Ink & Paper

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Highway Miles, Rock Shows, and Peace of Mind in a Wide Cut Country

I'm finally sitting still, back in Red Deer, after a very busy couple of days. At the end of last week, the week that I had started and quit my first job in the same day, I spent three days firing off resumes, probably 30 or so in all, from Edmonton to Calgary, including Red Deer.

Well all that mind-numbing self promotion came home to roost this week. Here is how it all went down:

Wednesday- I interviewed for a position with a company here in Red Deer. The position is an Employment Counsellor for people with developmental disabilities.

Thursday- I drove up to Edmonton for an interview with the Alberta Lung Association, a position that would have seen me promoting anti-smoking programs in schools around Alberta. I had a splitting headache and totally didn't bring my A-game interview, so I wasn't surprised when they called to tell me that I suck and that they would employ a monkey before they hired me. True, that's what they said.

Friday- I did a phone interview with the Alberta Heart and Stroke foundation for a Fundraising Coordinator position. Then I drove to Calgary for an 200pm interview with the Certified Management Accounts of Alberta for a position as a Recruiter, getting people started on the road to their CMA designation. Both of the these interviews went well and I expect a call back from both of them.

As well, on Friday I was offered (and accepted) the position here in Red Deer as an Employment Counsellor. I'm pretty happy with the job, kind of a social work-y type job that is similar to what I did with Caps at the U of A. So I start that Monday, although I will still wait and see what comes of the two interviews I did on Friday. But if nothing comes of the Friday interviews, then that is fine. I am quite happy with this position, a nice ethical job that helps the people who need it the most. I can live with that, quite easily.

So that is the job front for me. It is a big weight off my shoulders. Even though I was actively looking for work, I was starting to feel like a bum. I know, people said I was being stupid, but that was how I felt. I need to work, otherwise I get bored and down. So having accepted that job, a job I am truly interested in and proud of, I'm feeling a lot better about life.

Onward. After my interview with the CMA on Friday in Calgary, I drove back through to Edmonton to see Jeff play a set at the Victory Lounge downtown. So much for a low mileage truck, I was a driving machine for the last few days. But I hadn't seen Jeff play in a long while, so I wanted to get there. I was somewhere around Carstairs when I was saddened to hear on CKUA that Long John Baldry had passed away. For those of you who have ever listened to British blues, or even the Beatles, you have a big thank you to send out to Baldry, as he is perhaps one of the most underrated and influential musicians of the last 40 years. R.I.P.

Anyway, got to the show about 830pm, chatted with some folks and settled in for a night of rock. It was a good turn out for fans too. Al and X and their respective better halves showed up, as well as Neil and Lori of Kuwait fame. I was super pumped to see Lori and Neil, as they totally surprised me. Made my night.

Jeff aka Leaving Juneau hit the stage at about 10 or so and had a good set. If I can use one word to describe his performance, it would be comfortable. He just looked very settled on stage, laughing at a rare mistake and really playing what I thought was a good set. I would even go so far as to say that the older brother was a little proud of his sibling. And usually I think he is a donkey turd. Anyway, that was awesome. He had a good crowd to play to and they seemed to respond well. It was rock star cool.

Then the gang and I moved on out because the next band was too loud for our late-twenties ears. We ducked into a pub, but left after encountering possibly the meanest waitress ever. I was scared, but Neil held me tight and said everything was going to be ok. He's a sweetie.

Ended up at Boston Pizza, where X totally hit the wall and ended up going home amid much mockery from me and Al. Eventually ended up arguing about hockey and politics, and Neil was treated to Al's roundabout logic and never ending stories. Sorry Al, but the truth hurts. Love ya buddy.

Anyway, we left BP's around 100am and I drove my exhausted ass out to Beaumont, where I proceeded to yell Megan's name outside her house until she work up and let me in. I'm classy. She was hosting Dace's bridal shower (or some damn thing, I dunno) so that's why Meg wasn't rocking out at Jeff's show.

Got up this morning, took this picture at left for the Glorious Mr. T, and drove back to Red Deer, as I have to spring the pooch from Puppy Prison sometime this afternoon.

