There was a time not too long ago when all my disposable income went toward gadgets. In the last 18 months I've really cut back, partially because I've mostly got everything I need, and partially because I spend money on other things.

However, Apple's got me wanting a bright green iPod shuffle like nobody's business. I thought it was cute when they introduced the silver model a few months back, but now I can barely resist. Why is it that we humans are so easily amused by a few bright colours? I mean I already have a very good MP3 phone with a 1 GB card. But it's not green!

I'm just so awe-struck that I'll let the story speak for itself:

Minnesota high school wrestling programs were suspended Tuesday because of a widespread herpes outbreak.

The Minnesota State High School League banned competitions and direct contact between wrestlers in practice until Feb. 6 after 24 cases of herpes gladiatorum were reported by 10 teams. The virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and symptoms include lesions on the face, head and neck.

The suspension is meant to control the current outbreak, allow time to diagnose new cases and prevent disqualifications at the state tournament, scheduled for Feb. 28-March 3.
All I can say is wow. I mean, wrestling resembles gay sex enough as it is. Apparently it has a lot of the same risks too. Can you imagine ending up with herpes for the rest of your life because you wrestled in high school!? Try explaining that one to your future dates.

SPF -20

Continuing the theme of regularly doing things I swore I'd never do, I took a nice radiation bath on my way to the gym today. Some might call it "tanning."

I remember a couple of years ago I was mentoring first year students at Carleton and one of them submitted this awful story about tanning. She was getting to the bottom of the phenomenon by interviewing...the owner of a Fabutan. Oh and she also read a pamphlet...that she found at the Fabutan. The conclusion was, of course, that tanning is actually GOOD FOR YOU! I immediately emailed her back and told her that if she wanted to pass she'd better get a dermatologist on the phone pronto. You know, somebody that could remind her of the whole cancer angle.

Quite frankly, back then I didn't get it. But "luckily" Toronto has opened my eyes to many things. Stuff that seemed minor in Ottawa is a big deal here. Like not having visible abdominal muscle. Or being pale in January.

Honestly I know it's bad for me. I do. But when I see someone who's got the whole albino look going on, it doesn't exactly load the pistol. I'd be a hypocrite if I judged people for seeing me the same way. And they have. Just look at my pale and near-sexless Toronto pride, for example.

So I'm going out this weekend and I want to look good. Plus all that light's gotta be good for the old seasonal affective disorder, right? So what's the harm? Oh yeah, the cancer.

PS A tip for those considering taking up this horrible practice. ALWAYS tan less than the nice lady at the tanning place tells you to. You notice that lovely orange look she's sporting? She thinks it'd look great on you too. See The Onion for a necessarily dire warning.

I'm always looking for new pickup lines for the club. Sure it works to just ask a guy if he's having fun or what he's on, but isn't it way more fun to ask if he gets pee shivers?

Yes it's as weird as it sounds. Apparently it's common for men to shiver every time they urinate. But even more shocking, the scientific community doesn't see fit to investigate this phenomenon. You'd think with all the grant money going to research pornography, goat sex and whatever else they could spare a few bucks to figure out what the hell this is all about.

This blogger has never noticed pee shivers himself, and while paying extra close attention during the next urination, results were inconclusive at best. Is it weird that I feel a little left out now?


So it appears I may be out of the loop. I managed to get through the weekend without going out. Going to a bar, drinking, and dancing for an hour doesn't count as going out anymore, right?

It's kind of a nice feeling. I feel like I'm in control. Or more in control. Or something. And I can like make rent and stuff.

Of course, I only got through this weekend by constantly reminding myself I was going out next weekend. But at least it worked. Can I have my cookie now?

You know how I know I'm old? I eat Shreddies without sugar. I could've at least bought the honey Shreddies, but that whole grain goodness is sweet enough for me right out of the box. How grown-up is that? I guess I'm one step closer to being a Metamucil man.

