31 Dec 2009

Salut, 2009


It's New Year's Eve ... we're about to meet up with friends and thought a very quick post was in order.

It's the end of the year and an end of a decade. This time, ten years ago, I was in Calgary and the world was all Y2K crazy. Then, we worried that airplanes would fall out of the sky because of effed up computers. Now, we worry airplanes will fall out of the sky because of effed up Muslims. Oh, world. While many things change, you still remain crazy after all these years.

2009 was an overall good year, one that ended on the high note of visiting my parents in Mexico. Patrick liked it so much that he announced a few times since we've been back that he'd like to save more for retirement. Seems spending one's golden years soaking up the sun, doing whatever suits your mood and buying Pacifico beer for less than $1 suited Mr. Byck very well. Fine by me! Anyone who knows me knows that I loves to saves me some money.

What the next year has in store for us, we'll surely discover shortly. Whatever it is, we're hoping 2010 brings even more happiness and health to those we love. That means you!

Happy New Year. See you on the flip side.

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20 Dec 2009

Overheard While ... Holiday Shopping at Winners

In the men's shoe section at Winners, a 45-year old-ish woman is talking on her cellphone while holding a pair of sneakers:

Mom: ... you know those shoes your brother wanted? They're canvas sneakers with the rubber on the toe ...? Chuck Browns?

....

Mom: Converse? Chuck Taylor? Which one?

...

Mom: Ok - well, these don't say Converse or Chuck Taylor, but they look like what he pointed out.

...

Mom: I'm not sure - I don't really see a label ... but these look like what Robbie showed me - but the pattern on the canvas is more, you know, punky. I actually think he might like these more than plain black ones.

...

Mom: Mmm, no. On the outside of the shoe? No, it doesn't say Converse anywhere. Lemme ... ok, it says "Ed Hardy" on it.

...

...

Mom: Whoa. Whoa. Ok! That's why I called! How should I know those are "totally disgusting"?

...

Mom: Fine. I put them down. Your uncool mom promises not to buy them for anyone, ever.

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15 Dec 2009

Things Your Shouldn’t Do While Your Husband Is Working From Home And On An Important Conference Call

  • Burst out of the bathroom with the sound of the toilet running in the background and proudly exclaim, “That took three whole flushes to go down!
  • Pick up the line in the den and start breathing heavily into the phone.
  • Yell, “Hey, did you ever get around to asking your jerk boss if he can finally give you some time off? I bet he won’t give it to you – those idiots you work with probably can’t handle it without you!
  • Blare Goodbye Horses in the next room.
  • Grab his junk.
  • Loudly ask, “Hey, mister, where did you put my pants?” in a child’s voice.
  • Carry your laptop into the room and, just out of his reach, start watching Michael Richard’s finest moment on YouTube.
  • Flick the lights on and off a dozen times really fast. Later explain you were checking to see if he had epilepsy.
  • Pick up the other line in the den (again) and try to figure out the Beverly Hills Cop Theme with the button tones.
  • Take his picture:

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30 Nov 2009

Manic-cure

This weekend I decided to bite the bullet and get my ragged nails taken care of. Here's the exchange when I showed up to my neighbourhood beauty parlour:

Me: Hi, I was wondering if I could get an appointment for this afternoon.

Receptionist: Sure ... *looks at her computer for an opening, then looks back up at me* For an eyebrow wax?


Heh... Normally I would have saved us both the embarrassment and been like, "Yes. Also a manicure" but I hadn't done my mental preparation exercises that usually accompany any ripping-of-hair-out-my-skin event. So it was just the mani with a side of awkwardness:
Rest assured, I don't have jaundice - it's just the weird lighting. I can't, however, explain how my thumb suddenly became obese for this picture.

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29 Nov 2009

A Jen But Never Jenn Creation: Raw / Vegan Gingerbread Balls

Every couple of months I go on a raw vegan kick. I've been about 80% raw vegan this week - the rest being vegetarian with just one small portion of lean meat snuck in there. So far, so good. Not sure how long I'll stick with it but I hope to eat this way at least until next week when we go to St. Catharines for an early Christmas get-together at Byckingham Palace.

When the weather gets cold, it's a little tough mentally to not crave toasty traditional foods, so those who eat raw vegan year-round tend to warm up their meals through spices. I decided to play around with some ingredients and came up with a vegan / mostly-raw version of unbaked gingerbread cookies (although in my case, I just rolled them into balls). They're nice because they're gluten-free, are sweetened by fruit (with one tiny, optional exception) and filled with fibre and healthy fats. Spicy, warm, chewy! Mmm!

The picture was taken from my phone (an HTC Dream):


Here's my recipe for raw vegan gingerbread balls (measurements are rough as I was just goofing around):

  • Take 1.5 cups of raw almonds and blend in a food processor until they form a sand-like texture (not quite flour consistency). To get the most nutrients from almonds, it's best to soak them in water for a few hours before using.
  • While you're grinding your almonds, use a coffee grinder to pulverize three or four whole cloves.
  • Add the cloves along with 2 tsp of cinnamon and a rounded teaspoon of powdered ginger (you can also try fresh grated ginger!) into your almond mixture. Mix it all in the food processor.
  • Pit five medjool dates and toss them into the processor (medjools are much better than honey dates as they are stickier and juicier!). Toss in 1/3 cup of raw, organic raisins. Blend everything in the processor until it's all quite sticky.
  • Have a little taste - if it needs more of certain seasonings, pop them in. You might also want to toss in a small pinch of salt to help draw out the other flavours.
  • Pour in 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.
  • Add 1 tsp of pure maple syrup (which is not 100% raw, btw) or honey or even just water. I like the maple syrup because it has a bit of a smokey flavour and gives these balls a nice gloss.
  • Pulse your food processor until the whole thing becomes a ball of dough.
From there - I just rolled them into little balls and stuck in the fridge to firm up. If you're a raw foodist who misses fresh-baked goods, you might want to consider forming these into cookie shapes (roll into balls and then press them down) and popping them into a dehydrator. I might try that next time.

