Thursday, May 31, 2007

Back to some sanity

We finished before 2 PM, but it was after 6 by the time I came in my door for the last time. We were stuck in traffic on the 400, owing to the fact that a semi had burst into flames. By the time we passed it the fire was out, and they were in the process of removing the remains of the truck. All there was to see was the chassis, wheels, and engine; the body, tires, etc had melted away from the intensity of the fire. No trailer attached, but there was a bunch of stuff we passed before we got to the truck, and so I missed the details. The radio merely said that there was a delay on the 400 owing to a truck fire; no word on casualties.

It seems that dropping celebrities' names definitely brings hits, though the way I tend to drop names it's not the sort of thing that encourages people to stay. Yesterday's post brought one hit from someone searching for a certain rock star, and I also just got a hit from another Ottawa-area searcher (perhaps the same one; same ISP, anyway) who was looking for info on the dishonourable member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. The former was very short (registering zero on Sitemeter's clock) while the latter lasted 45 seconds. I guess if I want meaningful traffic, I'll have to have something that encourages people to actually stay.

Nevertheless, I'm going to drop one more name in this post- the band Agile Like This. They're playing tonight at the Circus Room, and they're friends of mine, so I'm going to check out the show.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


This week has so far been a lot better than last. For one thing, the surroundings are nicer. Pembroke and Bracebridge are about the same size, but the latter is incomparably more appealing than the former in almost every way. (But then, it's a tourist town, so that is to be expected). Secondly, the expected plagues of mosquitoes have not materialized (at least by my standards... but then I was raised in Manitoba, so perhaps I'm more desensitized to these creatures than folks from southern Ontario are). Best of all, the loads have been much smaller, as will be evident from the time of this post. It's only 1:30 PM and I'm comfortably back in the hotel room. (Tomorrow won't be quite as good, but will still be better than last Friday, and it's a much shorter drive home afterwards). And the bins finally arrived at the work site (we'd been bagging the recyclables until now, terribly wasteful but we had no choice).

The actual work site is at Muskoka airport, which is remarkably busy this time of year. Most of the traffic has been single engine piston aircraft, but there have been a couple of business jets as well, perhaps owned by the various celebrities (Cindy Crawford, Eddie Van Halen, etc) who are reputed to have cottages in this area. The bins we've been provided with are supposed to be closed to avoid attracting bears and seagulls, but they don't have lids, so the possibility exists that a bear will show up and devour some celebrities as they get off their Learjets. While I certainly don't wish Ms. Crawford or Mr. Van Halen any ill, there's a part of me that wants this to happen (for purely selfish reasons; if this were to happen our company would likely be bankrupted by the ensuing lawsuit, and I'd be able to go on EI to search full time for a better job).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More of same... piled higher and deeper

For better or worse, my existence continues. The loads weren't too bad today. I was in a lousy mental state for most of the day, as per usual (see below) but as usual the feeling has lifted somewhat. Actually I think it lifted a bit around the time we discovered yet another problem with the shitmobile. The vehicle was parked outside the building, its rear facing us with the garage door open, and ND noticed that a bolt was hanging lower than the others of its type. Inspection showed that it was actually one of the U-bolts that hold the rear axle housing to the leaf spring, and that it was actually broken. Following a couple of phone calls, the Human Sawmill got in the truck and drove it to a dealership in Orillia (the nearest place we could find that carried the part). In the course of the repair they discovered that at least one leaf of the spring itself was broken, but for the time being they've just replaced the bolt; one hopes that the bosses will see fit to replace the spring when we get back. I suppose I should feel guilty for being amused by the situation, but I don't. As far as I can see, the more things that go wrong with that thing the better- maybe they'll finally see fit to get rid of the damn thing. I'm not holding my breath, though.

And you've got to see this video:

Make sure you watch the whole thing- you'll be amazed at how it ends. Certainly not your typical nature video.

Monday, May 28, 2007

An improvement

You know how, when you're getting hit repeatedly in the head really hard, and then the assailant starts beating you a little less hard, how that feels so much better? Well this week is shaping up to be like that. We had a reasonable amount of material today, with the result that we were done by 5 PM. Furthermore, we got to sleep in- we didn't have to get up till 6 AM, rather than 5:15 like on the previous project.

There was bad news today, but it didn't affect me. The Human Sawmill and the Norfolk Dude park their cars in the church parking lot near the office (with permission; the company has an arrangement with the church). Well, it seems that this morning someone broke into ND's car, and started to have a go at HS's. Apparently nothing's actually been stolen; the CDs in ND's car were gone through but none were missing. I guess in a sense that's adding insult to injury- not only does he get his window broken, but his musical taste insulted as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Getting ready to return to hell...

