The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century http://www.joeydevilla.com Joey deVilla's Personal Blog Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:24:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 Nasty wisdom of the day: “Some people are like Slinkies…” http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/24/nasty-wisdom-of-the-day-some-people-are-like-slinkies/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/24/nasty-wisdom-of-the-day-some-people-are-like-slinkies/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:24:07 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95050

Picture of a "Slinky" toy captioned with: "Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs."

We all have a Slinky or two in our lives.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #6: Work! http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/23/spring-cleaning-post-6-work/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/23/spring-cleaning-post-6-work/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:04:03 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95035

joey devilla hard at work

spring cleaningHere’s another post for my Spring Cleaning series, the set of articles that I’m taking out of my Drafts folder, finishing, and posting at long last. In case you missed the earlier ones, here they are:

This post is filled with stuff I’d been meaning to point to on a topic that takes up anywhere from one to two thirds of our weekdays (one tenth if you’re from Portland): work!

your job makes you sick

This is just part of the infographic. Click it to read the full infographic and matching article.

This one’s from two years ago, but it still holds true: an infographic featured on Mashable saying that work is killing you slowly. It’s not that you should quit working, but that you need to work around today’s most common work style (especially for readers of this blog): sedentary, desk-bound, and often in front of a computer for hours. If you can find a way to work some kind of activity into your workday — think of it as interval training — you’re likely to see some benefits.

medium_timesink

Time. Sink. Get it? Click it to read the matching article.

Jason Friedman, on his blog HumbledMBA, talks about things that take up precious work time at startups and do nothing to delight customers: launch parties, office food, team-building activities, meetings, meetups, agile processes, business cards, PowerPoint, and many more. “Of course, much of this stuff still needs to get done,” he writes, “At some point. And some of it really is important to the process that eventually creates delight for users. But none of it directly delights users. They’re all inputs. None of it is product.” He’s writing for people in startups, but it could just as easily apply to people in the non-startup world.

ect-brain-damage

Running a current through your brain can help generate ideas. Click it to read the matching article.

Want to get ahead in your workplace? This Harvard Business Review article points to some research with disturbing findings: be disagreeable, get someone to wish you luck, look at a dead cat, “live in sin” before getting married, jokingly ask for a ridiculously high salary, and run an electric current through your brain.

The “Always Be Closing” scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Be advised: there’s swearing aplenty.

Here’s another HBR article: How to Close a Sales Call. Here’s how the article itself closes:

If you are a senior salesperson, you’ve already closed your share of business and know many different closing techniques. You also understand that your closing strategy must vary depending upon the customer’s background, your competitive position, and the circumstances that are unique to the sales cycle. Sometimes, you need a commanding hard close for your meeting. For example, if the sales cycle for the products you sell involves only one or two customer interactions. With experienced buyers, consider a softer close because how many times do you think they have heard “this is our best and final offer” and every other type of hard close before?

blog

Be sure to check out more of Drew’s comics on his site, Toothpaste for Dinner.

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s been nothing but great for me and my career. You might want to check out Why Every Professional Should Consider Blogging and The Secret Formula To Never Being Unemployed for more details why.

a380 flight deck

The flight deck of an Airbus A380. Click the photo to see the source.

And finally, some advice from a Cessna pilot’s emergency checklist: FLY THE AIRPLANE.

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Good morning, Carrollwood! http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/22/good-morning-carrollwood/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/22/good-morning-carrollwood/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:53:41 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95029

As I write this — 10:36 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 — it’s 72º F (22º C) in Carrollwood, the suburb of Tampa where I live and telecommute. For my Toronto friends, the drive from home to downtown Tampa takes about the same time as the drive from my place in High Park to downtown Toronto.

Here’s what the start of my bike ride looked like this morning. That’s home, with my car, Rhonda the Honda, in the outdoor parking spot. She doesn’t look it, but she turns 16 this year:

IMG_0538

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I got greeted by this fella on the way out. While while peacocks are nothing new in this neighbourhood, they usually hang out a couple of blocks south. This is the second time in a couple of weeks that one of them has shown up in our complex:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

The morning started off without a cloud in the sky:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

So I hopped on the bike and made my way down to the road:

carrollwood 03

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Time to put on some miles!

