week until the end of *this* month, let alone two more entire months before December.

Now I realize that it’s entirely possible that said decorations might be for a movie or television shoot. It wouldn’t be unheard of. But it didn’t really look like a set of any kind. There were no directors, no assistant directors, no lackeys running about with radios looking like they’re important when they’re actually running for coffee … it looked like the City was actually getting ready for Christmas.

This worries me (if you haven’t already noticed). How on Earth can we expect to have a decent Christmas if we are bombarded with it for over a quarter of the year? It’s not special then! It’s just annoying. It’s a season onto itself, bereft of any special meaning whatsoever. There are so many people who worry about the lack of spiritualism in our Christian holidays … gee, I wonder why? They’ve all be commercialized, marketized, oversized, popularized, televised, aerobicized, and menialized.

*Sigh*

I really hope Christmas hasn’t come yet. It’s too warm, it’s too early, all the leaves are still on the trees. I’m not ready to see some fat white guy in a bad red suit. I can’t bear to hear “The Twelve Days of Christmas” when I’m still listening to summer music.

But most of all, I’ve got no idea what to get Alex for Christmas.

[Ed. Note: As it turns out, the decorations were in fact being put up by a filming crew. Hopefully, they won’t last long.]

George Carlin plays Jack Singer Hall

WARNING! The following entry contains language that might not be appropriate to some. If you are offended easily by some words, I recommend skipping this entry. If you continue to read it, and are offended, your damn funeral!

I’ve listened to George Carlin since I was a beginning teenager. Back then, he was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Guess what? He still is.

Tonight, George Carlin came to Calgary, and played the Jack Singer Hall. He certainly has a way of attracting a large crowd. There were exceedingly few empty seats, which just shows his drawing power.

George started out in comedy in the 1950s as a clean cut, well-dressed comedian. He had a show that played well, and was attended by the well to-do of the time. After a while, however, that didn’t really sit with him. It wasn’t his thing. He was playing to his parents, not his generation.

This is how he came up with the Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television: shit, piss, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

(Offended yet?)

This is what sent George down a significantly different road than most comics at the time. In some ways, he could be thought of as an original “bad guy” of comedy. He forever stepped away from the good side, and made sure that the boat would never stop rocking.

George is an observationalist. That’s what makes him so funny. He doesn’t invent stories, he doesn’t create one-liners. He tells you the things you already know, but maybe just haven’t thought of it that way before.

Take enemas, for example. Not the most pleasant of topics, are they? Well, consider this: you know what they are, you might even know someone who’s had one. But someone, probably a guy (according to Carlin), thought of it first. Imagine that moment.

George started off his session with a rapid-fire monologue of what he is. I can’t even begin to describe it, let alone repeat it, and do it any remote point of justice. It was, however, amazing.

He then commented on how he was preparing for his 13th HBO special, and had a few things that he needed to rearrange to make the show be zippy. It was almost like hearing your grandfather (Carlin is 67, by the way) natter away about something very trivial. I was worried. I was thinking that this might end up being a really lousy show…

“You know what people don’t talk about in public anymore? Pussy farts!”

George Carlin had officially entered the room. So began about a 90 minute barrage of swearing, unusual musings, several slanders against every race, sex, creed, religion, and belief (because, like I said, George loves rocking that boat), with barely a pause. He didn’t waste time, and despite a couple of low points, he got a lot of laughs.

There were no encores, no curtain calls. He’s a simple guy who loves to turn the world on its ear for 90 minutes at a time. And that’s why people love to listen to George Carlin rant. Before there was Dennis Leary, before Eddie Murphy, before Father Guido Sarducci, there was Carlin.

So to you George, thank you. Thank you for coming to Calgary and bringing us a live rendition of your views for us to hear. Thank you for being so blunt about the way things are, good or bad.

And of course, thank you for fucking me up 20 years ago.

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Jon and Pearl’s Wedding

I haven’t been to too many weddings this year. After last year’s complete lack of nuptuals, I’m up to my second. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go any further than a couple of kilometres. After my jaunt to Japan, having to only go a few kilometres was a nice change.

This wedding was for my friends Jon and Pearl. Jon is an ex-Critical Masser, and oft-visitor of the game nights Chris and I used to hold at our place. We haven’t seen much of Jon since Chris left, but that would be mostly due to not having the gathering we used to.

