Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Friday, May 19, 2006

That's the way the career crumbles

So, Dose = dead. I've been drunk for two days and still haven't quite come to terms with it yet (hopefully, day three of drunk will bring clarity). For me, Dose was a pretty kick-ass job: I came in at 10 a.m., I told some people to do some things, I edited some things, when I felt like it, I wrote some things, I interviewed some cool people and basically did whatever I wanted with the slice of the paper I played with. It was like the grownup Gateway.

I'm bummed because Dose is gone, but I'm really bummed that I won't see those cool people every day. I've been kept on at CanWest, a cockroach left after the atomic bomb, but today after everything was gone from the big huge desk we sat in and as I wandered around Canada.com's cubical-stuffed area, I realized all the energy left in that building, and for the most part CanWest, had just been kicked out. Then I got an e-mail warning me about inappropriate language in a story I'd sent over for other papers to publish. Sigh.

RIP. Anyone wanna hire me?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fishin’ Accomplished II: Bass in Action

If guys actually went fishing as much as they talk about going fishing, fish would probably be extinct. After living in Toronto over a year, I finally bought a license and dropped a line through the ice at Lake Simcoe, which got me stoked to get back out and explore more of the ridiculous number of waterways in this part of the country. I was starting to worry it was going to be one of those years, though, where I bought a license for one friggin’ trip, but luckily Alana’s dad (Alan) invited me along on his annual fishing trip with his engineering buddies. So last weekend we drove several hours though an apocalypse-quality rainstorm to Ottawa, where we dropped off Alana and her mom so they could explore the city for a few days.

Things were off to a bad start when stopped for gas and accidentally set off my car alarm. Usually you push a button on the keyholder to kill it, but the remote died a while ago and couldn’t remember how to stop it. So the horn is blaring, people are staring and we’re reading the manual with mounting frustration until finally I drive the car – lights blinking, loud honking and all – a few blocks away so we didn’t get lynched. Finally got it turned off and we drove another hour-and-a-half just over the Quebec border to a cabin on Allumette Lake, a.k.a. Lac aux Allumettes. This being Franco territory, were no longer anglers, we were franglers. Ones with poisson on the brain.

The weather was not cooperating, though, and it was a cloudy, windy weekend with intermittent rain. Rain gear and a cabin full of beer fixes that problem. Alan’s buddies are awesome guys who know how to ravage a beer or ten, and it was a great weekend. But on to the fishing…

The first morning out was slow. We took out a couple of aluminum boats with outboard motors and tried jigging for walleye, but it was too wavy, so we moved into a bay and trolled. We caught a couple of smallish pike, one of which I got. I decided to go it Alberta-style. So, using a technique favoured by my uncle, one that has yielded many a walleye at Lake Isle, I went to local bait shop, and rigged up a bottom bouncer, which is a special weight with a long strand at the bottom (which allows it to bounce along the bottom without getting caught), with a 90-degree angles bar, to which one attached a pre-made rig with beads, a flutter and baited hook. Nothing works like leeches, so I used the grotesque little bugger, much to everyone else’s surprise and mild disgust. I was a believer in a den of skeptics.

Heading into another sheltered bay, we trolled and BAM! – a hit. It was unlike anything I’d reeled in before, as it rose to the surface immediately and thrashed around. I caught my first bass, which are unheard of in Alberta (that said it was clearly the Oilers hat bringing me luck). It was a blast to haul in, putting up a good fight for a fairly small fish. A few more passes in the bay and we discovered a spot that consistently yielded hits, and I ended up with three bass and another pike in total, making myself the Bassmaster. That’s right, call me the Bass-o-matic 3000 and get me a goddamn fishing show: stat. I was also the only one in the boat who caught anything, so the skeptics were intrigued and the newcomer’s reputation was in good standing. I chalk it all up to how diligently I probed that bass-hole. Ahem…

A night of drinking, cards, good food, and general rousing of rabble gave way to morning and a trip down to the end of the lake where it’s fed by two rivers, making for some crazy current action and lots of chop. Alan and I were in one boat, and Moe, who was hosting the weekend, and Denis were in the other. The wind was whipping up some nasty waves and it was a little hairy but we trolled around the edge of the current. No luck, so we tried jigging a little before moving to where the other river dumped in and tried a bowl, which a map of the underwater geography indicated had a deep pocket (57 feet). While we were here Moe and Denis caught a small walleye and a larger catfish each near the river.

No luck here either, so we went down the shoreline off of a weedy patch. Another aggressive strike and I hooked into a bass a good size larger than the ones from the day before. We trolled the area a bit more before moving out towards the island and finding a drop-off point (no depth finder, just old-school feeling our way around the bottom with an anchor) to jig with rubber Powerbait. I stuck to leeches and Alan stuck to live baitfish, but no luck. We made our way back for lunch.

The wind picked up a lot and it was looking like a wash for the rest of the day, but then early evening it eased up so Alan, Moe and I cruised back down the lake to re-try the cross-currents. With darkness threatening to puch our fun in the face, both Moe and Alan got a small walleye, and Alan got a decent-sized pike. The walleye gods did not shine upon myself, however.
It was one of those weekends where even without fish or sunshine it was still a blast.

That night we ate the most amazing deer roast, with all the fixings, plus some lake trout caught in the area. The icing on the fish cake (a fishcake with icing – yuck) was the half-dozen hauled in the boat, which was turned out to be the biggest catch. I still have yet to smash into a walleye out here, but I’m stoked to keep trying.
And, any fisherpersons out there reading this who haven’t caught a bass: yes it is as fun as those guys with nasty cop moustaches, beige vests and bad hats make it seem on the fishing shows. I call those dudes “Bass-tards” and I wonder if it’s a look that one slowly morphs into as a result of fishing too often.