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

And there are many miles of quiet streets on which to lay rubber:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

After a quick ride, it’s time to get back to work. Here’s the interim home office, currently set up in the dining room. The second bedroom will become an office in a couple of weeks:

IMG_0552

Click the photo to see it at full size.

And now it’s time to make mobile tech sing and customers happy:

work

Proof that I am a direct descendant of an American: look at all that ice in my glass, the way God and the Founding Fathers intended.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #5: Fireworks and sensitive body parts http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/21/spring-cleaning-post-5-fireworks-and-sensitive-body-parts/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/21/spring-cleaning-post-5-fireworks-and-sensitive-body-parts/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:59:08 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95023

spring cleaningHere’s another post for my Spring Cleaning series, the set of articles that I’m taking out of my Drafts folder, finishing, and posting at long last. In case you missed the earlier ones, here they are:

never ends well

How bored do you have to be to decide to combine fireworks and sensitive body parts? These guys thought it might be amusing to insert a firework into one of their derrieres and light it:

These bright lads give new meaning to the term “crotch rocket”:

The granddaddy of all these, although not the first, is the funniest, and dates back to 2007. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and I have never failed to laugh:

Believe it or not, this video convinced me to leave a cushy job that year and seek my fortune elsewhere. I wrote about it in an article titled Assrockets and Opportunities, which I hope you’ll find both amusing and enlightening.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #4: Get on your bicycle! http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/21/spring-cleaning-post-4-get-on-your-bicycle/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/21/spring-cleaning-post-4-get-on-your-bicycle/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:14:12 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95011

spring cleaningAnd now, another post in the Spring Cleaning series, in which I take a lot of blog posts that have been sitting as drafts for far too long, finish them, and finally put them online! Here are links to the Spring Cleaning articles I’ve posted so far:

bikes

If you’re into cycling, this one’s for you.

I find that in the morning, before I go to work and use these machines…

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My home office setup in Tampa. Click the photo to see it at full size.

…that it’s worth my while to use this machine:

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My home gym setup in Tampa. Click the photo to see it at full size.

Although I’ve been travelling to Tampa on a regular basis for the past two years, I’ve been living here full-time for a mere six weeks. That means that I am, for all intents and purposes, new in town and still figuring my way around. I’ve found that the best way to get to know the area around me, enjoy the weather and get in some exercise at the same time is to hop on a bicycle and ride. It’s the most energy-efficient form of human-powered locomotion, it lets me cover more distance than mere walking but still gives me the up-close look at my surroundings that I can’t get in the car, and it has brain benefits, as the links below will show:

Here’s a video of a patient with Parkinson’s disease who experiences “freezing gait” when walking. However, put him on a bike, and it’s like magic:

It’s been noted in the video that the guy isn’t wearing a helmet. That’s because the video was shot in the Netherlands, where helmets aren’t mandated by law, nor customary. It’s also worth noting that you’re 30 times more likely to get hurt on your bike in the US than you are in the Netherlands. The differences between cycling in the Netherlands and even more bike-friendly American cities like and Chicago and Davis, California are quite notable, as this Dutch observer points out:

At TEDxCopenhagen, Mikael Colville-Andersen says that urban cycling is part of the good life, and helmets are not part of biking:

Why is biking so popular in the Netherlands? This BBC article takes a closer look.

A number of American cities are looking to the Dutch model for improving cycling within cities. To see what we can learn, take a look at From the Netherlands to America. Yes, the US is not the Netherlands, but there are still a number of good ideas to borrow from them, and it doesn’t have to be Rob Ford’s so-called “war on the car” (and really, when’s the last time he told the truth about anything?):

One point made in the video above is that bicycling also boosts economies. This is counter to what a lot of small retailers say: they tend to overestimate the need for parking, and that bicycle lanes will hurt their business. This study says that that ain’t so.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #3: Weber Cooks, the saddest cooking show http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/20/spring-cleaning-post-3-weber-cooks-the-saddest-cooking-show/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/20/spring-cleaning-post-3-weber-cooks-the-saddest-cooking-show/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 14:39:50 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95005

the saddest cooking show

spring cleaningLet’s continue with Spring Cleaning, a series of posts that have been sitting for far too long in my Drafts folder, and which I’m now unleashing upon an unsuspecting world.