You ever have one of those drives that you wish just never ended? Today's drive was like that. I was driving along, listening to CKUA. More specifically, I was listening to a program called Wide Cut Country with Alison Brock, a show that is on for two hours every Saturday morning. Now this isn't country like Shania Twain and Garf Brooks, ugh, that would make me sick. No, this is real country, and it is pretty damn diverse. It is easily one of my favorite CKUA programs.

I know I always prattle on about how great CKUA is, but honestly, this was probably the best program I have heard on the radio in a few years. Wide Cut Country was broadcasting live from the Calgary Folk Fest and Alison Brock just had a whole string of aces up her sleeve today. Guests included Mary Gauthier, Edmonton's own The Swiftys, and the amazing (absolutely amazing) Justin Rutledge, whose album is a must-buy for me. In between the guests that stopped by and played a few live songs, Brock was spinning great tunes, including my much-beloved Willie Nelson.

I dunno what it was. I was exhausted, but man, what a feeling of calm. I was driving a tired highway. The sky was big and bright and blue and I was simply watching the rolling fields of canola swish by. I slowed down. I turned off and drove a secondary highway. I rolled my window down. I just didn't want the show, the drive, to end. I could have driven for miles.

I'm sure this feeling of calm was a result of me finding a job I'll like, the night before I spent with good friends and good music, and the fact that the music just fit perfectly. I can't remember the last time I felt so peaceful.

Hope the world is treating ya well. Bye for now.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 11:57 AM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Friday, July 22, 2005

Holy shit

A man has been shot dead by police at Stockwell Tube station in south London, as officers hunt four bombing suspects.

BBC correspondent Danny Shaw said there were unconfirmed reports police had said the man shot at Stockwell was the Oval bomb suspect.

"I was sitting on the train reading my paper.

"I heard a load of noise, people saying, 'Get out, get down!'

"I saw an Asian guy run onto the train hotly pursued by three plain-clothes police officers.

'Bomb belt'

"One of them was carrying a black handgun - it looked like an automatic - they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him.

"I saw the gun being fired five times into the guy - he is dead," he said.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:27 AM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Juan Cole comments on the most recent London bombings....

Since there are eyewitnesses to the attempted bombings who saw the suspects, the police must have an excellent idea of who is behind it, but probably have asked the press not to report those details for the moment. The hints are pretty broad that it was another radical Muslim cell. British authorities are stressing that the bombers are criminals, not representatives of an ethnic group.

Excellent article on oil, blood, politics, and Darfur. Do read this one.

The ink is scarcely dry on oil deals signed between the Islamist dictatorship that rules Sudan from the northern capital, Khartoum, and an eager bevy of oil companies from China, India, Japan, and Britain - even as the genocide continues full tilt in the western region known as Darfur. Every new contract signed in Khartoum makes it clearer that this genocide is fueled by the world's unquenchable thirst for petroleum.

Oil rigs are now drilling on land seized from black African farmers - who have been killed, raped, and driven off their land by their own government through its proxy militias, known as Janjaweed, in a campaign of ethnic cleansing now in its third year.

Good article on the politics of childhood obesity...

With rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, you might think that when the federal government convenes a meeting on how food companies market food to kids, talk of how to regulate industry practices might actually be on the agenda.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:25 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Things are looking up in terms of employment that doesn't suck and/or involve a daily tetanus shot. I'll keep you posted.

Jeff's show is Friday night. Details. I think you should all come there. I will have a camera and will take pictures of those people that rule and decide to show up. $7 cover at the door, but Jeff says he will mail you a cheque to cover it as soon as he sells out and becomes Nickelback-huge.

Be there or I will send my killer dog after you.

Just kidding, she's scared of plastic bags.

More bombings in London today....

Four attempted bombings in London were designed to kill people, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said.

The attacks came exactly two weeks after the explosions in the capital which killed over 50 people.

Details are still emerging, we'll see if these bombers are connected to the bombers of July 7. I must say, I am very impressed with the stoicism that the British are displaying throughout these bombings. Can you imagine the hysteria and chaos that would be going on in the United States of Constant Fear if they had two sets of bombings in two weeks?

