1 Jul

          We had a Change of Command parade on Thursday. I currently work at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering, so think new principal, or dean. In order to commemorate this event (some guy I never see is taking over the job from some other guy I never see), about two hundred of us "volunteered" to be on parade. (The Chief asked for volunteers, so our MWO "volunteered" our section.)
          Of course, to make sure we all looked good out there, we had to have two "practice" parades before the real event, each lasting a couple of hours, and mostly on our own time. God forbid we might have forgotten how to stand at attention, stand-at-ease, or stand-easy after 20 odd years in the military. (In truth, the practices aren't really for the rank and file--they're for the officers and senior non-comms, who've forgotten how to tell us to stand at attention, stand-at-ease, and stand-easy.) *head-desk*
          The weather here has been hot and humid the past few days, which was bad enough for the parade practices, but the actual parade was held indoors in a building with absolutely zero ventilation. It had to be at least 90 degrees in there, and humid. In their wisdom, they decided we'd be dressed in the full bib and tucker: shirt, tie, jacket, pants, boots, hat.
          They formed us up at 8:30 for a parade that didn't actually start until 9:30, so we stood there at-ease until 9:55 and then were marched on. (At-ease, btw, is not as comfy as it sounds. In the CF, it means standing perfectly still, feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped behind your back, head up, shoulders back, and looking straight ahead.)
          At about 9:45, after we'd been out in this heat and humidity for about 45 minutes, and in front of all the civilian and military spectators who were seated for the ceremony, a private in the front rank thundered in. (Meaning he passed out.) I couldn't see him from my vantage point in the ranks, but when someone faints on parade, it's not the usual slump-to-the-ground kind of faint. What with all their joints locked, it's more the timber! kind of faint, and he crashed face-first into the concrete floor. I don't know how badly he was hurt, but the look of shock and horror on the faces of the spectators, the chilling sounds of someone who is barely conscious and in excruciating pain moaning like a wounded animal, and the guy who ran out with the bucket and mop to clean up all the blood off of the parade square after they'd carted the private away in a stretcher, leads me to believe it was pretty serious. (Ironically, this added probably another 20 minutes to the length of the parade.)
          To give him credit, our outgoing C.O. looked mortified, and ordered us to Stand-easy as much as he could get away with(which is a more relaxed position in that you can fidget a bit and keep the blood flowing.)
          Still, here I was, 45 years old, with sweat streaming down my face, back and legs, my right shoulder throbbing, the small of my back on fire, my heels aching, and my toes asleep, and I'm wondering what the frack I'm doing here. No sane person would go through this, simply because their boss was changing jobs. Anyone in their right mind would have just walked off (or would never have been there in the first place).
          These guys aren't soldiers. They don't train for this everyday. They're lucky if they get Physical Training three times a week. They're technicians--hell, they're teachers.
          But they're still military.

          And that's the reason the young private thundered in. He takes pride in what he does, and what he is. Sure, you're allowed to go down on one knee if you're feeling faint. Someone will come from the sidelines to lead you off parade. But it's been drilled into us since boot camp that that's a sign of weakness. (Some units actually met out punishment if you go down on one knee--although that's a lot more rare in the Airforce these days.) So they hold on until the last possible moment, and then some, usually until it's too late.
          After the first guy went down, they were a lot more diligent. If someone even looked wobbly one of the senior staff in the audience would come and walk him off. Still, the parade went on for another hour and forty-five minutes after that.
          And I can't help but wonder how it was worth this guys face--all for ceremony and show. He wasn't wounded defending his position--he was injured so that a couple of officers can hold their little tradition and feel good about themselves, while everyone hears about their career accomplishments and where they're off to next. It's not like they didn't see this coming--that's why there are stretcher bearers and Medics there in the first place. They expect this.
          It's senseless--just like the rest of the world.

4 Jul

Dear Agent:

If you are seriously considering taking me on as a client, now would be a good time. Just saying.


Conversation with the wife:  

Pen: Can I buy a pair of Choos?
Me: You mean Jimmy Choos?
Pen: D'oh. How'd you know what they were?
Me: That's what you get for dragging me to see The Devil Wears Prada.
Pen: Well, you can't blame a girl for trying.
Me: Just for the record, Blahniks, Ferragamos and Weitzmans are out, too.
Pen: *Grins evilly*
Me: I forgotten some, haven't I?
Pen: *Whistles innocently.*

6 Jul

          Still stuck in limbo. I'm sure there's all sorts of fun and exciting stuff happening out there, but I'm not invited. Heck, I'm not even watching it from the sidelines, because I can't even see it from here.
          What I need to do is crash the party. Put on my best Herb Tarlek suit with matching tie and shoes, and intrude. Maybe show up at one of those trendy sports bars where everyone is engrossed in World Cup Soccer. "Hey, what're you guys watching? Mind if I change the channel?"
          Sometimes you just have to make your own fun.

12 Jul

          The vacation so far:

Saturday: Went to the water park, then shopping along Wassaga beach. Pen got a bear claw henna tattoo on her shoulder. I drooled all over some guy's motorcycle.
          Later we saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest--loved it to pieces.

Sunday: Went shopping at Vaughn Mills mall. Had Greek food for lunch, then Pen tried to talk me into buying a pair of Oakley sunglasses--not that I wouldn't love a pair, but my current sunglasses cost me $2.
          Later we saw Superman Returns in Imax 3D. Loved it to pieces too. Had dinner at Alice Fazzooli's. Mmmmmm.

