Why Would Anybody Want That?

Today I officially lost my faith in humanity and learned a valuable lesson at the same time. People will steal absolutely anything, no matter how much actual value it happens to have.

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the last couple days so being the helpful soul that she is my girlfriend was making the trips up and down the stairs to do my laundry so I didn’t have to. I intended to do it myself but I quickly realized that any time I went either up or down the stairs of the building my head would start spinning and I would pretty much keel over from dizziness. But enough about me and my wining, back to the story.

Now I’m what you might call a veteran on the apartment laundry scene. For the better part of 5 years I’ve been washing my clothing in various apartment settings in an effort to promote cleanliness in my personal life and to set an example for those who don’t always have the same ideals and higenic standards that I try to set forth for myself to live by.

Through all of my victories and struggles one thing has stayed constant, my trusty basket. Bought from a store who’s name escapes me sometime in mid 1999, my laundry basket, affectionately known to all who loved him as My Laundry Basket has remained by my side, proudly carrying my dirty clothes to meet their eventual cleansing and then helping me bring them back to my place of residence with that very same honour and dignity where they would then be nicely folded and returned to their resting places. For 5 years My Laundry Basket and I traveled the stairwells and elevators of Ontario together becoming friends and more than that, brothers in house work. We shared about as much as a man and an inanimate object can share, I mean come on, he saw all my underwear and everything. But my point is that the 2 of us were inseparable, that is until today.

Like I mentioned previously, my trusty girlfriend was on this day charged with the task of accompanying My Laundry Basket on it’s humanitarian mission since I was on the disabled list. This has happened before and all parties had always returned unharmed, proving to me that they could be trusted to work together as a team, which is why I had no reservations about them doing so on this day.

I think it was about 1:41 in the afternoon when the unthinkable happened. The love of my life, having gone to place clothes in the dryer came rushing into our home in an obvious panic.

“Your basket is gone,” she said, “somebody took it.”

The words cut me like a knife. The sense of loss was immediate, so much so that against my better judgment I decided to brave the stairs once again in a heroic bid to rescue My Laundry Basket from who knows what horrible fate. This can’t possibly be happening, I thought as I walked. First of all, who would want a 5-year-old laundry basket, especially one that belonged to a complete stranger? Think about it, who knows what kind of horrors may have sat in the bottom of that thing?

When I reached the laundry room my worst fears were confirmed, the basket was gone. What was once a simple pay to wash laundry room had transformed into an abduction scene right before my very eyes. But as much as the pain of being separated from something that was almost family was eating at me, I had to laugh. I had to laugh at the patheticism of the sad individual who would feel the need to take somebody’s laundry basket rather than just going out and dropping 4 bucks on one of his own like I now have to do thanks to his or her lack of consideration and respect for a fellow tenant.

When the laughter finally subsided I also made a vow to myself, and to my dearly departed friend. If ever I’m down in the depths of our building washing my clothes and I happen to see my old friend sitting there, I’m taking him back. Call it vigilanty justice, call it pettiness, call it what you will, just don’t call it theft. For as the great Sam Roberts says in
the number 2 song of the year,
“It’s alright to get caught stealing back what you’ve lost.”

So goodbye to you my trusted friend, you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. For though there will be other baskets, you’ll always be my first.

It’s Out Of My Hands

Here’s some cool guest material submitted by our good friend Carin, some time contributor, more frequent commenter. Enjoy, and feel free to send me things too, just make sure they’re quality, because Carin’s stuff when she decides to write is pretty good, as you’re about to see.

It’s out of my hands!

If you are a student in Ontario, and you get money from OSAP, or the Ontario Student Assistance Program, this phrase will sound very, almost oddly, familiar to you. Basically, for those who don’t have to deal with this atrocity, OSAP is a government-run student loan program. You apply, and they run what you tell them through some mystical set of calculations to decide how much help they’re gonna give you. Sounds good? Well in theory, it does, until you realize the government is running this.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the money I receive, whenever they decide I’m poor enough to receive it, which seems to be at random. I swear that, instead of a set of mystical calculations that decide applicants’ fates, it’s a set of chimps that are scared shitless and given pointers. Then whoever they point at in the pile gets money. But that’s not even my biggest problem with OSAP. The government can’t be understood, we just have to face it and deal with it when they are particularly asinine about it.

