Friday, December 31, 2004

The Rush of the Last Day of 2004

Just on lunch break right now. I filled up balloons all morning with helium: star-shaped balloons, black balloons, orange “gold” balloons, and white (off white) balloons. This is in preparation for the big New Years bash tonight at the Revolution and the Flying Dog. It is much better than shoveling snow like I did most of yesterday although nothing can beat the food preparation I got my hands into for the rest of the day.

What could be more fulfilling than this: We had metal stands upon which we impaled pineapples. We had to core them first with a metal cylindrical thing. I remarked at the time that it felt like slaying vampires only with pineapples. The cores would get jammed in the thing though and then they were very stubborn pineapples. That’s where the hammer came in to bash the rod down through the core and wait for the other end to ejaculate. There was often an explosion that would send them flying, cork-like, to the ceiling. When we were all finished, the impaled pineapples were all lined up to make a pineapple tree, serving as the trunk while the top was decorated with real palm branches and an unsliced pineapple complete with its bushy top. Apparently shrimp was to be added to this decadent fruit decoration thing.

Since I am often booked on two different schedules at the same time, I am but one man so I have trouble fulfilling my job duties because I’m short one clone. Last night was a case where one schedule showed that I was not working while the treacherous one showed that I did. I was with my former self last night watching television with Johnny so I don’t know what went on at work but this morning, to my surprise, I was supposed to be at work but not one of me had even shown up. The reason I went with the schedule that claimed I had a little respite was because that was the one I checked. I’m very disappointed that the me that was supposed to work wasn’t there but at the same time, having myself all together really alleviated some of my schizophrenic symptoms.

The funny little things Johnny says sometimes!! Her and I were supposed to watch As Good as it Gets (no, it was actually Something's Gotta Give)which she advocates strongly, however, since her computer was busy fighting viruses; we ended up watching a C-section on a pig. I couldn’t believe how big the amniotic sac was. The piglets seemed like they would never end. Lioness has her own kind of sac that she calls her “marbliosac” but instead of containing piglets, it holds her brains. We saw a screwotomy on an iguana that apparently has a penchant for eating little metal objects.

She was explaining how I can fix my neck and posture and why my physiology is disadvantaged to standing-up-straightness. Then, speaking of necks and digressing into a fashion debate again, she had the most amazing observation: “People without necks have no business wearing turtlenecks.” I tried to play the devils advocate and suggest that for people without necks, half of their face is a neck and they can wear whatever they want but I think I agree with her. They shouldn’t try to hide their face if their head is only supported by shoulders. Anyways, I thought that was interesting. I will grab my white crisp shirt for work and go now. It will be a long, long night. By the end of it, it will be a new year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Johnny's Condition Stable

Johnny’s temperaturitis has come full circle. When I came by last night her pajamas were strewn over the chair, soaked with sweat and she was busing raveling and unraveling the blankets, shivering. She would say something then doze off or tell me not to worry about this or that, confusing me over what exactly she was talking about. Apparently she hadn’t had one of these bouts for a long time and doesn’t really remember much of what she had said, but today she was feeling much better. She must have been at a temperature of around 41 degrees Celsius, bordering on delirium. That’s why she doesn’t remember. Then again, I have no excuse for why I don’t remember except that I just filed her talk in “nonsense” and left it at that. It’s no wonder she’s not running straight for the outdoors right away. She was well enough to laze around with me watching Oprah and Dr. Phil. We had a good time making fun of the fashions of people on makeover shows and eating “crisps”.

Tonight I will dazzle her by exposing her to a wonderful food called “pasta”. Many people pronounce it like “passed-uh” but I’ve heard it’s really “pah-sta” with a more of the sound your doctor tells you to make before checking your tonsils and tongue with their flashlight. Johnny makes fun of how I say “about” because it’s not quite like Americans say it and she calls me a “mad Canook” because I can almost pronounce her name. My pronunciations scare her I guess. It’s funny that such a short name could be so irksome to utter correctly, but I enjoy the challenge. About pasta: tell me, Italians of the world, which is it? I want to settle this before the pronunciation and spelling police gang up and kick me unconscious.

Johnny's stability now contrasts to the global instability over the most recent and devastating catastrophe. The tsunami is worrying everyone or at least it should be. There seems to have been a lot of major earthquakes and disasters this year and I'm not sure why. Johnny has friends that she met in Kibbutz that are in or around Asia and she doesn’t know how or where they are. Very frustrating and agonizing. It’s encouraging that so many countries and organizations are offering their support but of course this is going to be such a mess and people are dying by the minute, someone needs to figure out the logistics. The first death toll I heard was 13,000. A few hours later it was almost 80,000. Disease, chaos and famine are big concerns for many, plus: where are people going to live? It must be like experiencing the plague, with so much death stinking and presenting itself everywhere. This tragedy still doesn’t seem real. Could there be a link between this and the result of global warming? The answer probably depends whether you ask an economist or an ecologist. Tidal waves higher than people are just nuts though. Gaia is raging.

Well, I’m touching base with my family right now. I must find aspirin for Johnny and get a little exercise. My dad might be a bit fazed to know that the US will now be accepting cattle that are up to two and a half years into the country starting March 7. It’s been a long time coming. I’ll be working my arse off for the next little while over the New Year. I will just not sleep and hope that all goes well. It may be a sketchy way but right now it seems like the one way. If I don’t *see* you ahead of time, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and encourage you to think of it as a fresh start. I’m realizing more and more that everything can change so quickly, so there’s no reason to limit our expectations. Live each day like it could be your last and don’t be haunted by the past. If you're sharing the occasion with others, be thankful that you have them around and take note of where you were last year and what good and bad things have changed. “Everybody, come together, over me” -Beatles

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Johnny Five is Alive! or 'In Between a Taco and a Warm Place'

I know some people are dying to hear the results of Johnny’s Introduction to Canada 101. I can confidently, laughably, boldly and certainly say she landed safely in Pearson Airport, Toronto on Sun, Dec 26 Central Eastern time. Yes, one might well have expected that she would be a bit later than one can expect but that wasn’t the case. No, actually, I’d say that she was simply later than I expected. No, that’s not it either: all planes seemed to be ridiculously late, and the crowds weren’t dispersing so I can tell you from experience it wasn’t a settling matter! I was worried.

Where could Johnny be? Were we just destined to fail after all our struggle booking arrangements for countless hotels and chasing after one evasive landlord after another? Surely things couldn’t just flop after she went to the trouble of buying thick underwear specifically to protect her from our cold climate? On the other hand, Murphy’s law would tend to suggest that yes, they could. If anything will happen that can, so won’t some things. Maybe everything had just gone wrong.

I started to really think the plane had already arrived and all the passengers were gone, judging from another man, fresh from London, who said he also came off flight 099 about a half hour ago and thought that everyone was off. Then suddenly, I saw a girl who looked completely flustered; the one heading straight for the door. Indeed, it was Johnny! I advanced fully certain it was her but yet with this question in mind: was it really her, all the way from Portugal??? Although I was wearing my bright red hoodie to get her to recognize me, it was I that ran after her and intercepted her before she got away. Even if I’ve only seen her in a photo or two before, my eye is keen to detail. It had her image nailed. We made contact then abruptly got the hell out of there.

Another thing that caught me off guard is that the Airport was a complete ZOO!!! There were late (and I mean like DAYS late) Jetsgo planes arriving, the terminal 3 (where I had to go to meet Johnny off a British Airlines flight) was totally full, traffic was a serious joke and all I could do was stand in confusion as onslaughts of people in all different direction milled around me mindlessly as I did to them, waiting, stressing, harboring ill doubts and actual fears of Stan Rogers-like catastrophic reoccurrences. There was just an inkling of a moment when I remember thinking something to the effect that the apocalypse couldn’t be more obviously presented, but then again, I’m getting used to coincidences not being my friend so why would I put faith in a flimsy system if I’d known it as less than all together? As a result of large groups of other cars that are faster than me, I had to go to terminal 2, bribe a cab driver to take me to terminal 3 and wait, wait, wait. Finally: breakthrough!

