Sunday, April 29, 2007

A much more restrained post than originally planned

We went to Don Giovanni yesterday, the "greatest opera ever written" according to some. I'm inclined to disagree; it was pretty good, but there are a lot of pretty good operas out there (probably).

I've been getting terribly irritated and angry at just about everything lately (especially ties, people with babies on the bus, the bus, hot panini, my alarm clock, the sun glaring into the bar, the rain in general, the cold, work people... I've got a whole angry post about it all but am not about to post it. But I get the next couple days off work so it's all good for now.

I haven't had anything to do with music for three weeks. That's another thing I'm unwontedly angry and irritated about, though it's entirely my own fault. I don't mind not doing Analysis homework, but I want to be composing, playing piano, transcribing music (oh so angry), learning new instruments, attending lectures and masterclasses. Instead I tend to fall asleep after work. And my exam is in less than 2 weeks. And I haven't had a lesson in 3.

I'm now officially going to do my Master's here in September.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Question of the Week

At the bottom of the "Things We Desperately Need" chalkboard at work is the "Question of the Week." It used to simply pit two characters against each other, who wouldn't normally be in a dueling situation, so to speak. Like Elmer Fudd vs Fred Flinstone. Old School Ozzy Osbourne vs Old School Alice Cooper. A buffalo with a shark tied to its back vs an eagle clutching a crocodile. At least, there used to be a question of the week, back when there used to be a manager who invented the concept and devised the questions. In recent weeks, the Question of the Day has remained blank.

The owner's mother now works at the new store. She is the one whom all us old-school employees trained with. Somehow, she manages to instill the strictest sense of loyalty and discipline just by being present. You address her as Mrs. K——. You do what she says. I've actually bowed to her on occasion. Seriously, bowed; subtly, yet undeniably. She sometimes struggles with English, but if you even think about sneaking a look to a coworker for a little translation aid, you're doomed. I love her to bits.

I was cutting up a baguette the other day, after being enlisted to do so by Mrs. K——, except we don't refer to her as Mrs. K—— unless we're actually talking to her. Let's pretend her name is Judy. There is one other fulltime employee who, along with me, is the last surviving member of our particular training group. Work is terribly dull, long, and tiresome when he's not there, but an endless series of jokes (practical and otherwise) and laughing when he is. "Do you understand the desire to break things into the smallest possible pieces and stuff them into cups?" he asked, glancing over from where he stood rinsing dishes two feet away. Actually, I do. Luther. I replied in the negative. "What are you doing?" "I was told to do this," I replied. There was no need to specify who had told me to do so. "If someone told you to... eat whatever's in this sink drain," he said, fitting gestures to words, "would you do it?" That's an easy question. "If Judy told you to eat it, would you?" I hesitated for a full 10 seconds before honestly saying, "I don't know."

It's not written on the chalkboard, nor is likely to ever be. But, the best question of the week to date is, "What wouldn't you do for Judy?"

Monday, April 23, 2007


Gosh, this is the second week in a row that my Analysis class is canceled. Analysis is the one regular thing in my schedule these days, and it's also one of the most calming things in my schedule. I'm going to start on a new composition; it's been too long. It's also been far too long since I've even seen a piano, much less played one. ...actually, I just saw ~20 pianos in the music store the other day... but that doesn't really count.

It's harder to walk up the hill to the bus stop when it's sunny out, like today. I just feel like lying down on the grass and dozing. I'm thinking, blue next, soon.

Wake up and give a shit

AAAAHHHHH!!!! no WAY! Why on earth would you sell that??? Some of those contained cell phones, and last Wednesday the lucky people who got those cellphones experienced this. That is so freaking, freaking awesome; I severely wish that I were part of it. Although, it seems to me that it would be all too easy for some crazy fanatics to turn this into something nasty. All those people who went to the surprise concert signed waivers and gave up all forms of communication with the outside world. I guess people are willing to go pretty deep into this. Open Source Resistance describes it thusly:
On April 18, 2007, Open Source Resistance hosted a gathering in LA. Musicians, artists, and ordinary people gathered in support of a simple message: speak up to defend the things that matter to you. The concert planned to end the evening was broken up by police.

If They stop you from speaking, they’re killing freedom. If you just can’t be bothered to speak, freedom will
die just the same.

