Ink & Paper

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Here is a shitty picture of that van that I saw on fire. I'll try to get a better one tomorrow.

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Bye bye washing machine. BURN IN HELL!!

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The aftermath of the washing machine removal. Yummy.

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any better....

Well, the washing machine repairmen showed up today, a mere 2 and a half weeks after we first said we were having troubles. They look at the machine, determine that it is broken (!) and tell us they have to take it away. Big surprise. They take the washing machine away, tell us we'll get it back in three weeks. Great! Oh wait....

So we took a picture of our washing machine as it went out the door, knowing that we will never see it again. Bye bye washing machine, burn in hell.

Marc and I return to the bathroom, where our washing machine once stood. Now there is nothing but wet sand, dog hair, and ten or so dead cockroaches. All mixed together. Yay.

Then we discover that the main water valve, which we had to shut off for the guys to remove the washing machine, cannot be turned back on. Why? Well, mainly because when we turn it back on, water comes spraying from the line that used to be connected to the washing machine. So the main valve has to be shut off now, lest we flood the bathroom. Consequently, we have no water in our apartment, be it in the toilets, the sinks, or the showers. A bit of a catch-22.

And before you suggest that we just aim the washing machine line into the bathtub, letting it run down the drain thus giving us water in the toilets etc, stop, don't suggest it. We can't because the tub doesn't drain, so in a matter of 20 minutes or so the tub would be overflowing. So that won't happen except for a desparate stop and go kinda measure.

As it stands, Marc has gone to fetch the plumbing guy, who will show up in about a half hour. Whether or not he can fix it, well we'll see. I think he should be able to bypass the washing machine line so that we can turn on the valve for the rest of the apartment without flooding the place. But then again, he may need to order parts, or it may be quitting time. Or he may just not feel like doing it. We'll see.

So we have gone from having no functioning washing machine to having no washing machine and no water anywhere in our apartment. Honestly, if this was anytime other than the end of May, I would be on a plane tonight. I cannot believe that this is what my life has come to. I want to come home. 19 days is 19 days too many. But I am providing a comedic service for you all, that much I know and I take some small comfort in that.

I'd cry in frustration if I didn't already know that crying would dehydrate me and I would need to drink water, thus meaning that I would need to pee into my waterless toilet thus stinking up the apartment. So I'll laugh instead, a crazy insane asylum laugh that hopefully won't put me in the nut house before I get outta here. Hope you're having as much fun as I am...

The onsite plumbing guy came by a mere 2 hours after we had asked him to. He managed to restore our water, so now we can take showers, flush toilets and all the other things that separate us from monkeys. So as it stands we have no washing machine, but we have running water. Living the high life here, I tell ya. Oh and that guy is riding his bicycle in circles again in the parking lot.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Writer

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I am staring out of my living room window again. Staring down on the movement of the street below, watching the day go through its motions. People moving, trucks and cars, the usual din of a Montreal street. If I look to my left I can see halfway down an alley, which always amazes me. The normal scene of street contrasted with the ugly underbelly of utility that keeps the machine running smoothly. Ah, I thought to myself, you gotta get out of this one room apartment, you've been cooped up here for too long.

I turned away from the window, only to find myself staring at my desk. I did not want to go back there, to sit and stare at the screen. I walked past the desk to my cubbyhole of a kitchen. I reached into the cupboard above the fridge and pulled down a half empty bottle of Jack. Pouring a stiff drink in a dirty glass, I walked back over to the window.

This was shitty apartment for someone as old as me. I could afford better, I could afford far better, but somehow I never got around to embracing the need for a giant home, a yard to keep. It was just me after all, I didn't see the need for much more space than this tiny apartment.

I knew he would be calling me today. My publisher, Basil. English prick. He was a good publisher, but he just rubbed me the wrong way. He'd been on my ass for the past three months, hounding me. He wanted to get the book rolling. It had been too long, he told me, since the public remembered me. Don't want to fade away, he said, his voice a mixture of knowledge and desperation.