Last fall, I stumbled into what must be the saddest cooking show ever: Weber Cooks, a show that ran on the student-run TV station in Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Hosted by a slightly unkempt Steven Reed, it’s intended for college students with small budgets, a microwave oven, and little or no cooking experience. Reed’s delivery has many similarities to the so-awkward-you’ll-squirm comedy styles of Tim and Eric and Zach Galifianakis, but with one very crucial difference: his is unintentional.

In this episode, Reed gives the benighted masses the Secret of Spaghetti:

If spaghetti isn’t your cup of carbs, he’ll also show you how to make Rice-a-Roni, complete with his trademark heavy breathing:

You want more cheap carbs? Steven is happy to deliver with this recipe for creamed corn and potatoes:

If that isn’t sad enough for you, here’s the creamed corn and potatoes recipe, backed with Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1:

Having company over to watch the big game or a movie and need carbs? How about Steven’s chili cheese nachos?

If you ever screw up an attempt to cook a dish, or feel bad about your lack of cooking skills, point your browser at these videos and take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad a cook you are, there’s someone out there who’s far, far worse.

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Happy Easter! http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/20/happy-easter-5/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/20/happy-easter-5/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:34:50 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=95001

boris vallejo cruciflex

In honour of this holiday, I present to you fantasy artists Boris Vallejo’s depiction of a risen (and ripped) Christ, a painting I like to refer to as “The Cruciflex”. It’ll make you want to go to church and the gym.

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Air Canada didn’t know how to treat Itzhak Perlman; do they know how to treat your gate-checked baggage? (Hint: No.) http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/air-canada-didnt-know-how-to-treat-itzhak-perlman-do-they-know-how-to-treat-your-gate-checked-baggage-hint-no/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/air-canada-didnt-know-how-to-treat-itzhak-perlman-do-they-know-how-to-treat-your-gate-checked-baggage-hint-no/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 19:57:39 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94996

air canada baggage drop

It hasn’t been even a month since Air Canada had to apologize to world-famous (and disabled) violinist Itzhak Perlman for callously stranding him somewhere between his arrival gate and Customs with his violin, crutches, and luggage; it would appear that they treat their non-human cargo with equal disdain. A passenger on an Air Canada flight recently shot some video of their baggage handlers taking gate-checked luggage dropping the bags from the top of the jetway instead of walking them down to ground level:

They’ve been making apologies ever since. Here’s what’s on their Facebook page right now:

In light of a recent video posted to YouTube, we would like to apologize for the totally unacceptable mishandling of our passengers’ baggage captured on video. We are in the process of identifying the employees involved whose employment will be terminated pending the outcome of our investigation. Their actions clearly contravened our standard baggage handling procedures which require gate-checked bags to be hand carried to the ramp.

We take matters involving the protection of our customers’ personal possessions very seriously. The actions of these individuals are not representative of the vast majority of our employees who work hard every day to take care of our customers.

This is the sort of thing that fuels the joke slogan going around Canadian air traveller circles: “Air Canada: We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”

And that’s why I alway carry on my accordion, and raise hell whenever someone tries to make me gate-check it. I’ve got a couple of damaged squeezeboxes that say they’re not safe to check.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #2: Which beer is most likely to land you in the emergency room? http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/spring-cleaning-post-2-which-beer-is-most-likely-to-land-you-in-the-emergency-room/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/spring-cleaning-post-2-which-beer-is-most-likely-to-land-you-in-the-emergency-room/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:15:53 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94993

