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In my communications classes, we talked about scripts. We use scripts, or knowledge of certain situations, to know how to act. For example, the grocery store, the doctor’s office etc. But crowded public events, such as a farmer’s market, can be a wild card. The best you can do is to try and stay out of one another’s way.

And then there are scripts-within-scripts, like how to line up for something. Full disclosure, this a story about how I made a booboo in a line-up situation, the ultimate booboo: cutting in line.

Now it wasn’t intentional. It was a busy produce stall with merch laid out on tables in a U-shape, with the cashiers in the centre of the U, in the back of the stall. Produce in hand, I scoped out the formation of the line-up. There were the people paying, a couple of people behind them, a couple browsing the lettuce bins, and people just generally milling around on the periphery.

I didn’t know if the lettuce people were browsing lettuce while in line, or just browsing. So I just picked a spot behind the folk who looked definitely to be in line. Cue the woman burning holes in my back with her eyes. I stared back. She says nothing. I say nothing to her.

To the lettuce people, she directs a question, “Are you both in line?”

Lettuce Man replies, “Well we thought we were!” Jocular chuckles.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” I offer by way of apology.

I am by now next in line. Burning Eyes summons the courage to speak, “Well now that you do, you should go to the back of the line.”

It was the little skit for my benefit on proper line-up etiquette that burned my organic new potatoes. I completed my wrong by proceeding to the cashier. (Hey, as long as I’ve gone this far…) I knew I was in the wrong. I knew it as soon as Burning Eyes started shooting daggers at me. But no one was willing to simply and directly say, “Excuse me, line-up is over here…” I would have cheerfully corrected myself and waited my turn.

Cutting in line is just not done, I know, I know. But passive-aggressive behaviour in public places – that’s gotta stop, too.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really, really hate spam. It’s getting to the point where I feel personally invaded by this barrage on my e-mail inbox.

The funny thing is, the spam is all directed at my personal e-mail account; none of it seems to come to my professional address, which is the e-mail address I tend to advertise more. And for entering contests (I love to enter contests!) I use an arms-length hotmail account.

Luckily, my Internet provider tags the offending e-mails, thus allowing me to set up a delete filter and send it all straight to the trash folder. But still, for every piece of legit mail, there’s about five pieces of spammy, stupid crap. I hate the fake names and quasi legitimate subject lines: “You gotta look at this!” “Your account details need updating,” and the ever-popular “Do you want to enlarge your penis?” I hate that if I go on vacation, I’m either going to have to download 200 messages (mostly spam) or laboriously delete them if I check messages via the webmail thingy.

Yes, I could change my personal e-mail address. But the truth is, I’m rather attached to it, having used it so long. It reminds me of “Michael Bolton” from Office Space responding to the suggestion that he change his name: “Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.” Exactly. Spammers, you’re the ones who suck.

In theory, if you ignore it long enough it will go away. But unfortunately, somebody out there is still falling for the promise of millions in Africa-stashed loot, Russian mail-order brides, and lots and lots of cheap, sex-enhancing drugs to make the most of it. So the rest of us suffer the consequences of having to deal with a daily tidal   wave of these stupid and potentially dangerous (as in virus-infected) messages. Oh, Internet.

My personal address is also tied to my Facebook account, but I’ve locked up my profile, and Facebook cleverly displays e-mail addresses as an image file rather than as a hyperlink. Still, could that affect the amount of spam I’m getting?

Not so much, right?

A sample of headlines in Craigslist’s job feed:

and my favourite:

  • NANNY NOW!!! (the ad is all in caps too. Easy on the coffee there, Mommy.)

Dear, dear employers: I understand that you’re urgent, you’re busy, you want hardworking, reliable employees, preferably sober. But the combination of ALL CAPS and multiple exclamation points does not really make people want to work for you. As it has been said time and time again, using either in writing is like shouting at the reader. And for some reason, many of you like to deploy them together.

If a job seeker is reading one of these ads, do you think they want to be shouted at by someone they don’t even work for yet? Duh, no. Next. Ease up and sweeten up.

If you’re having trouble finding good staff, perhaps reflect on your netiquette and punctuation habits. Better yet, hire a professional who knows how to turn off the caps lock key. They teach us that, y’know. In writer school.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the ampersand.