Needless to say, this was a chance for the lot of us to gather again. It started just before 13:00 this afternoon. Alex and I arrived at the Sheraton Cavalier and found our way over to the McKnight West room, just past the Starbucks.

Isn’t there always a Starbucks?

Jon was waiting outside the room with his groomsmen and family. He looked nervous. He sounded nervous. He *was* nervous. He uttered to me:

“Don’t ever get married!”

We took a seat on the groom’s side. Although I knew Pearl just as well, I felt that I needed to sit on Jon’s side. We were among the first on Jon’s side to arrive.

By a little after 13:00, both sides had filled in. Virgil and his girlfriend had sat behind us, Doug taking a seat next to them. Fritz and Jin sat behind them. (Sadly, Adrian was a little slow that morning, and missed the wedding. We made sure to give him grief for the transgression.)

The ceremony was a civil one, run by a justice of the peace. I was surprised at the lack of any cultural aspect to the spectacle, since both Jon and Pearl are of Chinese descent. It was simple and brief. It was something that Pearl had been wanting almost since I first met her.

Ceremony over, we went through the receiving line. Pearl’s parents were nearly ecstatic that people had come to the festivities. Jon’s parents were decidedly more reserved. Jon was looking a little more relieved, but only a little. Pearl was bubbling, she was so happy.

Virgil and crew were headed over to Joey Tomato’s to kill a few hours (the reception wasn’t until 18:00). Alex and I had a few errands to run, so would meet up with the rest later.

Our first stop was at London Drugs. More pictures from our trip to BC (see [[BC Vacation: Calgary to Fairmont Hot Springs]]), plus some wrapping paper and a card. (I hadn’t a chance to wrap the present yet.) We followed up with lunch at Pizza Hut.

Our errands over, we went over to Aunt Brenda’s to while away the rest of the time we had. This included wrapping presents and helping Brenda and Mom with their literary works. They’re going to Pam’s bridal shower tonight, and need something to go along with the presents. Alex spun the best limerick of the bunch of us. (So yes, there will be yet another wedding before the end of this year.)

We got back to the hotel just before 18:00. Virgil and his date were already there, the others still to follow. Pearl and chanced into a pearlescent (get it?) Chinese-style dress, still as bubbly as several hours earlier. We talked briefly, and chatted amongst ourselves as the guests returned. We were in the same room as before, but with the dividers removed to give us all enough room to sit.

The group of us were at table 14: Fritz, Jin, Doug, Adrian (who we wondered was going to show up on time), Alex, myself, and Virgil and his date (whose name, sadly, I can’t remember).

Dinner was simple, yet tasty: salad with mango and papaya, steak with vegetables and mashed potatoes, followed with a three-layer chocolate mousse. Lively conversation made for an easy evening.

I schmucked out, though, when it came to the dancing later on. I’m not a dancer, I never have been. I hate it, I always have. When Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” started playing, Alex wanted to go dance. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just hate dancing that much. I wish I knew why.

So Alex, I know you can’t fully understand, but you accepted me as it was. I’m sorry I let you down. It was unfair and selfish of me, and thoroughly heartless. I feel quite bad about it. You are my Brown Eyed Girl, and always will be. I’ll try my best to make it up to you. I might not be able to dance, but at the very least, I’ll make an effort to sweep you off your feet.

We left not long afterwards — many of the guests had already left. Alex and I were the first of our table. Tonight was a reminder of what our group had once been like, long ago. It’s almost sad that it’s become like this, but as with all things, change is inevitable.

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Mercedes-Benz Ride and Drive

There’s something about driving like a maniac that makes for an interesting afternoon.

I’ve been working on the Mercedes-Benz USA account for over four years now. In all that time, the closest I’ve ever come to a Benz are the ones I see driving down the street, or the ones we caught in the 2004 Calgary Auto Show.

That is, until today.

Exactly how this was worked out, I’m not sure, and I’m not one to pry. All I know is that it was not only well worth my time, but it was a heap of fun. Through an announcement we received from Thelton (likely arranged through Dan, who was on vacation until today), we found that Critical Mass had arranged to attend one of Mercedes-Benz Canada’s Ride and Drive events. This would give us first-hand exposure to the products we market.

First, though, we had to go through a product seminar. Or at least that’s what we were told it would be. As it turned out, the presentation had become an episode of “Jeopardy”. The team was broken into five teams, each with a speaker. The speaker was to answer the question (or question the answer, in this particular case).

