Philips Bodygroom Canada update

Just off the phone with Amy at Philips looking for an updated release date for the Bodygroom shaver in Canada. As reported here in mid-June, their customer service folks told me that the Canadian version of the Philips/Norelco Bodygroom "shave everywhere" electric gadget could be available here as soon as August, pending CSA approval.

Today I've been told that there is no imminent release date. Amy says they aren't even sure it's going to be sold here. She says the product was "just released" in the States, and the company is still deciding whether to sell it north of the border. Perhaps next year, she says.

She did say that the marketing people get sent a note each time someone calls and asks, which may help push them toward a product launch. The Philips Canada web site doesn't have the right number to call, but here it is, for all you hirsute gents who want to put in your own inquiries: 1-800-243-7884.

The word is in

Just after posting yesterday's note, I checked my email and got the following:


"If you're reading this email then you've made it to the final interview stage for X-Weighted season II."

Woot! So they're down from hundreds across Canada ... to 120 in six cities ... to 30 now ... aiming for 13 people for the show. And I'm one of the 30. Very exciting. Next step is a three-hour interview in my home with my local support team. They want all my "naughty foods" spread out on a table to see. That'll be tricky, 'cuz, as regular readers will have noted, the BigAss menu has been cleaned up a lot in recent months. There isn't much objectionable food left in the house, so I may have to go shopping.

End of the tour

Whew! Back home after a whirlwind trip that took us to four provinces, three provincial capitals, two national parks, a resort and three motels, too many servings of french fries, several gorgeous sunsets, two swims in the ocean, an unfortunate encounter with a jellyfish, a visit with whales, the viewing of an eagle, too many encounters with insects including two at motels and dozens on the windshield, one wedding and a Jack & Jill party tonight. Lots of pictures and some video to be added here in the days to come.

And, no, the TV show people have not called. The tension mounts. Not enough tension to spoil the vacation, though. Back to work Monday -- for me, it's the 4am morning shift for two days ... three days of regular shift ... then two weeks of the morning drive before another week off. Ah, summertime.

This just in from the red planet: No news

Hola from the Stanhope Resort in PEI. Vacation is going swimmingly -- literally. Went swimming in the ocean today. Was having a good time in the cold water until I swept past a jellyfish with my flailing arms and got stung. That kind of killed my nautical buzz, so we relaxed on the beach in the sunshine. More on that, of course, in the post-vacation update. Lots of pictures, too. But, for now, the important news.

There is no news. Still no word from the "What Not To Weigh" people (kudos to Little Sister for the name), despite the expectation of a yea or nay call Monday about being cut or not cut. The BlackBerry hasn't buzzed. My colleague who is also trying out for the show has also not received word. I'll get notice out as soon as I find out either way. If they give me the go-ahead, the anticipation of professional dietary intervention will be timely, as we've been eating entirely too many french fries on this trip. If they give me the boot, that means I can resume the healthy eating and add generous portions of exercise when we get back to Hallyfax.

Touchdown in TO

I tried to post a nice little entry here with my Blackberry .... about how a nice Air Canada check-in lady got us out of Halifax on an earlier flight .... a make-up flight for people who had been dicked around by the weather all day .... but somehow the e-mail-to-blog thing didn't work. And now I'm writing on a MacBook Pro, and Windows cut-and-paste keys don't work, and I can't figure it out and we have to get running to a wedding. So .... yes, we got here safe. Yes, we got here in good time. They told us we were going to the wrong terminal, but no biggie. Thanks, Air Canada lady, for hookin' us up! And I'll try to figure this Blackberry posting thing soon. Gotta scram!

Here comes the rain again


A snapshot from around 2:50pm from the local weather radar. We're supposed to fly out to Toronto tonight, but Tropical Storm Beryl is about to smack Halifax with 50mm of rain and 80km/h winds. Sweet merciful crap. Hoping it's not as bad as they're making it out to be. Problem is, out here, it usually is just about as bad as they make it out to be!

