Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's what I do

Word of the day: im-por-tant (adjective) Of considerable influence or authority, as a person or position.

It's a very quiet day at the office today and my last day before 11 glorious days off, but I still have a full day's work to slog through. It's not so bad though; I'm putting together price estimates for 2010 for one of the magazines I work on and it's something I love.  When combined with the peacefulness at work, it's not a bad way to spend a day.

As I was putting the numbers together, I was struck by an almost overwhelming feeling of importance because the small role I play in putting out this magazine is actually kind of a big deal.  I'm looking at the costs for 2010 and preparing to send my account team estimates that run into seven figures and that's only for the manufacturing.  Making magazines ain't cheap, that I can say for sure.

It's times like this that I really love what I do because I really see not only how much I know about print production but how much the information I provide will influence decisions made by the highers-up.  I have to be sure to catch all the small things, like blow-ins or a cover split, because missing those things can make a final invoice rather unpleasant. 

I'm not trying to inflate my own importance or anything.  I just love the feeling of knowing the seemingly mundane and often repetitive things I do on a day-to-day basis really do mean something.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Of gifts and giving

Word of the day:  giv-ing (verb) To present voluntarily and without expecting compensation.

You know what's great about Christmas?  Presents.  You know what's not so great about Christmas?  Coming up with the list of presents I want.  It's not like I'm seven any more and all I want are Barbies and He-Man figures.  And since my parents are divorced, I have to come up with two exclusive lists, one for each.  The tough part is that the things I want as an almost-30-year-old are not easily broken down into the kind of things my parents like to gift. 

I had Snake Mountain as a kid; isn't it great?

What I would like is a lump-sum, pay-it-all-off payment made to my student loans; a trip somewhere warm and sunny and food-and-drink-laden; my own swanky condo; or even just the winning lottery numbers.  Thing is, my folks like getting me stuff I can open on Christmas morning (as most folks do) but I really don't need any more books or socks or tea towels or sweaters or movies.  They're both loath to the idea of just giving money (fair enough) but, in a perfect world, I would get a whole whack of gift cards.  Indigo, the LCBO, Shopper's; with gift cards for these places, I could try the expensive shampoo without breaking my own budget or buy a variety of beer just because or wait until the book I REALLY want is released. 

I figure the easiest way to train them in this way of gift-giving is to have a baby.  That way, they can be all goopy towards the kid and have someone to rip open all those gifts on Christmas morning and just give Momma (i.e. me) gift cards because they can't be bothered to think of what to get me when there are toys and tiny outfits to be bought. 

I think it's a brilliant plan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's the end of the year as we know it

Word of the day:  best (adjective) Of the highest quality, excellence, or standing.; (verb) To get the better of; defeat; beat.

As it's the end of the year, all the best-of lists are popping up.  But because it's also the end of a decade AND the end of the first decade of the 2000s, the stakes seem to be that much higher for the best-of lists.  I always read them and always feel indignation over most of the picks but I never really care beyond that.

This year, though, two things jumped out at me:  Tiger Woods as the best athlete of the decade and Nickelback as the best band of the decade.

Let's start with the latter.  So, Nickelback...WTF!?!?!

Billboard has named Nickelback the best band of the decade.  Now, I'm into music but I'm not into music (not like some people I know) but I do know a couple of things: Billboard seems to be pretty important in the whole music thing (hell, they even have their own awards) and Nickelback is absolutely horrendous.  So how the hell does something like this happen?  Well, it's because Nickelback was the band of the past decade to have the most staying power on the Billboard 100, meaning "best" was awarded to the band based on numbers and ranking power rather than on talent, musical quality, listenability or any of the things that most people think of when they think "best".  (As an aside, I feel it is necessary to point out that Nickelback hails from Alberta.  You know who else hail from Alberta?  Conservatives.  In fact, it's a Conservative province.  Has been for awhile now.  So if you vote Conservative, you're letting bands like Nickelback win.  Just saying.)

I once saw in an article about Nickelback that, even though they're bad, they're good at the whole arena-rock thing, so you can hate them all you want; they are still good at something.  You know who else is good at something?  Rush Limbaugh.  He's good at being an ignorant blowhard.  Still doesn't make it okay.

The fact remains, though: Nickelback is terrible, no matter what Billboard says.

Now, about Tiger Woods: does anyone else find it suspicious that he's names athlete of the decade (okay, so it was only by Associated Press, but still) after all the tabloid-y stuff about his shagtastic infidelity?  But that's not really my main beef.  The biggest problem I have is that he's a golfer and even though golf is a sport, it's not like he has to exert himself or anything.  I mean, he doesn't even carry his own clubs and he just has to walk from hole to hole.  It's not like he's Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt and has to move really fast or anything.  He's nowhere near like David Beckham, having to run all the time (well, when the guy's actually on the football pitch).  Lance Armstrong ranked second and he beat cancer and won the most grueling cycling race there is.  Seriously now.  Good thing there wasn't a speed walker who had cheated on his wife recently, else poor Tiger would have been demoted on the list.