It's funny to think about how quickly times have changed. Not too long ago, if you saw someone walking down the street alone while talking you'd cross the street ASAP. Then it became okay if you were holding a phone to your ear. And now, with those clever little bluetooth headsets, we can barely tell who's whack at all anymore.

But that's not all that's changed. Electronic communications have changed the way modern relationships work, and not always for the better.

Once upon a time when you agreed to meet someone somewhere, you'd damn well better be there around the right time or they'd take off and you could spend a fair bit of time trying to track them down. But now we've got a license to be lazy and rude. We don't need to be on time. We can call ten minutes before and warn them that we're going to be late.

Hell, half the time we're not even clear on where we're supposed to meet anymore. How many times have you told someone to meet you at the Eaton Centre without mentioning which of the hundreds stores you should be at?

Not only that, cell phones have given us more excuses. "My phone died" is the 21st century's answer to "The cheque's in the mail." You can just fake a couple of desperate hellos and hang up on people whenever you want. The technology's lack of reliability has rubbed off on us.

Of course we all should've seen this coming. Early 90s heartthrob Zack Morris was on the bleeding edge of cellular technology, and I can't imagine a more inconsiderate or lazier prick than him.

Unintentional humour is sometimes the best humour.

I was setting up a search in Outlook 2000 today, as I often do, when I spotted this little gem:
This is the default setting, by the way. Kinda makes you wonder of Bill Gates is just a little sensitive.

Okay Engrish is one thing but this is just ridiculous. Beware if you're at work, this had me cackling at my desk like a madman for a good ten minutes. Do you have to pay extra for translation this bad?

Well the workday is just about done and I'll soon be catching the bus to Ottawa for the weekend. Did you know it was once the coldest capital city on earth, but is now a close second?

In case you were wondering, I won't be behaving during the trip, although I haven't really misbehaved since New Year's. Anyways not sure if I'll be blogging much whilst I'm there, but when I get back on Monday I'll be sure to post again so we can see if the sketchiness drains me of my trademark eloquence.

Under where?

Underwear is a strange thing. Tantalizing, yet functional. Tawdry, yet universal. For most of my life I've considered underwear in a very pragmatic way, as the last line of defense between my goodies and the outside world.

In fact, when Tavy and I moved in together, we famously merged our underwear collections into a single pool. A lot of people found this objectionable. But logically, between any exchange there is a wash cycle, and as his live-in boyfriend I was clearly comfortable with his wang, so why not?

Unfortunately this influx of briefs allowed me get lazy. Truth be told, shortly before I met Tavy I went to Wal-mart and stocked up on budget boxers. These were the last underwear I purchased for nearly three years. Sure they got a little beat up, but as long as they were keeping everything hidden I really didn't care.

My how things have changed.

Last summer I started to realize just how important nice underwear is in the Toronto scene. In Ottawa it wasn't nearly as big of a deal. But here, not only to people see more of your underwear (should you choose to remove your shirt), but they seem to place a lot more importance on it as well. Also, tight-fitting briefs are essential for successfully smuggling goodies into your venue of choice.

Now instead of underwear acting as a rarely-seen tool to keep the horse in the barn I look forward to throwing on a nice pair of underwear for a night on the town.

As a result, I've gone from spending nothing on underwear to spending most of my meager clothing budget on them. In fact, I haven't been able to find the cash to make a meaningful investment in my wardrobe since the summer. The shirt I wore for New Year's was in fact a cute little number I picked at Value Village. It went great with my thirty dollar undies:

$30 for underwear. This is a personal record for me. But I challenge you to look at them without smiling. The only way they could be better is if they had a target on the ass.

Besides, they serve an important purpose. When you think about it, underwear is a lot like the curtain in a theatre. It hides the good stuff until it's time for show to begin. If you saw a tattered curtain, wouldn't you wonder if it was worth staying through the second act?

The average human head has 1,100,000 hairs. Hair growth averages about 15 mm a month, or 0.5 mm a day. That means that each day, on your head alone, you grow 550 metres of hair. Holy crap!

