Thursday, September 29, 2005

Belinda Stronach Sells Family Tradition

Politicians need to be connected, but are connections always a positive thing? It depends what you're connected to. In PR, we learn that networking is one of the keys, on top of the skills and portfolio that you have to show what you know. But it's not only who or what you know that can give you leads on job opportunities, but your ongoing relationship with organizations and people in general. If you get an opportunity through a mentor to shine, you also need to follow-up and do the job right to live up to their benevolence. You need to stay in touch, and if they scratch your back, you have to scratch theirs.

Belinda Stronach, Canada's sexiest politician in cabinet (you may argue or resent it if you like), the Human Resources Minister, and recent addition to the Liberal party (after she was heralded as a political and private 'whore' by nasty Conservatives and others who envied her for leaving both the Conservatives, and potential lover, Peter McKay) is being cut out of deals for her excessive, not her limited, ties to the automotive industry.

Presumeably because her father owns Magna Inc. and she was the CEO, she was forced to sell all her shares in the company this week, worth $4.6 million. She has also been sanctioned from political chats about the automotive industry and steel. So how is she supposed to address NAFTA and our trading relationship with our American friends? Sometimes the burden of wealth and property can be paralizing, but her tie-cutting actions should offer her a clean slate in the eyes of the ethics commissioner on some fronts. She also donates $213,000 a year to charity.
[Read the story]

David Wingwald on the other hand, in the unfortunate trend of recent Liberals Paul Martin and Jean Chretien, has added some cynicism to the already bleak view of how the government spews and wastes taxpayers money in frivilous debauchery. He just quit as president of the Royal Canadian Mint after $740,000 spendings on office expenses and golf tournaments were revealed. The Gomery inquiry is supposed to show the truth about whether or not the Canadian government is fraudulent or not, but the various players in this game have not shown a good face so far, opponents are saying they've already seen enough scandal, and when Canadians go to the polls in March, who knows what our voting habits will be like.
[Take a perusal]

Perhaps this will open up an opportunity for us to reject both the Conservatives AND the Liberals, but it's not likely. People are fed up with both parties: the Libs for their mismanagement, and the Conservatives for, well, Stephen Harper is not exactly the most chummy politician for his views on gay marriage or eliminating child poverty.

It is evident that the voting public will no longer stand for budgeting tricks and inside deals, but who in Canadian politics has a genuine agenda? I guess we'll find out, come March, if not before.

CBC News, Thur Sept 29/05

Hungry to Sell Shoes

The following is a personal reflection of being in a situation where I was being persuaded, and the kinds of techniques that were being used:

Persuasion is about aligning your thought structure with someone else’s and then influencing them to come up with the same conclusion as you, whether it be through their acceptance of your opinion, or by them acting in a way as to react to a mutual problem. For salespeople, you not buying the product or the service that they offer is the problem. The solution is for you to purchase it.

So I was looking at some $80 plus shoes because they were on ‘sale’. The ‘sale’ had already convinced me to come in the store, but it had also subtly suggested to me that these shoes were regularly way more expensive then they were at $80 a piece, thus adding opportunity value to them. What they had done by marking up the price of some shoes in the store while putting others ‘on sale’ was change the category or stereotype I had of shoes that were typically under $80, and put them in an exceptional category; high-end shoes. As well, the limited quantity of shoes that were on sale made me think they were even more valuable because they were rare. It added urgency to my shopping experience.

After several minutes, I was asked if I needed help, then whether I was “having trouble with the styles?” No, no styles were attacking me. “Just ask if you need any different sizes” was the polite offer that made me feel more laid back and relaxed. I felt valued as a customer because I was allowed to stand in their store picking up random shoes and not really doing much. Rhetoric has this tradition of seeming easy when you mean business, and seeming stern when you don’t have the intension of going through with it. It is like poker, or as Fran Gregory once said: “it’s a dance.” They knew not to pressure me too much or else I would feel threatened. By being accommodating and relaxed, they made me put my guard down.

