Friday, August 29, 2008

The Laptop Quest

Who would've thought that going out to purchase a new laptop could be such an ordeal? Certainly not me. I will try to convey the feverish evening that started out as a simple shopping trip and turned into a complex quest that lasted an entire night.

The best phrase I have come up with to describe situations like the one that took place last night is "fucking schmozzle". It all began innocently enough. While I was at work, I began my initial investigations into the purchase of a shiny new laptop as a present to myself for my birthday. I utilized the interwebs to pick out the model I wanted, wrote down the number and the price. I also took the time to look up a portable hard drive I was interested in, checked out some reviews from cnet and whatnot, and wrote that info down too.

So right after work, I hop in my little black Mitsubishi Spyder convertible and cruise on over to Best Buy. We have 3 of them in Edmonton, and 4 Future Shops, and those are where I generally go to get my electronics. Best Buy had the best price online so it made my choice easy. Once I arrive, I wait and I wait. It's stinkin' busy this night like it hasn't been since the economy started to tank. Ah, shit, I realize, back to school! Everybody and their dog is after the same laptop I am.

After a half hour of waiting and trying to catch the eye of one of the Geeks, I successfully corner one only to find that there are no dv6918se HPs left at this store. Buddy tells me to go over to the west end store; there are 2 left according to their computer inventory but they can't hold one for me so I'd better haul arse. None of the copper-coloured ones that I had initially had my heart set on, mind, but the identical model in with a white carbon-fibre case might still be had if I hurried.

So off I go all the way to the west end and wait 20 minutes this time to talk to a sales guy; none left. Tells me there are none in the entire city because it's a popular model with a good price - 650 bucks, and every college-aged student in the river city area is after one. I pretty much resign myself to the fact that I am probably not going to get a laptop tonight, so I buy my portable hard drive and I decide to head over to BK to get some supper.

On the way to the restaurant is a Future Shop. I decide to stop in, crossing 4 lanes of traffic, blond curls streaming in the breeze, in order to make the exit. It's funny, but once I get it in my mind to spend a specified amount of cash, very little on earth can dissuade me. After 15 minutes of waiting to get a sales person at the second best electronics chain in the city, I find out, nope, not one of the model I want are in stock.

Now by this time, I'm getting pretty used to the look of an electronics store. They're all very much the same, and owing to the fact that one company owns both Best Buy and their main competitors, they are even more alike. One odd thing that sticks out at me though, is that I'm sure I've seen a certain other customer at every one of my stops. She's wearing a forest-green, printed blouse that makes her stick out in a crowd. I just know she's after the same computer, so dammit, now I even have competition in my quest! For those of you who already know me, it'll come as no big surprise to find out that this knowledge actually hardens my resolve to go home with that laptop.

I can't continue racing around the city, however, on an empty stomach, so I go grab a quick chicken sandwich. Frickin' 660 calories worth, but I'm still under 1400 for the day, so I'm okay to mindlessly splurge on junk food. I do try to pay attention to what I eat, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Once stoned on high-fructose corn syrup, however, the mind starts to play tricks. Damn, I think to myself, I really should let it go and call it a night. I'm back in the car and about to head home and my sanity returns. What the hell, I'll take a trip up to the last Best Buy in the capital city just to put my mind at ease. I have a habit of giving up at all the wrong moments. Not this time.

The parking lot of the electronics mega-store is surprisingly empty. My heart starts to climb up my throat a teensy bit in anticipation. I walk in, hoping against hope. The quiet fairly echos around me. I stroll down the cavernous aisles towards the giant Geek Squad sign. My heart skips a beat. The young blue-shirted nerds are milling about freely. Where are all the people, I wonder. Have I entered some kind of alternate universe where everything goes my way? I don't even see green-bloused lady.

