Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yeast Affection

I often wonder to myself if I'm cut out to be a scientist. Sometimes I can't believe what I'm doing. Othertimes I think it's really exciting and I look forward to answering some ground breaking questions.

One of the things scientists do a lot of is go and listen to other scientists talk about their work. I study yeast as a model for studying lifespan and peroxisomal division. Do you know how many people study yeast in the world? To give you an idea, I've been to several conferences this year. The one's I know of off the top of my head are the Montreal Yeast meeting, the North Eastern Yeast Meeting and the International Yeast Meeting. Inter freaking National! Yeast!

And I sit there scratching my head wondering what posesses someone to study certain things? There were two talks the other night for the Montreal Yeast Meeting. The first talk was about mating in a particular yeast strain. I slept through that one. When I woke up I asked a coworker what the second talk was about. "Iron Economy in S. Pombe (a type of yeast)." I wasn't happy. "Are you kidding me??" I couldn't believe I was going to sit around listenning to someone talk about how yeast take up iron.

But the scary part is.. I actually enjoyed the talk. Then I realized that slowly I am becoming one of them. A scientist. I remembered how excited I was to talk to some of the biologists at a conference in San Diego. It was a thrill to explain to them how peroxisomes divide. A THRILL! Do you know what a peroxisome is? Does anyone? Seriously, I think there are 5-6 scientists studying these things, and by tomorrow I will have met them all.

What is this beast called science? My attitude towards science used to be, "If you can't eat it or spend it then who really cares?" Lots of people apparently. Think about it. It's a game really. A bunch of grown men and women solving the puzzles of the universe. And the moment we cure one disease, a new one pops up to kill us. The moment we think we've found the smallest particle in the universe, someone finds a smaller one. And the more things change in the world, the more they stay the same. Robots aren't walking the streets yet... No flying cars... No one has bothered cloning me or a dinosaur. What has science brought us really? A partial explanation of how S. Pombe conserves iron. As Bart Simpson once said, "If you want results who do you go to? Your Shwarzneggers, your Stallones and to a lesser extent your Van Dammes."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Resident Racism

Always one for keeping on top of the news, here's an relatively old contreversy that has only piqued my interest recently. There's this trailer for Resident Evil 5, a video game franchise where you kill zombies. But in Resident Evil 5, they go to Africa to kill African zombies! Watch the Trailer!


So, some Black people got angry because it looks like this video game is a not so elaborate excuse to shoot Black people. I certainly think it looks racist. All its missing is a bunch of cops spraying them with firehoses. Surely someone involved in the making of this game must have said, "Mmm... Don't you think this looks awful? Don't you think some Black people might object to a White guy going to Africa to shoot and maim Black people?"

And sure enough the answer came, "Oh come on! No one will know the difference! If anyone asks, we'll just say, he's shooting zombies who happen to be Black. It's a coincidence! It's not our fault the zombie virus ended up infecting Africans! There's all kinds of disease down there! No one would object if he went to France and started shooting a bunch of white zombies!"

I guess I wouldn't... And we all saw I Am Legend. Will Smith was a solitary Black guy shooting zombies, many of whom may have been white. I just don't think they were white enough to justify this game. RE5 seems to play up some pretty racist imagery. I mean, some of those women are wearing the Aunt Jemima bandanna and everything. The zombies in I am Legend were kind of a a non-descript beige with beige clothing. We certainly couldn't affiliate them to any specific culture. They should have been wearing shirts that say "Metallica" and "Smashing Pumpkins".

And don't Africans have it hard enough with the Aids and the famine and psychotic dictators? Do we really need to create a fiction where they're afflicted with zombieism too?

Whatever the intention, I know back in the day when I used to play Halo 2 online, there was no end of racial slurs flying back and forth and that's in a game where the villains are not mobs of black guys. Imagine the consequences of this? Racist kids are going to pee their pants with delight; "Mom, this Christmas can I get that game where you gun down "N-words"?"

Jaded Mom: "Yes dear, but only if you eat your supper."

It would be funny if they tried to somehow make up for the racist content by having the character say lines that are apologetic while he's shooting the zombies:

RATATATATATA "Why did these zombies all have to be black??? WHY?? Oh, the humanity!!!!" RATATATATATATATA, "Some of my best friends are Black!!! I swear!!! I LOVE BLACK PEOPLE!!!!" RATATATATATA "I'm an equal opportunity zombie killer! I don't even notice color!!!!" RATATATATA "I"m only racist against zombies!!!" And he wears a shirt with Kofee Anan's face on it.

Sometimes I think to myself, Black people don't ask too much. Don't call us the N-word, don't make overtly racist jokes. I think we're pretty good sports about often being the first to die off in horror movies. Is it really too much to ask that they didn't make this game? Were there really no other ideas on the table? I can hear the people who made RE5 saying it now, "Yeah, it was either this or Zombies in the Hood."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Over-over-eating: Extreme dining in the 21st century

Someone was high when they whipped up this idea.


You can make reservations to eat dinner at a table that is dangling precariously from a crane. Genius! I wish I was there when they came up with it. "Yeah, then we take 22 putzes, and just hang them up there while they eat." Note the prices are not listed and reservations must be made 2-3 months in advance while they get permits from the city to hang your greedy ass up in the air. How much do you figure a meal like that would put you back? 50 K? 100K? Craziness.

Despite my manliness I find the idea frightenning. Isn't that just asking for trouble? I mean it's dangerous enough as it is, but you'll be the envy of all the chumps stuck eating food on solid ground. They'll be sending evil thoughts skyward to your table. I can see myself eating a hot dog from a street vendor or something.

Me: "They really think they're better than me, don't they? Up there eating their filet mignon and sipping the finest champagne... Wearing their fancy clothes and telling hilarious, rich-people stories!!!" Then I'd toss my half eaten hot dog at them, miss their silly floating table and weep bitterly as I watch my discarded lunch land in a pile of reeking hobos.