Finally I asked a question about the leathers of the shoes. Do some last better through the winter than others? If they were forcing a pair of shoes on me over another, I wouldn’t have trusted their opinion, but as it was, we almost answered my question at the same time, with me hesitating “…well I guess” and her coming in with “…it depends on how you treat the shoes.” The shoes all of a sudden became more like an involving possession to cherish, and what we were doing was implicitly sharing our respect of shoes, by my being concerned with their durability, and her confessing that they had threats to their longevity. She used authority and said she could “show [me] which products to use and how to use them to keep the shoes looking and feeling great.” (They could sell me some of their products). Notice how she stressed the positive, which is another technique of exaggerating the shoe in the first place: ie. It looks and feels great right now, therefore you should buy it. I appreciated her advice to stay away from suede, because I had never thought of them being of lesser quality before, but now I did. It’s important when being positively persuasive, to be negative about something, otherwise you have no credibility. She also exploited my senses by painting several descriptions of what the shoes would hold up to, so that I’d visualize myself wearing them. Ex. “Well, when you’re wearing them out in the rain or the snow, you’ll have to give them a day or two to waterproof…”

I tried on a pair of shoes, and she asked me first of all how they felt. I said they felt great, but unfortunately they looked a little pointy. She reacted with surprise: “Really?! We’re seeing more and more of that. That’s where styles seem to be shifting.” By saying this, she was bringing in some fashion context to try to validate why I should feel that they looked good. If I wanted to be smart and resist her influence, I might have said something like “if that’s where styles are shifting, then perhaps I’d do better to look for the least stylish shoes.” But for some reason, what she said worked on me, and I started noticing other shoes that I like that were also pointy, so perhaps my dislike of pointiness was eroding. She was slowly using the four walls technique on me because if I didn’t like pointy, then why was I in the store? I wanted to look good and have my shoes last. I wanted good leather and good style. If I was in a store surrounded by European-style shoes that were all pointy to some degree, with very few suede shoes, it was only a matter of time before I found something I liked.

Luckily, I found a pair of boots that I liked above all others, not because I was going to buy them, but because I hadn’t shown as much enthusiasm for any others, so I wasn’t in any great danger of making a purchase if there was any problem with these. When my eyes lit up, the salesperson reciprocated my impression by stroking them with her fingers and saying she also loved the grainy texture of them, thus bringing out an additional feature that added aesthetic appeal to compliment her sensual treatment of the boots. I genuinely liked the pair, but they were too big. As I was taking them off and she was about to check for another size, we chatted about them more. She was working a sex appeal thing on me, going on with metaphors about how “hot” they were and how they were “jump-me” boots, suggesting that I would be a hot commodity as an extension of the boots if only I’d buy them.

Unfortunately for her, she didn’t have the right size. She still persisted by offering to call another branch to see if they had them, thus gaining her points as a peer, and then when they didn’t she thought maybe they would fit with insoles in them. I doubted it, but she suggested I try, “just in case.” Then, because I thought that regardless of insoles, they’d still be too long on the outside, she found a pair of the same boots in black that were the right size. Of course, she had disadvantaged herself by commenting on the grain of the other boots, because these didn’t have them, so the positive feature was lacking, but they were still the same general style. I passed on the boots but thanked her for her services. It was like a relationship. We had both gotten what we wanted out of it, but now there were no strings attached.

In terms of persuasion, I felt the best technique I could use was to have genuine reactions and interests to remain consistent with my rationale behind choosing or refusing what the sale had to offer. I had to remember what their stake was in selling me the product and compare that to the points of the argument that I agree with. I wanted to decide what I decided because of the points I agreed with, but I was appreciative to have some helpful advice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Career Fair and Benefit Show

Tomorrow I will be participating in Waterloo Region's celebrated career fair, nestled in the "technology triangle" building contacts in the world of PR. It is hosted at RIM park. Since this year is the biggest yet, with 189 different employers being present, I hope to make good acquaintances. I also have school and work, then peer conversation session, then this gig, which should be the most laid back and enjoyable, I suspect.

