(52417) | Add Comment

8 December 2009

A minor fender-bender quickly becomes a major pain in the arse. Seriously. I'm beat. Between dealing with insurance companies and body shops and digging through ancient Hebrew texts (I know that's unrelated, but it's going on all the same), I'm perpetually ready for bed.

Off I go. For real this time. Wait... right... gotta do the cat boxes...


Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

30 November 2009

Good King Wenceslas look'd out On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round a-bout, Deep, and crisp, and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, Gath'ring winter fuel.

'Hither page, and stand by me, If thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?'
'Sire, he lives a good league hence, Underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, By St. Agnes' fountain.'

'Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine-logs hither;
Thou and I will see him dine, When we bear them thither.'
Page and monarch forth they went, Forth they went together,
Through the rude wind's wild lament, And the bitter weather.

'Sire, the night is darker now, And the wind blows stronger:
Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer.'
'Mark my footsteps, my good page, Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly.'

In his master's steps he trod, Where the snow lay dinted,
Heat was in the very sod Which the Saint had printed;
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, Wealth and rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing.

Amen to that, brother Neale. Amen to that.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

26 November 2009

It is just so easy sometimes to switch to bigger weapons and broader strokes.

There is, of course, the notion that things really haven't changed all that much over the centuries, and that people argued then as much as they do now. I wonder if that actually is the case; back then, the bitter arguments were very often over details, mountains made by moles, within a particular viewpoint that most generally agreed on.

That general consensus of viewpoint, I think, is gone. Though this may be a meritorious achievement in a multicultural society, it brings with it a measure of headaches. Things get out of hand very quickly when people get lazy in disputes. So often the legitimate target of the vitriol is akin to a handful of people spread throughout a crowd of hundreds, and their critics go after them with all the precision and finesse of a catapult launching yachts; the bruised innocent take it personally, draw up their lines, and dig in their heels.

And before you know it...

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

15 November 2009

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'.
-Isaac Asimov

Don't ever hear me saying that I have all the answers.

It would be foolish for me to think that I will ever understand every nuance and meaning of something as enormously complex as the Bible. For hundreds of years, some very smart (and some very stupid) people have been arguing and debating the meaning of this-or-that passage, the implications of such-and-such a verse, and the authenticity of a given book. I notice that we don't have this kind of deeply-entrenched, sometimes vicious dialogue over things like The Little Engine That Could. The Biblical canon is a complicated text, or collection of texts, and it is one which sometimes presents some difficult questions.

This is not to say, however, that the answers to the difficult questions aren't there at all. I have seen many a claim about contradictions or discrepancies in the Bible. The vast bulk of these are asinine ('Here is says God is loving, but here it says He's angry... how can that be?' Anyone who is a parent knows exactly how that can be, and sees no contradiction). But there are a few that definitely raise eyebrows (compare, for instance, the genealogies of Jesus listed in Matthew and Luke - they're not the same at all). Or, of course, the creation account in Genesis; the popular notion is that science has rendered it an obsolete superstition.

There once was a man who, along with many others, was studying a phenomenon that wasn't understood. The evidence was suggesting an impossibility, which meant, logically, that either the evidence was flawed, or there was some other external force acting on the system that no one knew about. All of them were stumped. But this one man had a crazy idea: take the evidence, impossible or not, at face value. Accept it as true, and see where that takes you theoretically.

The man was Albert Einstein. The impossibility was that the speed of light apparently remained constant for all observers, regardless of relative motion. Where it took him was the Theory of Relativity.

I've come to see Scripture now as not too different from the physical world around us. It is complex, often not well-understood, and sometimes presents conundrums that, at first glance, appear insurmountable. But I have seen enough of these taken on, studied carefully, and answered for, that I no longer approach inconsistencies as threats. Rather, they are to me an invitation to look deeper, to borrow a phrase from my priest (who might have borrowed it from someone else - I'm not sure). Often what appears as a simple contradiction is actually a beautiful reality, beautiful not for its simplicity but precisely for its complexity and elegance.

For the issue of the ancestry of Jesus, look up something called the Curse of Jehoiakim. As for the creation account, those who know me well will not be surprised to hear me bring up Gerald Schroeder's name; I'm not convinced that Schroeder is right about everything he says, but if he's right about even a little of it, then he's definitely on to something that we never in a million years could have guessed. These are but two typical examples.

