Ink & Paper

Saturday, August 07, 2004

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." ~~ Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD)

That's it folks, I finished my job at the golf course yesterday, managing to accomplish very little on my last day with regards to work. And I am amazingly okay with that. It wasn't a terrible job, but the hours started to get to me by the end of it. I came home yesterday, after running around town doing errands with Megan, only to fall asleep from about 6pm to 5:30am this morning. So I am still up early, but at least I am rested. I got up, made some coffee, bought and read the paper, and am listening to a classical music program on CKUA. Often it is the ordinary that brings the most joy, the most peace.

But as I rest, I contemplate the fact that in two weeks time I will be on an airplane. And that scares me, I'm not ashamed to admit. I knew all along that August was going to suck, and I was right. I have been stressing so much just about getting to the plane, I haven't even had time to worry about how I am going to actually teach when I am there. One foot in front of the other I guess, but this summer has been the longest goodbye of all. And I hate goodbyes.

On a happier note (my aren't I bi-polar today?) Megan and I are taking off tomorrow for our first ever "together' vacation, something I am really looking forward to. Jasper, Banff, Fairmont, and Calgary. Gonna be good. But that means that the blog will be on hiatus for a while, probably until later in the week, Friday or Saturday. Sorry, I hope that you do manage to find you way back here. I promise to have pictures from the trip posted to the blog. "This is all that remained of Jay's horse after a trail ride. It was obviously a weak animal, as the damage has nothing to do with Jay's weight sitting upon it's spine." Good fun, eh?

So have a good week, sleep well, and I'll return with grandiose stories later on this week.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:16 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

A good article that examines the myth and the truth behind the legend that has become Che.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:03 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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"I could really use, to lose my Catholic conscience. Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time." ~~ Great Big Sea

Last day a work for me on Friday, something I am happy and sad about at the same time. But my boss isn't gonna be there. Let's see, last day at work, boss not around, how hard do you think I am gonna work?

Seeing as how it is my last day, it seems appropriate to critique my coworkers. And so, the event you've all been waiting for, the 2004 edition of the Coloniale Golf Course Maintenance Crew....

The Uppers

Boss #1- Tim- About 33 or so, bitter that his life turned out the way it did. He is married to a soon-to-be doctor, but doesn't not talk about her in the greatest sentiment. Often moody, occasionally lazy, and always political in how he hands out the 'plush' jobs. Grade: C

Boss#2- Dean- A recent graduate and is much more personable than Tim. Reminds me of Rob Kroetsch, the same type of mannerisms. A good guy all around. Grade: B+

Boss #3- Erik aka 'Mitzy'- Half done his turf maintenance schooling, Mitzy is probably depressed in the clinical sense. Everyone seems to hate him, as he is grumpy pretty much all the time and has been known to go entire mornings without saying anything to anyone. But I like Mitzy, and he seems to enjoy working with me. Just don't let him give you shit, if you stand up to him, he seems to respect you more. Grade: B

The Serfs

Scott aka 'Doddsy'- Aimless in life, but perhaps one of the funniest guys I have ever met. Constantly joking, he makes any job tolerable. Fond of drinking, 'dead hooker' jokes, and getting the last word. Grade A.

Kelly- My carpool buddy, who is consistently tired from his emerging drinking problem. A good guy, rather aimless having finished his history degree from Yale. Claims to be a member of a secret society, but who knows? Overall, a good co-worker, pulls his weight, yet enjoys a good 'safety meeting' now and again. Grade B+

Dave aka '2 cents' aka 'Shrek'- Dave is tolerable for no more than 4 hours, after that you feel like smacking him with a shovel and burying the evidence in a seldom used fairway bunker. Often referred to as the 'Old Man' of the crew, he is constantly trying impress the bosses with his fast work, something the rest of us resent as it ruins the averages. Never tells a good joke, they always fall tremendously flat, and is probably the most hated on the crew after Mitzy, as he always sticks his nose into everyone's business. Grade: C+

Jeff aka 'Kingsy' aka 'Tim Jr."- A guy who I initially hated yet grew to enjoy. A warped sense of humour that will make you laugh. He's only 20, it would be cool to hang with him when he's a few years older and his sense of humour has developed. An uncanny resemblance to our boss Tim. One time he hooked up with one of the better looking girls of the now defunct Edmonton Aviator soccer team, which made for good stories. Grade B

