Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 year in Review

So I promised to do a wrap up of 2007 and that's what I am going to do. I will start with the best things that happened to me. Then the worst things and then a short review of the resolutions I had made going into 2007. I will save the resolutions for 2008 for next weeks post.

Best Things


1) Getting Engaged

Well the obvious best thing that happened to me in 2007 is the progression of my relationship to the point that I am now engaged. In about 8.5 months I will be a married man, which really is an amazing thing. Things with my future wife progressed very quickly. With out getting overly dramatic I knew from our first date that we had chemistry. I am not saying that we have never had an argument but since they have never even lasted an entire day I say that's a good sign. We always laugh at them after. And truthfully I know could not stay mad at her even if I wanted to and she can't stay mad at me either so it is better to just resolve it and get it over with. It is that fact as much as anything that really made me want to propose.

2) Leaving the Country

I don't get out of Canada very often. To be truthful I don't get out of Toronto very often. However, I had two occasions to leave the city this year. The first and best occasion was the trip I made to St Lucia in August to meet my future in-laws. My parents are from Antigua but I haven't been to the Caribbean since I was 12 years old. Since I am now 27 that is a span of 15 years. It is a very different environment but it was good. If nothing else it was enjoyable to see a lot of people who look like me. Also, I thankfully got along very well with my future in laws so that made the trip enjoyable as well.

My second trip was the my second business trip of my life. I went to Dearborn Michigan for on-sight training at Ford. It was a lot of fun. While I don't think I would ever want a job where I would have to travel constantly, taking the occasional business trip can be enjoyable. Also, since the company didn't give me a budget I took full advantage.

Worst Things

I have been doing some thinking about this an aspect and I am having a difficult time deciding the worst thing that has happened to me. Basically because nothing bad has really happened to me. At the time I thought that being transferred out of Microsoft was absolutely terrible. I saw it as the first real failure of my career. However, in the months since I have come to think that it was the best possible thing that could have happened to me. I have learned a lot since then and I have been exposed to things I don't think I would have otherwise been exposed to. So I guess I have no worse thing.

Resolutions check in

1) Limit my time on the 407etr. The Price is going up and I want to make sure that i don't take the 407 more than twice a week. This should keep my bill under $50 per month. Which is reasonable in my opinion.

I have actually been on the 407 quite a bit lately. However, it was completely covered by the company. So I am not sure whether to categorize this as a success or a failure.

2) Go to the gym 4 times per week. Since there is a gym right by my work and since i don't want to get on the 401 at 5pm. This is a reasonable goal.

This is a complete and total failure. At most I would say I averaged 2 times per week and there were weeks when I didn't go at all.

3) Keep blogging on a regular basis. My goal is to have a new blog addition at least once per week. So far i think that is about as often as i update. If i can keep up that pace i will be happy.

This is a complete success. This is my 49th post of 2007. Expect for the week I was away on vacation and the week when my Internet connection was down I have had a new post up every single week. A few days late maybe but up none the less.

4) Manage money better. I don't think that i have been terribly irresponsible in the past but I do think there is room for improvement. I plan to buy quicken and keep track of all my spending. I would also like to increase the amount of money i put into rrsps.

I did increase my contributions to RRSP's but I didn't have any money tracking software. I am not sure if I am dedicated enough for this.

So that's it.

Happy new year every one.

Next Week ... Goals and resolutions for 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Season

I don't have a lot to say about the christmas season actually. Last year I made a post about how much i detest christmas shopping.

http://thegreenlantern24.blogspot.com/2006/12/christmas-chopping.html

Nothing has changed in the year since. This year I have had the week leading up to christmas off work so I have been able to get into the stores early and get my shopping out of the way before the malls go crazy which is a very good thing. I don't have a ton of gifts to buy actually. Just my parents and my finacee. So really there is no need for me to be at the malls for any extended period of time. As of this writing I am pretty much done all of my shopping.

So that's it for this week. Pretty shitty post I guess. But next week I am going to be doing a wrap up of 2007 and that will be very long post.

...peace

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good Bye Ford Canada

Well, last week was the end of my time working on site at Ford Canada. Overall I must say that it was a very good experience. I was somewhat thrown into it. The person from Wunderman that was on-site got married and moved to be with his new wife in Houston Texas. I had about two days notice before I showed up at Ford. I was a little nervous about going because quite frankly I was happy downtown. I could have refused the transfer but I am not too sure how that would have effected my long term career prospects. I work for a consulting company to some degree so shifting assignments should be part of the job. The only reason I was somewhat hesitant were because of a the distance, it's in Oakville Ontario which is about an hour from where I live. Additionally, I did not care for some of the full time employees at Microsoft and since this is another big company I assumed I would be in the same situation again. However, the difference is that since I was not initially hired to work at Ford I was able to negotiate compensation for the distance I traveled. I was given 48 cents per km. Which worked out to about 370 per week. Since I rarely spent more than about 100 per week on gas this worked out to a decent profit margin. Also, I was compensated for 407 fees so traffic was rarely a problem.

Also, the employees at Ford are polar opposites of the full time employees at Microsoft. I felt completely welcomed and part of the team from the very beginning. I was offered the opportunity to stay at ford indefinitely. I turned it down for a few reasons. Although I was being compensated for the distance I still didn't completely feel it was worth it. For one thing it is tiring to drive that amount of distance every single day. Working at ford would mean being in my car for a minimum of two hours a day. When I drive on the highway I have to be very alert. There were more than a few times when I felt myself getting sleepy behind the wheel. My car is also becoming somewhat of a high mileage vehicle. As of today it has 183,000 km on it. since working at ford means putting 760km per week on it the car would probably not last that much longer. I bought the car with 123k on it so i have put on 60k in just under 2.5 years. I want it to last me at least another 2.5 years and working at Ford would not help that situation.

Being off site also concerned me. I was not sure that any accomplishments I made would be guaranteed to make it back to the main office. I would be depending on the Ford clients to relay my work back to Wunderman. I don't like that concept.

But Overall it has been a good experience and since the hours at Ford are longer I received extra vacation time. I don't have to go back to work until January 7th. Since my fiancee is off also we get to spend some time together.

I just passed a year at Wunderman last month and because of the moving around I have done I have definitely added some positives to my resume. I worked with Sibel, MS SQL Server 2000 and MS SQL Server 2005, MS Visual studio 2005. Also I worked with Unica and Business Objects (Crystal Reports). That's five positives that I can add to my resume which will definitely help me in the future.

I will miss aspects of Ford Canada but I will be happy to be back down town.


I am Legend


I saw this movie and didn't care for it. I found it very depressing. Also, from what I have heard it is a very big departure from the books original story line. I have talked to some other people and they seemed to like it, but it just didn't work for me on many levels. However, the movie did have the premiere trailer for "The dark Knight". Which looks absolutely incredible.



Next week ... Christmas Season.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Marriage Classes

As part of a catholic ceremony the bride and groom have to attend marriage classes before the wedding. I am not the most religious guy, and I thought that theses course would essentially be another mass. As such I was somewhat opposed to it in the beginning. However, we have attended classes for three weeks now (one every Thursday) and I must say that my assumptions were wrong and I do actually enjoy the classes. The classes actually have very little to do with religion. It really is more about strategies for having a happy marriage than it is about anything else. There exercises designed to help you resolve conflict in your marriage. You talk about what responsibilities each person will have in the marriage. Next weeks class is about financial decisions we will have to make. Overall its been very good. The only thing that I don't particularly care for is the location and time. Our class is at 7:00 pm on Thursdays. Since I have been working out at FORD it is not always easy to get back to my area to pick up my fiancee and then drive to the location of the class on time. So far we have been averaging showing up about 5-10 minutes late. But, I am off next week Thursday so we should make it in plenty of time.

That's it for this week.

Next Week ... Goodbye Ford Canada.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

TV writers Strike/Lion Man

So this post has been a very long time coming. Actually I kept putting it off because other things have come up in my life. That's not to say that this stuff doesn't interest me it's just that they can mostly be covered in a few sentences.

TV writers Strike

As most people who know me know, I consider my self to be somewhat of a student of pop culture and Television is a big part of this. If you have been watching the news you may have heard that there is currently a TV writers strike going on. What it is based on is the total lack of revenue/residuals that are not being paid to writers for the new media forms. What I mean is that for some reason studios think it is okay to generate revenue off of the Internet or DVD sales and not provide the writers with any compensation for there work. If you watch a TV show on a network website (as opposed to an illegal file sharing site) you are forced to watch the show in a viewer they provide. This viewer allows you to rewind but you can not fast forward through the commercial advertising content the studios put in the shows. If there is advertising content then the studios are making money. If they are making money then they should have compensate the creators of the material. To me that would seem obvious but for some strange reason the studios feel they should not have to pay the writers anything. When a show is sold into syndication the studio have to compensate the writer for the work. I don't see why the deal should be any different if the syndication happens on the Internet as opposed to television. Obviously the writers want to put a stop to this. As such, about three weeks ago they went on strike. This is having huge affects on the TV season. The 7th season of 24 has already been canceled. A serialized show like 24 needs to have all the episodes filmed. They can't shoot some and air them and wait for weeks on end for a strike to be resolved before they can show the rest. The Fans of the show expect to see the show continuously for 24 weeks straight. Anything else is simply unacceptable. Although 24 was pretty bad last season I was still looking forward to its return. Now it looks like I will have to wait another year to see it. Another show that is up in the air is LOST. Lost was supposed to have a shortened season of only 16 episodes. But apparently they have not finished filming/writing enough of them yet. It has not been officially canceled this season but it is certainly looking like that is the likely outcome.