I could almost imagine the routine of small meaningless talk that he would go through before getting to the point. Such manners, such empty manners. Eventually it came: "When is the manuscript going to be on my desk, old boy?" Lately he had dropped the "old boy" leading me to think that he was getting impatient. Fine, get impatient, he wasn't getting anything until I was ready.

I leaned up against the windowsill, staring like a lonely pet out into the street again. I wondered if I had missed my peak, wondered if Basil was right, that I had waited too long. I longed for the era of my first novel, such a simple time then. Write, edit, publish, write again. Now it was internet this, advertisements that. Interviews with idiot TV people who couldn't care less about my profession, those were the worst. No wonder I had waited so long. No, not waited, procrastinated. I knew that no matter what kind of novel I wrote, it would never be like the first, never as huge. I could read the reviews already, full of "almost as good as" and "never quite recaptured." Fools, if they only knew the fluke of luck that writing truly was.

I was struggling with this novel, to say the least. Specifically, I was struggling with the main character. Too shallow, I thought to myself, not enough depth to warrant a reader's fickle attention. He was a character of modern times. I had written and re-written, all in vain. I had come close, last week in fact, to starting all over again. I had come oh so close, the frustration of writing like a brick wall I couldn't run around.

I had gone for a drink instead, a Jack on the rocks at Catalonia's. It was a dark bar in a seedy neighbourhood, the kinda place no one would recognize me, let me drink and reflect. It hadn't helped of course, but then again vices rarely do. One drink had turned into I don't know how many and I had stumbled home well past midnight, an old drunk wobbling down the street.

And now, here I was again, drinking instead of writing. Most great writers, I had been told, have one vice or another. I didn't consider myself as great as Hemingway, but I sure could drink like him. Hopefully wouldn't end up as he did, I thought to myself ruefully.

I watched a garbage man toss a can of rubbish into his truck. Such a simple task, so easy on the mind. No frustration, no mental war of words. Just a strong back and a willingness to do the job no one else wanted. A certain honour in that, I supposed. Not that the garbage man would agree with me. I was romanticizing again, a habit of most writers who wish they weren't driven to put pen to paper. A gift and a curse, a phrase I had used in the mid 1970s when I was on some stage accepting an award for the first novel. People had laughed when I said this. They, I surmised, weren't writers.

And now, a few years after my most recent novel had peaked and plummeted, I was on the verge of anonymity, or so I was told. Perhaps that wouldn't be such a bad exit, a quiet slipping into retirement. Disconnect my phone, ignore the mail, yes that had a certain allure to it. A better fate than writing and failing, written up as being past my prime.

I sat down at the computer, the soulless replacement of my beloved typewriters. No clackity clack of keys to let you know you were creating. No delete button to second-guess you into oblivion. With the typewriter you felt the writing, the knowledge that you had to get it almost all right the first time, you couldn't change your mind and rewrite a paragraph, a page, like it had never existed. A machine of indecision, this computer.

Hours later I had written nothing. In fact I had deleted a whole chapter. I had wanted to run down the street after the garbage man of a few hours ago and give him the empty words that deserved a fate no better than to be tossed out with the trash. I was tired, my eyes hurt and my back had long since cramped up. I shrill ring of the phone broke my mindless contemplation.

"Hello Basil."

Same roundabout circle of a conversation, same subtle demands. I was half-drunk by now and only barely listening.

"Soon. We are under a deadline, gotta go to print soon. No more time."

Deadlines. Another new obstacle for the writer to deal with, the writers of this era doomed to produce a novel, a poem, as if it were nothing more than a report, a toaster oven to be put together like so many before it. As if the written word was nothing more than a formula that could be put together like some kids Lego toy.

What a world, I thought to myself, as Basil prattled on in his whiny accent. What a world that would ask a painter to merely fill in the lines, a musician to plug in meaningless empty notes. It is ceasing to become a world of art, I thought to myself bitterly, having completely tuned Basil out by now.

"How about June 1, can you have it to me by June 1?" he asked, desperation turning to demand in his tone.

No, I thought to myself. No Basil, you whiny bastard, it won't be on your desk by June 1. Or December 1 for that matter. A sense of clarity emrged, perhaps an old man's last stand against a world that he didn't understand anymore.