In some cases, the questions were correct, and points awarded. In my team’s case, represented by Jason, they were not. Christine was kind enough to tally our final score at about -$10,000.

Immediately following the “seminar”, we headed to our own personal vehicles (or other’s if we were getting a lift, which I was), and headed towards the southeast to Race City Speedway.

The event was to start at 14:00, at least according to the website. It was already underway when we arrived around 13:30, although you wouldn’t necessarily know — there weren’t a lot of people there.

Race City Speedway is on the bare outskirts of Calgary. It’s been there for decades, and it shows. It’s not the most glamourous place: the main parking lot is ratty gravel, the dirt oval looks like it hadn’t seen a spot of paint in at least 10 years, the timing tower’s seen a couple of improvements probably in recent times, though iffy, and the bleachers … well, you won’t catch me sitting on them any time soon.

That said, the Speedway has a quarter-mile track for drag racing, and a small course for road racing. It was where the quarter mile track starts that Mercedes had set up the entry tent. There we received our tags, denoting us as participants in the event. Exiting the tent, we found the collected inventories of the Hyatt and Lonestar Mercedes-Benz dealerships neatly lined up for viewing. (One of the salesmen would later tell me that Murphy arranged to have their dealerships swamped with customers on the two days the cars weren’t there).

We were ferried down from the cars to the first of the three event pieces. We were either driven in an ML350 or an S500. I opted for the S500, since I have no interest in the M-Class. The S-Class is a nice line, though I know I have no hope of ever affording one.

The Ride and Drive event is put on by Mercedes-Benz Canada as a sales gimmick. The idea is to go beyond the ordinary test drive, to get a chance to push the car to do the things you wouldn’t get a chance to do in a normal test drive. The event is actually run by a completely different company, though.

There are three activities at the Ride and Drive: the slalom, the C55 challenge, and braking and handling. This was the order I did them in, too, though I initially had no peticular desire to go near the C55. Details on that in a moment…

The slalom is a fairly simple thing. The course is a loop, about 250 metres long, and about 15 metres wide. You drive down one side, at a fairly brisk pace, getting to know what the car is like in sharp corners. The course then turns around to return the way you came, with a jog to the left, then back to the right, and a stop sign just before the start/finish line.

Jen, our Product Specialist (she ran the “Jeopardy” game), and I piled into a C230 Kompressor for the slalom. Jen took the first run, whipping in and out of the pylons that marked the edges of the curves, before whipping around the end, and bursting to the stop sign. We reached the end quite quickly, and we swapped. I don’t know how fast Jen did the course, but I think I ran it at about 50 km/h. I only hit one pylon. Others in our team were not quite so lucky, both Mabel and Jeff got lectures from the officials about their driving.

I have to say that I have changed my opinion of the C230 Kompressor. I built the microsite for the Mercedes-Benz USA launch a few years ago. I came to loathe and despise the vehicle. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I actually tried to avoid driving it, opting for the C230 Sport Sedan instead. But somehow, it worked out that I got a chance to experience a car that, until today, I hated. Funny how things happen.

As we watched others running the course, Robb finished his run in the C55, proclaiming:

“You guys have gotta try this!”

The C55 activity wasn’t really “active”. The C55 is the top of the line in the C-Class line, running about CDN$75,000 base. It’s an AMG, which is Mercedes-Benz’s custom sport line. It’s powerful, about 360 horsepower. It’s not the sort of thing that Mercedes-Benz is going to willingly let us drive. So they brought in a professional race car driver.

Jen, Marcie, and I donned crash helmets and piled into the C55, Marcie in the front passenger seat, myself behind Marcie, and Jen next to me. The driver smirked through his visor, and the car took off, probably due to the massive ACME rockets strapped to the sides. (Well, okay, it felt like it.)

The course isn’t long, maybe a kilometre in total length. Of course, pulling corners at 160 kilometres an hour eats up track very quickly. The locks on the seatbelts kicked in almost immediately, and stayed engaged until we got to the end.

The driver didn’t hit the brake once. Marcie cried: “Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod” as we rounded the corners, hanging on to whatever would keep us in our seats. The driver asked if we wanted to slow down. There was a doubly-defiant “NO!” from the backseat. Marcie was relieved when the ride was finally over.