London mayor Ken Livingstone made a series of comments yesterday that indictaed that he feels the bombings are certainly connected to the last 80 years of western interference in the Middle East. He got blasted for it, as Blair has been trying to sell the public on the idea that the terrorists are not emerging as a result of British foreign policy.

Livingstone is a bit of a wild card. He and Blair have butted heads in the past and continue to do so today. Livingstone is kinda like Mel Lastman, ex-mayor of Toronto, except that Livingstone is a fair bit smarter and more calculating in his politics. Thus I tend to give him a fair ear, as he usually means what he says and has put some thought into it. Frankly it is about time that we see some admittance by the powers that be regarding the turnabouts fair play of British foreign policy.

Speaking of western foreign policy, the Glorious Mr. T sent me this link below. Seems that we are learning from our mistakes. If I don't see you at Jeff's show, have a good weekend.

Star Trek....

"An 'Active Denial System' weapon that 'fires a 95GHz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds' is scheduled for service in Iraq in 2006 according to CNET and the print version of New Scientist. It was recently tested on people playing the part of rioters at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico where they asked the subjects to remove glass and contact lenses to protect their eyes. Hopefully real rioters will get the same courtesy. Police and the Marines are working on portable versions. Sandia Labs also has a nice writeup on this system with pictures of smaller versions of the weapon."

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:16 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Hassan Almrei, a Syrian who has been held without charge in Canada for almost four years under a national security certificate, told a bail hearing that he never had ties to al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Almrei answered questions from his lawyer, John Norris, in response to allegations made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The spy agency alleges that Almrei is connected to bin Laden and is a threat to Canadian security. Almrei has been held since October 2001 under a security certificate, the controversial measure that allows the government to hold a detainee indefinitely without a trial while keeping evidence secret. In the courtroom, Norris asked whether Almrei believed a jihad, or holy war, should be used to overthrow governments.

Almrei said no, but he did believe in the jihad that ousted the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan. He stressed that he didn't support bin Laden's jihad.

Almrei and his lawyers have not been allowed to see much of the evidence used by CSIS to have him arrested and held for four years without charging him or putting him on trial.

The certificate used to arrest Almrei was supposed be a device that could have him quickly deported back to Syria, his country of origin. But Almrei's lawyers successfully argued before a judge that Syria is a country where the police use torture as an interrogation technique.

Besides the obvious US-style illegal and prolonged detention by the Canadian government, the other absurdity is that one-definition acceptance of the word 'jihad'.

The term 'jihad' has been latched onto by the western media, which has assigned it to define anything done by Muslims against a western interest. I wouldn't be surprised to hear Fox say, after a car accident caused by a Muslim in NY, that said Muslim was launching a vehicular jihad against Americans.

The fact is that the term 'jihad' is much debated within the vast and complex Muslim faith. On one hand, yes, it can mean a holy war. On the other, it can mean a sort of challenging pilgrimage that someone undertakes. Indeed, I heard one of the Muslim staff in Kuwait, while discussing this term, say it could have applied to his college education in the US. This use of the term was then hotly debated by another Muslim staff member, who did not agree with that interpretation. As mentioned, this is a 'hot debate' term that is not by any stretch nailed down in the dictionary sense.

But it is a nice catchy phrase for the media to latch onto. Calling an attack on western interests a 'war' or an 'operation' sounds too close to the terms that we use to invade another country or culture. All of a sudden the lines between good and bad are blurry.

If an attack on US troops is defined as an operation by insurgent forces, then an operation by US troops against insurgent forces becomes a little too similar to distinguish between the two. Thus, call the attack against the US a 'jihad' and everyone knows that it was the bad guys who started it all up again.

The use of words, or terms, is in my opinion a topic that has not received enough in-depth attention as this war/quagmire drags on and on. And words do matter. A car crash sounds a lot worse than a fender bender, and sure as hell generates a lot more interest on the 6 o'clock news.

"Shock and Awe" sounds more like a football team's offensive game plan than an invasion strategy, and I have no doubt that when surrounded by lights, sound effects, and a few lasers, the average Joe Sixpack could have thought he was watching Monday night football instead of bombs falling in Baghdad.