"I'm deleting the whole thing. It's garbage and I'm not going to pretend it isn't. It's gone."

He begged for a while, threatened legal action, and then went back to begging. I took some pleasure in this. Perhaps I was getting petty in my old age.



"Get me a typewriter Basil. One of those old ones that you have to wrestle with. That is what I will write on, nothing else."

He didn't understand, but I figured as much. I took the phone and placed it on the table, nearest the window. I could hear him still, as I walked away. He sounded like a mouse.

"Basil?" I said, the phone now balanced on my shoulder, the cord stretched taunt.


"Basil I have taken my computer off the desk. I have unplugged it. I am taking it over to the window. I am at the window. Do you see where I'm going with this Basil?"

He begged, oh how he begged. It was a good thing I had helped save his country in the forties, I thought to myself, heaven help the English if Basil would have been sent to war.

I dropped the computer, the whole thing, out the window. It made a lovely smash on the front steps, glass and plastic bouncing everywhere. People looked up, bewildered. I suppose I would have too. Someone honked a car horn. A kid in a sweater with a hood on it gave me the thumbs up before riding away on his skateboard.



"I'll expect that typewriter by tomorrow at noon, okay Basil?"

"Ok." He sounded so defeated it made me laugh out loud.

"What's so funny?" he asked, his voice a mix of weak anger and resignation.

I hung up the phone, considered throwing it out the window too. Maybe later. The Basils of the world, a world soon to be overrun with them, would never understand. I did. So few did nowadays. Art is art because it is. No other explanation is needed, nor should it be given.

I moved into my kitchen, took the calendar off the wall, threw it in the garbage bin. I shuffled to my empty desk and took out a pad of paper, rummaged around for a pen. I began to write. Ink and paper.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

This is what you will get from me if you watched the American Idle finale. Nah, make it two of these....

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Read this post, then read the post I put up earlier today. Then ask yourself "Why does Jay think that North America is doomed?" If you don't know the answer, please ask me for it via the comments. I'll be happy to respond...

Carrie Underwood, the country sweetheart who beguiled national television audiences with her strong voice and bright smile, is this year's "American Idol," defeating Southern rocker Bo Bice in the show's finale Wednesday night.

"This is the best night of my life. And it's going to get better," she said. The singer added that she's ready for the pressures of a music career and won't disappoint her fans: Country music is where she intends to make her name.

"That's where my heart is. I feel like that's the music that's the most pure. And the people, the artists, are so nice. ... Those are the people I want to be among," she said.

Friends and family describe Underwood as a polite, quiet, small-town girl who is dedicated to music."I hope this doesn't change her," said Underwood's mother, Carole Underwood.

The live two-hour finale was padded by clips from throughout the season, interviews with the judges and the finalists, and concert and product plugs (the finalists received gift cars, which were featured in a big-screen video close-up).

Viewership didn't suffer from Clark's claims: "American Idol" is the No. 1 series for the season in viewers (as opposed to households), averaging 27.3 million viewers a week. The finale, on the last day of the TV season, could guarantee Fox a first-ever ratings win among viewers age 18 to 49.
Washington Post

The fact that 27.3 million people think this is a worthwhile way to consistently spend their time is perhaps the most perfect example of the dumbing down of society.

Now read the following post. Then go home and put a sledgehammer through your TV.

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An inmate at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp accused US guards of flushing a Koran down the toilet in 2002, newly declassified FBI documents reveal....The disclosure follows a row over a similar claim made in Newsweek, which the magazine was forced to retract...The Pentagon said last week it had seen "no credible and specific allegations" about putting a Koran in a toilet.

With each passing day it appears more and more obvious that Newsweek wasn't in the wrong when it published their story that US guards at Gitmo had desecrated the Quran (or Koran). Now the FBI has provided written proof, by an agent of their own no less, that these claims are indeed founded and most likely not an isolated incident.

After interviewing a detainee, an unnamed FBI agent wrote on 1 August 2002: "Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behaviour is bad."

"About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet....The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things."