Wyndham House is a group home for young adults who would otherwise be homeless. Richard is headlining this event to raise money through music. My poster is a last resort to what I might have done on Adobe photoshop or another professional program. It conveys the information.

Filed under Events

Monday, September 26, 2005

Quote of the Day

I'm so occupied with little assignments, and practicing heavily for my musical performance this Thurs, at Ed Video, 8pm, that I can't decide what to write about. So instead, I'll just give you this quote. Do you remember the man that taught science to so many viewers of Cosmos? I SO relate to this right now, as I try to prioritize my tasks:

"If you want to bake an apple pie, the first thing you have to do is create the universe" -Carl Sagan

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wish Wish, Dream on, Dream on

I have been reading Babara for only a little while recently, but her blog is a great attention-grabber. I found a particular challenge that she put to her readers. This post threw me, but I managed to complete her task.

You should try it because it's interactive and fun! It got me thinking about whether life is the way it is because every living thing has a unique drive, a subconscious urge, an innate purpose to be what it is, or whether it's merely an accident occuring within the physical limits of a life form's design that predetermines its role. It's easy to get into arguing about what human nature is when we try to interpret dreams, trying to find the teleological outcome ie.this person is mad, or this person has castration anxiety which will ultimately lead to an aberrant paraphilia wishes and dreams are often attributed as being the core of somebody. An example is in the movie "Adaptations" when the one twin turns to the other and says: "you are what you love." I take being "what you love" as a poetic expression of being what you want to be, what you dream to be. Dreams are used synonomously with desires, wants, plans, but maybe when it comes down to it, what's rattling through our heads at night is a nonsensical story that we should leave as nonsensical. However, I dare to stir things up more than that.

Some people don't take dreams seriously. They're just brain garbage. Some people have justified war by referring to the fact that Freud said we have a death instinct as a species. If our instincts of aggression, fear, etc. can be played out in dreams, then could dreams be like a self-reflex? If dreams are like a reflex which causes us to focus our attention on wishes, then is our future determined by how we react to the past? I would think so. Yet, it seems too complex to analize in this day and age. What dreams mean depends on how they continue unfolding in time and what that person's subjective symbology is to them. However, our dreams can't be that far off of each others. We all have similar experiences. Our impressions must be nurtured at least partly as a collective. So then, are our dreams spun in the events of our daily lives or are our daily lives the result of our dreams? Maybe they're both, which is why this exercise is worth while.

The question is: Can you think of 5 things you'd wish to have, see, do, or otherwise experience before you die?

It can be hard to isolate what we want without thinking about how this would realistically throw everything else in reality off. There's an episode of Simpsons where Homer goes back in time, but because of his choices, he ends up destroying the present. I forget what he does, but it creates a chain reaction that is catastrophic. Wishes don't come true all the time, because if they did, something else would break down. We've all heard the expression "it's too good to be true" but why should something be false just because it's good? If we all got our way, I'm sure things just wouldn't work. If you got the BMW you wanted, would the lack of steel and paint in the rest of the universe cause it to implode? I don't know. Nevermind that. However, I just wanted to make the point that we're held together both by our wishes and our failures, in mutual tension. Maybe our dreams are meant to set things back in a positive direction. Listen to your soul. What do you wish for?

I think it's something to think about regularly. We have immediate goals, but we also have long term goals and needs. I'd imagine my five wishes would be different again if I did this in five minutes, but as it is,

My five were:

(1)To not lose compassion. "The greatest gift that you can learn, is to love, and be loved in return"

(2)Tour Europe as a musician or journalist, or have some purpose that is also entertaining to me.

(3)See the buffalo come back, and roam the wild.

(4)See an end to this prejudicial generalized anomousity between different religions and ethnicities BS.

(5)See a comprehensive program to deal with toxic waste disposal safely implemented (or in other words, to NOT see the plan to strap it to rockets and launch it into outter space) and develop an energy resource besides fossil fuels that can allow mass transportation to function affordably.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Wedding

Here are the pictures from the Wedding. This is the bride and the groom on the dock at the house they were married in. Apparently when you're in love, you show affection by grabbing your man by the tie and trying to strangle him.