The next activity, just down the way from the C55 was hands-on: braking and handling. The task is fairly simple: drive as fast as possible towards a tight, short s-curve to the right, taking the turn while braking. Then come around for a straight-away run back in the direction we came in, running at full speed towards a stop sign, braking to the point where the ABS has to kick in. The idea, of course, is to find out what the cars handle like under the conditions.

We had the choice of a C230 Sports Sedan, the S600, an ML350, and an E500. When I found out that the C230 had a manual transmission, I couldn’t resist the chance to give it a whirl. Scott (from our Research and Analytics group) hopped in the passenger seat.

The clutch and the shift was a bit “squishy” (I wasn’t the only one to note that), but I got up to about 100 km/h before reaching the corner. It wasn’t easy to see (I wasn’t the only one to note that, either), and the car handled the braking and turning quite well — far better than I had expected.

The return run was almost too much fun. Having (more or less) figured out the clutch’s sweet spot, I accelerated to over 120 km/h before I got to the stop. I popped the gear to neutral, and tried to put the brake through the floorboard. Nary a squeal from the tires, and the car came to a very quick halt.

I would do the run again in an E500, but only as a passenger. It was a noticeable difference, mostly in that the E500 doesn’t handle as well. It is a bigger engine, but it’s also a bigger car.

The smell of burning rubber was everywhere. If it wasn’t us smoking the tires on the slalom course (we regularly did … though I don’t believe *I* did), it was us squealing on the braking and handling course. Naturally, the C55 did have a bit of residual afterburn from the hard driving.

We even managed to set off the brake overheat alarm on the E500.

I have to say, I was duly impressed by the Mercedes-Benz lineup that we got to try. I somehow doubt that I’ll ever own one, mostly because I simply don’t get paid enough for one. (Besides, I do like my Mini.) What did I get out of all this today, then? A better appreciation for them, which is something you simply can’t get looking at pictures.

Afterwards, we all headed over to one of the local pubs (Duck and Firkin, Fox and Gherkin, Bob and Merklin … something like that) for a few rounds. It gave us all a chance to recount our specific tales of automotive achievement, and ridicule each other about the dumb things we did.

‘Cuz hey, if you can’t mock your co-workers, what other reason do you have for working?

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Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s Mozart on the Mountain

A busy weekend this most certainly was. But it was a fun, productive one.

The first major thing was on Saturday. Mom’s in town to help out with Nana’s recovery from surgery (she had her knee replaced at the beginning of the month), so it was only fitting that Mom and Alex finally meet. Unlike my introduction to Alex’s dad and stepmom (see [[Troubles trying to get home]]), Alex knew about this long in advance, and I prepared her for it. Not that there’s much to prepare for … Mom isn’t an intimidating person.

Cathy and Craig, on the other hand, that’s going to be an interesting introduction.

The meeting was over lunch, at the Cactus Club Cafe up on Barlow Trail. I hadn’t been to a Cactus Club since I lived in Vancouver — so at least four and a half years ago, bordering probably on five. It seems that they’ve gone a little more upscale than I remembered, coming somewhere in between an upscale casual restaurant and a low-key nightclub. At lunch, it wasn’t loud or obnoxious, so it was at least pleasant. The decor was pretty chic, too.

Mom had actually dressed for the part, as did Alex. I wore just whatever I felt like — woefully underdressed again. Mom and I spent most of our time catching up on things. I found out that Cathy and Craig have mostly finished their kitchen, and completed the new bathroom. (Cathy — care to update me every now and then?) A couple of deaths and a few new shake-ups. Overall, the usual.

Alex and Mom didn’t talk too much. This was not even remotely surprising. Mom’s not the in-your-face inquisitive type (that’s Cathy), and Alex is a little shy. Fortunately, Mom knows a bit about Alex through me; Alex knows a bit of Mom through me. One day, I won’t have to be the middle man.

Following lunch, I got down to a bit of work, most of which was getting my journals posted from my vacation in BC with Alex. I’ve got some actual work to do, which I hope to get off my chest before I go to bed tonight. (Alex went to lie down, victim of a nasty headache.)

Tamara’s birthday is today (happy birthday, Tamara!), and last night was her birthday party, held at Booker’s Crab Shack. We’ve been there a couple of times, and it’s a great place for Louisiana-style food. Alex was to come, but her head just didn’t let her up. I stopped by briefly before joining Tamara, Dan, and Doug at Bookers. We were later joined by Todd, Andrea, and Cailey. Dinner was a nice fillet of tuna, for me, anyway.