Wake up and give a shit.
Year Zero has every potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if only because of fanatics. Not that that's bad; I'm a fanatic myself. I think the line between the ARG and reality is blurring. I mean, have you seen all those AIR posters plastered everywhere? (I haven't; I wish I had.) Look at this:
(I swiped that from an ETS thread.) That's the tv tower at Alexanderplatz! In Berlin! And that's just one example. You should also check out the artwork that people have submitted to OSR, here. I notice a lot of them say things like "you have a voice; use it." I don't really believe this. I've never felt as though I had a voice, at least not as an individual. Individuals don't have voices; it's only when we band together that it makes a difference. Or maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

Oops, apparently today was Earth Day. I celebrated Earth Day by working an 8.5-hour-shift and then eating some crackers. I don't go to Starbucks anymore, I just sit in a corner at the Awfully Waffley and read Pickwick.

Fun Fact: UVic's English Grad Studies department has ~80% SSHRC students this year, or something crazy like that. The Graduate Chair is trying to entice me by saying it's "the most lucrative department in Canada" and by adding another thousand to my fellowship. I'll be meeting with him on Tuesday, to "discuss" things like "funding" and "research." I expect their idea of research is translating old moldy Latin or (much worse) Anglo Saxon. I'm still undecided on this whole grad studies dl.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

(almost) all about work

Yesterday was a great day at work. I poured a near-perfect rosette; wish I'd had a camera. Haven't so much as practiced with water since then, though. I'm starting to get a barista hand; all that remains is to get espresso grounds permanently worked into the cracks.

But the really great part, which was even more of a personal triumph than the rosette, was when The Frail started playing on the ipod, though I was the only person in the store who could hear it since I was lounging right in front of the only speaker (the sound system having been previously croasted at the staff party). I got all excited and incredulous at that first chord (for a generally deaf person, I pick up some things pretty quick), and started babbling at my coworker [who had never listened to NIN before :0] about Year Zero, which, I might add, is express-posting itself to me as we speak!

The owner is away on a 3-day holiday, which means his brother is acting in his stead, which means I got to listen to Radiohead all morning. So much better than the Verve Remixed, though that returned in the afternoon.

I think the Awfully Waffley's suspicious about where I go on my breaks. The owner remarked that I always look like I'm going to a top-secret location. My co asked me where I ate lunch, and I (truthfully) told him I don't really eat lunch. I think of a muffin more as second breakfast than a lunch. Today the Starbucks people called me a traitor, but they're pretty proud that I go there. Yesterday they asked me if I needed more hours, and if I'd come work there too. I don't dare tell them that I'm the supervisor.

I'm hatching a plan to get the screever to come draw on our walls... I don't think it'll go down too well, even though he's an incredible artist.

The VCM is having a 55-day, first-ever, annual music festival. So many great masterclasses; I wish I were taking an instrument. Hopefully I can take violin lessons this summer.

My online grad studies application still says "refused" :( I'd really like them to change that soon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Breathing easier

This weekend was terribly stressful, but things are starting to get ironed out now.
  • UVic initially refused my application(!), which worried me all week. But then I told them that must be a mistake, and they agreed that it must be, and would I please do my Master's there if they gave me $4000 on top of my SSHRC. The Master's program there will only take 12 months to do (it's course-based), so maybe I can look forward to doing my ARCT sooner than expected. But, I should really become semi-proficient in Anglo Saxon and Latin before September.

  • Work is getting crazy. Due to some political maneuvers and fatal errors, the ex-manager is now banished to the old store. This means I have been thrown into baristaing. It may also mean they will need me during the week rather than on weekends, which suits me just fine. But, for some reason I've been sliding steeply downward in all areas at work, and am no longer good at anything. It's very embarrassing.

  • Analysis exam is fast approaching.

  • I think I'm going deaf. Or maybe my hearing is too sensitive. One of the two.

    • Deafness: I can't hear what anybody says most of the time, which has caused me to pretty much be under order-taking-probation as of yesterday, which means I get severe flac(k) whenever I ring in drinks wrong. It would help immensely if people didn't have accents. I mean, if you ask me for "skeeeem meeelk," is it any wonder I give you steamed milk?

