Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Beware, O' Ye Whom Goest Upon Four Wheels

CD in Play: Trans Am, Surveillance

Approximately twenty years ago at the age of sixteen, I got my driver's license. I was unable to renew it for some time due to a prolonged conflict with ICBC, not helped by my lacklustre negotiating skills. As of today I am back in the driver's seat. I retested at the Motor Vehicles Branch in Coquitlam (where I first got my license) and that worked to my advantage since I still know the area fairly well.
Anyhow, this summer I am going to look into getting my Class 6 (motorcycle) so I can get around more cheaply than I would by car. Transit and motorcycle.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Argh! My Bloody Eyes!

CD in Play: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

No really, my bloody eyes. I either had staph food poisoning or caught that norovirus that Geosomin was blogging about a little while ago. I woke up at 4:40 am on Sunday morning and statred vomiting; I stopped vomiting around 9:45 am. It was extremely violent. I had burst the capillaries around my eyelids and today I just noticed that I actually had blood in the whites of my eyes. I think I see fine, but am about to pop in to the doctor have them looked at. I have my driver's test tomorrow and have no desire to cancel. I might not be able to test again until March.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The psot below was written and re-written several times as blogger has been refusing to acknowlege changes and allow pictures to be added to stories.
I am not happy.

Little Furry Things

CD in Play: Converge, You Fail Me.

The Awful Truth About Squirrels

I was at my Dad's for dinner on Sunday and we were joined by one of his oldest friends, John Christian. John lives up along Francois Lake for most of the year, but is down to do some work in the White Rock area. We had a good meal: roast lamb in a peppercorn gravy with potato, broccoli and marinated mushrooms.
After the meal John, my Dad and myself were sitting around talking and John was talking about these two biologists working around the lake to study the life-cycle of rabbits in the area, looking at some of the adversities that they face. Many animals prey on rabbits as a source of food, it's a fact I think we all should know. However, I was a little creeped out to learn that they are hunted down by squirrels.
Colour me ignorant, but I had no idea that squirrels were omnivorous. In addition to seeds, nuts, fruits and berries (and I also knew they would eat insects) squirrels also eat bird's eggs, small birds, frogs and small mammals. Now rabbits are not particularly small, but their newborn offspring are. Yes, squirrels hunt, kill and eat bunnies. The will invade a burrow and kill all the babies. Then they drag their little carcases up into the holes in their trees and hang them up to dry them out. Squirrels, apparently, prefer their food to be dry and crunchy. I suppose as an added bonus they might get a feast of maggots as well.
I am reminded of a story about the eastern Native Indian "transformer" god, Glooskap. Glooskap had gone around to all the animals in preperation for the impending arrival of humanity into the world, asking what they would do for humankind when they arrived. Many animals (like the bear) gathered up food while an animal like beaver made them a house. When Glooskap asked squirrel what it would do - and squirrel was about the size of a bear - squirrel ran over to a near-by dead tree and tore it apart. Glooskap shrunk squirrel so he and his kind would never threaten humanity again. Of course, Glooskap forgot about the bunnies. (and the fact that squirrels can often act as carriers of the bubonic plauge) I can picture a squirrel running from rabbit warren to rabbit warren with a chainsaw, wearing a leather apron and a bunny skin mask.
Think about that and remember, a squirrel would eat you and your whole family if it had the chance.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Who - "A Quick One While He's Away"

The Who have always been a favourite of mine - periodically put on the shelf and forgotten, but a band I always return to. People who have watched The Rolling Stones television special, Rock and Roll Circus, from 1968 say that The Who easily out-performed The Stones.
If this song sounds familiar, you probably heard if you saw the 1999 film "Rushmore".

Saturday, January 20, 2007


CD in Play: Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Steve Malkmus.

I was talking to my co-worker today and realised that I am up for an odd anniversary. It was 1987 when I got my driver's license at the Coquitlam Motor Vehicles Branch. It was a happy day. Last summer, just before my 36th birthday, a long standing dispute between me and ICBC was settled allowing to get my license again. (since it had expired during the dispute) So here I am in 2007 about to go for my license again on the 31st.
Would this be an example of synchronicity?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Horror...

CD in Play: Mastodon, Blood Mountain

To paraphrase a hymn I detest:
Mine eyes have seen the damage
of the coming of a storm
that has trampled out its vintage
where the cedars stood so tall.