The dangers of living in Mennonite Country

Here's the scene after my sister's car was hit by a Mennonite buggy. Shannon says she was driving her Honda on the highway, came around the corner doing about 60km/h, and saw trouble ahead: a runaway horse and buggy tearing down the road without a driver. She stopped. The horse didn't. The horse crossed in front of her car, grazed the passenger side, and the buggy, down to just three wheels by that time, collided with the vehicle.

The horse continued trotting down the road before collapsing, exhausted, in the ditch. Apparently the farmer's son was unbridling the horse in the barn when something spooked the beast and it took off.

Shannon called 911. Of course they can't charge the horse. Or the farmer. The cop asked for the farmer's "Mennonite Brotherhood insurance card," and he said he had none. No insurance on the farm, either. She figures the body work will cost at least $1500. The Honda's bumper is cracked underneath and there's some scratching and denting elsewhere. She's going to let her insurance company handle the rest.

Yes, that is a stray boot in the picture. Yes, Shannon is okay. I hear the horse is alright, too.

Lucky for everybody this wasn't their new car, a zoom-zoom Mazda 3 Sedan.

Out of the closet

Amanda's been shrinking lately. She's been excited to be able to fit into clothes she hadn't worn in a long time. A pair of khaki capris here, some green summer pants there. She wears them to work and her colleagues ask where she got the cool new clothes. She tells them, "I went shopping in my closet."

I've been doing the same thing. Although the TV show people have made it quite clear they don't want me losing a significant amount of weight until I'm cut from contention or given the official go-ahead by the producers, I've been ever-so-slowly shrinking due to the healthier eating habits outlined in earlier posts. I'm still a chubby dude, but it's enough difference to notice that some buttons are not stretching and my pants are being affected by gravity. So, I've been able to go shopping in my closet and pull out some things I haven't worn in a long time.

My clothing assortment seems to fall into a groove/rut on a seasonal basis. After I culled most of the logo T-shirts and just-plain-wrong clothes from my closet last spring/summer, I went to Brown's (the short-man's store, "Because it fits!!!") and spent $500+ on some new pants and silk shirts for the generously proportioned but vertically challenged gentleman. Last time I wore those consistently was around the time I moved to Halifax. They sat in the hamper due to lack of inclination to iron and the difficulty in hand-washing silk. When winter came, I switched to casual but distinguished sweaters. At some point we went to Old Navy and got some better-fitting pants. Around the time of the Calgary trip, I bought a new batch of khakis, polo shirts and other upstat-looking attire to continue the dress-to-impress-despite-looking-pregnant theme.

Now that my belly is a small percentage smaller, and my face ever so slightly less bulbously spherical, I've been digging deeper into the closet to pull out items which just might fit. And, lo and behold, they do. I even got a compliment from my sweetheart when I paired up my starting-to-sag-in-the-ass green cargo chinos with a closet-found tan linen sport shirt. Woo! Today I've rescued a blue button-up shirt I remember wearing in 2000 on my trip to New York City. This shopping in my closet thing is cool.

I had a chat this week with a couple of the ladies at work about their passion for shopping. It's presently impossible for me to experience the joy of shopping for the perfect buy. The notion of finding a sale on something flattering is a foreign concept for people who can hardly find something that fits. For normal (or, as some call them, "skinny")-sized people, the options are vast enough that they can shop almost anywhere and find something that fits. That leaves the fun challenge of finding the item that's "just right" or on sale. But for people on the plus (or perhaps minus) size of the scale, vertically or horizontally, it's frustrating enough just finding something that goes on, never mind finding a bargain.

Of course, some may say -- if you can't feel comfortable in nice clothes because you have a hard time finding them and an awkward time wearing them, stop being so bloody fat! Well, even outside the fat-guy perspective, I can't find joy in buying shoes. I have a high instep and a wide foot. I can't work up the passion for finding the perfect pair of shoes, because I have a dilly of a time just getting one that fits my foot!

So, one of the benefits waiting for me at the end of my weight-loss journey: more clothing selection. Outside of the closet. In the stores. I'll be able to buy nice-looking clothes and wear them without feeling like a tool.

