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if you manage to turn off the tv
1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
4. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
5. The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Morning, evening, whatever
As most of you know, I am a bit of a news junkie. And despite not having watched one minute of TV since I got to Kuwait, I have kept pretty close watch on the happenings around the world. As an aside, I don't miss TV at all. I read a lot more, no more listening to loud commercials, so I figure its win win. Well I do miss CBC and BBC, but I will manage.
But I do read the paper, to be specific, the NY Times International edition, which is providing good balanced coverage of the upcoming US election. So here is my two cents on that whole ball of monkeys.
Kerry has to do something besides arguing about what happened in Vietnam 30 years ago. It is easy for Bush to argue about Vietnam because it prevents him from having to face tough questions about the shitty job he has done, both as an international president (Iraq) and at home (weak economy, outsourcing jobs, underfunded education, civil liberties rollbacks etc etc).
Plus Kerry is seemingly on the defensive, letting himself react to Republicans rather than taking the game to them. He started out strong, but lately he has been faltering, seemingly a boat without a rudder. He does flip flop, an accusation that has been leveled at him, and he appears to not be able to distance himself from Bush on the Iraq issue, saying that he expects that the US will have a presence in Iraq for years to come. Look, we all know that is going to be the case, but Kerry has to at least avoid sounding exactly like Bush. It does not help ones case to be parroting the man you are trying to beat, now does it?
I want Kerry to win, I have made no bones about that. But the old political adage of picking the lesser of two evils is coming true. I really wish ole Slick Willy Clinton could run again, I would love to see a debate between George "Watch me mutilate the English language" Bush and Bill "At least I can speak without a teleprompter" Clinton, but that is not in the cards. So I sit back and wait, hoping that Bush and the Republicans do something stupid and that Kerry finds his oar and starts to row a little harder.
And that ladies and gents, is the Middle Eastern take on the current election gong show that is the USA.
The End of an Era
It will come as a great sadness to all the loyal blog readers to hear that the Beautiful Blazer is no more. It is rare in this fast food world, this world of disposables, that an object of status lasts as long as the Blazer did. However, all things, good and bad, must come to an end, and like all things are eventually, the Blazer was discarded.
It would have been 5 years this month since the Blazer rolled into my life. And a welcome addition she was, as prior to its arrival, I had been rather retro in my commuting habits, walking to and fro. I bravely took the Blazer back and forth from Calgary to Edmonton, visiting Banff and Killam along the way. She held up well, never dying on the side of an endless Canadian highway, no matter what the weather.
That is not to say that issues did not arise on occasion; she was not a cheap date to drive. Excluding the cost of filling the tank, which could be anywhere from 40 to 60 dollars, the age of the vehicle gave it some unique attributes. Being between 15 and 20 years old and having cracked the 300 000 kilometer barrier, she was prone to what became known as routine maintenance. The most interesting was the fuel tank issue, as I discovered an abnormally strong smell of gasoline one day, only to find that the original metal gas tank had finally rusted through. Not wanting to end up on the 6pm news, I was quick to have a replacement installed.
There were other maintenance issues, fuel pumps, electrical work, and occasionally a leaky windshield, but in the five years I owned the Blazer, she only never started for me twice, which I think is a rather admirable record. She shuttled me back and forth around Calgary, up and down the Yellowhead as I went to Nait, and to and fro from summer job to summer job. Of course, I did curse the Blazer when these two no-start times occurred, as my love for her was rather fickle.
But if my love was fickle, so was she, for she had an assortment of behavioral issues that required one to be attentive to her needs. Firstly, when she was cold, the idea of starting her without pumping the gas was laughable. Usually it was a couple of stomps on the gas pedal, a turn of the ignition, sputters of life, then silence. And repeat. Perhaps one more time. And another. But in the end, she would roar to life like a prehistoric monster awakened from an eternal slumber. One then had to commence the waiting period, as she would rev hard in high gear for between 4 and 5 minutes, depending on the weather. A gentle tap on the gas pedal usually brought the engine down to a dull roar, signaling that perhaps she was ready to go. I had joked that she needed no theft deterrent device, as she already had one built in.