Imagine Paris Hilton's next birthday party. Who knows? Rusty links in the chain? I can see her inviting James Lipton and he starts getting rowdy. Jumping around, yelling and being belligerent. Then Dennis Franz makes a disparaging remark about Rosie Odonnel's sexual orientation and they start fighting. You get that crane to swinging and next thing you know you got Jack Black and Monique are singing: "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Paris Hiltoooooon.... Happy birthday to-" *SNAP* "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
And it lands on a car and explodes in a magnificent fireball. That'll end a meal real quick. Then the next day on Oprah Winfrey when a horribly mutilated Paris talks about the experience she'll say, "You know the worst part, Oprah? The steak was over cooked."

I've been expressing this a lot lately but once again I cannot help but be overwhelmed at the opulence of North American society. You hang people in the air so they can have an expensive meal? Seriously? Not to sound bitter but... what's that??? I often imagine what extra-terrestrials will think of us if they find the remains of our society. "Ah yes, and this is a crane, used to hang people in the air while they ate. We believe it helped them to digest their food."

No, it was just another way for people to quickly burn an embarassing excess of money. Of course who am I to draw the line? I think it would be cool to eat at that restaurant that was built underwater.


That's pretty extravagant. Still, my mind can't help but conjure terrifying images of a shark crashing through the glass and devouring the frantic patrons. "This wasn't on the menu!" I'd cry.

Jen told me a funny story where a man went to the revolving restaurant in montreal. He went to the bathroom and found that it didn't rotate with the rest of the restaurant. When he emerged he was so disoriented he couldn't find his table. And then there's O'Noir where you pay a little extra to eat in the dark.

It's like something out of a science fiction comedy; Restaurants with themes so contrived that it actually makes eating inconvenient, even dangerous. The sky's the limit indeed. I can imagine a restaurant that's on one giant ski, and you eat at a table that's sliding down a snowy mountainside. I'd like to eat a meal, where the table is in this transparent, temperature resistant dome floating on a bed of magma inside an active volcano on the verge of erupting. Or you take this crane idea, except you fasten everyone to their seats and hang everything upside down over a field of land mines with starving lions roaming around. Or what would you think about a restaurant that serves only seafood? Fish, lobster, crab, emperor penguins, shrimp ... I think that would be pretty good. Ah, to be wealthy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bold and the Beautiful

I remember when I was a kid, we had a strange rule in the house. We weren't allowed to kill ladybugs because my mom found them cute. Spiders however, were sentenced to immediate execution upon being spotted. Where is the justice, I ask myself? Why is one crawling arthropod deserving of death and another the recipient of mercy? It all has to do with human prejudices.

I agree, lady bugs are kind of cute. They look like little jewels. I daresay, they're beautiful. And spiders are pretty awful looking things. Hairy, eerie... gross. Lady bugs trundle along like cute old ladies. Spiders creep along with those 8 hairy legs, weaving webs all over everything. But spiders are a very important part of our ecology, devouring pests like mosquitoes. Ladybugs play their role too, but I can't remember the last time I've had a problem with aphids...

But I digress. Why do I bring this up? Because the other day I was woken up at 10am by a rustling noise. Forcing myself out of bed I went to my living room to find a squirrel on my air conditioner. I watched it for a little while. Then it scurried off to a branch on the tree in my back yard. It nibbled off a piece and then brought it back to my air conditioner. This thing was making a nest on my air-conditionner! The temerity!

So I stared at it for a while as it went about it's task, and this rodent had the balls to look right back at me, get another branch and continue building its nest. Almost like it wanted me to go away. I felt like saying, "Well, excuse me! Am I disturbing you? Would you like some help with that, Guy?" Like I'm some kind of punk for this squirrel to just give me the crook eye and start building real estate on my air conditionner? Now, sure, it's almost October, I should have taken the air conditionner down long ago, but I've been busy (see previous post). I find squirrels way too bold. They have this sense of entitlement. What other rodent can just run around willy-nilly at any time of day, right in your face!! They're not even scared of people anymore it seems.


And this is what puzzles me. A squirrel is little more than a glorified rat. You see them all over the place, eating garbage, defecating where they please, carousing... acting like proper vermin! Yet, I've never heard anyone describe a squirrel as anything but cute. They're rats with bushy tails! And yet if someone were to see a rat, they would freak out and try to kill it. If your garden variety snake had a cute flower growing out of its tail would we suddenly treat it like a little ornament of mother nature, with the right to parade around at all times of day, building nests in plain site, staring us right in the eye as if WE'RE the ones who are out of line?! As if WE'RE the ones who fall short of some squirrel imposed standard?! You know what?? F**k squirrels!!!There, I said it.

And another thing; I'm not going to treat a squirrel like it's special just because it has a bushy tail. I grabbed my Mace Windu force FX lightsaber, ignited the blade and started tapping on the window. The squirrel ran away. And then came back like 10 minutes later with another branch! This time I banged on the window harder. This seemed to dissuade him from setting up shop right outside my window. The force was strong with me.

The balls on that thing. I pray thee, to all who read this, enforce justice on all of God's creations, to the dispicably cute squirrel, to the horrificly disgusting spider. All creatures on the earth should be treated with the utmost contempt, regardless of how they look.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are you my number 7?

I'm nearing the end of my four year graduate program and soon will be known to all of you as Chris Gregg no longer but rather, Dr. Chris Gregg.

The last step of this process is to write my thesis, a process that shouldn't take to long but is... taking... too long. I don't know what it is. I love my research. I love writing. Writing about my research should be a breeze. But it isn't. There's something foreboding about knowing you have to do something that makes it so unnapealing such that almost any activity available seems more interesting. I remember in the past I have learned several songs in other languages (the theme to El Mariachi, Mas Que Nada and Life is Beautiful by M-flo). That was more interesting than say, studying for an exam. Having a thesis due has yielded similar hobbies. A few examples:

1) Writing an article about procrastination: I was making some nice figures for my thesis when it occured to me, "Why should I do something so urgent and so necessary, when I can write about not doing it?"