Oh, as for the "shopping in my closet" idea? As much as I still think Amanda is super-clever for using that phrase, she's not the first. See a blog entry called "Shopping in my closet", and an MSN article called "Shopping your closet: Rediscovering old favorites."

The Weather Man

We've watched quite a few movies recently, and will probably watch more now that we've found a great video store with a much deeper selection than Rogers Video. This weekend's feature was The Weather Man, starring Nicholas Cage.

I liked it. One blogger's review cites it as "the most relentlessly pessimistic mainstream American film that I have ever seen," but Roger Ebert rightly points out that "Every bad movie is depressing. No good movie is depressing."

The story about a weatherman who, despite trying hard to do the right thing and earn the respect of the people around him, continually fails and further sabotages his own life, felt very true. The first critic I referred to writes:

The Weather Man seems to be telling us that over time you become a shell of the person you once were and a pathetic, ever decreasing fraction of the person you one day hoped to be. You will squander potential and become incapable of giving meaningful love to anyone you care about. This doesn't happen as a result of some huge disaster or tragic mistake, no, this happens as a result of hundreds of minuscule failures every day. As you might imagine, this is excruciating to watch.


I've seem some tough-to-watch characters. Most of the characters in Happiness, for example. Crumb has some painful moments. Just because it's uncomfortable doesn't automatically make it bad or unworthy.

Cage's character, David Spritz, learns some things through the course of the film, gaining some insight and traction in his life, even if he doesn't get what he thinks he wants.

"Do you know," his father asks him, "that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing?" As someone with a job that is among the less punishing occupations on the planet, it rings true to hear Spritz' dad point out that "Nothing that has meaning is easy. 'Easy' doesn't enter into grown-up life."

Spritz has something of an epiphany moment toward the end of the film. He doesn't exactly end up happy, but resigning himself to where he's steered himself through the winds of life, he realizes:

I remember once imagining what my life would be like, what I'd be like. I pictured having all these qualities, strong positive qualities that people could pick up on from across the room. But as time passed, few ever became any qualities that I actually had. And all the possibilities I faced and the sorts of people I could be, all of them got reduced every year to fewer and fewer. Until finally they got reduced to one, to who I am. And that's who I am, the weather man.


To someone whose life has turned out just how they'd hoped, and is able to say and do the right things with a consistency that leads them to the desired end phenomena, it may just seem like a sad story with no point. But I felt a kinship with the lead character, 'cuz, as that blogger said, "One feels at every turn, no matter how disgraceful his behavior, that he's just a guy trying to do what seems right to him in that moment."

To watch soon: Anchorman. I hear it's a little different.

Update on the TV show audition: After the casting call, I made the first cut, down to 120 people across six cities. Went back for a callback on the weekend, including a camera test in front of the panel and interviews with my support team. Next cut, down to 30 people, will be done July 24th. Shout-outs to the production staff who were curious enough to visit here, and kind enough to say nice things about my stuff.

Congrats to South Park crew

Congratulations to the gang at South Park for their sixth Emmy nomination.

The episode "Trapped in the Closet" is up for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour), which the show won last year. If you haven't seen it, you can download it.

Earlier this year, South Park won the Peabody award.

If he wrote on technology stedda sci-fi

(Nerd alert ... Enough-already-about-that alert ... Feel free to skip this post.)

I've cut way down on posting and talking about this subject, but happened upon a funnyish piece called "OS III" originally posted in comp.org.eff.talk by Eric Miller:

If L. Ron Hubbard were alive today and he worked as a tech writer, his
"holy scriptures" might go something like this ...

Operating System Version Three
The head of the Silicon Valley (76 companies around larger cities visible from here) (founded 25 years ago, very soap opera) solved overemployment (2500 or so per company, 1780 on average) by mass upgrading. He caused people to be brought to Apple and put a virus in the principal server (Incident 95) and THEN the Pacific area ones were taken in backups to Redmond and the Atlantic area ones to MIT and then re-"programmed".

