Ink & Paper

Thursday, June 17, 2004

New links in the "Updated Links" section, some of which I'm pretty interested in. Check 'em out, get smart, argue against weaker minds, topple governments and eventually rule with an iron fist. Ahh, dreams....

And here is an excerpt from one of the two !new! Perma-Link additions, the good folks at FAIR, (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). Do check the link out.

For example, 33 percent of Fox News viewers incorrectly believed it was true that the U.S. has found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; only 11 percent of people who said they relied on PBS or NPR for news got this wrong. Thirty-five percent of the Fox viewers thought that world opinion favored the U.S. invasion of Iraq; only 5 percent of those who get their news from PBS or NPR had this misconception. And an overwhelming 67 percent of those who relied on Fox thought that the U.S. had found clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had worked closely with Al Qaeda; if you got your news from PBS/NPR, you had just a 16 percent chance of believing this falsehood.

And read below for Part II of the University Retrospective. Have a good weekend.

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"Yesterday; all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay." ~~ Paul McCartney

Part II: The Calgary Years

My first year at the U of C, technically my third year of university. I was majoring in English again, but I learned far more outside of class than I did in it. I got a part-time job at Music World in Westbrook Mall, a little backwater retail mall that had more than a few characters, but more on that later. Meg and I made due the best we could, working part time, watching our money like hawks and trying to do well in our full time schooling. We had no vehicle, resulting in a biweekly trip to the local laundromat, pushing garbage bags full of laundry in a 'borrowed' shopping cart. It was not far to the laundromat, but when the snow was bad, it seemingly took forever. It was one of those experiences that makes one swallow their pride.

We lived in a rougher part of Calgary, with neighbours who fought so bad that cops occasionally showed up to ensure no one died. Other neighbours smoked the herb on a regular basis, sending the wafting smoke through the old ventilation. We had immense support from Megan's extended family in Calgary, as they loaned us lawn mowers and occasional solid meals. I barely made it home for Christmas 1998, staying awake all night in the Calgary airport, waiting for my delayed fight to finally get clearance to leave. In the end, I made it home and crawled into bed on Christmas Eve, having been awake for 42 hours.

As mentioned, I worked at Music World, a job which I initially loved and grew to hate. It was there that I started to stretch music into my life, expanding my rather narrow musical tastes. It was also this year that I discovered CKUA, which changed everything. I met Kelly (and Todd, eventually) at Music World and, in time, they became our best couple friends. But Music World had it's share of interesting characters. For example, there was Kelly's stalker, who limped by our store only to see Kelly scurry to the back room, eyes peeking out occasionally to see if he was still there. There was Nancy, a goth-chick who I would have avioded during high school, but who turned out to a truly great person. And there was Candance, my gossipy assitant manager who almost ruined Matt Good for me. There was Mitch, my drug-addicted boss who walked to work 40 blocks one-way. And the customer base was, how shall I say, from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. All too often an old Metallica tape was paid for with cash from a brown government welfare envelop. I landed my summer job in February, hired to work for the U of C's Mini University summer camps for the summer of 1999, a job that started in July.

Between the end of the school year in April 1999 and the start of Mini-University, I needed to find another part time job in addition to my Music World position. I found it working mornings at the local Fountain Tire store, changing tires and avoiding my boss, who possibly was related to Doug of KalTire fame. I managed to tough it out and quit in late June, probably to their surprise. I worked at MiniU which turned out to be a great job, while also working at Music World so that I would continue to have stable part-time work when I went back to school in September. Needless to say, the 60-65 hour weeks made me a cranky, sunburned bastard. However, the money was good and I started to understand where I might go with my life.

