Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An Asking

We’re all just desperate souls,
Searching for an id,
Constantly projecting biomorphism and dilations of content.

We yearn for something timely,
And force rudiments on the most complex human function,
-Only out of laziness,
Yet that governs our scientific syntax.

I send this to you because I am compulsive
Only too much human
You are my target audience,
And by you I have already been wounded

I make concessions lightly
Like a priest passing the cup of tithes,
Afterall, who gives me a passage,
If it is not you, to whom I make my plea?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair

it would be nice to die in Venice

I don't know when each day ends. I only know that there are spaces of time that are blank. In between, after I have taken a last look at Isis, I lay me down and have hallucinations and travel to wonderful places and play with mythical creatures in a land where gravity doesn't exist. Then I wake up and I have to strain myself until I hear the relieving sound of my spine crunch, and then it's off to the shower to start things over again and hopefully not forget my vitamins.

enjoy it while it lasts

I want to move away soon to somewhere new, so that I can stop being used to everything I'd rather not be. I thank God the snow has melted and I am getting a taste of fall or spring or novelty in January, but part of me wants it to be next year already, just to see what happens. My friends are talking of moving away but also of how many problems that issue presents and how many decisions they'll have to make in the before then. I wish them the best but think nothing of their plans because I can be a pessimist and it's as if no one ever gets away.

overlooking something that's staring you in the face?

If I were to make it out or if I were to live I would probably live on my own unless I had a good deal and there were very rigid rules for the safe shelter I would call my abode. I want to live a calm collected life. I want to be normal. I wouldn't even mind being boring if I could survive and had someone to talk to every few days.

what it is really, or at least what it seems like

Right now I admit, I am frustrated. I am dealing with the little things that although they are just details seem to make everything impossible and inconcieveable. It's how to get from point A to point B when Searle's Chinese Box is in between the two and the person inside the box has no special interest in my demands over anything else they are presented with.

spirituality is one answer. which kind of problem were you looking for?

And which stage am I at today? Have I lost faith in God or do I have even more because I am that desperate for help? Veda, once you renounce materiality, how much do you engage your senses, and what are the bare necessities of life? Am I that wishful? Can anyone save me from my own free will? Can anyone save me from my memories?

a lobotomy.

I am anxious to hear back from unpaid job opportunities so that I can fulfill the requirements of my program and still graduate. I am really feeling more reinforced in the skepticism I had last semester of trusting these placements in the hands of our program directors. Even though it helps not a hair, there is something gratifying about being right about your own doom.

if you would just shut up, stop being so dramatic and take it like a man

But I have made my way alright on my own front. I'm working my two jobs on campus. Now I am a regularity there. I wonder if my face could be any more familiar. I wonder how many times I've borrowed tape off the librarian so that I can put up my posters to promote whichever job fair there is that I can never go to to find a job because I have classes despite being someone who really needs one. I'm getting so broke! The librarian is such a nice old lady who always smiles at me and the wrinkles in her eyes look so pronounced through her thick glasses. I wonder if she secretly wants to stab me with the scissors.

as long as no one gets hurt

I start a new job this week working for less than minimum wage for a charity for retarded kids in hopes that it will make me a few more bucks, give me more sales experience and possibly do some good. Funny how the jobs you apply for sometimes end up being different jobs. One is advertised in the paper, but it's only by calling the number that you're referred to a completely separate mission. Curiousity always gets me. The man that came to explain the canvasing position as it turned out to be (not the $20/hr sales position) was a nice chap who took my picture with a Mickey Mouse camera so that I could have a proper identification card. He explained that he's been doing this for five years and it gives him something to do now that his wife passed away over thirty years ago. He stayed in his car because he was attacked by a dog once and almost didn't survive. He explained this to me as my dog barked at him on the other side of the door.

that one is your left hand. keep track of it.

The good news is that James is alive! I didn't think I'd hear about them again, and as time passed, I thought things were either for the worse, or not bad enough. I thought the paper trail might die off. I thought: oh apparently disappointment isn't a news construct.

writers need fun too

I am jamming twice a week with my band and we are hopeful that we can play a show in March. We only had to wait in our cars watching the rain fall on the windshield as Frenchman amused himself with Suduko for two hours yesterday until one of the other band member, Skull, who has the key to the jam-hall found his way out of Hamilton, where there are several one-way streets with identical names from which you can never escape.

it's all ok though, at least once it's over

I struggle to keep my mind active and my hand warm and welcoming each day. I tell myself 2896 times that things will be ok. I've recently been thinking of someone who doesn't matter at all, but who nonetheless takes up a lot of space in my mind. As I said, curiosity always gets me. This weekend I'm performing in a church for my sister's benefit concert playing Rufus Wainwright's "Vibrate". She is raising money for an orphanage which she is going away to in Benin, Africa this summer.

you didn't tell me you were good at something

I handed in my donor report today and it looked really lovely after I printed it with my new Canon colour printer. I binded it for free in our school's office and got it in right on time. It had pictures and financial details and visions and promises and appreciation gushing from our fake CEO. Then we had a quiz on journalistic codes of ethics and I passed with flying colours but I still didn't get perfect. I felt in moral turmoil trying to decide some of the cases. There was a lot of gray area. The one question wasn't exactly like this, but pretty close:

You are a PR manager of a flower company who recently launched an event to raise money for breast cancer. A reporter does an excellent job covering the event. When it is over you send her a bouquet of flowers and a thank you card. Does this violate the journalist's code of ethics? Yes or no? As we answered in class: Fair or Foul?

look for beauty and intelligence from without

I know some of you are journalists so hopefully you're aware of these rules. Some of you are naughty, but that's ok as long as you know the journalist's ethics. Not that anyone follows them, especially mainstream media, because they are VOLUNTARY (and the world is corrupt).

However, I want to see if you can answer the above question according to the code. I know the answer that my teacher gave me, but I got this question wrong. I will give out rewards and do a hokey pokey dance every time someone gets it right.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Yeehaw Week: Feng Shui for my Soul

I had a pretty busy week with doing assignments and practicing music. I also conducted some info table sessions at school promoting the upcoming job fair that's happening this week at RIM park. Unfortunately I can't go because I have class all day, but it was good to browse through the employer guidebook, to get a hint of who's hiring. Lately I'm trying to live a balanced life and have a little bit of everything, just trying to keep my head on as I make the last leap towards graduation.

Job Placements
Speaking of hiring, I just applied to three different jobs to give my unpaid services in Public Relations: an internet broadband company, a governmental centre that specializes in connecting scholars and researchers worldwide, and an art gallery. I was a little disappointed not to have heard back from them, so I followed up. Apparently they're still waiting to get all the rest of the applications from our class. The competition is tense. This job placement is a required portion of our diploma, and also a time we get off school. Since the program has had to make time for work, our courses are all scrunched into six weeks and as a result, we have a lot to cover, which is why it's busy.

Wonderful Gifts
Chloe over at Froth on the Daydream sent me some lovely gifts all the way from Greece! I never really knew it snowed in Greece, but that's what it's doing now. Chloe is a journalist and a fine woman who shares my love of music. The package she sent includes a CD, a postcard, and a compass, "so that I will never lose my way." Lately, I'm anxious and uncertain about finishing my school, starting a career, and figuring out my bearings, so it is a nice pick-me-up and reminder to keep things going smooth. I sang to her over the internet, and now apparently I have Greek fans!

Country Night
I was a security guard for the theme night. Of course as soon as I happen to be in a position of authority, who comes in but a friend of a friend, completely drunk. He behaved himself rather well, although he acted silly and made sure I wasn't too rigid and that I join in with him, singing along to the country tunes. I was glad that there was a turnout. It made things less boring. Plus, it was good to see all the big shiney belt-buckles and cowboy hats, the short skirts and the boots. Hearing Cotton-Eyed Joe took me back to grade seven. As the night got later, there was a singing competition where contestents sang a line from their favorite country song. Almost all of them were terrible singers, but they had heart. Three girls got booed off the stage for their rendition of "Achey Breaky Heart", a song that had been played too many times ten years ago, but someone handled Garth Brooks alright:

"Cause I got friends in low places,
Where the Whiskey drowns,
And the Beer chases my blues away,
But I'll be okay,
Now I'm not big on social graces,
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis,
Oh I got friends,
In low places."
(From "I Got Friends in Low Places")

In class this week we were presented with a real problem and we were supposed to come up with a summary for the client what that problem was, with an execution plan of finding out what we would need to know to solve it. It had to do with the need to increase student engagement on campus, and as a result, student pride. I go to the college that has been ranked #1 in Ontario for the past seven years but when I asked other students what it had been ranked #1 in, know one could say. It seemed to me that our school suffers an ambiguous identity because it has so many diverse programs. If student pride is to increase, our identity as a school needs to be more distinguished.

