Office-Bob Archives: December 2002




Sometimes, people just don't
want vanilla

For the past few years, I've had the honour of being an "attending pro" at a science fiction convention held each year in Seattle; for the cost of a membership all I'm expected to do is spend a few hours as a participant, or in some instances moderator, on a few panels and in most cases everything works out okay.

Today, I'm writing about the one time that it all went to crap due to my inability to remember a simple little fact.

If memory serves me correctly, it was about 3 years ago that all the pros were sent a list of potential panel topics and asked to pick ten of them, and then rank those from most to least favourite; our choices would be used to help determine which panels to place us on. As I read through the list, I saw that there was a panel on safe sex and since I thought it might be A Good Thing to offer the viewpoint of a long-term monogamist (I'd been married close to 20 years at the time), I put that down as one of my choices.

(I need to take a bit of a side trip down Memory Lane here...back when AIDS was just beginning to make its way into the straight world's consciousness, this same convention held a panel to discuss types of sexual activities and their danger levels; I remember that when rimming was discussed, the audience let loose with a very loud "EEEWWWWW!"
This is the memory that went through my mind as I wrote the panel down on the form. While I thought I was being noble and giving people a choice in their sexual activity, my altruism blinded me to one very important fact:

Gather around the rocking chair, kiddies, and listen to Grandpa Brian's experiences on the safe sex panel...

First, let's discuss the panel members. From left to right, we have:

1) A former Fellow of the Kinsey Institute whose gender I was not completely sure of (not helped by the use of a gender-neutral name);
2) Someone from the King County Health Department who looked like somebody's sweet old grandma, but who could talk like a longshoreman;
3) Your humble scribe, trying his best to not look like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car (and failing).

Can you remember a time when you were still in school and the teacher was asking the class to answer questions out loud? Did you ever have one of those experiences where you realized you didn't know the answer and you started praying that the teacher wouldn't call on you? If you can, then you will know exactly how I felt. During the entire hour of the panel (and of course it felt like a lot longer), I recall only providing one piece of information to the session, and that had to with the fact that you can buy leather "condom wallets" to hide your love stash in a discreet manner.

Now, I am not a wide-eyed virgin when it comes to sex, but on the other hand there's a lot of things I know about that I have never tried (and in some instances have absolutely no interest in trying), and it became clear within the first few minutes that I was hopelessly outclassed, outgunned, and outexperienced by members of the audience, especially those from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who not only provided helpful hints, but also provided party favours for the audience.

Well, the hour finally passed and the panel finished, and while I really shouldn't have been part of the panel due to my vanilla-ness I did leave with some knowledge that I didn't have before:

The proper care and maintenance of rubber clothing
The pros and cons of different methods to clean and sanitize leather sex toys
Why "double-bagging" is not a good idea
The politically correct term for a prostitute is "sex worker"
Why Saran Wrap is better than dental dam, as long as you buy the right type
Which kinds of condoms appeal to different groups (goths, jocks, etc.)

I need to give a special credit to my wife who sat through the panel and gave me moral support -- although I knew part of her was having fun watching me squirm around in the public eye, it was that knowledge that allowed me to laugh about the experience almost immediately afterwards...

...right after I gouged out my eyes with a plastic spork and dunked my brain in Lysol.

The R.I.A.A. and the C.P.C.C. can kiss my hairy B.U.T.T.

I'm going to take a moment to get all political on yer asses, so please bear with me as this has been bugging me for some time.

Those of you in the US (and possibly Canada) are aware of that wonderful group of playful thugs known as the Recording Industry Association of America and their attempts to halt the illegal downloading of music. However, you might not be aware of a Canadian element known as the Canadian Private Copyright Collective; their raison d'être is to collect a levy on blank recording media, the money going to Canadian recording artists to help compensate them for lost revenue.

Sounds reasonable so far, right? Well, to me there's one big problem with the levy ­ it makes no attempt to differentiate between recordable media used for music, including making legitimate copies of songs you already own, and discs being used for data backup.

The game developer I work for is huge and during the course of a project we will go through a metric shitload of blank CD-Rs and DVDs ­ I mean, we order CD-Rs up to 10,000 at a time, so you can imagine how much fun it's going to be if the CPCC's proposed increase from $.21 to $.59 per disc goes through. Oh, and DVD-Rs? Currently there's no levy on those but if that happens, they'll be sticking it to us for a whopping $2.27 each!
(Yeah, I know, Canadian dollar, exchange rate and all that; just STFU, 'mmmkay? Thanks.)

