Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Nothing matters but the weekend from a Tuesday point of view

I just received an e-mail from "Christian Dating" with the subject line "Christian? Single? We have the solution". I also have the solution.

Well, to the "Christian" bit, at least.


Monday, August 30, 2004

More fan mail (I just learned how to use the blockquote tag)

Paul R. Welke writes, from Bosnia:


I must adamantly object to the the answers to the questions that I asked you being placed in the "Responses to Steve's Fan Mail" section of your blog. While it is true that I checked out your blog once accidently, and while it is also true that I do come back every now and then, it is improper to call me a "fan". Basically, Bosnia is really boring. Reading your blog gives me something to so other than watch the seconds tick down. Also, I have been coming back more out of a morbid sense of curiousity than anything else. I don't know of many people that would classify themselves as "fans" of car accidents, yet damn near everyone slows down to take a look.
Please correct this error before I am forced to sic Mr. Knisely on your for libel.

Kindest Regards,
The Rev. Dr. Paul R. Welke, B.A., D.D.(Honourary)

In entirely unrelated news, Samantha Power writes:

Ok So i've decided that it's Paul McCartney you look like and not George Harrison.
Just to ease your mind.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Living on borrowed wit

I have nothing of use to say today. Fortunately, other people on other blogs have had things of use to say, so I can just get a cheap post by directing you to them:

1. Kyle Kawanami makes what may be the funniest post in POI's history.

2. On Vanessa's Blog, Mustafa appears to experience an orgasm in the comments section of this post. Over Oscar Wilde, no less. Hmm. . .

Actually, I guess those two were pretty much it. What a dead day.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Take this job and love it

August 23, 2004

Wayne Pilipchuck, Store Manager
Inglewood Safeway

Dear Wayne,

I would like to resign from the position of courtesy clerk effective two weeks today, that being September 6. I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to serve at this, the world’s third oldest profession. I learned many things about the grocery industry, customers, and bags.

What I did not learn at any time over the course of employment here was how to do my job properly – on that front, I remain as ignorant as that magical day when I first failed the personality component of the cashier test. First of all, of course, there was my primary responsibility, that of bagging groceries and loading them in carts. The goal, of course, is to fit all of a customer’s groceries into his/her cart. My linear mind suggested to me that the best way to do this was to make compact groceries, such as bread and grapes, as small as possible. Just last week I was advised that this is somehow undesirable.

As for the bagging, I had an unfortunate tendency to place items of one category into a bag – dairy products, for example – and leave them there with the intention of placing additional items of that category into the bag as soon as they came along the conveyer belt. Often, this meant that I would forget those items when loading the customer’s cart. My approach to this would generally be to surreptitiously place those items back on the shelf. Possibly I should have mentioned this to somebody, but the way I figured it, the customer got screwed either way, and this way at least I didn’t get in trouble.

Another component of my job was sweeping the store at designated times during my shifts, such that the store would get swept every hour that it’s open. I used to do this part of my job, until I realized how degrading and pointless it is (give that it takes about forty-five minutes to sweep the store, this policy, if followed, would mean that you would be paying $82.25 per day just to have the store swept, which doesn’t even take into account those poor unfortunate courtesy clerks who have stayed long enough to make more than seven dollars an hour). As such, I have not swept the store since mid-June. I hope this isn’t a problem.

My job, as you are probably aware, also includes wrapping floral products. To say that I am “unskilled” at this would be akin to saying that Karl Marx was “liberal” (feel free to use that). This once resulted in the following legendary exchange:

Customer (being handed flowers wrapped by Steve): Thank you, these look great.
Steve: I wouldn’t say that until after you’ve opened them.
Customer: *laughs awkwardly*
Steve: Actually, I probably wouldn’t say that after they were opened, either.
Yve: Oh, you did a great job, Steve.
Yve (through clenched teeth): Don’t scare the customers.

Ah, the customer. . . truth be told, I had a little trouble with that bit about the customer always being right. It worked okay for a while, but customers would periodically say things that were so absurd that I had no choice but to call them on it. Some examples:

- that thirty degree weather with oppressive humidity somehow constituted “nice”
- that Budapest is the capital of Prague
- that the Calgary Flames’ presence in the Stanley Cup finals could be attributable to anything but luck or a deal with Satan

In fact, my dealings with the customer eventually became so legendary that Yve took to answering questions that customers directed at me on my behalf, presumably to prevent me from saying anything untoward. Example:

Steve: How are you this afternoon, ma’am?
Customer: I’m fine, thanks, how are you?
Yve: He’s fine.

