Month: October 2011

I called dibs many years ago

Dear Canada,

Just a friendly reminder that in the “Beaver vs Polar Bear” debate, I called dibs on the Polar Bear years ago when I separated from Canada and formed my very own country called Canadia. Following an especially drunk-ish Halloween party, Miss Britt was appointed as our Queen and Sovereign (just on paper).

Like you I had my doubts in the past and almost got a new tagline for my blog. But after a lot of careful considerations, I stuck with the Canadia / Polar Bear thing.

The Canadia thing is right there in my header, see?

I admit that I really like the Beaver, I even have my very own Beaver Day. This is all official because a very famous New-Yorker said so. However, I started using the Polar Bear as far as Christmas 2008 (as stated in this Christmas 2009 post) and there are a few letters dating from November 2008 that can prove this.

 

The Polar bear emblem is right there in my sidebar.

Also, I started this “LOLPolarBearz” Internet Craze.

So fair warning to you Canada: The Polar Bear is a really cool emblem, and I don’t blame you for wanting it for your great nation, but it’s mine. All mine.

So back off.

Mado

 My brother’s Mother-In-Law – Mado – died yesterday morning after a long battle with brain Cancer. As I suspected, people on Twitter did not spend the night Tweeting about her. They did not make graphics with her quotes, direct people to watch her videos on YouTube.

In all fairness, Mado was not a public figure. She didn’t invent cool computers and technological gadgets like Steve did.

But for her family, she did change everything.

So Rest in Peace Mado. I didn’t know you very well but you did touch my life, and more importantly my brother’s life. You were and are still loved.

 

Enemy at the Gates

The opening scenes of the movie Enemy At The Gates features a sequence in which the main character arrives at the docks on Stalingrad in late 1942, and is promptly queued up in front of a truck, in which Commissars are issuing rifles and ammunition to the conscripts.

The catch is, that only every other soldier is getting a rifle. The Commissars are usually saying something like “One man gets the rifle, the next man gets some bullets. The second man follows the man with the rifle, and when he is shot, picks up the rifle and carries on fighting!”

That’s exactly how I feel at work right now.

Hopefully I won’t get shot. But if I am, I hope someone will carry on fighting.

The matter with me – A car story

Hey, I’ve got eyes that see
Don’t say there’s nothing wrong with me
You say I’m just paranoid, well that’s something the matter with me
That’s one thing the matter with me

Hey, they checked my vital signs
But I can read between the lines
They tell me I worry too much, now there’s another thing
The matter with me. That’s two things the matter with me.

– The Boomers YYZ, The matter with me. From the album What we do.

I remember way back when LovelyWife and I decided it was time to get a car – the first ever thing we would buy as a couple. The year was 1992 and we were living in Montreal. During a week long visit in Sherbrooke, I had to get new sneakers so we borrowed my FMIL’s car and went to shop for shoes. On our way back from the store, I jokingly said something about buying two modes of transportation during the same week, and sure enough by the end of that week we were driving back to Montreal in our very own 1992 Geo Metro.

Yes, it was that color.

One of the main things I remember from buying this car was the fact that since we were really young, the sales person wasn’t taking us very seriously. Before arriving at the dealership, I already knew how much the insurance was going to be, I knew how much the car was going to be and I even knew what color we wanted. Those of you who think that OCD thing I have is recent, not so much.

We walked in the dealership, and when after a while the first person asked us if they could help us, I simply said: “I want this car, in green”. So the guy started telling me about the engine, the fuel consumption, the handling… So I repeated: “I want this car, in green. I need it for Sunday at the latest.” The guy stopped talking and looked at my FMIL. She said that we were the one buying the car, so we finally sat down and signed the papers. We got the car on the Friday.

We drove that car for seven years. Over the course of these years, the car was often serviced at the dealership, and often the mechanics would not take me seriously. Once I was even charged for parts that would not fit on the car.

I always told myself that since I was 21, this might be somewhat normal.

And then in 1999 I started shopping around for a new car. I was 28, so surely I would be taken more seriously that time, yes? Also, I wasn’t going to get a GM because the car place was treating me like a kid.

No. It turns out that even at 28, you’re still considered a kid by car salesguys.

The first place I went to simply *cough* Hyundai *cough* ignored me. So after standing around in the showroom for a good 20 minutes, I just walked out. Only then did someone managed to pull themselves away from their water cooler discussion to ask an half-assed: “Looking for a car?” Yes, but not here.

I changed my strategy at the second place. I walked into Ford, and went straight to the first salesguy I saw. “I want a Focus Zx-3 sedan, silver, manual. Can we go on a test drive before signing the papers?” I thought that would convey the proper amount of interest in the car, coupled with the allure of a really easy sale. Imagine my surprise when the salesguy reply was: “I only have an automatic hatchback version that you can drive, but that’s not really the same thing… So, I dunno. Wanna do that?” I said no, I didn’t want to do that and walked out.