Anyway - enjoy! If you do try out this recipe, let me know how it worked out for you!

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26 Nov 2009

Further Proof The World Needs Editors

I've mentioned before that editors are amazing. I don't just say that because I do freelance editing myself. I say that because it's true.

I LOL'd (for reals, not just typing it) when an example of a disastrous lack of editing slipped by a newspaper:


Dying. Poor Count. He was never my favourite Muppet but he wasn't that bad.

Also in Muppet-related news (I'm starting to feel like I need a separate Henson tag for this blog), if you haven't yet seen The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody, it is a must:

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11 Nov 2009

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

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9 Nov 2009

Berlin & Me: 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall fell. I was 11. At school, they wheeled a TV in our classroom and we were given a break from the usual studies as our teachers insisted, "This is a moment in history. We don't want you to miss it." I did my best to focus and record it all mentally, but I now just have bits and pieces of my impression of everything.

My main impression is that I was too much of an idiot to grasp what was happening. We had only just begun to learn about World War II and my understanding of the war was flawed and overly simplified: Germans were Nazis and Nazis were the most evil humans that ever lived. Somewhere along the way, I misunderstood the West and East German divide and thought that West Germany was filled with "good" Germans like Anne Frank's dad and East Germany was a prison-like country for old Nazis and "bad" Germans. I had somehow gotten it in my head that the USSR had agreed to be the guards of the East German prison.

It was the images of the East Germans dancing on the wall, particularly what they were wearing - jean jackets, high-top sneakers, t-shirts - that made me realize for the first time that modern Germans probably weren't Nazis. Odd how seeing people in clothes like yours can shift your impression.

The other big memory I have of the Berlin Wall falling was that shortly after the unification of Germany, there was a Who's the Boss episode in which Mona was chastising Angela for not sharing her romantic feelings with Tony. Mona, exasperated, finally says "Angela! Let Tony know you love him! It's been years! Communism has fallen!"

Weird.

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28 Oct 2009

An Imaginary Conversation

Woman walks into her home carrying her gym bag. Her husband hears her and walks over:

Husband: Hey, honey. You're back sooner than I thought you'd be.

Wife: Really? I, uh, went to the gym like normal.

Husband: I don't think you've even been gone 20 minutes?

Wife: Uh ... well, part of the gym was ... uh ... closed ... so I just did a core workout.

Husband: It must have been a quick one - you barely look like you broke a sweat.

Wife: What are you implying? Are you suggesting I didn't go the gym? I wouldn't pack my gym stuff, leave here, go the gym and just turn around and come home!

Husband: Whoa! I just ...

Wife: You just nothing!I was at the gym! I went in the gym! I worked out! STOP TREATING ME LIKE A CRIMINAL!

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16 Oct 2009

Overheard: Two Loud-Talking Studs

Near George Brown College:

Dude 1: I gotta score me a honey tonight, yo.

Dude 2: Awwww, yah, it's ho-o'clock!

Dude 1: Ho'clock ... to suck my cock!

Dude 2: PIMP JUICE! Bones it!

*They then "bones it."*

In case it wasn't abundantly clear from the quotes, these guys were white, about 90 lbs each and most definitely virgins.

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5 Oct 2009

I Clearly Watch Too Much TV ...

... because the first thing I thought of when I saw this ad online at The Shopping Channel:



... was that the Ice Truck Killer from Dexter was back:



Carry on.

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4 Oct 2009

Even My Daydreams Are Lame


Last night, I got home and watched a bit of Saturday Night Live. SNL is a blend of funny, strange, not-funny-now-but-give-me-a-week, awkward and disappointing. I'd say that a successful episode of SNL is about 35% funny and 20% strange, which I think is fairly generous ... and, well, a rarity in some seasons.

Maybe I'm weird, but the part of SNL that I'm fascinated by most is the very end when the host and the cast are all on the stage. As the credits roll, everyone turns and hugs each other, shares little jokes and makes what looks to be small talk.

For whatever reason, when I think about what it would be like to be in that group, I imagine being the schmuck who is the bookend between conversations: The person to the right turns to someone and the person to the left turns to someone and I'm standing there like a grinning idiot trying to act like I'm totally cool with having alone-time within a group setting. Knowing the dork I am, as the camera would pan to me, I'd be busy having a *really engaging* conversation on my not-even-turned-on cell phone.

These are the things I think about.

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25 Sep 2009

I aged!


My birthday snuck up on me this year. It was so sneaky that I didn't even get a chance to blog about it and force people to leave gushy, love-filled comments. I'm sorry for denying you all that amazing opportunity. In absence of that, I've created one of my more beautiful works of MS Paint Art for you that represents my new age.

Gorgeous, no?

It was a nice birthday all the same, with dear husband taking me out for dinner at a restaurant where the napkins have not been emblazoned with a logo. FANCY STUFF.