But I’m having one of those days when I just don’t want to be a writer (or editor) anymore. When you’ve gone out, gotten some experience, gotten some training, and gotten an earful of cheerleading about “knowing your worth” and “charging accordingly for your services” and then turn around and go out there only to have employers cringe at you for asking said professional wage, well, maybe it becomes time to pack in the delusions and pick another job.

All writing is only so much content creation and all editing a glorified manual spell-and-grammar-check, right? Who needs to pay anyone to do that? I’m sure someone is already working hard at an SEO article content generator anyway, and everyone already has MS Word, which will check your subject verb agreements quite handily.

Yes, yes, persistence and positive attitude. Stay on course and work hard, something is bound to happen. Don’t give up on your dreams. Chase them rainbows. Says my persistent, hardworking inner pessimist, “Know when you’re bloody well licked.”

And just as I finished writing this little screed, I got a phone call offering me a regular freelance editing gig with a magazine/publisher I really like, and at an acceptable wage.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Update: I also got a little raise from my other freelance gig. I can’t remember the last time someone offered me more money for doing anything. Feels pretty sweet.

In the wake of a fare increase for transit in Greater Vancouver, the new Translink Board has decided to give themselves a big raise. They’ve increased the per-meeting fee from $200 to $1,200. Sources aren’t commenting on whether this is to compensate for the extra money it now takes to ride the bus and SkyTrain all the way out to North Surrey. However, it is meant to compensate the new group, made up of the target bus riding public of executives, accountants and engineers, for dedicating themselves solely “to making sure that they can provide the best transit advice possible,” according to Mike Harcourt, who chaired the advisory committee that approved the fees.

Well, Translink, you guys have got brass balls. In the last month, y’all have raised fares in every category (always telling us it for better service), announced billions of dollars of giant capital improvements, most of which have a) already been announced (Evergreen line) or b) won’t kick in anytime in the next ten years (Rapid buses) and c) already exist (twinning the Expo line? WTF?), and made me late and/or pissed off countless times.

It it were up to me, I’d give the whole whack of them $5 extra per meeting to ride transit to and from their meetings (and what would you like to bet it would the only time these people wade onto the proletariat chariot), and then perhaps we’d see some transit improvements, like buses that come on time, sensibly designed and plentiful bus shelters, handholds on SkyTrain, and security presence at ALL stations and bus exchanges, especially after dark.

Of course, I have no illusions that this band of nine also will be able to effect these kinds of changes no matter how deep their hands are in my pocket. So, I encourage you to visit We Ride and sign the call to action for better funding and political commitment from all levels of government to make better transit (and lower fares!) a reality in our smog-choked paradise by the sea.

I may be an idealist, but I think that riding the bus can actually be, well, pleasant. Sometimes the stars align to give you seamless transfers, non-annoying fellow passengers, good weather and happy bus drivers. And sometimes meteorites fall to the earth. You just have to get on the bus and take the chance.

I can’t wait until it’s bike riding weather again, actually.

Last night, I attended the Fugue launch party… and didn’t last long. In a fully-lit room at the library, with no cash bar, and a rows-of-chairs-facing-the-podium setup, here’s what happened, as it happened:

Am at literary launch party. Am grossed out by couple two rows in front of me. A man is rubbing his girlfriend’s back with one hand. She is wearing one of those shirts that close with a clasp at her neck, revealing a teardrop-shaped outline of skin on her back. He started out just sort of tracing the skin inside the teardrop with a thumb. It seemed affectionate, just a little erotic. Then he was rubbing her back with his whole hand. Now the hand is going through the opening and under her shirt. Gross – we all know now you two are gettin’ it on later (and possibly just before this, too), but could you at least save the going UNDER the shirt for when you two are alone?

The guy just behind them moved seats (to avoid the spectacle?) As I write, his hand is still moving around, still moving under her shirt. I wish she’d slap him off. Gross. Even if he doesn’t actually undo that button, I’m out of here.

When I looked over again, the guy who moved seats had left the room altogether. The gropers were right in my line of sight, making it very hard to look at the reader and concentrate on hearing her story. The groping just got worse. He was fingering the clasp and straining at it with the flap of skin beween thumb and fingers (so they are opposable after all). Then the hand was reaching through the hole and rubbing her neck.