The only show that are pretty much safe are American Idol and other reality shows. Since in general I hate reality TV and think it is the worst thing to happen to the medium since Ted Turner or Fox news, I am not thrilled about the prospects for TV in the winter season.

I hear that the studios and the writers are negotiating again. I hope they get this resolved soon or I could see myself spending a lot of money on DVD's for entertainment.

Lion Man

Have you seen this?



As I have mentioned in past post I have been working at ford for the past 2.5 months. I actually sit next to the guys who are somewhat responsible for this campaign. I have heard them on the phone discussing it. They are nice people and I enjoy working with them. That being said, this is still an incredibly dumb idea. Who they hell thought that a "Lion man" could help them sell cars. The new Ford Focus is actually a very good small car. It doesn't need Lion men! Ford needs to focus on cars and leave the "Lion Men" in the jungle.

That's it for this week.

Next week... Marriage Classes

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Friends Big fat Greek Wedding

So first off I want to apologize for my third bait and switch in a row. I meant for this post to address all the topics that I keep bumping for later topics. However, an old friend of mine got married this weekend and I couldn't NOT mention it in my blog. My friend Tony and I met in second grade so we have been friends for just about 20 yrs. Which when you consider the fact that I am only 27 is a hell of a long time to be friends with someone. He is the first one of my close friends to get married.

Anyways his wedding was this past Saturday. It was hands down the biggest wedding I have ever been to. While I am sure that not all of them came to the wedding Tony had told me that there were 570 people scheduled for the reception. I was also happy because this was the first time for my fiancee to meet some of my friends that she hadn't met yet.

As you probably guessed from the title my friend is Greek. As such he had a very traditional Greek wedding. Much more traditional than I was expecting. The ceremony was in a Greek orthodox church. And at the reception the band was Greek and they had traditional Greek dancers. However, the food was pretty much standard Canadian stuff.

Truthfully it was a very surreal thing to watch someone you have known for so long get married. I suppose it will be the same thing for him in 9 months when it is my turn.

Well congrats Tony, I wish you all the best.

Next week ... TV writers Strike/Lion Man/Reading

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Anniversairy

OK, so first all I want to apologize for this being my second bait and switch in a row. I know that this weeks post was supposed to be about "TV writers Strike/ Lion Man". But i realized that this week marked a special occasion and I couldn't let it pass without acknowledgment. This week is the one year anniversary at my job and as such it is also the one year anniversary of my blog. This is actually my 49th blog post. I must say that I am quite proud of myself. With the exception of the two weeks when I had no Internet connection at home and the one week when I was on vacation in St Lucia, I have managed to put up at least one new blog post every single week. At one point I was worried that a frequency of once a week would cause me to run out of topics fairly quickly. But truthfully, I have never really had that much difficulty coming up with topics. I don't think I lead that exciting of a life so I am surprised by that. I guess the key to blogging for me is to just talk about whatever is on my mind or things I am interested in. I don't get into my personal life that much here but I have mentioned the important things. Namely my engagement and job changes. Both are topics that will continue to be staples of this blog.

Also, I am glad to say that I think my blogging has inspired other blogs. My friend, ex-coworker, and blog reader Todd has started a blog. As well my militant (LOL) older sister has also started one. I would like to think that I may have been of some inspiration to them.

I don't know if I consider my blogging to be therapeutic. There are very few things in my life that are truly stressful. There were a few times when writing helped me deal with things. The first would be my post about leaving Microsoft GoodBye Microsoft This was really difficult at the time because one of the reasons I took the job at Wunderman in the first place was for the opportunity to work at Microsoft. Another one that was a stress relief was my post on Wedding Planning I think I have a fairly high BS tolerance but some of the hoops we have had to jump through were getting on my last nerves. It was nice to get them all out in writing.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention my two rants posts. BET and Celebrity Girls. You shouldn't read these posts if you have a problem with swearing.

Anniversaries are a good time to look back and reflect. Overall, I am happy with my blogging experience and it is my intention to continue doing it. I think it is a good way capture my experiences and my life in general.

I know this post has offered no new insights and has been the blog equivalent of a clip show but I had to acknowledge this occasion. My original intent was to do a year end review of my life but I think it's best to leave that post until the first of January. To my readers I hope you have enjoyed the ride and I will continue to drive. Suggestions are always welcome and if there is anything in particular you want to hear my opinion on please let me know.

Next Week ... Tying up loose ends.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Last Weekend

I know this post is supposed to be about reading but I want to keep this blog current. This past weekend I went to Niagara Falls with some of the guys. The reason for the trip was for a Bachelor Party for a friend of mine. He is getting married in two weeks. To be honest I wasn't really dying to go to this. I didn't think it was necessary. I don't mean that I think that we should not have had a bachelor party I just mean the trip all the way to Niagara. It seems to me that a simple night at any Toronto strip club would have been enough. We didn't end up going to a strip club in Niagara. We went to some other club that I can't remember the name of at the moment it is located right beside the fallsview casino.

I am guessing it is the only club in the city because the line to get in was completely insane. We had arranged to be on the guest list but that didn't mean a hell of a lot. In the end we had to bribe the bouncer to by pass the line. We gave him $15 a piece. Since there were 16 of us that amounts to quite a lot of money. Then we still had to pay the cover. Inside the club itself it was ok. It wasn't really my kind of music being played but was about what I expected. Unfortunately there were a few too many drunks there for my taste. I understand the fact that people drink in clubs but there were too many drunks there. There was at least one person who threw up. I didn't see it happen but I did see the puke on the floor. Thankfully, some one who works there mopped it up quickly, but it is still gross. Also, there were at least 3 fights that I saw. The best thing to do when a fight breaks out in a club is to just get the hell out of the way. The bouncers will get in there and start throwing people around and you DO NOT want to get caught in between. I also, don't think the bouncers did a good enough job of removing people. There were a couple of drunks there who were just looking for trouble and should have been escorted out. Honestly, the security in clubs is far too lax these days. A few years ago I remember being searched before I entered any club. Now I can't remember the last time I was searched before going inside. While being searched is not fun, it does provide the people in the club with some assurance that there are no weapons inside. The truth is that if you have young people in cramped quarters, listening to loud energizing music, drinking more alcohol than they can handle the possibility of a fight is always there. Overall though I guess I still had a good time but it is not something I would do again in a hurry. It's just not my thing any more.

Which bring me to the point, something that I have mentioned quite a few times on this blog. The concept of going out partying and drinking heavily is not something I have any interest in doing. I enjoyed spending some time with some friends but I was very glad when the night was over and was looking forward to going home and seeing my fiancée.

Next Week... TV writers Stike/ Lion Man

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fights with Significant Other/American Gangster

Thankfully most of the time I don't get into many fights with my fiancee. But we are human and life isn't like the Brady bunch so they do happen occasionally. I think it is pretty natural for the most part. We are not clones of each other and we have our own opinions on things. And when you spend as much time together as we do sometimes those differing opinion's are going to get into conflict. We thankfully never have any of the over the top arguments that are always present in movies and music video's. We are both under a lot of stress right now and as such tempers can wear thin somtimes.

However, I do have a few tips for anyone in relationship who gets in an argument with your significant other.

1) Always remember that you love this person.
2) Focus on the the subject of the argument and and don't bring up old shit. (I can be guilty of this sometimes)
3) Stay calm and think rationally.

We try to follow these three rules and it works pretty well for us.

American Gangster

I saw this movie on Friday. Overall it's not bad but I don't think it was that great either. It's a pretty long film and I think that some things could have been cut out with out sacrificing any of the movies overall effectiveness. I don't regret seeing it in the theaters but I won't be buying the DVD.


Next Week ... Reading

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Candian Currency

I want to state in advance that this will probably be a fairly short post. My topic this week is the drastic change in the value of Canadian currency that has taken place over the past few years. Simply put I am not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand the increased currency value was a godsend when we going on vacation to St Lucia a few months ago. On the other hand as my sister always points out to me I know that I don't live in a bubble. As such I realize that the increased Canadian dollar is making life difficult for some other business.

In short I think a good value for the dollar is about 80 cents American. It's cheap enough so that the Americans will buy from us but it is expensive enough so that if I want to cross the border for any reason I am not going to be paying an arm and a leg.

I will end with a funny story. As mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago I recently went on a business trip to Dearborne Michigan for Ford. Before I went I visited a bank to get $20 US. I think it cost me about $20.65 Canadian. When I got back I had ten US left so I thought I might as well get it changed. The Bank gave me 9.65 Canadian. I was shocked and teller and I had a good laugh.