For the believer, coming across something that makes you scratch your head and say 'that's funny' should, if anything, excite. Understand that I am not advocating willful ignorance; even Einstein was not careless in judging the validity of the source of his evidence. Think. But at the same time, one has to give things a fair shake. All of the websites that list the so-called contradictions or discrepancies in the Bible have made it abundantly clear to me that most of their creators never made any kind of serious effort to find an answer or explanation. A few go further and present some rational, though not conclusive, arguments, but most do not. They never looked any deeper, because they never really understood the very real complexity of what they were dealing with. It would be akin to an anti-evolutionist saying 'Have we ever seen a fish give birth to a salamander? No, of course not. Therefore, evolution is clearly absurd.' He is not wrong in his observations; where he errs is his assumption of simplicity. Things are more complicated than that, and he might be less a bigot if he knew enough about biology to acknowledge the sensibility of what the evolutionists were saying, even though he might stop short of actually agreeing with them.

I'll end this as I began it - with another quotation from a thinker I admire, who puts all of this better than I can.

'It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not... Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up.'
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Read Comments (13) | Add Comment

3 November 2009

Lately it has grown stronger, more frequent. It started as so many others have, with a kind of excitement that lasted only until the mundane threw the door open and charged in, interrupting the trance. But it came back, sooner than expected. And the mundane wasn't able to shatter it like the first time. Only swat it to the floor, stunned, to get back up again and fly away like the wasp that you know is going to come back.

And after a while, it just started hanging around.

One can be struck by a different sense of purpose three times in a week. But as you grow older, you stop expecting them to stick. They turn more into nice little thought experiments, entertaining speculations - made of fairydust and not to be taken seriously.

But this one stood up for itself. Put up a fight and made me respect it like the kid you took for a moron who suddenly has you on the ropes with a well-made point. And this particular notion is unique in its complexity and elegant practicality.

My spies tell me that there are giants in the land. But this time, I just might not lose my nerve.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

6 July 2009

Rock climbing is kind of like playing chess with gravity. Oh, and it kind of hurts. That's what I learned tonight.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

25 June 2009

This past little while.

Every conceivable thing goes wrong sometimes, and meanwhile, the completely unrelated falls into place. Like when you fix some stubborn machine with nothing more sophisticated than a dull and forceful blow. Or when you end up inadvertently cleaning up your house when what you were actually doing was looking for something you couldn't find.

Some days, you're just beyond caring. And other days, nothing touches you. It is not mere resignation. It is the offspring of perspective, a kind of near-invincibility, addictive in its funny way and yet so easy to forget about.

Some days are like that.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

1 April 2009

It would be really sweet if I made this the last time.

I once described myself as f(x) = cosx - 1.

Damn axis. Never did figure out how to change the constant and break through it.

Maybe this week sometime.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

26 March 2009


I've picked up Venus with my telescope in daylight several times before. Enough times now that it's really not that difficult anymore. Today, though, held more significance.

I suppose the actual event occurs tomorrow, but the difference is slight enough that today is really just as well. "Inferior conjunction", for those not familiar with astronomical terms, is when a planet passes directly between the earth and the sun. Venus is there right about now, and is as close to Earth as any planet ever gets. The catch is this: because the orbit of Venus is not parallel to Earth's, Venus passes eight degrees above the sun, not directly in front of it, which is far enough away to put a scope on safely, if you're real damn careful.

The sight was worth standing in todays bitter wind for. Like seeing a familiar friend in unfamiliar circumstances. What usually appears as a near-round disc, or perhaps a half-circle, was today a razor-edge-thin crescent that shone, despite its slim profile, brilliantly brightly, suggesting the true form of the sphere far more strikingly than the half-circle or oblong forms ever do. The impulse is to call it out of character, but it is not; in fact, it is central to the character. This kind of alignment last happened eight years ago. The event is rare. But it will occur again, like clockwork, predictably.

It's supposed to be cloudy tomorrow. I'm glad I took my chance today.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

23 March 2009

And yet again...

I wouldn't blame anyone for becoming sick of me talking about trying to quit smoking. I don't know how many times I've been through this before. Three months at a time, four months, seven months... sometimes only a week before I'm back on them again.

So I'm not surprised when someone says "You're quitting? I've heard that before." But then, what would be more foolish on my part: to believe I'll succeed this time, or to abandon trying altogether?