I get help right away from the most awesome of sales dudes. He knows what I want almost before the words are out of my mouth. I am doubtful at his claims that he has just what I want. He disappears for what seems an eternity before I see him sauntering back, grinning from ear to ear with my white carbon-fibre HP laptop, complete with a 15.4" screen, an Intel dual-core processor, 3 Gigs of RAM and a 250 Gig hard drive. My saviour has arrived. My excitement is is ready to burst. I tell the guy I love him and we high-five right in the middle of the store. He is a ginger, though and so manages to blush profusely while we both grin like idiots.

Ahhhhh. There is nothing like the sweet completion of a successful quest. I pay and skedaddle off to my car with my precious. It takes pride of place in my normally empty passenger seat. I must relive the experience in my mind and gloat just a little.
But damn those college students! Damn them to heLL. They almost thwarted my efforts to get my hands on a new laptop. Alas, they failed...and I won. Neener.

By the time I got home it was 830ish, and by the time I got everything set up with msn and firefox loaded it was 11 PM. Bloody hell. I had to get to bed. What a night. :)

I really wish I could have bought the model with the copper-coloured case, but the white is nice enough, just a bit girly. I luckily had chosen the matching "marshmallow-coloured" SimpleTech 250 Gig portable Hard Drive. My computer is never going to slow down again. And, once I clear the 100 gigs of shit off my old laptop, I'll even get a few bucks back from HP for trading it in. :D

That will just about pay for the photo-radar ticket(s) I will inevitably be getting in the mail in a week or so since I sped all over the metropolis this night.

Monday, August 25, 2008


When I was growing up, we had one television set in our house. Imagine it kids, one TV. It's shocking, I know. It wasn't that we were poor, it was based on principle. My father had some strange ideas, but he did have a set of principles that I came to know well. I digress. On our one television there was one channel: Sport. Except for the one time a week I could get up early enough on Saturday morning and quietly watch cartoons before my dad woke up. I remember the year 1984 very well. That was the year TSN started broadcasting in Canada. (For those who are not Canuckleheads, TSN is The Sports Network - Canada's first all-sports channel). I think I remember feeling like if anything would cause my parents divorce, this would be it.

The reason I remember the premier of TSN is that previous to its humble beginning, the television set in the living room had very often been shut off. Reading and music were prized much more highly than the mindless drivel that came over the boob tube. But Sport was even more highly valued in my home, and I'm pretty certain it all began with my paternal grandfather, who was a professional "sportsman". I'll save his history for another time, but it's enough to say that he played many sports well enough to actually make a decent living at it. This, and the fact that my grandfather died when my dad was 13, probably ingrained in that teenager the one-and-only romantic love that lasted his lifetime. Sport was king.

I could go on about the importance of sport in our house, but I think you have the necessary background for me to continue meandering towards my point. If sport was king in my household, the Olympics was the king of kings. As long as I can remember, I have always loved the Olympic games. Most people have a preference for summer over winter, or vice versa, as do I. Personally, I have an historical preference for the Winter Games, as it happens. And you might be saying to yourself, well, that's because you're Canadian, and Canada typically has much better results owing to your temperate climate. It's a consideration for sure, but only a minor one. The real reason is that the Winter games typically take place during the school year, and my Dad so loved sport that it was the one and only time that I was allowed to skive off school to stay home and watch telly. Oh, dear old Dad. I do miss him.

When Beijing, China was awarded the XXIX Olympic Games, to say that I was not at all impressed is an understatement. It wasn't just that they had gone up against Toronto and beat them out for hosting duties. No, that was not it. It wasn't so much that they didn't deserve them, because sport is for all people, no matter where they were born which is one of the best things about the games. No, my problem with China has always been mianzi - one of the concepts of "face" in Chinese social relations. Truth is important to me. It is one of the things that I value and hold higher than anything else. In fact, the pursuit of truth is what led to my absolute and complete comfort with being an atheist. When I heard the news that China had been awarded the highest pinnacle of sport, my first reaction was that sport and mianzi absolutely do not mix. (Not to mention that I think one of the main reasons why the people of China don't demand more from their government is down to the cultural acceptance of the concept of mianzi, but that is another digression that I will leave for a future rant). I hated the Olympics for the first time in my life. I looked forward to this Olympic Games with a mixture of dread and disgust. I just couldn't escape the thought that a concept that values lying in order to preserve public prestige just goes against everything that I think sport should represent.