Monday: Stopped in Woodbridge where Pen bought a pair of Pumas she'd seen the day before, then went shopping at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Pen bought girly stuff; I got fudge. (I definitely got the better of that deal.)
          We stayed at the Sheraton Falls View in Niagara Falls, where we stayed on our honeymoon. The hotel got rid of the waterfall in the lobby, but otherwise was much the same. We had a room on the 18th floor overlooking the falls.
          Walked through Casino Niagara and promptly lost about $30 dollars in the slots. I don't see the appeal of gambling, although I suppose if I would have won a grand or two I might have changed my mind.
          Walked from the Casino down to the Hill and rode the Skyview ferris wheel thingy. Nice view, especially at night. Walked down to the falls, bought ice-cream, and took a cab back to the hotel. The rest of the night is none of your business.

Tuesday: Had breakfast in the hotel restaurant overlooking the falls. Pen wondered if the waitress would mind if she poured herself another glass of orange juice. (There was a jug of it right beside our table.) I said seeing as juice was roughly $4 a glass, I'd be surprised if sirens didn't go off if she went anywhere near it. "Whoop-Whoop! The juice perimeter has been breached. Danger Will Robinson." Whereupon she would be tackled to the floor by the juice police.
          Walked down by the falls and took loads of pictures. Pen bought some nice painted vases.
          Drove to Mississauga Square One and did a lot more shopping. I got a shirt; Pen got a lot of girly stuff. Ate dinner at Moxies (Mmmmmm) and then drove home.

          We were supposed to take a cruise from the Toronto Harbor today, but it's raining like--um--a lot, so we've alternate plans. That's it for now, but more to come.

18 Jul -- Vacation Part Deux  

          Pen didn't let a little thing like rain dampen our day. Well, okay, it did dampen it, but we dry quickly. Anyway, we went into T.O. and did some shopping along the fancy schmancy Bloor and Bay Street area. We dressed up a bit for it, so the clerks at Holtz and Prada didn't even follow me around like they usually do--convinced that I'm going to steal something.
          Pen tried to convince me to buy a nice pair of Rayban or Oakley sunglasses, but in the end I couldn't decide if I wanted them more because I really liked the way they looked, or because I liked the idea of owning an expensive pair of sunglasses. (My current pair I bought for a dollar at the dollar store.) So I bought four or five pair of cheap sunglasses. Maybe some day.
          We had dinner at this nice Italian place in the Manual Life Centre, and then we saw the Blue Man Group, which was a blast, especially if you like percussion--and I'm a drummer, so yanno.
          The next day was spent at the water park, and a little more shopping along the beach.
          I can't remember what we did Friday, but I think there was a Barrie Rib Festival involved in there somewhere, and no doubt, shopping.
          Saturday we took the midland cruise, which is a nice 2 1/2 boat ride around Georgian Bay where all the stupid rich people have their cottages and summer homes, any one of which makes my home look like a bird feeder.
          Sunday was back to the water park again (we have a season's pass) and Monday Pen was back to work.
          I have another week off without her, which gives me a chance to recuperate from the vacation I had with her.

25 Jul

          So I was reading about how much it actually costs the police to do an investigation on stolen property. I mean, just the officer's salaries run into the thousands of dollars on a typical case, not to mention any expensive forensic testing. Anyway, I think I have a solution. It goes something like this:

Reporter: "How is it that your department operates at a third of the budget of any other Police Force in the country, Chief."
Police Chief: "It's quite simple really. We've stopped investigating stolen goods."
Reporter: "That's outrageous! You mean if I call and report my car stolen, you don't do a thing about it?"
Police Chief. "I didn't say that. We just don't bother with an expensive investigation. We found it's much cheaper if we simply went out and bought the victim a new stereo, TV, jewellery--even a car."
Reporter: "But, but..."
Police Chief: "Oddly enough, no one complains when we replace their old junk with new stuff. And our image in the community has never been better. Hell, we fired our Public Relations Officer. That alone saved us 80K a year."

          Hey, it's called thinking outside the box, right?

26 Jul

          I had the afternoon off, so I thought I'd do some work planning out the heroic fantasy I've decided on for my next project. I thought I'd map out the landscape using Campaign Cartographer 2 that a friend gave me. Unfortunately they forgot to give me the serial number that the company apparently freaking emails to you once you buy the software, so, yanno, stymied.
          I've decided I want the story to take place in a future post apocalyptic Vancouver Island, because, well, because I fu**ing well can, so there. So I looked up some maps online, trying to find relief maps, which took me, like, an hour or two. I want part of the area to be desert now--mostly because I have a funny bit in mind concerning traveling across the desert--but according to the maps it's not logical for the area I had in mind. Also, if I put the desert where I want it, Vancouver Island isn't an island anymore, and that won't work. The bastard. So I'll have to think of something else--maybe put the desert on the island. Or not.
          Anyway, I realized I had some maps out in the car, and figured I'd get them when I went to the store for some stuff I need. So I went to the store, got the mail, came back inside, and--yep, forgot the maps. Hey, they're way out in the car. So bite me.
          So, all in all, a good three hours wasted so far, and nothing accomplished.


28 Jul

          I'll never understand these people who'll wait in line for days, weeks or months to be the first to see a movie. Are they afraid that between the first screening and the second that some studio exec will decide he's made a mistake and edit out all the good stuff? Maybe their friends are all spoilery, and would ruin the movie for them if they didn't see it right away. (There's a special hell reserved for those people, along with the ones who talk during movies, and people who wear white after Labour Day.) I could understand maybe if being first meant you were unique--the one and only--but being the first to do something that everyone else is going to do whether you do it or not just seems silly.
          If there's any justice in the universe, when these people die and go to Heaven, they'll have to wait in line for months to get through the Pearly Gates. Let's hope they don't find out or they'll probably off themselves early so they can be first.