So walk down the aisle already!

January 29, 2003 at 5:25 pm (Work)

There’s a girl here in the department who, while fairly nice, is driving me absolutely batty. She’s about 27, comes to work in clothes that are practically painted on (which, strangely enough, tend to hide her knee pads, which she must surely use because I have yet to meet a bigger suck up: meow), and don’t even ask me about her make-up job. Anyhow, she’s been with the same guy since her teens, and is absolutely looking forward to her wedding day, which she states will be in about 18 months. (!) Every lunch hour, she gets out her “Let’s Get Married/Marrions-nous” 500-page catalogue, deciding on which dress she’s going to wear, which photographers she’s going to hire (you know, two photographers are better, and these two she has in mind are really good because they take candid photos and not staged photos because staged photos don’t come out as well don’t you know and these two are really good bla bla), her wedding hall, etc. etc. ad nauseum. At one point, she was asked how much she expected this little “do” of hers to cost. “Oh, not much,” she replied, “only $50,000.” Wha?
This goes on every lunch hour. I leave the office, come back, and she’s still clutching that damned catalogue to her bosom as though it’s her long-lost teddy bear (Baba!). There’s one other woman who is willing to listen to her, but come lunchtime, earphones magically appear on everyone else, CDs get popped into the players, and everyone tunes out. Every day, every week, since she started five months ago. I just don’t understand it.
Update Thursday It’s started again, now talking about the cost per plate, which is a bargain at only $90 per. The gaggle is piercing the earphones.


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Life’s Lessons

January 28, 2003 at 5:24 pm (General)

Want to know how to upset an academic? Refer to them as “you people.” Derogatively, of course. The referring to. Step back and watch the resultant fireworks. This works especially well during faculty parties.

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Dr. Lost Glove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cold

January 22, 2003 at 5:24 pm (General)

Since it’s frickin’ siberian out there, I thought it would be fun to have to look at the process of freezing to death, aka hypothermia. Imagine you can’t take the cold anymore, and decide to go drinking some night, only to stumble home afterward, losing your way.
First, hypothermia is more likely to fell men than women, more lethal to the thin and well muscled than to those with avoirdupois, and least forgiving to the arrogant and the unaware, i.e. my ass is grass.
Touch the stair railing coming out of the bar: the freezing metal bites your flesh and your skin temperature drops. Within a few seconds, the palms of your hands are a chilly, painful 60F (15C). The capillaries on your hands constrict, sending blood away from your skin and deeper into your torso in order to keep your vital organs warm.
You can train your body to counter-act this problem: if you work outdoors, gloveless, long enough into the season, your surface capillaries will occasionally allow blood to flow back to your extremities: hunter’s response.
So, you’re drunk and starting to freeze. However, you were sober enough when leaving the bar to button up properly. You start running to escape the cold, and your body temperature rises, blood starts going back to your fingers and toes. By now, your body temperature is about 100F (37.7C). You start to sweat, your clothes get wet.
The moment you stop running and exerting yourself, the cold attacks your wet clothes, drawing the heat away from your body, your surface blood vessels having been completely dilated. This is not a good thing.
After about 15 minutes, your body temperature will be back to normal. But wait, we’re not done. Your heat is still dissipating, and at 97F (36.1C), your upper back muscles tighten up, just before you begin to shiver. Once again, your capillaries have constricted.
If you haven’t gotten somewhere warm by now, your internal temperature will descend to 95F (35C), considered mild hypothermia. This is when you start to shiver like crazy. People have actually separated ribs and pulled muscles while shivering. It’s the body’s attempt to raise its metabolism and thus its body heat: it doesn’t work.
By now you’re a complete mess. Your coordination (already weak to begin with) is totally shot, and you could easily trip and fall. Doing so, your body loses even more heat through conduction with the sidewalk/street/ground. The thing is, you’re exhausted and tipsy, and you could really go for a rest.
By now, your body temperature is about 93F (33.9C), and amnesia is becoming a factor. You aren’t even sure anymore how to get home. You’re pretty much screwed by now, because you’re losing about 2F (1C) of body temperature per hour, and you’re still taking a rest on the ground.
You don’t even care anymore when you reach 91F (32.7C), and are pretty much unconscious at 90F (32.2C). A couple degrees below that, and your body stops shivering, your blood has thickened, you no longer take in as much oxygen, and your brain is hardly working. Funnily, your kidneys are working overtime because of your thickened blood, and you have to pee like nobody’s business, which is all you feel. (Side note: incidentally, while winter camping, it is actually imperative that you urinate if you get the urge. You can be snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug in your sleeping bag, but you’re also expending energy to keep your urine at body temperature, so out it goes. Pee bottles are great for this.).
87F (30.6C), you no longer recognise your friends, if any were to walk by.
86F (30C), your heart becomes arrhythmic, pumping less than 2/3 the normal amount of blood. Say hi to hallucinations. .
It’s happened that people believed they were burning to death, and have ripped off their clothes at this 85F (29.4C). This is called paradoxical undressing, and some victims are found nekkid.
If you’re not saved anytime soon, you’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil, pushing up the daisies, feckin’ snuffed it.
Ah, but here’s where it gets interesting. If you are saved, the last thing the doctors will do is warm you up, such as putting you in a warm bath. Why? The blood at your extremities is about 20F (8C) colder than your body core, so if your blood is to suddenly start circulating again, the sudden influx of cold blood would stop your heart. I can’t remember what the procedure is, but I believe it involves flushing the torso with water. Possibly involves making a slit in the stomach.
So, the next time you see a homeless person on the streets, or hear about those cheesedick cops in the Prairies who drive Natives outside of city limits to freeze at night, give an extra thought of what they’re going through.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned frost bite, frost nip, etc. This things you learn from First Aid, I tell ya.