In the last few weeks, I've seen Brokeback Mountain, a heartbreakingly beautiful story about a special relationship between two men who meet each other when they are ranchers on the mountain. It follows them through their lives and interposes their family lives with the dream/fantasy life they escape to together. On the one hand you conclude that they are both repressed homosexuals who want to be together but they are ruled by the prejudices of outside influence, on the other it seems to be a romance more about a peculiar homosocial lifestyle of being free in nature together, with only themselves to depend on for company.

The other movie is March of the Penguins. This movie has great music, excellent cinematography (those camerament must have been cold!) and some astonishing facts about emperor penguins. Morgan Freeman is the perfect narrator. It is a documentary of the voyage penguins make yearly to hunt and mate. I really adored the penguins. They are fascinating! The way they show affection to each other by caressing and kissing with their beaks after searching thousands of penguins just to find the mate they will be loyal to for that year, really makes me wonder whether animals can experience love. A little known fact is that the male takes care of the egg for months and months, going without food, waiting, while the female goes out to sea. He has to shimmy along with the egg under his bottom to keep it from freezing. If it breaks, all the work for the past year is gone!

Web Design
We had some nasty interpersonal conflict this week between some students and our web design teacher. Our class is very unforgiving and the teacher is young and laid back. We talked about the concerns and our other teacher helped us frame the issue in an appropriate way to basically say we're responsible for our own learning. He is actually a very brilliant teacher, but the problem is that some people take advantage of the fact that he's not breathing down their necks all the time and instead use the precious moments of class to chat on msn, then complain that they aren't learning anything. Students complained about him behind his back to this other teacher and boycotted his class (which was very rude). He rescheduled one class to a time when a lab was available, but most students used that as an opportunity to show their lack of respect. The next class, he was visibly upset, and expressed the disappointment of being ratted on by students he had previously been very proud of. He felt betrayed that people wouldn't address their problems with him personally. During the class before it, I was one of three students who actually came. Obviously he couldn't lead a whole lesson though. Instead I got to play around and get better at Adobe Illustrator. I figured out how to make animations by copying images into frames, modify each one subtly, then play through.

Now that things are back to normal, we're making websites in Dreamweaver, which is very exciting. When I learn more, I'll be able to apply that knowledge here, then I'll link my resume and post animations and do all sorts of fun things.

Tarot Cards
Last night I visited Frenchman and we just spent time at his house playing guitar and talking. He has a degree in physics and we talked about philosophy and how the universe is like a matrix that doesn't fall apart only because it is in perfect tension. We debated whether time existed and had one of those deep conversations that are fun to have every once in awhile. He taught me the tree of life and the Kabbala, then we applied it to Tarot card readings. Here is an example of the deck we used and one of the cards that came up. To me this card shows that I sometimes try to overationalize things and ignore my feelings in an attempt to simply get through things, to charge forward, without thinking. I feel rushed and cynical and this conflicts with the pleasure I could derive from good works. It would be better to enjoy where I am right now in this moment.

Tarot cards are a good exercise allowing you to relate and see yourself in the cards. There isn't an absolute right answer to the cards, but you have to use interpretative skills. It can be a helpful hint as to the things that are bothering you and the things you are working on.

Cleaning and Organizing
So now I must clean and organize things that have gotten out of sorts. There are papers and electronic devices and misfiled things all around me. I think maybe if I organize my exterior, it will help me organize my interior.

Feng shui for my soul

Thursday, January 26, 2006

HNT: Not So Naked: Epidermal Tribute

Flesh became word, word begets life, skin stretches thin,
worn and weathered, this leather, eaten by time, wears me,
I wear it, and still, it keeps my organs in.
For that, I am not so naked.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Developments and Setbacks in the Band

Skull, BFG, Frenchman and I had our bi-weekly music session. We got together to practice music, but right from the get-go, there was a black cloud in the air which prevented it from fully happening. As a result, the portion of time that we actually spent on music ended up only being less than half.

The other half was addressing problems with us as a group.

It was going rather well and sounding pleasant until at one point it fell apart a little, and we had to stop to rescue it. Part of it was the fact that I've only recently been introduced to the ensemble, and part of it was that the others had been practicing together for almost a year, and another part was simply poor timing, but at one point, we all came in off. This was a discombobulation of sorts, which worked as a trigger for frustration and other issues in the band to flare up.

Because we're still in the developmental stage of arranging and honing our songs it's tempting to try to perfect every little knit-pick along the way, but last week we found this a problem and agreed to sidestep it. We don't want to waste too much time on one issue -it's better to play straight through our set so that we get the overall flow of things. This strategy was meant for us to hopefully gradually improve one practice at a time, but obviously not being able to get through a whole song threw a wrench in our cogwheel, and the vibe between us was relatively injured.

When BFG changed the topic and told Skull he'd actually like the drums to be X way rather than Y, Skull obviously wasn't having it, and he left the room for a breather. We were all slowly drawn outside the room, like sharks that tasted blood. Something foul was a brewing.

Cautiously at first, but then hastily and passionately we got into a discussion and identified that something needed to be fixed in this little thing we call a "band." So we talked about it.

It was a grand airing of grievances. Accusations flew back and forth like ping pong balls about one person playing too hard while another person played too soft, and the freedom of expression that was limited in one way or another, or that we weren't contributing equally, or that someone was really using this band as an opportunity to try to raise up a past which is dead and gone. It was all very complicated business!

So for most of the time, I simply listened, but it generally sounded like the two main people that wanted the band to work the most, were the same two people that felt unfairly treated, and that they were controlled or manipulated in one way or another. (AKA Skull and BFG).

Each time that the two would start talking over each other's heads, Frenchman would step in and make an analogy to create a readable diagram from the things they were both saying of their disappointments, hostilities and grudges. In the meantime, he wrote out tablature for me so that I could better understand the songs (and partly work out the mutual problem of discoordination for myself)

Skull acknowledged the fun that was missing, and BFG was quick to agree that there was an unsettling tension in the air over how the band was managed. Or rather, how we had been mismanaging the band. He brought up some personal obstacles to working with us, such as his desire to have the ideal band situation, where the songs and parts sounded in alignment with his views. It was a concern that Skull tends to play heavier music while BFG has a penchant for art pop. Maybe he just needed to say all of this, or maybe he never even realized it until then, that utopia is nowhere.

The fact is with any band that when you get together and jam, it is a collaboration, and songs take on all the various personalities of those people in the band -conflicting or not. It's not all cut and dry. A band cannot be the vision of just one person manifested into song. It is a holy ritual that grows and mutates as it takes on life.

BFG made an analogy about the pain it causes to give birth to a song only to have it ripped apart by hungry musicians who want to make it their own. "But are you happy once your creation is put back together [when we try our best to add our parts]?" That was a question that took some time sorting out, but the answer was yes. It also seemed to sit in the air and wasn't easily dispelled because we needed some new plan. Sometimes talking just goes in circles, but slowly, it seemed our attitudes were all changing.

Is this what therapy is like?

In the end we confirmed and worked past many things, on to the acknowledged appreciation that what we were working on sounded pretty good and that it just needs persistence to get really "tight". Practice makes perfect.

We decided on a democracy rather than a dictatorship, regardless of who was originally writing the song. Yes, our styles are all VERY different, but we can live with that. Compromises can also be seen as opportunities. Then we all talked about what we did like. We set down new rules of openness, saying we would address issues immediately rather than letting hostilities fester. We decided we could all choose to add our own original accompaniment, with reasonable attention to feedback, without remorse. What would make this enforceable was that we resolved to implement a new veto system, whereby all four band members have one veto per band practice that they could use if they didn't like a decision, style, or song that had been proposed that evening. That way, if one were simply being negative, their opinion didn't have monstrous or interfering influence over the general functionality of the group. Things would be more balanced. At first, Skull seemed to be uneasy about this, but his face visibly lit up about the veto idea, and he warmed up to pursuing the project with refreshed vigor.

Everyone in the band would have this power to veto now, and it would be optional, but not expected. Execute two-way communication! It seems to give more weight to decisions, but also to considering others ideas, because we'll have to use our vetoes wisely.

See how important group dynamics are in a band?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Are Ye Pirates?