Johnny is getting used to things here. I think we will get along fine. If we don’t then she’ll just leave, simple as that. After all, there’s no use in hanging out with a guy named Barrett if he isn’t cool. There is a lot for her to enjoy here though. The first time she went outside she saw snow for the third or second time in her life. That’s incomprehensible for me to think but true. Amazing! She is very entertaining to watch because everything is so much different for her but for me, even though I’m used to living here, it’s refreshing not to take it for granted. For example, I will tell you a story about how she reacts to cold:

Remember in Loonie Toons, the way Coyote would run after Roadrunner, even beyond the ends of cliffs and then he would just hang in the air until, with mortification, he realized he was about to fall, then plummet to the ground? Well, the cold seemed to have a similar delayed effect on Johnny. She walked outside just happy to have some fresh air (well, as fresh as Toronto has to offer) and seemed fine for a few moments. Then the bite of the wind would pick up or the cold would just settle itself into her jeans and suddenly her jaw would drop. She would exhibit the look of shock from being assaulted by the temperature, utter ‘I can’t believe it’s and rush in for cover again.

It is very interesting meeting someone you’ve never actually met before but in a way it seems like we are just confirming something we’ve already known through the internet. The internet? Of all places! Well, what do you think you’re on right now? Don’t act like it’s such an alien concept.

The “Lioness” and I have been enjoying the best of second hand book stores and anticipating making a snow man at some point. She met my parents yesterday and marveled at how loud my sisters are with me. It’s good to have someone who’s from the outside. My father was really excited to meet a vet student because he’s a cattle farmer and likes to talk cows. For her part, she wants to see the old order Mennonites in our neighboring town, St. Jacobs, and maybe catch the birthing of a calf in real life. She tells me her anthropological observations of Canadian culture and it’s interesting to discuss them. We went to Taco Bell (Diem, I don’t know the other place you recommended, do we Canucks have it?) and also Wal-mart where, sitting on the store floor because as I never noticed, but where the hell ARE you supposed to try on boots in Wal-mart? She found boots that aided against falling and breaking one’s face on the ice. She walks confidently now and knows to expect the worst even though it’s starting to get more confidently but who doesn’t still hate the whole layering thing? It brings with it a whole can of problems and one is that it’s really hard to be comfortable.
Don't take my word for it, hear Lioness'

Unfortunately today, she came down with quite a fever. She felt cold but was actually very hot and needed to protect herself with multiple layers of covers. Her voice is weak and I think the combination of jet lag and the weather is just throwing her body for a bit of a loop. She says she’s getting better and is at this moment doing some resting-up but she wanted me to warn everyone that she may not be active in her blogging for a few more days. I’ll try to pick up the slack. Her “temperaturitis” is a problem that comes and goes but it’s never good to push the limits if extreme colds or hots make her vulnerable to sickness, so she’ll just be relaxing in her room, an unaesthetically pleasingly though adjustably floral decorated space that she seems satisfied with.

I will have more details and feedback about the wonderful visit of Lioness. As for myself, I feel as if I’m on a vacation at home because being in her presence is like sharing the experience of a tourist. I see my own native land through a bit of a different perspective, enriched by the wonder and novelty of a foreigner. I’m trying to pick up a Portuguese word here or there and enjoying the exercise of speaking some German with her, a woman who’s truly brilliant with languages (as I get a better sense of just how many books she’s read, I’m floored). As we get to know each other more as actual people I find that there’s not really much that separates us other than geography. The blogsphere is small when you really think about it. In it, I know that many read each other almost as a ritual though they may never have met one another. Let me tell you as someone who had doubts about it but realized that people are generally who they seem to be from one medium to the next, that the internet is really affecting people’s lives these days and that as J said, you CAN tell a lot about a person from reading their blog. Virtual communities realize themselves in actuality and vice-versa. It’s fun!

So…in the meantime, just know that she’s fine, don’t worry. I’ll continue to try to be a good host and as that's the end of the time we have for today, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all a goodnight!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Things may look a little like this Posted by Hello

Packing the Punch into Boxing Day

The common thing to do on Boxing day is to go hunting for blowout sales or just recuperate from the turkey overeating from the day before. Today will be vastly different. I've gone to meet exchange students before but I've never met anyone over the internet before and then come into contact with them.

Today is special though because I'm going to meet someone from halfway across the world, FOR REAL!!! This "person" is in the air right now, I'M SERIOUS!! You can't turn back the wheels of time, or the conveyors, or the sands, or nothing! My one hope is that she doesn't pull out her cell phone and somehow interfere with the frequency of the mechanical devices on the plane, start an electrical fire, and pull a Stan Rogers. Really, I just hope her vegetarian plane food is tastey like she hoped.

The last update via apt text messaging skills was that she was in London, so that means she made it across most of Europe so far. I figure she's somewhere over the Atlantic right now. Hopefully she's sleeping too, so that the frequency of my brain waves does't interfere with the plane either. (I'm only worried cause if you take a written reading of my brainwaves and flip them backwards, the shape of the amplitude reads: "Satan") Anyways, I'm surrounded by a concrete basement right now so her plane should sail normally.

She arrives tonight, surprisingly enthusiastic about being exposed to the underbelly of Canadian fast-food: Taco Hell. Since when are there people who've never had a Taco before? So that she'll recognize me, I've decided to go to the airport dressed like this We have two back-up languages that we can both fake if English fails, and I'm excited to learn some more Hebrew. Her accent really is swell, even though she hates it when people say she sounds like Bjork. She already taught me to say "sheket" which means shut up in Hebrew but since I keep saying it she doesn't ever get a chance to teach me anything else before I silence her with this one word. I'll have to discipline myself.

I am so excited to meet this witty, feline, aquaintance that I really haven't slept much. For relief, to indulge my narcissism and for the memories it brings back of sitting around a bonfire and heartily singing with the guys in highschool, I'll belt out a rendition of Barrett's Privateers and raise a wish for more prosperous results aboard the Boeing than the old ship.

If you like Canadian history and/or folk music, Stan was the king. His brother Garnett also wrote some good tunes. Now I will make more preparations and rush to meet the famous Pink Panther

Saturday, December 25, 2004

We're gonna Paaaaaaarty like it's ya Birthday

We remember that day when little baby Jesus lay in a manger, surrounded by Mary, Joseph, some wise men, and the animals. They came from Orient far, following the stars with Frankecense and Myrhh. The Angel Gabriel had told them it was so. The Inns had refused Mary and Joseph, though the burden was heavy. The donkey that would later bear him to the cross was weary, and the pains of birth that Mary bore sprung forth into joy and the life that was within her. It might have been any Jew who gave birth to the son of God, any rich or poor or weak or strong or disciplined or modest woman in any circumstance. Why was it Mary that was annointed? So many must dream of the sacred life being immeasureable, omnipresent, infinite. Jesus the son: the way the truth and the light for all to see. Joseph came from a long lineage, as most anthropoids do. And if Joseph was not the biological parent then where did Jesus get so many brothers? Some think we are all brothers and sisters in the family of God. How does this enigma sort itself out when so often we're at war with each other even in our own homes? Is there a spirit enough to go around? Feeding your cat or letting someone into your heart are often inspired by the same mood. It takes structure to bring up the kingdom of God but so often it is the little things that can make a difference. No one man can do it for everyone, but in Jesus there is the story of hope and love and peace and so much potential for life that when I introspect about it, I feel more accepting of the pattern of growth and decay. And as snow falls every year, so too do the stars carve out our history and change its meaning.