"We're Going to Be Together Forever and Ever!"

Even as a cellphone call interrupts the photo shoot, the couple keep it real between each other.

The Reverend Said So!

A good old non-denominational wedding, performed in the comfort of their own home.

Gettin Crazy with the Creampies

Here sits Dan and Dawn, another charming couple. Dawn can't help laughing at the buffoonery of her best man.

Look at your Little Boy Now

Mother and son. She came all the way from Japan to see her little boy get married. I guess she's not the main woman in his life anymore.

Waiting in Anticipation

People were anxious to get the service started and close the deal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Damn Crickets

Does anyone have an extra can of shut-the-hell-up on hand?

See, I'd really like to get a peaceful night of sleep, but apparently there is a whole gang of crickets that live with me. I guess I should never complain that I'm lonely. My little friends hide in the walls, climb in my closet, nestle in between secret places, and although I can hear them chirping, chirping, chirping (or whatever noise crickets make) I can't find them, gather them up, or kick them out.

You know, it's kind of a nice atmosphere for a few minutes. It feels like you're in the outback, out on the veranda, or camping in some tent. You get serenaded by the wild. The sound of crickets never really seems to strike you as an obnoxious, aggravating, torturing sound, until you're exposed to it 24/7!!

Anyway, they've taken a bit of a break right now. Maybe THEY went to sleep. I'll hedge my bets and dive into bed now. Oh no. I think I just heard a chirp. Here we go again...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

King David Had it Hard, but Held Fast

On my musical menu today, I'm serving "Halleluia" by Leonard Cohen. It is a beautiful song that has been covered by many, including Jeff Buckley, and K.D. Lang, who performed it at this past year's Juno Musical Awards.

"Halleluia" tells the story of the triumphs and pitfalls of love and power in the imperfect human soul. We are the masters and slaves of our own potential. What do people mean when they say "Halleluia"? This song hints at the truth about glory, and doubts it at the same time. Anyway, it's brilliant, and I think it should be a mandatory reading in English classes.

It also has parallels and allusions to Samson, who was betrayed and conquered by Delilah. To the biblical David, the warrior and servant who slayed Goliath, made his general, Saul, jealous, and ultimately took the throne to rule as Israel's adored king after Saul was killed in battle by the philistines. The song holds him up as an example to view whether his love was humble, steadfast, or honest. David never seemed to doubt that he would be successful, but always trusted God so much that he wrote this proclamation:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
out of the miry clay;
He set my feet upon a rock
and established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth-
...Blessed is that man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not respect the proud
nor such that turn aside to lies
(Psalm 40:1-2, 4)

To me, "Halleluia" sings a different tune that expresses the struggle and anxiety of accepting a plan that you cannot see the result of. Is a man that is trusting usually viewed as blessed or awarded with blessings, or more often than not, are they unmotivated, or an ignorant sheep that is disenfranchised because of his own irresponsibility within our current society? It exposes how painful love can be and how burdensome it is to be glorified. It questions the credibility of joy, when human emotions are called to praise. 'Halleluia' is tainted by various limitations and weaknesses that are built into our perceptual process of learning to love as a human.

I heard there was a secret chord, that David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don't really care for music do you? Well it goes like this the fourth the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled King composes Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia.
Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you. She tied you to her kitchen chair and she broke your throne and she cut your hair, and from your lips she drew the Halleluia....
Baby I've been here before, I've seen this room and I've walked this floor, I used to live alone before I knew you. And remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too, and every breath we drew was Halleluia...
Maybe there is a God above, but all I've ever learned from love, is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. It's not a cry that you hear at night, it's not someone who's seen the light, it's a cold and it's a broken Halleluia.