Then there's the idea to add the levy to MP3 players that use a hard drive$21 per GB of storage which would, for example, add about $200 to the cost of a 5 GB iPod. Oh, and while we're on this subject let's not forget that they want to ding you for flash memory cards...the kind you use in a digital camera!

So let me summarize the situation we're facing in the Great White North:

Want to rip a CD from music you downloaded? You pay.
Want to make compilation CDs of music you already own? You pay.
Want to archive data that's on your computer? You pay.
Want to make a home movie of baby's first steps, save it onto a DVD and send it to the grandparents? You pay.
Want to take pictures of your vacation with your digital camera but need to buy some extra memory cards to take along? You pay.
Want to listen to your MP3 player with its own hard drive that allows you to carry around your tunes and not have to carry around a bunch of CDs? You pay.

See a trend here? I knew you would.

Now I'm all for people getting the money due them but of all the examples I've listed, most of them have little to do with pirating music -- yet we're all being charged extra under the assumption that we're a bunch of thieves. I'm also doubtful that the money is getting to those that need it (I mean, how much more dough does Celine Dion need?), but that's another matter entirely.

I don't know about you, but if the CPCC is going to sentence me to punishment for something I didn't do, then what will keep me from going ahead and doing it? Hell, I just bought a 10-pack of blank CD-Rs a couple of weeks ago and of the $10 I paid, over $2.00 of it went to the freaking levy -- and if the CPCC gets their way, that will more than double!

While I don't claim to have all the answers, I do think there are some things that could be done to possibly minimize the problem:

1) The recording industry can stop churning out cookie cutter product and invest more in new groups; people are getting tired of the same old shit.
2) The industry can set up a decent pay-per-song download model, not only for established artists but also to give new ones a chance.
a. Along with this, make sure the recordings are made with decent compression rates ­ why would anyone pay to download something that sounds like ass?
b. Also, make the model cross-platform; there are those who hate QuickTime, RealMedia or Windows Media Player formats so let people have a choice! Hell, as long as it's .MP3 format pretty much anyone can play it
3) If you're going to put copy protection on your music disc, do the following:
a. Make sure the package is clearly marked as such.
b. Make sure the music stores don't get penalized if a customer returns a disc that won't play in their computer.
c. Make damned sure that your disc doesn't damage the computer. If I had my way, music companies would be liable for all repairs and related costs for computers that their discs damage.

If you'd like more information on the Blank Media Levy, go here:

And for those of you in the US and other countries that aren't worried about it because it's not happening there...what makes you think it can't?



Well, this Christmas season is turning out to have its ups and downs.

DOWN: I will be spending Christmas by myself (well, I will have my pet rabbit but he's really not that great a conversationalist) since my wife has already committed to going to Palm Springs with a friend -- and my parents, rabid college football fans, are heading to Texas before the 25th to watch the UW Huskies play in a bowl game.

UP: I will probably still drive the 4 hours to their house because they have a) free food and booze, and b) a brand-new, widescreen TV and DVD player that I can use until I either pass out or go blind.

DOWN: Mom asked if I could come down on the 21st for an early Christmas celebration, which I had to decline because I've already got plans for the weekend.

UP: Said plans involve getting together with a bunch of people I've met online ­ some old friends, some new ones, some I know only slightly, some I know fairly well, and some that I am looking forward to getting to know better (no names, you know who you are).

DOWN: Mom suggested that I might spend Christmas with one of my aunts (insert audio clip of Sideshow Bob shuddering).

UP: I thanked her but said no. (Trust me ­ declining this suggestion is A Good Thing).

DOWN: Mom asked if I was okay with this and while I said that I wasn't, I didn't say it as forcefully as I could/should have.

UP: The fact that I said anything at all is an improvement over my usual chickenshit cop-outs.

DOWN: Said get-together on the 21st will only last a few hours as most of the people are driving up from Seattle and will have a long trip back.
UP: A couple of them have expressed an interest in meeting Max (the aforementioned rabbit) so I'll get to spend some extra time with them (Sleep? Who needs sleep?).

DOWN: The 21st is still a rather long way away and I am eager to see everyone, especially those that I have never met face-to-face but have only corresponded with via chat and message forums; I've always enjoyed the experience of finally meeting someone and finding out if they're really as interesting as they seem to be when you've dealt with them solely through an electronic medium.