So why is he the best athlete of the decade?  Apparently it's not just because he needs some kind of good press, but because he won a bunch of times.  Well, so did #3, Roger Federer, and he did it under much more difficult circumstances than Mr. Woods.  In fact, Mr. Federer has won more championships than any other male tennis player, ever.  Tiger, well, he won a bunch but there are still other players who have won more. 

But regardless what the Associated Press says, come 2010, everyone is going to remember Tiger as a cheating jerkface idiot loser and I'm going to bite my thumb at his whole "best athlete" thing.

So there.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Word of the day: pres-ent (noun) A thing presented as a gift.

The first two weeks of December always seem to fly by, only to have the remaining days of the month crawl by oh so slowly.  But it's all because of Christmas, really: getting ready at the beginning of the month then waiting and waiting and waiting for the holidays (read: not at work) to roll around so I can get out of the city for a few days, spend time with my family and shower my loved ones with gifts.

I'm pleased to say that I finished my Christmas shopping over the weekend (except for a couple bottles of wine but those can be picked up any time) but now I must wrap all those presents.  This year, I decided to make use of the plethora of magazines I have laying around my apartment and stacked by my desk at work and fashion wrapping paper from their pages.

I found that saddle-stitched magazines work best for this; once the stitches (staples) are removed there are two pages already attached, making for larger starting sheets.  With perfect-bound books, the pages have to be either ripped or cut out and then you only have one sheet.

Working at Rogers gives me access to several saddle-stitched titles so I grabbed a few copies of Hello! (well, hello Kate Middleton!), Maclean's, Profit and Canadian Business and started separating the pages.

Once I had some pages separated, I started to put them together.  (I see you, Jim Balsillie!)  I played around with the best method for this, using first scotch tape then double-sided tape but I finally settled on running a glue stick along one edge and sticking the pages together.  Easily the quickest method.  And the beauty is that, because I was going to recycle the magazines anyways, if I ripped any of the pages I could just blue bin them and start again.

Et voila!  A few of the wrapped gifts.  (Can you find Eva Longoria?)  I cheated a bit and bought gift tags from the dollar store but I'm okay with that.  It's also pretty fun to mix and match the pages to get a business-y vibe (I like the graphs) and some celebrity goodness in the wrap.  I'm looking forward to Christmas morning to see how much my mom and brother read their wrapping paper.  How often do you actually read or even notice what is on the wrapping paper?  Usually, we just look for our names on the tags and rip away, so this just makes it a bit more fun.  One of Mom's presents has a recipe for - and a picture of -  roast lamb. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Word of the day:  fill-er (noun) Journalism: Material, considered of secondary importance, used to fill out a column or page.

You know those times when there's a lot of stuff going on but it feels like there's nothing going on?  I'm kind of there.  Stuff has been happening in my life, as stuff is wont to do, but nothing has felt significant enough to justify a blog post.  But it is enough for me to share some random snippets of the stuff of my life of late.


I was vaccinated yesterday.  No H1N1 for me.  At least I hope not.  My arm hurts more than I'd really like it to.  It's the kind of dull achy pain that is just kind of there.  And, as I was putting on deodorant this morning, I couldn't lift my arm above my head.  It's pretty much isolated to my left bicep but it's still sore and it's still annoying.


There were a whole whackload of layoffs at Rogers last week.  900 people across the country, in all divisions.  Mostly middle and upper management, which is actually pretty smart.  My boss was part of the cuts and, I must say, I'm not too upset about it.  No more being micro-managed!  Thing is, if you have people who do the day-to-day work and you have people who do the executive-y work and all these people can communicate, why do you need a middle man?  The biggest shock, though, was that the editor-in-chief of Chatelaine was let go.  Her I liked and her I will miss.  But the plan is to make big cuts now so there are no cuts in 2010, so hopefully that means I'm employed for another year, at least.


I'm almost done my Christmas shopping.  I just need to pick up a couple more things for my brother and get a Secret Santa gift and I'm finito.  I'm pretty excited about this, actually.  Now I can concentrate on making wrapping paper out of old magazines.  I have an idea in my head of how to make it work but that doesn't mean it will work.  I will share, though, whether it is a success or a failure.  I've also got ideas for gift tags.  And I need to become acquainted with the awesomeness of Mod Podge (not for my Christmas craft, but for other crafty plans I have).


My beau has the sweetest cat in the world. 


I have Secret Santa coming up with my friends in a few weeks.  This time around, I wanted to up the ante with the gift-giving.  We already have some basic rules: $20 limit, buy for anyone, no booze.  So I suggested that each person buy a gift that starts with the letter of his/her's first name.  While this seemed like a brilliant idea when I suggested it, I've now discovered that gifts that start with J are not necessarily gifts that reflect my, erm, unique personality and ideals of gift-giving.  That said, I also haven't put a whole lot of effort into finding something.  Being the brilliant person I am, I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something awesome.


Otherwise, my life is the mundane thing it generally seems to be and I'm pretty much okay with that.