My second year at the U of C and last year of my degree. I continued to work at Music World for the year. By now we had the Beautiful Blazer, which made our trips to the laundromat less public and my back a little less sore from carrying groceries home. I was in a year long poetry class where I endured and battled with a prof, Dr. Pamela Banting. I received a mark of 20 percent on one major paper, which caused me great distress. I remember getting the paper back in the first ten minutes of class and promptly getting up and walking out, finding a quiet bench by the U of C fountain to sit and think. I appealed to the English department, who quickly circled the wagons and assigned me the same grade. I curse the English department to this day. I was taking a full courseload of all English classes, staying up to all hours writing papers and trying to decipher the works of John Donne. It was this courseload that caused me to not pick up a book until the summer of 2001.

It was also this year that Nikki moved into the house, as Patrick had moved out in September 1999. She was a fellow university student who enjoyed having sex in her bedroom while Megan and I tried to eat lunch in the kitchen. She apparently only had a boyfriend so that she could cheat on him. Again, I was learning just how many types of people make this world spin round. She paid the rent, but sometimes we wished she paid a little more.

I ended up taking two spring semester courses, foreshadowing in a way, and worked at Music World until late June, 2000. Kelly quit at the end of May and I was now in open warfare with my manipulative assistant manager Canadace. She had messed with my hours, dropping them to a measly 5 per week from my usual 25, something that causes a great deal of stress when one is on a fixed income and trying to afford two spring session classes. Just before I quit, she announced that she was pregnant by the mall custodian. I knew then I needed to get out. I had enjoyed the job, but the politics, low pay (I was given one raise in 22 months of work, from $5.90 to $6.15/hr), and ignorant customers ("What do you mean you don't have Celine Dion on 8-track?") ensured I was bound to leave. Megan and I had moved in May into a new apartment, closer to the university, and the drive to Music World was not worth it.

I finished up university in June of 2000, and I remember the elated feeling as I walked out of my final exam. I worked at MiniU again and pretty much drank the summer away, partying with the MiniU crew. It was a good summer. I was not however, heading back to school in the fall, so I was looking for work. I found it at U-haul, the self-moving company. I worked in the office, answering phones far too often and managing the incoming and outgoing trucks on a daily basis. It was low paying ($8-$9/hr I think), full of stress as trucks were always breaking down just when you needed them, and created a creeping realization that maybe my B.Arts wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. It was a struggle and scared me enough that I quit in December, running back to school at Nait.

Part III, "Uncertain Times", airs this upcoming Monday. Be there!

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 5:16 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I am done and I have a 'cat that ate the canary' grin on my face.

"There's bones in my closet; I've collected quite a few" ~~ Great Big Sea

A University Retrospective
Part I: Tentative Steps

Well folks, it's finally done. I have written my last final at the University and I have completed my wandering path through the post secondary system. It seems appropriate then, that I should take a look back on the past 8 years of my post-high school life. Won't you come along for little trip?

This scholastic year was spent at The Kings University College, which is located here in Edmonton. Initially I had no intention or desire to attend this Christian-based institute, but after being denied entry into Grant MacEwan's Physical Education transfer program, I was a little desperate not to be moving furniture with AMJ Campbell any later than August 31. I snuck into Kings and basically took a general first year Arts program, even though my official declared major was English. It was during this year that I obtained my first email address and discovered this newfangled entity called the Internet, which was still in it's infancy.

I played for our woefully under talented hockey team (2-14 record) and spent a lot of time avoiding the topic of religion. I went on a freshman retreat to some lake, where we all tried to establish ourselves in the pecking order. I took the Sherwood Park bus from Capilano Mall to the Baseline station everyday, discovering for the first time the nuances of who to avoid on the overheated bus. I worked part time at the night supervisor position at Jean Vanier school, opening the doors and gym for the Girl Guides and Boy Scout groups who seemed to constantly be marching or singing. And finally, I was coaching the Jean Vanier boys basketball team. I think Luie was coaching too, although I'm a little fuzzy. Sorry Luie. It was a safe introduction into post secondary, but I was quite determined to be somewhere else the following school year. I had decent marks, good enough to allow me to transfer to the U of A for 1997-98.