Friday, December 24, 2004

What did Adam say to Eve the day before Christmas??


I just wanted to say that this Christmas Eve I really enjoy singing and reviewing the old Christmas carols that I used to sing all the time when I was a choir boy. The church where I was brought up is trying to be more dynamic in services apparently, so there was a whole array of moods to the music tonight. We sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" heard a beautifully sung solo of "O Holy Night" and there was even a tropical sounding song that got some moving through the use of shakers and other raw instruments. I wanted to hear "Oh How the Rose Er Bloometh" but was satisfied that "Silent Night" was sung in fairly good German, pleasing me with the language I find very beautiful though others find it so ugly. My favorite line that I like to hear in German is "schlaf in himmlischen ruh" (Sleep in heavenly peace). After the service I went over to my fellow friend's house and saw his adorable baby doing just that.

My pastor investigated the significance of Jesus's birth and the hang-up people have about whether or not Mary was really a virgin. For some reason, these details make a world of difference for us because who was Jesus exactly? We want to do an exegesis of him if we're interested in him at all, or maybe we can just enjoy the story. It's kind of like celebrity gossip: "I heard that Ben Affleck knocked up..." Why are people so nosy about details?? The pastor made the point that in Samuel's account, perhaps he couldn't convey the importance of Jesus as an initiator or "prince of peace" or the future significance of his controversial teachings, or his uniqueness without talking about what was at that time so common in Greek mythology: humans being impregnated by gods. In some translations, apparently "young girl" and "virgin" meant the same thing. How can you separate any story from its myth? It was around the third century that Christians became so rigid about virginity and the sense of purity that they thought it ennobled. I think this reflects the changing gender roles and conflicts between men and women more than it shows a flaw in the story. Historiagraphy and history never seem to converge after all. There have always been fierce debates and secular divorces over this issue but my pastor doesn't feel the need to take a stance one way or another. Isn't humanity and birth and the will to do good amazing in itself?

I think so. Christmas time encourages me to think more about it and learn some things I don't know about human nature. I would like at some point to read Aesops Fables and compare them to the bible as well as check out some of the Apocrypha. In every story, there always seems to be secrets. Every text has a key, you just need to know how to read it . Then finding out the truth gives more insight to the fiction. Well, now it's late and I still have to prepare for the big birthday bash tomorrow. Don't give me greif about it not being on Jesus's "actual" birthday or anything I just said I'm celebrating. Don't hate me for not hating Christmas, just be happy for me. I know many have been turned cold about Christmas because of all the bastardizations of the meaning and commercialism and all that jazz but I think we should all just chill out and remember that you have the choice every year to make Christmas what it is for you, even if that's just a normal day.

Sclaf in himmlischen ruh!

Guess what I did this morning!

I woke up and walked upstairs and looked at my whole family standing there and they looked back at me. My dad had been reading the paper, my mother was in between the dishwasher and the table, my sisters were clustered around the table, the toaster was sitting on the table, the mail was underneath the cubbard and the dog was outside somewhere and I watched them blink. They had been talking about something. They had. And then I said to them: "lets make a lot of bacon and eat it." And then I did.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Howard Sends a Christmas Card

I got a letter from Howard. It doesn't say anything about Chantale, or where he's staying EXACTLY, but I'm glad he's on the move again. He functions best as a Nomad. I love him for it. Here it is:

Dear Sir Barrett,

How is your family? Are you remembering what I told you last time about Christmas? what Howard said Africa is wonderful!! Gloriously wonderful! I am busy as usual but I just wanted to write you to send warmest greetings and tell you a bit about what has caught my interest and is probably the most intense study that I’ve ever emerged myself in. That’s considering that I’m not a real study kind of chap, but I came here for the exposure. An offshoot of that project is another little hobby horse: the Aardvark.

Aardvark means “Earth Pig” in Afrikaans. You can try to learn this language yourself and prove it, but if you’re anything like I am, here's a tip: you’ll confuse your clicking with your clacking and your mouth will become a trap into which language will never re-emerge.

It’s hairy, has a long snout, and a slithery tongue that comes out to get ants and other bugs stuck to it. With its pointy hooves, it looks quite like a curious little devil, and smells like on as well. By that I mean that it has an acute sensitivity to scents. It might surprise you to know that it can also hear you whispering even at a great distance, so perhaps you should stop and pay attention. They aren’t hooves exactly, but they look like them. Their 2nd and 3rd toes are webbed in a freakish way which goes against my constitution but I will tolerate it for this lesson and have put that aspect of them away in light of their other fine characteristics. I would tell you about waking up to the sound of them madly clawing into the roots and sable earth but that is for another time. Haven't you got things to do this busy season?

I have admired and respected Aardvarks as shy little blokes who may sleep a little too much, but they maintain a saintly modesty and never interfere with business, so quite fit into a symbiotic environment. When I was in the savannas doing the greater part of my horticulture research on breeds of African grasses, I found that one Aardvark would sometimes come out during the day. I would peer at him from my wickerchair just to see what he was about. He minded his own business but, to my amusement, liked to saunter around in the shade by the back porch, helping himself to the termites that were eating the wood away. Their brown coats are rather fashionable and though I cannot get over their feet, they are admirably unique, being the only species in their animal family, the Orycteropodidae family. Their order is Tubulidentata after their teeth, which they only have along their cheeks, which are made of tubules compressed together instead of enamel like human teeth.

I did not ever figure out exactly what purpose their teeth served. They have these bristles in the front, but other then giving me an impression of a deranged moustache, I couldn’t for St.Peters sake find out what it was. I thought that perhaps sharing this with you, you could think of the friendlier climates and animals at Christmas time. Of course, I am not saying Canada is not a friendly climate but I prefer not to wear ridiculous scarves everywhere. I promise you I will be back again soon. Keep the blog going.

May you see the greatest successes over the New Year,
Howard Wayword

Filed under Howard Wayword

You Think You're Hot with a Phone?: This Big Boy' Got a Challenge For Ya!!

So. Phoning and talking via alternate means of communication other than directly, as in real life has become so much a part of our lives now. It's cheap, convenient. Heck! With Rogers Wireless phones you can text message almost anywhere in the world for only 20 cents (or less) a message!!! It's so important for us to keep in touch with people virtually everywhere that we don't necessarily ever run ourselves into. We can even send our cute little pictures and even videos to those we love so much. It also important that the dialogue runs both ways, so it's great and rewarding that it's completely FREE to text message in reply of a previous text message, making the whole interaction that much more stabilized in its potential to continue, and reciprocate, and grow, get enmeshed, etc. you GET my point.

BUT what if, you're area isn't covered? What if you live say, in New Caledonia? (I don't really know if they have coverage or not so don't question me on it but if I was in New Caledonia right now I'd be suckin down a juicy coconut thinking about other things) NO TEXT MESSAGES FOR YOU!!!!!!!!! Well, here's another text message or rather challenge for ya: what do you do if you have a phone, like most people you know that you might go so far as to call 'normal', but it's NOT a GSM phone?

Rogers deliberately states that only GSM mobiles make the cut for this deal. They cannot promise that the message will be delivered even if you phone is a GSM. (Who's the smartypants who knows what the GSM acronymn means?). Sometimes people aren't listed with the local operator, and then that is another sad tale of the overriding weakness of bureaucracy, and the failure to serve, because little Timmy didn't get his text message.