In other similar news, Amnesty International is calling the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our time," a human rights failure, and says it should be closed.

Amnesty says it has documented at least 10 cases of abuse or mistreatment at Guantanamo, but a White House spokesman says the criticism is "ridiculous and unsupported by the facts."
White House press secretary Scott McLellan says the United States leads by example and holds people accountable when there is abuse.

To be able to stand up in front of the world and declare that the US holds people accountable and that criticism is unsupported by the facts, facts which countinue to come to light despite efforts to keep them quiet, is the sharpest disregard one can demonstrate for the sanctity of human rights. Am I the only one that finds this unnervingly surreal?

Amnesty International's general secretary Irene Khan was scathing in her description of the actions of both US and British troops. As follows...

"A new agenda is in the making, with the language of freedom and justice being used to pursue policies of fear and insecurity. This includes cynical attempts to redefine and sanitise torture," said Ms Khan.

She said the US claimed to be promoting freedom in Iraq, yet its troops had committed appalling torture and had ill-treated detainees. She described Guantánamo Bay as "the gulag of our time".

The thing that scares me the most is the 'gulag' reference. It is apt, perhaps a little to much so. One of the few differences is that when the Soviet gulags were running, they were largely kept from the public and international eye, shrouded in the distant mists of Siberia.

When it came time for history to examine the gulags, this "mist" allowed the regular citizens of both the Soviet Union and other developed countries a certain degree of legitimate "I couldn't have known" excuses from responsibility. Thus the blame has fallen on the former Societ government and perhaps some western powers that turned a blind eye.

But today, well, this is different. If you check the gulag link above, you will easily be able to draw parallels to Gitmo. But you do know about Gitmo, that is the key difference. While we don't know for sure exactly what has happened or is happening in Gitmo, nonetheless it is sitting there, in plain view for all the world to see. And the world is letting it be, save for a few articles and a dwindling number of powerful political voices.

History will not let us, the educated public and "democracies" off the hook this time. We won't be portrayed as our ancestors were when the gulag history was written. I suspect that we will be written up something like this:

"Early in the 21st century, during the US-led 'War on Terror', many suspected terrorists were imprisoned for long periods of time at Guantanamo Bay, a US military base in Cuba. These 'illegal combatants' were detained for upwards of 10 years, many never having once seen a lawyer or been given the opportunity to pursue a legal course of action.

What may appear odd to the reader is the idea that in a war purported to be bringing freedom to the oppressed, the citizens of free countries like the US, Britain, Germany, Canada, etc failed to see these detentions as oppressive. While many stories emerged from Gitmo about detainee abuse and mistreatement during this time, included the now-proven incidents of torture, the population of citizens (by and large) seemed content to give their government(s) a free hand in the matter. There is little doubt that this collective silence by the educated masses ranks high on history's list of dubious, if not harmful, contributions to the ill-fated 'War on Terror'. "

Again, I find myself apologizing to the future. I bet my grandfather's generation never had to do that.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nothing like advertising your ignorance...

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"I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," said Lovelace. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."

This quote from Rev. Lovelace, who apparently is absolutely correct about absolutely everything. I wish I was so f&%king blessed that I could insult an entire reputable religion and sleep soundly at night. I cannot believe the ignorance. Actually, I can believe it, what I can't believe is the sheer audacity it takes to call an entire religion wrong. Self-righteousness has nothing on Lovelace. Some more quotes....

"Our creed as a Christian, or a Protestant, or a Baptist church -- of course we don't have a creed but the bible -- but we do have the Baptist faith and message that says that we should cling to the 66 books of the Holy Bible and any other book outside of that claiming to know the way of God or claiming to be God's word is automatically written off and is trying to defeat people from the way of true righteousness inside of our viewpoint in how we view the word of God," Lovelace said.

When Lovelace was asked whether he considered before he put the sign up that there may be some consequences or that some people may be angered, he said he was aware of the likelihood of angering some people.