Well, I don't know if too many people would consider Muskoka to be hell, but when most people go up there it's to enjoy themselves, not to spend twelve hours a day sorting garbage. Additionally, our contact with the regional government there told us "I hope you like bugs". Now I'm generally quite fine with insects, but I suspect that he was referring to the families Culicidae and Simuliidae, which tend to make one's work environment more unpleasant than it would otherwise be.

In a little while I'm headed off to CL and DL's place for breakfast, then to the NDP executive meeting this afternoon. I'll probably have to leave almost immediately afterwards.

My neighbour across the hall told me yesterday that his roommate has a Chinchilla, and that this week when the landlord was over fixing something, up on a step ladder, he came down and was startled to see this creature staring at him. He asked, "is that a mouse?" I guess, though, that if your landlord doesn't know what a mouse looks like it's a good thing.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A long week and a truncated weekend

The report was finished and mailed off, though not without Boss Sr having to call me on the company cell as I was getting ready for bed on Thursday night so I could email some additional details. The days were insanely long and tiring, and we didn't hit the road till almost 8 PM on Friday, with the result that it was nearly 2 AM this morning when I finally staggered into my apartment.

Furthermore, I have to leave for the next project Sunday evening at 5:30 PM for a 3 hour drive, and before that I have an NDP meeting. I am hanging out with Ms McD for a while this afternoon, and later with Ms P. Next week I'm helping the Ps move. But most of my weekends are like this, really. I need to do something to change my routine, that's clear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The torment continues...

So now I find out that I have a bunch of stuff to fix with the Wellington County report. And it has to be done now, i.e. I probably shouldn't even be taking time out to post this, but I'm going mad, and unsure as to how I'm going to pull this off. At this point, I find it increasingly hard to give a shit, except that I have to make some pretense of fixing the problem. The difficulty lies in some inconsistent data we had (some from the county, and some from our own work), possibly combined with errors on my part in analyzing the data (but since I don't even remember what I did a couple of weeks ago, and my notes are back at the office, I really don't know if I did it right based on the data I'd used... just that the data I used isn't the data I should have used).

Fuck I hate my job.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back in the dumpster

Yeah, I'm feeling lousy. And I really shouldn't. I'm really not doing that badly, all things considered. I have friends with serious health problems. Friends with serious money problems. I don't have either of those things (so far). And yet...

See, this seems to happen every time I'm working in the field. The first couple of days I feel like utter shit, thinking about my failures that led me to be a 37 year old waste auditor when if I'd played my cards right when I was younger I'd be a university professor by now. And now that opportunity is gone. That fact was made clear to me just under five years ago, when I mused about trying to get back into graduate school, this time in science (which is where I probably should have been all along, but I began grad studies in philosophy because my marks were better in that subject at that time). My dad pointed out that by the time I could get a PhD I'd be in my forties, and competing for jobs with people in their late twenties. And as a professor and sometime department chair, my dad is well aware of the fact that departments generally want to make a long term investment, and therefore prefer to hire people who are younger than me. Which means, in lay terms, that I've blown it. So what to do now?

At the time, my dad suggested that I should try teaching high school. I've definitely considered that, but am discouraged by the fact that the one person I know who actually does it thinks that my temperament is ill-suited to that job, and I daresay she's right. I don't cope with stress that well, so that option is probably out.

I enrolled in the environmental technology programme in the hope of being able to find a job that at least justifies my existence, which is more than can be said for most of the jobs I'd done before now. But frustratingly, I'm actually a lot less happy than I was in some of the utterly meaningless call centre jobs I did in the past. Maybe it's the particular job I'm in, but the previous job I had was even worse. And doing market research is a lot like collecting welfare- you get a cheque, but don't really accomplish anything to make the world better.

I'm still checking the job boards for something in the same field, but it's getting more and more discouraging, and I have to admit that I've been looking less of late. Hardly anyone I've applied to has so much as called me. Many times I've seriously considered another career change. The most likely escape route for me would be to go into adult education, which would be a lot less stressful than teaching high school. The main thing that worries me is that it would probably be a one way trip; if I were to quit working in the environmental field, go back to school to be an adult ed teacher, and not find a job (or hate it even more than this job) I'd probably have little chance of getting back into this field even at the menial level I'm at now. So my level of desperation would have to increase to push me to make such a change at this point.

But oh well, I'll probably feel a bit less lousy later in the week; it always happens as the weekend approaches. Unfortunately, I'm looking at yet another truncated weekend, since I'm likely to be sent out to Bracebridge on Sunday evening. And if things go really badly this week it's possible (though not probable) that we might not leave till Saturday, which would not please me at all.