I then went to Saturn, figuring their no hassle thing would work to my advantage. They were nice enough folks, and by nice enough I meant that they greeted me with: “Welcome to Saturn, the SL1 is staring at 15,999$ buy or lease come here and just sign here you have 30 days to bring back the car red is an awesome color”, but ultimately the car was just not a good fit.

I ended up getting a Toyota Echo. It was a great car, but the fact that I was treated like a human being really made the whole Toyota experience awesome.

When in 2004 I wanted a new car, I just went the Toyota way and “upgraded” to a Corolla. Unfortunately, that car was the worst car I ever bought, and the dealership was the worst dealership I’ve ever dealt with. It’s amazing that I kept this car for four years. Of course, when it was time to get a new car, I didn’t want to drive a Toyota anymore.

In 2008 I leased a Nissan Rogue. I have to say that I really enjoy driving this SUV, and I even thought about buying it once the lease period is over. Nissan was nice enough when I gave them my piece-of-you-know-what Corolla, and gave me an awesome deal on a really nice car, so why not. But I like new cars. So when my FFIL hinted that he was willing to buy my SUV one my lease was over – or sooner – I started to think about cars, research them online, look at options. Yesterday I picked up my SUV from Nissan, and figured I was going to get a salesguy to run some numbers for me, help me crystalize my plan to get my current SUV to my FFIL and leave with a new car.

I thought that at 40, I was certainly going to get the proper amount of respect from a business who was about to take anywhere from 20K to 40K from me.

I turns out Nissan is not that interested in my money. Or so it seems. Because when asked about the whole exchange thing, the guy just said: “yes, it’s possible.” When pressed for more information, I managed to get a little more, just enough to know that my FFIL and I had to be there at the same time.

What. The. Fuck. Giving away money has never been so hard.

Here’s what I told the guy:

“I have this Rogue. The lease on it is finishing up soon, and I’m looking for a way to sell this Rogue to my FFIL, and in the same visit leave with a new car, possibly smaller than what I have right now. I’m looking for an approximate pricing on either a Juke, a Versa sedan, a Sentra, a Leaf, a Maxima or any other model that may be a good fit for what I do with a car, which is drive to the grocery store and back. I like new cars and I like fun cars. How do we make this happen?”

Here’s what the guy replied:

“The Juke is not a family car. The Versa has a 4.5% lease rate, you probably don’t want that.” Finally we’re getting somewhere.  “But you’re a preferred client, so you’re getting a deal on the rate. This car (points at Versa) is 17K.”

I’m nodding, looking at him. He’s looking at me. He’s looking outside. He’s looking at his watch. He’s slowly walking away.

“Do you have a business card?”

“Not really. See you around.”

I just stood there. Dumbfounded. I’m a 40 year-old dude and I can’t be taken seriously when it comes to buying a new car. There is something wrong with me. I’m hoping the people at Honda are assholes too, because I really don’t want to drive a Civic.

What if there’s no heaven and I live like a priest?
What if I write a book they don’t like in the Middle East?
What if I do something good and nobody sees?
Then, there would be something the matter with me.
Then I’d have three things the matter with me.

– The Boomers YYZ, The matter with me. From the album What we do.

Speaking of the Boomers

Doesn’t it look like I Photoshopped myself in the background there? 😉 Maybe a beard would make me more respectable?

Steve

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. 

Being a recent MacConvert, I don’t have interesting stories about getting a Mac when I was 7 and becoming the envy of the geeks at my school, or how Steve touched and changed my life. The first Apple product I bought was the first generation iPod Nano, and I bought it for my LovelyWife as a wedding anniversary present.

All evening yesterday I watched my Twitter timeline as it was overflowing with an outpouring of 140-characters eulogies for a man I didn’t know. A man I never met. Why was I feeling sad at Steve’s passing? I only made one comment:

The truth is that I’m not sad at Steve’s passing. It is a sad and tragic event, everybody deserves more time with their loved ones. But just a few weeks ago I was already in “funny but slightly inappropriate mode” about Apple co-founder’s death. So why the weird feelings now? To borrow Backpacking Dad’s sentiment‘s words:

It’s crazy to be maudlin about a total stranger’s death. And it’s crazier to write so many words about him when I did not write a thing about my brother’s Mother-In-Law’s loosing battle with Cancer. I’m sure it’s transference.

My brother’s Mother-In-Law – Mado – will soon die of a brain Cancer. When she goes, people on Twitter will not spend a night Tweeting about her. They will not make graphics with her quotes, direct people to watch her videos on YouTube. In all fairness, Mado is not a public figure. She didn’t invent cool computers and technological gadgets.

But for her family, she did change everything.

So Rest in Peace Steve. I didn’t know you but you did touch my life.

To Mado’s family. To Benoit, Stéphanie, Eliott and Juliette; I love you guys.