Finally, to my American Readers... How does it taste? Do you like knowing that our funny colored money is worth more than yours. LOL


Next Week... Dealing with fights with significant Other

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wedding Planning

Planning a wedding is substantially more stressful than it needs to be. I am just trying to get married not run for president. But honestly the whole thing feels as complicated as a political campaign. The first issue was about booking the church. My fiancee is Catholic and in the interests of maintaining positive relations with my future in laws I agreed to have a catholic ceremony. However, the catholic church insists that you have to have a full year of engagement. Since I proposed in September and we want to get married in August 08, we don't have the year requirement. When my fiancee went to see the priest he told her that he wouldn't perform the ceremony. She explained that the reason we want an august ceremony is because her brother is a teacher and her sister is still in university so they wouldn't be able to come in September or October. In addition we don't want to have a wedding in the cold of winter. He said our situation does not matter and that it has to be a year. He also said that the year engagement would give her time to consider if she really wants to marry a non-catholic. Thankfully I wasn't there for this comment. Otherwise I would have told this piece of shit priest he can go fuck himself!!! He's probably just pissed about not having sex in his whole god dammed repressed life. I mean for gods sake he is unwilling to compromise by a few weeks. It's not like we were trying to have the ceremony in April or something. In fact when i proposed I was thinking that we would have an 11.5 month engagement so that should be enough to satisfy the church. But it was not enough for this asshole!

Luckily, there is another church not to far down the street and they were more willing to deal. They said we could have the ceremony in august. My fiancee still had to bring in proof of her confirmation and baptismal (There is a long story behind this but i will leave it for now). We also have to take some marriage preparation course. He has mentioned that me converting to Catholicism would be a good idea but it is not mandatory. Well, since it is not mandatory I have no interest in converting. If it were mandatory I would place my hand on the bible and I would lie to his face by swearing to be a good catholic for as long as I live. He also said that the latest we can have the ceremony is 2:00 pm Because there is a 5:00pm mass. 2:00pm is at last an hour or 2 earlier than I would liked but I can live with it.

Our next hurdle is in booking the hall for the reception. We called a few places and they are all pretty much booked for the Saturdays in August. However, we did find one place that has a spot for a wedding of our size (120-150 ppl). The place is called Le Parc. Actually my friend and ex-coworker Domenico got married there 2 years ago. He had a very nice ceremony so that's how I knew about the place. I emailed him for information on the place and he gave them a good review. We have a meeting with them on Monday Oct 22 at 7pm. So, if everything goes well I could have the church and reception booked by tomorrow. Now all I have to deal with are the million other things involved in getting married. I am hoping it gets easier from hear but i doubt it.

Next week... Canadian Currency.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall TV

It all Sucks!!!! There is not one good new show!

Next Week... Wedding Planning

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ford Canada

Well for the past few weeks I have been working out at Ford Canada. I guess this is the nature of consulting work. One week your one place the next week you are somewhere else. Basically what happened is that Wunderman has had an employee on site at Ford for a little over a year now. However, in August he gave notice that he was quiting. He is getting married and his future wife lives in Houston Texas and as such he is moving to Texas to be with her. Unfortunately even though he gave plenty of notice Wunderman was unable to find a suitable replacement for him. As such I was sent out there. However, I made sure to establish that i am only there as a band-aide solution and that I will only be there for a finite amount of time. I started about two weeks ago and i agreed to stay there until mid to late november.

There are a couple of reasons I was willing to go.
1) I think it shows that I am a team player and am willing to help.
2) At ford they use a software package from Unica called Affinium for lead management. It is sort of like a Visual GUI interface for a very large database/data warehouse. I figured that I should always try to take advantage of the opportunity to learn new software. Since I did do some work in Siebel when i was at Microsoft. I now have new semi-technical skills that I can add to my resume.
3) Working on site at a client should also help to improve my people skills.

However, there are a couple of reasons that I am unwilling to make this a permanent situation. (The clients at Ford have said many times so far that they would like me to stay permanently)

1) Distance. Ford Canada is located in Oakville. Needless to say that is very far from Scarborough. It's even farther away than when i worked at Microsoft. However, unlike when I was at Microsoft Wunderman is willing to pick up the bill for me to take the 407 highway. This means that I can get to work in just under 1 hr. Which is similar or a little less than the time it took me to get downtown using the Bus and subway. But there is the matter of wear and tear on my car. As of today there are approx. 175km on my car. Needless to say it isn't a new vehicle. Having to drive this much distance everyday is going to take years off the life of my car. I would like to see if I can keep this car for at least another 3-5 years. Now in fairness to Wunderman they are allowing my to expense my mileage at a rate of 44 cents per KM. Which works out to a couple of hundred dollars per week. Which is obviously substantially more than I pay in gas. But it is still not enough to buy a new car if my car dies before it is supposed to.

2) Nature of the work. While learning a new software is good the rest of the work is not always as challenging. Also there are times when I am not as busy. Also, the technical tools at my disposal are not exactly cutting edge. Additionally, I think being on site at the client means that I will have substantially less control over process than I did when I was downtown and was making process design myself.

3) Finally, there is an issue of recognition that I would be concerned about. At Microsoft, Kraft, or any of the other Wunderman Clients there is a team in place. At Ford I am the only guy. Which to me means anything I do would go largely unnoticed by the rest of the company unless it is reported back by the client. Also, being the only person on site means that I would miss out on the day to day events and shake ups of what is going on with the company in general. I don't just mean office gossip, although i do enjoy gossip I can live with out it. I mean management changes and new hires and fires and the reasons behind those decisions.

4) Hours, Ford works from 8-5 as opposed to the 9-5 that i worked at Wunderman. I will be compensated for the additional hours worked when I get back downtown.

For those reasons I am unwilling to stay at ford longer than the end of November.


But there is one great thing that happened. I was actually sent on a training session out in Dearborn Michigan last week. Since I have a lot of family that lives in Detroit I was looking forward to this. While I didn't really get a chance to see most of my family I did get to spend time with my cousin Micheal everyday. As i have mentioned before i think of him as a younger brother so its always good to see him.

Additionally Wunderman put me up in a very nice hotel that was near the Ford office. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. Which is one of the nicest hotels I have ever been in. And since wunderman was picking up the bill for my food and travel expenses i had a few Lobster dinners. LOL....

Well, that's it for this week.

Next week... Fall TV Review.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BET

This post has been a long time coming. In fact i find it very difficult to say because I have very mixed emotions about the topic. On the one hand the concept of a black owned and operated TV station featuring shows produced and staring black people is a good thing. On the other hand that is not what BET is. BET is owned by MTV. And as such BET is very slowly but surely turning into an all music station. And the music they play is almost all Hip Hop, Rap and R'nB. And this is where my inner conflict arises. Those are the genres of music that i like but they are also responsible for the most negative images of black people seen in the public. Once upon a time BET had some good uplifting shows like Teen Summit, Tavis Smiley, Bet News, etc... Now there original programing is 100% about making black people look like fools. I present the following examples of shows currently airing on BET.

Hot Ghetto Mess (We got to do better).

I figured I might as well start with the worst show on the network and the worst show on television period.

BET Description

WE GOT TO DO BETTER is an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of Black popular culture.

Utilizing comedy, man-on-the-street interviews, video clips, pictures and music, WE GOT TO DO BETTER aims to shine a spotlight on prevalent images in pop culture and examine what role they play in American lifestyle. WE GOT TO DO BETTER goes where most shows fear to tread.


My Description

Lets go out and find the dumbest black people we can and put them on television so that every other race thinks we are idiots.

This show is based on this website HotGhettoMess After spending 10 seconds on this site you will know why i hate it. Especially if you go to the Mess of the month Section. DISGUSTING!!!


AMERICAN GANGSTER

Bet Description
AMERICAN GANGSTER chronicles the life and times of some of Black America’s most notorious crime figures. The show will explore without glorifying, and investigate without celebrating these criminal-minded men and women.

During each episode, the crimes of infamous Black figures, such as Chaz Williams, Larry Hoover and the D.C. Snipers, will be put in the context of Black history as we see how their actions both reflected and corrupted the values of their community. While exploring the lives of drug dealers, murderers and thieves, each AMERICAN GANGSTER episode will have a strong moral dimension. The Black victims of these criminals will be heard. Judgment will be passed, and amoral behavior censured. Each episode will blend news footage, photographs and interviews in a compelling, magazine-style format.


My Description

I'm tired of glorifying pretend gangsters (rappers ex. Ja Rule) so lets glorify real criminals. The people highlighted in these shows have help to destroy black communities and are all criminals and murders. I mean why would you do a show an the DC snipers. They killed multiple people.

BEEF

This is a show entirely about highlighting on going feuds between rap stars. Never mind that people have lost their lives to these feuds (Biggie, Tupac). It gets good rating and makes black people look bad so its a two for one for BET.


Honestly the only positive show on the network is Meet the Faith.
It is basically a round table discussion show talking about current events that may or may not have an effect on the black community. Usually the guest speak eloquently and can defend their positions.