I put on my jacket and held my bag, ready to bolt the very second the reader finished reading her story. A little PDA is normal for couples who are just getting together. But if y’all can’t keep your hot little hands off each other long enough to be around other adults for awhile, just stay in bed instead of subjecting us all to the half-time show between touchdowns.

By the way, organizers of literary events, please have more readings in bars and cafes, preferably with low lighting and delicious drinkies. Aubyn, you are right on for having the launches for Memewar at the Railway. See you July 10.

I’ve seen this ad for a writer’s assistant on Craigslist a couple of times now. Typically it offers no pay, but promises to provide “valuable experience” working with 2-3 professional writers. One line in particular puzzles me: “Although there is no direct remuneration for this particular role there will be opportunities to work on some projects that may offer payment.” What does this mean? Do you get tips for blowjobs? Can you keep the change from Starbucks runs? Will you dance the hokey-pokey while they throw quarters? Also notice the hedging – although there WILL be opportunities, there are only SOME that MAY be paid.

I have heard of this type of arrangement before, where an established writer takes on a new writer and helps them break into the business of selling novels or screenplays. But I think it’s more common in the US (read:***Hollywood***) and perhaps includes room and board in the bargain.

I’ll bet I get to provide my own rent with these people.

They have a pretty active lifestyle or at least they don’t stay still for long up there. Here is a list of their activities as I infer them:

  • Laundry (they enjoy it so much it’s the first thing they do in the morning, and when they get home)
  • Dropping things
  • Closing doors with authority
  • Assembling furniture
  • Putting up pictures
  • Hosting bouncy-ball parties
  • Practicing technique with wheeled suitcases, in case they go somewhere
  • Vacuuming
  • Races from the living room to kitchen and back again and/or line dancing
  • Moving furniture
  • Breaking in shoes
  • Long jump
  • Opening and closing drawers

Watch a movie once a while, you crazy kids!

Okay spammers, what’s it gonna take? What’s it gonna take to convince you scumbuckets that I don’t do, buy or need any of the following:

  • stocks
  • jobs as financial analysts or whatever in your fictional company
  • Viagra or Cialis
  • whatever Hoodia is
  • millions of dollars from obscure African countries
  • a larger penis

It’s also very clever of you to intentionally mispell such words that I might put into my spam filter, or send the information you want me to see as an image file. See, I went to the trouble to set up those filters with words that refer to things I don’t want. How many people do that? So why work so hard to send me information I’m not going to look at?
Although your random gobbedegook can be very amusing, it loses its charm when it’s just a ploy to put some text in the email so my email program won’t dump it straight into the junk folder.
I’d like to set up some autoreply that would tell each spammer to go piss up a rope, but then you’d probably send me more spam, possibly involving porn, piss, and whips and ropes and chains. And I don’t need to see that stuff. For some reason, all the porn related stuff goes to my hotmail account.
If you really must spam me, at least make it somewhat gyno-centric. Ask me if I’d like to see hot firemen or buy discounted vibrators. Better yet, discounted birth control so I can help halt the future production of androcentric hucksters like yourselves. If only someone had spammed your parents with some chick-oriented spam … imagine how many fewer Viagra/Cialis come-ons I’d be dealing with today.
To sum up: I’m a girl, I know how to use filter technology, and I have no money. So go away, penis pitchmen. You’ve sorely misjudged your audience. In the age of user-customized messaging, that is a crime unto itself.

It’s nothing personal but I hate everyone. Actually, if you’re reading this, I probably don’t hate you. And those people I hate probably know who they are.
A ninja philosopher hippie boy with a funny accent (hi Zed) once told me “You are a child of the universe.” Well, I certainly do feel like a compact lil’ speck, only I’m stuck on a planet full of sharp jabbing shards. Noisy jabbering shards. As another ZombiePirateNinjasomethingsomething once said “Stabby stabby stabby.”
One more quote: “Hug it out, bitch. Hug it out.” God, I love The Office.

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Kettle River Wildlife Club

Kettle River Wildlife Club

Kettle River Wildlife Club

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