Anyway - I'm crazy swamped still with writing and marketing consulting - which is a good thing when one is self-employed. I have, however, found it hard to force myself to take breaks, go outside, breath fresh air and not feel guilty about it. Actually, I'm about to bring my laptop upstairs onto the communal patio. Not quite the break I had in mind, but baby steps, right?

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17 Sep 2009

Oh, Right, THIS Thing

Umm ... oops?

My dear blog seems to have gone by the wayside. That's one of the issues with being a freelance writer - you're so busy writing for everybody else that when it comes to your own stuff, it's easy to screw the pooch and completely neglect your blog prioritize client work above everything. Ah well.

I guess that's where Twitter has become handy - I can still let people know I'm alive without having to give more than 140 characters of thought - which one some days, is pushing it. So, if you haven't been awesome enough to have been following my Twitter feed all this time, here are the highlights (err, lowlights?) of the past month:




















So, there you have it. This month has been about work, TV and food ... which pretty much sums up my life, actually. I guess you are what you Tweet?

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13 Aug 2009

Ads Gone Mad

This makes two lazy blog posts in a row where instead of writing something original here, I just point you to a place where I already sprayed my word barf:

Ads Gone Mad on Hitched

It's a collection of entertaining but so-not-acceptable-today commercials developed in the '60s, in honour of the upcoming season of my much adored Mad Men. Here's an example of one of them:



Ah, Folgers. They sell self-worth by the hot steamy cup. Ain't marketing grand?

Check out more of them!

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7 Aug 2009

Because I'm a Hypocrite

While I didn't do it on this site, I did my share of mocking of Michael Jackson mourners. Not the normal ones, but the people who got dressed up, wore one glove and went to Dundas Square to moonwalk every night for a week. Oh, mocking was HAD.

Well ... this is my public moonwalk, but for John Hughes.



I'm officially a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie, and I'm ok with that.

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3 Aug 2009

Best Random Google Find Ever

Eeee! Be still, my dork heart!

From Neatorama:



(That's an old $5 bill that's been lovingly given a Star Trek treatment.)

How / why I came across this is not important.

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20 Jul 2009

Politics + Editors + Snark = TLF

Thank you, Vanity Fair, for the awesomeness this day.

What do you get when you cross Sarah Palin's resignation speech with a professional writing team?



Red Pen City.

Check it out in its entirety here.

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15 Jul 2009

Another Sign The World Wants Me To Go Veggie

I was mowing down on a bowl of shrimp and cruising the interwebs when I came across this article on eating garden snails by the Sunset test kitchen.



If you follow along, you'll see that they found some garden snails, fattened them on cornmeal (anyone who says corn products don't contribute to weight gain is a liar) and then fried them up.

When the head chef tested a somewhat rare escargot and commented that it was "mucusy", I had a shrimp in my mouth and started dry heaving.

Sulk ... I *love* shrimp and at the moment, I can barely think of them without wanting to ralph.

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6 Jul 2009

Insight From The Political Pundits From Buffalo

Near St. Lawrence Market as a double-decker bus is being loaded with tourists:

Mr. Fanny Pack: She's onto bigger and better - just you wait - come 2012, it will be Mrs. President!

Mrs. Fanny Pack: I'm hoping and praying you're right. If a talent like that gets driven away by the socialist agenda ... *shakes head in disgust*

Mr. Fanny Pack: Sarah Palin is not scared of nobody - but the world is scared of her. Now, THAT'S a REAL American leader!

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18 Jun 2009

Best. E-mail. Ever.

Semi-recently, I mentioned on the blog that I was expanding my writing services to include online dating profiles. I've actually been doing them for longer than that but really only got organized about it this spring.

Last week, I received this note from a former client I worked with in the fall. I'm such a dork, but this makes me feel so, so happy. I feel like some kind of "Love Doctor" TV character. Admittedly, it would be the most boring show ever if it didn't get any "TV wackiness" injected into it. Otherwise, it would look something like this:

* Scene 1: Jen sits in bed with her laptop.
* Scene 2: Jen gets up to use the washroom.
* Scene 3: Jen is back in bed, typing.
* Scene 4: Jen melts some cheese on a plate and eat it with a fondue fork.(TV AUDIENCE CHEERS)
* Scene 5: Jen is back on her laptop and attaches a Word doc to an e-mail.
* Scene 6: Jen zones out for a while.
* Scene 7: Jen considers having a shower. Jen rejects idea.

Where was I? Oh, right. SOMETHING ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE. Names have been edited for privacy.


Subject: Plans for June 2010?

Jen!

I'm sure - well - hope! - you remember me. In September, you helped me take my ho-hum Lavalife profile and turn it into a real representation of who I was and who I was looking for. It was great working with you and I knew right away the profile was perfect. You really nailed who I was, something I hadn't been able to do despite trying the online dating thing for a couple years.

Well, guess who's engaged? :) !! I proposed to Alice, who I met all of a week after posting perfected-by-Jen profile, two days ago. I can't thank you enough. Without your help, I don't think I would have stood out among everyone else and got my chance to get to know the greatest girl I've ever met.

Maybe it's weird to e-mail you, but I really felt like you should know because while the relationship is mine and Alice, you played a part in it getting started. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

Ted


* Scene 8: Jen is all gushy and happy.

Congratulations Ted & Alice! So thrilled for you!