All this is not to say that BET used to be great. It never was. The guy who used to own the network is responsible for producing movies like Who's Your Caddy?
So I will never give him any credit. Some will say this is the only way for black actors to get work. I say no. Take a smaller role in a more mainstream enterprise. Currently there are black actors on many of the most popular shows. All the CSI's, Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Heroes, Lost, etc... The shows i mentioned don't have all black casts and they don't need to be. The world isn't all black so i don't expect my TV shows to be. What i do want is that when a black person is in a public format that he does his best not to make a complete ASS of himself. Because more so than any other race what one of us does affects us all.

Well that's it. I will once again step off my soap box. This was a tough post to write but it needed to be said.


Next Week... Ford Canada

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Well, it's official. I'm engaged.

That's right. The title is NOT a misprint. I am now officially off the market. Last night i proposed to my girlfriend on our one year anniversary. I had actually bought the ring almost 3 weeks ago but I thought it would be better to wait for a special event.

I planned the evening pretty well i think. We first went to dinner at The David Duncan house. It is one of the if not the fanciest restaurant that I know. Additionally since the DVP was shut down this weekend it allowed us to avoid the highway. I went to my girlfriend's, excuse me, my fiancee's house to pick her up. That when i gave her the first surprise. I told her that instead of having dinner at 7 as planned we would be having dinner at 8. The reason for the hour delay is that i wanted to give her time to pack because i was taking her to a hotel for the night. She was very surprised and happy.

So we went to dinner and the atmosphere and the food were great. Actually, there was more food than we could finish. I had considered proposing in the restaurant but decided against it because i thought a more private setting would be better.

So after dinner we went back to the hotel. We went to the hilton Suites. It is probably the nicest hotel room i have ever been in. My fiancee was very surprised when she walked into the room. I had come to the room earlier and checked in. I had decorated the room with pictures of us. I had them on the walls and the floors and rose petals and candles, etc.. I led her in to one of the rooms, then got down on one knee and asked the question. I was very nervous and completely fumbled the speech i had planned. The only sure thing i knew was that she would like the ring because she actually picked it out herself a few months ago. She was very happy and said yes.

The one hang up is that even though she liked the ring it was the wrong size. We took it back to the store to get it resized and it should be ready in about 2 weeks.

We haven't picked an official date yet but the goal would be for late next summer.

Overall, I am very happy.

Next week... BET

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Business Analyst

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work with computers. Working with computers is a fairly large field. I studied mostly programming and as such the first job i got out of school was a programming position. I worked at it for 2.5 years but sometime during the middle of those years i decided that i was more interested in working with databases. As such for my next position I focused my job search to mostly jobs pertaining to database work. My initial logic for this decision is that every company has a database and as such every company will need someone to do a certain amount of database work. Conversely i figured if i stayed in the programing route that my options would primarily be to always work for a software company. I think this statement has some truth because i now actually work for a marketing company.

However, because the company i work for now is so large i have been exposed to the business side of the work i do. This is difficult to explain so bear with me. What i mean is that i having been exposed, and i am trying to understand the business reasons behind doing the things i do. The reasoning behind this is that if you have a better understanding of what the business is trying to accomplish then you are able to provide better results. To that end a manager at my current company arranged for anyone in our department to attend a 2 day Business Analyst training course.

The role of a Business Analyst is very different from that of a software developer or database analyst. A business analyst will meet with the end users to define the functional requirements that the system must meet. The Business Analyst (BA) will then create a business requirements document outlining those requirements and get sign off from the client. The BA then will then give this doc to a senior representative in the IT dept who will then use it to create a Systems Design Doc that shows how each of the requirements are met from a technical standpoint. Then the developer will take the systems doc and build the system.

During this course we learned many of the skills required to become a BA. That being said i don't think that being a pure BA is what i want. A real BA should really never do anything that is remotely technical in nature and i do still enjoy writing computer code. That being said a strictly developer should probably never have any interaction with the clients or end users. I think that i have a certain amount of people skills that would serve me well when dealing with the end users. Also, i like the concept of getting out of the office every once and a while. So for those reasons i don't think i am cut out to be strictly a developer either.

I am fast approaching the point in my career where I am going to have to decide which path i am going to continue on. Ideally i would like to do a little of both. But as of now i am not entirely sure how feasible that is. When i start looking for my next job I am going to have to be very cautious about what position i take to ensure it leads me down the path i want to go.

That's it for this week.

Next Week... Secret Stuff.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

MSN Blogs/Message Boards

I have to begin this week with kind of an apology. I got somewhat of a request in the comments of last weeks blog to discuss BET. I had promised a blog reader (Todd) a while ago that I would have a post outlining my opinion on BET. However, I am not in the right frame of mind to wright that post at the momment. Quite frankly that post is going to be an extremely negative post. I am going to be much harder on them than I was on the celebrity girls last week. I don't want to do two negative posts in a row. As such this week's post is a much lighter topic. MSN Blogs/Message Boards.

When i started working, the home page on my desktop computer was MSN.com. It was the default location and it seemed like a safe homepage to have. As a consequence of this i often found myself reading the articles that were on that page. So much so that it is still my home page today 3 years and 1 job later. On the home page there are 2 links that I follow almost everyday as long as i am not too busy. One section is the "Dating & Personals" section. Now obviously i am already in a relationship so i am not looking for dates but there is a blog connected to this section that i have been following for a little over a year now. It's called Single in the Suburbs Its about a recently divorced 40 something mother of two who decided to try her hand at online dating. The blog chronicles her success and failures. She updates it about every two weeks. I find myself rooting for her. I disagree with the man she is dating now and i hope she breaks up with him and keeps looking. He is not good enough for her. Which is is extremely silly of me to say seeing as how I don't actually know this woman. For all i know she deserves to be with a jerk like Kevin (that's the jerks name).

The other site i go to is the lifestyle link. From there you can go to either the women section or the men section. I like to go women section and go to the message boards. It is filled with women bitching about the personal lives. They post stuff that is extremely personal. I am guessing the anonymous nature of it gives them the freedom to do it. But if their spouses ever found out I am sure the marriages would be over. There is just something incredibly juicy about hearing/reading information that is completely none of your business. :)


Well, that's it for this week...

Next Week... Business Analyst.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Celebrities Girls

This was an uneventful week for me which is why i am writing about a fairly forgettable topic. My topic this week are the current crop of celebrity girls who are always in the news. In particular Brittany, Paris, and Lindsay (AKA The 3 whores of the apocalypse). These bitches are all millionaires with very little actual talent. Brittany hit the scene at the same time as Christina and Jessica and she easily has the worst voice of the three. Her record sales and fame in my opinion can be attributed entirely to her being under 18 (at the time) and having the ability to shake her ass. However, 8 years and two kids later no one and I mean NO ONE is remotely interested in seeing her shake anything. She is a complete mess in every sense of the word.

Then theres Lindsay. Of the three my guess is she had the most actual talent. At one point people actually considered her acting to be pretty good. I have never actually seen a movie with her in it so I am not really qualified to judge. But i do know that her performance in "Mean girls" and "Freaky Friday" were both highly regarded. Her singing is 100% made in the studio so i give her no credit for vocal talent. Unfortunately for her she fell into the trap that effects many child stars. Fame and partying have caused a very fast and sharp decline to the point that she has been in rehab multiple times this year and will be lucky to escape prison for drunk driving and cocaine possession. Again she is a complete mess!!!


Finally there is Paris Hilton. It amazes me that i can hate some one i have never met as much as I hate her. To me she represents everything that is wrong with society and the western world. That someone as dumb and ignorant as she is can MAKE the money she does is just completely wrong. I put the word make in bold because she makes millions of dollars a year. I am not talking about the money she earns from her families hotel empire. She is entitled to that. I am talking about the money SHE MAKES from appearance fees and other endeavors. She got famous because of a sex tape. I am ashamed to admit that I have seen the tape and it is the worst sex I have ever scene. The woman has not a drop of talent. Yet she has movies and albums and perfumes and clothing lines and books and people out there buy it and eat it up. Its disgusting. Why can't people she this bitch for the ignorant whore that she is. And all that would be fine if she was at least attractive. But she IS a cross eyed, buck toothed, beak nosed NEW YAAAWWWK socialite piece of SHIT!!!!

I think that might be the meanest i have ever been in my blog but it had to be said. In conclusion there is nothing inherently wrong with having little talent and being famous as long as you are self aware. Pamela Anderson has no more talent than any of these girls. But she at least realizes that she has no talent and makes a living off her body. But Paris and the rest think they are gods gift to the world.


That's it...

Next week ... MSN Blogs

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vacation in SLU

Welcome back to me. This is my first blog post in a few weeks because as mentioned in a previous post I went to St. Lucia for vacation. My girlfriends family is from there so this was also the first opportunity for me to actually meet them.


Now for the details of the trip...

We arrived in SLU on Saturday afternoon after a short 1hr layover in Charlotte and then a 5hr flight to St Lucia. I have no complaints about the flight and Nadeene's mother and younger brother were waiting there to pick us up from the airport. When we were landing and during the 1hr drive from the airport to our hotel I was able to get a pretty good look at the island. The last time I was in the Caribbean was when I went to Antigua when I was 12. So, it's been a full 15 years. I had forgotten how beautiful the islands can be. Everything is so plush and full of vegetation and life. It is very different than the concrete jungle that large north American cities have become.

