June 2007

Monthly Archive

It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work…

Posted by Office-Bob on 23 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: General Craziness

Sometimes you need a break from the standard lunchtime fast food …but what’s a boy in Vancouver to do when he wants something other than burgers, steam-cooked burritos or sushi?

Why not have a Japadog?

Japadog is a sidewalk hot dog stand a few blocks away from my office that, in addition to the standard brots and smokies, offers 3 dogs with a Japanese accent. A group from the office made the trek there for lunch on Friday; I ordered the Terimayo (beef dog on a toasted bun with fried onions, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and nori) and it was one of the best hot dogs I’ve had in a long time.

Terimayo - Looks different, tastes fantastic

We returned to the office and ate our lunch on the newly-opened patio, supplementing it with chips and washing everything down with beer. The weather co-operated and stayed sunny so a good time was had by all.

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O-B Archive - Why it’s probably a good thing that I don’t work in advertising (Original Post Date 2002-12-05)

Posted by Office-Bob on 08 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: General Craziness

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.)

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From the O-B Vaults - Celebration of Light

Posted by Office-Bob on 02 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: The Church of Pyro

From time to time I’ll be posting entries from Office-Bob V1.0; here’s the very first entry from December 2, 2002:

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 there…it’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 racks for Italy’s show (75mm 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 reshuffled…to 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 to 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 1×3s 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 Camelbak…it 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.

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