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12 Jun 2009

Barf Central

The other day I had a meeting downtown and figured I would dig out one of my "business" purses from the closet. It's this huge awesome black purse that can hold a laptop and oh-so-much more.

Anyway, I get to my meeting and the person I'm scheduled to chat with is running a few minutes behind. As I had a bit of alone time in the boardroom, I figured I could discreetly organize a couple things in my purse. No, I did not tip it over and dump the contents out on the table ... I'm not that idiotic! I just looked into it and shuffled a few things here and there. Then I came across a part of the purse that I almost never use - it's a section that has a separate zipper to keep it closed and it was partially unzipped when I found it that morning and didn't think anything of it.

So I unzipped it, looked in and gasped.

Just then, I saw the girl I was meeting coming over, so I placed my purse down and attempted to act all natural-like for the next hour.

What was in my purse, dear reader asks?

Oh, nothing. JUST A DEAD BABY MOUSE.

If I get any jobs from the girl I met, it is because I am a magician / Jedi who cast a spell on her that said "IGNORE THE CRAZY LOOK ON MY FACE. HIRE ME FOR THINGS. I'm NOT looking at my purse every five minutes, I am actually coming up with GENIUS CONVERSATION POINTS and am SIMPLY GLANCING AT THE GROUND AS I DO THIS." The entire time I was talking to her, I kept imagining a zombie mouse climbing out of my pseudo-briefcase and attacking the both of us.

I am not cut out for life. Nor was the baby mouse, apparently.

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2 Jun 2009

If I Owned A House, Less People Would Know I'm An Idiot (Maybe)

After receiving a noise complaint from one of my neighbours, my condo's security just came by to remind me that construction in my suite is limited between 9am and 5pm.

I was too embarrassed to admit what I had really just been doing ...

.
.
.
.
.


I was trying to open a coconut.



(and it STILL isn't open.)

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31 May 2009

Just Another Sunday in the City

Encountered on Yonge Street:

Meth addict (to Patrick): Hey, man. Hey, can I talk to you for a second?

Patrick:
Sure.

* Jen thinks to herself: UUUUUGGGGHHH. *

Meth addict: Thanks, man. Thanks, man. There are so many assholes in this city. Anyway. I'm having the worst time. I just got out of jail today. I haven't eaten in a week. My Grandmother just died. Do you know where Scarborough is? I have to get to Scarborough. This is the worst day. I'm so hungry and I need to get to my Grandmother's funeral and some guy stole my ...

Jen: I'm really sorry but we can't help you today. Good luck and I hope things improve for you.

Meth addict: FUCK YOU, BITCH! I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW RUDE PEOPLE ARE IN THIS CITY!!! *Inaudible swearing as he darts off*

Jen: Pretty sure I said that as politely as I could have.

Patrick: Emily Post back there would disagree.

Jen: Fuck you.

Patrick: See? Rude. You're what's decaying this fine city. You and your sentence-interrupting ways.

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27 May 2009

Dresses, Drama and Denizens of the Web

Deena Pantalone scandal Oh, trubs is a brewin'. I swear, in the age of social media, snark, news and reputation burners spread like wildfire. Throw in fashion, girl-smack and local business owners, and you have a gossip wet dream.

In the wee hours of the morning, Toronto Life posted its Best Dressed pick of the week. This week's Fashionista laid claims that the dress was an old vintage find that, through her instruction, was tailored and updated. Enter the Comments Section. As you can see, a local designer and shop owner - along with fans of said shop owner, are letting it be known that this is an off-the-rack dress from their store, Champagne and Cupcakes.

Enter e-mail.
Enter Twitter.
Enter Facebook.

Gah.

Naturally, I don't know the entire story, but the fact that this has swept along the interwebs as quickly and as as decidedly as it has, has me feeling all kinds of horror for those involved (and yah, am I helping that? Noooo). It's like spotting Information Highway Roadkill. Cringe-worthy!

Let it be a lesson (regardless of whether she did or not) that little lies have no safety on the web.

UPDATE!: So, yes - the dress truly is by Champagne & Cupcakes. According to a follow-up story by the Toronto Star, the Wannabe Fashionista in question was "overwhelmed by the media attention and perhaps felt she needed to elevate her story." Um, sure. Whatever the reasoning, it was a total d-bag move. Support local business, people!

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19 May 2009

Feeling Sorry for Teens (A First)

Overheard at Chapters between a mom and her teenage daughter ...

Mom: Look at this little tea cup! How cute!

Daughter: Sure.

Mom: You don't think it's cute?

Daughter: Mmm, it's fine. It's not for me, but it's fine.

Mom: You know what? Let's just go. Let's go. I'm done.

Daughter: What? Mom, relax. Why are you so mad? I ju...

Mom: I can't do this anymore. I have to say it. You have a toxic soul and I won't let you continue to ruin my day. Let's GO. NOW.

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11 May 2009

The Trucker Hat of Social Media

Buahaha - there's a sequel to the earlier Twitter gem from Current The only thing that would have made this better was if Oprah was riding the Fail Whale:

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5 May 2009

Where Acid Reflux and Firemen Fantasies Converge

Oh man.

If you're going after an anglo audience, it really is best to leave copywriting to someone whose first language is English. Even better, hire someone who knows the fine nuances of Jr. High humour - a brand of comedy that never really stops being funny, regardless of how mature and proper people think they've become. Otherwise, you might just end up with something like this Gaviscon ad from South Africa:

(via Agency Spy and kcredfm)



What a feeling, indeed.