cheap drunk bad choices

spring cleaningHere’s another story that I’ve been meaning to point to: Budweiser is most popular beer among injured ER patients, pilot study says. Public health experts estimate that about one-third of all injury-related ER visits involved alcohol consumption, but researchers at John Hopkins wanted to know more — namely, what were they drinking? It turns out that most beer-caused ER visits involve the sort that’s cheap and imbibed primarily for the buzz rather than taste.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #1: Burgers. Burgers everywhere. http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/spring-cleaning-post-1-burgers-burgers-everywhere/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/19/spring-cleaning-post-1-burgers-burgers-everywhere/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 16:30:33 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94987

spring cleaningI keep a backlog of things that I plan to blog about eventually, and it’s been getting massive. With the spring-like weather that I hear has been making the rounds in my old stomping grounds of Toronto, and the sort of weather that they call “spring” here in Tampa (it feels more like early summer), I figure it’s a good time to subject that backlog file to some spring cleaning. Over the next couple of days, you’ll see all sorts of posts here marked with a “Spring Cleaning” logo

burgers

If you like hamburgers and little diversions that help you Zen out, you may find that Guthrie Lonergan’s strange little web page, Burgers, is exactly what you’re looking for. Just move the cursor over the burgers floating on your screen and enjoy the beefy goodness.

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Lies, damned lies, and Reuters’ graph of Florida firearm deaths before and after “Stand Your Ground” http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/14/lies-damned-lies-and-reuters-graph-of-florida-firearm-deaths-before-and-after-stand-your-ground/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/14/lies-damned-lies-and-reuters-graph-of-florida-firearm-deaths-before-and-after-stand-your-ground/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:15:32 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94965

Here’s a graph that Reuters recently published on gun deaths in Florida before and after the enactment of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Take a really good look at it and see if you can figure out why it’s so terribly misleading:

misleading stand your ground chart

Click the graph to see the source.

P.A. Fedewa saw the graph in Business Insider and submitted this graph in response. The data is the same, but this time, the presentation isn’t attempting to lie to you:

corrected stand your ground chart

Click the graph to see the source.

Update

Mark Jaquith astutely points out in the comments that even the headlines of the graph are misleading, because they conflate gun deaths with murders. He writes:

More worrisome than the murder rate should be the rate of people getting away with shooting someone in a situation that isn’t reasonably self-defense (they wouldn’t be reflected on this chart). And the problem there isn’t the stand your ground principle (which is common, even California has that principle), but the lowering of the evidentiary burden and the haphazard way the law is applied.

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Toronto’s most pink-tacular house can be yours for $699,000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/10/torontos-most-pink-tacular-house-can-be-yours-for-699000/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/10/torontos-most-pink-tacular-house-can-be-yours-for-699000/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:52:58 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94937

Click any of the photos to see the real estate listing for the house.

From the outside, this house near Jane and Bloor Streets currently listed for sale in Accordion City looks like any number of houses built in the post bay-and-gable era, located in the near-burbs that circle the city’s core:

house 00

What sets it apart from all the others is the interior, which for the most part is best described as “grandma meets Barbie Dream House as designed by Unikitty from The Lego Movie”:

house 01

After enjoying pleasant conversation and (presumably pink) hard candy from a cut crystal container in the living room above, you could adjourn to the fantabulous dining room…

house 02

…which is adjoined by the (just) slightly more subtle kitchen:

house 03

The pink rotary phone is a nice touch. Here’s the kitchen as seen from the other end:

house 04

If your hunger for pink-and-pretty hasn’t yet been sated, you need only go upstairs to what I call “the diabetes inducement level”:

house 05

So. Much. Pink!

house 06

Variety is the spice of life, and even the most pinkcore of pinkaholics needs a break. Hence, the Lavender Love Lounge:

house 08

This is what I imagine the guest room at Prince’s house looks like:

house 07

Aaaaand back to pink. I’m not sure I could poop in such a bathroom:

house 09

I’d read that a number of places are coloured specifically to induce moods, feelings, and urges in people. For example, one of the reasons many fast food places go with an orange theme is that the colour is said to bring about feelings of hunger. I never gave it much thought until one day in the late ’90s, when College West was making its transition from the mellower Little Italy to the hip new destination for twenty-somethings. Our group decided to go to a new restaurant with a full-tile red colour scheme. Red walls. Red carpet. Red tables and chairs. Monochrome red paintings on the walls. Red lighting. Red plates.

