Office-Bob Archives: January 2003




Self-analysis through music

I was chatting online with a friend recently and the discussion turned to music preferences, and I got to wondering: it's easy enough to say "I like this piece of music" (or food item, or TV show, et cetera ad nauseam), but why , exactly, does a particular thing appeal to someone?

In order to try and answer this question, I decided to try an experiment: I would make a list of some of my favourite pieces of music, and then write an explanation of what made them special to me.

The end result is interesting; while there are a few pieces that are directly linked to specific events in my life (failed relationships and such), most of them seem to elicit an emotional response in me on their own and of those, they will usually have a strong string, brass or bass line (or, in some instances, a combination of these three). While I haven't uncovered any deep, hidden depths to myself it was a challenging (although fun) exercise that I would recommend to anyone as a way to get their mental processes flowing.

I've made a couple of CDs with the songs (over 30 in all) and sent them to my friend along with a copy of the explanations; it will be interesting to see what she is able to get from them regarding how my mind (or what I use in place of one) works.

Something is rotten in the State of Washington; I think it's turkey!

Now that enough time has passed for my blood pressure to come back down to manageable levels, I suppose I should tell you about Christmas.

My wife had the opportunity to visit a friend who had use of her company's condo in Palm Springs over the holiday and she asked me if she could do so; since Judy is a good friend that my wife doesn't get to see all that often I had no problems with this, and simply assumed that I'd be spending Christmas with my parents in Washington State.

That was my first mistake.

After my wife had bought her plane ticket, I received a call from my Mom, telling me that she and Dad were going to be leaving on the 21st to go watch the UW Huskies play in a bowl game in Texas and was that going to be a problem? Not that if would matter to them if it was; she was merely observing the formalities.

(Side note: my parents are the University of Washington equivalent of Deadheads; they'll travel all over the country to watch the Huskies play football but they usually leave the day after Christmasthis year, however, was different)

Mom did offer to cook a turkey for me before they left, so I decided to make the best of a bad situation ­ free food, free booze and a big-screen TV with DVD player all to myself; it doesn't sound too awful, right? Well, fast-forward to the 22nd when I realized that I couldn't find the key to my parents' house.

Mistake Number Two.

Now I seemed to recall that they kept a spare key in the garage, but I wasn't going to spend 4+ hours driving down with Max in the car only to find out that I was mistaken in my assumption, considering that the hotel situation in Olympia was unknown to me and I had no way of knowing which hotel ­ if any -- would be willing to take pets.

No problem, I could call Mom and Dad to verify the key thingexcept for some reason I didn't have their cell number! Okay, let's leave a message on their answering machine at home and also send off an e-mail; I had no idea if they'd be checking but that was the best I could come up with at the time.
Well, Mom got the message and called me with the Good News/Bad News that yes, there was a key in the garage but that the garage was locked. Do not pass "Go," do not collect $200, do not travel to Mom and Dad's house. I wasn't as upset by the news as I thought I'd be, since it saved me a major trip what would have been the longest time Max had spent in the car ­ and I wasn't too keen on finding out how a large rabbit would cope with such a long trip.

Mistake Number Three. Thank you for playing, here's a copy of our home game, K THX BYE

Never fear, loyal readers, as your scribe didn't have to go without his holiday turkey fix; I spent Christmas with my sister-in-law, my niece, the niece's husband and their new baby (grand-niece? I'm not up on all this lineage stuff).

I will admit to a minor bout of feeling bad about my parents having to come back home in the New Year to a rotting turkey carcass, but I later found out that my parents called my sister and had her come over to pick up the food. I suppose that I could have tried calling my sister about borrowing her key but at the time, I think I was more glad than upset that I wouldn't be making the trip down, not to mention that I was ticked at my parents for dropping this bombshell on me at the last minute and may have been subconsciously hoping that perhaps this might teach them a lesson about spending time with the family during the holiday season.

Oh well, at least there's a bunch of presents waiting for me when I finally make it back down there.

To know me is to love long as you don't piss me off

A good friend recently asked me what kind of behaviour got me upset; at the time I couldn't come up with a lot of examples, but after pondering it for awhile I've developed the following list of Things That Piss Brian Off:

Drivers who don't signal when they want to change lanes: Listen, bud -- even if I were psychic there would have to be a mind there for me to read, and you sure don't qualify ­ so I am not going to assume you want to come into my lane simply because you edge towards the dividing line now and again. God created turn signals for a reason, so USE THEM.

Smokers who dump their ashes and butts out the car window: Don't try to give me any crap about whether or not it's biodegradable, you're still littering! Would you appreciate it Mr. Bear and all his woodland friends took a shit in your living room? No? Well, then show them some consideration! Oh, you don't have an ashtray in your fancy car? Too damned bad; BUY ONE, YOU JERK!