Well, I think what most 'normal' would do if their phone was not GSM and/or the person they're trying to send text messages isn't a GSM mobile would just figure that out and call it a day. Yeah, they might first suspect they got the wrong number or that the international code wasn't right. I on the other hand, after checking that the number was correct, tried sending over 20 txt msgs and watched disappointed as they all piled back into my phone's account, instead of proceeding successfully, like young birds from the nest. See, I just had so much determination, I was convinced that eventually they would get through, trial and error style.

My messages didn't fly. They failed miserably. I've already checked the number again thank you. I'm not an idiot. I'll assume it's because the person's phone is not a GSM. Someone tell me: what other forms of cell phones are there. Enlighten me. I dare you.

Johnny Come Lately, to Canada

Things are merry, they're a little bit hairy but what surprise, what wonder is inspired by this season! I know that my season's wishes are coming true, and something very out of the ordinary is happening: on a lark, Lioness decided to come visit. She's coming to Canada "Canuckia" IN THE FLESH!!!!!

Last night, we scrambled to send information back and forth over MSN. We were mad deal finders and notifiers of "easyroomates". Desperately, we drove forth with our mission in mind: to find accomodations in this land that I call home and some how transport her Portuguese self over that water and land it at Pearson Airport.

It is the land of Wayne Gretzky and Tim Hortons and other stuff that you could try to use to stereotype the place though it just wouldn't work. This is Canada, a place we like to think has freedoms and a damn good health care system. The UN rated us the best place to live for a few years but now we've got to work on equality issues. Watch out for glass ceilings etc.

When we met on this here blogsphere, I would have never imagined ever actually meeting her. We were just disembodied characters on the keyboard. Ideas mediated by technology. Now the daring is taking over, we are setting up this biatch. The internet couldn't stop us, the hotels couldn't stop us, the fact that I have a lot of trouble with dialing numbers almost stopped us from communicating but not even if it rained geckos would that stop us, though it would be a waste of good reptiles.

So, she's a bit fearful of the cold here. I'm trying to convince her that those negative temperature numbers don't really mean anything, they're just relative. It's when you get to Kelvin or Absolute Zero that it's cold right? Only then. I hope that she will see the CN tower and some of Guelph and be exposed to the whole Canadian culture. What is Canadian culture? I'm not an expert but I hope to emulate what life here for me is.

The trip has been causing us some greif here and there (neither of our parents know what the heck is going on but my dad is excited to show his cows off to a Vet student) and the hours of sleep are altered as we chase after landlords at strange hours of the night to confirm tentative things and race towards the future. I also have to work when she's here so that's a little peeve that'll have to simply just be lived with. I'm lobbying against my job for more time off. You know how this season is. We Canucks are such hard workers are we not?

It's fun to be an outsider and make connections with people that aren't centred around work, school, or a board of directors. The internet offers a vast array of interesting people with interesting lifestyles who can share and relish in each other's geekiness and computerized expression of self. I can't wait til Lioness comes. I can't wait til she meets my family. What will they think? What will SHE think? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Cold is not so Bad -chop wood and feel good

The cold is not so bad. It is nice when it lessens. All the animals may have gone into hibernation but there are friendly birds around to keep you company in the deep woods. My dog sky also follows me out and wags her tail in the anticipation of an adventure.

Today I am being a woodsman. The grey and the brown and the white of the landscape is pretty in that uncolourful rustic way. It reminds me of the times when I would go from tree to tree, dipping my index in and tasting the sap that had dripped into little tin buckets hanging from the mightly maples. Today I am bonding with trees but it is a different kind of bond as I make the "crrxk! Crrcxxxxxxxk!@" sound. (That's the sound of an axe chopping through stumps and them squealing as I pull the pieces apart if they don't fly apart immediately)

Chopping wood is so gratifying. You study the blocks each individually and set them on others. It's important to look at the direction of the grains. You visually line them up with your future axe-stroke. You lift the axe over your head and bring it down with all the force you can accelerate your arms to bring. Bam! The axe sometimes goes straight through and embeds in the chopping block. Separation is equal. Both pieces fly to the side. One right one left.

Sometimes if there are knots you can't avoid them. You can chop halfway into the wood but then you have to pry it out with much difficulty. It's better just to avoid it but sometimes if you get through there are wonderful patterns to make out in the grains in your cut.

I work away in a shed as the melting snow drips from the roof. I need to remove my jacket and wipe my forehead to get the sweat. I love the smell of the wood and my sweat mixed together. It makes me feel like a man, a woodsman at that.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Stay Away from the Big Bad Cold

In a small community, cars in a queue manage to maneouver slippery streets, pedestrians rush to get back inside and experts weild barmetors and report on the current situation with the weather while others are hooked to their tvs and content to live safely in blankets listening for news of the dangers out there.

A voice came across a wavelength projected through a radio announcing: "...there is a high of -8 degrees Celcius, with a wind-chill of -30 for the Kitchener-Waterloo region" (Basically: if you go outside, it's going to hurt).

I walk out my basement door, sheltered by a small dug-in cove up to the waist with cement stairs, leading to the snow covered lawn. I'm not prepared for what is to come when suddenly I'm smacked straight across my face by the cold!! It deals cheaply as the malevolent nasty brute that it is, attacking from all sides, hissing to set everything to ice with it's breath.

It holds me in it's claw. Oh the stinging, demobilizing cold! I fight it off as easily as a lame deer can run from a pack of wolves, but feeling that I am sinking to it, becoming more weak. At first I shiver and that keeps me occupied. Then it stops. Then I just give into the cold for a moment, knowing it wouldn't kill me. Mind over matter, I think. The joints of my fingers feel like nothing, my hands feel like nothing, or at least they begin to feel like nothing, because they're getting numb.

I go in when it's just about time. After checking to see I'm intact, I run my hands under warm water. This is such a rush, but then they start to tingle uncontrollably. (you're doing this with me now. I demonstrate) It shocks your skin like you wouldn't believe! (In a good way though, it's worth it heehee, tingly) Your fingers swell red like grapefruit pieces. You breath in deeply and let it out massaging your fingers "ahhhhhhhh" and then turn on the fire and sit down and begin over your keyboard with finger exercises: bend, lightly, bend. Your face begins to regain feeling, you remember what it's like to have voluntary facial reactions instead of static climate-imposed ones and start being able to perform them. Ah look! You're smiling. The cold kicks your ass and turns your nose into a freezie but then when you get away from it, though it thaws it still stays in you deep in your bones, like the smart of a sucker punch. You shake it off and eventually take refuge in something warm -a giant coverlet, and fall asleep in it's safe but temporary relief from the knowledge that tomorrow, again you will have to face the cold.

The cold is always waiting, just outside the door.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Working Towards Holidays, and an intro to Flying Dog

So, I'm kinda losing my mind. I finished exams and that was a huge load off my back. Now I have to catch up on everything I've been neglecting. Bills, plans, getting back to chiropractors about missed appointments, missed sleep, finding travel arrangements for a foreigner who's coming to visit.

Let's talk about work last night. I want to introduce you to the staff so that you have an idea of what it's like.
the Flying Dog

Wanda kinda runs the place. She used to do it with Michelle, but she fired Michelle last week. No one talks about it. She's probably 50, has a kid, smokes, looks stern most of the time and when she's being serious about a serious matter she rather exaggerates. Generally she's friendly, and she likes me so she's never stepped up and put me in my combat stance. Her eyebrows go high and she says things like "ok guys, I've really gotta tell you something: this has got to be fast. I've got a party of 70 coming in and they'll have and hour to have dinner, dessert and coffee, and then the switch has to be instantaneous!! I need those bread cones like NOW!!!" I don't take it seriously, but I see how it's effective because it sends some waitresses into overdrive. She was in marketing working for Woolco, before she "fell into the restaurant business" in her own words.