Another assignment is to create a letterhead for a business. I figured the world could use a few more pirates, so I started a fictional company which will hopefully incorporate them all, including these ones. The special effects in Pirates of the Caribbean look really neat in this movie! I also got a kick out of Keira Knightly's line: "you like pain, try wearing a corset!"

Pirate joke: A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel protruding from between his legs. He orders a drink. Everyone is looking at him funny. Finally, the bartender works up the courage to ask him: "why do you have a steering wheel coming out of your crotch?" The pirate answers: "it's driving me nuts!"


As for Canucks: Happy voting!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Financial Reports

We're learning the bare bones of writing a financial report in class. Our assignment: be creative and outline our initiatives, write a letter from the executive director, a progress report, the income and balance sheet, and where the money has gone and what it has accomplished with some direction for the future. Of course this goes along with pictures and quotes and thank yous and recognition of the volunteers and lots of nice words and uplifting promises that seek to achieve further support from corporate sponsors and other contributors. And it has to be professional.

The difficult part about the assignment is that the company doesn't exist. It's entirely fictional. See, our teacher thought it would be neat for her to make up a charity and give us a main premise and then have us make stuff up on the fly. Now, you could conclude that she has a peculiar idea of fun or that she is simply sadistic. I think that it's a combination of both. She likes to watch us dance, but she also likes to give us a warranted challenge. Fair enough. I haven't decided whether we would learn more or not by going through the motions of writing a report for a real company like we will be forced to when we go out into the real world (note: our college's motto is to "link life with learning") but I do struggle with not being able to research and base some of my writing on facts.

There are perks to pretending though too. My favorite part is writing the executive letter. I think it's fun to impersonate some high powered woman who I've never met, and it's like writing a speech, directed at stakeholders of the organization.

Another issue is ethics: in a real scenario, you can get in a big trouble for not reporting accurately, or promising things you cannot deliver. Articles 1 and 12 of the International Association of Business Communicators state that:

"Professional communicators uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by practicing honest, candid and timely communication and by fostering the free flow of essential information in accord with the public interest."


"Professional communicators are honest not only with others but also, and most importantly, with themselves as individuals; for a professional communicator seeks the truth and speaks that truth first to the self." (IABC Code of Ethics)

So, you have to be upbeat, but also honest and not overly promotional about the performance of your organization. For example, this charity is just over a year old, so it's exciting what it has accomplished to date -starting an initiative to support children in financial need where clients can rent out celebrities for the day. These celebrities act as a role model for children in the arts, sciences and sports. There are people like Wayne Gretzky and Mike Myers who I'm making as coaches at hockey camps or adjudicators of drama festivals. I do have to caution my supporter though that administration costs are too high for our budget. This means that unless we can cut the costs of our supplies or our salaries, someone's job is at stake.

This is good practice. It's comforting to know that at this point no one is going to lose their bonus because of me, but it's also good prep for when the financial statements are really due. If the value of shares is going to go down because of some typo, I'm going to have a run at it before thousands of copies are printed and sent out to the pubic. Oops! I meant public.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What do you call a Politician with Bad Breath?

If you were expecting a joke, it's the Canadian elections. I don't know what to believe anymore. Three days until voting day, and Canadian politics are a SNAFU.

It looks like there's a Conservative majority. Conservative bloggers have been united on this issue. Paul Martin Lies is one I found that seems to have updates by the minute, and by the looks of the profile picture, it's operated by an eight year old girl!

Paul was in my town yesterday. Stephen is trying to get those voters like Mitzzee and Jimmy in Toronto as we speak. (Mitzzee already confided to me that she's voting for the "blue-eyed devil" which shows you how proud we all are of our votes, regardless of who they're for). People are really going for the guy who brought this government down! Six months ago, I would have never imagined Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister material, but then again, who that running is? What are the platforms again? We have the corrupt Liberals, the NDP's that don't matter, the Bloc Quebecoise who's main agenda is to split up this country, and Stephen Harper, who most people don't like, but most people will vote for, because they don't like anyone else.

Well, we know some of the issues from Harper: building in a system of accountability for government. Shape up politicians! With his reforms, could we expect a polygraph test in the House of Commons? Instead of millions of taxpayer money going to Liberal-friendly ad agencies and the big nothing, let's hope he spends it on something valuable: a less robotic demeanor perhaps?

Ok, ok, Harper must have a sense of humor deep down, yet he always comes off as a grinch. I guess it was pretty funny when he went to the parliamentary press dinner gala and said, with his usual expressionless face, in an expressionless voice: "this is how I look when I'm excited." Wow, why aren't you a poker champion again? I'm sure that in that situation he could really create a "fiscal imbalance." Instead, that's what he wants to clean up. The "fiscal imbalance." That's a catchy phrase. Now will someone please dejargonify it for me?

I can't see him investing in education, or in healthcare -the two issues that usually dominate Canadian politics. Instead, he just wants to get tough on crime and regimented. He wants to bring up issues that were already dealt and done away with, like the traditional marriage. I would be suspicious of him spending most of the money on a military that the world would take notice of. C'mon though man, Canada is no Donovan Bailey in the arms race. Do we even have to run? Our southern neighbors got them nukes! We have some war paint and a couple inflatable dolls (no, just kidding, our military responds sufficiently enough to our own problems, unlike a certain emergency agency that didn't respond to a certain hurricane). But we're the peacekeepers not the terminators! Let's keep it that way!

On the issue of health care, Mr.Harper attacks Paul Martin because wait times have increased in hospitals, but he hasn't said anything substantial about putting money into the system himself. He will impose standards for wait times. I can just picture some politician screaming from parliament hill: "Get sewing quick! Faster with the defibrillators guys! Can you speed it up on those mastectomies?" That might make the doctors high on adrenaline, but it won't create any more nurses, it won't improve the services, it will just mean that families will have to travel farther away to get the services they need. To give him credit, he will allocate our tax money for our transportation costs. Thanks! Whether we like the Liberals or not, we do have to give them credit for creating Medicare.

On taxes: Cons would cut GST, Libs would cut income tax and NDP's would keep it the same. I'm not a big numeracy guy, but it seems like they're all playing a little game in our pockets, and I'm not liking it. A GST cut surely gets the public's attention, and reduces the consumptive costs slightly (a few cents off of your sub). For people who can't afford much, it might save them in the long run, but an income tax cut will save lower income families who actually need it more. If you were talking of getting rid of the GST altogether, I might crack a little smirk, but one or two percent? Wake me up when someone's actually running this country.

We want service without expenses, and Jack Layton says Canada has enough money to do it. He wants to improve (get rid of) child poverty and joblessness and help seniors, I'm just not sure how he's going to stimulate the economy. His concern about improving public transportation is a good one, considering Canada's record on air pollution. But if you really care about the environment, you'd vote Green Party. Protestors have recently reacted against Harper for his proposal to draft up a new agreement instead of the Kyoto Protocol, effectively turning his back on the plan to regulate green house gas emissions that cause global warming. Canada represents itself as a leader on this issue to the UN, so it would be a shame to scrap it. With this view, Harper has been branded as someone who's going to sell our environment to the devil.

So, this year is a peculiar year for politics. Many feel that there aren't choices, but that has also made them more active. There are those that will vote Conservative just to get the Liberals out, there are those who will vote Liberal just to keep the Conservatives out, then there are those who will vote for who they are sincerely gung-ho about -Communist-Leninist perhaps? and those who will vote strategically. For some people, they're simply voting for the candidate they like most in their riding -because they know someone they know, or whatever. There is a lot of talk, but also a lot of confusion and party-bashing. Paul Martin's Liberals have taken the moral low-ground and encouraged NDP's and others to vote Liberal for the sake of blocking Stephen Harper, not because they actually want to vote Liberal. Ed Broadbent, the man who made the NDP the most popular in its history, attacked them for this.

Yes, this election is sad. It doesn't look like any of the parties will work together. It's going to be minority government round #2. If there were real issues on the table, it would be a lot easier to decide who has the best plan in one's opinion, but this voting season is about so many different issues from credibility to accountability to personality to gun violence.

Speaking of Broadbent, he's raising money for the homeless, and homelessness is a serious issue, but politicians are silly. Here's a little video interview with him and Rick Mercer that demonstrates my point.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Hand Behind the HNT

When I wear the ring of Gyges, I slowly start to dissolve from the outside world, but I am still here. I may enter the towns unseen, and do what I will, moving the pieces unknown, setting the stage, whether that be helping or hurting. My nails are long for the string-plucking, my cuticles well manicured. When you may think I'm not there, I'm holding your hand, or clicking the mouse behind the scenes. Digital dexterity is waiting in the wings. Secret as I may be, I will expose to you, that this is the hand behind the HNT.