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It’s not so much the heat

January 21, 2003 at 5:23 pm (General)

Okay, I admit it, I love the cold. I love the feeling of nostril hairs freezing when you breathe in on really cold days, the rime that forms on eye-lashes when wearing a scarf, heck even the rush of blood to toes that have stood for a time on icy sidewalks. Today, however, is a completely different scenario. As I was leaving the apartment this morning, fully layered in “miracle” fibers, I grab the doorknob, only to realise that there was ice on it. Indoors. On the knob. Mmm, okay. Get outdoors, sheltered from the wind, and so think to myself that it’s not that bad outside. As I’m walking, I realise that the moisture/toothpaste residue in my mouth is actually freezing with every intake of breathe. Tiny ice crystals were forming. I’ve never had that happen before.
This pretty much eliminates any absurd ideas I may ever have entertained about tackling an 8000m Himalayan peak.

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Just look at those cheeks

January 20, 2003 at 5:22 pm (General)

I’ve realised that I am to be condemned, until the end of my days, to be what’s considered as “cute.” Not, mind you, as handsome, rugged, good-looking, to swoon/die for, Vin-Diesel-shaved-head-take-me-now-you-hunka-hunka-burning-pecs kinda guy. No, I’m cute. Granted, if I’m hungry or thirsty and want someone to buy me drinks or food, no problem. If I want to be viewed as someone who will ensure a night of hot monkey-loving sex, well, that’s just so darned cute (but highly unlikely).
I just handed in a document that I was only given a week to research and write and coordinate images for, hand it off to the product manager who looks at it and says, “Wow, this is so cute!” I can’t win. I imagine the day, when I’m old in the nursing home, forced to a wheelchair, surreptitiously lifting the skirts of nurses and female visitors with my cane, they’ll turn around, see me and say, “Oh, isn’t he cute!”

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Oh shit, we’re all going to die!

January 14, 2003 at 5:22 pm (General)

Coming home from the gym last night, waiting for the metro. I’m standing toward the head of the train, since it will be right next to the stairs when I get off and I’m feeling particularly lazy and/or lethargic at this point. Anyhow, the train arrives and is slowing down. I get a look at the metro “driver” (do they drive or do they simply press on the brakes and pull levers to open the doors? I’ve never understood their responsabilities), and this driver guy dude is actually wiping tears away!
I don’t know, but having someone at the helm of a fast-moving train, hurtling through the tunnels, who happens to be incredibly depressed is just not very reassuring.

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Well, whaddya know

January 7, 2003 at 5:21 pm (General)

It seems that a little Montreal band, who are (in)famous for shirking publicity of any kind—they would actually phone up and scream at the music editor if their name appeared in the Best of Montreal—have come out with a 5-track CD (Yanqui U.X.O.). The sweetest part of it all? They’re on the main page of today’s Salon.
There’ll be much consternation tonight at Hotel 2 Tango, I’m sure.

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Past, meet butt. Commence biting.

January 6, 2003 at 5:18 pm (Personal)

As time goes on, I’m consistently amazed at how small this city can be, especially among anglophones, even more so if we’ve ever had anything to do with the art scene.
So, really conversing with a new acquaintance. Now, as folks are wont to do, we go on about our past lives. Well, it turns out we’ve been associated with all the same people, going back 10 years or so. Still, nothing surprising. However, having told her that I once wrote and edited for an alternative weekly, she did a bit of web-researching and, during the holidays, sent me an e-mail, quoting a record review of mine, which basically goes: “[…] most of the words were incomprehensible above [name]’s bassline feedback.” She then added, “[name] didn’t play bass. I did.” Even more embarrassing for me was that I gave the album one of the lowest ratings ever. That’s karma for ya.

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