Sunday, October 29, 2006

Uh? Hummmm... Oh! Aahh... Hmmmm?

CDs in Play: Tortoise, A Lazarus Taxon (Disc 1). Elevator to Hell, Eerieconsiliation.

It's Okay to Come Out of Your Shell

Whoa... I haven't been to the official Tortoise website in a looooong time. I am currently checking out Tortoise Radio, which is something I would have done with Hypernode had we been more of a band and less a collection of dreamers. Unlike Isis' radio outlet on their website, Tortoise have set up the Tortoise Player which seems to play anything but Tortoise. Grindcore and death metal, Miles Davis, Art Ensemle of Chicago, Van Dyke Parks, GZA/Genius and Morton Subotnik - a mixed bag to be sure. Check it out, but you will need Quicktime and have to run Active X.

A History of Murder

A school teacher has been murdered in my area. Manjit Panghali was a popular Grade 1 teacher and a pregnant mother of three. She had been abducted and her burned body was just found down by the Fraser River. A friend of the family who was in the RCMP through the 70's and 80's had told us about how the burned bodies of East Indian women had been turning up on the rivershores of the Fraser for a long time - he would know as he had to examine the bodies. I have always found it odd how BC's sensation happy media has chosen to ignore these murders in the past.
As I recall, no one thought of these murders as serial murders. There was an assumption that these women had done something that was shaming to the family and were punished accordingly. I am not an expert of Sikh culture, but I would like to think that homocide is as much a taboo in that culture as it is in ours. However, there have been examples in the past of how certain members of that culture (and others, such as one Croatian family from few years back) do view homocide as legitmate course of action in instances of disgrace and shame.
It makes me wonder if the media had reported these deaths would this woman have met with such a gruesome end? Was this a cultural murder or someone, an outsider, using a little discussed modus operandi to cover his or her tracks? My sorrows and regrets to the family, colleagues amd students of Mrs. Panghali. May the murderer be caught soon.


I am feeling stiffled these days - artistically frustrated. I have been hammering out story ideas and may have struck upon one that could work. However, I really need to get a bass and play again. I need to pick up my Godin from an old friend who has apparently decided to stay out of touch and trade it in to Long and McQuade (with some cash on top) for a bass. I have an idea for recording but just need something to work the ideas out on to. I also need to paint. I need to hold my brushed and pallette knives in my hand, working on a canvas. I dunno, I feel like half a person.

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Friday, October 27, 2006


CDs in Play: Tortoise, A Lazarus Taxon. (3 CD and one DVD box set)

Man, I can be such a sap sometimes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

General Blah-blah-blahing

CDs in Play: Kevin Ayers, Whatevershebringswesing. Groundhogs, The Best of...


Since I started writing this at work there are no actual CDs in play, but it is what I have going through my head and what I was listening to before work. I picked up Kevin Ayers' Whatevershebringswesing and the Groundhogs' disc about the same time. I heard Groundhogs on a Mojo compilation called Trash - most of it really was. The only songs that really grabbed me were "Motorhead" by Hawkwind, (Lemmy's band before he was expelled and went on to found Mötorhead the band) "Mushroom" by Can (which I have anyway) and "Cherry Red" by Groundhogs.
While I don't know the status as music icons in their native UK, Groundhogs have to be one of the most unsung bands of the 60's and early 70's rock in North America. Admittedly, I may have dodged them altoghter had it not been for their spot on the Mojo compilation - the term blues-rock band has a way sending me looking for solid cover and a phenominally good set of ear plugs. But, dammit, they were a pretty good band I must say. When tastes started to change and blues-rock was falling out of favour, Groundhogs shifted gears and got inventive. Songs like "Split, Part One", "Strange Town" and "You Had a Lesson" are progressive without being pompous, pretentious or "art school".
Having been a teenager with a guitar in the 1980's I have come to hate the whole notion of the "guitar hero". Sure, in the 80's I loved listening to guys like Eddie Van Halen, Alex Lifeson, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck play, but then I discovered Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Fishbone, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey or even the Orb. Why I loved the whole vibe of the early 90's was that it was the death of the guitar hero, it was about the music and expression rather than someone wanking away for the sake of ego. Having said that, I haven't heard a guitarist that has engaged me in that guitar hero sort of way the way Goundhog's Tony McPhee.
Lots of guitarists stand out in the more up to date music I listen to: Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline from Wilco stand out right at the moment. However, McPhee has the pure rock power sound that I just don't think many people are capable of getting these days. Again, he's inventive and is far from a stock in trade 70's rock guitarist. Peple used to go on about Clapton's playing, but he sounds like a hack by comparison. That McPhee hadn't become a darling of the guitar magazines and that "Cherry Red" hadn't become a classic rock radio standard is a mystery that I will never find a satisfactory answer for. But then if he/it had then I probably wouldn't be singing Groundhogs' praises on this day.
Ayers I have written on before, but now I have an actual album by him as opposed to a best of package. Ayers had been in the earliest incarnation of The Soft Machine, peers with Pink Floyd in the London underground scene and the UFO Club. That I hadn't had the wherewithall to jump into early Soft Machine (and bands like Can) when I was in my early twenties is a loss to me.
It had been said that Ayers' album are inconsistent affairs due to his relaxed attitude to recording. He's serious about his music, but I don't think he was too too serious about his career of making it. Ayers, in a way, reminds me of a friend of mine, Ken. (known to many as Zeke, and not the Zeke with a record contract) Ken is very serious about music but he's just not overly concerned about it. Both men are very creative, have a vision and the ability to just let things happen and fall where they may. (Ken, no doubt, would probably disagree with me)
Interestingly, EMI has released Whatevershebringswesing as a copy protected album, one that can't be ripped and copied on a computer. I think the record companies are cutting themselves out of potential money this way. In the 80's we made and traded mixed tapes all the time, that usually resulted in us going out and buying the actual album. Denying people the opportunity to copy and trade music just results in some interesting music being heard less often. It is worth going back to stuff like this too. Sure it is old and happened way back when 0 but it doesn't make it worthless. Sometimes going back is just another means of finding your way forward.