"The failing use of my right hand, is not really the failing use of my right hand. It's just another way of telling time, and I'm ticking" -Shane L Koyczan, Slam Poet

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ah Paris! C'est Merveilleux!

So you'd like to see the world, but you can't really afford to get away from your computer right now or spend thousands of dollars or get on a plane or pack your suitcase. That's ok.

Although I hiked into France once for about fifteen minutes, when I wandered out of Germany in the Schwarzwald I didn't get to see much of it, besides trees. The black forest is beautiful, but unfortunately the trees aren't as big as they could be. Fires and acid rain have taken their toll. When I traipsed into France, I was consciously aware of being in France -I saw a flag and thought: hey! I'm in France, but I didn't see much. I've never been to le Moulin Rouge, la Centre Georges Pompidou, or the Musee de Louvre. Isn't it sad?

Well, my mother (God bless her soul) has given me the opportunity I've been waiting for. She sent me a link where you can have a panoramic view of Paris at night -all 360 degrees of it! Plus, there is a little accordion music to set off the ambiance.

Take a gander! Come! If you really want to butter my croissant, come visit Paris with me!

Right here

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Starter Strategies

I don't know anyone who appreciates the sound of an alarm clock, especially when they're sleeping, but I might as well have jumper cables attached to my nipples because it shocks me every time.

My alarm for the past indefinite amount of time has been some poorly transmitted radio station that played oldies rock music, and sometimes, intrusive, gag-inducing music like Bryan Adams. Actually, the music this station plays is hard to categorize. Let's just call it "evil".

I have been having lots of nightmares lately. They involve stranglings, struggles, and perversions. They are so deranged -like those frustrating dreams where you're trying to speak but for some reason your mouth seems to be cemented shut, or those dreams where no matter where you go, you are always hunted by an assassin. You have the magical ability to see around the corner, or you just know that something bad is going to happen, but still you can't stop it.

On the one hand, I wake up being so greatful that I have finally escaped dreadful situations like having my hand on backwards, or ending up in just another building every time I escape the first, but on the other: I wake up angry for spending so much time worrying when none of it was real!

Then I thought of my alarm. Wouldn't it be nicer to wake up to the soft chirpings of crickets rather than Anthrax? Maybe the music is causing the nightmares.

Remember, what may seem like hours in a dream is really only a second or two. So I tried a little experiment and changed the station.

So this morning, I might have been sailing through the sky as a cherub, or swimming in a river of chocolate but I forgot my dreams. Right now, that's a good thing. One little change probably made my whole day, even though the weather was disgusting: freezing rain which was so bad that my one class was cancelled. However, I felt at peace with the raindrops bouncing off of my face in pellets and even got to my meeting today before the person who hosted the appointment. Ha! What I woke up to was "Halleluia" sung by K.D. Lang, such a pacifying tune. It put me in charge. That song has been tossed around like a cheap prostitute, but she does it so well. I remember when she sung it at the Juno awards. And I was not alarmed to be awake.

Ish laughs at me because I can never figure out which pocket I put my mobile in. Whenever it rings, there is an implaceable jingle that emanates from my body as I scramble to find it. It makes me dance. The volume is quiet enough that were I at a rock concert, I would risk not hearing it, but loud enough that I am desperate to make it stop as quick as possible. This reminds me of my alarm clock. Just now, it rang, and I had left it in my coat. I sprang off my seat instinctively, but had nothing on me to grab. I left it in my trenchcoat. I left it in my trenchcoat, under a pile of other coats, which were all mixed up worse than pineapples in a banana bin. I ran over to the chair it was slung on, and then, wouldn't you know, by the time I answered it, the call was short of reaching me. Oh yeah, I'm in a basement. No reception.

My youngest sister has been getting into some movie production. She did a presentation about Napolean and the French Revolution. She baked and brought cake (as in Marie Antoinette: "let them eat cake") and played a video that she created with her friends, a camera, and a Mac. Apparently, they made it into a DVD, and although they didn't do this, she said she could have made a menu. Her favorite highlight was that in the slide show, she subtly slipped in a picture of Braveheart, standing triumphantly. Her French teacher chuckled at this, observant old cat. If she had more time, she would have included the credits and some film bloopers.

One such extra scene might have been when her and her friends went to the library to secretly film the librarian. I suppose they wanted a reality tv type of vibe. They are apt to humour the librarian at school, who isn't so quick at figuring out when they're up to tricks. She is one of those people who takes their jobs so seriously that it is funny, and who it is tempting to rearrange the books on. For example, I'm not sure if this librarian has ever taken note of the fact that there are now more fishes in her tank than there were at the beginning of the school year.

Anyway, my sister acted as a decoy, going up and asking the librarian questions to stall while the cameraman hid himself behind some shelves to record the interaction: "So, [geekylibrarianlady], what kinds of things do you like best about books?" "Is there anything exciting that you like to do on your lunch breaks?" The librarian answers, awkwardly: "...well, I pack my own lunch. I take that time to eat my lunch, of course" "Oh, that's interesting..." "Why? Why are you asking me all these questions?" Just then the camera man makes too much noise and foils the plan.

I didn't want to spend too much money today, but we get to choose our own book about management technique for our class on the Management Environment. I found a book called Creativity Inc. by Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman about how business should be willing to take risks, and how managers can encourage and harness the innovative ideas of their employees. I then saw The R. Crumb Handbook (Robert Crumb) on at 50% off and I couldn't resist. He's that crazy cartoonist of 60's America, who built his reputation as a misfit. His material bordered on downright outrageous for its time.

Well, and now I have my second band practice with the new conglomerate of musicians. Our amplifiers could be considered a hazard to the power grid. It is an interesting pet project at this point. We have SO much equipment in that studio. The music is good too, but we're still sorting out logistical things, like how to manage volume. Our drummer was experimenting with a midi kit that had different noises for every rubber pad that he'd strike. It's like virtual drumming. (He has a real drum kit too). Some of the effects basically made him useless, because using them can't really be considered playing, and some of the soundbites like a voice saying "C'mon" in different registered, kind of broke the seriousness of the moment. I'm excited about going into that atmosphere though. The band members are a hoot. I like the incubatory nature of the hall, with its smallness, posters and little white lights everywhere. Hopefully this time we don't drain the juice completely or blow a fuse.

Though, it was nice that time when the lights all went out, and we kept playing, in the pitch black dark. That was bonding.

Friday, January 13, 2006

On Communist China

Photo courtesy of the Wikepedia Organization.

A new social phenomenon is sweeping China. Millions of people have renounced their ties to the Chinese Communist Party since November 2004, when the Epoch Times published the first of “The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” which is the most vast and comprehensive account of the CCP, collected from many anonymous first-hand eyewitnesses, reports and testimonies. “It is perhaps the first, and by far most revealing, complete, uncensored history of the CCP.” As of October 2005, there were 5 million Chinese citizens, who, despite the threat of being imprisoned for up to 10 years for the “offense” of being anti-Communist, acknowledged their dissociation from the party. This trend is continuing in the 20,000 or more a day mark. Among the dissenters are high profile people like Chinese Olympic swimming champion, Huang Xiaoming. [1]

As a Canadian, there is a special reason to be attentive of what’s going on in China, because as the country is generally regarded as open, and ready for business with the west, the Party’s treatment of people within it’s own country, from the way protestors were shot and run over by tanks in 1988, at Tiananmen Square to the policing and harsh censorship of the Internet, this regime has unsettling similarities to the Germany’s Fascist Party of 1939. Chinese people need our support to be able to do what they believe. They need our support to have freedom of conscience.

In the last 160 years of China’s history, Chinese traditional culture has been wiped away and there have been 100 million unnatural deaths. [2] Bloody invasions were headed by the Anglo-French Allied Force in the early 1860’s, the Japanese in 1894 and Russians in 1906. Up to that point, since 1644, China was ruled by Manchurian Emperors. The first three ruled in what is considered the time of “peace and prosperity,” although there were several uprisings due to poverty. Intermarriage with Chinese was outlawed, and the form of government, adopted from the Ming Dynasty, favored Manchurians despite all positions being dually held by one Chinese as well.

As China opened up to Western trade, European missionaries influenced Chinese thought on science and the arts. Britain desired China’s silk and tea, but after they introduced opium, many became addicted, and much of the land that was useful for feeding the population was turned over to harvesting the drug. When this led to the abolition of the opium trade in 1839, the so called ‘opium war’ erupted with Britain. They lost the war, and in 1842, they were forced to hand over Hong Kong to Britain and re-open trade with Europe. Since the peace agreements weren’t carried out by either side, war broke out again in 1857.