I returned to Alex’s after dinner, an Orange Crush Froster (Mac’s version of the Slurpee) in hand. I thought the coolness might help her head a bit. As it stands, she was already feeling better when I arrived, so it became a bit of a bonus. We watched “True Lies” on Access before going to bed.

We tried not to sleep in this morning, as the big event of the day was going out to Canmore. Today was the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of “Mozart on the Mountain”. It’s a show that features Mozart, held on one of the greens of the Stewart Creek golf course, in the shadow of the Three Sisters. In theory, outdoor concerts shouldn’t get any better.

To be certain, I’d have my doubts that it could get worse.

First off, I have to say this much: the concert was excellent. The music was wonderful, the soloists (Nikki Einfeld, soprano; and Paul Grindlay, bass) were excellent (although showtunes from plays and movies don’t sound as good when sung by opera-trained singers). The weather was even decent (although it did get cooler as the day wore on), despite the garbage we’ve been having all summer (if you can in fact call it “summer”). I was a bit surprised at the lack of Mozart (we had only selections from “The Magic Flute” and Symphony #41), though they renditions of “Colonel Bogey March” and “Blue Danube Waltz” made up for it, in my ears, anyway. The volunteers were also quite nice, those we dealt with anyway.

Now, here’s where my bitching starts. Just getting tickets was an ordeal. Alex has a huge gripe with this, having wasted over an hour trying to purchase them, and then spending two hours trying to (unsucessfully) pick them up. She even wandered into the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s offices without a single person actually being there. What’s up with that?

That’s annoying. What was really frustrating was the organization (or complete lack thereof) at the event site. We were not permitted to drive to the Stewart Creek Golf Course. Why not? Try finding parking for 7,500 patrons in the area. We ended up having to park in fields and empty lots around Canmore, and were bussed to the site. That, at least, was intelligent. The busses came onto the grounds, went into a bus loop (newly-constructed for the event, and didn’t look big enough), and empty people out to walk up to the green, a distance of about 400-500 metres.

We had to walk through a tent that contained sponsors, vendors, food, and the CPO’s merchandise store. The ground was soggy from all the rain. We walked on bark mulch, which wasn’t much better. It took a while before we got to the asphalt trail used for the golf carts. It wasn’t a hard walk, but it was a slow one — the trails are narrow, and people weren’t walking fast.

Finding a seat wasn’t too hard, but we were quite a ways back. (The concert didn’t start until 14:00. We arrived at about 12:45. People were apparently lined up for the busses at 8:00 that morning.) The tricky part was finding seating where we weren’t surrounded by chairs. This annoyed the both of us.

According to the sheets we were given, the ONLY kind of seating that was supposed to be allowed were “festival chairs” — folding chairs with legs less than half the length. This is so people without chairs can still see over and around you. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of actual festival chairs I saw. The rest were the full-sized chairs. There was absolutely no control on them whatsoever.

Just a thought to the event planning team at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra: the next time you say “festival seating”, make sure you either enforce it, or don’t mention it at all. People will abuse it to no end, and all it does is create friction between patrons. Why? Because, simply put, people are jerks and look out only for themselves. They have no qualms about putting up chairs in front of people who came on blankets (which were allowed, and dare I say encouraged by your instructions). If you do allow full-sized seats, how about designating blanket and festival seating in front of the full chair seating, or put the full chairs off to the sides and allow blankets in the middle?

Luckily, Alex and I managed to keep some space to ourselves.

The concert ran long. Originally supposed to finish at 16:00, it didn’t end until 16:45, completing with an unscheduled rendition of the Can-Can. Many people kicked up their heels to that — those who hadn’t already tried to leave.

This is where it got really ugly.

You can’t send 7,500 people down the golf cart paths at once. It takes a bit of effort. So the line moved very slowly. Also, you can’t put 7,500 people onto busses the way the organizers had envisioned. Their idea? Load up 4-5 busses at a time on the bus loop, send them up the hill and off to the parking lots, and bring in 4-5 more busses to be filled. On paper, it seemed like a good idea. Here’s the problem: on paper, everyone behaves.

Rule #1 in event planning: people will never behave on their own if you don’t try to control them.