I finished Rankin's fifth Rebus novel, The Black Book, and jumped back to the third Rebus novel called Tooth and Nail. That novel is just about done and I have his fourth Rebus novel waiting in the wings, Strip Jack. (Still unable to track down the second novel, Hide and Seek) Obviously the books have grabbed me. Much of that would have to do with my ability to identify with aspects of the character of DI John Rebus - that, however is for another post when I have my copy of Knots and Crosses handy to pull quotes from.

Television (BSG Spoilers)

Just watched BSG today. After four episodes I would say that the show is definitly back to form. Whole new plot twists and turns have been opened up and I am interested to see where they go with them. I had been wondering when they were going to destroy the Pegasus, and they did it in a way similar to the original series. A woman I know had contact with someone who worked on the set last season and he had stated that they were going to kill off Gaeta. Didn't happen last season, but given the preview of next weeks episode I think it could happen very soon.
At one point I had declared certain sympathies for the Cylons: that would no longer be the case.
I have no idea who's watching Intelligence, the new drama from Chris Haddock, (creator of Da Vinci's Inquest) but it has me hooked so far. My Dad has been watching but has not been able to get too into so far. A lot of what we are watching is just set up for the series, but maybe what people like my Dad are missing is the charisma of a Nicholas Campbell or a Donnelly Rhodes.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

General Post, Insignificant In Its Scope

CD in Play: Robert Fripp, Let the Power Fall.