The waitresses that work at the Flying Dog are all drama queens. There's Mary, who is the most senior worker. She's 20, actually knows how stuff runs, but is a little selfish and apathetic about the system. I onced asked her why the turnover rate is so high at the dog, why no one works there very long. She rolled her eyes and said "you'll see". She's "Mary, quite contrary." A lot of waitresses have little cat fights with her, but she's less catty then them so she usually prevails. It's true, she doesn't really gossip, and she "tells it like it is." The thing is that she's a quick and sly little information chain. But, it's easy to please her if you just work your ass off for her, then she smiles and gives you a pouty face and ASKS you if you have a second instead of telling others that you don't work at all.

Then there's a whole bunch of new waitresses. Girls who think the most important thing about themselves is to be the most important thing about themselves, which is fine, for them. Joanne actually is very nice and always says hi and doesn't get all frazzled when things aren't all working in her favour. She cooperates. Meaghan is a doll too. She hates working there, but she walked up to me personally last night and handed me a $20 and said "thanks for helping us out with the tables." It was really just dessert plates, and some wiping, but hey, thank YOU!

How communication always works within hospitality is that if someone's pissed about something, they'll wait til the problem walks away and then spread rumours and complain about the person behind their back. It's always like this in the restaurant business no?

In the kitchen: there is a cook who always sings heavy metal songs. Just the other day he was singing the Korn version of the George Micheals song "Faith". He actually has a pretty good voice. He likes to joke and put ice cubes down people's pants when they're not looking and that general tom foolery. He told someone yesterday after producing some incoherent Snoop-speak like "the dogs they flizzah,...for shizzle etc" that he doesn't know what he just said but he sure as hell meant it. I agree with that. There's another cook who always stutters but is also one of the fastest talkers. How does that work? They call him 'Binkie'. Jayson makes me nachos when I need them. He does his own thing and tells people where to go but once in a while he'll walk up beside me, look out at the crowd and say: "that milf is fucking hot" and I'll find one that matches the statement and concur.

There's Timmy the dishwasher, a short plump balding man who is a fairly nice fellow but rather slow. He is always saying "Dude" this and "dude" that, and it's produced in a sigh, so that it's like "Duuuuuuuuuddde, I just washed those, can you put them over there? Dude, can I ask you a favour? Do you wanna take the garbage out for me again? Thanks dude." Now the word "dude" is growing at an infectious rate all over work. I'll come back to the kitchen and see a mountain of plates and Timmy is lost in the moment talking to himself. It'll take a couple minutes before he registers to me yelling "Tall glasses are full!!!" and often I just do it, unless the short Indian dishwasher who always coaches and is the saviour of Timmy's dishwashing career for her direction: "no, those don't go there, first stack that, yeah, no, we still have to put those through before 9..." She comes to my side and changes them for him. She needs to be handed the rack because she's so short, but she's a tough one, a consistent and persistent worker. When you make a joke, she looks up through her thick glasses and smiles. What goes straight over Timmy's head, she catches, even though she's so much shorter. When I yell at Timmy, he'll wait for a couple minutes, then all of a sudden remember what you've said, though the cheese he's scraping involves more attention, then say "which ones was it? Did you say tall or small?"

Nathan just quit last night. He was a good waiter. I remember last week I admired him so much because of how he handled an irrate customer who was displeased that the tables weren't ready for him right on time, especially when he had made reservations in July. Nathan asked him who he was so that he could check the bookings but this man would not cooperate: "It doesn't matter who I am, I'm the one who's paying the bill!" Eventually, Nathan took the reins and told him to shut the fuck up and sit down or else he's not going to be served at all. That's the kind of guy Nathan is. When push comes to shove, Nathan is the man. He also always stays and drinks and dances it up at the restaurant after his shift. He's from Australia and seems very intellegent, articulate, and gay but yet talks about missing the Australian girls. There are lots of faghags at the restaurant, so maybe he means friends.

The other bus boys are all friendly, more serene chaps. They do their work, hate the customers, hate it even more when the customers don't move because all night you are carrying a box over your head nudging with your shoulder to pass through the crowds. Who wouldn't also hate that some customers like to suck on their ice until the last drop is consumed, so you never know who's going to freak out at you for clearing their glass. We do all the dirty work: pick up broken glass, fix the toilets, wipe tables, get accused of taking drinks by swindling customers etc: "it has to be bone dry before you touch it" well, we don't have all night to wait for evaporation. They just take it like men and work hard. There's Tyler, who goes to Conestoga too in Arts and Sciences. A younger fellow Menno who's nice to talk to. Unfortunately, yesterday he was hospitalized because a customer apparently punched him several times in the head.

There's Jason, another fellow Menno, had met him previously because he was dating my cousin and always came for Christmas. Now he's married and has a kid with another woman and works in real estate but also works at the dog part-time because he's an insomniac and it's just a job to get away. Those are good reasons.

Andy is the supervisor and has meetings at the end of the night. He always gives thanks where it is due and addresses problems very aptly. When someone asked whether Tyler fought back when that guy called "Cuba" who used to work at Revolution (the other half of the restaurant, it's a cluB) punched him, Andy said "I will not comment on that, I'll leave it up to Tyler" then the person who asked said, "yeah, I respect that, I was just wondering". Excellent PR.

The customers are usually middle aged business people -the people who work at the Research In Motion's and Manulife's and MDG etc. They all dress very well and the older women still look very good because they take good care of themselves, dress well, goto etheticians or are plastic surgeons themselves. There are a few regulars, who are generally good. It's the big groups of guys that piss me off most. They get into a mood where they just want to be an asshole. I think any guy can possibly relate to this. I've felt it before. I try not to indulge in it too much.

So I was having a bit of a crappy night last night, I worked about 24 hours in the last 48, so I was burnt out. I had to squeeze a lot last night, but then the funny thing that happened was that at 12 I noticed my shirt felt strange. On my back I found a sticker that had an arrow pointing upwards. In the arrow it said "this barmaid shags customers." Oh boy, was my face red! I wonder how long it had been there. So you see, there must be at least one really tricky customer out there who wanted to intentially shame me. Cheers to you! "barmaid"!!! Ha! well, anyways, that gives you a little better idea of the Flying Dog, where gargoyles abound and you must always watch your back.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Howard Spotted as Santa Claus!

I haven't been able to keep track of Howard lately, it seems like he's always on the go or into some new project, talking about all this economical scheming that I don't understand. He's buying up all this stock in RBC right now, saying he supports their active marketing strategy and prominent brand.

I was just walking in Uptown Waterloo on my way for a coffee when suddenly I saw a man wearing a Santa Claus beard but in a full gucci suit, carrying a breif-case, handing out candy-canes to children and laughing merrily. He was telling them each various lessons and reminding them: "now don't you just simply be a good little child until Christmas is over but remember to work hard in school, invest your money, respect your elders, and never use your credit card for depreciable items, the future depends on you!" He patting them each on the head as they left off with their mothers or fathers. I was slowing down just a second when I thought I recognized him, it was Howard!!!

Could this be the same man who a month ago kept to himself, was always busy, could never satisfiably update himself on news or get to his appointments on time, though it seemed that an alarm was consistently ringing on his palm pilot?

I walked up to him saying "Ho Ho Ho Howard!" and his eyes brightened tenfold.
"Such a pleasure! And would this be old Barry!!"
He likes to call me that sometimes as a little tease. I punched him in the shoulder and he gave me the custom handshake. Then I realized: what do I say to him? It's Howard himself! I just can't get over it. He looks so much different with a beard on.

"Where have you been Howard?"
"I've had such an adventure Barrett,"
he says. I start to wonder.
"I've been feeling lately that the fibre of humankind can be made of the flexible stuff that can be found in the substitute we have for modern corks in wine these days. I have shifted my mentality to afford more benevolence this season, and I just wanted to spread my cheer. It is so wonderful this Christmas stuff. I've never been Santa Claus before you see?"