Jamie- Newer to the crew, one of Jeff's buddies. A smiling, happy go lucky guy who has broken a large amount of equipment. On such incident occured when he tried to drive one of the golf cars through a culvet tunnel with the weed wackers attached to the side. Shit got broken, Jamie was still smiling. Grade B

Andrew aka 'Coco, the smartest chimpanzee'- The whipping boy of the maintenance crew, in terms of jokes. After being dubbed Coco, he has been subjected to numerous monkey jokes, including me tying a bananna to the back a golf cart and driving by him, yelling "C'mon Coco, it's lunch time boy. C'mon!" Plus he drives his parents GMC Safari van. Safari. Get it? Doesn't ever have any comebacks, making life easier for those of us blessed with a quick tongue. Grade C+

Aaron aka 'Curious George'- A kid, and I mean it, going into grade 12, with all the usual faults of assuming that one knows it all. Lazy is a goal for this kid, he does the least amount of work possible. Lippy, or at least he was until Scot and Kelly knocked him down a couple of pegs. Probably one of the cooler kids in his high school, which means absolutely nothing to us.
Grade C.

The Girls- Lacey, Charity, Stephanie, and Nadine
Weird, in the religious sense, as all of them belong to an orthodox version of Christianiy, one that requires they only wear long skirts. Keeping to themselves, I assume they believe the rest of us are doomed to hell, which may be true. Lazy and somehow above the rules that have been set down, they are often seen driving around the course with little or no destination in mind. Scot is trying to pick up Charity, but he stumbles everytime he remembers he needs to ask her dad for permission to take her out. She's 25. Plus the answer would be 'No' as Scot is a rather whore-like man. But I digress. Grade for all the girls: C-

The Extras

Chris aka 'Drummer'- A 26 year old who plays drums in a band, and as such lives the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Was fired in mid July, after pulling a few consistent 3 day weeks. Possibly a herion addict. A good guy, but I would never hire him. Grade C-

Jeff B aka 'Frodo'- An ABJ grad who is studying engineering at the U. A good guy, only 5'2", who plays lacrosse only so that he canfight bigger players. A little rabblerouser, but always a good laugh. Once made out with a 15 year old at a bar, thus opening himself to lots of dirty old man jokes. He left in mid-July to go on a trip to Thailand, taking with him a whole slew of STD jokes. Grade B+

Trevor aka 'Who was that?'- Showed up for work, missing teeth and all, for a grand total of one 'unpaid' week. Not very smart, he claimed this job was his dream job. Left to work at another golf course for less money. Hmmm. Everything that goes wrong gets blamed on him.
Grade: N/A, insufficent data.

And that, ladies and germs, is my review of the summer crew. It may just be that Friday, August 6, will be my last day of 'Joe' work. And I am more than okay with that idea. Good day sunshine....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:28 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"We've got a form of brainwashing going on in our country," Morrie sighed. "Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat the same thing over and over. And that's what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it- and have it repeated to us- over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise."

"Here's what I mean by building your own little subculture," Morrie said. "I don't mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don't go around naked, for example. I don't run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things- how we think, what we value- those you must choose for yourself. You can't let anyone- or any society- determine those for you."

Both quotes taken from Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom.

Obviously I agree with the first quote, given my disdain for pretty much all commercialized goods. But it is the second quote that got me thinking, had me thinking as I meandered my way through my 3rd last day at the golf course.

Do you create the culture, or does the culture create you? I think, for those people who wander through life without contemplating why they bought this, or why they mortgaged that, the culture is creating them.

Now it is easy for me to be anti-culture, if that culture in question is consumerism. I'm rather poor right now, so dissing the people who have money is a cheap way of shooting fish in a barrel. But I wonder what type of person I will be when I start making money. I had a friend say to me that once I start making 'serious' money, it'll change everything. I can't argue with that, as I have never made 'serious' money. But I hope that I won't change entirely, I would hate myself if I did.

I live well, I won't deny that. This computer is new, my shoes have soles, and my CD collection grows weekly. And I like that my computer works. But do I derive life pleasure from it? Honestly, to a certain extent, yes I do. But not the kind of love that will last forever, the kind of pleasure that sends shivers down my spine, that kind that makes me glad to be alive.

