All the Time

These Days


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May 22, 2002
Heaven on Earth = Brushing your teeth with Tom of Maine's cinnammon toothpaste and then eating a spoonful of amaretto ice cream.

May 20, 2002
I don't want to accept this. I won't except this. I'll have to accept this, but only when I'm good and ready to, and that's not now.

May 15, 2002
I'm not much better than a small mess of scattered thoughts today. The past few days have found me working furiously at the keyboard in the office and at home. I've actually started to develop some repetetive strain pain so it's off to the doctor for this guy. I hope it doesn't come down to one of those little tensor gloves, but it's better than a bodycast. On top of work and other work, I've been terrorizing a discussion board run by a friend with an aim to stimulating some more traffic and discussion there, with mixed results. And finally, I confronted the office bully today, with classic results: initial resistance giving way to almost total submission. Things are gonna be different from here on in, my friends.

May 11, 2002
What could be a watershed event in the evolution of gay rights in Canada happened yesterday with a preliminary ruling to allow a Catholic school to allow a gay student to attend his prom with his boyfriend. Since the ruling was timed for release several hours before the prom, there was no chance for an appeal to the injunction. I consider this a particularly rewarding ruling because it affirms the authority of government and the rule of law over religious doctrines. This doesn't mean that one is always right and the other wrong, but that the former has accessible recourse for correction and a basis in reality, not superstition and magical wisdom. CBC has good coverage of the story, which developed so quickly that it caught rights activists and conservatives off guard. Additional coverage by the Globe and Mail has been good as well. I hope the prom went well. Congratulations Marc, and by the way the blue hair looks like shit.

May 8, 2002
I've been trying to find words that express how I feel about work lately, and to no avail. However, I did find that I was able to express myself in other ways. God it's creepy knowing you can look like that.

May 7, 2002
The weather in Vancouver has been utterly schizoid the past few days, which in all liklihood means another ice age is finally upon us. I'll be damned if it makes me miss the Scooby Doo movie (god Freddie Prinze Albert Junior is awful), but I could still die happy having seen Spiderman. Review to follow soon.

If you like supervillains more than heroes, how about that tightening noose around our old foe Osama Bin Laden? They found his bodyguards' unguarded bodies. Maybe they hope to find a note in their jackets like: Allah, please take care of my loyal guards while I lie low in a hollowed out volcano in the South Pacific. OBL.

May 2, 2002
I do believe I have found something that has evaded scholars, pundits and regular Joes and Janes for decades: the essence of the Canadian Identity. Despite what you see in slick advertising, it is not beer, hockey or doughnuts. The Truth spoke to me in a minor news article, in which the results of a poll gauging the current Canadian annoyance level with the United States were reported. When it came to opinions on changing the current trading relationship with the US,

72% believe we should maintain the status quo

Now, I ask you: what could be more Canadian than that? I think this says a lot about us, for better and for worse.

May 1, 2002
It's May Day, and the rapt world watches the annual collective cry for attention. Forget that though. The real issue is whether or not I am the only one who finds the term Dodecahedral puckering repugnant yet strangely alluring?

April 30, 2002
Well it's safe to say that summer has come to Vancouver. The new wheels have proven themselves trustworthy so far, and I've been able to bike to work almost every day. The new Lion's Gate Bridge sidewalks are generously wide, which makes that route more attractive this year. In other news Colin came from a visit from the land of the doubledouble, and we realized that I had never told him why I cannot bring myself to like Tim Horton's. For lack of more interesting content, I will now tell you that tale.

There are good reasons for not liking Tim's: the phenomenon of the double double coffee (double cream, double sugar, for a coffee-based drink that isn't coffee); the way the advertising peddles sentimental patriotism and small-town sensibilities in the form of doughnuts, coffee, and teen-to-twentysomething townies dressed in drab cotton/polyester prisonwear. These are not the things that trouble me.

Mine is more of problem of memory than one of revulsion at the phantasmasugary. Whenever I think of Tim's, whenever I hear the name, or see a sign, I re-live the distilled essence of many a childhood hour spent in Tim Horton's. It's winter, and my parents have decided to drive somewhere absurdly far away, like an hour or two, but sometimes six or more. The snow along the highway is a dirty gray from the exhaust and dirt pushed up by countless cars. The sky is also somewhat gray. We have stopped at a nondescript Tim's outside of a town with some strange name.

Inside is not the clean and sharp Tim's of 2002. The air is filled with cigarette smoke, pools of melted snow and mud track across the floor, the smell of burnt coffee lingers around the counter. Only the sugar twist tastes good, somehow immune to the smokey glaze that covers everything else on the rack. The air is alternately hot and cold with every swing of the front door. There's no music in the air, and every adult laugh around me is about something I don't understand. I stare through the wet doublepane windows and across the highway at a field that stretches into untouched white snow. I pull my touque down and close my eyes, wishing I was at home. This is Tim Horton's to me. This isn't going to change with positive thinking, and this is nobody's fault; it's just one of those things.

April 22, 2002
Holy crap, where are all these days going? Work is accounting for most of them, but there are better ways to spend time and I've been finding a few of them. Last week I acquired a replacement bike - a Trek 4500 in Spanish Gold from the fine staff at Dizzy Cycle [Warning! Overuse of Flash]. The gang there is laid back, sincere and deliver good value in extra service. I've taken it through its street paces, and the trails of Pacific Spirit Park are next.