2) Fiction writing: Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy writing. The order of what I like to write goes, Fiction, Blog post, Thesis.

3) Cooking. I have been cooking up a storm these last few weeks. I've mastered a meal I really like that Jen made for me long ago. Spicy Ginger Shrimp with honey and coconut milk. I also decided that there must be some recipe available online to make fried chicken that tastes just like the colonel's. I found one, but my chicken didn't turn out like real KFC. I also made a Dijon chicken dish with noodles. I pronounce it Dee Jon to sound cool. I've also made pancakes several times.

4) Apple picking. Why buy cheap apples at the local grocery store when you can buy expensive apples from the most remote part of the north shore? Impractical but a lot of fun.

5) Watching Curb your Enthusiasm. I have every episode on DVD and I still can't decide if I love or hate Larry David. He's such a jerk/idiot. Sometimes it's infuriating to watch I want to hit him!! But I always get a laugh.

6) Looking for jobs. After finishing my thesis, ideally I will find a job that will provide me with much cash. Cha ching. Will I be employed as a researcher, a teacher or manager at la Belle Province?

Can you guess what job I'll end up doing! Post it on the site! In a few months you can say, "I knew Dr. Chris Gregg would end up working for the British Secret Service, not unlike James Bond."

Please visit my blogs frequently and add comment. Perhaps answering comments posted by YOU can be my #7 favourite activity to do aside from thesis writing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A mini Big Bang

So, they recently fired up the Big Bang Machine. "What is a Big Bang machine and why should I care?" you may be asking.

Well, the Big Bang Machine is a 6.4 billion Euro monstrosity that will hopefully recreate the conditions that began the universe. They're going to collide some particles, protons and then some stuff will happen, Big Bang-like stuff (or so they assume) and if they observe a particular particle called a Higg's Bozon, then they will know their theories about "the beginning" of the universe were correct. If they don't observe this particle then they were wrong about some things. And like good scientists they would be happy to be surprised. It means scientists will have more stuff to study. You should watch some of these videos they're interesting.


Why should you care? Well, with a food crisis going on in the world and the dissapearance of fossil fuels and the increase of certain diseases, people are desperate to know how the universe began. One day we'll be able to tell a starving child dying of AIDS that everything that exists came about as the result of a big explosion called the Big Bang. Certainly the child won't understand the details of what this all means. In fact, his or her most pressing question might be, "Can I PLEASE have a sandwhich?" But... who cares? As long as scientists know some stuff.

I love how knowing more about the big bang does absolutely nothing practical for me or anyone, whatsoever. I guess it's nice to know these things but that's a lot of money and there are lots of problems in the world these days. Where are the big advances in Biology and Agriculture? When is the last time someone has spent that kind of money trying to cure a disease? Of course, when we run out of food and fossil fuels, and our atmosphere is so dense with pollution we won't be able to see the sun, maybe these people can make a new universe for us to live in.

All sarcasm aside, I love physics and stuff. I just don't think this experiment is worth the expense, whatever the outcome. I mean, there's such a thing as priorities. What good that money could have done for people who are really in need. Luckily for physicists, no one has or ever will ask me for permission to build a Big Bang Machine.

That being said there are a small group of people out there who believe that the Big Bang Machine could create black holes and eventually destroy the earth. That's one way to end human suffering.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

6 pack

In the last year or so I have been working out at a gym that is appropriately named "Pump". It's where I go to pump my guns. More or less. I do a fairly lazy workout, a bit of running, I work a few muscles and after about 45 minutes I go home.

For better or worse one of the trainers there caught me doing a very simple exercise in a very bad way. He promptly upbraided me, "No, no NO! That's totally wrong. You're going to kill your d**k! do you want to have children? I have GRAND CHILDREN older than you. Trust me, I've been doing this a long time. I'm not just saying stuff for the sake of... you know, talking."

Me: "You had me at, 'I'm going to kill my d**k.'"

Surely if there's one way to get a guy's attention, it's to threaten his d**k somehow. I had one free appointment with a personal trainer so I asked him if he was free and made an appointment. The man is now 65 years old, with great grandkids. He was Mr. Canada and Mr. USA. The workout was more intense than the lackadaisacal visits to the gym that I usually indulge in. It was good fun, a great workout. He focused a lot on abs. "This exercise is for your 6-pack!" he said, "I know you young guys like to show off to the ladies with ya tight shirts."

Well, I don't know about tight shirts, but six-pack couldn't hurt anything. For the most part I was able to do lots of the exercises and got tired toward the end. He only expressed true disgust with me when I couldn't do a particular exercise that works out your triceps. Oh, man, I could barely do a few on the second lowest weight.

But that's what it's all about. I'll improve right? And hopefully with his training I will learn the proper technique, thus keeping my d**k safe and ensuring that I will have a seed that will outnumber the stars.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Bremen Town Musicians

Has anyone heard this story, the Bremen town musicians? It was one of my favourite stories as a kid. The long and short of it is, this donkey is mistreated by his masters and leaves home to go to Bremen where he would become a famous singer. Along the way he meets other mistreated animals; a dog, a cat and a rooster and they all get together and decide they're going to form a band.