Just a post on stuff I have been reading, watching, listening to etc. I signed out a copy of the Golden Voyage of Sinbad from work a couple of days ago. I have only ever seen it in clips so I figured it was time to see it all the way through. I liked it quite a bit. Interesting that Tom Baker, who plays the villainous wizard of the piece, landed the role of the Fourth Doctor (as in Doctor Who) because of his performance in this piece and Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, plays the good wizard in 1977's Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. If you are a fan of stop-motion and Ray Harryhausen's work then this is a definite must if you haven't seen it before.
I like stop-motion, it is time consuming and laborious but the pay-off has always been worth it. I know George Lucas hates it, but I think Lucas needs an aenema when it comes to effects. Digital is smoother and slicker but it just lacks soul. My Dad loves Photoshop and Illustrator, tries to convince me that it is everybit as good as working in paint. (cheaper, too) But painting is often the kind of visceral experience that can never be had on a computer. You are immediately and intimately connected to your medium - it is dirty and hands on. there is an element of craft to the old ways. Same is true about stop-motion, in my opinion.
I also signed out a copy of Robert Fripp's Let the Power Fall. He was still using his analog Frippertronics system at this point. Fripp switched to digital later on for his Soundscapes projects. I like Soundscapes and don't criticize Fripp for ditching the analog system in favour of it, but Frippertronics has a sound that his digital rig just can't touch. One section of his performances was recorded at Robson Square in Vancouver.
I finished Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses a few days ago. He's a good writer, which makes up for some the unoriginal points in the plot - pretty easy to guess who the killer is. However, his characters are engaging and he gets the reader to care about what happens to them. I started his fifth novel The Black Book (couldn't find any of the others proceeding it) the day after finishing Knots and Crosses. I also have a book on sword smithing that I intend to re-read along with Anna Politkovskaya's A Dirty War.
As for Battlestar Galactica's two hour premiere on Space last weekend... I liked it a lot. I missed the two part series finale for Season 2 but was able to read the synopsis posted on Wikipedia. I had cooled off on the series as a result of episode 2.16 "Sacrifice". I know the change was made because Paul Campbell was leaving the series as he would not commit to a five year contract, but having been romantically been stabbed in the back a few times... I also really dislike the character of Kat, who was becoming more prominent and found the episode "Downloaded" (and I had really wanted to see a Cylon point of view episode) to be a bit of a dissapointment upon review.
I like how BSG is turning the real world "War on Terror" on its head, placing our protagonists into refugee camps with little amenities and lots of civil abuses in the name of order and turning them into suicide bombers and terrorists fighting against the Cylon occupation force. It isn't 100% analogous with Israel/Palestine or America/Iraq/Afghanistan, but it is close enough.
Other than BSG, I have been getting into Supernatural. I had ignored the show because I figured it would be recycled Joss Whedon-ish style stuff as filtered through a couple of pretty boys - a sort of ultra-violent Hardy Boys. But I have been pleasantly surprised and find myself enjoying the show. It is very dark and serious the way a show dealing with this sort of subject matter ought to be and the fights don't involve any eastern martial arts so far as I have seen. And judging by the choice of music from episode to episode (Blue Oyster Cult, the Chambers Brothers, Rush, Quiet Riot, The Rolling Stones, etc) this isn't a show strictly targeting tail end Y Gen's and the iGeneration.
Doctor Who is spottier than the previous season with Chris Eccleston. I think Tennant is fine but I wasn't so enamoured with some of the scripts. Case in point, New Earth. I liked the episode except for the conclusion - the Doctor's "cure-all" was a bit too much Deus ex machina. I like this week's episode ("Tooth and Claw") for the most part, except for the kung-fu monks of Scottish/English origin. Huh? I also had Chris Haddock's new show Intelligence tapped for me, but as of yet I have not been able to watch it.
Ah television... the substitute friend for when all your friends get hitched, have kids and/or move away. I had a life once, really.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

R.I.P. Anna Politkovskaya

Anna who you ask? Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist best known for her coverage of the war in Chechnya. I wish I could say I knew more about her, but I know very little. I picked up her book, A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya, two months ago in the delete bin at Chapters in Surrey for $1.95 - but I have yet to get around to it. I mentioned the book to my Russofile friends but it raised little interest, nor was father very interested in the topic of the book. Still it seems as though Ms. Politkovskaya had the deep respect of hers peers and the European community.
She was notable in her opposition to Putin's hold on power and it is notable that Putin took the opportunity to deny the importance and influence her writing had on the politics of modern Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev's response is just another example of why I think the man is worthy of respect.
This the link to the Politkovskaya story in Wikipedia, from there you can follow the news links to assorted stories about her assasination.

And here is a link to various articles in The Guardian about her

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

CD in Play: Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

Well Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Americans celebrate it in November, but north of the 49th Parallel we celebrate in October - I have no idea why. I will be sitting down to roast lamb and assorted veggies, etc in a couple of hours.

Current Book: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin. The second book by Rankin I have undertook, his first Rebus novel.

Current thing I am looking forward to: Retesting for my driver's license. As stated earlier in ths blog, I was in a dispute with ICBC. After a while it went in my favour, however, I have to retest for my license as does anyone who has been without one for over six months. I won't have a vehicle, but a DL opens up employment opportunities and I can borrow my Father's vehicle from time to time. Motorcycles are cheap transportation so I will probably look at getting my Class 6 next year sometime.

Current "Thing": Sudoku. Much easier than I thought it was and I am improving.

I have cable for the first time in a while and it is actually good to see some shows. Lots of crap though - lots of crap. I am also looking forward to sitting down and watching the Battlestar Galactica Season 3 opener, which should just have finished taping. Season Premiere of Doctor Who is tomorrow night and I have found myself getting into Supernatural as well. I had written the show off as a violent Hardy Boys for the Joss Whedon generation, but I have been surprised at what I have seen.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oxygen Wars

CD in Play: Various, Minimalist.