Wouldn't it be cool if instead you could grow 550 one metre hairs each day? Sure we'd all look a little weird, but we wouldn't have to suffer from bad haircuts for nearly as long.

Who's the boss?

Despite many similarities to Initech from Office Space I really, really like my job and I'll tell you why.

Theoretically I start work at 9 AM. The first three days this week I arrived at 9:30. On Monday my boss and the other girl on my team both "worked from home", which is code for "do other stuff but return to check my email every 90 minutes." Tuesday I was the first of the three to get to work, and on Wednesday I beat my boss but not my coworker.

Notice a pattern? This place is slack as all hell. In fact I'm writing this blog post on company time.

Not to say I don't do my job, I do. My boss knows that no matter what time I get here, I'm not going to leave if there's something that needs to be done. So in exchange for her not caring if I'm late, I don't make a fuss if I have to work until six. And I have, many a time.

Needless to say this is an uber-refreshing change of pace from the call centre panopticon I was stuck in before. That's right my boss actually trusts me to do my job, you know, like an adult. Oh, and I also don't have some stupid schedule that tells me when I can have lunch. Nice, eh?

It might sound pretty basic and not all that exciting, but to someone fresh out of school that's used to crap jobs (and being hated by his boss), it's the bees knees.

Now as I've said previously, this job pays for crap. In fact, I took a pretty decent pay cut from my horrible bank job. But can you put a price on a boss that gets you two pounds of gourmet cookies for Christmas when you've been there for three weeks? Or a boss that drives your coworker to Winners to get some new clothes when she gets here soaking wet from the rain?

Now like I said, this place has some Office Spaceish qualities. It's a software company with about a billion cubicles and a very generic name. It's an in industrial park. In fact, I think if I had a different boss here I might hate the job. The work I do isn't particularly interesting or exciting. But when you get the sense that the boss is on your side, how bad can it really be?

Who needs gaydar?

Did you ever get off the subway at Wellesley and get the feeling that everyone on the train is thinking "I knew he was gay!"?

Just now I was walking down Jarvis, and minding my own business, when a prostitute asked me if I was "looking for some company." To be fair, I was wandering the streets at 2 AM, but do I really look like a guy that needs to pay for sex...with a woman?!

Dope wars

We liberal-minded folk know the War on Drugs has been something of a farce; an expensive mistake that hasn't curbed drug use at all. However, I don't expect to hear those sorts of opinions from former undercover cops. Try to ignore it's from FOX news for a minute and take a look at this. As these officers attest, the war on drugs has a lot of negative side effects (no pun intended). It destroys lives when otherwise functional people are sent to jail for possession. And it increases the power of organized crime.

Now people are speaking out about it here in Canada. The message is the same: enforcement is a waste of money and education, research and treatment programs should be a higher priority. Of course, we already have a drug education program: DARE. I went through something called VIP when I was in grade five, but I'm sure it's mostly the same thing: a lengthy tirade about the evils of peer pressure followed by a long list of "don'ts". But we know don'ts are a bad idea, because some of our lovely neighbours to the south teach this wonderful concept called abstinence only in sex ed classes. It doesn't work.

When you think about it, that thing we all snickered about when we were twelve was actually pretty important, wasn't it? I don't know about you, but I don't even consider anything but safe sex. I think sex education had a big part in helping me make the right choices.

Sex and drugs are two very similar things from a teenager's perspective. Both of them involve a lot of peer pressure and both carry a lot of misconceptions. But most importantly, teens are going to both of them whether you want them to or not. Deal with it.

So instead of coming out with a big lecture and a bunch of scare tactics, how about teaching kids about drugs instead of just describing them as scary and awful? No, we don't need classes on how to roll a joint. The message should be the same as with sex ed: we know some of you are going to do it. If you choose to, here's how you can keep from hurting yourself. Stuff like how to recognize the signs of addiction, what to do in the event of an overdose, who to call if things get out of control, and what drugs you should absolutely, positively avoid because they're extremely addictive.