People who ask you a question and then, if it isn't the answer they want, insist that you're wrong: Look, chum, the fact that you came to me with a question indicates that you don't know the answer, so how dare you assume that my answer is wrong just because it wasn't what you wanted to hear? Sure, it's possible that I'm wrong but if you're not willing to at least give me the benefit of the doubt, then STFU and FOAD!

People who ask you how to do something and then go ahead and do it the way they want: What the hell are you doing bothering me again? First you asked me for advice and refused to listen to what I had to say, and now you're asking me for instructions that you're not even going to use? Listen, moron, I have better things to do than waste my time telling you something that you don't give a rat's ass about, so see the previous item for my response. Oh, wait, that's right ­ you won't pay attention anyway!

People who won't believe you when you say you'd like to be alone for awhile: Look, it's not that you're a rotten person and I can't stand you (well, maybe it is but that's a separate issue), but sometimes I just need a little quiet time. It could be that I'm tired and not in a chatty mood, or it could be that I'm pissed off about something (or perhaps even pissed off at YOU) and want some time to cool down ­ so please, Please, PLEASE let me have that time alone or I might get medieval on you. Believe me, I will return to the Real World at some point in the future, but it ain't gonna happen if you keep pestering me to tell you what's wrong, or why I'm mad, or how you know what will make me feel better ­ being left alone is what will make me feel better, but I can't be alone IF YOU'RE BUGGING THE HELL OUT OF ME.

People who tell me to "calm down!" or "relax!" if I'm stressed about something: If left to my own devices I will eventually calm down and relax; all you're doing by telling me to relax is annoying me, which means it will take me longer to unwind, which means that I'm going to show you how much fun I can have with gunpowder and Saran Wrap. Trust me, you don't want me to demonstrate...

People who bother me when I'm sitting quietly and reading: I don't care whether or not you've read the book/haven't read it/have heard of the author/haven't heard of the author/want to know what it's about or want to chat about sports/weather/your cat, you are bothering me and I want you to go away. Right now. Before I kill you.

What's more fun than getting drunk or laid on New Year's Eve? How about blowing stuff up?

For the second year in a row I was asked to do a New Year's Eve fireworks show for a local yacht club at their Iron Bay outstation. I jumped at the chance to do it because:

1) They're a great bunch of people
2) They feed me, put me up for the evening, and feed me booze after the show (I can't drink before I shoot which is sort of a bummer, but safety first)
3) Doing a small, hand-fired show is a nice change from all the large electrically-fired shows I do in the summer
4) Most importantlythey dig the mortars in for me!

Well, this was one of the most challenging shows I've ever done, but not for the reasons you might think. Let me tell you about the "fun" I had in getting this show done:

1) The fireworks that I was supposed to get were shipped from Montreal on December 18th but never made it to Vancouver
2) I had problems getting hold of the appropriate person at the North Vancouver Fire Department to obtain my show permit
3) While the morning of the 31st started out nice, by the afternoon it started pissing rain so I ended up crawling around under tarps to load the show, taking about twice as long as I would have if the weather had co-operated.
4) I'm currently suffering from mild vertigo which my doctor tells me is due to an inner ear infection so having to light the fuse, turn away quickly before the shell fires, then turn back around quickly to watch the shell go up and make sure it bursts made for some interesting balance issues.

Well, I managed to get my permit on the 30th and an alternate shipment arrived on the morning of the 31st; I had them by 10 am and was at the dock by noon (it takes around 30 minutes to get to Iron Bay by boat). I had the foresight to pack some flares for lighting the fuses as I didn't know if my shipment would include themand I guessed correctly because, while the original (lost in transit) order had flares, the new order didn't.

The rain stopped just long enough to let me shoot, and the customers were happy. We sat around until about 2 am at which time the generator ran out of gas, so most everyone called it a night and went to bed. I woke at 7 am and killed time by reading and listening to music (/me lubs my iPod!) until my hosts woke around 11; then coffee, breakfast, got a ride back to Deep Cove and was back at home by 3 pm on January 1, 2003.

Even with all the problems I had with my show, I fared better than a friend who designed the Vancouver and Whistler First Night shows ­ his orders were included in the lost shipment, so he had to redesign his shows based on what was in the alternate shipment. At least my show wasn't scripted, so it didn't matter if a gold palm tree got swapped with a silver comet!

So, to sum up:

1) Permit received
2) All my shells went off (which was a concern given the rain)
3) Customers were happy
4) Most important, my vertigo never got so bad as to compromise my safety and as a result, no body parts or facial hair were harmed during the show

If these are the worst problems I experience when doing a show, I really have nothing to bitch about.