There can be a sad understanding that comes from break-ups or sacrifices we make for love. There can also be the sensation of euphoria and onness with the world that's experienced during love's heated phases. You may say "Halleluia" as an appropriate expression for the blessings in your life, yet you say it differently depending on what they are. That's what makes this word so inexplicably beautiful and equivocal. (If you want to use a Baktinian concept, it is "Heteroglossic")

Halleluia, Halleluia, Halleluia, Hallelu -u, ia!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ten Things I'm Proud Of This Week

1. I mastered how to drive standard
2. I got to see a ska show yesterday
3. I distributed over 200 bookmarks, and answered questions, raising awareness about career services on campus
4. I have been jogging again semi-consistently (twice a week)
5. I nabbed the new book "The Secret Mulroney Tapes", written by Peter. C Newman, about Brian Mulroney, the Canadian prime minister responsible for GST (Government Sales Tax)
6. I managed to go to all of my classes plus World Affairs, which I'm not registered for yet, but I got on its waiting list
7. I learned how to play "More Than Words" and I sang it on the street
8. I cleaned away the pile of clothes that consumed my bedroom
9. I slept well last night
10. I highlighted all the required readings so far, except for my class in persuasion. Snap! I better get on that!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Restoration Project or Hot Potato?

This was the building I just finished working on. It is a long way up, and just as far down. If you make your eyes squinty and look up, you'll notice that the ninth floor is missing. I mean, the balcony has been taken out. My jackhammer and I did that, then I left the project before it was put back up, but someone else is working on that now. Good luck Andy! "So do you think you'll get er' all finished up by break???"

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fall Tinged with Love

It was a gorgeous sunny day, shifting into an evening of bright stars, on the occasion of Kazuto Okawa and Katie Austin's wedding. It's funny to think: it all starts with a little spark, an interest, an attraction, a question, then it winds up being full-blown love. I was happy to finish up class in the afternoon, have lunch with classmates on a patio, then drive off to London in order to get there early, taking about an hour and a half to get there.

The first week of moving back and starting school has been busy and exhausting. Being able to drive again, and listen to CBC radio in the car again, now that they're finished their stike, is bliss. However, I'm feeling a little dispassionate and over rested at this moment, in a mood where I could read T.S. Eliot's "Love Sonnet of J. Alfred Prufrock" a couple times, rather than taking in a success story of love. I have just woken up after deciding that the dreams I was having weren't good enough, that my mind was seemingly running out of worthwhile material and starting to splice and loop, though I definitely needed the sleep catch-up.

My dreams all seemed like vague moody nothing dreams where all the characters make gestures, appear to act normally and you can sense what they're saying, but there doesn't seem to be any coherent plot or dialogue because they don't even talk, there is just impressions and mindless wandering. Lately I have that sense of wandering and adjusting, because everything is going on around me -people getting new jobs, moving to new cities, starting clubs, etc. I'm in an old place, and I have to get over all the things that are different, change them again, then get out. I live with the crickets again, out on the farm, but I don't chat to the same people or have the same routine, and I'm going to have to set up my furniture differently. When I came back earlier this week, my room was just how she arranged it for me last. The way I had it set up before that just wouldn't do, so she took a day to shift things around, fold my clothes in piles, and rearrange my bookshelves. It was great. She was good at it. I guess you could say she had that organizational leaning, but I haven't seen her for so long now, and since the room still bears her last touch, it freaked me out.

I have anxiety spells where I feel like I've stumbled into the wrong doorway among millions of doors down a long hallway, and now I don't know which way is out, or whether I should just keep going. Call it my quarter-life crisis. During sleep or wake I have this gnawing feeling that time is running out, or that I'm late for something, everything. I guess what my body is saying during sleep is: wake up! You have lots of work to do. Every day is a new detective game. Sometimes I'm playful, sometimes I'm not. I'm not so playful now because I haven't learned the cover song I wanted to, alphabetized my CD's or finished reading my training booklet yet. Part of me wants to run off, drink coffee on some patio and read, but that would be irresponsible and perhaps more thinking is not what I need. Going to weddings are one of those occasions where you are compelled to do progress analyses on the lives of those around you. I compared myself to friends, making note of those who have moved away, or started sharing a place with their partner, and wondered how far off I could be from starting a family myself. So much love in the air, you want to share it. I found myself getting caught up and wanting to be married, but then I'd remind myself I don't even have a girlfriend. All you need is love right? Well you need more than just bread to make a sandwich. Anyway, it's Sunday afternoon and I must do homework soon, clean, and prepare some sort of marketing plan for an upcoming career fair at the college, but first, I'll share the experience of my friend's beautiful wedding, as I gather my wits.