On Saturday I participated in Astronomy Day with the RASC Vancouver chapter, of which I'm a member. Some brought their scopes during the daytime for some solar viewing. Others, like myself, set up for evening viewing of the planetary show after sunset and whatever the sky would give up after dark. I was surprised at the number of non-astonomy folks who came out. I think I had somewhere between 80 and a hundred people come by my scope alone, some asking questions, most getting a look at Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and the Moon. We got clouded out completely by around 9:30pm, but when I left after 10 there were still people milling around, looking at the equipment and asking questions about everything from the orbit of Venus to the cost of a telescope.

Fielding questions and seeing the excitement at the sights in the telescope is really something fun for me. Socializing with the public in general isn't really my thing, but this kind of community participation does make me feel like I'm connecting with other people who aren't my tried and true friends. That's rare for me. Moreover, events like this seem to bring good things out of people who would ordinarily step over someone bleeding in the street to be next in line for a latte. It's funny how cities can work so well (like on Astonomy Day), but people still aren't quite equipped to fully fit into that experience, and need to retreat in all sorts of ways to deal.

The week ahead promises to be interesting, with the new bike, a trip to the doctor to get me some massages that insurance will cover, and a visit from Colin this weekend. For tonight, though, I'm shutting the windows against an unseasonably nasty wind storm, skipping the gym and curling up with a book.

April 14, 2002
Do you like Mars? Everyone likes Mars! Now you can get a cool new high-res picture of a piece of Mars, as taken by the Mars Odyssey probe, almost every day. And yes, the wacky face is there, too.

April 13, 2002
It's Saturday, and I love this kind of weather: textured gray and white clouds bathe the city in a warm off-white hue, the humidity after an all-night rain, and a warm Pacific breeze keeps everything fresh. It's on days like this that I see all sorts of odd things that make me smile just walking down the street. Since I didn't have my camera with me, I can't show them to you, but I can tell you about someone else's Found Art.

I also have 3 new reviews up today! Check out Chicken Run, Emergence and Josie and the Pussycats. Enjoy.

April 8, 2002
After a week of being somewhat slothful I returned to regular activity today with renewed vigor. That should last through the week, so by next week I need some kind of new inspiration. However, with the weather rapidly becoming more seasonal I think that there will be no shortage of fun to be had outdoors, after what feels like a terribly long winter.

That has me longing for a warm night and a clear sky again, especially with a nice comet visiting us and a 5-planet lineup coming towards the end of the month. If you don't care much about looking for the comet, then do take a look westward just after sunset around April 24 to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter all in a line. They'll be the first and brightest 'stars' out and easy to see. The lineup won't happen again for a few decades, so it's a nice little life marker. You do mark points in your life with something beyond birthdays and Christmas, right?

April 4, 2002
This is my first try using the <LarryKing> tag tonight. Here goes:

I can say two things about this year's Survivor so far, gang. One is that that John Nurse fellow is delusional and likely psychotic about his place in the world; and two that I misjudged that Paschal at the start: he seems like a standup guy, though the way he acts with that young girl isn't kosher in my book.

April 2, 2002
Damn the snow to hell. That's what I said when I got to Sonar for the Fila Brazillia show and found out that they wouldn't be showing due to a snowbound equipment van somewhere in Washington state. On the upside, I did enjoy a winning dinner at Pastis before, and a fine martini at Honey after the letdown. Hardly what I'd call a total writeoff. Better luck next time.

[Updated] But after our drink we grabbed a cab. The cabbie took us through a cat's course alleyway littered with dumpsters. Each was more interesting than the last. At the last dumpster we came upon the unnerving sight of a 20-something guy in the act from behind, on two feet, with a weathered and barely aware woman of undetermined age over forty. That's an image that stays with you for a while.

March 31, 2002
The world continues to act up. For as long as television has been in my life, I have been aware that Israel and the surrounding area is a fucked up place. So much has changed in my life since those early days that it's hard to believe that so little has changed there. As we now listen to an impotent United Nations tell an unhearing Israeli government to withdraw, and a shell-shocked United States whine that terrorism is bad, Israel is rolling tanks and troops en masse into Palestinian territory to respond to recent suicide bombings. And I can't help wondering what good they think it does to kill people who feel that dying at Israeli hands is noble and desirable. Punishing acts of martyrdom with acts of martyrdom - what a concept.

I think it comes down little more than the embrace of fatalsitic hatred and two peoples' fear for their lives. For the rest of the world to sit by now is to be all 1940's Swiss. What should the West do? Intervene? Threaten them? We see how that works. Move in with our own weapons? Yeah that will work. I honestly don't have a solution to pitch, not as a casual armchair analyst. I hope somebody does, because I've given up hope of either side being able to come up with something that doesn't require the other's annihilation.

March 27, 2002
I know that spring was 7 days ago, but I've been too puzzled by things going on in the world lately to write anything remotely thoughtful. Take for instance something close to home. I'm reading about the devastating impact of a tariff on Canadian lumber being sold to the United States. They accuse Canadian lumber of keeping the cost artificially low through subsidies, and levy this tariff as a penalty. There is both evidence and consensus that this is not the case. But what gets me the most is the willingness of American trade officials to lay down penalties that have destroyed thousands of jobs in less than a week here, and will raise the cost of building in their own country. And that's before the case goes before a court, so it's basically a matter of opinion and not contractual fact. By contractual, I mean the Free Trade Agreement both sides signed in good faith, which dictates procedures for solving these disputes.

I think trade wars are on the whole a nasty way of making the citizenry pay for spats between otherwise friendly governments, but in this case I think a tariff and stiff rent are in order for that fancy oil pipeline the Bush Administration wants to build on our land. Maybe to the tune of... oh thirty percent?

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