Several internal rebellions over cultural and ideological issues caused a weakening of China, as it tried to achieve trade with Russia and protect itself from Japan, which had undergone Westernization. Meanwhile, emperors were getting younger and younger, and empress Tzu Hsi was opposed to reform. One day she had the emperor executed and died herself the very next day, but not before placing a two year old on the throne. His rule from 1909-11 strengthened revolutionaries, at which point they took over government and the Republic of China was born. [3]

Since that time, and more specifically the last half of this century, China has struggled against itself to become a major economic power, but at what cost? There have been more unnatural deaths in China since 1949 than there has been from the wars spanning 1921-1945 [4] They are not only a danger to themselves, but also the rest of the world.

In July 2005, China’s Major General Zhu Chenghu threatened to use nuclear weapons against the US if it intervened in the conflict over Taiwan. He added that “we…will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xi’an” (this is the area containing all of China’s major cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai) [5] Weeks later, joint military exercises were carried out with the Russian military. These were so called practice projects against “terrorist targets”, which oddly enough, involved amphibious exercises. [6] China and Japan continue to dispute borders in the sea.

This past summer (summer of 2005), tensions were rising in China. It was lobbying the EU to lift its ban on arms sales. The PRC has been claiming Taiwan as one of its provinces, saying it has no place in the UN. Right now the political status of Taiwan is unclear. It is a de jure state of China. In Febuary 2005, the US and Japan issued a joint statement that said easing the tensions in Taiwan was their “common strategic objective” and they called on China “to improve transparency of its military affairs.” [7] Since 1991, and more recently, the US is sending Taiwan ships, submarines and anti-missile defenses in an effort to boost its military against Chinese threat. The decision to increase spending from 2.5 and 3 percent of Taiwan’s GDP on military expenditures is currently awaiting approval. [8]

One recent example of China and Taiwan’s strained relationship is some creative public relations from China. It wanted to give Taiwan two pandas, but this could also be a test of some sort as well. They are in a cache 22 where by accepting the animals, they are acknowledging that they are a province of China, and that international transfer laws need not apply. If they don’t accept the lovable bears, they could disappoint Taiwanese, and increase tension between itself and China. [9]

Critics suspect that the recent maneuvers over Taiwan to appropriate it as China’s homeland is a political diversion to reunite nationals against Japan and the U.S. If the US continues to interfere (as it is compelled to do by law) things could get worse. In 2005, Defense Minister Chi Haotian outlines the two possible routes to the “Chinese century”: either biological weapons succeed against the U.S., or nuclear retaliation destroys about half of the Chinese population. In both cases, the emphasis is on unrelenting success, and you can see the ideology of Party values over Human values, as he states: “The population-even if more than half dies-can be reproduced. But if the Party falls, everything is gone, and gone forever!” [10]

The problem with the Communist regime from the start is that it doesn’t seem to have any consistency, so as a result, it doesn’t have any credibility. For example, on July 4, 1947, the CCP issued an editorial in the Xinhua Daily that stated that “Since a young age, we have thought of the US as a lovable country” because it had never attacked China and “[m]ore fundamentally, the Chinese people hold good impressions of the US based on the democratic and open-minded character of its people.” However, three years later, the CCP sent soldiers to fight Americans in North Korea and outlawed the publication of similar statements. In the Party’s 80 year history, it has revised its Constitution 16 times! It has been a mix of Marxist-Leninist ideology with the addition of Maoist thought, Deng theories and Jiang principles. Since 1950, the CCP has persecuted a whole gamut of enemies including intellectuals, those believing in personal property, anti-rightists, and most recently, the persecution of Falung Gong since 1999. [11] Of course, it denies this. While Falung Gong emphasizes truth, compassion and human values, it seems that the CCP is interested only in their opposites. It bases itself on struggle: “the forcible overthrow of all social conditions” [12] as if it is some political manifestation of a fanatical stoicism which states: “no pain, no gain.”

Marx justifies communism based on the exploitation of one class over another that happens in the capitalist model, but while he’s a material historian, he wishes communism to break away from documented history: “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.”[12] With this in mind, and utilizing the best of circular arguments, one could justify violence as a necessary means to societal advancement. Unfortunately, violence has been a part of history since the dawn of dinosaurs.

The CCP outlaws personal property, freedom of expression and privacy. For economic purposes, the CCP restored some rights to private property in 1980 (Marx promoted an abolition of private property as the abolition of bourgeoisie property) , which allowed China to become the country with such a huge gap between the rich and the poor. The CCP has imposed a rigid doctrine on the rights and freedoms of people in order to advance an ideology of brutality; a de facto survival of the most obedient. During the Cultural Revolution, its motto was “Battle with heaven, fight with the earth, struggle with humans –therein lies endless joy.” This seems the perfect inversion of traditional Chinese philosophy. For example, in the Tao-Te Ching: “Man follows the earth, the earth follows heaven, heaven follows the Tao, and the Tao follows what is natural.” [13]

When my sister came back from China, she brought back a little red book that her friends accepted of their hosts, because they were offered them everywhere they went. This book was Mao Zedong Manifesto, which outlines Party beliefs and principles. While this book is encouraged by the party as fundamental reading that students learn in school from an early age, being rewarded from quizzes for answering the politically appropriate (not necessarily the rational) answer, those who have been caught reading the Nine Commentaries of Communism have become victims of disappearance.

In January 2005, as a reaction to the publication of the Nine Commentaries on Communism, the CCP leaders launched a new indoctrination program that forced people in 31 provinces to attend political study sessions to “unify the thoughts” of people with CCP ideology. Part of this program demanded that all current Party members must re-register with the Party by July 1, 2005. It is unsettling to imagine what the alternative was. [6] Red Guards threw a man out of the window for denouncing the Cultural Revolution and called it a “suicide.” They’ve burned books in the thousands. They’ve mauled student protesters. They’ve tortured people. [1]

This dehumanizes people. In my country I take the ability to have my own beliefs for granted, but in a country like China, where there are few private spaces for the poor, the colonization of the mind is rampant. But reclaiming the freedom of expression has begun. Millions are denouncing the Chinese Communist party. Support the people to have courage. Support freedom.

In closing, here is a message from Lao Tzu:

Human beings are
Soft and supple when alive,
Stiff and straight when dead.

The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
Soft and fragile when alive,
Dry and withered when dead.

Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.

An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.

The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.


[1] Browde, Jonathan.The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 2 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[2] "The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, Part I: On What the Communist Party Is" Cited in The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 5 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[3] http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/later_imperial_china/qing.html
[4] "The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, Part I: On What the Communist Party Is" Cited in The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 5 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[5] Lemish, Leeshai. The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 9 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[6] Browde, Jonathan. The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 1 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[7] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-02/20/content_417697.htm
[8] http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2006_01-02/JANFEB-taiwan.asp
[9] http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopNews&article=UPI-1-20060109-17550000-bc-taiwan-pandas.xml
[10] Browde, Jonathan. The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 3 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[11] "The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, Part I: On What the Communist Party Is" Cited in The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 6 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[12] http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/classics/manifesto.html
[13] "The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, Part I: On What the Communist Party Is" Cited in The Epoch Times, Special Edition, Jan 2005, p. 7 (ISSN: 1712-6487)
[14] Tzu, Lao "Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way" trans. Victor H. Mair (Bantam Books, New York: 1990)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Paltrow is Hot for HNT

All of a sudden I'm hanging out with all these celebrities. Who knew? Yes, this is Gwyneth and I. She doesn't look too pleased with me here. I simply asked if she was going to eat her apple and she got upset, but we're cool now. I think maybe she was just a little sensitive about the fact that her daughter listens to Madonna more than she does Coldplay.

If you don't know what HNT is, you better ask somebody. Better yet, just click on the blue square underneath my drop-down menu. This is the edge-of-your-seat social experience that everyone on the web is opening up to, and undressing for. Whether you're schizophrenic, reptilian, deaf, or simply too cool to care, I'm sure a little skin can snap you out of your reverie and whip you into the world of the with-its. Don't scratch your head any longer. You want some tea? Yeah, I've got some tea for you, some HNT.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Celebrities Have to Eat Too!!

Photo Source
Here's Avril Lavigne. She wouldn't eat her crusts, and when I suggested we get pepperoni, olives, hot peppers, pineapple, barbecue sauce, brocolli, bacon, onions and chives she asked me: "why do you have to go make things so complicated?" I shrugged. So, we ended up with a plain cheese pizza.

