A dark evening for Rogers customers

All Youtube videos return an “An error has occured, please try again later” error message.


Rogers says, “Oh, it’s not us.” An hour and half after the problem starts, Rogers finally gets notified by Youtube that the problem is on Youtube’s end. (I’m guessing someone at Youtube accidentally blocked Rogers IPs.)  It’s supposed to be fixed within 24 hours.

As a former tech support agent, I feel a little bad for the Rogers techies (who are probably working in the call center I used to work in) who were expecting a relatively calm afternoon and have suddenly been swamped by frantic users jonesing for their Youtube fix. At least now they have something concrete they can say instead of “It’s not on our end.”


Green pornos

Found via Isabella Rossellini‘s appearance on Graham Norton this past week, everything you ever wanted to know about animals (insects in particular) having sex.

Without a penis, the male bee dies.

There’s something decidedly surreal (and yet great fun) about Isabella Rossellini saying “penis” and “vagina” so often while dressed up as (generally the male of) various insect and animal species. (The photo above shows the death of the male bee after his penis breaks off in the queen bee.) Season 2 features whales with six-foot penises and Isabella walking through a veritable garden of penises explaining why she loves her vagina.

Good times.

Beware of Googling yourself

Come on, you know you all do it.

Remember that community that I left a few months ago? Turns out someone created a celebratory blog a couple of days after I left. “Celebratory” as in celebrating my leaving and urging me to stay away. It’s right up there with the forum threads dedicated to how big of a bitch I am.

Can you feel the love? 😉

Kind of makes me want to return, just to screw with them, whoever they are.

Smiley-enhanced for your viewing pleasure

There’s a certain presumption of civility and soberness in formal communications such as business letters, cross-cultural and known interpersonal issues notwithstanding.

The same doesn’t apply to informal communications such as e-mails, forums, or chats. With those, we tend to let our inner insecurities, life experiences, and preconceptions colour what we read and, in turn, affect how we respond. A benign e-mail or post gets misread and misconstrued until we’re taking offense or presuming meanings and nuances that don’t exist. (Cyberstalking, anyone?) There are no body language or facial expressions to help us interpret the intent behind the words. “Smiley-enhancing” is the bared-underbelly of the writing world — “See, I’m not a threat, you can read me without worry.” It won’t always prevent people from reading you the wrong way (my experience in that online chat yesterday underscores that),  nor does it prevent people from deliberately misrepresenting themselves, but it goes a long way towards circumventing those experiential biases we all have and making the Interwebs a civilized frontier.

My trip to Toronto in April was the first time I’d experienced that in person with someone whose been around me in Real Life™. I won’t go into details (both because they’re really boring and because, well, sometimes the blogosphere has big ears), but I’d never realized before how much someone can completely misread your body language in person. A real smile or wink doesn’t always convince people that you’re being funny (plus they have to be looking at you to see it). You can really laugh out loud but it isn’t as disarming as a LOL.

The whole situation was disconcerting and made me wonder if I’d completely lost my ability to socialize in person. (That’s the downside to being a hermit.) It also demonstrated to me how much I’ve come to rely on smileys and how much I need them in Real Life™. Either that or I just need to practice my socializing skills on, you know, real people…in person. (Not that you’re not all real…well, I presume you are but then I could just be talking to myself.)

(I know. I lied about smiley-enhancing this post.)

Identity crisis

It’s minor, as crises go, but seems to promise longevity. And it’s growing worse as the days go by.

I’m a loner at heart. I don’t know that I started out that way — I was never alone my entire life until I was in my mid-teens and the only child left at home. I didn’t much like being alone back then. That was when my clinical depression started, and I’ve struggled with it ever since. As an adult, though, I’ve learned that I actually like being alone, that I crave significant amounts of alone time. Whether that’s good for me is an entirely separate matter.

I’m also very sensitive. And perhaps a little paranoid. Not about everything — I sometimes take the strangest things with a complete lack of defensiveness — but about enough that the knot in my stomach that says “I’m a loser” is an almost permanent feature of my life.

I don’t require the approval of others. But I also take things said to or about me very personally, even if I’m only really on the periphery of the topic. It’s very hard to restrain that impulse when people you like and admire are the ones who (generally completely unknowingly) are making you question yourself, making you feel like less than you really are. I don’t seek approval, but I also don’t seek disapproval — disapproval from the people who mean something to me makes the knot in my stomach grow larger, heavier, more substantial.