This is what I have a major problem with. A couple of years ago, the government took an already inefficient system and subjected it to further butchering. Before this point, you applied, then OSAP granted you your loan and you decide which bank was supposed to hold the money. Then, although the government was slow as molasses, it was simple. You knew the bank was separate from the government and the government was separate from the bank. You knew where to go when you had a problem at a certain stage. The government if you felt you didn’t get enough, the bank to find out why it wasn’t in your account. Plus, even though the government was slow, the banks were usually pretty fast, and since multiple banks did this stuff, they split the load so they weren’t so overwhelmed.

Then, up in some government office, a twinkling light went off in someone’s head. This was such an unusual occurrence that much fanfare was made of it. Someone got an idea! They thought, “Let’s get OSAP centralized!” Now what should that mean to you? One place, right? One place to direct all your queries? One place that should have all necessary records and can help you figure out where the error is, right? Well that wasn’t the government’s idea. To make things worse, they called this place the National Student Loan Centre. Now what does that tell you? The same things as I mentioned above about the information being centralized? Or am I crazy? I don’t know which scenario I want more to be true.

Anyway, this is the process you go through now. You apply online, which is enough of a bitch. If you really don’t want to apply online, you can pay them 10 bucks for a paper form, which is getting even harder to do now. Ten bucks? Come on, it’s not that much paper. At the university’s inflated rates for photocopying, it would have to be 100 pages, and there’s no way it is. I wouldn’t even mind applying online if it sped things along, but it takes the same plodding pace as if I filled it out and mailed it.

Then you get a letter from the government saying that either the scared chimp pointed at you and you got money, or the chimp crapped on your application, rendering it unreadable, whatever the case may be. If you’re lucky enough to get pointed at, then you have to go pick up your application papers at your school at the beginning of the year. Now, you’d think, great! You pick them up and off we go. A couple days later, and woohoo, the cash has arrived and you’re all good for the semester. No no no. That only happens in a perfect world. Here’s what happens in this one.

First of all, the people handing out the papers don’t even get that much training from the powers that be. I sort of feel sorry for them, because all they do all day is deal with pissed off student after pissed off student, and have to smile and nod and pretend that everything is going to be fine even though they don’t have a flaming clue because all they’ve been trained to do is, check the social insurance number, find the loan certificate that matches, hand loan certificate to pissed off student, move said student along. Repeat.

Then you deal with another set of people across the hall who are solely responsible for processing these papers. It seems the first people are employed by the Ontario government, and these people are employed by the national student loan centre. Again, these people are by no means experts in this stuff, nor are they connected to the system in any permanent way. They’re just sort of given basic training and a few key lines that should get them along. You give them your papers and a voided cheque and they tell you to chill out and allow at least a week for them to process your loan and another few days for the money to actually arrive in your account. I think I feel more sorry for these people, because at this point if the student isn’t annoyed already, they will become so after being told they may have to wait up to two weeks for their money. They will become pissed off very, very quickly.

And this is where the fun really starts. You see, these people don’t arrive on campus until the beginning of each semester, which is coincidentally not far from when your tuition comes due. So, if you arrive on the very first day to get your stuff in and everything goes off without a hitch, then you might get your money before the university wants it. But not everyone can get it done the first day, and there are always bound to be problems with some people’s loans being processed that are nobody’s fault. So you’re told to just whistle a happy tune for two weeks, and you are asked that, if your cheque bounces, “do you have overdraft protection?” Like we should have to pay for the slowness of the system. The university, or OSAP, should be reimbursing us god damn it! We shouldn’t be thrown thousands of dollars in debt with no recourse because of these inefficiencies!

So you wait…and you wait…and you hope…and the fateful day of your tuition coming due comes closer. Can’t you just hear the music from Jaws? Worried, understandably so, you pick up the phone and call the university and ask if they can hold onto your cheque a couple days because your OSAP isn’t in your account. They tell you that they can’t do that, it’s out of their hands, that the cabinet is locked, and that no one has the authorization to open it and take out your cheque. Translation? We’re just too damned lazy to get off our asses and look for your one cheque. We’d rather twiddle our thumbs and sip a double double.