The true story is that I found this site where celebrities are caught in the natural act of eating. It is gold. There are some funny captions. I especially encourage you to check out how Arnold Schwarzenegger terminates a sandwich.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

School is to me what Lakes are for Fish

Ish and I were driving home from school in her car. Whenever we slow down to a stop, the car goes up and it feels like the frame is going to lift off, it actually shifts so much. It's like the car is a disguised saucer, about to lift into outer space. It rises off of the axel so far! (Her brothers are constantly working on the car to tune it up and keep it running). She commented that maybe one time the car will simply fly off the wheels and we'll go skidding into the intersection. That got me thinking: if the car was to wheels what hands are to mits, then by attaching strings from our mits to our sleeves for the purpose of not losing them "attachables", we should also attach strings from our axel to our wheels, so that we don't lose them either. At least if we did lose them, they wouldn't go rolling very far, or get lost like that notorious meatball in that song, "spaghetti and meatballs."

Had an interview over the phone the other day. It was 4 bilingual call support. Some of it was in French which I realized too late I needed brushing up on, but it was kind of exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time.

I had been looking for full time positions for the summer when I'll be done school. It piqued my interest to find a bilingual recruitment agency that would have a myriad of connections to bilingual positions.

I took French in a school and went on exchanges to Québec, rode on French horses through French fields, and heard the French myths about the unicorn that put the last brick on the cathedral of Trois-Pistoles, and saw French whales pop their heads out of the St.Laurence river, and had my visits to Montrèal. I feel it would be sad to lose all that culture and that linguistic tongue. So I figure a great way would be to keep it up in my work, and help businesses communicate with their clients. The challenge made me reconsider keeping it up in my spare time as well, so I've been trying to read FAQ sheets like these.

About the interview: after playing telephone tag a couple "you're it's," I finally caught the woman who I had been stalking for the opportunity. We had a pleasant chat, but I knew she was probably unclear about all my motives for applying to her agency, so I explained that I'm in school, would like bilingual experience, etc. She asked some questions about my education, about my area of interest: whether I was dead set on a definite goal, for example: to fulfill my objective to be a PR professional writer. As I explained, it is one goal, but I'm more interested in developing many skills at a time -French speaking skills, persuasion, promotions, communication, management which may all lead up to a career in professional writing. In other words, I will accept positions other than "PR professional writer" as I'm eager to start working in general. When she told me to answer questions in French that she was asking in English, it threw me for a bit of a loop, because I had to think of an answer in the first place, and then translate it. She was testing my ability not only to speak in French, but to think in French. I've dreamed in French before, but usually only when I'm heavily immersed in, which at this point, I am not.

So, it was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to describe my ideal work environment as a place that is "joli" and "ouvert," somewhere where I could "enseigner et informer des personnes" or do "ventes". Felt good besides not knowing and having to ask what the word for "website" was iFrenchch ("site de web"). Yea, I was a littlembarrasseded, but it was nothing to slit my wrists over.

Got a contact for the future anyway, to call nearer to the time I'm applying for full time work. Am currently feeling relatively satisfied with having two very non-demanding (timewise) part-time positions which are both on campus. I'll get to maintain security for our school event: the Polar Plunge -an event where students do the insane act of jumping into a lake of frigidly cold water through a hole in the ice. I'll get to distribute the new contact cards that I designed for a business. And I'll have other work too.

Must apply for my placement in the next week or so, which will involve doing unpailaborur. It is part of our program: to gain experience, but at the same time, it is a real job. It may be unpaid, but I'm very excited nonetheless because of how it relates to my studies.

But enough of that. I must now take a vitamin and go to sleep to complete the whole placebo effect of thinking my life is generally in perfect shape right now. Although I didn't jam on Tuesday as part of the new band I have been absorbed into, hopefully my accomplice will have his PA all set to go. Right?

The Rocking

When I am a baby, my mother holds me and rocks me back and forth, gently,

When I am a toddler, I stand on two legs and they wobble back and forth, uneasily,

When I am a little boy and it is my first day at school, I rock my foot back and forth, nervously,

When I am a teenager and I climb into the trees with the wind freely blowing, I rock on the branches, back and forth, rebelliously,

When everything seems broken and I just need someone to hold me, they rock me back and forth, comfortingly,

When I am a young man and we have both lost something that we love for the first time, but we remember when things were better, you and I sit on the porch, and we rock back and forth, without speaking,

When I am in the mood to close my mind to everything outside and focus on the sweet music which fills my ears, I rock my head back and forth, mesmerised,

When I am a middle aged man and I am waiting for the train, I rock my my knapsack back and forth on my shoulders, in anticipation,

When I am an older man and we are walking down the streets of Paris, hand in hand, remembering how it was to see the sunset together, I rock your hand back and forth against my hip, affectionately,

When I am a grey-haired man out on the lake, all alone, and there are no fish but a light breeze and radiant sun, the boat rocks back and forth, soothingly,

When I am an old man and my bones ache and I smell of urine, and my voice shakes, and my mind fails, and my heart races, when my balance is off and my body rocks back and forth at the top of the stairs,

Then the pallbearers rock my coffin back and forth, and lower it into the grave, slowly, where it sits, still.

@Copyright 2006 SirBarrett

Monday, January 09, 2006

Survival of the Fastest

In terms of livestock, the chicken that runs away gets attacked first. Chickens can be cruel. They will actually peck each other to death if one starts bleeding, and by turning to run, they leave their bottoms vulnerable.

When Plato defined humans as "featherless bipeds" Diogenes brought a plucked chicken to one of his lectures and showed Plato his version of a human. This made others laugh.

Humans are different than animals, or at least they should be. We should be rational enough to solve problems without fighting. If we do fight, it should be in a professional setting like a martial arts arena where the fighters' main objective is to end the fight, not kill their opponent. Despite the fact that there are many wars going on all the time, and that humans do horrendous things to each other like slowly peel nails off to torture them for information or sadistic pleasure, some people have found other means to end a conflict. I had an example this weekend of how simply avoiding confrontation served me well.

I get into strange situations sometimes that I do not enjoy. One of these situations is coming into contact with people who want to kick my ass. Perhaps it is because I am confrontational, but I would say more that I'm inquisitive that I run into troubles. People don't always understand where I'm coming from. It's something I'm working on.

It was one of these situations where I was interacting with individuals for the first time, and I made an error in starting a conversation off on the wrong foot. I entered into an arena of sensitivity and asked the wrong question in the wrong place at the wrong time. Specifically, I asked someone who was blind in one eye whether it was the result of head trauma. I asked this in a house full of football players, late at night after they had been drinking. Although I began to apologize the moment I sensed the tension in the air (I was not making fun of the disability, just curious about the difference in pupil dilation between the eyes), the fact that his response to my question was "you're going to feel head trauma in a moment," I surmised that physical danger was immanent.

Anyway, I didn't need to be given a cease and desist more than once. I was on my way, but as I stopped down the street from this place of non-friends, I noticed someone approaching me. I didn't recognize them and I was on the phone at the time, however, it didn't take very long to put two and two together when he came up to me and gave me a shove.

The solution to me was quite simple. I had already had a long night and didn't feel like exchanging punches. That's for hicks. So what did I do?

I promptly turned and ran away, quickly.

On my way, I think I heard a faint "hey, come back here!" but it didn't really sound persuasive enough. When I looked back, I was two blocks away, and no one was behind me. "It's a good thing you're a runner" I thought to myself. "Yes, it is." I thought back.

Whether or not I would have been victorious in a fight to me didn't matter. Either way, it would have been messy. I simply prided myself in being the quicker one, the one whose decision made a difference in the outcome. It made me happy for all the times I went jogging to blow off the steam and aggression that I'd pent up from having my ego shattered, or dealing with idiotic customers, or getting dumped by hot, successful women.

As far as it suits me, my opponent can go suck an egg. For my part, I'm much happier without a broken nose, without all the drama, without the missing teeth, the police reports, the uncertainties, the risks, the gamble and my %100 safety and comfort thanks.

You may be the type of person who likes to go looking for a fight, trying to feel powerful in whichever avenue you can, regardless of how much it relates you back to a Neanderthal, but I'm the type of person who likes to stay alive and doesn't mind being a coward, so I run. If I don't like the situation I'm in or the potential results of staying there, what I do is so simple:

I run very, very quickly.