As the Olympics drew closer a few weeks ago, I tried very hard to maintain my disinterested distaste and haughty demeanor. I didn't just hate these games, I wanted to hate them. I will admit to you now that I went out of my way to find things wrong with China hosting my precious games. I relished all the talk about the pollution in Beijing. My feelings of empathy for the citizens that live with the horrid air quality was quashed by my sheer delight that there were problems for China they could not hide from the rest of the world. In my mind I embraced all the talk of unrest in Tibet only because it fed my need to see all kinds of mianzi for China. I told myself that I was not going to watch the Olympics this year. I wasn't going to celebrate it, I wasn't going to look forward to it, I wasn't going to The Bay to buy my official Olympic gear. For the first time in my life, I wasn't going to add to my Olympic hat and pin collections. It was my own private boycott and I revelled in my determination to hate all things Olympic.

But something happened on the way to the stadium. (Ha, see what I did there?) It crept up on me stealthily. Years of my father's influence could not be dismissed so easily, it seemed. My mind started inventing all sorts of interesting reasons why I should just watch "a little" of the opening ceremonies. The chief reason that kept swirling around in my head was that if there was some spectacular debacle that contributed to loss of face for the Chinese authority, I would miss out on seeing it as it happened. But then, there was also the fact that a year ago I invested in digital HD cable and a large HD TV monitor. How much had I enjoyed this past Wimbledon, not only because my man Rafa won this fabled tournament for the first time, but because I got to see every pore on his beautiful face as he celebrated his fantastic victory. Imagine watching the Olympics for the first ever time, in massive and amazing HD? This question reverberated inside of me until I could deny it no more.

And so it began. At first, I was watching it only an hour or so a day, but near the end, all bets were off. I took no calls; I allowed my new pet blog project to fall by the wayside. I skived off work a few days. Even my favourite Facebook procrastination tools had to take a backseat. What on earth was my world coming to? The hate was gone. The men's Eight rowing gold, Michael Phelps, and Matthew Mitcham were among the highlights that made my heart soar. The love of sport had won out. I had to release my tight embrace of my cultural prejudice a little. I had to admit that I was wrong to try to dismiss the Olympics. I am doing so publicly here and now as my final assault against the value of mianzi. I will always accept a little loss of lian however, because that is a social concept that I think every culture actually finds moral value in.

Now if anyone wants me, I'll be down at The Bay. It all worked out in my favour in the end. I bet all this year's official Olympic gear is now on sale!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Since I am Canadian, I cannot start a conversation without first mentioning the weather, but bear with me because it may actually be justifiable. Even though we've had record temperatures the past few days, there is an undeniable feeling of fall in the air. The sun is setting earlier and the nights are fresh and sweet. Back-to-school is just around the corner and children across the country will be back where they belong, that is, off the streets.

But what really makes it feel like fall is the abundance of political posturing that has taken place in Canadian Federal politics over the last few weeks. The MPs are set to return to work on September 15th, and by all accounts parliament may be dissolved soon after. Since the minimum amount of time allowed between an election call and polling is 36 days by Canadian law, we could well have the campaign over with, and a new PM installed, before the US has even had their vote. At times like this I certainly appreciate the efficiency of our system.

The 4-year long campaign in the US is just so tiresome. Mind you, it does provide a profusion of media and pundit positions, and with the way the American economy is looking, they may be the only ones with any job security.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Post

I guess I am the rotten egg. Since everyone on earth has a blog and I am officially the very last person on the interwebs.
Now that I'm here, I find myself with nothing much to bitch about. At least nothing good enough for my first ever foray into worldwide permanence.
Hmmm. Maybe nothing will ever be good enough.
Wow. I think I've solved my ranting problem.