I partially understood but I was still surprised. Is he saying he's like a cork? Howard can act like a nutcase sometimes. But when would Howard ever have done this before? He's a thirty-or-no-one-knows-how-old workaholic who can effectively dissappear on business trips or otherwise for months at a time. I never thought he'd be doing anything but working, nevermind trying to dress up as a fat Christmas icon in the small town of Waterloo.

"Shouldn't you be wearing red if you're Santa Claus?" I ask. His costume doesn't seem quite right, and his beard is black, not white. He kind of looks like an American businessman disguised as an Arab. "I wanted to reinvent Santa Claus" he explains. "I'm toning down the visual elements of the man. Santa Claus is outdated. He looks haggard. I don't like the man." He admits. "Well, why are you trying to be him then?" I logically ask. "I think Santa Claus has good ideas. His ho ho ho make children laugh and the sweets are simply irresistable, however, I can't be dressed with pillows or go through the hassle of ordering reindeer every day now can I?" He had a point. "I am toning Santa Claus down in order to subtly change his image. I'm evolving Santa Claus. With my current predictions and the market trends shifting towards an increased apathy towards traditional celebrations of holidays to a commercial one, Santa Claus can easily metamorphose into anything, he can dissappear, he can reappear in the drivers seat of your taxi cab."

Just then he looks around suspiciously then moves closely to me. "Here, look what else I've got." He opens up his jacket to reveal small toys of all sorts, slap-on bracelets, slinkies, mp3 players, cell-phones, and watches hanging from the inside of his coat. "Aren't these beautiful? I've got a whole selection of devices!" He sured did. He was selling stuff a la black market now??? "I know that you could use an mp3 player with all that music you're making and listening to lately. I've heard your album by the way." "Really? I asked." I didn't remember giving it to him. I didn't even imagine he's listen to anything but Brahms. "I accessed your computer last week and sorted a copy into my files. I hope you don't mind." I was shocked. He got someone to hack into my computer??? I couldn't believe him. "What's going on? What songs are on it then?" I needed proof that he wasn't jerking me around. If he doesn't know then my test worked. Without missing a beat he listed off the song names "dissonant symphony, how do you and the short-lived shark fins." Holy night! How did he do that? I haven't even posted my music anywhere! "It's the short-lived shake-ups" I correct him. "Oh burning buckles!" He exclaims. "Now I'll have to change the title on all the mp3 players!" "What!!!" (This floored me) "I know you're a friend Howard, but I never licensed you to sell my songs. "It's alright, Barrett. When I hacked into your computer, I re-encrypted the files so that technically the music file that I'm distributing isn't technically yours. Besides, I'm building your name's share value by sharing it. The children are already singing your songs" "Howard, my music isn't a publicly traded company. How much are you charging anyways?" Then, just before turning and walking away, he did something that surprised me but made me happy inside as well. He leaned in again with his serious look and said: "I charge nothing for what comes from my coat. Christmas is about giving. What I just put into your pocket just now is an mp3 player with over 50000 songs. Merry Christmas friend."

I stood there thinking for a moment, walking in my sleepy mood. Howard was giving stuff away? Out here alone? I wondered if he had anyone to share Christmas with. I forgot to ask. Maybe I should follow him. I ran down the street in the direction he went but I couldn't see him anywhere. I went into the Timothy's where I know he would go because it's the only place where he really enjoys the coffee other than Planet Bean in Guelph. There were just a few people quietly reading but no Howard. I walked back outside dissappointed. Something caught my eye and made my heart laugh
with joy because I knew that Howard must have been near. As I looked out into the intersection, I saw a mother and her little boy, wearing a big black beard.

Filed under Howard Wayword

Crisis Slain

Boy did I study! I think that while the text book is written at a grade two level and very repetitive, it helped to read it out loud in all kinds of silly voices and make fun of the fact that it goes into detail to explain that humans have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and that audio visual aids stimulate what sense? Oh yeah, sight and hearing. Weren't we taught this somewhere before? I learned that "effective communication strategies" result in messages being recieved, believed, rememebered, appropriate, memorable, and influence people to act in some way, maybe they wiggle their finger or something to signal that they're still alive because what I'm saying is so boring that 36% of the world has been put in a coma. But no, actually there were some interesting things that came out in the exam such as what the role of a PR person should do when the media exaggerates facts about organizations. I debated with the paper I wrote on, fiercely.

So, I guess I should tell you and myself that I'm not that angry anymore. I'm a yo-yo yes and I lost my mind and I wasted $96 dollars yesterday applying for schemes to get out of my program into another, but I feel a lot better. Take this example of cheeriness: I failed the main project of a course, the news release that I wrote on police and the community using constable Chris Zehr, my loyal and convenient friend, as my specimin of study, but yet I still managed to get a 72% on media relations!!
If I put the mark up to a mirror it would make me do a double-take. The other thing. You know how I talked about the snake egg yesterday?
personal profile
Well, that wasn't fair. I was having an emotional outburst. She's actually not really that venomous when she isn't possessed by the way of the beast or personally tormenting you by calling attention to your obscure understanding of the subject she teaches. Ok, yes, I guess you have to be a teacher to teach a program. I'm not a teacher. I'll cut her another slice of slack.

Anyways, it should be nice now just to have some time off and roam in the snow and read unrelated material, perhaps some philosophy of mind, deep thinker or some good old Williams Carlos Williams
the poet himself this season always feels like a good time to curl up in the warm indoors, drink a toddy perhaps or some nog, and chill out.

I know I'm not dancing around no Christmas tree. YOU can.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mid-Exam Crisis and the darkness within

So I managed to get to sleep sometime before 2am this morning. I somehow got up at 8 (my dad coaxed me). Then I ate tuna for breakfast. My dad was being all encouraging and saying fish is good for my brain and that I'll need it. Yeah, sure will I thought.

I wrote the media relations exam which went as well as possible but it's not the exam I've got my mind on really. It's the whole program. I'm glad I didn't study for the exam. It wouldn't have helped. It seems like it never matters how hard I work. When I work too hard then the teacher gets suspicious and finds something to dispute about how I haven't done the project right. I hate my prof. Today she handed back an assignment of mine with the words "not evaluated" printed on the front. As it turns out, apparently I did it all wrong and now "we need to talk" again.

I went in to talk to her and she tried to be all assuring and sweet by mentioning that I wasn't the only person who had a problem with the assignment. Is that supposed to make me feel better or just average? As long as I'm just a run-of-the-mill guy right? What a sugar-coated snake egg she is. She didn't like my issues management assignment because instead of using key messages from the school about how prepared they are for a crisis and how everything will always be ok as long as they follow their agenda, I made key messages about proposed solutions to the problems I identified through reading and researching the entire report on the school. Wrong wrong wrong.
(look for the rae review on

"Do you see how what you did wasn't what the assignment asked for?" She asked. I felt like I was on sesame street and I was being asked: "Can you see which truck isn't like the others?" Well yeah, and how much you just want to make things hard. "Well, I mean, if I'm supposed to be representing the students then wouldn't I voice their concerns?" I asked. Here's her trick response: "you DO represent the students but you work for the college, you have to show that the college is doing everything it can to avoid a crisis" (or something like that, really, I tuned out as soon as I saw her ugly face). I have issues with her can you tell? We bickered a bit over why I couldn't do the assignment the way I saw fit and then she told me not to be discouraged. Oh, ok, so you're going to give me a zero on an assignment unless I have the "threat" of failing the course and I'm not supposed to be discouraged? Yeah, like a 55% would really make me feel rewarded regardless of how I really do! And that's fair.