The line moved painfully slow around the vendor tent at the bus loop. When we finally reached the other side, we saw, quite literally, a sea of people. There were no lines, and since all the volunteers were watching the crowd go down up on the paths, there were hardly any down at the loop to control the crowds. So what happened was a mess: people standing where they wanted to, trying to force their way onto the busses as they came by, and getting on where they could. Busses were sometimes half-full (or worse, completely full) starting from the far side of the loop (these selfish folk walked around the crowd, circumventing the honour system completely), preventing people at the front of the line from being able to get on.

It wasn’t until people started to vocally complain that something was done. By that point, however, control had completely laspsed, and the system was mere moments from breaking down. Busses couldn’t be filled fast enough, and many had become so impatient that they were virtually standing on the road, blocking the busses. It all came to a head when one of the busses got too close to the inside of the loop, and almost rolled over onto its side. (Luckily, it didn’t, and no-one was injured.)

Almost immediately, people started walking up the hill in droves. Patience had totally worn out, and we were ready to walk back to the car rather than wait for the busses to finally get their acts sorted out. When Alex and I reached the top of the hill, we found dozens of busses waiting, as if we should have all just come up there in the first place.

I was amazed, even dumbfounded at the sheer idiocy of how poorly this had been handled. Don’t think you can control 7,500 people trying to get onto busses? Of course you can, but you have to run it like Disneyworld: forcibly put people in lines, and let only so many people through at a time. Let everyone know, right to the back of the line, how long the line is, and how long you’ll have to wait to get out. When you fill the bus, make people go right to the back and fill to the front. When people sit down at the front, they block everyone’s ability to get in. Remove constrained loading/unloading areas (like the loop), and go to the road. Load 10 busses at a time, and count off EXACTLY the number of people per bus, so there’s no question of too many or two few.

It was that level of totalitarianism that was missing.

We didn’t get on a bus until after 18:15. We didn’t get back to the car until after 18:30. We didn’t get home until after 20:00. This from a concert that ended three hours earlier. It’s an hour drive to Canmore, if you take your time.

A question to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra: you want to know why you’re losing patronage? Take a wild guess. I’ll give you a hint: if you’re running your business the same way you run that festival, you’d better start shopping out your resumes.

‘Cuz I ain’t the only one who noticed the problems today.

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BC Vacation: Three Valley Gap to Calgary

No rooster, just the sounds of patrons leaving their rooms. I think I prefered the rooster.

The Chateau’s name is a little misleading. One is brought to think of the Canadian Pacific (now Fairmont) hotels, with the old world grandeur and luxury. Make no mistake, folks, this ain’t the Banff Springs. It’s a 1950’s motor lodge with a fancy roof. But it’s comfortable, and the grounds a nicely kitchy. Besides, it’s a family business, and run very well.

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BC Vacation: Ruskin to Three Valley Gap

We awoke about an hour earlier than we have in mornings past, but for no real reason. We didn’t even hear the rooster!

The porridge was followed, almost as soon as we could get ready, by a cat hunt. Allen has plans for his farm, which includes a new barn (of some kind). The problem, of course, is that you can’t have a barn without having mice and rats — that’s just a side effect. They can be controlled, however, with cats.

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BC Vacation: Fort Langley

That stupid rooster woke us up again. We’ve taken to mocking it. If it crowed normally, we probably wouldn’t mind so much. I fell back asleep, though, and Alex went into the house. She came back to wake me up for breakfast.

Fog was hugging the ground all down the river valley. (Not exactly unheard of in the Lower Mainland.) Naturally, this set me off on a photography expedition. You have to move quickly with fog — it doesn’t last long once the sun starts coming up. I got some wonderful pictures, especially of a space amongst the trees near the tent.

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BC Vacation: Trip to Tsawwassen

There’s a rooster not far from Allen’s farm. (Well, “farm” is using the term a bit loosely. It was a farm before he bought it, and it will be one again. But it’s going to take a bit of work.) This rooster isn’t particularly normal. We’ve been speculating why it doesn’t sound normal. Most roosters gain their sound by listening and mimicing the sound of other roosters. This rooster doesn’t seem to have rooster peers, so it lacks the stereotypical cockle-doodle-doo one would expect at 5:30 in the morning.

This one sounds like a cross between a coyote and a freight locomotive horn.

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