The brilliance of this story is, although it's clear to the reader how awful the sound of a donkey, a cat, a rooster and a dog singing in concert would sound, the animals think they're amazing. Was their band doomed to failure? Well, fate would have it that they came to a house that was filled with robbers, and the sound of these animals was so terrible, the robbers thought the house was haunted and they fled. The animals quickly abandonned the idea of being a band and decided to spend the rest of their days in this house that was full of food.
Now there is something very prophetic about this. I mean, isn't that what the world is like today? Incidental success? Take something like American Idol. Are these singers necessarily the most amazing singers around? In my opinion, very rarely. However, they are marketable sometimes because of looks or style or something else that isn't necessarily musical. Take even William Hung. He couldn't sing at all, but he enjoyed a good year or so of fame. How did George Bush become president? Because he is an inspiring leader? No, he just talked a good talk made people afraid of terrorists. What does Paris Hilton do for anyone? Nothing! Lindsay Lohan may or may not be a good actress, but the only time we hear about her is when she's doing something terrible.

Why is it that we're not drawn to talent anymore? Just as the Bremen Town Musicians wanted to become rich and famous singers, it was initially their ability to inspire fear that prospered them. Similarly, people in the media nowadays have to manipulate our fear, our lust and sometimes our insatiable desire to mock people. Is it our destiny to be manipulated by our most base emotions?
This of course brings hope to me. I mean, if I can become succesful just by bringing out the worst in people, I'm as good as rich. It seems like only yesterday that I was provoking a waiter. He seemed to think I was implying that he couldn't speak english when I asked him to divide the bill into 3 so everyone at the table could pay seperately. The point is, I wasn't even trying then! I could say, make a television sitcom where I'm a Ninja living with my adopted daughter and a lawyer. The premise is ridiculous, but if I just make it a point to make the show as racist, lewd and offensive as possible, I'll get all the attention I need to fill my bank account with much needed money. The show will be called, My Ninja Dad.
Regardless, those animals are so darned cute. I wonder if my mom still has that book? Here's an online version of the story. I think this is a softcore version whereby the animals aren't being abused, but it's still fun.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Montreal Pride

I had an interesting conversation in the lab. Of all things some of the guys were talking about the local sports team, The Montreal Canadians otherwise known as the "Habs". I've been watching a game or two here and there so I could hopefully one day hope to hold my own in a conversation. From what one person said, "The Habs weren't playing their game... They were playing Boston's game." Then there was a lot of name dropping and zen like talks about "energy" and ... man, i have no idea. I decided to add my two cents. "Yeah, i saw the game on Saturday. They did seem to not have a lot of energy. Not to much hussle. But they have a lot of spirit, I think they're going to pull this thing off.... Ummm... Plekanec?"

One of the guys scratched his head and continued the conversation as if I had said nothing. I really don't get it. I don't get sports. I watched the game on Saturday, the names of the players don't really stick... I mean, to me they're smacking around this puck and half heartedly fighting each other. I guess it's entertaining enough. But people's passion for the sport will always baffle me. There's so much to remember, so many teams. But what really gets me is the pride that our city of Montreal feels at our success in Hockey. It really struck me when we were singing the national anthem. You know when you can feel the pride in people's voice? It was so solemn, I daresay not a single person in the Bell Center was off note. It was actually quite beautiful. And why? For a game! So we can say, "Screw you, Boston, we're good at Hockey! You may have the best universities but we have the best... Plekanetz!"

How does pride come into it? I mean, we didn't do anything. We watched people do stuff. Where's the pride in that? And while these athletes are training and risking injury to play a game, we sit back and celebrate them piously in our day to day lives; on clothing, on buildings, on the news (after talking about death and suffering overseas), on vehicles. The buses in montreal now have "Go! Canadiens Go!" on their marquees. Is 'Go' a french word now? If not it's illegal to display that publicly. And what's "Go"? Go where? And how can they be the Canadiens and the Habs??? Pick one!!!

It's not that I mind or anything. Hockey's fun enough. I just feel like a spectator when watching or listenning to the spectators and the fans. I wonder what aliens from another planet would think if they came here and saw people injuring themselves and exerting themselves for effectively no reason. They don't gain food, they don't teach, they don't help us understand anything about this crazy world we live in. And even stranger, the people around them applaud this and cheer them on AS IF they have done something. Of course, this post probably means nothing to other people. It seems as if everyone in the world is on board with the sensation that is hockey in Montreal. I'm the only one who doesn't get it.

There is one thing I'm looking forward to, though. The riot that will ensue at the end of the season! That's something i can get on board with. I mean, when cars are overturned and entire city blocks are ravaged by roving lunatics, at least people will be able to look back on the mayhem and say, "I contributed to that!" Now that to me is a basis for pride.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ain't that a B?

As I get older and grumpier things seem to bother me more. This week, I'm somewhat disgruntled with the word "brunch". Oh, that word angries up the blood. I remember when I was just a young lad, that word was fun and somewhat quirky. I remember thinking to myself, "How clever! It's a mixture between the words breakfast and lunch."

But as I grow older, fun and quirky seems to be increasingly synonymous with pretentious and contrived. I came to realize no one really eats anything between breakfast and lunch. I suspect most people only get out of bed at 10am, or 11am on a weekend, the only day working people would be able to arrange to have so called "brunch" with someone. The result? Usually two unsatisfying meals between 11am and 4pm which invariably ruin your supper. Cereal as you rush out of the house, and a panini or some crap at 3pm. I wouldn't consider either of those meals a breakfast/lunch hybrid.

Brunch is sort of a no-man's land of meals. It's what you invite someone to when you don't want to commit to a REAL meal. And oh the things that restaurants serve at brunch. I can respect a good breakfast, pancakes croissant, various meats... But why call that brunch? It's just breakfast at that point. Hamburgers and other sandwhiches seem too lunchlike to be eaten at brunch. So to get that brunch feeling people order strange omelettes with goat cheese, capers and/or some odd vegetables that you normally wouldn't keep in the house. What a sorry alternative to a proper meal... Some omelette that tries too hard to be different with it's exotic cheeses and unconventional vegetables. Can't you picture it now? With it's odd colors and odors, the stink of it filling your every breath, a suffocating cloud you can't escape... With pieces of green and red stuff in it looking like a pile of fried puke. Disgusting. And people justify its existence by giving it a super cool, hipster name like brunch. Punk kids. They should call it... Brarf.... A clever amalgumation of the words breakfast and barf.

