Ink & Paper

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Public Facilities

If there is one common thread that bonds people together, it is their revulsion at the thought of using public bathrooms. But inevitably, especially if you are a girl, your number comes up and you have to put the shopping on pause and use the bathrooms. And this does not just happen in malls, as most anything public possesses the grim reality of public bathrooms.

So why do they suck? Think way back to your early elementary days. While doing your business, there was always that fear that one of those older grade 3 boys would walk into the bathroom. And despite the illusion, those half-wall toilet stall walls do not offer much protection against peering eyes, especially in elementary. Suddenly you are being watched and before you know it, some rumor is spreading throughout those formative hallways. I still fear the peering eyes of an older bully, even nowadays. What is that phobia called, anyone know?

As well, the public bathrooms are seething with germs. The toilet seat, the stall handle, the flush handle and finally the bathroom door are all little breeding grounds for all sorts of terrorist germs. I am pretty sure all the guys have seen (but never done it themselves) some guy leave without washing his hands. Ewww.

Mind you, the new bathrooms are almost touchless, with automatic flushes, water spouts, and air dryers. They also now feature a series of sight-deterring corners and mini-hallways, replacing the need to grip the door handle to exit the loo. I have actually seen little antiseptic disposable cloths to clean the toilet seat before you use it. So it is getting better. But mind you, humanity is getting worse, so maybe all the new doo-dads are a moot point.

Finally, the level of privacy is rather low. If you make an unbecoming noise (excessive grunting for example, followed by screams of pain) most everyone will hear you and some might even snicker. So you must assume a certain level of public behaviour while doing your business. Some people, mostly old men, seem not to understand this type of etiquette. Charming for the ears.

In closing, the use of public bathrooms is one of those necessary evils. But if we are in there at the same time, and you hear me screaming, I would prefer if you just wash your hands and walk away. And please do not peek on your way out.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:56 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Well it's been a few busy days since my last blog, but I have been busy, not just being a lazy, Montreal-style slacker.

I've been listening to Woody Guthrie the last few days, and his album "Dust Bowl Ballads" is like listening to a history lesson on the suffering of thousands during the mixed hell of 1930s Depression and the drought. Funny to think that it was only a little over 70 years ago, and now we live in comparable luxury.

Big news on the Alberta front is that Alberta could be, if Ralph chooses, debt free within the year. This would make us the only province that is debt free. Well financially, bank-wise debt free. There still are those nasty infrastructure issues, like terrible roads and crumbling hospitals. And those stupid kids that need habitable schools. But aside from the emerging infratructure debt that will send us right back into the hole, life is good. It's so esay to plan when you don't look past the end of your nose. Makes it difficult to see the walls coming at you though.

I'm handing in a paper tomorrow on Africa's fight for independence, and as I was researching the paper, I came across the fact that Nelson Mandela was in prison for 10,000 days. I've been alive for a little over 9500. That is an astoundingly sad stat.

I was unable to go out on St. Patricks Day, as my prof, who obviously hates us Irish folk, decided to schedule my midterm for the morning after St. Pat's. But I put Guiness in her gas tank, so that'll learn her. I'm just kidding.

With regards to the aforementioned sad stat, I meant that it was sad that Mandela was in prison for so long. I did not mean that it was sad I had been alive for so long. You're all smart asses.

Joke (To be read with an Irish accent)
Seamus O'Malley is at the local pub, having a few pints. Closing time is near and Seamus decides he best be getting home. He slips off the bar stool and falls flat on his face. "Jeezus Mary and Joseph, don't think I had that much to drink," he says. "Oh well, home ain't too far, I'll make it."

Seamus pulls himself upright and promptly falls flat on his mug again. "Jeezus Keerrist" He crawls to the door of the pub and tries to walk out. He falls flat on his face in the street, passing out. When he comes to, he shakes his head and thinks to himself: "I canna believe that I'm that drunk, I only had a coupla pints." He stands, falls and begins to drag himself home. He arrives home, leans on the door and stands himself up, only to fall flat when he opens the door. He hauls himself upstairs, think that the wife won't yell at him for being at the pub if she wakes up next to him. He falls down trying to climb the stairs, but makes it to bed, exhausted.

The next morning he is awkened with a shrill "Seamus O'Malley! You was at the pub, drinking yer wages last night weren't ya?" His head throbbing, Seamus starts to lie, "No Mary I swear, I was home late from work.I swear...."

"Don't you lie to me Seamus. The barkeep called this morning and said you forgot your goddamn wheelchair."

(With credit to Anna B.)