UP: The 21st will eventually arrive.

All things being equal, I like being up.

Why it's probably a good thing that I don't work in advertising

There's a forum I frequent where the talk can go from the technical to the personal, and one day there was a thread asking the guys in the forum how they kept their "naughty bits" from chafing -- oh hell, there's no delicate way to put it...the topic was about using talcum powder on your balls.

There seemed to be a definite split between dusting or not, and as the friendly debate continued it occurred to me that what this country needed was a counterpoint to all of the feminine hygiene commercials you see on TV.

The following script is my attempt to fill that void:

EXT. SHOT: FATHER and SON are walking through a meadow. The SON stops and looks at the FATHER, who also stops.

Hey, Dad?

Yes, Timmy?

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel...less than masculine?

Yes, one of the things about being a man is that sometimes you're less than fresh down in the ol' ballsack area. Things like hard work, or being Canadian and not changing your underwear frequently, can cause some funky stuff to start growing "down there."

What do you do about it?

FATHER: (pulling small container out of his back pocket)
Well, son -- when I start to get all sweaty and gross I just drop trow and put on a dash of "Balls-So-Sweet" medicated powder.

Gee whiz...

FATHER: (V.O. during animated shot of powder being shaken from container)
Yes, Balls-So-Sweet is designed with medicine that's strong enough to kill off all the nasty funguses that can cause things like Jock Itch and Crotch Rot, but leaves your scrotum with a light, pleasant scent that the women find attractive!

SON: (grimacing)
Oh, yuck! I don't want no stinky ol' girls messing around with my balls!

FATHER: (chuckling)
Oh, don't worry Timmy, you will...someday you will. Now pull down your pants and let's get some of this powder on you...

SON: (reaching for his belt buckle)
Okay, Dad!

CROSS-FADE: to static shot of powder container

ANNOUNCER: (V.O.): Balls-So-Sweet medicated powder -- because you can't feel like a man if you don't feel fresh and dry.


(I know I'd buy this if it were advertised during prime time.)

Dear Safeway, you are no longer my ear pimp. Love, Brian

I was dismayed and saddened to discover that Safeway (where I do my grocery shopping) has decided to stop carrying Q-Tips in favour of their house brand of cotton swabs. At first I thought it was just their usual trick of moving products on the shelf to hide the fact that they were out of something, but enough time has passed that I have to admit that, alas, I will have to obtain my "ear sex" elsewhere.
For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, all I can say is that for me there is a sensual pleasure -- almost bordering on the orgasmic -- in using a Q-Tip to clean my ear canal after a shower. I've tried the Safeway brand swabs and while there is some pleasure to be had from them, it's like comparing sex with a partner to masturbation; sure, both of them feel good, but touching yourself doesn't have quite the same feeling as being caressed by your partner.
Once I have finished the box of generic swabs I bought when I thought this was merely a temporary supply shortage, I will be hitting other stores to obtain my thrills -- I will not be denied just because Safeway has decided to stop carrying what is, for me (and I'm sure I'm not the only one; c'mon, fess up!), one of the joys of my life. To be completely honest here, it's better than getting my back scratched (and anyone that knows me well will tell you what it takes for me to say that).
Watch out, Shoppers Drug Mart; I will soon be your bitch. Keep me supplied with the "good stuff" and I will be yours to do with as you will.


For those of you that have watched fireworks displays and wondered what's involved in setting them up, I present to you the journal that I kept while working on this year's Celebration of Light (an international competition that takes place over 2 weeks in Vancouver, BC). The next time you "Ooh" and "Aah" over the pretty explosions, please say thanks to those of us who bust our asses to put on the shows for you:

Day 1 - Thursday, July 25
Spent the first part of the day loading the fireworks and gak into container to be moved out to the barge, then we went out. Interesting thing -- the parking passes are not only good for the Vanier Park boat launch but are also apparently good for two parking areas across the bridge and within easy walking distance to the Production/VIP area; I may have to make a trip on Sunday to see exactly how to get'll make getting home on show nights a lot easier if I don't have to walk across the Burrard Bridge and then deal with the Vanier Park/Bard on the Beach traffic jams!
Pulled all the steel mortars out of the magazine in the staging area where they're stored...hard, hot work. Laid out the mortars and barrels for digging in later.

Ran over my left big toe with a heavy case; when I got home I found that the nail was raised and when I did some extra probing I found that there was a buildup of blood under the nail; I've drained it and we'll see how it goes. It's not as painful as it was before so hopefully this will not cause too much trouble for the rest of the show.