My ass no one has the authorization to open the cabinet. Someone sure does when it’s cashing day. Is he barred from university contact any other day of the year? Then they tell you, “you’ll have to call the OSAP department.” So you do. They tell you, “sorry, it’s out of our hands. If it’s been processed, we don’t know where it is. You’ll have to call the National Student Loan Centre and see what they say.” So you call them and they tell you what day they sent it to your bank, but they have no idea when it will be in your account because after they process it, guess what they’re going to say! Come on! You can do this! If you guessed, it’s out of their hands, again you win a big fat bag of nothing. What? What kind of money-handling is that? If I were to send them some money, they would expect me to know exactly when it would appear on their desk, no ifs, ands, or buts about it! Anyway, during this crazy call, you notice what seems to be an error on your account, so you ask them to verify how much loan money you were given this year. Their response? This too is out of their hands, and that you’re supposed to call some automated OSAP line run by the government of Ontario that you have to pay to call. You! have to pay to not have a chance to talk to any human! You! have to pay to be read some figures over a phone! Ooo, please afford me the privilege. At this point, you’re livid I’m sure. I know I was. If I wasn’t at a public phone, the scene would not have been pretty.

And I’m sure I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not. Because the government was in no way ready to be overwhelmed by a problem they created themselves, that is pushing double the amount of students out of high school at once, the university had to actually extend the tuition deadline because they were getting flooded with pleas to hold onto tuition cheques due to lack of OSAP. Isn’t this an absolute farce? Isn’t it ridiculous that, in addition to creating the double cohort problem themselves, they created their own inefficient system by trying lamely to be efficient? Any dumbass can figure out why this system isn’t working. More applications go to less places, staffed by less people to save the government money, so processing time is longer. Why did they have to do that? If it wasn’t broke, which I don’t think it was, why did they have to try and fix it?

The only thing I can figure out is that the government gets money from the processing of these loans. I’ve figured out, through all these struggles, that the only thing that’s centralized is the disbursement of the loans. The scared chimps are still kept very separated from this central place. It’s not like I like the banks having more money, but hell, they were doing
a better job, or at least it seemed that way to me, so why not just give it back to them? The suckiest part of this whole thing is that the powers that be are kept even more well-shielded by poorly-trained workers and puppets up in the student finance department of each university and college. So along with the inefficiency of it all, you can’t get anywhere!

So what’s the best way to end this complicated mess? I guess I hope this makes someone somewhere feel better about what they’re going through, and lets them know they’re not alone. And hey, maybe it’ll save someone a few rounds of governmental ping pong. So to everyone battling this system, good luck dealing with this load of crap, good luck in school, and good luck finding a well-paying job so you can tell OSAP where to stick their loan program and avoid this mess altogether!
——–
Check Out My Website!

Maybe This Is Matt’s University

This is an actual Spam email sent to an actual person. If you’ve ever given even a second of thought to getting one of those quick and easy degrees, you might want to think again after reading this. Keep in mind, I have changed nothing about this message other than removing the list of people that it was sent to.

From: Christi Meadows <
eiybonddxizffj@sk.ca>

Reply-To: Christi Meadows <
itukltxkcar@sk.ca>

Subject: Hey How are you doing
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 11:27:16 -0600

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No
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to
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Anybody want to take a crack at an English translation?

Gretzky VS Armstrong

Somebody left this on the comment board and it seems like it’s worth a bit of thought here. By the way, if you want to do a similar thing and leave random topic suggestions, feel free. Just don’t get all pissed off if it either takes a long time for us to use them or we don’t end up using them at all, we’ve got lives too and there are some things we just don’t have any thoughts on.

here’s a good topic for discussion…over on espn they;ve got a poll rating the top 25 athletes in the past 25 yrs…. Gretzky doesn’t top any of the writers
lists, Lance Armstrong does however.
Anonymous | 01.16.04 – 7:27 pm |