Sincerest apologies to anyone who I've invited out to brunch recently. I'm cured of that now. From now on the only meals MastaCSG eats are Breakfast, Elevenses, Lunch, Afternoon-Tea, Supper, Desert and occasional snacks in between. But not brunch. NEVER BRUNCH!!! And to anyone who will invite me out to brunch in the near future, I will go, but I won't call it brunch and I WON'T have an omelette. If you don't like it, why don't you grow a pair, and invite me for supper or breakfast?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holla Black Guy

I really like to sing. But of course, singing in public could be misconstrued as insanity. I try to limit the amount of singing I do alone in my apartment too, for fear that someone might hear me and think I'm crazy in the coconut. But when I'm walking home especially late at night when I feel no one is around to hear me, I sing like a madman, to the top of my lungs with songs playing on my Ipod. Now, inevitably, when I'm singing like some kind of lunatic someone will appear out of nowhere and give me a funny look. At this point I'm convinced that some people in the neighourhood have even chosen to walk on the opposite side of the road, giving me a wide berth while I embarass myself.

I used to be more reserved about it, but now... It's become a new way to be intimidating. I sing, and people flee. That makes me top dog in Cote St-Luc... Somehow. I've also put it into my head that no one would mug a Black guy walking down the street singing. It would be so awkward.

Me: "Few times I been around that track, but it's not just gonna happen like that cuz I ain't no holla back girl! I ain't no holla back girl!"
Mugger: "Give me all your money!"
Me (reaching for my wallet): "... I ain't no.... Holla..."
Mugger: "Shut up!!!"
Me: "... back..."
Mugger: "...."
Me: "... girl..." :-(
Mugger: "What the #$%^&* are you singing?"
Me: "Gwen Stefani... I don't usually... It was just.. on my Ipod, I got caught up in the moment... I didn't think anyone was listenning."
Mugger: "What kind of black guy are you?"
Me: "My taste in music is eclectic. Or you might say... Ecleftic... Get it? Like that old Wyclef Album. You know he did that song with Witney Houston.""

Then I imagine the mugger would just look at me and walk away kind of bewildered and annoyed.

Anyway, I find a good song is great way to start off your day. The theme song to this old TV show, A Man Called Hawk, gets me into a good rythm to face a day of... rythmlessness as I stare into a microscope counting microscopic cells. As I walk to the bus, I sing that and it puts an extra spring in my step and my countenance becomes 26% more badass, which would bring me up to 126% badassness by the time I actually get to work.

In fact I'm quite obsessed with this song and I spend a lot of time just whistling it. So I was whistling at the bus stop, sitting down inside the shelter on the bench. I really didn't want to stop whistling even when I noticed some dude approaching the bus shelter. I really didn't want to stop grooving. I had it playing on my Ipod, I was bobbing my head and everything. I had told myself, even if he walked into the bus shelter, I would just keep whistling and bobbing my head. Surely he would be too uncomfortable to stick around for too long.

But this guy, came into the bus shelter and while I was still whistling he sat down right next to me! My whistling slowed down and I kind of looked at the guy sideways. I really didn't know who was wierder, me for whistling that 1 minute song over and over again, or him for sitting down next to someone who was emphatically whistling a theme song from an obscure 80's tv show. I kind of feel it's only polite to give someone space while they sing/whistle.

Anyway, it became far too awkward to continue whistling. I was so jaded I think I even turned off my ipod. Badassness was reduced to 0%. Way to ruin a moment random stranger. Next time I'll sing a song with some good cussing in it. That will keep people at least 3 meters away from me I figure.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Save the rod

I know I make this point a lot, but it's good to beat children. I was on the metro today when some kid was apparently swearing at his mother. The mother was furious, but sadly she was also white. The punishment for her child was reflected in her whiteness, "When we get home, you will spend five minutes in your room!"

That's a punishment? It brings me back to the days of my childhood. Swift punishment in the form of spankings set me straight early on and I was for the most part well behaved. But my youngest sister. Oh man, did she used to get some harsh spankings. I'll tell you the sign of a true disciplinarian. When you're willing to spank your kids in public, that's going the extra mile. And my dad didn't care where we were. My youngest sister used to really act up when she went out and my dad would give her a good spanking, mall or no mall. My mom would make the mistake of waiting until she got home after saturday shopping to give my little sister a good spanking. My middle sister and I would see the car pull up in front of the house, Mom furiously dragging my youngest sister up to the house. We all knew punishment was imminent. And if ever you've been around kids, you know that they enjoy watching their siblings get punished. I've seen little babies marvel at their brothers getting yelled at. It's quite a spectacle.

My dad would shake his head in dissapointment. "Why does you mom wait until she gets home?" You see, when the punishment is delayed it creates an opportunity. Now the offending child can decide whether or not it is worth a day of misbehaviour in exchange for an eventual spanking at the end of the day. Usually the answer is yes, it is worth misbehaving for the day to get a spanking later on, if misbehaving is your bag. Why? Because the punishment in spanking is the shock of it, the humiliation of it. If you know the spanking is coming, it's not much of a punishment at all. Certainly a spanking is not painful. Certainly it is not as embarassing at home as it would be in public. I mean, at home, everyone's seen and enjoyed your spankings already. It's like... a rerun. A spanking is defanged without the element of surprise.

I remember my cousin telling me with a twinkle in her eye, about how she saw a black child misbehaving in public swore at his mother. That child's punishment was swift and severe. You've never seen an ass-whoopin' like this... Upside his head... Upside his nose... It was terrible I tell you... TERRIBLE!!! But, I'm relatively certain that he strongly reconsidered swearing at his mother again.