"Well, I thought about it and I said there may be people who are offended by it but the way I look at it, Jesus told his followers that if the world hates you, don't feel bad because they hated me first," said Lovelace. "If we stand for what is right and for God's word and for Christianity then the world is going to condemn us and so right away when I got a complaint I said 'well somebody's mad, somebody's offended, so we must be doing something right.'"

Lovelace said he felt it was the work of God to display the sign and that no one in the church has spoken up against it to him.

He said the church has 55 members on the roster and he has only received one angry phone call since the sign was posted.

"We have a good group of people," said Lovelace.

I can't write anymore, but this will be in mind when I write what will no doubt be a treatsie on religion after having finished reading Under the Banner of Heaven.

Thanks to the Glorious Mr. T for the link.

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Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell.

I enjoyed this book, although at times it was a little dry. But aside from that, and the mind-numbing amount of a.c.r.o.n.y.m.s, it was a good read about a war I knew very little about. It wasn't a historical account in the traditional sense, as it was written shortly after the war ended, leaving no time for reflection and research. Instead it is a first hand account of life in the trenches and the personalities of the soldiers fighting in a divided country.

I don't think too many people would pick this up, but if you are an Orwell fan like moi it gives good insight into how he was shaped as a younger man, and one can certainly see where 1984 came from. So if you got a burning desire to learn about the Spanish Civil War (who doesn't?) pick up this book.

Now I am halfway through Under the Banner of Heaven by Krakeaur and it rules. There will be a big post about it once I finish it and have time to mull it over. Religion, murder, polygamy, it's a triple threat!

Currently listening to: Pete Yorn, musicforthemorningafter

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Ha ha, my washing machine still isn't fixed. I like how the guy claims to have ordered parts, yet no one has actually come over in the two weeks since it broke to actually determine what parts are needed.

This is week 5 of this school year (excluding holiday weeks in Nov/Jan/April) that our washing machine has been MIA.

So apparently, some guy from some company is supposed to show up sometime tomorrow. Or maybe Friday. Now, as loyal bloggies are well aware, I have no life here in Kuwait. But that does not mean that I will sit at home for 48 hours waiting for some cigarette smoking man to show up and examine the machine.

"Can I at least get a ballpark time that he might show up?"


"I see."

Seriously, I lived better when I was a student, making $8000 a year. I'm actually not bitter about this at all, honestly. Right now my roomie and I have basically determined this to be a sociological experiment, a cross-cultural thing. I'm betting that it probably won't get fixed before we leave. But that's just a hunch, who knows?

Anyway, such if my life in the sand. Perhaps soon I will be able to write you a blog about how washing your clothes by hand in the ocean is a lot harder than it appears to be. Nah, just kidding, Jan has been saving me from smelling too bad, allowing me to use her washing machine.

I'll keep you all posted as this story develops, I'm sure you've been on the edge of your seats wondering how I am doing my laundry. And thus ends a rather pointless post. Later dudes.


Just found out that the washing machine guy showed up today at our place at 1245pm. Which would have been perfect, except that we were both at school. Apparently, even though the powers that be told the guy not to come, he came over anyway. I then find out that this "counts" as one of our "chances" and that if we "miss" another two "appointments" we'll not be able to see him for at least a week. Current plan is that he will come between 330 and 400pm on Saturday. Whether or not the machine will be fixed then, well, you and I will both have to tune in to find out. Man this rules!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In my ongoing effort to become a bitter, cranky old man, I have done some reflecting upon the recent naming of highway 2 after Queen Elizabeth II.

Old people usually like to remember the "good old days," even though the good old days consisted of drought, war, polio, and leisure suits. Nonetheless, the good old days-theme seems to prevail and often you will see old people refusing to acknowledge by name "new fangled" technology, instead being content to remain lost in the senility haze of past decades.

As such I, in my effort to be old and bitter, will henceforth never refer to highway 2 as the Queen Elizabeth II highway. When people say "take the Queen Elizabeth II highway" while giving me directions, I will either fly into an old man rage, yelling about the monarchy, or I will take their advice and promptly get horribly lost having refused to acknowledge that such a highway actually exists. I will call them from Saskatoon asking why they stood me up.