And this time, two days into it, it feels almost like a relief, the withdrawal and general twitchiness notwithstanding. Like there's still a chance that I can get back to that life I had, when I was off them. When I was healthy and strong and being who I wanted to be. Doing what I intended to do. Daily. When I was on top of things and actually felt, for the first time in years, like I had my hand on the wheel.

There's a hint of the chance of having that again. And this time, the discomfort of the process is just that: discomfort. Oddly, it doesn't even seem connected to cigarettes. It's more like I'm sick or something than that I'm not smoking. The thought of cigarettes is barely entering my head, and that's a first.

So we'll see. It'd be nice to not have to post on this topic again.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

1 March 2009

Two days ago I wrote my Red Seal exam. This marks the end of about five years of being an apprentice, providing I passed everything. And I'm not that worried about the grades; I'm pretty sure I knew my stuff.

It's odd. You walk out of the Red Seal exam and you feel like you've forgotten something, like this can't possibly actually be the end, like there must be something more you need to do. For as long as I've been a machinist, being an apprentice is all I've known. It will be strange, once the certificates arrive, to say that I am a journeyman.

At the same time, tomorrow I'll go back to work and find out if I'm getting a raise or a pink slip. It's one or the other. This beast of an economy has hit hard, and my shop in particular has taken an absolute beating. The list of people in front of me for the axe is getting shorter and shorter. So I really don't know where things are at.

Either way, I'm finished. It's been a long road. I guess, at the end of the day, it feels good.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

16 February 2009 (the wee hours)

Later today I will play the piano for the funeral of a man from my church who died Wednesday night of lung cancer.

I wouldn't say I knew him well. In fact, I only met him a couple of times. But he was certainly likeable in that good-humouredly abrasive kind of way. The kind of man who complains only with a grin on his face.

From what I can gather, then end for him was abysmally bad; such is usually the case in that sort of condition. I don't know any details, but details don't much matter. "Bad" is as much as I really need to, or care to, know.

This would certainly be as good a day as any to quit smoking. "Stay away from cigarettes" - this was probably the one thing I can clearly recall him saying to me. With that same grin on his face. When his cancer was remitting. I was off them at the time, and am now back on them.

Sometimes I wonder what it's going to take for me to stop screwing around with the blasted things that killed him.

But today will not be about me. It will be about giving a man a dignified departure with whatever means I have at hand. And in my case, that is ten perfectly good fingers and eighty-eight keys.

Jess, I'm glad I have your lead to follow. Thank you.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

28 January 2009

I'm going to try to make this post without being too angry about it.

I came across the following excerpt on the message board of the Facebook group for the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics, written by Andrew Elter. He makes some good points, and some bad ones. As a non-member, I can't respond on the board itself, so I'll make reply here. Also, this excerpt represents much of the misunderstanding that exists between atheists and believers, and many who aren't likely to come across Elter's post on their own may find this of interest.

I've copied and pasted what I felt was the relevant section of Elter's post. If anyone feels I have edited out relevant material, please let me know, and I'll be happy to fix it.

(Copied and pasted):
'Bertrand Russell postulated that assuming god's existence is comparable to assuming the existence of a teapot floating in orbit in space that we could not possibly hope to discover. One would have to assume that it just DOES exist, with no evidence at all.

I would go as far as to say that no one in the entire rational, thinking world would possibly consider the teapot theory to be true. There is no teapot.

Do I, an ateapotist, represent you, a fellow ateapotist? No, because our shared disbelief does not unify us. It may be a common trait but we also don't believe in the tooth fairy and we also both have eyeballs. If you don't have eyeballs you can't be reading this and my argument holds. Our shared disbelief in god, and I'm presuming you have this, does not infer that we have a shared belief in anything else. Even using atheism on a wide-spread scale to justify atrocities does not discredit atheism in any way. There is no text that instructs us to act this way or that, only self-determined reason.

This has all been building to my main point, spurred by the debate tonight. The argument that any atheist could represent any other atheist, or atheism as a whole, is a distinct fallacy. We are not wholly representable by anyone or any group. Why is the argument that Hitler or Stalin being atheists (which I would argue, and have evidence to argue, that they weren't) given any consideration? The Bible, old and new testament, instructs us to do, I would argue, morally terrible things as well as enforce subservience, support an inclination toward favoring ignorance and reward condemnation of those that don't share these beliefs.

I will now grant that anyone misusing the Bible or misinterpreting it is not a representative of Christianity or Judaism but should someone imply that it is a fanatical act to stone homosexuals or keep slaves I will reply: Read your Bible. They arenít fanatics; youíre just disobeying your perfect word of God and ignoring the directives within.