So when I see cheesiness like a mother telling her kid, "You will eventually have to spend 5 minutes in your room." I scoff. Ridiculous. Whup that kid butt for both of your sakes. Now I've had some pretty interesting conversations with people on the subject. I hate to bring race into it but, generally speaking, non-white people agree in beatings, and white people are against it. I know chinese people get some interesting beatings with bamboo sticks and fishing rods. My dad used to use the flip flops he'd wear around the house to spank us with. Relatively painless, but effective. Belts are also classic.

I've spoken to one white woman who was passionately against beating kids. Her argument was something to the effect that beating kids screwed them up somehow and spanking kids is a relic from old-fashionned religious beliefs. The passage in the Bible goes something like, "Save the rod and spoil the child." Amen. You'll notice such people are usually suckers for barely coherent articles that say things like, "Most of the children who were spanked as kids grew up to be violent, therefore spanking produces violence."

A note about studies like this. People who write such articles are usually idiots. Why? They can't interpret data. I mean, if one kid was spanked more than another, it probably means that he was always badly behaved, not that the spanking produced bad behaviour. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except if you look at society today we can see the effects of such negligent data aquisition. "So, don't spank your kids when they misbehave, give them groovy drugs such as ritalin!"

Now that I'm about to defend my PhD, I feel I have the authority to give the diagnosis for bad behaviour; Light your child's behind on fire! Give him a beating he'll remember and he'll thank you for it when he's older. Some people say the best punishment is the one that you never have to give. I say, the best punishment is the one you only have to give ONCE! That's how dad did it... That's how ethnic people do it. And it's worked pretty well so far.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I've been coughing for months. Around the winter months I do get a persistent cough which has been diagnosed as bronchitis one year, allergies another year. The point is, aside from being very annoying, it doesn't seem to be lethal and normally goes away on its own. It is this belief that saved me hours of waiting in the doctors office for them to tell me, "Oh, you have a cough caused by some ill-defined biological event. Let's call it... Greggitis and just give you some anti-biotics."

Every year people will comment on the cough, often encouraging me to see a doctor instead of blasting out atomized mucus infected with all kinds of microbes from my throat. Normally I refuse the suggestion, but this year I got a few other symptoms to go with the cough.

I first went to the CLSC. I waited for over an hour, and finally was told there were no doctors available. I did get to see a nurse though. The nurse told me I had a cough and I could see a doctor if it didn't get better. Thanks! That assessment was well worth the wait.

A month later, this passed Friday, I went to the Concordia Health center at the downtown campus. They have a walk-in clinic. I go downtown, take a number, see a receptionist and I'm told there's an hour wait. I finally see the doctor and hour and a half later and he basically guesses what's wrong with me. "Well, it's not bronchitis. USUALLY a cough like that might be caused by streptococcus. Normally I would take a mucus sample but it's Friday so... I'll just prescribe some anti-biotics." It's Friday?!? Have I been in the waiting room that long? Even so, whatever disease I have doesn't really care if it's Friday or not. What if you guess wrong doc?

Honestly, it's better than a kick in the pants at this point. I took the prescription and went to the pharmacy. I love the old myth that pharmacists can read a doctor's cryptic handwriting. Why do I say myth? Because I went there, showed them the prescription and the pharmacist there concluded that the doctor hadn't even signed the paper! I looked at it and said, "Isn't this slightly curved line his signature?" The woman said, "No, that's not a signature. Did you go to the Concordia Health Center? Who was the doctor you saw?" I couldn't remember his name. Well, remember would imply that he had given me his name, which he hadn't. This then resulted in an awkward situation of me describing the doctor who I went to see. "He was asian... either chinese or vietnamese...."

Clearly it was Friday and they weren't going to argue the point. So they made me a file and after about 10 minutes told me they didn't have the anti-biotic that was prescribed. Makes sense. Why would a pharmacy have antibiotics? I'd have to go somewhere else. But I'd make sure I got the doctor to make his signature more obvious. So I went back to the clinic. I didn't bother taking a number and just went directly to one of the receptionists. "Yeah, they said the doctor didn't sign this."

The receptionist was in a bad mood because apparently the clinic is busy on Fridays. I just look at her sitting there with a scowl. Poor lady. Life is so unfair, isn't it? There are sick people coming in and you have to do precisely what you were paid to do. So naturally she started to crab at me. "You'll have to take a number, sir."

As if I hadn't waited long enough in the waiting room to see the doctor in the first place, gone from there to the pharmacy and back just to get his signature. "No.... There will be no number taking. I've spent the better part of the day trying to get some antibiotics All I need is for the doctor to sign this paper that he should have signed in the first place and I'll be on my way."

She looks at the paper. "He did sign this!" I smiled, finally some progress, "That's what I said! Perhaps we can go to the pharmacy together and discuss with a pharmacist whether or not the doctor has in fact signed this paper."

She was getting very agitated, "I'm sorry Sir, it's Friday, and I'm stressed, and there's people here and you'll have to take a number."

"You want a number? Here's a number. 5... As in 5 seconds before I tear this motha f*#$@# down!!!" Yup, it was time for some angry Black man stuff, on the last day of Black History Month no less! How appropriate. I was about to get ethnic when a women who seemed a lot busier than the cranky receptionist accomadated me (politely, who would have figured?) and got the doctor to put a little stamp on the prescription with a legible version of his name. It took about 10 seconds. The cranky receptionist got that look on her face where you could tell she resented having the wind taken out of her sails. Like the woman who helped me went over her head or something. She looked like, "When that b**ch gives people excellent service, it makes me look bad."

So I go to a pharmacy, they make me a file. Two of them start arguing over what a particular doctor's name is on a prescription, I'm not kidding. Then more waiting. A pharmacist approaches me, "Mr. Gregg?" She's holding a huge bottle. "So, you should take these antibiotics twice a day for 3 months."

I raised an eyebrow, "3 months? That's... strange."
Her: "Yes. And the prescription is renewable 3 times."
Me: "And what exactly did the doctor say I have? That zombie virus from Resident Evil?"