I urge you to do the same. Yell at clouds, hike up your pants, move to Florida. Get a big ass boat of a car. Be old. And refuse to call the "scenic" stretch of pavement between Edmonton and Calgary anything else other than its proper name: Highway 2.

I hate the British Royal Family.

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Later that night, Klein announced at a dinner for the royals that the busy road between Calgary and Edmonton was being renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.

"It will be the longest highway named after a member of the royal family in Canada. It just shows we don't do things by half measures in Alberta," Klein said.


And to quote verbatim your illustrious blog author who, upon reading this, said...

"Ahhh F&%k sakes. F&%king Klein."

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The Shopkeeper

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His keys jangled in the early morning mist as he reached out to unlock the back door of his shop. He slipped into the back storage room, the familiar smell of cardboard and cleaning products telling him a new day was about to begin. He reached to the left, balancing his lunchbox carefully, and flicked on the fluorescent lights. Norman followed close at his heels, sniffing the ground intently, as he always did.

The shopkeeper moved over to the small fridge and placed his lunch in it. He allowed himself a smile, knowing that today's lunch was a good one. It is the little things, like a good lunch, that sometimes help keep us going in the early morning. He began to make the first of his morning coffee, placing the tin exactly where it should be, on the left of the second shelf.

He moved out of the storage room, into the darkened store, not needing to turn on the lights, moving only by memory to the front of the small shop. He carried his morning paper behind the till, placing it carefully on his small desk. He had made it a point many years ago not to read the papers he was trying to sell in his store. Those were for the customers to buy. He always stopped at the newspaper box just half a block from his house, dropping two thin dimes into it every morning. Sometimes it was four dimes if the newspaper box took his money the first time. He never complained, there are far worse things to worry about than occasionally being robbed by a blue newspaper box at five in the morning.

He reached into the top drawer of his desk, finding the small metal box that held the spare change he would give to his customers after they had bought something. He counted the money, it was all there as it had been last night. He closed the box and put it on its spot on the desk. He began to read his paper.

He often came to the shop an hour before it was due to open. Norman would walk about the shop, making sure nothing was amiss while the shopkeeper would read the news of the day and have his morning cup of coffee. He would leave the shop dark, only turning the lights on shortly before it was time to unlock the front door. It was peaceful in these morning moments and he liked that.

He had run this shop for almost twenty-eight years now. It was nothing special, he realized that, but it was his and his alone, and that was something he enjoyed knowing. He sold various things, pop, ice cream, newspapers, cigarettes, milk, many other simple things that either made people happy or helped them get along with the daily deed of life. He would never make much money but that was okay, he made enough to live in small comfort. He helped people and that was good.

Norman came over and curled up underneath the desk. This was his spot and once settled he rarely moved, unless he heard children and then he would go and get some pats. He was as much a part of this small shop as the faded yellow awning that was hung above the front door and the shopkeeper appreciated his silent company.

The shopkeeper read his paper, kissing his teeth here and there as his eyes found the latest tragedy in this world. He read about politicians and people who were hurt, caused hurt. His emotions rarely ranged, at most he would give a small shake of his head. He wondered again why people made life so complicated. It could be simple, he knew this. He pushed his glasses back up his nose, folded the paper and placed it back on the desk. He stood and walked to the back room for another coffee.

Returning to the front of the store and his desk, he turned on the old radio that was placed on top of his filing cabinet. He preferred music to silence, except when he was reading. He needed to focus while he read, otherwise he wouldn't remember anything later on. He fiddled with the dial on the radio, fine tuning it to the quiet classical station.

It occurred to him that he did not even know the name of the station, after all these years. Or maybe he did know it, he had just forgotten it momentarily. He was forgetting little things like that more often now and it frustrated him sometimes. This, the forgetting of the radio station, did not bother him. As long as the music was playing he was content.

It was now half past seven in the morning, a half hour until he opened his door. He occasionally wished that he had hired an assistant so that he could take some time off once in awhile. It was looking like a nice day today, a good day to be outside.

He knew this would not work though, the idea of an assistant. This shop was his life and on the weekends, usually on the mid afternoon of the Sunday when he was at home, he would start to get a little bored and by Monday morning, he was usually ready to go back to work. It gave him something to do.