Spent a good part of the afternoon trying to piece together the plywood used for flooring in the staging area; it would have been nice if there had been some kind of markings to identify which pieces went where, especially since the magazine had absolutely no ventilation...while it wasn't as strenuous as digging in the mortars it was worse because they, at least, had a breeze! We finally got it figured out and before it's taken apart, we will mark the sections for next year.

We then moved to digging in the 200, 250 and 300mm mortars. Again, hot work but the breeze helped a bit.

One of the last things we did was unload the boxes for Italy's show (the first one on the schedule) and move them to staging. I spent a lot of time in the container and again there was no ventilation; I felt as if I might pass out on more than one occasion from the heat and lack of air but I made it through. Of course, they were some of the heaviest boxes...

Miscellaneous cleanup, then off the barge by 6:30 pm. I stopped at Home Depot to pick up a new pair of gloves as my left glove developed a couple of holes during the day; considering that they've been through at least 3 fireworks shows, I'm amazed they lasted as long as they did. We'll see if this brand has the same kind of staying power; I usually buy Watson but HD didn't carry them so I had to buy something else (they're still in the car and I can't recall the name right now).

Decided to treat myself and picked up some KFC on the way home; fed Max and then myself. Next stop -- shower, then wash my filthy work clothes, play with Max and wash some dishes before bed.

Day 2 - Friday, July 26
We finished digging in the 200, 250 and 300mm mortars today, and then we laid out all the smaller mortar rack for Italy's show (up to 125mm), and to finish the day we worked on setting up the firing system (putting the slats on the rails and attaching the cables, then foiling the cables). The weather was overcast for the better part of the morning and even when the sun came out it wasn't too bad because of the breeze -- but I hate to think how bad it would have been if we'd been doing this last week.

We got our crew gear today -- t-shirts (2), baseball cap and crew ID.
Hans (the crew chief) asked me what I was doing tomorrow, to which I replied that I assumed I was working on the barge -- which, it turns out, I will be as tomorrow is a short day (we'll be done by noon) and he wanted a couple of people to help out. Considering your pyro career hinges on how well you work with other people (I know of 2 pyros that aren't asked to work some shows anymore because of attitudes or work habits), I am always grateful to be asked if I am available and even if I had not planned on being there, I would have said "Yes." I wonder what we'll be doing? I don't think we'd be putting up the waterfall although I could be wrong; I guess we'll just have to wait and see. At least I should be able to put in an appearance at the Jericho fencing tournament tomorrow afternoon, even though I won't be competing (too damn stiff!). The Vancouver Sun is sending someone out tomorrow so I have to be sure and wear my crew shirt for photos.

Day 3 - Saturday, July 27
Short day today -- we finished foiling the firing system, which entailed crawling around on the outside of the barge (on the "wrong side" of the railing) to cover cables. Why is it that I can move around a pitching barge and work with explosives without a problem, while going on Hell's Gate at Playland scares the crap out of me? I think it's the fact that on the barge I have a certain amount of control over the situation, whereas on the ride I have to trust that the designers, engineers and safety inspectors weren't having a bad day when they did their jobs.

We wound up foiling the cabling that goes across the main barge to the second one twice -- the first time we didn't have it wrapped/taped securely enough and the foil started tearing. We were finished and off the boat by 1:00, at which time I went to Jericho and visited my fellow SFU fencers and then went home. I love crawling around under winches and getting grease encrusted in my arm and leg hair...

Oh, and the media wasn't the Sun; I don't know who they were.

Day 4 - Monday, July 29
The Italians arrived today -- Paola, Giacomo and Diego. Paola had some trouble with seasickness; she's also 4 months pregnant but I don't know if that had any effect on her queasiness. I found out later that one of the Italians was puking in the head but I don't know if it was Diego or Giacomo; either way the water was very rough today.

We dug in all of the mortars -- including a 250mm that we missed doing on Thursday/Friday. Things moved so well today that we managed to get the first barge completely loaded, foiled and plasticked. If we keep moving at this pace there's a good possibility that we'll get to leave early on Wednesday.

I was expecting my toe to give me trouble today as I was wearing my steel-toed boots, but I was pleasantly surprised that other than the usual "my feet hurt because I've been on them all day," I didn't have any problems.

Spent some time stacking sandbags in front of the firing booth...lovely, hot, hard work.