Hello there! Yes, it's early in the morning, and I'm awake! As part of my new schedule, I have to be up earlier and require more perkiness out of myself which demands throwing in the towel for bed earlier too! Isn't that great!? (Still managed to finish reading No Logo last night at around 2am)

I woke up and on the sirBarrett special this morning was some coffee, an english muffin with a hint of cheesewhiz and some eggsalad. What a combo it is too! They say that something in the cheesewhiz -proteins maybe, cause you to have nightmares, but I've been having nightmares every night anyway, so I'm good to go!

It's my first day back at school today, or at least it's supposed to be. Actually, I'm supposed to be on my way to school now, but I carpool. I got a message on my phone saying that my ride was coming at 7:50, so at 8am I got worried that they had already come and gone without me. I need to be stolen people! So, I gave them a call, and wouldn't you know it! It's just the kind of thing the old me would have done: she slept in. Her alarm didn't go off:

"What? it's eight?!"

"Yeah, funny ainit?"

"Oh my gosh! Well, we're going to be late. Do you mind?"

(Does this mean I can eat more english muffins and sit around lazing for a bit longer, picturing myself not in class??)

"No, not in the least!"


Note: Do not suppose that just because I don't freak out because I will be late does not mean in any way that I am someone who 'has trouble with their schedule'. The new me will always be on time except for today, because I've already stressed enough about today. Accept it, it's inevitable. Sometimes you'll just be late. It doesn't make you irresponsible.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Funny

Need something to make Monday ok?

Here's a joke to keep you laughing through the week:
The best blonde joke ever

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Beat my heart,
Tribal drum,
Coax the feeling,
Of spiritual dilation,

Tears come,
For I know,
Deep inside,
I haven’t been everything you wanted me to be.

You are an impulse,
Sensation, repatriation,
Sing loudly to wake me,
I ache to feel alive again,
Just to be right here.

Delve deeper,
Ease yourself into it,
Into the severe melancholy,
Into the relinquishing,
Years of grief strike you like swords in battle,
And the storm calls for remuneration.

This is the healing,
It pains all mortals,
It molds them firmly,
And breaks them again,

Out of one wish we are created
And back into nothing we go.

@2006 copyright SirBarrett

Friday, January 06, 2006

Freedom vs Sustainability: My Search for an Acceptable Life

Job-hunting, job-schmunting. That's what I've been doing the last couple days: trying to get either a part-time job to keep me going through school or a full-time job when I'm finished in April. It's a full time job in and of itself.

I have a sample coverletter that basically says what I want to say, but then every time I apply for a job, I feel like I have better chances if I change it. Sometimes I have to translate it into French, or into motivational speak, or into succinct, depending on the person at the other end of the computer who I'm trying to size up. It's like diversifying my bonds, or not putting all my chips in one bet. I don't want to bank it all on one approach.

These holidays have really been dragging. The weather is a mind-f--k. I'm finally going back to school on Monday. It's kind of an identity-assault in a way, not to have a routine, because it feels so disorienting not to be doing anything, not even working.

See, I had four part-time jobs last semester: being a security guard, sampling food, working as a campus intern promo guy and selling cell phones as part of a pre-Christmas launch. I was rushing around, printing out posters, going to meetings, figuring out the next deadline, trying to reel people in on deals. Those jobs are all gone now or on hold. Now, it's like there aren't any deadlines except a very natural deadline. Drawing nudes and sleeping in are very nice and all, but internally, I have this sense that it's my life that has a deadline, and I always feel behind in every stage. I would never be able to afford to have children, or my own car, or my own house at this point: the modern day hunter-gatherer essentials. Emotionally, I can't afford to fall in love or to have really close relationships yet because showing that you care means spending time, effort, and money. Am I warped or does EVERYTHING COST MONEY!! Maybe I'm just the only one who's surprised.

Call me a dog in the manger, but it boggles my mind that right as I'm finishing school, the Liberals propose more money to education. Nevermind that tuition costs are astronomical (and there are other costs) but now, as if it's a whole new idea, Martin comes to my town and tells us that he'll give $3000 for tuition to every college and university student in their first and last year of school (if he gets re-elected). That's crazy! I mean, uh, that's great! How much will that cost an already highly taxed country in tax money to finance the agenda of a Prime minister that gave millions of dollars of our money to Liberal-friendly agencies in the past?

Anyway, so commitments are tough. I'm worried that Ariel Sharon's commitments won't have time to be carried out in the Middle East now because he just had another major stroke. I'm worried the WHO's commitments to alleviating the AIDS epidemic in Africa might be short-sighted: focusing on antireteroviral drugs instead of more investment in infrastructure, and education and prevention programs (not that I don't think access to treatment isn't a big part of the problem). Sometimes fixing the problem is the problem because the opportunity costs are so high. Commitments can hold you back because they're a sacrifice of freedom. The biggest commitment I've made in the last week has been to say I'll start practicing with a group of musicians, one of which gave me two songs to practice on my own. That I'm happy about though. It's good to have some commitments, but this semester my focus is on not biting off more than I can chew.

So I'm hoping someone somewhere somehow will give me a decent job, because I'm getting tired of finding multiple ones just to satisfy my basic needs. This untrustable world is nobody's fault but our own, I suppose, because we want flexibility as a culture. Look what we do to the environment, then we wonder about the rising cost of living...

Be productive!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cold Blue HNT

This is my hand-drawn HNT. Electric blue girl is what I call her. She's a little anorexic, but she looks pretty in the black light. Albert saw her at a nudist resort, and she made him take off his glasses.

I'm still on holidays today, so I've got some jogging, reading and recording to do to fulfill my extracurricular dreams. Didn't really make resolutions this year, but I know the things I need to improve about myself. The snow is all melted and I don't have skates. Maybe I'll get my bike out soon...this weather is strange for January.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Howard Delivers Nuns Through Desert

Howard didn't come home for Christmas. He's still playing the missionary and leading tours. He wrote me another long letter, but at least it gives me some more details. Sounds like he's still having character conflicts with those around him, although him and Amman seem to have been getting along. See for yourself.

Dear Sir Hawthorne Rufus Ignatius Spencer Barrett!

My Christmas wishes, that all is well at the humble abode. I hope all the trees were tingling, and the fires blazing, and the children singing, and all the rats dancing like the dickens!

I simply write, because I was sitting on Seamus (photograph enclosed) the other day, with all our pack: tins, blankets, our tent, and the blowing of the dessert sands, when a peculiar thought struck me, as if it were randomly picked out of the memory bin, like some lottery ball, or beamed to me from outer space.

Amman was looking off into the beyond beyonds. We had stopped for his meditations, and also mine. The changing and evasive landscape, along with other factors that I will delineate in the next few paragraphs, triggered a vision of some warfare way back when. A part of me, (I cannot be completely certain which part) re-experienced the perceived need for haste, as an onslaught of pounding artillery at my defenses shattered through my cranium. Images of Rommel trying to capture Tobruk in ‘41 and ’42 rattled through my skull. I could hear the screaming and smell the ashes rising up from vainglorious terror. People were shooting back and forth. Then my nerves calmed somewhat, and I re-experienced other features of so-called ‘camaraderie’: getting to know the Aussies, writing silly things on the backs of our helmets, and buying each other prostitutes when we overtook old towns. Time passed in little flashes.

Of course these are not my personal memories, but the memories that were passed down to me, through my blood. Perhaps it is natural that the tectonic plates were communicating with my charkas on that particular day in that particular astrological alignment with the stars, but I quite got away with myself. Waywords have a very paternal transmission of memory, as if the gamete from one He-Wayword passes directly into another, at the point of conception. My father and I have discussed this on several occasions, bringing in all kinds of speculations like my mother’s diet, the humidity of the air at certain points, and other items of concern. It just so happens, that every once in awhile, my father and I cross wires, as it were, and I get a taste of what he is thinking. If you go to Northern England and search places where you are told you aren’t to go, you’ll find the old town sign of Wayword Ville, abandoned a long time even before my father’s time, though he has since gone back. There are trees growing up where there used to be libraries, and a wishing well where nobody goes. There my father rests his ragged bones and collects the pieces of his past.

As it came about, some communication was made, and instead of being mounted on a living breathing camel, in some form or another, I suddenly felt I was actually sitting in a fort built of sandbags, fighting the panzers of the Afrika Korps. Rommel and his rotters were up to no good. His supply trucks drove by blazing with fire, and people lost their wits expecting rocket attacks. I saw the pitiful sight of grown men making pissing their pants, shouting orders and charging to certain death, trying to outsmart the enemy. At another instant of psychic time, I felt movement in my lips, and found myself to be singing the old tune my father had sung to me as a wee babe:

“Hitler only has one ball,
Goering has two but very small;
Himmler is very sim’lar,
And Goebbels has no balls at all.”