    • Sensitivity: I haven't been able to steam milk into proper microfoam consistency at all lately, because I can't tell when it "sounds" the right consistency. It's not the deafness, this time, it's quite the opposite. The owner keeps telling me that you can tell the milk is right when you hear the pitch change. Then, when he's demonstrating, he stops it at a certain point and says "there, did you hear the pitch change just then?" Actually, I hear the pitch changing the entire time. It doesn't just suddenly drop a pitch, it's a continual downward glissando from the moment you stop chirping. Like, beeeeeaaaaaaauuuuuuuoooooooooo-p, except much longer.
Anyway, all of this has sucked out any fun that was ever in work, and I'm afraid to do anything other than grill panini there. Although, I did make a London Fog for someone who said it was "the best London Fog [she'd] ever had."

I'm glad I got accepted to UVic, but that won't make September any easier.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Waiting (probably until Year Zero rolls around)

What is frustrating? This and this, and there's nothing to do about either except wait.

I'm on 5-day weekend until Wednesday, after which time I'll be training on weekends.

Year Zero makes me want to write a book like 1984, except set in the present. Maybe they'll let me put my SSHRC towards comparing dystopian literature/media; that would be awesome. All these great ideas I have just happen to be already done or in progress. The writer in me marvels at the creative genius behind this; I mean, all these clues that nobody knows what they're about have some place in the world of Year Zero, and will come to light in their proper place. It's like a novel that's currently going on, in real life, and that elapses at the same rate that we do. But much more involved and intriguing.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Road to Baristaship

I was trying to stay out of the Year Zero conspiracy (or whatever you call it). At first I thought it was probably stupid, just a marketing scheme or something and definite time-waster; then I thought it looked pretty interesting but still would require a lot of time to catch up on. But now I've finally listened to the album (which I LOVE and will probably keep on an endless loop for a long time) and perused some of the websites, and it's definitely awesome, creepy, and yes, it will take me weeks to catch up and explore everything that's been discovered so far, not to mention everything that isn't yet well understood or is still to come. If dystopian worlds interest you, you should check it out. The whole thing makes me feel slightly sick, though; I always get confused when I get caught up in dystopian worlds, and start thinking the real world is actually kind of like that, and get all anxious and worried. Same thing happened after I read 1984 and watched V for Vendetta.

The rest of this post is part of what I was going to post yesterday:

Bah crap, today has been a pretty horrid day. First off it took 2 rounds to get rid of a worser sort of migraine, which probably made me look like I was totally stoned at work, which is probably why the owner asked me if I was bored with my duties ("You look like you're bored") and wouldn't I like to try something else? How about culinary? No? Barista, then. We need a weekend barista, so why don't they just go ahead and schedule me in for next weekend, and I can feel free to come on my own time to practice.

Oh, but I forgot the first two parts, where I got in trouble first for using the wrong coat hanger, and second for stacking two identical dish covers.

Two hours of steaming milk. Two hours, I tell you, in which I went through roughly 8 litres of milk in the pursuit of perfectly concocted microfoam. So frustrating at first, because it all turned out the same, and it always looked the same to me, but it was too thick, or too thin, or my "vortex was too violent", but I had to "ok, try again" time after time until the end of my shift.

At any rate, apparently I've mastered 2% and skim microfoam on my first day, whoopdido. All I was able/allowed to turn out were one chai latte ("that last one was much too thick... oh look, there's an order for a chai latte; that needs to be thicker, so try to remember what you did last time and do it again") and some skim microfoam for a latte (which someone else poured). And brought on the second half of the migraine. The right side doesn't make me quite so nauseous, but it does make everything between my eyebrow and chin go numb.

So why was I thrown into barista traineeship in the first place? It's rather comical. The owner has been hinting for a few weeks that I should have a meeting with him to decide where my future with the Awfully Waffley should lie. Today he kind of tricked me into suggesting an answer (I said something to the effect that I'd much rather be a barista than build saucy cold potatoes all day) and proclaimed that I would henceforth train to be the weekend head barista manager person. Well, I don't want to work weekends, blast it all. Plus, the girl who started with me has been training to be weekend barista for over a week now. I said, well she really wants to be barista, I know, so why don't I try something else? That's not on weekends? He said, well, I think it would be good to have a little competition, to see who will become weekend barista fastest, plus she's a student and won't always be available on weekends. I said, oh ok, but I'd like to sit down and talk with you sometime anyway, about my future here. He said, no, we'll try you as barista, it's a good skill to have anyway, and if you decide it's not for you you can try something else after.