We checked in at the hotel then went over to Nadeene's family's house. There I met the rest of her immediate family (father and younger sister). We stayed there for a few hours and then went back to the hotel.

Rest of the trip...

I have decided not to detail every single day and instead focus on the highlights and a few of the low lights of the vacation.


The Good....

The Pitons...

The pitons are two huge mountains located near to the coast line. We spent a good part of a day traveling out to see them. They are very pretty. We had to drive through several smaller towns to get near. Which was very nice because it gave me a chance to see people and more of the country


Sulphur springs.

The sulphur springs are basically a volcano that tourists can drive into. Nadeene's brother was nice enough to act as our tour guide and did all of our driving for us. It not like Mordor in LOTR. There is not lava running everyplace but it is definitely a volcano. And you can smell the sulphur. It's actually really cool.

Going to town...

Thankfully there was a bus route right near where our hotel was. Which meant we never had to pay for a taxi or consider renting a car. Two of our days there we just hopped on the bus and went into town. The city was always very busy and bustling with activities. We stopped by her moms workplace to say hello and we went to lunch with her once.

Nadeene's Family...

They were all very nice to me and went out of their way to make me feel at home. Her mother cooked multiple meals for us which obviously saved us plenty of money because our vacation package was not all inclusive. As mentioned above her brother gave up his time drive us around a lot including from her house to our hotel. Also her Aunt arranged for us to have a dinner at a near by hotel. The dinner was amazing with the biggest shrimps and tastiest lobsters I have ever had. Her whole family was very nice and made the trip very enjoyable.


The Bad...

Hotel staff...

The hotel staff were rude. I don't know any other way to say it. We found some ants in our room and they wouldn't switch our rooms. There was also a day when they didn't provide us with any wash cloths and there was one maintenance worker who was just plain rude.

Driving in St Lucia...

St Lucia has a lot of mountains. This means that to go anywhere means climbing quite a few hills. Also the roads are not all maintained well and the drivers are very discourteous. It may be the only place in the world where pedestrians do not have the right of way.

Hurricane Dean...

Our plan was to do sight seeing early in the trip and then hit the beach later in the trip. unfortunately Dean had different plans. By late Thursday the rain was coming hard and it would be far too dangerous to go to the beach. We stayed in our hotel room Thursday evening and Friday morning. Thankfully it was only a category 2 when it hit SLU or it could have done much more damage to the island in general.

Overall...

I had a good time and I'm looking forward to future trips there.

Nadeene took over 200 pictures but put the most useful ones are up:
Saint Lucia Vacation Aug 2007 Part 1
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=46405&l=3b5f9&id=686010532

Saint Lucia Vacation Aug 2007 Part 2
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=46425&l=9bfb4&id=686010532

Next week ...
Celebrities Girls

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Visiting Relatives - part 2/Caribana

So I know this post is supposed to be about "Reading" but to keep the blog topical to what is going on in my day to day life I am switching the topic. I should also point out that this will be a fairly short post this week.

So my cousins came into town this week, just for a little visit and to attend Caribana. My cousin Micheal and his wife Krystal have a birthday around this time so I am sure this is a nice get away for them. His brother Jason has come up for Caribana multiple times. So on Friday night my girlfriend and I went out to dinner with them. We went to the KEG. I have never been to the KEG before. It is a fairly nice restaurant. It has a similar feel to Kelseys but slightly more upscale. The portion size was decent also. They give you enough food to fill you up but not so much that you feel overly stuffed. Overall, a good time was had by all.

I decided that Caribana just wasn't going to be my thing this year. My girlfriend had to study for an upcoming exam and would not be able to make it. Generally speaking I am not a huge Caribana fan. I don't even remember the last time that I would have gone to the parade. I used to go down on Young street on the Friday and Saturday nights and just walk around. It was pretty crazy down there. But I was down there last year and I realized that I am quite a few years older than the majority of the people down there. In addition since I already have a girlfriend I am not going to go down there just to look at girls. Another options would be to go to a club. But many clubs jack up the cover charges at this time of year. I have ZERO interest in spending $50 dollars to get in to any night club anywhere. And god only knows what drinks will cost.

As someone of Caribbean decent part of me thinks I have some level of responsibility to attend an event like this. But the older I get the less interested in the party lifestyle I become. Honestly, I enjoy a quiet evening of hanging out with my girlfriend as much or more than getting hammered and hitting some club. The transition has been slow but i guess i am just getting old. :(

There will be no post for the next one or two weeks. I leave for vacation next Saturday and will not return until the following Sunday night. I am going to Saint Lucia with my girlfriend.

Next Post ... What happened on my Vacation

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friends moving away

So technically speaking this is the last weekend living in Toronto for one of my close friends. Sean and I met in university. We sat beside each other in ITEC 101. Seven years later he is one of the only people from university that I still keep in contact with. He started off in university in the same program as me. However, after a few semesters he decided that the computer field was not the right career path for him and decided it would be best to transfer out. Long story short he is a teacher now. And after applying at numerous schools in the area he found it to be near impossible to get a job here. Even with his Masters he still couldn't find a position. As such he is moving to Florida for a position he accepted there. I can't really blame him. He is 26 so he has a strong desire to get his career started. However, I am very sad to see him go. The only other two guys from college that I was close to (Lincoln, and Khalid) both moved to Atlanta years ago. I think it does say something really terrible about the job market here in Toronto. At least for people just starting up. When I was looking for my last job I found one quickly (4 weeks). And was actually still getting called for interviews after I had accepted my position at Wunderman. But when I just got out of college it took me a full year to find my first job.

Now all of the friends I have that have moved away have all said that they plan to come back at some point. But there is really no guarantee of that. I know for a fact that my two Atlanta friends have both bought homes there. Generally speaking you don't do that unless you plan on staying. Additionally, all it really takes would be for one of them to meet a girl they want to marry and that would end any chance of them coming back altogether.

I guess its kind of sad. Anyways, Good Luck Sean and all the Best...


Next Week ....Reading Books

Sunday, July 22, 2007

You can't go home again. Or can you?

On Friday I took the day off. Wunderman provides us with three float days. Which are essentially vacation days. They have to be taken in between May and October. I had to go to the dentist so I figured I might as well take the whole day off. I also figured that since I had the day off that this would be a good time to swing by my old work place for a visit and a chance to catch up. I am not really sure if this is a common practice. Flagship was my first professional job. Do ex-employees normally pass by old workplaces to say hello? I have been to the bay at least a dozen times in the year and a half since I quit but I think that is kind of different. I mean that is a mall, and most of the times I stopped by the bay I was already in the mall for some other reason. However, going to flagship is different. As I mentioned in my very first blog post my old workplace is not close to where I live. I have no reason to be in that area other than to go to my old workplace. I was very much looking forward to stopping by though.

Thanks to the miracle of MSN, Facebook, and blogging I have managed to maintain some contact with my ex-coworkers. I know that they do view and occasionally comment on this blog. And generally speaking I talk to at least one of them, at least once per week on MSN. Whether it is about some piece of code that I wrote when I was there or maybe just to say hello. However, as I originally predicted I have not actually seen them in person since my departure 8 months ago.

So, after a trip to the dentist in the morning I jumped in my car and made my way to my old/first place of employment. I enjoyed the drive there. The office is very far north of where I live and the drive was very calming. Also, there has been a lot of development and the area has been built up quite a bit since my last day there.

I decided to play a little joke and a made a prank call into the tech support line first. I disguised my voice and Todd (he handles the majority of tech support since my departure) did not recognize that it was me. When the conversation was ending I said something that would immediately let him know that it was me. At this point I walked in and we all had a good laugh. It was fun. We sat around and we talked for a while. The office has changed a little, they have some new machines. I am glad to say that they (Dom and Todd) are the same and both seem to be doing well. The showed me the product and while some things are the same they have made a few new features that I must say I found to be very impressive.

We went for lunch in a near by diner (decent food but incredibly slow service). I talked about my job and the things I do, plus my plans for the future. Then we walked back to the office. As soon as we got in the phone started to ring like crazy so I knew it was time for me to leave or else these guys would not get any work done at all.

All in all it was a very good visit. They only thing that would have made it better was if it could have been a complete reunion. Unfortunately, my old bosses were out of town so I didn't get a chance to see or talk to them. Also, another of my ex-coworkers (Chris) had a meeting and thus was unable to make it. Chris if you are reading this you missed a good time but I am sure we can arrange to go again in the future. I told the guys I have some time off in the fall, Oct or Nov, I haven't decided yet. I am going to see if I can stop by a day during that time.

To Todd and Domenico, it was good seeing you guys and I look forward to our next encounter.

That's it...

Next Week... Friends moving away

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Black folks/Caribbean time

Generally speaking I keep the topics of my blog post fairly light hearted. However, this week's topic is a little more on the dark side if you will. Now, i am not Bill Cosby so I am not going to go off on a rant criticising rap music and whats going on in the hood. But there have been a few things that have happened in the past few weeks that i need to address.

The first is the concept of Caribbean time. Caribbean time is the nasty habit that a lot of black people have of showing up late as hell for everything we do. Thankfully this is a habit i have mangaged to avoid. But let me give a few examples.