I also met this quiet, bright-eyed lass from the little town of Beaumont. This fateful meeting would prove to have a tremendous impact on my future. I had a tremendous impact on her skull, as I totally buggered up our first kiss. But its been all good from then on.

I spent the summer of 1997 working, as was to be the trend as I lived through the era of increasing tuition fees. I worked for the first 2 or 3 weeks of May 1997 for one of those student painting companies, whose perks included unpaid 'training' days and delayed paychecks. I found this to be rather dodgy and used the Hire-A-Student service to find work at the Sherwood Park KalTire. The job was okay, although I had to work with Doug, a pseudo-mechanic who occasionally seemed on the verge of attacking me. Mind you, I was a lippy little shit, so that probably didn't help. It provided good motivation for school in September, if nothing else.

This was the year that Megan moved to Calgary for her first year at the U of C, while I attended the U of A. I was majoring, somehow, in Native Studies, something my friends found rather funny. I can't say I enjoyed it immensely, but it certainly opened my eyes to another viewpoint of Canadian history. It was one of those experiences that you really don't fully learn from or appreciate until a few years later.

I worked at Jean Vanier again, part time during the week, which allowed me to travel hundreds of kilometers to visit Megan roughly every three to four weekends. Little did I envision how often I would travel this heartless stretch of asphalt. I spent a memorable night in Didsbury, AB, after the car slid off the road in a rather bad Sunday night snowstorm.

I also moved up, coaching Junior Boys basketball at Archbishop Jordan. Luie was definitely there for this, as I remember us both being pissed off when the senior team called up our best players before a weekend tournament. I also remember Luie getting a technical called on him and not being able to stop laughing.

I spent the summer of 1998 working at KalTire again. Doug was gone, probably hauled back to his insane asylum and I relished the trips to the west end of the city, as they would kill an hour or so of my day. I consciously tried to hit the red lights.

This was the summer that I informed my parents that I would not only be moving to Calgary to go to the U of C, but I was also planning on living with my girlfriend. I was 20, she was 18, and I can now look back on those numbers and understand why my parents (Mom in particular) were so concerned. But at the time, I needed to move out and away. Man, that feels like an awful long time ago, like it happened to someone else. Meg found a house to rent, shared it with her older brother, and I moved to Calgary at the end of August. I had only the money in bank account, no job lined up, and no idea what I was getting myself into. I was unaware how steep my learning curve was about to get.

Tune in Friday for Part II

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:38 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Topic O the Night: The (English) Election Debate

I just finished watching the debate on CBC and I have a few thoughts of what I saw, thoughts I best get out before they get muddled by the rhetoric spinners.

1. Paul Martin is smooth and deflects/ignores questions and accusations very well. I found this infuriating, as he seemed to side step many important issues. I found Martin to be the most "professional" of the politicians and I'm not sure I like that. At least Chretien, when he was attacked, would respond. It wasn't always the best for him or his party, but at least you saw some emotion. All that being said, Paul Martin, without getting too specific, seems to be straddling the middle ground between the Conservatives and the NDP.

2. Steven Harper is much more comfortable in English than in French. And, even though I disagree with many of his ideologies, he is more upfront with direct questions and answers than Martin. That is not to say that he is totally answers the questions posed to him; he just seems to spin it a little less into the rhetoric zone when compared with Martin. I did find his promises of massive tax cuts to be at odds with his proposed increased spending in military and health care, something I think he sidestepped throughout.

3. Jack Layton is eager, almost to a fault. Megan is right about that little grin of his, it is rather annoying. He is informed, there is no doubt about that, and he took both Martin and Harper to task on a number of issues, including their specific plans for health care. He, more than any other leader, talks in specifics and gives details, but it is a little desperate at times. I think he believes a little too much in direct democracy and most jaded Canadians will write him off as a dreamer.