He had friends, family. He and his wife would often go over to another couples home for dinner on the weekends. The women would sit in the kitchen, talking about their children, the neighbours. The men would usually go to the den to smoke and listen to the baseball game on the radio. They would often discuss business, as men are apt to do.

It always amazed the shopkeeper at how his friends felt towards their jobs. They were often bitter and would say so after a few drinks. The boss was a jerk, too many hours, complaints of that nature. Often on the way home as he drove, his wife beside him, the shopkeeper would think of their complaints and be thankful he was his own boss. He often wondered why these friends of his continued to work at their jobs if they disliked it so much. Seemed odd to him. But maybe he just didn't understand. A fter all he had never worked anywhere except at his shop, where no one told him how to do things.

When he was a young man and had decided to open his shop, people had told him that he was doomed to failure, that he would soon be unemployed. He had listened to their arguments, but he soon realized they were uncomfortable with his idea not because they thought it was a bad one, but because they themselves would not be happy doing such work. They assumed that he would not be happy either.

He had opened his shop. Some years were better than others, but that was to be expected. But more important to the shopkeeper was that he enjoyed the work. He enjoyed the people he met, the slow times where he could listen to the music, the busy times when his cash box was full. He liked being able to close the door at the end of a busy day and know that even though he was tired, he was happy. And it was better to be tired and happy than to be tired and upset, he figured.

It was important to be happy in life. He knew this. And because life was usually full of work, one must be happy at work, even if that work was quiet work that others did not want to do themselves. As long as the shopkeeper enjoyed his days at the shop, it did not matter to him what his friends and family thought of his work. He worked, he paid the bills, bought his wife flowers on occasion, and helped people. That was a proper way to live he thought.

He moved to the back room one more time, to fill his coffee cup. It was ten before eight and soon he would open the door of his shop. Norman walked along behind him and the shopkeeper gave him a treat from the box on the shelf. Norman laid down and began to chew, his tail wagging.

The shopkeeper moved back to the front of the store and saw that the newspapers had been delivered. He opened the front door and flipped the sign to OPEN. He began to bring the newspapers in, stocking them in their respective shelves, making sure their edges were crisp and clean. He stood back, looked at them, a small nod of approval.

He went behind his till and took a sip from his coffee. Soon the customers would come to his store. It was going to be another good day.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:39 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Morning all, hope that your long weekend hangovers and/or drug binge comedowns aren't hurting you too bad. I will post more later on today perhaps if you are so lucky.

In the meantime send some mental best wishes to my super smart Mensa fiance Megan, as today is her first day at her new job in Red Deer. That is all I ask. Thanks.

Until later....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 3:52 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Monday, May 23, 2005

See, God hates the British royal family as much as I do. Except He has the power to do something about it. Someday, Jay, someday...

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:15 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Yea, so I guess it is (was?) the May long weekend, something that doesn't make super big headlines in Kuwait, even though Kuwait became a British protectorate in 1899 . Plus its not like I can load up a tent, a carload of booze, some bagels (they're a Jewish food, right?) and head off into the wilderness to get piss drunk and fall into a fire.

Anyway, I'm not really missing the freezing cold camping trips that define the May Long weekend. I probably won't go on too many more. Maybe solitary hiking trips. Maybe with the dog, if that still counts as solitary. No slight to my camping friends intended.

And apparently 50,000 people are going to go to Commonwealth stadium to see the Queen. If you want to waste your life, why don't you just take up the hash pipe? Not that I support drug use. But I support the Queen even less.

It really pisses me off that 50 000 morons are going to see her. What an enormous, Archibald-cranium-sized waste of time. Man I hate the royal family. Now I'm mad. Rrrrr.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 11:15 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ah yes, life in Kuwait....

Yesterday morning I was sleeping away at 445am. I was having a nightmare that Britney Spears was president and that the national anthem was changed every time her latest song got into the top ten. As always Carrot Top was VP and wouldn't leave me alone about some long distance plan he thought was so great.