I'm seriously weighing the difficulties of continuing this program versus the skin it might save off my back if I just opt out now. I wanted to use writing to make a difference but as she said "that's activism, and I think that's where your heart really lies." My heart doesn't lie. I've already enrolled for the business diploma waiting list so perhaps I might escape from her evil clutches yet. Here's hoping

Things that make it difficult: The program head is no teacher. Furthermore she can't teach. Her marking scheme is sketchy, she seems to favour bimbos and it feels like
we're just her little guinea pigs. She's never taught this program before, Conestoga College is less than the best college in Ontario which it claims to be and I talked to a counsellor last week who just basically sat there and wondered with me whether this 'diploma' will actually increase my marketability or not, so my doubt increased.

I should have gotten a trade years ago. What am I doing here? Anyways, I might be able to put things into better context when I'm not riddled with exam stress but in the mean time, all is darkness within.

look for the rae review

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Rage Over Feminine Hygiene Products

I read an article that made me sick of all the politicized anti-man rhetoric bouncing around in hollow skulls. I became disgruntled to the point where I just had to write a letter to notify a young journalist with whom I have bone I have to pick. I'm tired of people not taking responsibility for their choices and blaming it on some amorphous being like, popularly, the corporation. Corporations can be evil but they can also be productive and in a way they even have more power than the government. That doesn't mean we should hate the very concept of a corporation. We should be wise consumers and suck it up. I recommend anyone who's interested in learning the role of the Corporation to read "the Corporation" by Joel Bakan or see the movie. Here's my response to the article in The Record, C1. Monday Dec 13, 2004 entitled "Young and flawless feminine hygiene ads must go". I'm supposed to be studying right now but I just studied and studied and studied and wrote two exams, so give me a break.

Susan Mohammad,
So Gilette-Venus wants you to "Reveal the Goddess in you" and hearing them say that makes you so angry that you're compelled to throw shoes at an innocent television. Why do you have such a strong reaction to ads that are obviously designed to appeal only to the most superficial level of consciousness? I can personally say that I have and always will hate their song so I feel your pain even as someone who would never consider buying a Venus razor. However, it's been proven that a strong reaction to anything will increase its chances of penetrating your mind. You think about razors because of how stupid that ad is don't you? Well, unfortunately perhaps that was the advertisers idea.

"It only makes sense that a company making products for women be run by women."

I disagree. Why is this the only way things make sense? Is it somehow unethical for a man to perform a manicure or apply make-up? These are typically 'feminine' products and activities but they aren't just for ladies. How could you even enforce something like what you're proposing? First of all, why should a man be the target of discrimination if his job is to work at a factory that supplies cotton for feminine pads? Aren't you really trying to promote equity? Secondly, if what you're saying is that women will be more responsible as producers for women just because they're women, you're missing the point of how to most effectively benefit the market. I think whoever has the skills should do the job, regardless of their sex.

"This consumer choice is an illusion since the very corporations making money off our bodies and natural cycles are owned and operated by men who, in return, invest little in us."

This is all backwards. Your choice to buy something really is your choice. If you don't know that then perhaps you really have been warped by these commercials. No one can legally steal your credit card and buy razors for you in bulk. If these are corporations, then those who own them aren't necessarily the ones managing public image, focus group and managers are. They invest a lot in you. It takes millions of dollars to hire focus groups to figure out what you want (and no, you're right, it's not you but someone who 'represents' you otherwise they would have to survey the entire world) and how to promote those interests in a catchy way. The result is that you spend a lot of time and money investing in them, and that is how bilateral trade operates.

I don't think what you're attacking here is really men making female hygiene products or the corporation. Corporations always try to fashion themselves as if they have you as an individual in mind. Don't believe them. They do lots of research to find out what will motivate a particular target audience. Since heterosexual men don't really need tampons, it's not immediately clear why they would use beautiful female models to sell tampax. The point is that they do, so perhaps there's a reason why lots of women want to be just like the beautiful women they see, regardless of the person behind the scenes or what tampax has to do with a pretty face.

"Companies make large profits by overcharging women on the products we need without consulting women in the process. In fact, they claim to speak for us."

This is how companies work. If profits are the objective then all you have to do is convince people that they need the product and then you have a steady cash flow. So the products must serve some purpose even if it's merely psychological for women to keep buying them. I could decide not to buy clothes because they're too expensive, but unless I can make them on my own, there's no point complaining about having to be naked.

It may seem wrong that there is a man making money off of something that he doesn't really give a care about but is it his fault that he's making money or could he just be acting opportunistically by exploiting a trend in consumerism that is there for him or anyone else who wants to make an easy buck? Commercials with integrity for the sake of integrity come off as being insincere and annoyingly preachy. Some advertising has caught on to this and intentionally flipped their attitude. Take an ad (Future Shop maybe?) whose premise (roughly) is that Christmas time is a time when families can get together. It gets emotionally mushy just before introducing the real motive behind its intended listeners: "then once you get into the store, it shouldn't be that hard to lose them" (the rest of your family). This is an effective ad because it appeals to a skeptical public. We don't believe the things we hear nor the fairies we see dancing in commercials. There's no reason to trust sales people, but that's just a hook. It's like Buckley's admitting that their medicine tastes terrible. They know that you'll believe something that's believeable, and be more likely to buy their product because you were honest. Other ads use fairies not because they want you to expect you'll turn into one, but because it's for amusement.

"It's refreshing to see new products developed and marketed by women, like the Diva Cup or sea sponges. These products significantly cut down a woman's dependence on, and contributions to, large corporations of the feminine hygiene underworld."

Ok, what is this shady concept we're talking about here: the "underworld"? Is there some kind of black market of feminie hygiene products that I don't know about? Secondly, won't the increase in consumerism for these products not lead to them becoming large corporations that establish mutual dependence between themselves and their publics? I don't know that it's all that different a ball-game. There's already a cornicopia of birth-control and hygiene products that clutter the market. Competition is healthy but does it really solve the problem? There will always be dumb ads. Consumers can't change them directly. What they can do is change their response. As long as they keep creating a buzz about the ads by talking about them, they will help disseminate their message and automatically link the products associated with them for better or worse.

Businesses, like corporations, all have a social responsibility to their consumers, and that is to retain them and make money off of them to benefit their investors. Therefore, men and women both need to create something in their product that makes it sell. If that means improving the product then good but just don't sweat the small stuff if others are tricked into buying something that obviously doesn't solve the problem it suggests it does because of sophisticated advertising.

I agree with you that women who have a stake in their own products are probably more likely to produce something that's actually beneficial to women but that's a hypothetical prejudice at best. Who's to say that "women's businesses" for which you are "looking to support" "the ones that aren't from the island where fairies dance on razors and maxi-pads fall from the sky" will be any more realistic? If so, how will they engage consumers any more directly and why are these businesses so hard to spot? Perhaps it has to do with mass-marketing. It seems that the most widely distributed messages have to be the most dumbed-down messages in order for everyone to get them. I can live with that as long as I don't get sucked in which will depend on my ability to analyse what I'm being exposed to. A little tolerance goes a long way as practice for being able to filter out irrelevant messages but if conversely, you censor content, you're controlling people just as much as you would be by providing the messages you'd censor. Therefore, I don't think the solution is that these "ads must go" I think it's that people need to shut them out.

It was provoking to read your article and I'm impressed that a person my age is already an accomplished journalist. I know that commercialism is the cause of a lot of angre because it manipulates the truth and employs impressions to form assumptions but I hope you can see where I'm coming from with my hang-up about people blaming a system in which they so willingly fit in.