It is, by its own claim, the literal word of God. We, atheists, separate from one another, have no such things commanding us and with that I assert that we have the opportunity to better exercise free will.

Again, please respond."

So now then.

Much of what Mr. Elter begins with is absolutely valid, and worth consideration. Atheists often do get "lumped together" as a religion-hating, angry, conceited and snobbish lot whose lives are completely devoid of meaning. This association is entirely unfair to atheists. I think I've met a few from all points on the spectrum, and it is a wide spectrum. Some of them were jerks who were, frankly, just as ignorant and intolerant as the (particular) religious people they opposed. Others were kind, altruistic and considerate people. As they say, it takes all kinds.

That said, nearly the same thing can be said about Christians (I use Christians specifically for two reasons: first, I am one myself, and second, they are the group he seems to be targeting most specifically in what he says here). I have met some truly ignorant Christians. I've also met quite a few who really knew what they were about and had arrived at their faith through very intelligent, rational thought. I will concede, though, that the spectrum seems a little narrower. Christians actually are unified by a certain set of beliefs. However, the particular set of tenets on which virtually all Christians would agree is suprisingly small. And yet, Mr. Elter has treated Christians with exactly the "one paintbrush" sort of treatment that he hopes to avoid himself.

This line I find especially interesting: "Even using atheism on a wide-spread scale to justify atrocities does not discredit atheism in any way." In this case, virtually exactly the same thing can be said about Christianity, and yet its opponents just love to cite the example of the Crusades. Truth be told, the Crusades had everything to do with the church and nothing to do with Christianity. For those who have trouble separating the two, I offer the following illustration: Judging Christianity by studying the history of the church is akin to trying to learn how to build a microprocessor by studying the financial statements of Microsoft. There is a very real fracture in the relationship between a faith and the actions of its all-too-human followers. As for atheists having no text to tell them to commit atrocities, well, again, neither do Christians.

As is so often the case, Mr. Elter has missed the relationship of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. He would tell a Christian who opposes drastic measures to "Read [his] Bible". I have no doubt that Elter has read some of it, and yet (again, typically) it seems he has read it very selectively, and never put in enough academic study of the text to really understand what it was he was looking at. Yes, it is true that in the Old Testament (mostly Leviticus), truly harsh penalties were prescribed for certain violations of Mosaic Law. And yes, this included stoning homosexuals. It is also true that books like Joshua give accounts of what would now be called "holy wars" that God's people were instructed to carry out against entire cultures of people.

The New Testament is a completely different box of frogs. And again, many of the opponents of the Bible have pointed out all of the "contradictions" between the Old and New Testaments. They are not contradictions; the two testaments represent two completely different covenants between God and humankind and were never intended to be followed simultaneously. To those who doubt this distinction, I would say, like Elter did, "Read your Bible". The New Covenant came into effect with the coming of Christ, and effectively did away with Levitical Law. Thus, a Christian calling the stoning of homosexuals "fanatical" is actually doing exactly what he or she ought to do. The New Testament has nearly nothing to say about punishments that a person is to carry out against another. It was Christ himself who stopped the stoning of a prostitute. Rather, the New Testament speaks extensively about love, forgiveness, social responsibility, compassion, and instructs its followers not to judge (note here that "not judging" does not mean "having no opinion" of a person or their actions; it does, however, mean "not delivering a sentence", not mistreating or maligning a person for their actions, even when you disagree with them). And it most certainly does not tell them to commit any kind of atrocities, or encourage the keeping of slaves, or "enforce subservience". I know on that last one, someone is going to cry out about the "wives, submit to your husbands" line that really is there, in the New Testament. That topic is controversial even within Christianity (remember where this post began?) and merits its own discussion, but for the moment I'll say this: That passage also requires a man to sacrifice his own life for his wife, should the need arise (that's the very next line, and interestingly, is seldom quoted). It's also interesting that the passage directs wives to submit to their husbands, but says nothing about any other man they may encounter. I do see how many would take issue even with that arrangement, but it's a far cry from the general "oppression of women" that so many of Christianity's opponents clam is a funadmental tenet of the faith.

I absolutely agree with Mr. Elter that any one atheist or group of atheists is not representative of any other. I just feel that he has overstated the contrast, in that respect, between atheists and theists. I also felt it necessary to point out some of the important details about Christianity that it seems he has misunderstood, not for the purpose of questioning his intelligence, but for the purpose of putting more accurate information out there.