Then the sound of gunshots. At first I thought it was in my dream, but that part of the dream usuallly doesn't come until after I catch Carrot Top making out with Rush Limbaugh. Hmmm.

I half wake up. Boom echo, boom echo, boom echo about 15 times in a minute. Now I have no idea wht gunshots sound like but this was what I imagined they would. What the fudge??

Now, I am not very smart, unlike Megs who just graduated with distinction. So I get up and go over to my window, assuming that this sweet double pane will protect me from a stray piece of lead. I peak out from behind my protective curtains, expecting to see some wild duel happening.

Nope. No duel. Outside my apartment is a parking lot that doubles as a used car dealership. Now I had assumed that selling cars was primarily a daytime business, but I guess I was wrong. Two guys are standing near a car, the hood open, trying to get it started. The boom echoes I was hearing was the high quality, "Man I gotta buy this" backfires of the car.

I considered what to do. I could open my window and give them the sight of a chubby pale white guy in his underwear yelling at them in a foreign language. Or I could go back to bed.

I went back to bed.

And with that my day began. And I wondered to myself what kind of inconsiderate jerk decides a repeatingly backfiring car is okay for the massive apartment building twenty feet away at 445am. Probably the same kind of loser that decides the best time to haggle over a car is before the sun rises.

24 days and counting....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:57 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Lately I've been reading junk books. I think my brain is tired. I think a lot and sometimes the words on the newspaper at 1130 at night start to slide and jumble. So I have been reading junk. You know, Tom Clancy, other paperbacks like that. Your standard serial killer vs. handsome cop plot that all blur together leaving me unable to remember which cop did what. Junk.

Oh and man, does Tom Clancy suck. I think he started to suck when he started writing books about the video games that have his name on them. Kinda like putting the chicken before the egg, or whatever the hell that phrase is. Or maybe when he decided to become a right wing political patsy. Like he cares what I think. Wouldn't it be neat if he read this and was actually pissed off? I think it would, but I'm lame.

I've actually stopped reading some of these books after about two chapters. No reason, just kinda stopped doing them. Like cocaine, its just that easy.

Anyway I think I'm done with my intellectual slumming for a while. The next two books I have staked out are Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, a nonfiction account of his experiences fighting in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s. After that, I'm going to read Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakaeur. Instead of wilderness tragedies like Into the Wild & Into Thin Air, in his latest book he looks at fringe Mormonism and the polygamists that flaunt US laws in Utah. It is a good read, says the guy who I paid for it.

Speaking of polygamy, why would any guy want more than one wife? I mean, that's just twice the heavy lifting, twice the 'honey do' lists, and lots of visits to Michael's to browse. Obviously there are benefits, but I think one is enough. Stupid Mormons.

I've also been listening to nothing but Bela Fleck and the Flecktones the last 4 days. People who don't listen to them deserve Britney Spears in their CD players.

I dunno why I am telling you this. You must have something better to do.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:56 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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So much for my pledge of no politics for a while....

What else do I know? I know that the decision was made inside the Pentagon in the first weeks of the Afghanistan war - which seemed "won" by December 2001 - to indefinitely detain scores of prisoners who were accumulating daily at American staging posts throughout the country. At the time, according to a memo, in my possession, addressed to Donald Rumsfeld, there were "800-900 Pakistani boys 13-15 years of age in custody". I could not learn if some or all of them have been released, or if some are still being held.

A Pentagon spokesman, when asked to comment, said that he had no information to substantiate the number in the document, and that there were currently about 100 juveniles being held in Iraq and Afghanistan; he did not address detainees held elsewhere. He said they received some special care, but added "age is not a determining factor in detention ... As with all the detainees, their release is contingent upon the determination that they are not a threat and that they are of no further intelligence value. Unfortunately, we have found that ... age does not necessarily diminish threat potential."

From: The unknown unknowns of the Abu Ghraib scandal by Seymour Hersh

A solid plan to prevent new terrorists from growing up hating the US. May history forgive us. Please read this article, it is well done and provides a good synopsis of the use of torture and the subsequent inaction.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:29 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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