Another one lost/found to/by love! I went to London, to the home of the bride, my long-time friend's bride, meeting her and her family, then saw them joined in holy matrimony. I've known my friend since high school, after he moved here from Japan. We played music together and recorded a rap song. We went to university together and had philosophical arguments. We lived together and made stir-fry's together. We talked over coffee, and always knew we were similar. We call each other brothers. Perhaps we are both the doubting type. We are the questioning, hopeful, instable type, which is not so flattering, however, I think we do well to make it through, and he is a kind, honest man who will always be loyal to his wife. He just finished his degree in sound engineering and now he works in a studio in Toronto. Eventually he wants to edit sound for movies and video games, and continue writing his own music. His girlfriend lives in London, but once they become more established, they'll move in together. For the meantime, they visit. They went to Montreal for their honeymoon (pre-wedding) but now they begin a whole new journey of life together. Special.

It was so romantic! I arrived at the house, then followed the photographers out onto a floating dock, where the bride and groom posed for pictures against the backdrop of a setting sun and kayakers whisking themselves down the river. I had to dance around the photographers and make sure I wasn't causing a shadow, or blocking their angle, but I wanted to take some pictures too (which are sure to come once developed). My friend is Japanese, and people kept telling him he looked like a samurai. The repetition was annoying/amusing for him, but I suppose he did look like one, though he carried no sword, because of his long hair and chiseled body. He dressed in a white dress shirt and black pants. The bride wore a black dress with a red flower on the strap, had her hair curled and wore dangly earrings that made me think of a middle-eastern influence. I think it must always be difficult to stage intimacy in front of cameras, but they managed smoothly, and made us laugh. There was a great moment that the camera wasn't quick enough to catch, when they were facing each other as silhouettes in front of a blazing sun, on the brink of kissing. They held that pose for long enough that the groom had to break the suspense by sticking out his tongue, and giving the bride's lip and quick little lick. Very funny.

The house had spacious rooms with dark red and blue and green walls, paintings, and antique furniture perfect for hosting an event like this. They served wine, saki, sandwiches, vegetables, and sushi. The service was conducted after some mingling around the house, and took place in the living room at around 9:30pm. It wasn't a usual service, but quite unique in fact. Not everyone could fit inside, so there were people standing in the front yard, watching in from the windows. The bride and groom faced the crowd, and a non-denominational reverend introduced himself and carried on with the magic. He seemed like a nice, earthly man, though touched with the holy. He explained that marriage is a bond that needs to be renegotiated on a daily basis, sustained, and re-expressed, but that having everyone of us there was also our commitment to uphold the bond between these two young lovers. He read a poem about love and told us all to think of what the occasion meant to us in our own way, with our own God. I'm not sure if he was being candid or not, or considerate of wedding night protocol, but he reminded us that although there was going to be a party, the bride and groom need their rest, as do we. He read a poem with wise analogies to love like the comparison of lovers and two pillars of a temple, that may have to stand apart, though they support the same foundation. It reminded me of the poem in Corinthians 13 where Paul says:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely; does not seek its own; is not provoked; thinks no evil; does not rejoice in inequity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails, But whether there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease, whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away...When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face..."