Monday, May 21, 2007


As planned, I drove to Hamilton to pick up the photo equipment (haven't had a detailed look yet, though) and visited my grandma and my aunt in Burlington. On coming home I got a call from CL, who is house-sitting for a friend, and taking care of said friend's two insane dogs. This particular friend is a programmer or some similar sort of high tech guru, who has her own consulting company and is looking at being able to retire in five years or so (and she's only in her forties! I hate people like that). Needless to say, she has plenty of money to spend on things like a Nintendo Wii, which CL and I spent some time playing. I suck utterly at baseball and boxing, but am tolerably good at auto racing and bowling. What neither I nor CL noticed was that while we were playing the game, one of the dogs grabbed my shoes, dragged them out into the backyard, and hid them, doing significant damage in the process (they're still wearable, but barely). Fortunately we were able to find them. I don't know; in some cultures they seem to have a much better idea of what to do with these creatures than we do (we tend to get all squeamish because they're cute and furry and all that shit). Too bad, because otherwise I could have sold the offending creature to the local Pizza Pop factory and bought a new pair of shoes with the money. But such is life.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The weekend continues apace

It's been a decent weekend so far. Yesterday I watched some of Season 6 of Trailer Park Boys with Ms McD and her friend, then went to a barbecue at CL & DL's place. Today I stayed in much of the day (it was much colder), spoke to some family and friends on the phone, and googled a friend I hadn't heard from in a while. He turned up here. Later I went out again and watched the rest of the TBP season. Tomorrow I drive to Hamilton and Burlington, to visit my grandma as well as to buy some darkroom equipment which a contractor at work has offered to sell me (very cheaply, since hardly anyone actually uses it anymore!) On Tuesday morning I leave at a ridiculously early hour and drive a ridiculously long way to sort through ridiculous amounts of garbage. Hey, it may be shit to you, but it's my bread and butter.

A brush with celebrity?

If you've been reading Whippersnapper's blog (and you should; she's really good- better than me, actually) you may recall this post in which she reports getting a hit from someone searching blogs for Russell Crowe, and wonders if it might be him. Well, not long after yesterday's post, someone running a search for Cheryl Gallant visited my blog briefly. The ISP was located in Ottawa. Could it be her, or someone who works for her? I can't say I'm that awe-struck (especially given what we already know about Ms. Gallant) but it's kind of amusing. Certainly there's not much of a parallel with Russell Crowe, except that in Romper Stomper Crowe plays the kind of person you'd expect to vote for Gallant.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Back in town again

Well, it's been a busy audit. Sadly, we're going back there next week.

Wednesday wasn't too bad; the materials were collected within Pembroke and there wasn't that much- we were done by 3 PM. On Thursday we collected over a metric ton of materials from the curbside in Petawawa. It was also very badly sorted; presumably the folks in Petawawa think that conservation is part of the dreaded peace agenda and thus something to be avoided.

On a (slightly) happier note, the new van seems to be working okay. It is much quieter and smoother than the shitmobile, though its instrument panel seems to be a bit wonky (the speedometer and oil pressure gauge jump around in a disconcerting fashion for no apparent reason). We had both vehicles, and the difference is like night and day.

The Human Sawmill's girlfriend was with us on the audit. She did a fine job, but on Friday she was feeling ill, culminating in her passing out. I imagine the bosses will be privately thinking "that's what we get for hiring a woman". It is, of course, beyond them to think of a better explanation like, say, "that's what we get for working our people too hard".

One thing that strikes me about Pembroke in particular is that it's a pretty damn desolate place. The entire city resembles a small part of the downtown of a real city; imagine downtown Kitchener, or the strip along Main Street in Winnipeg, but with smaller buildings. The same kinds of businesses dominate (pawn shops, tattoo parlours, etc). It's maybe a bit cleaner, but it looks almost deserted. And there's nothing but a few blocks of residential housing around it. Furthermore, the area is represented in Parliament by the despicable Cheryl Gallant, whose character is admirably summed up by this:

She is largely viewed as one of the strongest social conservative in the House of Commons, and is a popular figure among the Christian Right, yet has occasionally drawn the ire of opponents. In 2002, she was accused of making anti-gay remarks to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, when during a heated exchange, she kept interrupting "Ask your boyfriend" or "How's your boyfriend?" Graham's sexual orientation has been occasionally the subject of rumours, though he is married to a woman, with children. Gallant later apologized for her remarks.[2]

During the 2004 election, a controversy erupted when Gallant compared abortion to the beheading of Iraq war hostage Nick Berg.[3] The Conservative Party then announced that she was suffering from laryngitis, and after this, she did not appear at some scheduled debates. Her opponents criticized this as a move to avoid criticism of her comments.