I went to Stanley Park this morning with my Dad. We had some other things to do today, but he wanted to see the damage done to the park by the recent wind storm. (see CBC's photo collection and a story for those not in the know) It is one thing to see the damage in the papers and on television, but quite another to see it first-hand, even as cleaned up as it is. Wikipedia's article notes that the storm was an extratropical cyclone and wind speed was up to 115 kph (71.5 mph) devastating 60% of the park with a loss of 3,000 trees, particularly Prospect Point. Especially Prospect Point. I used to spend quite a bit of time at the Point as a kid, since it is my Dad's favourite spot in the park, and know the area reasonably well. It is in rough shape. Massive clearings where there was once dense plots of temperate rain forest. I did some "drive-by shooting" of the area with my Dad's camera and will post some those photos later on. (the above photo is not mine)
The discussions around what to do have been interesting. Most people are behind replanting efforts, (as am I) the Park is too much a part of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland's identity to do nothing. It will cost big bucks to do this and some people have, rightly, pointed out that while people have shown such extreme distress over damage to the park and the loss of 3,000 trees, hardly anyone is distressed about our overtaxed homeless shelters. Vancouver's homeless situation has spiralled out of control and is a serious problem that neither the city nor the Province want to tackle in any constructive way. Is the concern over the state of Stanley Park a sign of our out-of-whack values as a society? Of course, many of Vancouver's homeless have taken to living in Stanley Park, so really...
Homelessness is more than a Vancouver problem, however, and many municipalities have nothing in place whatsoever to deal with the situation. When I was working Burnaby, I was told by a cop that there was nothing in place within the city to try and help that city's homeless aside from a small drug outreach programme. Obviously some cities feel that homelessness is not their problem to deal with - that if they don't provide the services these people will just go away someplace else.
My feelings are that we ought to do something about the Park, it is a jewel for this city and worth preserving. At the same time, Lower Mainlanders have to accept responsibility for those less fortunate. It is one thing to say that they need to pull themselves out of the gutter and up on their own two feet, but quite another to actually be knocked down so often that you get used to it and never think to get up again. Property and rental prices are insane here and need to be dealt with. Vancouver and the Lower Mainland like to tout themselves as the most livable areas in Canada, even in the world, yet as the cost of living goes up the quality of living for most goes down. The mountains, the water and places like Stanley Park begin to lose their charms in a much more bitter way in the face of increasing poverty than the damage a windstorm could ever cause.

Les Vlideog

Since Blogger seems to have ironed out a few of its issues regarding YouTube postings, my other blog - Les Vlideog is back in action.

Friday, January 12, 2007


For those of you who are ignorant, as I was until this evening, that Comet McNaught has been visible in the lower portion of the horizon - know now that the 12 of January is your last chance to see it. It will be coming around sometime by sunset and low in the horizon, so get up high if you can and scan for it. The top picture is Comet McNaught (CP/2006 P1, picture by Roger Johansen of Hammerfest, Norway - used in all due respect and awe) the other is Comet Ikeya-Seki, included just because I like the photo.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Seeing Double

CD in Play: ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Madonna.

My Doppelgänger

Two nights ago, as I was going home, a pretty rough looking guy came strolling up beside me. He stood and looked at me for a moment.
He: Hey man, you got that three bucks you owe me?
Me: Huh?
He: You got the three bucks you said you'd pay back?
Me: You've got the wrong guy.
He looks at me, scrutinizing me. You can see it hit him that he has approached the wrong guy.
He: Sorry man... you know, you got a twin.
Me: Yeah, I know. This twin got a name?
He: Rob. Man, he looks exactly like you, but he's living it pretty down end and dangerous, you know what I mean?