After thinking about it for a couple of minutes the reason for this seems pretty simple. Actually there are a couple of reasons. For one thing ESPN is a mostly American organization and as much as things have changed over the last few years, hockey doesn’t have the same level of acceptance in America as it does here in Canada. Let’s face it, the States might have most of the teams in the NHL and the league might be run out of New York but hockey at it’s core is a truly Canadian game. A lot of people actually think that it’s our national sport, and for good reason. Our official national sport is lacrosse, or so I’m told but the way that a great deal of Canadians live and breathe the stuff, hockey might as well be considered our game. Hockey to us is like football to America. It’s the sport that people get together and talk about more than any other. It’s the highest rated sport on TV here. A lot of our kids play it. Hockey is a very important part of Canadian culture. Now having said that it should be a lot clearer why Gretzky, even though he was arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen, didn’t make tops on anybody’s list. He was the best in a sport that Americans, including I’m assuming most of the writers doing the selecting don’t really care all that much about or know that much about. It’s easy to pass a guy over in your personal rankings if you have no idea what he accomplished or better yet simply don’t care.

But more than that, Gretzky was simply really good at what he did while Lance Armstrong has a story attached to him. Armstrong came back from cancer that could have easily killed him to become the most dominant force in cycling. To a lot of people, he’s a hero, and for good reason. And not only is he a hero, he’s an American hero and let’s not forget where a lot of these writers are from and where the company they’re working for is based. Sure cycling isn’t among anybody’s favourite sports, at least nobody I’ve talked to but Armstrong is somebody that’s easy to get behind and easy to cheer for. Everybody wanted to see him beat the odds and when he actually did it, he earned all of the praise he got. But beyond that, he earned a place in a lot of people’s hearts for what he had done and the significance of it. Armstrong taking top honours over Wayne Gretzky makes perfect sense, at least from where I sit. And don’t forget, all of these rankings are purely opinion to begin with and no opinion is ever wrong unless there are factual errors in it.

Ok, comment away.

Mad Cow, Very Very Mad Cow

Lately we’ve been hearing so much in the media about Mad Cow Disease that I thought it was time to get a different perspective on the situation and again, we here at Vomit Comet World HQ have come through. If you want to hear the lowdown on BSE right from the source, all you have to do is
click here.
Remember to turn up your sound and watch out for profanity, because this cow isn’t holding anything back! Why should he, he’s mad for crying out loud!

Tenants Roasting On An Open Fire

Well it’s certainly been an interesting night here in the land of Steve, and for all the wrong reasons.

It’s about 10 PM and my girlfriend and I are just doing our normal nightly stuff. We’re on our computers checking our email, that sort of thing. We eventually migrate out to the living room to watch the news and just sort of wind down the day. The main topic of our conversation keeps drifting back to the assholes in our building who it seemed were for some unknown reason painting their place at such a stupid time of night and how much it was going to suck to have to sleep in paint fume heaven. As we talk, the smell gets stronger and stronger, and starts to smell less and less like paint. Curious to be sure, but I’m not thinking much of it up to now. Then the fire alarms go off and we’re suddenly evacuating the building. It seems that one of the bottom floor apartments somehow caught fire and everybody has to get the fuck out of the place like right now, no waiting! I can’t even begin to describe to you on how many levels this completely and profoundly sucks. First of all, according to the handy dandy temperature thingie on my computer, it is exactly -21.6 degrees celcius outside right now. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it pretty much boils down to it’s fucking cold and now I’ve gotta stand in it for an as yet undetermined amount of time and possibly catch frost bite and lose a limb or 2. But more than that, it sucks because well, the fucking building’s on fire! You know, the building with my house in it. My house, pretty much everything I own, you know, all the stuff that defines who I am.

Things actually turned out pretty well though, all things considered. The fire didn’t end up being as serious as it could have been thanks to somebody’s quick thinking in calling the fire department right away. It was contained to 1 apartment and we only had to be outside for about an hour and a half or so. The city even eventually came around with a nice warm city bus for all of us to sit in. We were all able to get back in before midnight which was nice since I had visions of having to sleep on the bus or at some place that they’d have to open up for all the new homeless people. The sucky thing now is that the whole building smells like a big camp fire and I have this ungodly craving for a hotdog.