The woman finally decided to stop and think for a moment. I could see the gears turning in her head. "Now let me think. Have I ever prescribed so many antibiotics before? What will happen if someone takes antibiotics for 1/4 of a year? Think back to pharmaceutical school. Ah yes... One day marijuana will be legal. It makes the pain go away. My hands are huge."

Lady! Focus! Snapping out of her drug induced reverie, the woman finally realized she had misread something and gave me the correct amount of pills to be taken for 1 week and not the previously prescribed 12 weeks. Her excuse, "Yes, his handwriting is difficult to read."

And it was Friday. Well thank goodness your incompetence only extends to dealing over the counter drugs, many of them potential hazardous to a human being's health. I hope I never have to have surgery on Friday. What if I hadn't said anything? And then people wonder why I don't like seeing doctors. The hours that I spent just to get some anti-biotics, talking to dozens of people who really, really don't care. They're just going through the motions of getting people in and out of their lives as fast as possible. Is that a consequence of free health care? I dare not speculate.

You know, I'm one of the few people who enjoys going to the dentist. Man, I went to the dentist the other day, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. Dentists are usually funny, and they get the job done! My teeth were sparkling like a rapper's bling after he was done. And he was super excited about the thing he used to clean my teeth. "This is like a sandblaster. It contains a saline solution with baking soda. It's really efficient and reaches plases the other rubber polishers can't. It makes other polishing techniques look like a joke!" He kind of looked like William Stryker from X-men 2. He was funny and enthusiastic... A truly excellent service.

Contrast that with medical doctors? "You have a cough? Whatever... Antibiotics might help. If not I don't know what the f**k you have anyway. Maybe you have a cough.... If antibiotics fail... Meh..." Lazily scrapes a pen across a piece of paper.

Me:"Excuse me doctor are you sure you've signed this?"
Doctor: "I may have signed it. I'm a doctor not a calligraphist. Now please leave. It's midterm time and there's a bunch of students in the waiting room who want to defer exams and they can't do it without my pseudo-signature on a piece of paper."

Oh well, at least I seem to be getting better... I mean, I'm still coughing but... The doctor really gave it his best guess. I'm sure everything will be okay. I exagerate to vent my frustration, but the doctor was a nice guy and whatever... I can only imagine after a day of seeing students with minor to non-existant symptoms you must get pretty jaded. I know doctors work hard in many cases and it's probably a thankless job just like most jobs. I'd also like to point out that I dealt with 4 receptionists that day and 3 of them were really nice. I just never feel justified going to doctors. It's almost like I'm bothering them or something. Like they want some more challenging diseases to diagnose. "A cough? You're a Pussy... I'm not even going to diagnose this, there are people with real problems. Let me fill out a prescription. How many 'S's in placebo?"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Facebook Woes

Facebook can be a dangerous place. I added an application the other day. Buy and sell your friends. It seemed harmless enough. Actually I guess it didn't. I was reluctant at first, but eventually decided, "What could possibly go wrong?" Seemed like a fun idea, you could barter your friends for virtual money. Shortly after adding it, I lost interest in it and it was forgotten with all the other unused Facebook applications that make their way to the bottom of my page.

One morning I received email notification that I had been bought for 561$! That seemed like good enough news. Which one of my friends thought I would be a worthy purchase? Hopefully a good looking lady, maybe Jen who has a history of adorning my wall with virtual tokens of her affection.

Alas, my buyer was none other than Travis Moon. Who the bloody hell is Travis Moon, you may be asking? That's what I asked. I went to the profile of this person, and their profile picture was that of some anime character. It may have been sailor moon. But at the time it didn't concern me. What did concern me was the individual in question, a stranger interested in anime, was interested in both females AND males. Some random gay guy bought me!!! For 561 virtual dollars no less!

Of all the lousy luck. Not that I'm homophobic or anything. Gay people just scare me is all. You might say I have a phobia of homosexuals. (I kid, I kid. Some of my best friends are gay! (shout out to all my gay peeps!!! Simon Bourque HOLLA!! (I kid again))).

But this facebook incident is totally innapropriate! And somewhat insulting. 561 dollars? I'm worth at least 5K. What if I were to go online and virtually buy some random woman cuz I thought she was hot? I'd be a stalker and a pervert and this ,that and the other! I wouldn't be able to get away with purchasing hot woman strangers! Why should gay men have that prividledge? It's a total double standard. The application should have come with a warning. "Warning: You could be purchased by a man interested in having carnal relations with other men."

Needless to say I removed the application immediately, but the question still remains. How many people are out there on facebook getting an eyefull of MastaCSG? And what are their intentions? And if their intentions are unwholesome, is it really so much to ask that I get purchased by Zoe Saldana? Or Jessic.. Jen Lee? Oh, the internet. Where else could I be subjected to such a bizarre situation? Aside from prison.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lying using Body Language

I ran a little experiment the other day at the bus stop. I noticed across the street that there's a little girl who waits in her apartment building until the bus comes. But she really comes out at the exact second that the bus comes. Knowing that this bus isn't necessarily a bus that comes the exact minute that it's supposed to I wondered to myself how it is that she knows exactly when to walk out of her apartment building, since she is unable to see the bus coming.

There was only one possible way she could do this. She must actually observe the body language of the people, ie me, waiting at the bus stop. When we begin to shuffle around and get our bags together she knows it's time to catch the bus. Smart kid. While we're freezing our butts off, she's inside warm, safe and comfortable.

So I tested my theory. One day I was the only one at the bus stop. And yes, she had been waiting inside for about 5 minutes. I was waiting with my hands crossed in front of me. I saw the bus coming and thought to myself, "Play it cool Chris. Don't flinch a muscle." The bus drew nearer and nearer, the girl apparently oblivious to its approach. A few seconds before it reached the stop I grabbed my bag and got on. The girl then ran outside, but alas it was too late. The bus driver, like all bus drivers did not have pity on the young lady, despite the rather cold weather. Though she looked at the man with despair in her eyes, he had no intention of missing this green light. She kind of pulled herself together and acted like it didn't matter, salvaging a few shreds of dignity from the completely avoidable situation. We drove off, and she was left there.