Without naming names, etc. I seem to be in a bit of a battle with my co-workers over the issue of administering oxygen to a student. Said student suffers from cluster headaches, a debilitating condition said by some to more painful than migraines or childbirth - like an ice pick continuously stabbing you in the eye or as the wikipedia entry puts it - "It has been reported as the most severe pain known to medical science, worse than amputation without anesthetics".
One thing that many sufferers gain relief from is oxygen inhalation. If started within 5 minutes of first appearance of symptoms and taken for 10-20 minutes at 6L-7L per minute (Lpm here after) it has the chance of preventing the headache from occuring. Naturally, I believe we should be giving said student oxygen therapy everytime said student has an attack, right? Um... well no and this is the source of the conflict.
My younger co-workers believe we ought to apply O2 everytime an attack occurs. However, cluster headaches are called such because they come in cluster cycles of 1-8 attacks a day for 1-3 months 2 times a year. That's a lot of O2 to use on one person. And then there is the argument about flow rate. The BC Health Guide says 6-7Lpm for 10-20 minutes. One cluster headache support group advocates a flow of 8Lpm for 10-20 minutes. Some attendants on site want to appease the student by administering the standard 10Lpm that we would administer to someone suffering with something like angina, a full-on myocardial infarction, blow trauma, etc. Then there is the student and the student's significant other who are demanding it be set to 15Lpm. The temporary policy is 8Lpm for 10 minutes, if no relief is had at that time we are to shut the valve off.
Some attendants are prepared to acquiesce to the student's demands no matter what, stating that it is our job to alleviate their horrible suffering. I have openly said that we can longer give the student any oxygen. Cluster headaches are often referred to as "suicide headaches" because of the pain, but are not known to be lethal in and of themsleves as far as my reading has gone. My job as a first aid attendent is not to alleviate pain so much as it is to intervene in a traumatic incident and prevent further damage from occuring. First Aid Attendents are the front line in care, they help to increase a patients chance of survival so that more qualified people can go in a nd finish the job. We do not take away pain, otherwise we would be allowed to dispense medication, including basic over the counter drugs like acetylsalicylic acid, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Put it to you this way, if the student has one attack on campus a day and we admister 8Lpm O2 for 10 minutes we should be out of O2 in 6 days. At 10Lpm we run out of O2 in 4.8 days. If we do what the student demands - 15Lpm - we run out in 3.2 days. So this goes on for 1-3 months in which time both tanks get depleted. My co-workers' answer to this is simple - we borrow the tanks from the Mall and the Tower. While the Tower never seems to have used their tanks, that doesn't mean they may never need to use it. Same goes for the mall. Besides Tower and Mall management aren't going to like shelling out their money to have someone else use up their oxygen bought for their own use. (if you empty a cylinder you have an additional charge for hydrostatic testing)
How many other students, staff or faculty suffer from cluster headaches? Do they all get oxygen? What about people suffering from chronic conditions? How many are diabetics? How many have heart conditions? Are they aware of their maladies? Have they ever sustained injuries in the past that make them suceptable to further injuries or physical problems? Granted O2 is often used in calls where there is no apparent respiratory or cardial distress - such as a fall, or a blow - but one hopes that it isn't something that will re-occur everyday with the same person.
Now that I have mentioned all this, I will mention that I learned the student has their own O2 tank at home but finds the paper work to be a huge hassle. Sort of a cop out, especially given the pain said student is going through. However, I just learned that O2 is classified as a hazardous substance (I know, I know... but we are taking about compressed O2 here) so tranporting it to and from school may require permits. Storage is another problem as it cannot just simply be stored in a locker. Someone stated she could store it in First Aid or Security, but that may get into issues of liability and access. Also, what happens if we end up using that tank because we have to?
Still, I find it presumptuous and self-centred of the student to presume that we ought to supply the oxygen because it is more convenient for them. But the student is only about 19 and the co-workers who are adamant about giving-in to the student are 25 and under. Maybe age is the reason for my intransigence? Perhaps it is the repeated lessons that life really so often is suffering, at least it is a key component. Suffering is terrible but inescapable and sometimes there really is nothing you can do for an individual's suffering. Especially if it potentially puts the well-being of others in the balance.