There was a bit of drizzle this morning but it went away, and there was enough sun coming through the cloud cover to give me a bit of sunburn...I'd better remember to put on sunscreen tomorrow regardless of how it looks outside.

The TV crews are coming out tomorrow...yeehaw.

Day 5 - Tuesday, July 30
Spent the day loading mortars; I also prepped candles and fountains and we got started on the wiring. The water was extremely choppy today and the barges were pitching quite severely...good thing that I don't get seasick as long as I'm within sight of land. Tomorrow we'll finish the wiring and put up the fountains and waterfall. I still haven't decided if I'll watch the show or jut come home and catch up on my sleep.

One of the guys on the crew is in the IATSE effects dept. and I picked his brains regarding welding and what I should learn first -- he said I should learn MIG, arc and TIG in that order so now I know what I'll need to look at for the fall semester at BCIT.

Day 6 - Wednesday, July 31
We finished off the wiring, then spent some time setting up the waterfalls including foiling and squibbing. Then we foiled the wires going to the slats and covered the wires on the ground with sand and we were done -- we were off the barge by 3 PM. I decided against watching the show because I wanted to get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's digging in, and even with being able to park closer to the viewing area it would take some time to get home. Since we have Sundays off I'll go to the Saturday shows and then I can sleep in afterwards.

Day 7 - Thursday, August 1
Started setting up the Canada show today. Fiatlux is using the FireOne system which is a computerized firing setup; instead of connecting to the slats the lines are run to a number of boxes, which are connected by cable to the computer.

We got some rain in the afternoon so for a short while we had to work under tarps, which I absolutely loathe as it's hot and humid crawling around under them.

Anyway, we got the mortars dug in but there weren't a lot of them as this show is using a lot of candles...I mean, A LOT OF CANDLES. We got most of the second barge loaded and wired, so we should be able to get everything else done tomorrow except for the Bengales, which will likely be done on Saturday (and another short day, hooray!).

I really should remember to put on sunscreen, though -- I burned the back of my neck again.

Day 8 - Friday, August 2
We've got most everything set up but it hasn't been easy; Fiatlux's show plan was based on the barges being wider than they are (even though they'd been given the dimensions beforehand) and the past 2 days have had a lot of stuff being shuffled...and try and work it into a semblance of co-ordination. It didn't help that there was a huge weather problem last night and a lot of stuff got knocked around on the barge -- we didn't have any damage to the fireworks but we had a lot of cleanup to do, including restacking some of the sandbags in front of the firing booth.

We loaded the first barge today and are almost completely finished except for some stragglers that they're trying to find; it doesn't help that the warehouse mixed up shells for the finale with the stuff for the main show.

Since I worked the last (short) Saturday I was given a pass on tomorrow's short day, which means I can even get in a nap before I have to head downtown for the show; it also means I don't have to worry about rushing home to feed Max, which would have been necessary as Mary's heading to the Interior tomorrow morning to spend the long weekend with a friend that lives in Falkland, as well as attending a photo exhibition/art show at Mission Hill.

Day 9 - Monday, August 5
The Canada show on Saturday was absolutely awesome -- the music and synchronization was some of the best I've ever seen and apparently the judges were impressed, too -- according to one of the crew, they said that Spain would have to go all out to beat them.

Well, I think Spain might have heard about this because when we arrived at the barge this morning, I couldn't believe the sheer number of mortars that were waiting to be dug in...we ended up using every 125 and 150mm rack (and we had a lot of racks) as well as all the single 125 and 150mm mortars -- and I'm not sure, but if we didn't use up all the 100mm racks we came damned close!

Surprisingly (at least for me), we managed to get almost everything dug in before lunch and by the end of the day, the first barge was pretty much finished. Hans even told us how pleased he was at our progress and while he's not the type to yell at people, getting actual praise from him isn't all that common so we must have been doing well.

One nice thing about the Spanish setup is how they did the candles -- they came already attached to frames so all we had to do was screw them onto 1x3s to hold them in place; no digging required, just some sandbags to hold them in place, squib and foil them and they're done.

The Spanish team is almost identical to last year's -- 3 of the people are the same but the fourth is someone I haven't seen before...not that it matters as I can't understand much of what they say anyway.

There's a documentary crew that was filing us today and will also be there tomorrow...they spent some time shooting me as I loaded mortars into a wheelbarrow, so I guess stardom is just around the corner for me. Wow.