Another giant leap for science. Hypothesis confirmed. This morning, I saw her at the bus stop, bright and early OUTSIDE of her building with the rest of the scum. At least the weather was nice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Bachelor's Life

I think it's been about two year's since I've been living on my own. I must say it's been pretty sweet so far. Oh the joy's of being a swinging bachelor.

I remember what it was like living with family. When I would go to the kitchen to have some cookies, I would have to be considerate of others and have 3 or maximum four. Since moving out on my own, there is no limit. I open up the bag and eat those bad boys right out of the package. Recently, I've even decided that it's extremely cool to put a layer of vanilla icing on Chips Ahoy, before eating them... and sometimes after. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and have potatoe chips, chips ahoy with icing and milk. And like most bachelor's I realize there's nothing wrong with having eggs and toast for supper. And if dinner comes out of a can every once in a while, it may be ghetto, but it normally saves me the trouble of cooking. I mean, who am I trying to impress? The goal is to maximize eating time, and minimize the time I spend being productive.

Of course, being a bachelor isn't all cookies and cream. I have to clean things on occasion. Oh that dreaded day when I realize I'm down to my last pair of underwear. On rare occasions it will mean that I will go and buy more underwear. But more often, it actually means I will have to do laundry. Of course I do it in a stupid man way, dumping colors and whites all into the same batch. What do I look like? Someone who's not lazy? I'm convinced that the whole concept of seperating your laundry was invented by racists. The technique has served me well thus far except on one occasion when I really decided to push it and put in some burgundy bath mats with my whites. That was easily one of the stupidest things I've ever done in my life, and this coming from someone who has mixed coca-cola and milk! Yes, living on my own means I can mix that which I have been told is unmixable, since I was a kid. Whites and colors! Coke and Milk! Nuts and Gum! Grapefruit and Cheese! The sky's the limit!

Ah yes, wandering around my "crib" (I often call my apartment my "crib") wearing little more than a housecoat, slippers, jogging pants, a t-shirt and that sweater thing that's so comfortable, singing whatever song comes to mind. There are no parents around, so I don't have to watch myself when I'm gettting really into a rap song. I rap the curse words too! Whatever is base and derogatory is not only acceptable but almost required at that point.

I'm the king of the land

I eat dinner that's been canned!

And if you don't like it!

I don't give a (Look around to make sure no one is watching).... DAMN!!!

I watch whatever i want on tv. You know what that means... You know... when it's late at night? 10pm? That's right, Sabrina the Teenage Witch on YTV. No one around to judge me. Or I could pop in a dvd from my vast, vast VAST collection of cartoons. vast...

It occurs to me that this bachelor life of mine is something akin to Peter Pan and the Lost boys. All of this freedom and the most rebellious thing I do is watch an episode of star trek at 3am... and usually fall asleep. Or photoshop my face into the poster for A Bug's life.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the life of MastaCSG. For some of you it may have been frightenning, for others it may become something for you to strive toward. But if ever you find yourself at home wondering, "I wonder what Chris is up to?" you now have the appropriate imagery to jump to whatever conclusions you find least disturbing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not so fun wall

Facebook used to be the bees knees. Now, I get as much junk there as I do on my email accounts. The thing that is most frustrating about facebook is I don't know if people send me these things conciously or just in passing. Apparently, a friend of mine gave me a hug at some point. Was I ACTUALLY hugged? Or was it an accident, something that occured while my friend was adding an application? Or was it some kind of MASS hug. I see here that I have the option to "hug everyone". What's the point? So impersonal.

The really sad part is, I was originally kind of happy to have received a hug before I realized that it may have just been some kind of collateral affection incurred by the click of a single button. Then I wonder if I offend people by not responding. I dont' want to respond to affection that may not have been specifically intended for me. Someone else apparently "punched me in the face". What a load of garbage.

But among the things I refuse to take part in are these mass bounty hunter projects we get on the internet. "My friend has gone missing, please forward this email and maybe we'll find her." WHAT??? Who am I? Boba F**king Fett? If someone is missing, grab a cutlass, a whip, some binoculars, one of those funny hats with the alligator teeth on them, and go look for them. I'll even go with you. But a half assed email campaign demeans us all. Why? Mainly because I can't take anything I receive on my Fun Wall seriously. I mean... "My best friend went missing... If you have any heart, please forward this to everyone and we'll have a chance to find her." Beneath that I receieved a "Friendship Beer," from someone I never talk to, and above that I have a forward from someone saying if I forward there message, some starving kid will get 10 Euro.

You know how to get 10 Euro's to a starving kid in Africa? You send them 10 Euro's. It's actually surprisingly easy and RARELY has anything to do with spamming your friends and aquaintances. And if you had the time to take a picture of some meandering broad, why didn't you take the opportunity to shackle her down then and there? And how do I know these forwards are legit and not something akin to the many, "If you forward this 1 million times Bill Gates will give you his hard earned money, cuz he's stupid like dat!"

It's become far too easy to "interact" with people and not have to lift a finger. If you want to give me a hug, find me and hug me. If you want to give to charity, give to charity. If your friend has gone missing, then call me up and say, "My friend is missing... tonight... WE HUNT!!!" But I'm getting too old and jaded to sift out actual relevant concern from run of the mill time wasting. I want YOU to interact with me in the real world. If you have a friend to find, let's fine her. If there are hugs, and punches to be exchanged, let's rumble. Charity is nice, but it involves giving stuff, money or time... But please use the funwall/superwall sparingly, and only for BS that you're assuming I won't read.