This is not the first time I have heard this name. I have told this to my friends before, but they do not believe me. Even when they say they do I can see they doubt in their eyes: he's gotta be making this up. After all, it is just too fantastical - I have a near perfect double, an "evil" twin if you will. Like an episode of classic Star Trek or like Bizarro and Superman, Bender and Flexo there is another me roaming the streets and he's up to no good.
Rob is like a bad penny that keeps turning up in my life since 1985 when I lived in Mission. I was at this thing with a bunch of Mennonite youth groups from Abbotsford and Mission. I was just finishing up Grade 9 and about to turn 15. There was a girl there who was pointing me out to her friends and they approached me soon after. She told me how much I looked like this guy, Rob, from Abby Senior. (they were just going into Grade 12) Rob apparently was physically like me in almost every way except his mode of dress, he was slightly taller and the fact that Rob wouldn't be caught dead at any sort of church function except maybe his own funeral.
There were a couple of times after that that I had been confused for Rob when I visited friends out in the Valley, but never anything bad. When I was 20 I had just come back for the summer from living in Saskatchewan. I had long hair a la the early 90's mop and drove a `72 Chevy Nova. I went downtown to hit the music shops. I picked up a couple of CDs and was just about to get into my car (at the now non-existent parkade on the corner of Dunsmuir and Howe) when a HUGE biker came storming up. He picked me up off the ground with one hand and held me up against a concrete post. There was a rather sleazy looking woman with him.

Biker: Where's my money?
Me: What money?
Biker: I know that car! I know your face and I know your voice! This is the guy right, baby?
Sleazy Woman: Yeah, that's the son of a bitch.
Biker: Give me my money!
Me: Whoa... look man, I'm not who think I am.
I reach into my pocket and show him my student ID from Saskatchewan and my BC drivers license. He looks them over, drops me and shows the ID to the woman. Hands me back the ID and looks at me a bit incredulously.
Biker: Sorry guy.
With that they leave, periodically looking back at me, and I get into my car after collecting myself together.

Later that summer, my Dad calls me from the road on his car phone. I had been working for him that day, running errands in the valley that he was unable to take care of. He tells me he thought he had just seen me walk away from the Nova and go into a sleazy strip club that used to be not too far away from the intersection of Kingsway and Boundary. He couldn't believe it was me and had to check to see if I was at home. Up to that point, I had no idea there was even a strip club in that area.
There were a few more case of mistaken identity up to about 1994, nothing major, and then nothing until early 1999. I was unemployed at the time and staying at my Dad's. There was night I was watching special on BSE and vCJD when I received a call from a woman I was crazy about and hanging out with quite a bit at the time. She was in Edmonton visiting a friend of hers from university. We talked a bit about BSE, sine she had watched the same special and then she told me about something that had happened to her the night before. She and her friend had gone dancing at a gay bar in Deadmonton. She met a guy there who was a dead ringer for me. Remember - I was in New Westminster, broke and don't make it a point to hang out in gay bars. I don't remember if she had a name for this double and I also seem to recall her saying that he was clean shaven. (I had a goatee as I do now)
The thing about my most recent encounter is that while I was talking with the guy about Rob, an eastbound train rolled into Surrey Central station. We both looked down to the opposite end and I see a guy about my size and dressed pretty similar to me (blue ball cap instead of a black toque) get on the train. The guy standing by me ID'd him as Rob. He was too far way for me to see his face clearly, but I might recognise him if I see him again.
Folklore states that to see one's doppelgänger is an omen of impending death. Attempting to communicate with a doppelgänger is bad luck. People who see their doppelgänger may also be haunted by visions of it from that point on. Rob has haunted me since 1985 but he is not a doppelgänger, he's flesh and blood. He's not a work of fiction, a sort "Mr. Hyde" upon which to lay my depravity on and preserve the dignity of my "Dr. Jeckyll". The Galactic Cowboys had a song with the line "... Blame it on my evil twin", this is certainly not the case. Somehow, though, his appearance has changed over two decades to match mine very closely. He's close enough to me that people are visibly shocked when they realise that I am not him.
Do any of you have a twin? If not, are you sure? If so, what are they like?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Beavers Ripped My Flesh. Rzzzzz!

CDs in Play: Groundhogs, The Best Of.

I have been sawing my way through Rankin's Rebus novels in the same way a beaver chews through wood. Make that that a beaver with a buzzsaw. I have taken a bit of a break from the Rebus series for the moment, since I received so many books for Christmas. I have Rankin's eleventh Rebus novel, Set in Darkness, sitting at home along with his collection of short stories (Beggar's Banquet) and will pick those up again sometime soon.
Nothing indicates to me more that I am ready to be bac in school than the return of my capacity to read. I am cutting quite the swath through Zinn's A People's History of the United States, a subject that moderately interested me at best. I need to dig out my old Biology and Anatomy textbooks to start re-reading, take advantage of this momentum.
Since one of the places I am looking at teaching is the UK, I have been digging into that region's history a little more in particular. There seems, finally, some impetus to look at the history from the British Isles from the point of view of the Celts rather than the standard Anglo-Saxon/Norman bias that has pervaded over the years. Basically, the name of the game is to become very flexible when it comes to teaching. But then, I am also aiming at becoming an Art teacher as well.
It's good to be back in the saddle again - well this particular saddle.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Current Meme
stolen from Betty.