More later, assuming I still have a house by then.

Voting Update

Well, if you’ve been over to Salty Ham this morning (AND YOU’D BETTER HAVE!) you’ll notice some slight changes to the order of leaders in the pole that they have up. If you haven’t noticed you’re a tool and I have nothing to say to you.

It seems that Wes is now DESTROYING everyone in site (or should i say on site… heh? heh?). But I mean he must be cheating if he’s winning, right? That seems to be the mentality here. So I assume Wes is cheating and I am the rightful leader despite being far far behind according to that cool little bar graph thing.

Public Service Announcement From Your Friends At VomitComet

In these difficult times of poor visibility, bad road conditions and heavy traffic in the GTA it is necessary to keep a steady state of mind. Understand that, as upset as you are, as frustrated as you are, as in a hurry as you are on that highway to get to work… so is every other person in every other car that surrounds you.

That guy that just pulled in to your lane just ahead of you without signalling, just about causing an accident so he can say he was off the highway 15 seconds before you were is in just as big of a rush as you to get to work. It’s important to find techniques for dealing with these frustrations. We here at Vomit Comet are here to help.

When you feel the slightest inkling, the slightest twinge, even the slightest desire to stick your head out the window and flip the guy off while screaming prophanities regarding his mother’s carriage please remember all that we’ve said. That people are in the same rush as you. We here at Vomit Comet suggest that when these urges rush over you you allow them to take over. I mean… the guy just cut you off, right?

Get that window open good and wide, get your head as far out there as possible so this prick can hear you and let him know what you think, speak of your intimate goings-on with his significant other, speak of your opinions of his father, speak of the unproved truth that the people he calls parents are actually so, give a reach back and hurl that ice scraper in your back seat down and see if you can help chip some ice off of his windshield.

These are all very healthy things to help you relieve stress. I mean, you don’t know the guy, right? So what harm could it possibly do? This way you’ll be in a great mood and won’t take out your frustrations on your friends and co-workers. There’s nothing wrong with having complete strangers feel the wrath of your road rage.

Remember. We here at VomitComet Co. are here for you. These helpful tips should help us all live a better life.

Take Care of Yourselves… And Those You Know And To Hell With Everyone Else.

Salty Music Is Kickin

If you wanted to see Matt throw up a music review, now is your chance. He said he would and true to his word, he did it, and now it’s here for you to see since you’re hero and mine, that would be me, went in and pushed a couple of buttons to make it all public since that’s like my job and stuff. So did Matt like the album? The answer to this burning question can be found
here.

And don’t forget that Salty Music is your source for at least some of the hottest music news going today. Just about every day, your fearless music section editor, that would be me, tries to update you on the comings and goings in the world of music. Check that out and stay informed, at least as informed as I’ll let you.

In closing, thanks to the people who have voted for Matt and I in the Salty Ham poll, that’s cool of whomever thought enough of either one of us to do that. But no matter who wins that thing, all of the folks over at The Ham are really great, so love them all. You can vote in the poll by going to
Salty Ham’s main page.

Later all.

Oh Come On!

Any of you who visit this site who are also visitors to
Salty Ham
have probably noticed that they have a joke of the day on the main page. It’s a cool feature and some of them aren’t too bad, worth a laugh for the most part, or at least a giggle. But everybody, no matter how good they are, has their off days, and for The Ham, today is that day. Click over to the main page and take a look. What you’ll find is humour greatness on the level of such gems as:

Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
Because he was dead.

Or,
Why did the second chicken cross the road?
Because he was stapled to the first one.

What makes this one worse though is that it’s long and you’re reading it thinking that it’s going to go somewhere, and it doesn’t. But I think that what makes me the most upset about the whole thing is that I laughed at it. Yes, against my better judgment, I laughed at that joke. Just shoot me now. Actually don’t, maybe tomorrow’s joke will be better. Either that or they’ll use one of my 2 suggestions from above. Time will tell.

Speaking of Salty Ham, if you’re a follower of that site, go over there and vote in the poll. It’s a good question.

More later perhaps.