It is nothing more than slick marketing of war, these words that get bandied about by the media. And to throw foreign words like jihad into the mix only gives the government a little more wiggle room with which to proclaim that they are fighting for 'freedom' against 'evil' and 'tyranny'.

Watch and listen. See the subtle use of a new term and watch it come of age as it too is hammered into a mold and made to fit a specific agenda.

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

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

NY Times reports....

President Bush is nominating John G. Roberts Jr., a conservative federal appellate judge from Washington, D.C., to the first vacancy on the Supreme Court in 11 years.

President Bush was to announce the selection of Judge Roberts, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on television at 9 p.m. But news of the selection leaked out in advance of the White House ceremony.

Judge Roberts, 50, once clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist when the chief was an associate justice and is viewed as one of the more accomplished lawyers to argue before the Supreme Court, having won more than two dozen cases before becoming a judge.

If confirmed, Judge Roberts might tilt the balance of the court rightward. Justice O'Connor, who has been on the tribunal for 24 years and was the first woman on the Supreme Court, was widely regarded as a swing justice between the liberal and conservative blocs.

The nominee will now undergo a background investigation. Then his nomination will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, has said he wants to schedule hearings by late August or September.

If recent history is a guide, the nominee will be questioned extensively about his views on divisive social issues, especially abortion. Republicans have a 10-to-8 advantage on the Judiciary Committee, and they have 55 seats in the Senate, so chances for confirmation would appear to be good - unless the nominee's views arouse enough opposition to inspire a Democratic filibuster.

And more from the BBC

His record as a staunch conservative means he could face a tough confirmation hearing in the Senate says the BBC's James Coomarasamy.

Correspondents say Conservatives will be pleased by Judge Roberts' record on abortion, the environment, and church-state issues.

The nine-seat court is one of the most important institutions in the US, with an influence on politically and socially volatile issues like abortion.

More at Yahoo.

Not looking too good for those of us who are hoping against a male-dominated theocracy taking hold south of the 49th. Depending on when and if Rehnquist goes, we could easily see another bush-ite conservative appointed to the Supreme Court. Keep in mind that Roberts is also only 50 years old , meaning that in this position that is 'appointed for life' we are looking at at least another 20 years of his conservative take on issues.

It seems a little, I dunno, hypocritical, to appoint a dedicated right-winger while at the same time decrying those 'activist' judges. But that's the Republicans for ya. Scared yet?

Meanwhile, CBC reprts....

A new study says more than 25,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the war began more than two years ago.

Iraq Body Count is a survey of media reports collected by a British research group. Researchers derived their statistics mostly from reports from respected media outlets, such as the AP, Reuters and Agence France Presse. Volunteers then crossu-referenced and checked figures on the reports to arrive at the total.

It shows U.S.-led forces were responsible for more than 37 per cent of those deaths and that 30 per cent of those killed died during the invasion phase of the war.

The report blames "anti-occupation forces/insurgents" for nine per cent of civilian deaths, while "post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36 per cent of all deaths."

A further 42,500 Iraqis have been reported injured in the two-year period.

Granted, the group releasing this report is not supporting the war in any sense, but they have done their homework (near as I can tell) to ensure that their numbers add up correctly.

Just try to imagine the uproar, the chaos that would ensue if a first world country like Canada or Britain had been invaded and had 25, 000 of theor civilians killed, 37% of the deaths coming at the hands of the invading military. It is almost impossible to imagine but this is what has happened, what is happening, as we stil in the drive thru at McDonald's, deciding if we want to supersize it or not.

On the local front....

Edmonton police have confirmed that a body found along the city's outskirts is that of a pregnant woman who had been missing for a week.


Liana White, 29, appeared to have been in a struggle before she died but the cause of death has not been determined, Detective Michael Campeau said on Tuesday.

The news comes just hours after her husband, Michael White, appeared in an Edmonton courtroom to face a charge of second-degree murder.

I was watching those union-busting scumbags on A-Channel today on the 6pm news and they were making comparisons to the Laci and Scott Peterson media frenzy that occurred a few months back in California.

I'll admit that some of the similarities are pretty close, but I doubt (and hope not) that we will see the media coverage that was seen in the Peterson case. All around, a sad stuation and no doubt it will only get worse as more details emerge.