Yes, my time here was certainly something that the bards will sing of for ages to come. But regrets, I have a few. For example, there was that time that I was working on Canada Day with only one other courtesy clerk (the scheduling computer had apparently failed to distinguish between Canada Day and any other Thursday), and I decided to see if I could make it through my entire five hour shift without bagging a single grocery. Since there were so many customers in the store, and since we were so under-staffed, it looked like I was going to be able to use up my entire shift answering their questions (sample answer: “I’m sorry, we don’t carry milk”) and collecting shopping carts from the parking lot, until somebody actually called over the intercom (at about the four hour mark) “Steve and George, will you please come up front and bag groceries?” Ah, how I wish I hadn’t responded to that summons. . . but of what use are regrets, eh?

Finally, it is my unfortunate responsibility to blow the whistle on some rather primitive attitudes that exist within your store. Gerry, about a month ago, suggested that I get a haircut to avoid looking so much like a bum (I sort of expected him to follow up, à la George Thorogood, with “and get a real job”, but Gerry doesn’t seem to be a blues-rock fan). I find it terribly upsetting that, in a supposedly enlightened age, such hobophobia could continue to exist in such an established and well-respected corporation.

In conclusion, thank you again for employing me for these three months despite my obvious deficiencies in the areas of competence, diligence, and personal hygiene. If you should find yourself short of courtesy clerks, I would be willing to work a few shifts after September 6.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Steve Smith


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Today I got to ask if Georges Laraque needed help out with his groceries.

He didn't.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Moose Lips Sink Ships

To all of you wondering how to spend the waning days of summer, I offer the following advice: go fly a kite. Seriously.

(Except you, Mustafa. You wouldn't like it. Very frivolous.)


Saturday, August 14, 2004

I feel dirty.

So the woman who introduced me to student politics, former Faculté Saint-Jean Councilor Lisa Clyburn, is now the President of the Young Liberals in Alberta (she's also getting married very shortly - congrats, Lisa!).

But the page that divulged this information to me also reveals that three of my comrades from Forum for Young Canadians - PEI's Amanda Hamel, Manitoba's Richard Diamond, and Saskatchewan's Jenn Pereira - are also the Young Liberal Presidents in their respective provinces.

How did I fall in with this crowd?


Friday, August 13, 2004


Paul Wells is rather testing my affection for him with his latest four posts on tuition fees.

Also, just so I don't wind up making a third post today, here's a recent scene from the theatre of Steve's life:

Steve: So, anything new in your life since last time I asked?
Cashier: I feel like there is, but I can't think of what.
Steve: I sometimes feel like there's something new going on in my life. Then I look around and notice that I'm still a courtesy clerk, and that nothing of interest could possibly be happening.
Cashier: Ah, Steve, if you ever stop working here, I'll miss your sense of humour.
Steve: Aw, th. . . wait a minute - "if"?

Beer, Wenches, and Mennonites

If you're not going to *enforce* public nudity laws, why even have them on the books?


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On a lighter note. . .

Hey look! It's Mustafa!

UPDATE: And Sam! And Vivek!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Actually, it appears that the site just loads a random picture each time, with a library of five or six. Just keep wandering around until you see Mustafa working at a laptop, and Sam laughing at Vivek.

Others are eloquent so we don't have to be

Many of you would do well to read Mr. Henderson's latest on the clearly misnamed Four Bad Men about now.

Exciting news!

1. Long-time Steve nemesis Nick Steinke is getting married to, of all people, his girlfriend, Vanessa Lam. Though I think only one member of my readership actually knows Nick, so I'm not sure how exciting this is to you.

2. I've been asked to be a groomsman. Neither Nick or I has any idea what a groomsman does. So far, from asking pretty well every female I know, all I've gathered is that I have to walk a bridesmaid down an aisle of some kind. I'm nowhere near confident that I can pull that off.

3. I you run a Google search for "french kissing Jesus" and then click "I'm feeling lucky", you'll arive at my site. I expect this to boost my traffic dramatically.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Do you ever have one of those nights where you drink twenty-seven ounces of espresso and then it feels like you're French-kissing Jesus but only for a couple of hours and after that you try to get some sleep but you can't because your heartbeat's screaming obscenities at you and you just lie there going progressively more insane until you pass out in a one litre puddle of your own drool?

Me too.


Saturday, August 07, 2004

New Blogs!