The evening started off well enough, but the longer we stayed in that place, the worse it got. First, people started feeling a bit antsy. Little disagreements that would otherwise have been let go stewed. Discussions became debates, and debates became arguments. I think I had a “Why the hell did I just say that?” moment, and finally one of us, a brilliant arts school grad, said “I think it’s all this red. I think it’s driving us insane.”

He was right. As soon as we stepped outside, the madness lifted. It was summer, and while it was certainly warmer outside that inside the red restaurant, it felt as if we’d escaped from a hot medieval torture chamber and onto a cool mountainside.

“Hooo-kay,” I said. “I’m not taking any dates there.

I don’t know what kind of madness the all-pink colour scheme will induce, but the house does have a place where you cab escape from the maximum pink: the basement den. It’s got late-era Don Draper written all over it:

house 11

That bar is fantastic, as are the crossed epées over the fireplace. I would gladly live in this room:

house 10

The house is in a good location: not far from where I used to live, a short walk from the westernmost end of the Bloor West Village shopping district, just south of the considerably more expensive Baby Point neighbourhood, and a stone’s throw from the subway. You’re also walking distance from a movie theatre, which I consider a plus. Here’s the description on the real estate listing:

Only $699K! Great Value! Retro, Pristine & Spacious Detached Home! Prime “”Bloor West Village”"! Lovingly Maintained By The Same Owner For 72 Years! Updated Kitchen! Breakfast Rm + Walk Out To Garden! B/I Cupboards In Lr & Dr. Master +B/I Vanty! Lower Level Family Rm. Plenty Of Storage & Cedar Closet! Rear Patio & Sunny West Garden! Steps To Bloor, Schools, Shops & Subway! Mutual Drive! Can Park Small Car In Rear **** EXTRAS **** Fridge, 1950′S Moffat Stove, Washer & Dryer, Window Coverings,Microwave, Freezer, Air Conditioner (2000), Electric Light Fixtures, Hot Water Tank (Rental), Roof Shingles 2007,Lots Of Storage & Built-In Cupboards.Carson Dunlop Inspection

Asking price is CDN$699,000. You can find more details on the real estate listing. Let the bidding war begin!

Update: HGTV has even better pictures of the house.

Thanks to Jodi Peacock for the find!

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Finding Mr. Righteous: Lisa DePasquale’s memoir on dating conservative guys in D.C. http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/09/finding-mr-righteous-lisa-depasquales-memoir-on-dating-conservative-guys-in-d-c/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/09/finding-mr-righteous-lisa-depasquales-memoir-on-dating-conservative-guys-in-d-c/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:50:13 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94930

finding mr righteous

While the major reason I moved to the U.S. was to be with my Tampa-based girlfriend, one of the minor reasons was to shake things up by changing my surroundings and getting some new perspectives. So here I am, living in the state that marched to put George W. Bush in the White House with a girl with a couple of NRA baseball caps and a “Who is John Galt?” license plate frame, enjoying myself and agreeing to disagree at the same time. After all, if you can’t vive la difference, is la vie really worth vive-ing?

Even before my move here, I made sure to experience stuff outside the largely-liberal Toronto tech scene, which includes regular visits to Reason’s site. I like the personal responsibility aspect of libertarianism. I also find that “freedom for me, corporate rule for thee” and “screw you, I got mine” aspects questionable. I always try to value seeing other perspectives.

One recent interview I found interesting was one with Lisa DePasquale, former CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) organizer, about her book, Finding Mr. Righteous. It’s a memoir of dating in the world of conservative Washington politics, and it’s interesting to note some of the similarities between Republican guys and Silicon Valley guys (including the observation that I’ve heard applied to both: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd”). There’s a fair bit of overlap between student council kids and computer club kids (and hey, I should know; I was both).