Kaz's mother flew in for the occasion, and I got to catch up with old schoolmates, and see PJ, who just got back from Switzerland, with his neck completely healed. Although Kaz's mother hasn't seen much of him, and she has now given away her son, she told him he made the right choice by staying in Canada, after seeing him with his friends. I met her and took a shot with my Japanese. It was too bad for her to understand, but I felt like we bonded when we smiled at each other. There was also an abundance of beautiful young women and humorous individuals, making it a very lively party. We stayed up until the wee hours, danced, then I fell asleep on one couch and somehow woke up on another. We had a lazy Saturday breakfast together, and toasted the new union with a coke. It was exciting. Congratulations Kazuto and Katie!

Ok, now it is time for me to put away some of my childish things, set up the drum set, and get down to work, but I'll leave you with this Hamlet quote:

"Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; but never doubt I love"

Filed under Events

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wicked Katrina

Picture taken from BBC news

I already feel like I'm getting tired of hearing about Katrina. She's a flood of sludge and information. She's such a bad-ass, such a persistent problem, with such lingering effects. She forces so many questions: How do you rebuild an entire coast? What if the gas leaks and rampant fires meet up? Where are we going to bury the unidentified? How do we contain infection? Is New Orleans destined to be a ghost town?

Conspiracy theories are bound to abound when you consider the kinds of storms we've had this year, and how much more frequent they are, how the media is portraying the issue. A lot of times, I hear things like: "there's a lot of looting and violence, but the only people I see doing it are black people." Maybe that's because New Orleans is predominantly black. Then there's the whole PC issue of whether the victims of the hurricane are "refugees" or not, since they are displaced Americans in their own country. Is the military experimenting with weather pattern manipulation? Is there a third, new vertice of wind that throws a wrench in the meterologists cogwheel? Lots of talk on every front.

This is a national crisis, one where you'd think a president might take some responsibility, yet Bush is somehow leading an investigation, acting like the big man, getting to the bottom of things, as if he needs any more explanation from anyone than to ask himself why he did nothing. Fingers are poised to be pointed. The response to Katrina was a major disaster. Bush really doesn't give a flip and will still find a way to relate it all to terrorism, saying: "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm" Notice how he mentions WMD before Katrina? Possibly the only person who has responded in a timely way has been the mayor, Ray Nagin, who was urging people to evacuate today, who has at least talked to people, reported on the water levels, saying the city isn't safe (which is really isn't. E. coli isn't something you want to be exposed to.)

On the other hand, with a completely nonchalant approach, FEMA told local firemen and relief services not to interfere while the hurricane was raging, and they seem to have grossly underestimated the storm's effect. Another factor contributing to the cohesion of people in the mess is that about a third of New Orlean's police force is unaccounted for, and with the mayhem of looting or 'looking for something to eat or drink,' I don't know that I really blame them (for commiting suicide, going AWOL, or trying to find their own families.

Katrina's name is bound to be mentioned at least hundreds of times more, across banner ads, television screens, radios, etc. as charities like the Red Cross and organizations like FEMA race to clean up the mess, and rescue the survivors. If I'm exhausted just hearing about it, imagine what it would be like, for people who have been trapped in their homes for four days, and are waiting for helicopters to pick them up, while they wonder what has happened to their families and friends.

I watched a touching piece of Oprah Winfrey, where she demands to see inside the dome where people were forced to wait, in the dark, amongst faeces and corpses, while gang-fights ignited over children trying to rest, and families were split apart. Some families decided that it wasn't safe in there, and they chose to take up different risks on the street.

Another segment involved a man and his dog Rafiki, shown being pet over and over by the man who was heart-broken because dogs aren't allowed to be evacuated. The rule is: people first, animals later. The man didn't want to leave without his dog, and he wouldn't. A tsunami survivor who related to the feeling of hopelessness from seeing it exemplified in both disasters explained to the man that they (Oprah Winfrey and her forces of good) were going to take the dog to a safe home where they could meet up with him. The man's emotional reaction was explicit: he reached out and hugged him. Yeah, it's just a dog but it's also a part of someone's life. These people have had everything taken away from them. It's heart-warming to see that at least they can have their dog, when there are countless stories of dogs themselves being the rescuers. Dogs are loyal. We should be too, to each other, and that meanst acting.