For the context of the ha-ha, you'll need to refer to the piece being parodied: the original text of "secret" level OT III. See, with all that reading, wasn't I right to suggest skipping the post?

Dean Ween's a bigger Star Wars geek than me

Ween is among my favourite bands. Star Wars is among my favourite movies. I never thought the two had anything in common, until I saw an article at starwars.com in which Dean Ween confesses his love of Star Wars:
"The coolest item that we have is the lightsaber that makes the actual sounds of Anakin's lightsaber when you move it around. We also have two cheaper plastic ones -- one green and one red, of course, and a cool rancor figurine, which is actually pretty big. We play this imaginary game where Jabba feeds Luke to the rancor and Luke closes the gate on him, killing him. You know the story."

Miggy's excuse for having so much SW gear around, apparently, is that he's now a parent. I guess when I have kids, I can justify having collectibles ("toys") around the house. For now, the only significant thing is a custom-made lightsaber replica built from the same parts as the original prop. It's sitting in a beautiful wooden box waiting to be passed down to the next generation.

So that's what Deaner is talking about. Interestingly (?) I can't recall ever hearing a Star Wars reference in a Ween song.

Tattoo for Canada Day


We went out Friday night to the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. It's billed as "the world's largest annual indoor show." Some two-thousand performers put on a big show at the Halifax Metro Centre. We've been hearing them practice for the past two weeks -- waking up in the morning to the sound of bagpipes and brass bands and flocks of mounties and armed forces folk below our window. So, we got good seats to the preview performance, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Lots of marching, piping, drumming, tootling, plus a generous dose of acrobatics and singing. Quite a spectacle. If we'd seen a news report of some renegade nation doing exactly the same parading around with guns, we'd probably think they were a scary militaristic society. Strange how the same thing here meets with applause. Good show, good show.

Saturday brought a warm and sunny break in a seemingly endless streak of grey, drizzly, foggy weather. After being startled by the 21-gun salute on Victoria Day, we went to Citadel Hill to see the Canada Day salute first-hand. Video is found above. We got a little sunburnt afterward, waiting for, then watching, the Tattoo parade, featuring a few of the acts in the big show.

The evening promised the "biggest July 1 fireworks display in 10 years" over the Halifax harbour. Last year's show was cancelled due to fog, so they put the money into this year's display. We found our way to the top floor of a parking complex and had a great view. The fireworks only lasted about 15 minutes! I guess I've been spoiled by seeing so many spectacular shows at Ontario Place over the years. Utter disappointment when the batteries on my camera failed. There are other photos from the show on flickr. Lots of people took pictures -- I could tell, from the dozens of camera flashes going off on the Dartmouth side. (Do people think using a flash will make the high-in-the-sky fireworks look better?)

It's neat to see how many people are using flickr these days. A search for "halifax canada day" turned up my shots, of course, but also pictures from a guy in the same apartment building, on the other side of the hallway in the penthouse. And we nearly saw ourselves in another two pictures: a cluster of mounties parading across a crosswalk on Brunswick Street, and we know for sure that we were right behind them. I ought to hook up with the Halifax photo pool.

Sunday brought the first test of the government's tightened legislation on grocery store openings. Atlantic Superstores (essentially huge Loblaws stores for those in Ontario) decided to challenge the law by opening six outlets in the province. I could only find one in Halifax proper, so we went to do our weekly shopping.
Waste of time. Half the store was blocked off. The produce, deli, seafood, bakery, meat, drugstore and health-food sections were open, sure. But dairy, cereals, kitty litter, and pretty much everything in "the aisles" was blocked off. And the checkouts were blocked off, meaning just a few registers were open, with lineups stretching nearly to the back of the store, IN the couple of aisles that were open. So, we put back our quarter-cart of veggies and meat and left the crowded store. Nice of them to open, but a decidedly unsatisfactory shopping experience. 

If you're going to defy the government, go big, or we'll go home.

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

Today marks a weird spot on the calendar for me. It’s one of those landmarks that really doesn’t mean anything, other than to illustrate the...