Bass puns – can you ever really have enough of them? You bet your ba... Aw, nevermind.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My last day as a 20-something

My god, was that ever hard to write. My. Last. Day. As. A. 20. Year. Old.
For those of you who didn't know, or had no reason to care, Thursday, May 18 is the last day of my third decade. The last age I'll have a 2 in the tens digit (barring fantastic advances in medical technology in the next ... let's say... three years, I doubt I'll be hitting 120...). My final chance to do things that 30-year olds (yuck) just don't do. And what am I going to do? So far, I don't think it's going to be exciting.
Because of my living arrangements, I won't have use of my car.
Because of my financial situation, I will not be travelling.
Because of health reasons, I'll be spending part of it at a doctor's office.
Because of a general malaise, I'll probably not really enjoy it.
I found myself almost crying on the way home from my girlfriend's house today. She made me realise that yes, today already was the last day of my 20s. And sure, this has happened to a few people in history, but, I'm sure that most of them had something to show for their 30 years, be it a job, or (gasp) a career, or, perhaps, a wife or kids or a car they got to drive, or a house. God! A house! What I would do! Painting! Nesting! Gardening! Inviting! Cooking! Hosting! Screaming at the top of my lungs at 4:00a.m. without retribution. Can you imagine?
You see, I am getting old, even if it's just mental. I do want some of that junk. I'm tired of paying asshole after asshole more than 50 per cent of my salary for the right to live somewhere where I have no control over anything, and don't get $10,000, or even $5,000, worth of equity for paying $12,000 a year in rent. What the fuck, or "WTF," as the kids are saying.
But for that, I need a job. I'm so tired of being "overqualified" here in Nova Scotia. I want a job. I don't care if I'm overqualified. I'll still do it. I had an interview at the weekly newspaper in town, and I made their eyes bug out when I gave them an example of one time I showed initiative in a time of newspaper crisis. I was applying to be a copy editor; in reality, I should have been applying to be editor-in-chief. But I would have been chief toilet-licker if they'd just pay me $1000 a month.
I should just pack up and say goodbye to the no-job coast. I like it here, but I think, for my own sake, and the sake of my gradually eroding sanity, it might make sense to get out of here. Any money I save, I end up spending to fly back to Alberta for family events, so it might make sense to move there, make money, keep it, buy a house there, live there, get all that other stuff, be bored, watch sprawl and urban deterioration progress from the inside out, die of boredom, buy a cemetary plot 20 years before that in anticipation, and then shoot myself to avoid it all.
Or stay here.
We'll see. All I know is that tradespeople get more money than God spent on Jesus' first birthday present per hour, and there's probably a program somewhere where it's a free course because they're so desperate for workers.
Then I could live until I chopped one of my arms off in heavy machinery, stump around town and freak out kids, and ... shit. This option sucks, too.
Maybe I'll just keep looking for journalism work. Despite what happened to Dose, which employed most of the journalists I know, I think there's work out there for people willing to do it. Small town newspapers might not be too bad. 9 out of 10 editors end up as mayor, anyway, I hear.

Laugh it up, all you prophets of journalism.

Well, it all started at 11:30 this morning when my phone rang just as I was getting out of the shower any my phone rings. On the other end of the line is Daniel, one of the designers at work, who informs me that "the shit has hit the fan" and the print version of Dose — the paper I just moved across the country to accept a position at four months ago — has just been spiked by CanWest. Really, saying the shit had hit the fan doesn't do that news much justice. I'm out of a fucking job.

You can read the characteristically sparse Reuters story here, which sufficiently sums up the painful bout of retardation that led CanWest to their abrupt and thoroughly surprising decision. I mean, I know there were a lot of things that Dose didn't do very well, and of course it was losing money — it was a barely-year-old startup, for fuck's sake — but for the company to say that they don't see any potential in the print version is just fucking stupid.

From an inside point of view, the print edition of Dose was the only thing we were doing well. Like it or hate it, it was actually different. I fully believe that a large part of the future of print media in Canada will be the free, ad-driven daily commuter paper, and for CanWest to pull out of that now and concentrate their efforts on rolling our fuck-awful website into a "youth channel" for canada.com is just so frustratingly short-sighted that I don't even know what to say. It won't last longer than a couple of months.

But whatever. I'm angry, I'm hurt, and I'm jobless. The worst part is I actually liked it there; I'm going to miss the people I worked with and the environment we worked in. I doubt I'll ever find something like that again. Anyhow, I'm sure they're popping open champagne in the offices of student papers across the country today, having been proven right that Dose was a sham and CanWest didn't have a clue what they were doing. Well, laugh it up. Laugh it up over the hilarious tale of the "sell-out" paper that couldn't even figure out how to sell out well enough to save its own ass.

Sorry, this post is idiotic. I could be telling about how we all found out (mid-press) and how big companies manage to circumvent the fact that we were all reassured of a financial commitment to the paper and our jobs (cancel the contract in exchange for two months' salary, thereby nullifying the entire point of contracts). Needless to say, my dreams of a future in journalism with any guarantee of financial security has been noticeably shaken. This is what's waiting for you, you genius college kids. Hope you like uncertainty.

I'll say something more meaningful and less bitter tomorrow. Later.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Gary Larson Comic Waiting to Happen

This was snapped on the 401 on the way out of town last Friday: The Fireplace Shop right next door to KABOOM FIREWORKS. All that's missing is a fat guy with glasses backing an "Acme Fireworks Supplies" truck into the wrong loading dock, with a caption reading "Dwight's dyslexia eventually caught up with him."