Keep writing,
Barrett Cressman

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Don't ask what this is. Guess. Lack of sleep to blame for much of it. No time to blog but just enough to make a 'daft pic'. It is a rough depiction of a personae of an instance of my aura. It is a depicted with some jarring modern artistic technique while retaining a realism that really confronts all modes and ways of living in conjunction and conflict in the fact that I'm smoking on that buggy. This is SO not the idea of simple, body-as-their-temple Mennonites, as I would guess. Though this deviation raises ethical concerns such as: is that horse being mishandled? The masterful genius demonstrated through this piece is the artist's mind-boggling knack for being able to capture, and beyond that stimulate emotions, especially confusion: WHAT IS THAT CLOWN DOING THERE? You might even be asking yourself why you are even wasting your time looking at it, nevermind read this long long RANT! Well, the clown has already stolen your soul. It's a possessed and possessing picture ok? Creepy eh? I'm sorry, I seriously don't know where the clown came from, just sneaked right along with us, following Black Beauty all the way. I don't know why I was talking about the artist in third person either. There is no artist, just a subject. The real art is life. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Some Attempts at Realistic Quantification

You are not your spirit
although your spirit is a part of you
It may carry you

Yet so many times it is your spirit that is reduced to physical terms-
That is a formula.
Science in that way is not yet science, though it strives to be.
and my arts may be lost on vandals and thieves, though they were meant as a gift.

Yet we can strive for immortality
-As a beautiful imagination.
No loss is in our soul that is not a loss to a limb: communication

And science chooses to be what it can never grasp:
something which is entirely graspable.
It hurts to say but we are always learning from our mistakes
and the tension is what we thrive on.

May your spirit be always in a state of wonderful bewilderment,
and may it carry you through.

It is your spirit that will be what the world never dares you to be, though you feel its quaking deep inside you.

Monday, December 06, 2004

why are you following me? Posted by Hello

Filed under Heros

The snow is falling

The snow is falling
on the ground.
White, virgin snow
Not the first this year,
Although, today seems like a new beginning.
(It did rain for weeks)
My cones are bleached with jarring possibility.
The cold white light wakes me
-wired to that part, in the back of my head:
a place that remembers things but only feels them when it's prompted.
These little things:
a leaf, someone's scarf, the cursive of your writing, left behind,
dance to me playfully as if they had always been waiting.
I glance out to see snow but it's still.
In a visually oriented world it hits me visually, through the panes of glass.
It brings on a new mood like a switch.
The snow makes it ok to forget, makes it easy to start another affair
you can get wrapped up in its temporary magic.
rude surfaces clothed over in cotton
not to heal but to hide.
And why not fake changes until they happen?
Nature doesn't know the difference.
Time is equally confused with instances, but you will remember
and things will make sense to us when we think so.
Why does the snow fall?
Why not?
This sudden choice is liberating right now right here.
As the body of settings turn inside-out, the outside of my thoughts turn in, and certain things don't matter because the ground is already covered.
Staying in seems safer
though the outdoors are just a little more uninhabitable.
It makes things interesting.
Imposes conditions -like cumbersome driving.
It makes getting the mail seem more like a jail-break,
and pedestrians are more accomodating to the assault of temperature, because
they have to get to work
and it's already late
and now I can't see the snow, though I sense much activity.
I suppose it's all part of winter.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Did God Create Genes or Did Genes Create God?

Today it seems that everything we do demands a deep analysis of how our genes forced us to do it. Why do I like eating Brie? Well you see, I have the Brie gene. Why do I smoke? My genes predetermined me to be a fiend. Why do I always want to have sex at 11:28pm? At that time, my telomeres are simply peeling off in such a way as to give you that irresistable jenesaisquoi. In the 60's or whenever they had this theory that males with an extra Y chromosome were more aggressive and brutal. They were just a homicidal lot. Now I think they figured out that an extra Y wouldn't really do anything.

Dean Hamer Geneticist claims to have found 'God gene' in humans
used a bunch of surveys and compared twins with their genes to come up with this theory that people are more receptive to spirituality depending on their genes.

What about people who are just plain religious though? There are lots of people that I know that believe in God although they aren't particularly spiritual. Spirituality seems to be a ritualistic/meditative urge. Anyone can feel that the world has a divine harmony regardless of whether they believe in god. To me this theory just seems useless. On the other hand, there's been brain scans done that show a correlation between feelings of spirituality and specific regions of the brain. I do believe that the qualia of spirituality has a certain specificity to it but I don't believe in a god gene. Spirituality is a subjective thing which I don't think will ever be quantified by science even though science can give a perspective to spirituality and vice-versa.

This gets back to what I was thinking earlier today about the rivalry that always seems to be raging between the artsies and the scientists of the world. There's mutual skepticism. I feel that being very spiritual has a negative connotation with being overly dreamy, artsy, illogical, etc. It doesn't have to be this way though. On the other hand, there's also a negative connotation associated with the logical, anal, skeptical, paranoid scientists. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!!! Self-expression will always be a part of someone's spiritual journey and some religions focus on the mentality whereas others focus on their works making them vary in the degree to which sects are politicized. There is an interesting debate that I read this morning about Darwin. He's a hot topic because he shakes up the whole scene with his controversial/uncontroversial implications about evolutionary history and the origin of species.

My Self-Annihilating little Vent

I notice something in the paper that advertises being able to help me find a job. It's free, funded by the government and boasts a 75-85% success rate (does that mean it has a higher chance of being successful some of the time?). Well, what do I have to lose? How do I sign up? First I write a letter explaining my situation, and how I'm a perfect candidate:

Person A or Person B,
I graduated from the University of Guelph this past year with an Bachelor of Arts English Degree with Honors. Since then I've had no hope of finding a job other than doing physical labor or flipping burgers. I got rejected from five different Teachers colleges so then I enrolled in Public Relations at Conestoga College which I'm doing now.

My lack of confidence that I'll ever get a job that I will like really takes away from my motivation. Maybe it's the conditioning but I feel like there's just some invisible barrier between myself and the workforce. I really don't even know whether I'm actually considering my job opportunities or just going to school because there doesn't seem to be anything else to do. I don't even like it to be honest. Going to school for nineteen years straight because society tells you this will swing you a job loses its fun especially when it's not true.

I'm wondering what this program offers and what it demands. Obviously since I'm in school and work part-time I wouldn't be able to attend regular classes. Or would I? I'd rather drop out of my current program and see success rather than pursuing another dead-end, so keep me informed.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

My picture kinda sucks but I meant to have something visual along with my point that China is a huge market for Canada.

Take AMR Technologies, for example, which mines elements for computers, plasma screens, etc. near the Yantzi, or Hengfen, a business that grows and sells fertilizer and Canadian trees in China. China and Canada can hopefully become good business friends, as it has a lot of potential to benefit mutual interests.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

No "Weaponization of Space"?

My question is, and maybe I don't know enough about high-tech stuff to ever understand how this missile defense system, that will cost billions, will work but I want to know how it will be safer than no missile defense system for everyone in the world. I don't know why politicians are complexifying the issue and splicing hairs by saying it's missiles supposedly meant to shoot other missiles are not considered missiles. This system, as far as I understand, would not stop nuclear weapons from Russia or the US but in theory would stop other missiles coming in from "secret enemies."

Bush used some historical rhetoric that Mackenzie used when talking about WWII when Canada gave it's support to fight Nazi's. Now Bush seems to be suggesting that we either get on board with a system he's building regardless of our support to fight the cause of terrorism, or we're "against him." I really think it's not fair to force us to make a decision about something that requires a very good understanding of before it's implemented. Perhaps this system can deter further war or maybe it'll just re-open the opportunity for an arms-race. In my opinion, it's not good to jeopardize our earths life with automated systems that have the power to destroy.

see article on Bush's little visit
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