She was a trooper, that ole girl. Christmas morning, about 3 years ago, the Blazer and I were coming home from Beaumont at about 2am, when a deer appeared on the road. Almost avoiding the deer, the Blazer took a direct hit on the passenger side front panel, losing a headlight in the process. Taking a slower pace home, I painstakingly rebuilt her front headlight assembly from parts scavenged from the auto wreckers.
Then two summers ago, my lovely girlfriend Megan was in a minor fender bender, the story of which we all know well. The Blazer was beaten badly in this battle, having taken on a RV style van. The other headlight and front panel were damaged, moreso than the deer incident. Again, I painstakingly rebuilt the headlight assembly, something that was becoming rather familiar to me as the years went by. The dent was to remain, as intense hammering only revealed that the rust issue had grown considerably. But again, like a phoenix, the Beautiful Blazer rose from the ashes, determined to go one more round.
And she did, lasting through my last year of university. She was tired though and having put over 70, 000 kilometers on her since she arrived, the end was near. Like an old politician whose best days have long since been lost to history, the Blazer too was destined for retirement. And so, one quick phone call, and she was donated to the Kidney Car Foundation, her remaining parts to be scattered throughout the land, like ashes from an airplane.
So it is with a rather tongue-in-cheek tear in my eye that I bid my loyal truck goodbye. We had a lot of good times together. Like that time your electrical system froze, locking my CDs into the player. Or the time that your driver-side lock stopped working, leaving me to climb awkwardly through the passenger door. Or the time you somehow managed to get a photo radar ticket. Remember the tailwind that day? Oh those crazy days. Thanks old girl, I won't soon forget you. You're free now, free to pass other cars on two lane highways, free to accelerate quickly off the red light, free to gain speed as you go up hills. Adieu old friend, adieu.
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
11:11 PM ~~
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Okay okay okay. Look, I know it has been a while since the last blog, but you gotta understand that the first week of school, even for experienced teachers, is a hectic one. Double that for me, a newbie. Plus our computers at school have been running like the dial ups of old, so I can't post from there. So what I do is type the blog on my laptop, email it to myself, and open and post it when I get to the internet cafe. Wireless networks here work about as well as a carpenter with a bad wing, so this is turning into a gong show of sorts.
Then add to that the fact that I am a soft hearted lad, who has taken in a little female black lab from the pound. That's right, as if my life in Kuwait wasn't hectic enough, I got a less than a year old, sweet tempered little pooch named Dog Monday, after a dog in a book I once read.
Crazy stuff, eh? But I’m already pretty attached to her, and her to me. Besides the fact that she made a mess of all the empty water bottles I had on the kitchen floor, she's been great. Housebroken, so far, so I'm happy about that. Appears to be pretty smart, isn't hyper, and like I said, is one sweet tempered dog. I will be posting pics soon if I can ever get a wireless connection somewhere. And I didn't get her just cause I was lonely, although that was partly it. But I had been thinking about getting a pooch for the last 4 or 5 months, just waiting to see how things played out here. So it was a well thought out decision.
The kids in my classes seem good, although their English writing skills are about two grades behind where they should be. The G12 and G10 kids all seem fine, the G9 will be after I hand out a few detentions to settle them down.
Got to the Hilton last night, spent an hour just chillin in the Jacuzzi and hot tub. Read my book (Churchill bio part 2) and picked up some indian food last night. Chicken Tandoori, damn good too. Cheap, only 1.3KD or about 5 Cdn.
The first week gets a grade of B+. Would have been an A but the photocopiers were down and out until yesterday. And my tub is plugged, probably with drowned cockroaches. But I will try, as I settle into a routine, to blog more often. Hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying your parks and clean roadways, cause Allah knows I'm not seeing anything like that here. Thanks for reading and being patient. It was 47 today. Jeezus....
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
11:29 PM ~~
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