This morning, for example, I was at work (which I do not derive any pleasure from, by the way) watching the sun come up. Simply put, it was stunning, shades of orange, blue, purple. Light drifting through clouds, rays playing upon the morning dawn. I shut the engines off and just watched, the silence of the morning only adding to my serenity.

These things matter. Computers and technology make my life easier, no doubt. But I hope that when I age, when grey whispers across my hair, I won't be constrained into buying a newer car, a larger home, or whatever the latest status symbol might be, simply because it seems like the thing to do. Needs are one thing, wants are something else entirely. But perhaps the term 'needs' is just a convenient term to convince ourselves what we are doing is right and proper.

"Four decades later, little has changed. Americans constantly pursue new markers of success and status. In 2002, the median size of a new home was 20 percent larger than in 1987, even though families had gotten smaller. Luxury car sales have soared. According to the marketing research firm of J.D. Power and Associates, in 1980 luxury brands—mainly Cadillacs and Lincolns, along with some Mercedes—accounted for only 4.5 percent of new-vehicle sales. By 2003, luxury brands—a category that now includes Lexus, Infinity, and Acura, along with Hummers and more BMWs and Mercedes—exceeded 10 percent of sales. Second homes are another way that people separate themselves from the crowd. Perhaps 100,000 to 125,000 such homes are built annually, says economist Gopal Ahluwalia of the National Association of Homebuilders. In the 1990s, comparable figures were between 75,000 and 100,000."

I will be changing my life. I have already decided that the cars I drive will not be top of the line. In fact they will be basic and they will be from the lower spectrum of available models. Because I will not identify myself through my car. Or any other purchases.

Things that will matter to me in the future, in no particular order:

1. Travel
2. Knowledge
3. Literature
4. Solitude
5. Music
6. Laughter
7. Nature
8. Love
9. TV- just kidding, I hope I will eventually not own one
10. Watching sunrises and sunsets

This has been rambling, but I hope it made some sense. I am looking forward to my future, because I know I will see things, think things, and do things that will enrich my life. Going to Disneyland will not happen. But perhaps running with the bulls in Spain will......

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:43 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. " ~~ Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Most of you have probably heard of the increased terror alerts that have been resonating through the New York area in the past few days. Concerns that terrorists would target 'iconic' financial centre led to a massive increase in police and military visibility in NY.

The kicker is this: The information, gleaned from a laptop of a recently arrested, al-Queada -linked man, is at least 3 years old. So all of this info is bunk, it's no good. I seriosuly doubt that plans from 3 or more years ago are still considered plausible for terrorists. These plans, concocted before 9/11, surely must have changed in light of the stepped up security the US now has in place. So why then, did we see a massive response to outdated info?

Tom Ridge, director of the Homeland Security Dept, came on TV and said that despite the fact that the info was old, his department 'doesn't do politics.' Yeah, right, this from the guy whose job was created by Bush. No, I'm sure he has no political loyalty at all. Todd's quote from yesterday, the Nuremburg one, is echoing through my head as I consider the idea that the Bush administration is using terror and terror alerts to score cheap political points. "Kerry and the Democrats can't save America, but we can, even though our information is about as effective as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest."

It is shit like this that makes me think that my generation is on the cusp of collapse, as I do not know how much longer this type of bald-faced lying will pass mustard with the average North American. It's revoultion, baby.

My eyes are tired, I'm done for tonight. Thanks again to Todd for his Guest blog. G'night.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:08 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Monday, August 02, 2004

This is a Guest Blog Entry, courtesy of one Todd T. It's good stuff, he may just have written me out of my unpaid position. Enjoy, check the links, and post some comments. And now, on with the show. --- Jay

Todd's Blog Entry

Queue the intro music (sung to the tune of the Theme to It's Garry Shandling's Show ):

This is a guest post for Jay's Blog
A guest post for Jay's Blog
Jay called me up and asked if I would write a guest post
I'm almost halfway finished, How do you like it so far, How do you like my guest post for Jay's blog?