Sounds like a real charmer, eh? Of course, her type is a dime a dozen in the federal Conservative party.

The guy from the MRF told us that two of his employees have committed suicide in the last year. I guess the combination of working in a MRF and living in Pembroke is too much for some people.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And it goes on...

So now, not only do I have to do this Pembroke audit, I also have to rewrite substantial parts of the report for a previous one. I'll be doing that in the evenings while I'm up there. This, of course, sucks the proverbial big one, but c'est la vie.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A day with the rellies

Yesterday, as intended, I drove to my grandma's for Mother's Day. Also present were my parents, my aunt, uncle, and cousin from Thunder Bay, and my aunt from Australia. It was a nice afternoon, though a little drawn out. And seeing this post makes me realize how lucky I am to have nice relatives.

Today I have to be at work in just under an hour, because it turns out that they need me in Toronto after all. So I have to get my sleep-deprived body down to the office for 6 AM, drive the shitmobile to the Big Smoke, finish the audit, drive back, then get ready for my departure for Pembroke tomorrow. Loads of fun (not!) Oh well.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Twilight of the weekend

Pretty good weekend. On Friday I had a visit from my friends from Nova Scotia, the Marketing Maestro and his lovely wife. We caught up on a few things, then yesterday I ran some errands and then watched Wait Until Dark with Ms McD. A very good thriller. After that I went to Cat Lady and Dog Lady's place, and watched some Trailer Park Boys episodes with Cat Lady (Dog Lady went to bed early). Today I'm driving to Burlington to visit my grandma, as well as my parents and my aunt from Australia (who are visiting).

Unfortunately I have to be at the office at 6 AM tomorrow to drive to Toronto for the last day of the audit. Which sucks, but I guess that's the way it goes. The rest of the week will be spent in Pembroke, which may suck as well owing to the long hours that this project is likely to entail. But oh well, that's life.

And you have to read this. The soul you save may be your own.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Finds of the week?

In today's audit we found a couple of interesting things. In one load we found three bottles (two water, one Gatorade) which were filled with a liquid that we suspect was urine (none of us, however, was curious enough to open the bottles and sniff to find out for sure). So we simply weighed them out as "household special waste" (Stewardship Ontario, being an industry body, prefers this over the more common term "household hazardous waste"; according to them industry would never sell a hazardous product to the public). In the next load we found an empty laboratory reagent bottle, labeled as benzyl benzoate. That same load also contained a number of syringes, which gives one an idea of what the reagent was probably used for.

I've slept rather poorly for the last few days; my sleep was interrupted a number of times by weird dreams. In one of these I met someone who I haven't seen in around eight years; I'm rather curious as to what has actually become of him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The shitmobile lives up to its name... again

During our lunch break today we noticed a puddle under the truck, which smelled like diesel fuel. Investigation proved that the fuel was leaking from a line. It remains to be seen how serious this problem is; the fuel wasn't dripping onto the exhaust system, at least, so no immediate fire hazard, but this really needs to be dealt with before we drive to Pembroke on Tuesday. The investigation continues.

Apparently we'll have a second vehicle for the trip, by the way. It's a large cargo van, apparently an insurance writeoff. Somehow I have a feeling that this vehicle won't be entirely trouble-free either.

It was a short day, so for the heck of it I took the TTC downtown. I didn't do much, except eat, but it was a nice change from sitting in my hotel room and surfing the net.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Two exhausting days down, three to go

The Toronto project continues. The hours haven't been totally outrageous, but for some reason I've been really bagged the last couple of days. Yesterday we found out that one of the loads we were sent last week was from the wrong place. Replacement material is supposedly going to be brought to us on Friday. Fortunately we hadn't sorted them yet; if we had, we'd have to sort the new stuff anyways. According to the Human Sawmill, the driver is the same one who screwed up several times on the winter audit (dumping some of our material before it got to us).

On a whim I picked up a copy of Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality. I'm enjoying it, though some of the material is a bit over my head. Maybe repeated readings will be necessary.

Another vibrator showed up in the trash today (a much more mundane model than the two we got in Wellington County the week before last).

Saturday, May 5, 2007


So I've decided to follow whippersnapper's advice and relocate to another provider so as to be able to add a site meter. I kind of like the new look. My old blog is still there, if you want to see my older posts.

I spent the last two days in Toronto, doing the usual crap. Today I'm going back there with Ms McD and the people she boards with, for the big pot rally at Queen's Park. Should be fun.