And in the "For F&%k Sakes" category of news....

The word "fail" should be banned from use in classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralising pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labelling children. "We recognise that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said.

"But I recognise that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.

The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.

News flash to all the politically correct SOBs that think changing a word is going to save some kids self-esteem: Failure occurs in everyone's life, so hiding kids from the truth when they are young is only going to make it a much more rude awakening when they do fail at something.

"Uh my year end report is not going to be on time boss."

"That's ok, we don't consider that failure. We consider it deferred success. Go home early and think about what you have done and come back tomorrow, ok?"

Yeah, way to prepare kids for the real world. Sound of one hand clapping.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:32 PM ~~ 4 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Monday, July 18, 2005

I'm a little tired of reading bad news all the time, so I thought I would focus on the positive.

Most of you who don't live in caves or under rocks have probably heard about the insanity surrounding the latest Harry Potter book that just hit the stores. Sales are brisk, to say the least. People were lined up all night, waiting for the super secure books to be released. People were dressed up as their favorite character and often the scene outside the bookstore looked similar to the lead up to a Star Wars movie or some other thing that nerds dress up for.

But the kicker, and it is a positive one, is that these nerds aren't lining up to gawk at a 40 foot screen. These nerds (a term that is almost cool nowadays) are lining up to buy a book, a feat that very few, if any authors, can hang their hat on. More importantly, the people lining up for this novel are kids. Kids are excited about reading.

I have never read a Harry Potter book, and Lord knows I have never seen the movie. Or movies, whatever. But I can find very little wrong with the fact that kids are as excited about this new novel as they are about Christmas.

It doesn't matter, to me anyway, that these kids will regret dressing up as "Harry" in ten years time. Most of us looked like dorks when we are kids. Especially Jeff, the lil' aryan that he was. The important thing is that these kids are hooked on this series of novels, a trait that hopefully most of them will carry with them into adulthood.

In a world where every kid under grade 5 seems to have a cell phone, where computer and video games are marketed off of some blockbuster movie or another, it is refreshingly nice to see kids excited about reading. JK Rowling ought to be given every award under the sun in a weak attempt to recognize her contribution to the youth of today.

It will fade, this Pottermania. Kids will grow up and once they get past the idiocy of teenage years where reading is lame, they will hit college and careers and with them they may just carry a desire to read a book now and again. Big deal, you say? It is. You can't compare your childhood to the kids growing up nowadays.

You grew up with TV and Nintendo (maybe), but to no extent did they pervade your life like mass media attacks kids in today's world. If you find it hard to read a book now and again, just think about how hard it might be for a kid who has 100 channels, three gaming systems, a cell phone with a downloadable ring tone and a camera, and a schedule of 'play dates'. Yea, all of a suddden reading a book is pretty low down the totem pole.

So to see a large portion of kids more excited about a novel than about the latest Hollywood movie, well, that gives me some hope that in ten years people will still love a book simply because it is a calm distraction that you have to work at to enjoy. I worry about these things.

Read a novel. All the kids are doing it.

Currently reading: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:52 PM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Thanks to the Glorious Mr. T for this laugher. Visit the website here.

"Make the Pie Higher!" poem is composed of actual quotes from George W. Bush.

by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 12:28 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Regarding Jeff's show this upcoming Friday....

I believe all of you have ears. Ears are like kittens....they like to be petted, except with SONIC SOUNDBLASTS. Thus, you should come to Victory Lounge this Friday (July 22nd) to watch Leaving Juneau (me, Adam, Nick) open for Fractal Pattern (Andriko and a bunch of other guys) and Mahogany Frog (some prog-rock band from Winnipeg).
I've been playing shows by myself, but this time around I will have Nick on drums and Adam on bass to fill out the sound/mask my horrible voice. Full band, WHAT!
Doors at 8, show at 9. $7 at the door. We'll be on first. Victory Lounge is the old Lush nightclub - in the basement of the Starlite Room at 10030-102 street.
It's a Friday night and there's always SOME sort of drink special on at Victory, so you really have no excuse. Hope to see you all there....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:41 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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