Québec has one advantage over the rest of the provinces in its ability to help. Although not comparable in degree or damage, they did experience a storm, albeit colder and less threatening: the ice storm. During the ice storm, there wasn't really chaos. The military was sent in, and power was out, and candle light and vigils kept people warm, but then it was over in the matter of a few weeks. New Orleans and Mississippi are different, but they still need the same basic resources that Québec has. So, they have put forth 10,000 cots for those in shelters. Canada sends cots There was also over 1 million raised across the country, which isn't bad, but it's not even close to the billions it's going to take to rebuild. Has anyone thought of inflatable rafts? They're transportable. I suppose they would have been more useful before. Of course, it would probably take a helicopter to deliver them anyway, so nevermind.

At least the water is going down. That's a good sign.

Filed under News Reviews

Monday, September 05, 2005

My Kidnapping and How Funny the Internet Can Be at Times

I haven't been posting for a long walk in the park because I moved back with tha folks, and the Internet was still down, for the who-knows-how-many-days-it-has-been-for-those-sorry-near-septogenerian-relatives-of-mine-who-must-be-losing-it-by-now-trying-to-figure-out-how-hard-it-could-possibly-be-for-some-half-wit-to-simply-reconnect-a-damn-Internet-cable.

During the sound of my father's exasperated voice mounting over the phone to yet another customer service agent, the CSA explained that he was doing the best he could, though he obviously had nothing peachy to offer, more than "we're trying to come up with a solution [for your lingering disfunction with the Internet]" or some other empty word that was a waste of an ear when it meant no freedom for me, who was left helpless, without any external communication with the world.


But then today it worked! ~Congratulations boys and girls! Time for tea!~ I was talking with a friend*. A good friend. We've been colleagues for a long time, though we see little of each other. It was getting late and they had to go*. They were talking of being lonely as a matter of social routine. We tell others we miss them, we care, blahblahblahblahblah. At the end it seemed sentimental, but I love to poke these moments further, play with ambiguity of expression. With the Internet it's easy because you aren't really present to judge someone's genuine facial expression when they're communicating with you (unless you have really fast video chat capacities on your PC). It's kinda like poker, you can bluff. The Internet is a big poker face, though that's not to say it can't be genuine. If I was actually saying what I was typing to this person in real life, I probably wouldn't, though it would be close. It's easy to express words without emotion when you don't have to show it, but we don't do so as readily in real life, it seems, or rather, it's just different. However, based on what I said over the Internet, it would have been natural to hug them in real life, had I been there in person.

Conveniently, MSN has put emocions in there vocabulary of 'text' for us to use when we can't be there in person. Two images that you can use are of the hugging figures. When you use the right-facing hugging figure, the other person can return the hug by clicking on the left-facing hugging figure, and it is very sweet and nerdy, like a slide-show of digitally drawn scherades to represent our self-gauged expression. I guess I'm down with it. You can send people pizzas, taxi's, phones, meaning "call me" or send them an image of a clock, for them to check their time, or a happy face, or whatever. They do come in handy. Anyway, with the hugging emoticons or whatever they're called [the symbols, ok?], unleashing their true Hollywood potential is what we did. Virtual hug. Then I thought of my friend, with their black sense of humour, and how absurd it was for either of us to possibly relate to two small pixely cartoon images, as an extention of our longing, grasping arms, and I laughed my ass off.

But I guess, when we're physically so far away, we make due with what we have.

*I wasn't really "talking" to anyone. I was communicating with my friend, but it was virtual. Let me explain: What I was really doing was typing buttons referred to as 'keys' on a 'keyboard' which are encrypted into 'text' on a computer screen, (it's really quite amazing!) this 'text' is sent via the 'Internet' over to, NOT the other person (we have to be very cautious about types of conjectures that suggest what is not literally true), but to their computer screen. Then that person carefully reads it and they can even type or "talk" back. Now, it kinda makes you wonder? Are you 'talking' when you're on the computer? No, you are you typing.

*not referring to physically leaving, more as in: sign off of the Internet.
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