Current clothes: Black t-shirt, kilt, pork-pie hat.

Current mood: Mildly contented.

Current music: Lately I have been listening to The Creation quite a bit. (see below) Their song "Making Time" was used in the film Rushmore, when they outline all the clubs Max is involved in.

Current annoyance: My landlady. She's very nice and she gives me her left over turkey and has cooked stuff for me (oddly, all of it turkey related) - but she is quite neurotic and a tad too intrusive. I was watching the mid-season cliffhanger for Battlestar Galactica and she interupted four times. Also happened when I was trying to watch Intelligence, a show I get quite wrapped up in. Also, Trent is no longer on Bell - so no more Bell to Bell for me.

Current thing: Strategies for getting a better paying job as ever. Want to be back in school by Jan 2008, but might have to wait until Summer 2008.

Current game: Still playing Call of Duty and Civ III. I need to upgrade my computer so I can run things like Call of Duty 2, Civ IV, Rome, Total Warfare and Medieval Total Warfare. After reading Zinn's chapters on The American Revolution, (see current book) I would love to see a warfare strategy game that takes morale into account and that the people fighting in your wars might not actually share your aims and sentiments. It would be interesting to see a turn-based game that deals with the aftermath of warfare on a society, be you the looser or the victor.

Current song in head: "Major Leagues" by Pavement.

Current book: A People' History of the United States by Howard Zinn. (link to official page) Despite the criticisms that Zinn has received over this work, it should be noted that Zinn admits his bias and objectives from the get-go, something few historians - socialist, "liberal", right-wing, etc. - I have read are willing to do so openly.

Current DVD in player: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Current refreshment: an ounce of The Macallan 12 year old whisky.

Current thought: I'd rather be in Wales. I have also considered growing the mutton chops back, not sure though. What say you all? Yea or Nay to mutton chops?

The Creation Live 1966

A great and overlooked band from the `60's. The last song they perform is their most famous, "Making Time". Notable as the first band to take a violin bow to a guitar, predating Led Zepplin by a few years.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lands of Opportunity

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

Thinking Out Loud

I have applications in to Translink to try and get a job on Skytrain as an Attendent. Interviews begin at the end of the month and, if hired on, I would be making around $22.00 an hour during probation and $25.00 an hour after that. It is looking slim as there are over 2000 applicants, but it is a job I will keep aiming for.
If I can get on soon I can look at getting back to school and then on to getting a teaching degree. I am guilty of planning for to ahead in advance, but in this case long term planning is warranted. I am getting on and need to get something going soon - I cannot work in crap jobs for the rest of my life. I plan to teach Grades 11 or 12 (preferably 12) History and/or Art. There's a shortage of people willing to teach in the Grade 11 to 12 range, so I will have options. But what are my options? More correctly, my concerns are where are my options?
The Lower Mainland is expensive, the cost of living is just too dear. I wouldn't mind teaching in in the Coquitlam area where I grew up - District 43 is one of the most progressive school district in the province. I would also teach in Langley's publicly funded Arts High School if I could get in. But I am single and life around here just ain't cheap. The 2010 Olympics are going to adversely affect us as well, no matter what its cheerleaders say. The only other areas I might consider in BC are Nelson in the Kootneys and Victoria on Vancouver Island.
As for the rest of Canada... I am picky. If I actually spoke French beyond the level of a Grade 2 student, I would happily go to either Quebec City or Montreal. C'est la vie. I would consider Halifax, but I don't know that much about it. I like the idea of being on the Atlantic Coast. Given my fetish for the Arctic, the Yukon and Nunavut are an option I would consider. However, I am not sure how long term an option they would be for me.
And then there is Saskatchewan. Yes, Saskatchewan. I lived there for a while and came to love the province. The place is more than just wheat. I'd consider Saskatoon or Regina. I like Saskatchewan, but I would miss mountains and easier access to the ocean. But the demand for high school teachers is world wide. I could look into option for the States, but much of the demand is for Math, Sciences and Spanish teachers from what I have heard. (at least for the areas I would be interested in teaching, like New York)
I am considering the UK and will be looking at it more closely as an option once I am in the programme. There is apparently a shortage of high school equivalent teachers there as well. I have been wanting to spend some time in the UK for years now. It would be a good way to the places my Mum's family came from over there. (Wales, Ireland and England) I could finally see the Isle of Man TT Races and go to Scotland. I could also easily get to the Continent and over to Scandinavia in my time off. People warn me that it is tough over there, but after my experiences in South Burnaby I think I am prepared. It's tough here depending on where you are at.
Anyhow, this my thinking "out loud" online.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Physical Brutality