1) A few months ago a friend of mine was having a birthday dinner as the Mandarin and told us to be there at 6:30. So, my girlfriend and i got there at 6:30. However, the other invited guests were not there. My friend then told me not to worry because he had actually made the reservations for 7:15 to account for Caribbean time!!! However, 7:15 was not late enough because some of the other guest didn't end up showing up until around 8:00. When they walked in there was not even an apology or an explanation. Ridiculous!!!!


2) My girlfriend and I and some of her friends decided to go to this show at UofT downtown that was about a celebration of African culture. Sounded like a nice evening and it was supposed to be cheap also. However, it was supposed to start at around 7:00. We got there at 7:00 and they had not even begun to set the place up yet. We talked to someone and they said around 8. So we took a phone number from someone and said we would walk around and call back to check on their progress and see when they would eb ready. So we went for dinner and walked around a bit. We called back at 8:00 and they said they would be ready around 9:30. At which point we just said fuck it and left!

3) This is a common trend at shows hosted by black folks unfortunately. In fact as recently as yesterday my girlfriend and her friends went to a show. It was supposed to start at 6:30 but didn't actually start until 9:15. They tried to account for Caribbean time by showing up at 7:30. Unfortunately that was not late enough because they were still waiting for close to an hour and a half.

My next complaint is on how we run our businesses.I have a few stories to illiustrate that point also.

1) I went to get my car detailed a few weeks ago. I did not want a complete detail only an interior shampoo. I dropped my car off at 9:00 am and the guy said that it would be ready around 12:00pm. I called at 12 and he said another hour. I called at 1 and he said the same thing. I did not end up getting my car back until 4:00pm that day. I took my fathers car the next week and the same thing happened again. In fact when we past by the place at 3:00 it looked like they had just barely started.


2) My girlfriend went to get her hair done at this hairdresser. While waiting for her hair to be done (and it was a 3 hour wait), the woman in their asked my girlfriend to take some of the kids in the shop to the McDonald's near by to get food. My gf said no and the hair dresser started to act rude! I mean this is not a charity business. My girlfriend doesn't know this woman and is paying her for her services. Why should she be required to go and fattening food for the already fat kids in the office. When my girlfriend explained it to one of her friends who knows the hair dresser she just told my girlfriend that the woman is a Jamaican hair dresser and their all like that!!! INSANE Obviously my girlfriend has decided to never go to this place again. She knows of another black hair dresser where the prices are higher but the quality of service is much better. I thank god that i cut my own hair these days because I remember that the barbers were no better than the hairdressers.

I have other examples and honestly i could easily turn this blog post into a 10 page essay if i wanted to. But really i just needed to vent a little bit. I do my best to try to support black businesses when i can but when this is how they behave you just can't do it. Maybe the issue is really more of an issue of price. Because when we go to the black business that charge more the service improves drastically. But when you try to give someone a chance to prove themselves they seem to go out of their way to fuck it up.

In a future post (i don't know when) I will address the Bullshit that is going on at BET!

That's it....

Next week... You can't go home again. Or can you?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Visiting relatives/Transformers

Visiting relatives

So this week I had some relatives come into town for a visit. Specifically my cousin Micheal (a reader and commenter on this blog) and his new wife Krystal. I use the term new somewhat loosely because technically speaking they have been married for over a year. I was actually in their wedding last may. It was really good to see them. Mike and his younger brother Jason and I have always been pretty close. I am the youngest of three but i always considered Mike and Jay as the younger brothers I didn't have so its always good to see either of them. This however was going to be his first trip to Canada as a married man, so i was interested to seeing if married life was treating him well. Also i was looking forward getting to know his wife. I obviously was at the wedding but before this weekend i don't remember having too many conversations with her. Well, i am glad to report that married life is treating him very well and that i am very pleased with who he married.

They came in on Wednesday evening but since i was working we didn't really get a chance to hang out until Friday. So, on Friday Mike, Krystal, Nadeene (my girlfriend) and I all went out to dinner at Spring Rolls. It's a very nice Thai restaurant on Eglington just a little less than a block east of Younge street. The plan was for us to eat dinner and then go catch a late showing of transformers after. However, more importantly than that i wanted my kid brother and his wife to meet my girlfriend. I am glad to say that everyone got along well and Nadeene received a glowing review (which I knew she would). Unfortunately after dinner by the time we got to the movies all the tickets were sold out. However, since we were already somewhat close to downtown we decided that we would just hit a club instead. We went to this place called "Union" first because there was some guy handing out free passes. When we got inside we realized why. The place was straight wack!!! So we walked down the street and went to Seven lounge where Flow 93.5 was broadcasting live. That place was much better and we all had a good time.

The next day my family had a small barbecue at my house and the four of us hung out some more. On Sunday they headed back to Michigan. I look forward to their next trip up north and also Nadeene and i promised to make a trip up there also.

Transformers

First let me just say that i am a fairly big transformers fan. I am probably a bigger comic fan than transformers but, i will always have a special place in my heart for transformers. I haven't really followed any of the later TF series since the end of Transformers Beast Machines but i have fond memories of the original. (And yes i was in tears in 87 when Optimums Prime died because of hot rod (Rodimus Prime, don't get me started on that jack ASS!!!).

Because of all this I was equal parts thrilled and scared when I heard that a live action transformers movie was being made. I was thrilled because i feel that I have waited 20 years to see this movie. I was scared because I thought it would be far to difficult to translate to the silver screen.

Let me say now and let there be no doubt about this. Transformers is the MOST visually stunning movie I have ever had the pleasure of watching in my 27 years on earth. In my opinion this movie has better special effects than in movie i have ever seen in my entire life!!!! That's right, i am putting transformers special effects above all three Matrix movies, Terminator movies, Lord of the rings, Jurassic Park, and anything else you can think of. The fights at the end of the movie between the autobots/decepticons/humans is out of this world. I have a fairly robust vocabulary but i do not have the words to fully articulate this battle in a way that would do it justice. It has to be seen to be believed.

As for the plot of the movie... i liked it. However, i was a fan of the characters and the action movie/science fiction genre going in to the movie. As such i don't think that this is a type of move that someone would enjoy if they don't like big explosions and car chases and so on. So i can't say the movie has universal appeal. I will say i liked it better than anything else i have seen this summer (spider man 3, Fantastic four 2, Die hard 4). Even my girlfriend who can usually only stand a certain amount of gun play said to me that she thought the movie was amazing. I am officially counting the days until they make the inevitable sequel.

Well that's it for this week.

Next week... Black folks/Caribbean time

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Video Games/Whats old is new

Video Games...

Once upon a time I was quite the video game player. I mention this because i know that at least two readers of this blog (Chris and Todd) are avid players. It occurred to me the other day that I have not played any video games in close to a year. And really it has been about two years since I have really looked forward to playing video games. I wonder how this happened. I sure as hell have not grown out of them. I mean at 27 years old I still watch cartoons on an almost daily basis, so I still enjoy many of the things I did when I was younger. The last game I ws really into a video game was Grand theft Auto San Andreas. For those not familiar with the GTA franchise it is basically a story in which your character commits various crimes to accomplish various tasks. It was a great game but a little too long for my tastes. I was at 40 hours of playing over the course of about 4 months before i had enough and stopped playing. I was in my mid twenties and was using every cheat code I could get my hands on and still could not beat the game. To me no video game should require more than about 15-20 hours to beat it the first time through. Otherwise it turns into a part time job.

My next beef is with the next gen consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii). Simply put, they are too dammed expensive. I just can not justify paying close to $600 for a video game console. I know the Wii is cheaper but the graphics aren't as good. I mean the money for some of these systems is as much as full blown desktop PC. When the price gets down into the $300 range i may reconsider but for now i am going to have to swear off video games. Which is unfortunate because i do miss them.

I will end this portion of the blog with a quote:
"WE GOIN PLAY A LOTTA GAMES!!!!"

Most people won't understand that quote but i know at least 2 people that will. LOL

Whats old is new...

I mention this because i just saw "Live free, Die Hard" on Friday. The return of the role that made Bruce Willis an action star and helped to redefine action movies as a whole. With this movie i think the trifecta is now complete. By that i mean all the 80's stars have returned. Terminator 3 -> Rocky Balboa -> Die Hard. In 2000 the concept of another sequel to any of these movies seemed completely ridiculous. I mean for god's sake Sly Stallone is 60 years old. What the fuck is he doing in the ring. But 2 his credit Rocky Balboa is a good movie. Terminator 3 is also a great movie (I think i might actually like it more than the 2nd, which is crazy to some people). And Live free, Die Hard is also a fantastic action movie.

With out giving away too many spoilers Live free, Die Hard is about cyber terrorism. Now, i know enough about computers to know a good percent of the techno-babble that's spoken in this movie is complete bullshit!!! But, from beginning to end the action in this movie is amazing. If you are looking for a good action movie go see it.

I am left wondering who is the next 80s/90s action star who is going to make a comeback? I am thinking Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in Blood Sport 2 (This time its personal!!!!!) LOL.