4. Gilles Duceppe is, I think, a separatist waiting for the right time. His big issue is the "strings-attached" financial issues between the feds and Quebec. He certainly makes good points against all parties and was quite good at bringing up specific issues from the past that contradicted the other leaders. But he is marginalized by his Quebec-only focus and at times was almost written off by Martin and Harper as an insignificant voice in the House of Commons.

And on a personal election note, I am really unsure of who I am going to vote for. My heart wants to go NDP, as I quite like my representative, Malcolm Azania. But the politically aware side of me is screaming Liberal just to ensure that Rahim Jaffer (the Conservative incumbent in Edmonton-Strathcona) does have some competition. So do I make my vote with my heart and go NDP or do I vote Liberal and hope that the Conservatives don't get this seat? I know my vote, single and lost in the abyss, is not gonna change the world, but in my own head, it matters.

Two more points.

Point A: If the Green Party was really green, I wouldn't see their signs up on the avenues. That smart ass comment being made, I do hope they get the required number of votes to qualify for funding. The more choices, the merrier.

Point B: I do think that Canadians need to pay more attention to their local municipal elections, as the city council decisions have a larger day-to-day impact on your life. If you hit that pothole every single day, it's time you paid attention to who is running the city.

Please read the blog posted below, as it pertains to a blog schedule of sorts for the upcoming week or so. Cheers for reading.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:01 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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You're looking good today, give yourself a hug. Now grope.


The post-secondary retrospective is long, looks like it'll be 5 exciting parts. I will be posting them on the following days:

Part 1 "Tenative Steps" : Wednesday, June 16 just before noon (Edmonton time)
Part 2 "The Calgary Years" : Friday, June 18 before 8am (Edmonton time)
Part 3 "Uncertain Times" : Monday, June 21 before 8am (Edmonton time)
Part 4 "Jay is Gonna Warp Some Young Minds" : Wednesday, June 23 before 8 am (Edmonton time)
Part 5 "A Chapter Ends/ Sunrise on the Horizon" : Friday, June 25 before 8 am (Edmonton time)

I do encourage you to check back on these dates because as I post new parts, old ones may get deleted. And god knows you don't want to miss a single glorious line of your favorite blog.

And thanks for all the comments re: The Da Vinci Code blog. Thats what I like to see.

See you tomorrow at noon.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:32 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Monday, June 14, 2004

"The future ain't what it used to be." ~~ Yogi Berra

G'day mates. Hope this finds you well. I am battling some allergies, but don't tell my mom.

Well the french leadership debate was on today, and the english version goes tomorrow night. I wasn't watching the french one, on account my francias has diminished rather sharply since I got 63% in French 30. But Meg watched it and she said it was pretty good. Paul Martin looks very polished and Gilles Duceppe talked the fastest (naturally). Jack Layton, according to Megan, has that 'stupid little grin on his face', and Steven Harper apparently has the worst french language skills of all 4 leaders. I'll watch the english version tomorrow night. I see it as one of the few times that everything isn't scripted out.

My final exam is on Wednesday morning and I must admit I am having trouble working up any motivation for studying. But in about 38 hours I will be done my degree, and I'm pretty happy about that.

And with regards to the university retrospective that will be posted, I think it will be in 3 parts, just because of the limitations of the blog system. I don't have enough space to post it all at once, so do tune in daily for new postings. Starts on Wednesday afternoon.

This week at the golf course we are hosting some oil executives tournament. Apparently this is pretty big, so we all have to be on our best behaviour. I guess that means I can't beat Andrew down with a 3-iron. Well, maybe if it's really early in the morning....

And I am slowly getting to the end of my Churchill bio. It gets a little dry afer WW1, but I'll get it done. I was thinking I would start Vol 2, but maybe I'll let it rest for a bit. I bought "The Da Vinci Code" and Meg read it in about a day and a half and says it was really good, so maybe I'll tackle that one next.

Okay, off to bed. I'll post on Wednesday afternoon, unless something really crazy comes up. Until then....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:32 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


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