Okay, it's an all right joke, better in person. But it'll get ya through a Friday. Hope the weekend treats ya well.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:05 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Monday, March 15, 2004

International Politics

As most of should know by now, there was a devastating bombing in Madrid last week, killing about 200 people and injuring more than 1500. This attack, immediately blamed upon the ETA Basque sepratists, has since begun to take shape as the work of al-Qeada.

Three days after the bombing, with the Spanish populace still in shock, Spain held a general election, in which the ruling party (The Populist party) was booted out of power and replaced with the Socialist party. The Populist party had supported the US invasion of Iraq and Spain was named in an al-Qeada tape as one of the possible targets for terrorism, a bold predicition that came all too true.

It is worth arguing the effect the bombing had on the outcome of the vote. Before the bombing, polls should the Populist party held a good chance of winning a minority government. However the bombing seems to have cemented the idea in the population that this war on terror may have more negative outcomes that positive. Death and destruction are one thing when they occur on some faraway dot on the map; it's a much different story when it occurs on home soil.

It was undoubtably poor politics to blame the Basque sepratists for the attack, a move that no doubt moved many Basque supporters to vote against the Populist party. But what worries me is the failure to delay the vote, to give the population a chance to vote with their minds not with their heavy hearts. I have nothing but sympathy for those people whose lives were affected by the bombing, but a knee-jerk reaction to oust the government may not have been the best choice.

The turn out for the vote was above 75%, which is quite high for any westerninzed country, save Australia, where voting is mandatory. That signals to me a population that was lost in mourning and venting frustration, not a population that consciously elected what they deemed the best choice. Odd that Spain who was a supporter of the war, which was supposed to bring democracy to Iraq, seems to have suffered a hiccup in the democratic process.

The new leader of Spain is now threatening to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq by June 30, 2004, calling the war a poorly managed mistake. Good for him. But what this does is send a message to the terrorists, whichever group, that a strategically planned bombing can truly affect a country's political course, in a relatively short amount of time.

We do need to look at this bombing/election through a geopolitical lens, where the ripples can become waves as they flow across the world. I'm not unhappy that the Populist party lost, as I cannot support any party that deemed this a just war. But I do have reservations about how the election was affected, rather drastically, I would say, by this bombing.

Well that was rather serious, eh? Okay here's one for all you conspiracy theorists out there.

Socialist party is losing in the polls, even though there is a strong anti-war sentiment in the country. Bombs are set, possibly by the Socialists, to explode, with the blame being shifted around in the aftermath until it lands on a name that is recognized worldwide, al-Qeada. Population of Spain reacts by throwing the Populist pro-war government out, blaming them indirectly for the attack. Thus the Socialist party is elected into power. Hmmmmm.....

I dunno, I'm just thinking a lot about the world we live in and wondering who is who, because the bad guys don't wear black hats anymore. Comments? Lawsuits?

Try to make it a better world tomorrow. Good night.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:58 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Sunday, March 14, 2004

And yet another Sunday fades into the sunset.

I had a good weekend this time around, traveling the well-worn path to Calgary to visit with old friends. This week is gonna be another one full of sprints and tight deadlines, but that's the middle of March for you. 2 papers and a mid term (Linguistics how I hate thee!) but it should be doable.

More terrorism in affects the "Coalition of the Willing" and I can't help but think this is going to be a recurring headline in the years to come. I truly wonder if humans will ever develop past the wars and violence. I get the feeling that occasionally the monkeys have a great big convention, bananas for all, as they sit back and thank their lucky stars that they didn't "evolve" into humans.

Oh, another thing that caught my eye. In the Thursday edition of the Gateway, the U of A's student newspaper, there was a letter to the editor from a 5th year Science student, claiming that indeed the Earth is as flat as a board. I kept reading it, waiting for the punchline, but it never came. Even now, as I write this, I wonder if I somehow just didn't get it, as perhaps there was a subtle satire that escaped me. If not, what the hell? I can accept some people arguing evolution vs. creationism, but arguing the world is flat? Check it all out here. I encourage you to look at their FAQ, especially questions 20-22, which, among other things, says that Idaho doesn't exist.


I have also updated the links for you, so check those out. I also want to emphasize that I am not responsible for what these sites put up, as I don't check them every day. Not that anything weird has shown up, nor do I try to find sites that will scar you, but I just don't want to be held liable. A disclaimer, if you will.

CD currently in the playa: Lizz Wright Salt
-- A little bit of soul to easy your troubled mind.

Book currently on the go: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-- A wonderful story, written with great attention to detail, by Marquez, a Columbian, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Ok, thats enough for me. Hope the weekend was good for you and that Monday ends quickly.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:00 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


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