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4 May 2009

May The Fourth Be With You

The vibration of trembling geeks everywhere is reaching a fevered pitch this week as today, May 4th, is Star Wars Day and Friday marks the release of the latest Star Trek movie. It's sort of like the perfect storm of all the December religious holidays. Nothing gets us going like celebrating great mythical stories.

For anyone who has blasphemed and never really got into Star Wars, here are some solid refreshers:

Star Wars, according to someone who has never seen it:



Star Wars, according to a 3-year old (who could easily be one of those Welsh's Grape Juice kids should her parents were ever to cash in):



Star Wars, a cappella version:

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30 Apr 2009

Scarier Than The Swine Flu

So tired of this lame panic over the Hamthrax scare swine flu. Rather than rant about it, I decided to create a fear cloud to demonstrate all the things that are actually worthy of worry and alarm:

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24 Apr 2009

Why Editors Are Amazing, Reason #2342

It's Friday and I feel like a laugh. This video is super old (by YouTube standards) but it's one of my favourite ones on the whole site.

It just goes to show how much an editor can influence the perception of content. I've seen this one at least a dozen times and I still lose it every time Solsbury Hill kicks in.

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18 Apr 2009

Another Overheard Gem

[Downtown on a Saturday afternoon]

Girl 1: Umm .... are you going to be sick? You look ....

Girl 2: I KNOW! I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I FEEL SO CRAPPY TODAY!

Girl 1: How much did you drink last night?

Girl 2: Hardly anything!

Girl 1: I saw you get a few drinks at the bar.

Girl 2: As if. It isn't THAT much. Like, maybe FOUR drinks at the bar. And I only had two at Lyndsay's place before that.

Girl 1: But then Ashley ordered us all shots. And so did Troy. Did you count those?

Girl 2: Oh, right. Maybe it was the shots that did me in.

Girl 1: Didn't you guys also do coke last night?

Girl 2: What does that have to do with anything?

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12 Apr 2009

#AmazonFail

Update at bottom!

Oh dear.

Just when we thought the world was becoming a little more progressive, it goes and does something like this.

It appears that just before the weekend, Amazon Ranks were quietly removed from select books. The books affected appear to be erotica, sexual instruction and … a load of titles that deal with gay and lesbian themes.

What does this mean in a nutshell? Essentially, if your book is a bestseller but doesn’t have an Amazon Rank, it won’t show up on the site’s bestseller list. In some cases, this can greatly affect people's ability to find your book in a search, especially if you’re going by keywords and viewing results by “bestselling.” This has a two-fold affect:

1) It falsely suggests that these books aren’t as popular as they are. When someone types in the word "gay" and searches for bestsellers at the site, they'll be mislead. Badly. These are not the top-selling books that deal with the subject.

2) Sales numbers can go down as the books are less visible, natch. Plus, people have a very irritating habit of buying into whatever is already popular (this is one of the reasons why I suspect generic bands like Nickleback still exist).

So, was it a programming glitch? A hack? Surely it couldn’t be corporate policy?

In the wee hours of this Easter Sunday, author and publisher Mark R. Probst - was one of the first to receive an official response from Amazon, which he consequently posted on his blog:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage


Samples of the “adult” material that is too offensive for the “entire customer base” and have had their Amazon Rank stripped include:

  • Heather Has Two Mommies (a children’s book that talks about diverse families)
  • The Mayor of Castro Street (a biography of civil rights leader, Harvey Milk)
  • Brokeback Mountain (you know, the book that inspired the Oscar-winning film)
  • Unfriendly Fire (explores the gay ban in the US military)
  • The Joy of Gay Sex

  • Meanwhile, somehow, the following books have retained their Amazon Rank:

  • A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
  • Ted Bundy, Biography of a Campus Serial Killer
  • Playboy: The Complete Centrefolds
  • The Gay Agenda: It's Dividing the Family, the Church, and a Nation
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex

  • Hmm. Neat.

    So how do *I* know about this? After Probst and others created their blog posts, they went to Twitter and let me tell you, hell hath no fury like a Tweeter scorned.

    I realize it was only a couple posts ago that I made fun of Twitter and its users – and I still feel much of it is deserving of mocking. But Twitter also has some great uses – its ability to foster breaking and spreading stories, as determined by its users, is pretty phenomenal. It's one of the top reasons it would suck to be a stupid company like Amazon right now.

    This topic has been a big one today. It’s been trending higher than “Easter”, “Tiger Woods” or even the popular and festive “Zombie Jesus.” As more people talk, more of Amazon’s handiwork is being scrutinized (books dealing with disabilities and sexuality have also been de-listed, for example) and more “electronic activists” take on different methods of showing their disgust (Google bombing, boycotting, promoting different bookstores, e-mailing and calling Amazon customer service / board members).

    It doesn’t look good and Amazon is surely hearing that message loud and clear. I’m eager to hear from someone other than "Ashlyn D" for an explanation (and hopefully, a resolution).

    The latest: Amazon is claiming this is a glitch. A distinctly homophobic glitch. Hmm. Credibility is running a little low right now, especially as it took a looong time in terms of crisis communications to issue a semblance of a statement. The lag in response and the lack of clarity and authority in the statement is a major #PRFail.