As the story goes, the Fuehrer had had a questionable experience during the First World War at the Somme, when he suffered a bullet wound to his crotchial region, and it is questionable whether his left testicle ever survived the incident. (Those who saw with their naked eye, and performed Hitler’s physical, or exhumed him for an autopsy, whatever reports they wrote, know the truth, which is now long buried in graves). Regardless of your historical preoccupations with the subject, musically, this song put me to sleep like magic. The Waywords know a trick or two!

Although it is not our usual business, much before I was struck with the inter-generational vision, Amman and I had become acquainted with some nuns in Algeria. They were a joyful bunch, although most interruptive and intolerant when it came to Amman’s Islamism and my very own personal faith. I wondered what they were doing in the dessert at all to be quite frank, for they didn’t seem accustomed to it. They would try to question my directions, and whenever I proposed an option for them out of the kindness of my heart, they would deflect the opportunity to make a simple decision and ask me: “What would Jesus do?” To this question, I could never be absolutely sure. It is one thing to speculate what the son of God thinks, but to try to tell a Christian who believes that Jesus is the Messiah what the Jew thought and have it sit well in their mind, is very complicated. There are a lot of built up expectations. I did not want to enter into a debate that would have taken hours to settle. They should know that only God knows these things, and while old Howard may be somewhat of a hero, he is no Zeus.

To make a lengthy story brief, we agreed to escort them over to Ajdubiya, but on the sole condition that we would not have any martyrdom, any gratuitous praise, dissonant hymn-signing, complaining or over-abstaining. I also demanded appropriate pay for my services. They agreed and said they were on their way to some Godly mission, so I didn’t trouble them overly, but oh how they liked to dilly-dally!

In the social pleasantries and elongated greetings that decorated the premature phase of our interaction, I forgot to send a communiqué to abruptly cut the lines of the Waywordian connection for a temporary sabbatical. You must remember that I was supposedly responsible for these agents of heaven as a Howardianist, so were they truly a compliant unit, we would have been fine, but they were not. As a victim of their expostulation, I tried yet to be professional, and devote the greater part of my attention to the camels, and indirectly, them. Though, it was difficult with so many incoming messages to answer their every plea. I figured that they should be regarded as clients/tourists as part of my professional function, that being the president of Waywordian Travel. Therefore, it went against business ethics and my very own Howardian sense to treat them any different than any other clients, merely because they were nuns. Of course I did not want to bring any disfavor about myself in His divine mind, but it did not seem inappropriate to be performing astral projections in their presence, and so I cannot confess to committing a sin that would warrant their obnoxious behavior! Everything was “Howard you must” this and “Howard you must” that. I couldn’t have a moment of peace! The only way to do so, was to go out of my proper body, and into the body of my father, who fought in the war. It was like God and the devil fighting over my very soul! Once I had managed to escape, and was in the altered state, apparently the nuns were quite upset at not being able to reach me. (Serves them right!)

To give things a bit more of an explanation, and to put in a good word for my defense, before the aforementioned transportation, my robe was muddied from a small oasis that Amman and I had happened to come across, so the provocation was quite physiological, and therefore not completely avoidable nor under my direct mental control. I admit I became distracted. My muddiness sparked a dreadful sensation of the way your feet would feel, were they to be slapped with a bout of infections that make your toes rotty. I thought about gangrene and the smell of bodies. Nasty stuff!

While I was reviewing this military history in my mind, Amman and the nuns became engaged in some discussion about cleanliness vs. uncleanliness, and they both had quite different opinions on the subject. I suppose I was not the enthusiast they were expecting in their discussion because I wanted nothing to do with it. To tell you about the song, it came from my father who was an English man, employed in the service of his country, fighting in the desert with the Australians. He picked up the song from soldiers in Italy. I wanted to be away from the presence of women, marching to my own pace, in sync with the soldiers steps of the past, as they went on to fight the Nazi’s, so I started to sing the tune again, blocking out the sound of their voices.

I cannot go into too much detail about the entire trip from Benghazi to Dahrna, but because they disapproved of the so called “vulgar” nature of my singing, they wouldn’t obey my instructions, or help with the tins when we stopped for dinner. I explained that the conditions that we agreed on for the trip were to limit their singing, not mine. They complained of unfairness and of having to give my camels a rest from their fat arses, and having to share the load of their travel with “heathens” such as Amman and I. This came as a shock to me, to think of the irony of their logic: that a Howardian wasn’t already saved! What started as a simple contract had quickly turned into a ‘situation’ and they gave Amman a rough time about his grooming habits. I made it known that Amman was THE man of this land. He seemed a little surprised of my endorsement, yet I continued: “Do you know what city lays to your East you hags? It is the holy land of Jordan! A name may mean very little to you, but that capital city’s name would be meaningless without it being the same as his! Amman knows every crevice of this desert, every grain! If you make one more disreputable murmur from your mouths, that will be it!” By ‘it,’ I think they understood my meaning, for at this statement, their eyes all became very bulgy. They became very unpleasant, and upset by my Howardian constitution. They made protests of disbelief against me, saying I was tarnishing relations and other such ridiculous accusations. I was merely setting down some ground rules! The holy ladies rebelliously sat themselves in the sand and refused to continue on their mission, which I thought was only to shoot themselves in the foot, and disappoint God. However, and this is sincerely lucky for them, because I am kind, and innovative, and compromising, I made a special proposal to them, that if they would like to entreat the Lord for a 150mile conveyor belt, or a Volkswagen with sand tires, or perhaps a jet to save us all the curse of having to endure each others company, then I would promptly resign, and hand them over to Him immediately. However, I also informed them that unless they would like to start their mission early, finding their own rock to turn into water, and parting seas with their bare hands, they should obediently shut up and come along.

We went along for awhile and it was glorious how they didn’t speak, but they seemed downtrodden and sad, so I told them I would allow one hymn to be sung. I felt a moment of compassion for them as the eyes of one of the younger nuns lit up with excitement and she said “God bless you Howard! Your soul is not completely lost!” And so they all sang together:

“Pilgrim, burdened with thy sin,

Come the way to Zion’s gate:
There, till mercy lets thee in,
Knock, and weep, and watch, and wait.
Knock—He knows the sinner’s cry;
Weep—He loves the mourner’s tears;
Watch, for saving grace is nigh;
Wait, till heavenly light appears.”

Their voices were terrible, but their effort was immense. I asked them who wrote the words to the song, and they showed me in their hymnals, that it was a certain George Crabbe. He sounded like a crab to me. Like a crab, burdened with a heavy shell, but I hoped he was right about the grace being nigh. I wanted to impart a sense of goodwill to the ladies, and so I proved to them that I wasn’t entirely unversed in their manifesto, and that I did identify proper values when I saw them. So that they should see the error of their ways, and repent for themselves (all of them except for the pretty one that blessed me already), I reinforced part of their gospel to them and told them:

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” Ephesians 4:32

In this way, I lead by example, showing that I repaid their wretchedness with goodness. I also gave them a reward for their coming about -a little bit of honey that I had stashed away. Each nun got one lick.

The conclusion to this story is not a lesson to disprove the effectiveness of God, or to say anything about nuns in general, or necessarily to be a lesson in hymnology, but rather to show that my loyalty to myself and confidence in Amman and our shared leadership, eventually helped these God-seeking women to find their way. It also taught them something, which is that Christians, good or bad, will not get their way by acting like a pack of whining beasts. I suppose I learned something too in that my experience was a verification of another good verse which states “you shall attract more by honey than by vinegar.” My honey proved effective, especially in keeping them quiet until they could be ditched. My father taught me persistence, and it must have been forwarded to my main processing unit at precisely the right time. So neither Rommel nor these nuns would overtake or rule Howard! Whether it was the divine manifestation of Islamic, Howardistic or Christian powers, or a combination thereof, I believe that God’s work was achieved by us surviving, and putting aside our differences, until we arrived safely in Tobruk.

The reward in the afterlife, as it were, was getting rid of those wretched nuns!

So sir, remember to be persistent when you are forced into a situation you’d rather not be in. Do not give up, and if it is possible, transport your soul to another time or space to save yourself from the present. The present can be dreary but some of us have the ability to live outside of it. Use that ability! Gravity will always pull you back, but in the meantime there is bliss waiting at the window in your mind.

Take care my friends, and may you be well in 2006!

In good faith,
Howard Wayword

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