You may not agree with her political views, and her need to reassert that she’s the real deal (she self-identifies as a “true conservative” not once, but twice in less than five minutes) can be grating, but you might be surprised to agree with her on other issues, such as her support for including gays and lesbians in CPAC, a struggle over which she left as an organizer. The interview’s interesting, and it’s about finding someone, which is a universal story that applies to everyone, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum:

Of course, if you want to lose your faith in humanity, particularly the male half, you can always read the comments for the Reason article or the YouTube video.

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Kill your productivity with “Rob Ford: The Game”! http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/kill-your-productivity-with-rob-ford-the-game/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/kill-your-productivity-with-rob-ford-the-game/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:42:59 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94926

rob ford - the game

Rob Ford: The Game isn’t going to tell you more about what Toronto’s joke of a mayor is up to, what demons drive him, or why the hell people insist on supporting him after everything he’s done. What it will do is give you addictive platform-jumping game fun as you maneuver our Peter Griffin-esque mayor into crack, marijuana, and booze while dodging or jumping on the police and news camera operators.

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I like the way this teacher thinks http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/i-like-the-way-this-teacher-thinks/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/i-like-the-way-this-teacher-thinks/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:55:56 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94922

who writes SATAN in bubble letters

What kind of lame-ass kids are parents raising these days? It’s lightning bolts, fire, and pointy letters, people!

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The inescapable truth about spring weather http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/the-inescapable-truth-about-spring-weather/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/08/the-inescapable-truth-about-spring-weather/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:28:26 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94919

first 2 weeks of spring

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Toronto-to-Tampa Road Trip, Day 3: Hangover day in Asheville http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/07/toronto-to-tampa-road-trip-day-3-hangover-day-in-asheville/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/07/toronto-to-tampa-road-trip-day-3-hangover-day-in-asheville/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:44:14 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94629

day 3

In case you missed the previous installments in this series, here they are:

Hipster Coffee

I’d refer to the feeling I had the next morning as “the wrath of grapes”, but Eldon and I had drunk nothing but beer the previous night, and “the wrath of malted barley” just doesn’t have that ring to it. I was still in last night’s jeans, and in the pockets, stuffed all hodge-podge, was an extra forty-something dollars that I’d made at the pub by playing raucous accordion tunes, and singing increasingly off-key as the night had worn on.

“We’ll make it a mellow day today,” said Eldon groggily. “Some looking around town, not too much driving. How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good to me,” I replied.

battlecat

The previous night, the group of people we ended up drinking with in the basement bar of Wicked Weed Brewing Company told us about a place that served an amazing brunch. Our start to the day was rather late and slow, so by the time we got there, the Sunday crowd had lined up around the block. We decided to drive a little farther to see if there were any other interesting places, as the street had that “this street has interesting places” vibe. Our hunch proved to be correct, as a few blocks away, we happened upon an oddly-painted building and I said “Now that…looks like my home planet.”

battlecat 2

BattleCat Coffee House is, to put it in Toronto terms, a Parkdale coffee shop that just happens to be located in Asheville. Built from a house, with its various rooms as well as the front porch and yard converted into various cafe lounges, it’s the kind of student-y, art-y, hangout filled with yard sale furniture, charmingly mismatched bric-a-brac, and local artists’ works where you’re likely to find me (in fact, I need to find an equivalent in my new home in Accordion Bay).

joey at battlecat

They make a mean mocha, which I found reviving. I looked around and said “We’re in a college town in the mountains, all right. We may be the cleanest-shaven people in this entire cafe, and I’m including both sexes.”