    So, even if this were a glitch or some magnificent trolling (as others are now suggesting), it's now known that Amazon has a Rank-removal ability - one that can seemingly be applied based on tags or keywords - and that doesn't vibe well with the anti-censorship / free marketers of the world. Somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.

    Read more...

    5 Apr 2009

    I'm Getting All Personal

    So, as shamelessly noted on this site, I'm a corporate whore freelance writer who primarily does content for company websites, a bit of article writing and some PR. What I haven't mentioned before is that I also get contracts of a fairly different nature: creating online dating profiles.

    Yep. There is a little bit of Alphabetty circulating in the worlds of Lavalife, eHarmony and Match.com right now. And that Alphabetty is apparently luring and reeling in some quality daters. Clients who were getting two "smilies" and "winks" a week are reporting back that they're now getting ten a day. And that attention is from dudes who don't use shirtless profile pictures and from girls who don't replace every "s" with a "z" in their e-mails. Trust me when I say this is amazing. As a former internet dater myself (I actually snagged a huhsband out of the deal), I'm well aware of how ... interesting ... the online dating terrain is.

    Let me assure you, everything in their Alphabettized profile is "them" - it's not like I just write a bunch of random awesome features and create a super desirable but imaginary being ("People keep stopping me and asking if I'm Paul Rudd. But sometimes I get Johnny Depp. Weird! Anyway, I'm a veterinarian / heir to the Jimmy Choo fortune who enjoys defaulting to what you want to do while still somehow maintaining my undeniable masculinity. If you like what you hear, give me a call!"). Sha no no. Instead, I ask a lot of questions of my clients and get a nice detailed picture of what they're like and who they're interested in. No generic "I like movies, music and traveling" sentences from me.

    Due to the very personal nature of these projects, and the fact that my clients would like a bit of discretion (not everyone wants their future partner to know they've been consulting with a Cyrano-type) I don't post the profiles in my portfolio. Edited: But now I do! Two clients have given me permission to showcase their professionally written online dating profiles. But if you are seriously interested in having your online dating profile edited / revamped / totally done from scratch, I can e-mail you a few a samples and talk options. Just let me know!

    Thus endeth the shop talk.

    Read more...

    31 Mar 2009

    It's True

    We are the lamest generation to grace the planet yet. And I include all the dorks who entered in hula hoop contests in the 50's in that analysis. We are lamer.



    Honestly. We have global communication at our fingertips, the ability to tap into all the information in the world and we use it to yap out loud about what we had for breakfast and to snark play-by-plays about TV shows staring Paris Hilton. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?

    Now, off to Tweet my blog post and make a new Blip ...

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    17 Mar 2009

    Talking To Myself ... More Than Usual

    It looks like my site is still unreadable and unreachable for most people. I can view it, for some strange reason, but no one else can. The tech powers that be are supposedly working on this, but both e-mails they've sent to me indicated that they didn't see a problem. Right. HRMPH.

    Not a happy camper.

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    13 Mar 2009

    Test Test, Check Check

    There's something very goofy going on with mein blog at the moment, so this post is just to confirm that. And by 'goofy' I mean a weird problem with the technical redirect, not the normal goofy that is my life.

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    11 Mar 2009

    Riddle Me This

    Here's a brain teaser!

    When someone scores three goals in a night, it is called a hat trick.

    When someone dates (or "does") several overweight people in a row, it's called a fat trick.

    So, what is it when someone eats SIX hot dogs in one sitting?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Apparently, the answer is a Patrick.

    I would have also accepted "disturbing", "toxic" or "carnival sideshow act" as correct answers. Sigh. He's lucky he's cute.

    I'm totally going to be in trouble for this post... Thankfully, he's in a food coma right now, so I'm safe for a few hours!

    Read more...

    6 Mar 2009

    Ridiculous Things That Delight Me

    It's eight months old, but I only saw it now. Delighted.

    Read more...

    26 Feb 2009

    Aisle Spy With My Little Eye

    Have you ever gone to the grocery store at an unusual time? Like 2am? Let me tell you, all the interesting customers come out in those witching hours.

    Now, I realize that I should learn to keep my eyes on my own purchases ... but at 2am, that conveyor belt tells an interesting story about your fellow shoppers. And that story is that EVERYONE IS HIGH.

    I kid you not, this is what the two people ahead of me in line were buying the other night:

    Dude 1:
    * Ice cream sandwiches
    * Bulk Valentine-themed candies (on sale)
    * Cadbury Cream Eggs
    * Ketchup
    * Velveeta
    * Lucky Charms cereal
    * Activia yogurt
    * Tums

    Dude 2:
    * Cool-ranch Doritos
    * Mountain Dew
    * Four packages of salami
    * Prepared seven-layer taco dip
    * Ziplock bags
    * Saran wrap
    * Tin foil
    * Eggs
    * Vaseline

    It should be said that even though *I* was there, I was not high. Just self-employed.

    Read more...

    20 Feb 2009

    Goodbye, AdSense. Hello, Alphabetty.

    A few months ago, I decided to test out AdSense on my blog. It sat there next to my posts and embarrassingly promoted "related" content like erectile dysfunction pills, Obama coin collections and Acai berry weight loss miracles. You know, all that good stuff that I'm known to write about ad nauseam.

    Anyway, SURPRISINGLY no one was clicking on the ads and I was tired of seeing them, so they're outta here. Plus, I'm not big on using my site to promote stuff ...

    ...except stuff like ME!

    * Tired of having to think?
    * Is the boss making you update that darn website again?
    * Do your fingers trip over themselves when using those frustrating keyboards?