Engineering Councilor and my successor by three as Paul Kane High School Students' Union President Jamaal Montasser.

Weakest attempt at anonymity ever "Uncharted".


Friday, August 06, 2004

The King lives!

So, whilst perusing a music store today, I came across a CD entitled "Songs Inspired by The Passion of the Christ". Looking over the track list, I noticed one by Elvis Presley.

Um. . . nah, too easy.

(A co-worker suggests that perhaps I misread the album title, and it was meant to be a collection of songs that helped inspire The Passion of the Christ. Sure - "with additional dialogue by God.")


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bartlet's Familiar Pears

Before I proceed with the latest on the Public Affairs Bureau, I should like it noted that my bathroom is infested with fruit flies. This is a little odd inasmuch as it, being a bathroom, contains precious little fruit. My sister agrees that this is strange, noting that they should be in her bedroom, since she has a rotting nectarine in there. Sigh.

Anyway, I just thought I'd provide y'all with some examples of the sort of non-partisan public-serving work of the P.A.B.:

"The NDs' constant talk of price fixing shows how little they understand the way our cattle industry - and the free market - works."

"Our producers qualified for [BSE aid] programs on the basis of their cattle inventory. We're not going to ask them to open their books just because the NDs don't know the first thing about the agricultural sector."

The author of those statements, P.A.B. employee Ms. Terry Willock, described them as "not political", noting that "the minister considers those statements to be truth."

For those of you who haven't yet figured out why this is an outrage, allow me to explain: the role of the civil service is to implement government policy. The role of the P.A.B., as the communications arm of the civil service, is to communicate government policy (as well as to implement such portions of government policy as they are most competent to implement). There exists a distinction between government policy and the viewpoint of a minister - the former the Bureau is responsible for communicating, the latter it isn't. As soon as contempt for a given political party becomes government policy, we are no longer living in a democracy (and I say this as somebody who holds *all* political parties in contempt).

Funny, incidentally, that despite my highest hit count in weeks, not a single Tory supporter saw fit to explain why they plan to continue voting for Tory MLAs. Bazin? Brock? Abboud? Anybody?


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Lies and the Lying Liberals Who Tell Them

Sadly, if unsurprisingly, Mustafa beat me to bringing this to the attention of the blog-reading hack community, with his post on POI. This is followed by "Mandos" (whoever he is) making a rather feeble and blatantly partisan attempt at justifying this particular bit of lying by the media on the grounds that hey, it's Michael Moore, not Rush Limbaugh. It always saddens me to see to what extent people will hold their allies to a different standard than their enemies.

All together now, Bush-haters: "Michael Moore is a lying propagandist, but that doesn't make Bush right."

There, doesn't that feel better?


Sunday, August 01, 2004

More righteous indignation

The Edmonton Journal, in an article not available online to non-subscribers, today highlighted yet another one of the services offered by one of my favourite hobby horses, the Public Affairs Bureau. Regular readers of this space (we know who you are) will recall that the Public Affairs Bureau is a government department directly under the Premier that is responsible for communications between the government and the public. Trouble is, it has an unfortunate tendancy to also deal in the business of propaganda, such as when, for example, it told Progressive Conservative MLAs on the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee what questions to ask Ralph Klein.

As it turns out, the Bureau doesn't limit its scripting of Tory MLAs' comments to those on the Public Accounts Committee. No, it actually produces a booklet with talking points for Tory MLAs (the booklet in question, of course, being unavailable to opposition MLAs) with talking points to defend government policy in each ministry.

Which brings us to wonder which is more outrageous between a government department - subservient to the Premier who serves at the pleasure of the Legislature - writing propaganda for some members of this Legislature and denying its services to other members, and MLAs being prepared to take their cues from a government department that they're supposed to be supervising. The dog, methinks, must be getting motion sickness from being wagged so vigorously by its own tail.

Democracy in Edmonton is more broken than it is in Ottawa (where it remains, despite (because of?) a minority government, very broken indeed). Those most culpable for this are not the good people in the Public Affairs Bureau, or the Premier, or the Executive Assistants to the Premier, or the oil companies, or the sympathetic media. Those most culpable are the great majority of legislators who fail to meet any of the most basic requirements of a competent legislator.

Again, this is not an issue of ideology or of the government's fitness to govern. I don't care if you think that Ralph Klein is the greatest Premier in Alberta history, I still cannot understand why anybody would choose to elect an MLA who behaves in such a fashion. Perhaps the Tory voters in my readership would care to enlighten me on this front.


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