Let's face it, if we don't teach this to them at school they're going to be exposed to it sooner or later. Kids know that every person who does drugs doesn't end up like some messy junky. Let's stop lying to them and give them the information they need to make the right decisions. After all, education is supposed to be about the truth, right?

Dear sweet YouTube, what would we do without you? For those of you who are curious what all the fuss is about, here's the first episode of my beloved Twitch City broken up into three parts. Trust me, subsequent episodes are even better. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

It's recently come to my attention that most people my age have no idea what emo is. Are we so old already that we should be oblivious to a major (if moderately annoying) youth subculture? I think not. Of course, there's no better form of education than a YouTube video, so here y'all go.

Priced to move

This isn't news to anyone, but Toronto is expensive as all hell. Forget youth being wasted on the young, I think Toronto is wasted on the people who can actually afford it.

Naturally I am not one of those people. Oh sure, I get by. But I can't help but feel I should be doing a little better by age 24. Like I should be able to afford a modest bachelor that is not a dive. But alas that's too much to ask. And it's not just rent. Everything is more expensive here. A transit pass is $100 a month! Luckily there's a No Frills near my place or I'd be subsisting on ramen noodles by now. Of course there are ways for a gay man of my age to make big money fast, but I'm not that desperate yet.

There was a series in The Star recently about youth debt and, surprise, I'm not the only one deep in the hole:

Turns out, there is reason to worry and it's not all the fault of today's youth. "Wages of younger workers for all levels of education decreased significantly during the 1980s, the trend continued although at a diminished rate through the 1990s," concluded a report by Industry Canada.

Exacerbating the situation, the same study pointed out, was the youth unemployment rate -- twice that of the general population.

This is a double whammy for young people. As their wages were declining relatively, from the early 80s through to 2005, the Consumer Price Index increased by 74.9 percent from the early 1980s through to 2005. With less money coming in and more money going out, the crux of the problem starts to come into focus. (Source)
So what solution do they offer? Spend less and save more. Simple. But there's one problem: I only get to be young once. Sure I could just bank it all, and then, in 10 years, when I'm good and secure, I could party my ass off...Oh wait, that's not socially acceptable either!

Was it this hard for people my age 20 years ago? My gut says no, but really it's impossible to say for sure. What I do know is that it's hard as fuck now. Am I going to stop having fun? Hell no. If I have to evade student loan payments for a while so I can enjoy my youth, that's the way it's going to be. After all, what fun is it to save all that cash if you haven't saved any wonderful memories?

So I was supposed to move in with a friend February 1st. He wasn't getting along with his roommate and I hate my place, so we were looking for a place. Last night he decides to tell me that it ain't gonna happen. Not only that, he KNEW it wasn't going to happen all last week, but said he was waiting until he had me alone on the phone to tell me.

I talked to him at least four times last week. The real story: he's a prick and a coward and procrastinated on telling me as long as he could. Clearly he made up with the roommate and decided to screw me over to make his life easier. Now I've already given my notice here and I've lost a valuable week of hunting time. Aint (ex-)friendship grand?

That's right, he's cut out. In fact, cutting people out has become something of a hobby of mine lately. As I've realized that most of my friends here suck, it's been highly therapeutic to shed myself of these hollow entanglements. When I told a (real) friend about this cutting out business, he said "that's a very Toronto thing to do." Maybe I'm getting the hang of this city after all!

Anyways today I looked at one apartment. It's $80 more expensive than the one I have now, is about the same size, but has a kitchen sink and a balcony. No thanks. On the plus side the Annex is a very pleasant area and I had a chance to come across the most ostentatious bargain store in all of creation! Take a look at that thing! Makes you wonder how they can afford to power it with those low, low prices. This place ranks right up there with Zanzibar on Yonge Street.

Twitch City!!