Found Art

buick 1

The neighbourhood in which BattleCat is located is full of interesting things that lend themselves well to photographs, from the whiskey bar next door (alas, we’ll have to save a visit for another time) to the nearby garage, which had this magnificently rusting old Buick. I loved its hood ornament, which is straight out of the imagery of Gernsback-era science fiction:

buick 2

Around the corner was a sculpture garden made out of found household and industrial objects:

bottle garden

…and when we walked closer, we found that its creators and owners were perfectly fine with people coming in to get a closer look, as the sign by the entrance indicated:

garden 2

In the center of the garden was something I call “Truckhenge”:

garden 3

I couldn’t resist posing with this little artifact:

kicking a bomb

Shops

Across the street from the garden was this sign, which I thought might be a funny way of announcing to the world what my new job in the U.S. was:

holistic herbalism

A few doors down the street from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism was Harvest Records, a great indie music shop with a great selection of music, friendly staff, a computer set up so you can see what Pitchfork said about the tunes you’re about to buy (or hear what they sound like), and even a comfy place to peruse the books or magazines they hope you’ll eventually buy:

harvest records

Eldon picked up Gangstagrass’ Broken Hearts and Stolen Money CD, and the music is exactly what the name implies. Here’s a track from the album:

Bluegrass Brunch

While checking out the posters at Harvest, we noticed that a place downtown called the One Stop Deli and Bar had a bluegrass brunch with a live band that let people join them on the open mic. A short drive later, we’d ordered our brunches — I had chicken and waffles and a Bloody Mary, while Eldon got a local brew to wash down his “redneck benedict”, made of poached eggs on biscuits, covered in biscuit gravy and chicken tenders. We certainly weren’t going to win any healthy eating awards that day.

Before I had a chance to get a bite of brunch, one of the guys in the band saw the accordion and waved me over to the stage. I took a quick swig of my custom Bloody Mary — they give you a glass with a lot of vodka, and you assemble the rest at the Bloody Mar fixings bar (mine had extra pickle juice and sriracha) — and on the stage I went. A few quick introductions and a quick walk through the chords later, I was playing with the band.

The guys in the band were talented, friendly, and fun to play with. If you’re ever down Asheville way and are looking for both brunch and people to jam with, I can’t recommend the Bluegrass Brunch at One Stop Deli and Cafe enough.

Afternoon Outdoor Beer

wedge studios

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Asheville has an arts district just outside its downtown area, by the French Broad River. This area of about two dozen former industrial buildings turned out to be the perfect location for artists’ studios, and it now is the work area of nearly 200 local artists. The center of it all seems to be the Wedge Brewing Company, which is where Eldon and I headed after Bluegrass Brunch.

wedge studios 2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Despite the fact that it was still the first week of March in North Carolina, the day was bright, sunny, and warm enough that some people were fine wearing just a T-shirt. The place was crowded with people enjoying the sun and craft beer, which meant birthday celebrations, which in turn meant…accordion!

I have no idea what the Wedge is like in the dead of winter, but if I lived in Asheville, I’d be a regular here in the spring, summer, and fall.

wedge studios 3

Click the photo to see it at full size.

We got into conversations with a number of locals, including a doctor who spent half her time in Asheville doing consulting work, and the other half of her time at home in San Francisco, who in turn introduced us to her friends, a mechanical engineer of Asian descent and his Czech wife who met while both were on vacation in Thailand. We talked to students, artists, bikers enjoying the first warm Sunday ride of the year, young families, and more.

wedge studios 4

Click the photo to see it at full size.

More accordion, too:

As the afternoon drew to a close, Eldon and I had one last pint (he kept it to a minimum, as it was his turn to drive)…

wedge studios 5

Click the photo to see it at full size.

…and we made our way to Georgia:

driving at night

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Here’s a crazy idea for a movie… http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/05/heres-a-crazy-idea-for-a-movie/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/05/heres-a-crazy-idea-for-a-movie/#comments Sat, 05 Apr 2014 13:17:45 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94900

science vs stephen harper

This one goes out to my old schoolmate Chris Turner, author of The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada.

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This cat has seen things… http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/05/this-cat-has-seen-things/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/05/this-cat-has-seen-things/#comments Sat, 05 Apr 2014 12:09:58 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94896

prison cat

…horrible, horrible things.

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Nobody ever invites this guy to the movies… http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/04/nobody-ever-invites-this-guy-to-the-movies/ http://www.joeydevilla.com/2014/04/04/nobody-ever-invites-this-guy-to-the-movies/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:46:40 +0000 http://www.joeydevilla.com/?p=94889

major spoiler

…after all, he’s Major Spoiler!

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