... ok enough of that. So Jay did drop me an email and ask if I could write a guest post. Its taken me a few weeks to get some time to write this, but I better get to it, the ol' "The cat ate my blog entry" excuse won't work forever. This is a big step for me, as I am not known as "The Great Communicator", instead known around here as "Mumble Mouth". When I do speak up enough to be heard, I usually end up with the taste of foot in my mouth, but I will try and say something useful. This post will be on the political side, well cause I'm lazy and always go for the low hanging fruit first. If I'm invited back one day I promise to cover something a bit more personal. Oh by the way, please ignore my speeling, punctuation! grammar. As a computer programmer all I know about punctuation is proper semicolon placement;

So in the grand tradition of jaysbrain, I thought I'd start with a quote:

Part 1

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
--Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

From the 20,000 foot level, its hard not see parallels between this quote and present day America, especially with respect to the support for the Iraq invasion. At ground level, its downright scary to actually talk to people in the US. Most on the right actually believe that they are under attack from the terrorists because terrorists "Hate Freedom and Democracy." Yeah thats it. I'm sure it has nothing to do with American Foreign Policy in the middle east.

If the Bush Admin really cared about catching those responsible for 9/11 attacks, they would be all over Saudi Arabia. Most of the hijackers were Saudis and the 9/11 hearings identified funding was coming from Saudi Arabia, but all that is classified. Saudi Arabia continues to get a free pass. I believe that the Bush administration is happy to never catch those responsible for 9/11, they would rather invade country after country, using the "going after the terrorists" excuse to maintain support at home. If they dealt with Al Qaeida right away, they would lose their Emmanual Goldstein figure, and find it more difficult to control the American public. (edit: My bro and his new wife just returned from the honeymoon in Hawaii... every 20 mins on the radio is one of the those emergency broadcast alerts from the Department of Homeland Security warning about terrorism and giving you a list of things to buy and keep ready in case of another attack. They also give you a phone number to call if you see anybody suspicious, ie somebody wearing a turban. Can you imagine, 24/7, having this repeated over and over? I'd probably want to attack the world too, just so I wouldn't have to hear it anymore).

I thought it was real nice that Bush didn't campaign during the Democratic National Convention. I am noticing a pattern though, as anytime a signficant event for the Democrats occur (most recently the Edwards pick as running mate and the DNC), Bush has Tom Ridge come out and warn about a vague terrorist alert. Not important enough to increase color levels, but important enough to take focus away from the Democrats and remind the people they are under attack and their government is working hard against the terrorists.

For more on the Bush/Saudi connection:

I think the title of this documentary is unfortunate. They were trying to say that the truth is so outrageous its unbelievable, like a conspiracy theory. However I have shown this to right wing Americans who immediately dismissed it because of the title.

Part 2

"At this point, voting for Bush is a character flaw."
-- Janeane Garofalo on The Daily Show

Even if Iraq didn't happen, 9/11 didn't happen and the hawks didn't seize control of the US, Bush still is a jerk.

Everyday I read something stupid this administration has done, from eroding the transparency of the government bit by bit, to selling out the environment to big business, to running a huge deficit and not caring at all, to cutting taxes for the wealthy, to strong arming government agencies such as the EPA into reporting what they want the public to hear, or forcing the CDC to remove condom use from its website for STD control, because the administration only supports abstinence, or removing federal funding from an African AIDS clinic, because said clinic performs abortions as well. Never mind that its the only clinic within 500 miles and now its closed. (btw, it is illegal in the US to remove federal funding from a clinic because it does abortions, so why is it ok to do it to a foreign clinic?)

I think what bothers me the most is Bush talks out of both sides of his mouth on every issue. There are many examples but a good one is the Clean Air Act. You would think the way he talks about it, the Clean Air Act was an improvement on the current situation. It actually allows for more pollution then ever. But the talking point is that Bush introduced the Clean Air Act. Another one is veterans benefits. In one speech he talks about how America needs to support the troops, at the exact same time as he quietly cuts the benefits. Having a Republican congress doesn't help either, as they make sure that all votes are passed between 2 and 5am, preferably on a Saturday, to make sure the media impact is a minimum.

Get your daily reason to hate Bush here:

Part 3

"I feel like a pickle walking into history." -- Bill Clinton

I don't know what that quote means, and I think its fitting because I am not sure what I want to write here. There is not much the average blog reader can do about the current state of affairs. This Onion piece sums it up my current attitude:

"Yes, we all hate Cheney. He's an evil puppet-master. Yes, Bush is dumb. This is obvious. How many times can we say it? Now, excuse me, will you let me through so I can microwave my burrito?"

"Nations Liberals Suffering from Outrage Fatigue":

If you want to read the blog of an American who appears to be not insane, check out Mr Sun. His style of writing cracks me up.