So Meaghan got me like the best gift ever: Twitch City DVDs! I'm sure almost none of you have heard of it, but it's this great sitcom the CBC ran in the late 90s that was shot in Kensington Market. Without this show, Meaghan and I would be missing many inside jokes, like:

  • The job wheel
  • Pineapple almond cookies
  • Falling and accidentally penetrating her (seriously)
  • I thought they were gay! (in reference to Nazis they accidentally took in as roommates)
If you're a DVD collector, I highly recommend picking it up. It's quirky as hell, and best of all: no laugh track. Plus how could you fault a show that guest stars Joyce DeWitt?

Alright, after using my first blog post to make myself sound like a junkie, how about something a little less intense?

I go to the gym a fair bit, and in my many hours there I can't help but notice that there are a lot of annoying people there. Here's a rundown of the people that drive me batshit crazy:

  • The monopolizer: This one thinks he has exclusive rights to a piece of a equipment for a good 30-45 minutes, compadres be damned.

  • The multitasker: A variation of the above, this one likes to use three or four pieces of equipment at once, cycling between all of them and claiming ownership of all. Often he is also a....

  • Slow setter: The guy that takes 10 minutes between sets. Spends most of his time wandering around the gym or holding inane conversations. Which brings me to...

  • The chatterbox: Sees the gym as a social institution above all else. Won't stop talking about the most mundane, obnoxious topics. Pretends to know what he's talking about but is mostly just faking intelligence. Working out near one of these makes it pretty much impossible to concentrate. Bring a few of them together and you have...

  • The group dynamic: Take three or four of these ones and they'll take over a quarter of the gym for themselves. One of them will work out while the rest of them take a piece of equipment for furniture and yak like bored trophy wives.

  • The steroid freak: Looks like he's had cornish game hens grafted onto his biceps. Has way too much self-confidence despite looking like an over-inflated balloon.

  • The fat ass: He's borderline obese, but insists on doing lots of weight training while avoiding cardio altogether. Extremely proud of what he can bench press and completely oblivious to the disgustingness of his 45" waist.
And of course the gym wouldn't be the same without:
  • The creepy aging homosexual: Might not hit on you outright, but will still find many ways to creep you out. One guy at my gym held the button on the water fountain whilst I took a drink. May be less forward and just stare, or make pathetic attempt at conversation based on your t-shirt. Mostly harmless while working out but significantly more disturbing in the change room.
Just a warning to everyone: the YMCA has way more of these people than other gyms, in my experience. Despite what the Village People have told you, avoid it if you can. Don't end up like me!

As many of you know, the last eight months have been fairly tumultuous. I've been partying a lot. I run on a weekly cycle:

  • Monday, regret. "I feel like crap. I'm definitely taking next weekend off."

  • Wednesday, recovery. "I feel so much better. I don't want to go out this weekend and mess that up."

  • Friday, the itch. "I really want to dance. Besides *blank* is spinning this weekend, I can't miss that!" Which is why Toronto is great: almost every weekend there's some big DJ you can hitch your habit to.

And so the cylce continues

Since July I've skipped maybe six weekends. Pretty good, eh?

Which makes me wonder: where do you draw the line? How much is too much? Surely many of you would say that popping a couple of pills and dancing for eight hours every weekend is excessive. But by many Toronto standards it's not. It seems like every twenty-something I've talked to had some period of years where they were messed up four days per week. There's really a culture of mutual enabling here: keep everyone else in the cycle and you don't feel so bad about yourself. And what's the best way to do that? To remind them that no matter how bad they are, there's someone worse.

The problem is that there will always be someone worse.

Knowing when you have a problem is a hell of a lot harder than TV and the media make it out to be. The line between having a lot of fun and self-harm is fuzzy. Most people out there partying aren't messing everything up. Most of them are holding down jobs, are on good terms with their families and are not the messy pile of wasted flesh represents the stereotypical addict. It'd actually be a lot easier if that were the case. Because addiction is a slow decline to that state. Slow enough that it's hard to notice. Like global warming for the soul.

If you haven't noticed yet, I really don't know what the answer is. I don't know where the line is, or where I sit on it. Sure I didn't go out this weekend, but I did way too much K at a little party last night. I don't even like K. Why did I do it? Because it was free.

That's not a good sign is it?