If you’ve read this blog, then you know I have a very eclectic set of interests. I am both skeptic and believer, scientist and mystic, logical thinker and emotional feeler. I can switch hats at any point, but all of the headgear is in my virtual closet, a part of me. I was comfortable with that, feeling that it made me better able to understand and appreciate all sides. Now, though, I feel more that it means that I have no place to feel safe, to feel like I belong. The logical skeptics think I’m a nutcase (or rather they think people who think like I do are nutcases — they may or may not have actually considered that I fall into that group). And I’m too logical to be able to completely submerge myself in the mystical, making me not quite fit into those communities either. Where are all the  no open-minded, see-all-sides, middle-of-the-roaders?

This morning, for example, I attended an organized, online chat on one of those niche topics in which I ultimately felt attacked for being somewhat different from the others. I respect the organizer of the chat as a prominent figure in the genre, but now I don’t know that I’ll go back next week. To be clear, their intention wasn’t to be mean — they were just trying to understand my take on the discussion topic (and clearly my sense of humour didn’t come through well, but that’s a topic for another post) — but it comes down to the same thing: I ended up feeling defensive (and psychoanalyzed) in a situation where I should have felt safe.

That comes on the heels of posts and comments on a number of blogs that I read regularly that, in a completely different way, made fun of other interests that I have. (Is there something in the water?) One or two occurrences would have been easy to work around. But it seems to be happening everywhere, in all aspects of my life, and I’m feeling more and more like I just don’t really belong anywhere any more.

To be clear, I’m not looking for a solution. And I’m not looking for sympathy or a validation of my worth as a human being. Somewhere inside me, I know my worth. I just don’t know my place, that place where I actually belong. I seem to be an outsider everywhere, and I hadn’t expected that, hadn’t mentally prepared myself for that.

Television nostalgia from a more innocent age

Back when I was a kid, cable television, video players, home computers, and the Internet were still far in the future. (I know, hard to imagine for some of you, but it’s true.) If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to wait until it came to your local movie theatre or aired on CBC or CTV. And certain television specials became annual rituals.

The most heartbreakingly bittersweet specials were three created by Readers Digest Canada in association with Potterton Productions. (I was an odd child — I loved to watch shows that made me cry.)

The Selfish Giant, which was created in 1971, was a 25-minute animated film narrated by . It told the Oscar Wilde short story of the giant who didn’t like children playing in his yard.

The Happy Prince, which was created in 1974, was a 25-minute animated film featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer and Glynis Johns. It told the Oscar Wilde short story of the statue of the Happy Prince and the little swallow who stayed with him until winter. I still bawl when I watch it.

The Little Mermaid, which was created in 1975, was a 25-minute animated film narrated by Richard Chamberlain. It told the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the mermaid who wanted to be human as it was originally written (in all its sadness), not as Disney would rewrite it many years later. I still remember the music and it can still make me cry buckets of tears.

I’m pooped

This working thing is hard.

I mean, I have to actually get dressed. No sitting around barefoot in my jimjams with my cat on my lap all day.

And they expect me to stay awake all day. No napping, power or otherwise. Have you ever heard such a thing? It’s barbaric. (Is 5-Hour Energy addictive? Have there been long term studies? Will my eyeballs grow hair if I exceed the recommended weekly limit?)

And the walking. Oh, the walking. To the bus. From the bus. To the elevator. From the elevator. It’s all very exhausting. So exhausting that I just couldn’t drag my hands up to the keyboard to blog when I came home at the end of the day. It’s all just horribly wrong. (Did you even notice I was gone?)

I need the long weekend to recover and build up energy to attack next week. *shiver*

Vacations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

OK. So it hasn’t really been a vacation. Six months “off” sounds like a dream, but that’s only if someone is paying you to sit around and drink margaritas, or tour around some exotic foreign island and blog about it*.

So I’m happy to say that my six month “vacation” is about to end. That contract that was supposed to start in February March April officially starts on Monday. It’s going to be a little weird, keeping a normal day shift pattern, but Hey! I’ll get to practice my social skills. With real people. In person.

* I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that Tourism Queensland picked someone like Ben Southall for their Job of a Lifetime. I’m sure Ben is a nice guy and all that, but he’s an adventure vacationer already. The Great Barrier Reef is already on the “to do” lists of most travellers like him. You probably don’t need to entice them to come visit. What they should have gone for is an ordinary Joe, someone who would show all of us ordinary, non-adventurous people how much fun it is to visit the islands off the coast of Queensland. I’d’ve eagerly read that person’s stories. Unless Ben is a super witty raconteur, I’ll probably give him a miss. Not that anyone cares, but I thought I would put that out there anyway.