Day 10 - Tuesday, August 6
Rain this morning so we had to work under tarps -- they did tent them up so it wasn't as bad as it could have been, and I was working on candles in the staging shed...of course it has its own problems like a roof with lots of leaks which, as you can imagine, is Not A Good Thing when working with pyro.

I found out more details about the documentary -- it's called "Playing With Fire" and will be shown on CBC Newsworld's THE PASSIONATE EYE sometime next year. We're supposed to get a copy when it's finished so we'll see if there's any shots of me doing something other than carrying mortars in a wheelbarrow or loading sandbags.

Anyway, we fell behind due to the rain so we worked an extra hour and got started on the wiring. With the extra time we've spent today, we should be able to get off early tomorrow.

I almost forgot to mention what happened at lunch today -- Hans was doing his annual demo with leftover match and other items from the earlier shows; he set off a couple of different squibs so we could see how they varied in their effect and then he fired off some quickmatch and spollettes (delays). When he wanted to show us what happens if you have 2 pieces of quickmatch next to each other, he set them off but didn't realize that the second piece of match was a hangfire -- and it went off just as he was picking up the board he'd attached it to! Fortunately he wasn't hurt, but what ended up being funny could have been quite serious. Of course, the camera crew got it on tape so perhaps it'll end up being in the documentary...

Day 11 - Wednesday, August 7
The pace has finally gotten to me because this morning I started doing THE COUNTDOWN, as in "one more show to go and then we're done..."
We finished wiring and connecting, and we also spent time putting all the steel mortars we aren't using back into the storage room; it was sunny and hot today, of course, because the storage area isn't ventilated. I also found out that apparently we will be working on Sunday and not leaving the final cleanup and put-away for the night crew...damn. Oh well, putting away what we did today means there's less of it to move Sunday, and at least I'll have Monday to recover before heading back to work, and Elliot hired a couple of extra people to help out on the night crew.

One nice thing happened today -- the Spanish team brought some t-shirts and sweatshirts with their company logo; I picked up a blue sweatshirt as the t-shirts were a bit small for me and besides, I don't have many sweatshirts so I was quite happy to pick this one up.

Day 12 - Thursday, August 8
Today is the first time I have completely drained my was that hot!

We dug in most of the mortars for the final show (an intro, 6 minutes per team and then a finale) but even after we started loading more mortars had to be dug in as apparently the firing design for the Canada show was based on a 2 month old plan (?!?)

The Spanish team seems to think we can finish everything by tomorrow night, but I have my doubts...I suppose we'll see. In any event Saturday should be a short day.

I still don't know for sure what's happening on Sunday; I asked Hans if we'd be coming in late (like we did last year) for cleanup and he said he didn't know. On the other hand, we're having a crew dinner Sunday night at Da Pasta Bar.

Oh, yes -- I found out who won the competition but I'm not going to write it until after it's officially announced at the Saturday finale.

Day 13 - Friday, August 9
Robert Heinlein once said (and I agree with him) that the five most beautiful words in the English language are "Pay To the Order Of," but if I was forced to only use four words I would say that they would have to be, "Don't Come In Tomorrow."

(Of course the French have taken this to the ultimate; their cheques just say, "Payez.")

Yes, we finished everything off today; it took us an extra hour but nobody was complaining as the thought of having a day off tomorrow (instead of a short day) was too good to pass up. While we will have to work Sunday to finish the cleanup and put-away for the year, we don't have to come in until 9:30 so I can get some extra sleep after Saturday's finale.

Nice thing that happened today: I had borrowed a pair of crimping pliers from Michel (the production manager) because they're not available locally -- we use special telephone connectors for the wiring and the pliers are made to work specifically with them -- and when I returned them to him, he gave them to me! Even though I now have my own pair of pliers I'm still going to see if I can source them locally as we may start using them for Canada Day shows and the like.

Day 14 - Sunday, August 11
Canada won the competition. Spain's finale had about 95 misfires; a number of them were due to the delays again (I hope they raise hell at the factory), one squib was positioned next to the match instead of against it so it didn't fire, and an entire rack of candles didn't get wired (???).

When we got to the barge this morning we had a very pleasant sight...the night crew had completely put away all the mortars, so all we had to do was pack up the firing system and cables and the miscellaneous gear and load it into the containers on the mini-barge -- we were done and off the barge in 3 hours, which is a pretty good way to earn a day's pay. There's a crew dinner tonight and after that, it's goodbye to the barge (and most of the crew) until next year.