    Then you need a Snuggie freelance writer!
    * Compact!
    * Whisper Quiet!
    * Space Age Design!
    * Affordable!
    * Marketing, writing, PR - all in one!

    Heh.

    But, yes. I'm finally getting around to promoting Alphabetty. I have samples of my work up if you want to take a look (although some of my really good stuff isn't there - I've had to sign some non-disclosure agreements for a few clients that don't want others to know that they've had to contract out their clever.). Since I work from home, I can pretty much be hired by people all over the place, not just Toronto ... so ... yes, please do exactly that, visitors from the interwebs, hire this girl! The *magics* of my writing, like the type you're reading right now, can be yours - learn how today!

    Ugh - self-promotion. Back to the self-deprecation, says I!

    Read more...

    18 Feb 2009

    I Clearly Love Change

    The recent site revamp wasn't doing it for me, so I'm trying another look. Still some playing to be had with it, but I'm liking it better already.

    I don't know what it is, but I love rearranging things. If I had a stronger back and a blasé attitude toward scuffed hardwood, my home would be getting a mini makeover every week. Digital revolution, I thank you.

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    17 Feb 2009

    Sad Things I Bask In

    I can always tell when the internet game of Googling your name followed by the word 'needs' is back in vogue (as explained and demonstrated in this 2007 post). Want to know how I know? It's because my blog suddenly gets an explosion of hits that probably rivals the traffic received by intelligent bloggers. Or that of websites that feature lots of pictures of doughnuts. Whichever is more powerful.

    Due to the name of my blog, when you Google 'Jen Needs', my site tops the list of 44 MILLION relevant pages on the interwebs. This is my crowning achievement in life and I'm going to roll around in it as if keywords were dollar bills and I was Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal.

    I have officially clenched the title of SEO Queen Among Needy Jens. Take that, Aniston! Take that, Love Hewitt! And ESPECIALLY take that, Quackenbush!

    Read more...

    11 Feb 2009

    Teen Dork Attempts To Be Polite


    I had forgotten about this story until recently - and since there's nothing post-worthy going on with me right now, I figured I'd share it.

    When I was in university, my parents moved out of my childhood home and into a house a few blocks away. My parents quickly became friendly with their new neighbours, so by the time I came back to Fort McMurray for the summer, most of the people in the cove were aware of "Joe and Marie's oldest daughter." It turns out that there were a few who were eager to have a young adult around that could be available for dog-sitting, baby-sitting, house-sitting, etc. and I was pretty happy to oblige.

    I've always considered myself a fairly polite person, so when one of the neighbours saw me out in the front lawn and came over to chat, my mind quickly raced to remember what his name was. It came to me just in time - Mr. Cox! Boom. Perfect.

    So as we chatted (about dog-sitting, it turns out), I was soo smug with myself and my uber politeness. "Sure thing, Mr. Cox!" I'd say. Or "Mr. Cox, would you prefer to give me the key before you leave?"

    Throughout the conversation, he'd pause and look at me a little odd and I took it that either HE was a funny little man or that he just wasn't used to chatting with SUCH A POLITE 19-year old. Seriously. That's how awesome I thought I was.

    So, once the dog-sitting arrangements were agreed upon, I went inside to let my parents know I'd be helping their neighbour, Mr .... I stopped dead in my tracks.

    The hot flush of embarrassed horror rushed through me.

    His name was not Mr. Cox.

    It was Mr. Dickson.

    Read more...

    4 Feb 2009

    Girls Are Complicated

    Overheard - in the grocery store:

    Girl: DO NOT walk away from me!!!

    Guy: You JUST SAID we needed lettuce!

    Girl: Oh, NOW you listen to me, you fucking asshole!

    Guy: Fine ... god ... *slumps back towards her* ... what?

    Girl: Well, DUH, finish getting the lettuce. WE NEED LETTUCE!

    Read more...

    28 Jan 2009

    I Support Anything That Supports My Cat Theory

    My theory is this: They are evil. This one, especially:



    Kat is from an alien planet and is hell-bent on destruction. Kid (Coop) is the only one who realizes it. Kat is intent on bringing Kid down.

    One of the ladies on Hitched is the post-production supervisor of this show, Kid Vs. Kat, which is even more reason to love it. Settle in with a bowl of Lucky Charms and tune into YTV on Saturdays to catch the mayhem.

    Read more...

    27 Jan 2009

    Because My Limited Photoshop Skills Need To Be Shared

    If you are unawares of Gossip Girl and / or the era of the 90s, this post will be non-interesting. Sorry (FOR you).

    Check out the article I penned for Hitched about Rufus Humphrey and a fictional Celebrity iTunes Playlist I figured he would author. Since Hitched's column size can't allow it, I'm posting the little image I created here - it can be expanded by clicking on it.



    The songs are:
    1. Waiting for Somebody – Paul Westerberg
    2. Two Princes – Spin Doctors
    3. All I Want – Toad the Wet Sprocket
    4. Linger – Cranberries
    5. What’s Up – 4 Non-Blondes
    6. Cherub Rock – Smashing Pumpkins
    7. She’s So Young – Pursuit of Happiness
    8. Cannonball – The Breeders
    9. Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms
    10. No Rain – Blind Melon

    And yes, it is probably wrong for a 30-year old to spend her time thinking about and plotting such things - but I'm ok with that. Probably a little too ok with that.