CD in Play: Mogwai, Mr. Beast.

Don't do as I have done, but do do what I suggest.
PS - this is not a New Years resolution

I am in terrible shape. Despicable shape. People usually say they are out of shape, but (as my friend Doug would be quick to point out) being approximately roundish is a shape. What once came easily is now torturous. I have been taking stabs at getting back into condition for a while now, but just keep getting bigger. I had once stated a while ago to my friends that if I ever reached the size I am now, they could shoot me Get the guns out boys. But it is my own fault and only I can do something about it.
Reading Zirin's book actually made me think about personal health and how fit I used to be at one point. I played basketball, baseball, volleyball, ran track, (400m, 800m and 1500m competitively) surreptitiously played rugby for a bit, kayaked, hiked and was an avid cyclist. But then I stopped. Not sure why exactly. There were certain reasons for certain activities, but not for why I stopped altogether. Cycling stopped being fun once I moved out of Port Coquitlam: New Westminster just never felt safe on a bike. And I did injure my legs by not stretching properly before races and in a game of rugby, which had a definite affect on me.
Team sports stopped because there was really nothing happening post high school. I was only ever okay at most sports with moments of brilliance. I was fast and had endurance. but lacked the refinement of skills. When I moved to Saskatchewan I stopped a lot of my activities and started gaining weight. There have been times that I did start something - some Phys Ed. in university, only using stairs at work, baseball in Montreal. - but it never lasted too long.
The point of this post is not to lament what might have been, or pity me - exercise is sooo hard. The point is to say, don't let this happen to you. The risks of being overweight are hypertension, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain forms of cancer according to some articles I have read. My Dad often thinks I am depressed because of the weight. Body image can certainly be depressing, but for me the depression was a pre-existing condition. I think the number one reason for my cessation of exercise has been depression. I wasn't grossly overweight and out of condition when I really twigged on to the fact that I should start exercising again, but felt self-conscious about working out. I was embarrassed and latched onto apathy as a defense mechanism. Whatever your issue is, deal with it. Trust me, you'll be better off for it.
We don't exercise any more. More people in North America watch sports as opposed to play them. Cuba had the right idea in promoting sports as a way of life, as an obligation to one's own self. Amateur sports of all kinds need to be encouraged. I talked to one guy at work and he said that he had a floor hockey team that just fell apart because watching hockey took precedence over playing it.
I caught the beginning of Supersize Me last night on CBC, where Spurlock mentions all the ways people have dreamed up to lose weight without exercise. (even one that claimed you could lose weight while watching television) How many people have dreamed of a machine that would do the exercise for them? Or a magic pill that melts off the pounds like fat from a BBQ duck? How much easier and enjoyable would our lives have been has we just done what needed to be done in the first place?
As I said, this isn't a pity party for me, just a re-acknowledgement that something needs to be done and attempt to encourage people to something good for themselves. It is especially easy to deceive yourself if you are or were in condition at some point in life to put it off. The more you do so, the harder it is to get back on track. What was once just a bother becomes an all-out slog. I have been walking stairs for cardio (works like a charm, just ask my lungs and pulse rate) and doctors have told me to start weight training in addition to stretching.
When I was at Sam the Record Man I began to bypass the elevator and use the stairs. I worked in the warehouse in the basement and the store was five stories high, so I was hiking up and down a lot of stairs. It felt good after a while and in Montreal there was baseball and I had started walking home from work and down to meet friends. So now at work the goal is to not use the elevators or the escalators. The aim is to walk approximately 4-5 blocks to the bus loop instead of 2 blocks to the stop nearby. Stretching in the morning and again after work - same goes for weights. After all that, hopefully some sort of conditioning takes place and I will be fit enough for something like Judo, Aikido or Jujutsu.