I'll give it a week, or maybe a little more, then break the news to him that I shall also soon be a student who is required not to take full-time employment. And that I will definitely not be working weekends while I'm a student. And might not even be here anymore by then anyway. And that I wasn't bored, I was just having a bad day. And if my weeriness is well-founded, medical concerns will force me to not be a barista. The steaming makes my eye pound and temple throb; I also can't handle the caffeine involved in the job. A barista has to keep tasting the shots every day to make the necessary adjustments. "You're not a coffee drinker, are you? You'll have to start tasting the espresso." It all tastes the same to me anyway (bad; like alcohol which tastes bad no matter what the drink is but you just have to pour it down your throat so as to avoid the tastebuds, that's why people always laugh at me for guzzling drinks so quickly). How should I know if it's sour, or if the shot was 4 seconds too long, or whatever?

The only good part of the day was when my nemesis trainee came in and asked me if I would take her Sunday shift. I have never been so firm or unhesitating as when I replied "NO." And my muffin at Starbucks was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Wednesday Medley-ing

I don't know what's worse: the consistency of cold potatoes; cold potatoes that are coated in sauce; being obliged to forgo one's daily Starbucks ritual in order to stay and "try" a heaping helping of cold potatoes coated in sauce, or; being obliged to praise said cold potatoes coated in sauce. I guess it would be good if one liked potato salad. I couldn't quite bring myself to finish them. Don't you just hate chewing and chewing on something you really don't want to swallow? But the Atlantic salmon grilled in lime juice and coated in basil, crab, and shrimp was delicious. The owner had concocted a variety of new lunch items, and insisted that I stay and try them all for lunch. Woot for free lunch!

He also insisted that I crack down on lousy newbies. If I weren't weery of being hated (even more) by all the new people, I'd have a lot of tongue-lashing to do. I have an unfortunate habit of smiling excessively when I tell people to do some blasted work for a change (or that they're doing things wrong), usually just to make it seem like I'm cool with their negligence. I'm pretty certain that I could get away with being harsh if English wasn't my first language, because then I could at least pretend that I don't know how to word criticisms in any nicer a way. I wish I had adopted a German accent from the very start. "Vaht you are doing? You may not stop for a beeah! You must vork at all times." Everybody likes to stand around chatting and laughing all the time, while I clench my teeth and place silent hexes on them as I clean up the mess they leave even though there's a sign that clearly says "Clean yer slab or yer scrubbin' the grill." Right by the "Thar be pitchers that need a-washin', yo ho." Yep, it's almost universally pirate-themed, except for the coffee maker instructions which are Star Wars-themed. But about the accent: I could be harsh with a German accent. Nobody expects smiles and niceties from a Goerman.

Tangentially-Related Sidenote:

Doesn't matter if you sing out of tune,
So long as you're German;
Doesn't matter if you can hardly croon,
So long as you're German;
So if you haven't got a note in your head,
Put on a silly accent instead,
And people will stop wishing you were dead—So long as you're German.

Doesn't matter if the notes are all wrong
And people are squirmin',
Just make the tune up as you go along;
Pretend you're German;
And if your voice sounds like it's coming through a strainer,
Sing it out of synch, like Marlene;
And soon you'll be compared to Lotte Lenya
Who was German.

Nich hin auf slene sprech gesang Zauberflöte wunderbar Johnny!
Viener Schnitzel Bundesbank Helmut Kohl Eurostar Johnny!

So, if you ever wonder what you have to do
To sound like a Hun;
Just chain-smoke from the tender age of two;
That's how it's done;
And if the audience is all walking out,
Just make believe that you're a Kraut,
And open you're mouth and shout
In German.
In German.
In German.
Auf Deutsche.

I saw that song performed at a musical theatre class in the Regina Festival once; it was so freaking awesome.

Back to DV: I'm so highly esteemed in the management, it's awesome. The old store wants me back quite badly, and it would sure mean less work for me if I did go back there. I think I'm also currently winning some sort of competition with the manager. That's just my (well-founded) opinion. I'll reserve details of the competition for new drawings, of which I have some great new ideas but am still lacking unlined paper.

I'm going to start saying "Welcome to the Vaguely Bagelly."

I can't believe how rude people can be. So very, very rude. Personal attacks, too. Gosh, it's just coffee; you wouldn't catch me drinking the stuff. Though I do drink entirely too much hot chocolate. It's probably time to do up some dieting :S

Analysis lessons have resumed. I'm almost ready to ace the exam, provided I can complete it in the necessary time.