    Read more...

    26 Jan 2009

    Notice something .... different?

    Nope - didn't get a haircut.
    No - DEFINITELY didn't lose weight.
    A new dress? Well, sort of!

    As you can probably tell, the blog is going through a visual revamp. It's not all done (the header obviously still needs to be changed) but a good chunk got taken care over over the weekend, thanks in part to my darling husband, thanks in part to darling me.

    Also - you might notice that the blog is now at its very own website - www.jenbutneverjenn.com, as opposed to the blogspot address. If you link to or have my site bookmarked, you may want to update - but blogger will continue to redirect you this way until further notice.

    And yes - in the near future the Alphabetty image will also link to something more substantial - client work has kept me a little busy and I want that site to be just right before turning it live.

    Isn't technology thrilling?

    EDITED TO ADD: Currently, the site is best viewed with a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024. Viewing it other ways will make it appear dumb. So to be clear - it's you, not me.

    Read more...

    23 Jan 2009

    Don't Ever Let Him Bartend

    Last night I had a project to work on and ended up bringing my laptop to bed with me. As soon as I finished the last sentence of copy, I was OUT - completely zonked and instantly asleep. All evening, Patrick hung out in the living room watching TV and doing whatever it is that boys do when they have the home to themselves.

    I've just found out what that was.

    Around 4:30am, my husband ungracefully crawled into bed, waking me up in the process. I decided to get up to use the washroom and when I did, Patrick weakly asked if I could get him a Rolaid. I got him one, he ate it, started snoring immediately and I knew my window for sleep was over. I decided to go make myself some tea and found this in the kitchen:



    That would be a bottle of mezcal (it's like tequila), Starbucks Coffee Liqueur and the glass that once bound this monstrosity together. If he hasn't yet named his cocktail, I might suggest "The-Very-Bad-Idea-tini"

    Rolaids, indeed.

    I should probably go to the liquor store and get some real booze before he starts mixing the Triple Sec with Listerine.

    Read more...

    20 Jan 2009

    Omerica



    Lalalalalala.

    Read more...

    16 Jan 2009

    Gag Me With A ... Cracker?

    Crackers have long held a treasured role in The Sick Day. If your tummy was feeling a little shaky, saltines (and a wee glass of ginger ale) would be on the menu. They are in the pantries of every binge drinker, mother of small children and hypochondriac (those people aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. If and when I become a mother, you can bet the binge drinking will continue if not increase … substantially).

    In this tough economic time, it seems Premium Plus doesn’t want to patiently stand by and wait for you to get sick and need their product. Instead, they’d now like to play an active role in acquiring queasy customers. Take a look:



    All I see are bowls and bowls of colourful projectile vomit. Most convincing is that last chunky-looking orange one on the diner counter - it even gets a super slow-mo treatment just so you can drink that image right in. When this commercial comes on, I literally start dry-heaving even before the first cracker makes contact. The suggestion near the end that someone has then EATEN the puke soup (the spoon twirling around the empty bowl) has me panicking for an empty garbage can.

    I do have to give this ad a bit of credit: You know the scene where four sprays of barf can be seen gushing from cubicles? I think it quite accurately captures how the majority of people feel when they get into the office.

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    13 Jan 2009

    The Worst Man In The World Gives Career Advice

    Overheard:

    Loud Talker: ... If you want to make it, you have to be hungry. You have to show no fear. You gotta keep on cold calling. I mean, look at homeless guys. They cold call for money constantly - that's all they do - is ask for what they want, from strangers, over and over, despite the rejections.

    Other Guy: You're using a homeless person as a model of success?

    Loud Talker: They're alive, aren't they? They survive without jobs because they cold call. They cold call because they're hungry. The difference between them and you, is that THEY have PASSION.

    Read more...

    8 Jan 2009

    Confessions of a Dork V. 2

    I said there would be more and there is! I am positively FILLED with horrible, true stories about moi. Seriously. If I ever wrote an autobiography, it would be called "Cringe: The Life and Times of The All-Too-Honest Jen Byck."

    And yes, I've repeated the image (of me!) I used from my first "Confessions of a Dork." It's just too suitable not to use again.

    So, let's get to it, shall we?

    1. I have canceled not one, but TWO separate dentist appointments because of my embarrassment over the fact that the roof of my mouth was burned from eating hot pizza too quickly.

    2. Whenever I wake up after a morning of 'happy drinking', I discover that at least FOUR tabs of my open browser have this video marked as 'played'. Apparently, I can't help but privately 'dance' to this (at least four times) when hammered.

    3. In Grade 10, I won a provincial award for a short children's story I wrote. The truth is, I had stolen the premise of my story from an episode of The Smurfs. At the time, I was utterfly TERRIFIED of being caught.

    4. I find this sexy. And have since forever. THE WHOLE DANG BRUCEY THING.

    5. In Grade 7, I decided to burn all my arm hair off with Nair. One of my proudest days as a tween was when a boy in class proclaimed "Let's see Squatchie!" [Ed Note: 'Squatchie' was slang for 'Sasquatch' - my !ADORABLE! Jr. High nickname] and pulled my sleeve up ... only to dumb-foundedly find no hair at all. I then strutted around the room and proclaimed "Boys, Squatchie has left the building." And then sashayed to the girl's bathroom to hide until class was done. [Ed note, again: I said this without knowing, whatsoever, who " ... has left the building" was originally referring to.]

    Read more...
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