Next week... Visiting relatives.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Eating Healthy

So in an effort to shape up, i have been doing my best to eat more healthy over the past 2 months. It hasn't been easy. To put it simply, I am not a very good cook at all. Actually outside of peanut butter and jelly sandwich (hold the jelly), I am relatively useless in the kitchen. What i have done in the healthy eating department is take small steps. I used to eat large almost submarine type sandwiches for breakfast. I have switched to eating cereal. first it was frosted flakes but now i have switched to reduced calorie frosted flakes. I used to use whole (3.25%) milk but then i switched to 2% then to 1% and now I use skim milk. It took some getting used to but i actually like it better than whole milk now. I also bring my lunch to work and have been making an effort to bring healthier meals. I bring grilled chicken breast at least twice per week and when i get home i don't eat much deep fried stuff any more. And if i make burgers at home i usually buy chicken burgers instead of the big Angus beef variety.

I am not here to give a lecture on healthy eating, because quite simply i am not qualified. I still only prepare maybe 50% of my meals so i am no chef by any means. But i have found that healthy eating isn't that bad. Actually, i don't even really miss any of the greasy stuff i used to eat. And i have lost about 5 pounds and my clothes fit better so that's a step in the right direction.

Next week ... Video games


...peace

Sunday, June 17, 2007

TTC

For anyone living outside of Toronto reading this Blog, the TTC stands for the Toronto Transit Commission. In other words the buses and trains of public transportation in the city. For a variety of reasons I have not had to spend much time on the TTC in my lifetime. I lived within walking distance of both my elementary school and my high school. When i was in college my mother lent me her car pretty much everyday. I think in 4+ years of college/university i probably only had to take the bus maybe about 15-20 times. Then after college my mother also lent me her car for almost another 2 years to get to and from my new job in Richmond hill which is about 30 minutes north of where i live by car but would have been around an hour and a half by bus. Then i got my bought my first car and i have been driving to work and every where else since.

That is until last week. As i am sure everyone is aware gas prices the world over have gone completely insane over about the last 6 months. And since my car is no hybrid and is actually quite the gas guzzler I have been spending a lot more money than i used to. In addition my workplace is in downtown Toronto and right on the subway line. I have been buying a monthly TTC metro pass to ride the subway for the last 6 months anyway. Basically, i would drive the to the subway, park my car and then hop on the train the rest of the way to work. However, my monthly metro pass also allows me to ride the bus to the subway station. I haven't done it because I was basically to lazy. However, last week i gave it a try. Its not actually that bad. In truth in only take me about an extra 10-15 minutes longer by bus than it did by car. But now i am not spending any money on gas. I didn't have the fill my tank this week and i probably wont have to next week either. So that is pretty good. My plan is to try and continue taking the bus until at least the end of September. The only time I will drive is on a day when i know i will have to work late. Taking the bus is fine during rush hour but the buses don't move so quickly when it is not rush hour.

And that's it....


Maybe not.

I also want to comment that i say the Fantastic four rise of the silver surfer last night. I am a comic book fan so good or bad any comic movie that comes out i go see. This movie is better than the first still not perfect. I would give it 3/5 stars.

Next week... Eating Healthy

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Date Night

I don't really talk about my relationship much on my blog and this post isn't really about my relationship just an aspect of it i guess. Specifically where to go on dates. This of course implies that one has a date. I am not sure if that really applies to me anymore. To me a date is something you go on when you just start seeing someone. I have been with my girlfriend for almost 8 months at this point. We see each other every weekend. Its implied, its not like i call her up on a Tuesday and ask her if she would like to go out this weekend. This then raises the question of what constitutes a date. Now if we do go out to say dinner and a movie then that is obviously a date. However, A lot of time we just hang out at her house or mine. If we do not actually go out side i am not sure if this can be considered a date. Sometimes its just easier to stay in doors. Especially on a Friday after a long week at work.

This leads me to the real point of my post which is where are the good spots in Toronto to go on a date. A few weeks ago my girlfriend heard that the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) had been remodeled and as such they were giving free admission on a Sunday. We thought it would be a nice date outing. However, by the time we got there the lines were so long that we couldn't get in. However, the point is that going to the ROM would be a good place to go on a date. Other than that there is the aforementioned dinner and a movie, perhaps a nice cafe. I know i am not very interested in going clubbing so that's out. So what does that leave? I am not sure. I am trying to think of some interesting places to go. If anyone has some suggestions they would be much appreciated.

Anyways that's it for now.

Next Week ... The TTC

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Summer TV

Well the summer TV season is nearly upon us. Most shows with the one exception of the sopranos have had there season finales in the last few weeks. There has been a change for the good in the last few years in that many networks no longer just air reruns during the summer hiatus. For example last summer NBC ran a show called windafall about a group of lottery winners. While it was not must see television by any means it good enough to hold my attention for 10 or so episodes that the series ran for. Thats something else i like about summer shows, they have a limited time frame. I think more US shows should be willing to give this a try. Apprently it is quite common in britain to have shows that run for just 10-15 episodes and thats it. The problem is the big US networks like to milk a show that is a cash cow untill it is completly ruined. For instance there is a show on Fox called prison break. The shows creators have stated pubilcly that the show was intended to run for 2 seasons. However, the rating are so good that it is coming back for another season next year. As a conseqeunce the shows has put the main character back into another prison and no doubt he will spend most of next season breaking out of that one. Maybe they can just keep throwing him in different prisions all over the world for the next ten years. LOL.

Anyways after reading a few reviews my picks for summer tv are as follows...

The Loop
Airs: Saturdays at 9:30pm, beginning June 10
Network: FOX
Starring: Bret Harrison, Philip Baker Hall, Mimi Rogers, Joy Osmanski, Eric Christian Olsen
The Scoop: When 20-somethings face the daunting challenges of real life, there are those who choose to embark on a career path and those who'd rather goof off with pals. And then, every so often, there's someone who sets out to do both. Set in Chicago, The Loop is the story of Sam (Bret Harrison), the youngest executive at the corporate headquarters of a major airline, and the first of his friends to get a real job. As Sam strives to meet the relentless demands of his boss Russ(Philip Baker Hall), dodge the nonstop advances of his colleague Meryl (Mimi Rogers), manage his overqualified and somewhat bitter secretary Darcy (Joy Osmanski), and keep his older and rowdier brother Sully (Eric Christian Olsen) from bringing the party to work and possibly destroying his career, he is, by turns, ambitious, exhausted and inspired. Moreover, he is a hero for everyone who has ever tried to work hard and play hard at the same time.

Burn Notice
Airs: Thursdays at 10:00 PM, beginning June 28
Network: USA
Starring: Jeffrey Donovan, Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar, Sharon Gless
The Scoop: When spies get fired, they don't get a letter from human resources. Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) got a "burn notice" and became untouchable and he has no idea what or who triggered his demise. Stuck in his hometown in Miami, a place he never wanted to return to, with his ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar) and his old partner (Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell), Michael is determined to find out the reason for his sudden termination. Unable to utilize his normal contacts and needing to stay under the spy network radar, he puts his Special Ops training to use to help those who the police can't or won't, in order to fund his ongoing personal investigation.


Big Brother 8
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:00 PM, Thursdays at 8:00 PM and Saturdays at 9:00 PM, beginning July 5
Network: CBS
The Scoop: Big Brother follows the relationships and conflicts of players who live together in a house outfitted with dozens of cameras and microphones recording their every move 24 hours a day. One by one, the houseguests will vote each other out of the house. At the end of three months, the last remaining houseguest will receive the grand prize of $500,000. While living together in a confined space won't be anything new to the houseguests, choosing between any pre-existing relationships and building new alliances could be a challenge.


The Kill Point
Airs: Sundays at 9:00, beginning July 22
Network: Spike
Starring: John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg
The Scoop: The Kill Pit revolves around a downtown bank robbery by a team of American Iraqi-War veterans. More than a dozen hostages from all walks of life are taken, ranging from the daughter of a business tycoon to an adulterous couple. Throughout the eight-hour event, viewers will follow the escalating action as the volatile soldiers plot their way out, the negotiator anticipates their moves and the hostages desperately try to survive. Time is critical and the game intensifies with surprising twists at every turn.


Flash Gordon
Airs: Fridays at 9:00, beginning August 10
Network: SCI FI Channel
Starring: Eric Johnson
The Scoop: Placing a 21st century spin on a science fiction classic, SCI FI's contemporized version of "Flash Gordon" follows the all-new adventures of Flash (Eric Johnson) and his companions, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov. Ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, they find themselves as Earth's last line of defense against the forces of the merciless dictator Ming.


And that's it.

Next Week... Date night!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Emails

Last week (or the week before was the 10th anniversary of hotmail). Consequently I thought now would be a good time to look back at my history with email. I remember when I first heard about email. It was spring 99. Although at that point i was finishing high school and knew that i would be studying computers in college I still thought the concept of emails was stupid. In fact in my grad picture of my year book where it asks for my email, I wrote "only nerds have one". LOL At that point I just didn't see the need for them. I remember someone telling me that i should get one show they could send me stuff. I said if you have something to tell me just call me. Well, i ended up getting a personal email a few months after highschool. And when i got to college they assigned me one also. Soon I had like 5 or 6 emails all set up for different purposes. However i am glad to say that i am one of the few people who don't abuse emails. I don't signup for tons of accounts. I can honestly say that i have only had 2 hotmail accounts in my life. I used the account duanem2 for years but i signed up for a few newsletters and my account got flooded with spam. So i opened the account that i still use to this day duanemartin24 @hotmail.com. I was also lucky enough to sign up for gmail early so i was able to get duanemartin @gmail.com. Which is currently my primary email address.