"Mr. Sun is a mysterious figure, a blinding light. Do not look directly at Mr. Sun. Bask in him. Although 93 million miles away, Mr. Sun uses this Blog to share his warmth with others."

Ok thats it for me, just want to say thanks to Jay for giving me the chance to try and say something coherent. Its a lot tougher to grind out a post then I thought, so props to Jay for keeping the masses up to date with his regular blog posts. Good luck in Kuwait, and keep the blog updated, its on our must read list, right after Slashdot, but before Doonesbury. See you guys next week, we have some of that fancy Kona coffee from Hawaii to brew up.

Well done Todd, well done. I'm looking forward to another of your Guest Blogs. -- Jay

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:39 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

"Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him." ~~ Cicero

Good long weekend day to you all, hopefully you have a chance to put those tired feet up sometime soon.

I got up this morning to go to work, at my usual time of 4:00am. Much to my surprise, for the second night in a row, there was a rather rocking Latin party going on in/near my apartment building. Friday night there was a party that lasted until I was leaving for work, and today the house across the street was blaring salsa music loud enough that Meg asked me to shut the window so she could sleep.

It's quite obvious what is happening here. My block is the North American centre for a massive cocaine distribution ring, originating in Columbia. Either that, or someone famous from South America died/was born on one of these days, leading to celebrations. I'm hoping its the cocaine theory, as I plan on getting my hands on some of the 'white gold.' Opportunity knocking?

Anyway, I go out to the Beautiful Blazer and am waiting for my carpool cohort, Kelly, to emerge from the neighbouring apartment building. It is getting late, and still no sign of Kelly, who works weekend nights at the Black Dog bar, leaving him rather incoherent and sleepy come Saturday and Sunday mornings. So I figure he must have slept in and go ring his buzzer. A disembodied voice says "You must enter." Hmmm, I hope that was the right buzzer. I enter the building, only to see Kelly's older brother Cory emerge from their apartment wearing nothing but Marky Marks. "Eww, what a sight in the morning. Is Kelly up?"

"No, I'll get him."

So a few minutes later I am sitting in the Beautiful Blazer when Kelly comes strolling out the front door, only wearing his Marky Marks. "What the hell is with this family?" I think to myself. He strolls up the to the truck and announces that he isn't going to work today on account that he was "wearing a kilt last night" aka, "I'm still half in the bag."

So I drove out alone, which was a might bit better than driving with drunken Kelly, who tends to get a little talkative when he's drunk. Oh well, it was a rather interesting start to my Sunday.

Book Review

Tuesdays with Morrie: An old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson.
By: Mitch Albom
192 pages, $19.95 + tax.

What a wonderful, moving, and true little read. An old student reconnects with a favorite professor who is dying with Lou Gehrig's Disease. The professor, Morrie Shwartz, is someone rare, a man who touches thousands of lives with his philosphies and teachings. Page after page of this book are full of beautiful little comments that this wise old man dispenses.

One knows early in the book that Morrie is going to die, as the disease works it's way up from his legs, paralyzing his body while leaving his mind intact. Yet the way that Morrie faces death is remarkable, balancing out the understandable bouts of depression with a remarkably sunny outlook on the experience.

I cannot emphasize how good this book is. It could have been about death, but instead it celebrates life, the short little span that we are given. Morrie critiques consumerist culture, the absence of love in society, the importance of enjoying simple things, and ultimately faces death with an awe-inspiring sense of balance and self-knowledge. By the end of the third chapter, you feel like you know Morrie, and by the end of the book, you hope that someday you might meet someone half as wise as this old sociology professor.

To be honest, as that is what this blog is all about, when Morrie and Mitch (the author/ex-student) part ways for the final time, I welled up. And I don't do that very often. This book gets to you, it gets past that shield we all wear when we are out in public. It gets right into your heart. A truly remarkable read, one you must pick up.

And while we are at it, talking about books, here are my Top 5.

1. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
2. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
3. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
4. No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod
5. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

Of course this is subject to change, as one must never stop reading. But #1 and #2 are pretty much set in stone and it would take something daunting to knock them off. Honorable mention goes to Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing.

Take care of each other and buy Tuesdays with Morrie. It'll feed your soul and we could all use a little soul food.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:21 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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