I am not really going anywhere with all this. I just thought it would be fun to talk about emails for a little bit.

Next week ... something else

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Granting Requests

At the end of last weeks blog i said "Next week... I don't know yet." Usually i end my blogs with somewhat of a sneak peak as to the topic of next weeks blog. I have been blogging pretty consistently for the past 6 months and usually i have no problems coming up with a topic (Who says video games and too much TV kill the imagination eh?). However, last week i wasn't sure exactly what i wanted to cover the following week. Although i am sure that i would have come up with something, a funny thing happened. My blog received its first topic requests. The request came from my cousin Micheal and my cousin Jason. They are brothers and cousins of mine on my fathers side. They live in the states. They posted their requests in the comments section but just in case anyone is too lazy to click the link the requests were...

Mike said...
You should show some pictures from the trip.
Ideas for next week:
1. The current status on your DVD collection.
2. Fighting off the Martin Belly

Jason said...
I would second the idea on how to fight off the Martin Belly because I have been working out consistently for the past five months and though I do not have the official Martin Belly I can't seem to get the wash board abs that I want.


So in the interest of trying new things i will grant these request and cover these topics.

1)You should show some pictures from the trip.
Although my girlfriend did take some pictures and they have actually been developed and i am looking at them now in fact, i can't post them because i don't have them in digital format. I will get her to send me some pics and i will post them for a later post.

2) The current status on your DVD collection.
As i mentioned a little while ago my DVD collection is not growing at the exponential rate that it once was. However, I do still and probably always will buy DVD's. At last count my collection just inched past the 160 mark. We had an office party a few weeks ago where i received a $25 gift card for blockbuster. I used the money to buy "The Da Vinci Code" and "Rocky Balboa". I clearly had no choice but to buy Rocky because I already bought the first 5 Rocky's on DVD so i had to complete the collection. As for the Da Vinci Code i am not sure why I bought this one. Although the book is great i saw the movie in the theaters and i didn't really like it that much. I am not sure why i thought it would be any better the second time around. I can only hope the planned prequel (Angels & Demons) is better.

3) The last topic which was requested by both my cousins was fighting off the "Martin Belly"

This topic will require some explanation for those readers whose last name isn't Martin. My father has 7 brothers and most of them have a somewhat noticeable stomach. My cousins and I have named it the martin belly. When we were younger we all swore that we would never get it. I am not sure why they think i have the answer to this. I have been fighting a losing battle with it for the past few years. The problem is that my job just isn't very active. The heaviest thing i lift in a given day is a pen. But i have been going to the gym a little more steadily lately and i have dropped a few pounds. So to them and to anyone else reading this blog i make this promise. By new years eve 2007 i will have wash board abs (or at the least a very flat stomach).

And that's it. If in the future anyone who reads this blog has a topic request please feel free to post it and i will do my best to accommodate.

Next week... Emails

...peace

Monday, May 14, 2007

Niagara Falls

So on the weekend i went to Niagara Falls with my girlfriend. It was very nice. She is going to be very busy for the next few weeks so this seemed like a good time to try and get away for a little while. We stayed at a Best western hotel not too far from the falls. I actually used my airmiles to pay for the room. So after being a airmiles collector for about 9 years they finally did something for me. The room cost me 1400 of my 1500 airmiles for the 2 days we stayed. We did all the tourist tyep stuff. I have technically been to Niagara a few times before but i have never done any of the tourist stuff. We went on the Maiden of the Mist Tour (boat ride), the Journey Behind the Falls and The White water walk. I will say now that the Maid of the Mist Tour was pretty good but the other two were somewhat disappointing. The other two are basically just walking beside the water. I can take some comfort in the fact that both events were fairly inexpensive but still not the enjoyable.

We also went into the casino. I am not really that big of a gambler so i don't have much to report from that end. On sunday morning we went and had breakfast at a restaurant with my sister and her two kids. She lives in Niagara and it was nice to see them. After that we came home.

Overall, it was a good weekend.

Next week... I don't know yet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Birthday Revisted and New Years Resolutions updates

Okay so just to refresh memories my new years resolutions were...

1) Limit my time on the 407etr. The Price is going up and i want to make sure that i don't take the 407 more than twice a week. This should keep my bill under $50 per month. Which is reasonable in my opinion.

2) Go to the gym 4 times per week. Since there is a gym right by my work and since i don't want to get on the 401 at 5pm. This is a reasonable goal.

3) Keep blogging on a regular basis. My goal is to have a new blog addition at least once per week. So far i think that is about as often as i update. If i can keep up that pace i will be happy.

4) Manage money better. I don't think that i have been terribly irresponsible in the past but I do think there is room for improvement. I plan to but quicken and keep track of all my spending. I would also like to increase the amount of money i put into rrsps.

So the status is ...

1) I think this one should not really apply anymore. And as such it will no longer me in future updates. I no longer work at MS in Mississauga so i no longer need to take the 407. In fact i have only been on it once since i left MS.

2) I am ashamed to admit that i am still not going to the gym as consistently as i should be. I did make it in 4 times last week but i have not been averaging that number. I think i am averaging twice so far. I have been very busy and i was sick for a few weeks but that is no excuse. I have to and will do better in the future.

3)I am happy to say that i have kept up my blogging. I have not missed a single week yet. I have been a day late a couple of times but there is still a new post every week. I am also happy to say that i have not really been struggling to find topics to discuss. That was a fear of mine so i am happy i am still able to come up with things.

4) I am still not tracking my money correctly. I haven't really done any big spending and i did increase my contributions to RRSP's but i still haven't bought a program to keep track of all income. No matter what happens this is one resolution i intend to keep by the next update.

Birthday Revisited.

So for my birthday last month my friends gave me two books.
1) The complete Encyclopedia of Marvel Comics
2) The complete Encyclopedia of DC Comics.

They both contain the entire history of both companies detailing just about every comic character from Superman and Spiderman to Antman and Booster Gold. For a comic book geek like me this was a fantastic present.

It also leads to something else i wanted to discuss. The movie spiderman 3. I don't know how to review a movie without giving spoilers so i won't review it here. I will just say that while it had some good parts I was not pleased with the fact that they altered the origin stories for some of the characters.


Next week...
Niagara Falls

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Being Sick

I know that this post was supposed to be about "Birthday revisited and quarterly update on new years resolutions." But I have been sick the last few weeks and in order to keep the blog about whats going on in my life currently I thought I should write about that.

First let me say i really hate being sick. I know that nobody enjoys it but I think that few people hate it as much as me. The last week i finally had to give in to the cold and take some time off. On Thursday I went home after half a day and Friday i stayed home the whole day. I have only taken 3 sick days in my whole life. I see a sick day as admitting defeat. Its saying that the cold got the best of me and I lost. Well i Lost folks!!! This cold kicked my black ass all over the place. On Friday i was coughing up Flem like nobodies business. Thankfully i had the good sense to go to the doctors and got some antibiotics. As of now i feel much better and i will be back at work on Monday. I don't feel perfect by any means but i do feel much better.

So that's, my week. Not much else to say so next week i will address my original intended content for this post.

next Week: Birthday revisited and quarterly update on new years resolutions.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mr. Anonymous

It occurred to me the other day that my blog is fairly anonymous. Looking over my posts i really haven't revealed very much of myself in my posts. In fact i don't think i have ever even said my full name (first + last). I don't like my middle names so those will never be in a post. There are no pictures of me on this blog either. Isn't the point of blogging to put myself out there to some extent. This lack of information was done intentionally. It occurred to me that maybe someday an potential employer might do a Google search on me and stumble onto my blog. Thus gaining access to all my personal business. Truthfully i started blogging because while at work at a previous job some of us in the office did a Google search on an ex-coworker and we stumbled on to his blog. Now in fairness my name is much more common than his so finding actual information on me would be very difficult. There is an actor with my exact name and spelling and any Internet search on me would certainly turn up results on him before they returned anything on me.

So where am i going with all this. Fuck if i know. I just find it very interesting. Mostly this blog is read by my friends, ex-coworkers, and a few family members that i am close to. As long as that is the case then there really would be no harm in dropping more personal information on here i guess.

On the other hand maybe there is no personal information on here because my personal life is not really that different from anybody Else's. I mean i have a job and family and a girlfriend, but who doesn't have those things. It's not like i am a member of the Illuminati or some shit.

And so a little info about me.

My name is Duane Martin
I was born and raised in Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
My Elementary School was David Lewis Public School
My High School was Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate
My college was Seneca College
My university was York University
I used to work at the Bay and Flagship Software
I currently work as a Database Analyst for a company called Wunderman.

My social Insurance Number is .... NONE OF YOUR GOD DAM BUSINESS!!!!!
lol
Some things will remain a secret. I haven't completely lost my mind.

next week... Birthday revisited and quarterly update on new years resolutions.