That's all for now.

Read Comments (5) | Add Comment

26 January 2009

Another predictably periodic attempt. Cyclical though it may be, it's necessary. I'm cleaning out the basement.

I've done this many times before. Things get out of hand down there, my little nook in the house where I study and pretend to write turns into the dumping ground for all the other stuff we don't know what to do with, and it becomes unusable. The obvious irony is that if I used it, it wouldn't get like that.

It's a funny sort of space. It's that room in the house that is in fact perfectly livable, finished, and not even that badly, actually. The kind of room that is in fact perfect for this. But none of us ever spends any time down here. The entire room turns into my "to deal with later" pile.

Later is now.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

11 January 2009

It's funny how, when writing, the magnitude and importance of what you're doing often doesn't strike until you're right into the thick of it.

The current project started as a sideline, as a break from the bigger endeavor that had grown beyond my control. It was supposed to be a brief little piece, something I could complete easily, because it had been a while since I'd actually completed a story.

It has now turned into something that just might be the single most important work I've written, should I actually finish it. And that possibility brings with it both excitement and a little bit of terror. Dostoevsky, in a letter to one of his contemporaries, said that he was composing 'The Talks and Homilies of the Elder Zosima' (a section of The Brothers Karamazov, intended to answer the earlier chapter 'The Grand Inquisitor', which detailed a convincing philosophy with which Dostoevsky himself did not agree) with 'fear, trepidation, and awe'.

I'm a long, long way from that great Russian's level of writing. But lately, I've become familiar with that place. That corner you write yourself into when you've taken the necessary step of not just acknowledging that other side, that point of view you don't share, but actually putting it forward with intentions of answering it. When you're not sure you can. When your own grasp on that reply hangs by a thin thread.

But it's more than worth a try.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

7 January 2009

Sheesh, it's been a long time, eh?

Read Comments (5) | Add Comment

27 September 2008

I don't know why persistent cloudiness forewarns its arrival. Like that particular pattern of chilly mornings and still-warm afternoons. On the edge of seeing your breath in broad daylight, but being a little surprised to find that you just can't, quite yet.

On days like this, I swear, I can smell October coming.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

22 September 2008

I always hated contrived methods and systems for completing day-to-day tasks. Then, after many years and many frustrations, their usefulness and necessity became horrifyingly apparent. And just when I was getting used to that idea, along came the need to make them adaptable.

I mean, seriously.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

23 August 2008

Not long ago I said something about starting to live more deliberately.

Ganymede surprised me tonight. I spent quite some time looking at Jupiter, trying out the filter set I bought last weekend. The day I bought the set was beautifully clear. By that night, the clouds had rolled in, erasing any chance of actually trying the filters out. And tonight was the first night since on which the sky was clear enough to observe.

And so I set up in the backyard, moving the sand table and the little plastic slide out of the way to make room for the scope. Old Jove wasn't hard to find - it's pretty much the brightest thing in the southern sky right now. But looking through the eyepiece, I immediately noticed that I could only see three specks of light on a line running east-west through the planet, instead of four. One of the moons was missing. I thought nothing of it, as the moons weren't my quarry.

The detail in Jupiter was better with the filters. The cloud bands popped out to varying degrees, depending on which colour I used. I switched back and forth for some time, staring at the planet at length, trying to discern any detail I had missed. The southern belt seemed thicker than the northern. The southern pole of the planet looked darker than the rest of it.

I doubted myself a little when I thought I saw a speck of light to the east of the planet (all three visible moons were on the line to the west). I refocused and looked again, and sure enough, there was a very faint point that I didn't remember noticing before.

I was to find out later that this was Ganymede, with its seven-day orbit around Jupiter and its liquid iron core. It began faint, as it moved from umbra into penumbra, slowly exposing itself to more and more of the sun, and in mere minutes hung in the broad daylight of space.

It was the rate at which this occurred that struck me. I had seen it once before, nearly two months ago, when Martin and I watched another of Jupiter's moons disappear into its massive shadow. And now that I think of it, that might have also been Ganymede.

And it may yet be a little too early to tell, but the sense is growing in me that I just might have escaped the umbra of "the shadow of things undone". The rate of change is unexpected and perhaps even alarming. But welcome. Like a little bit of daylight on my face. Not yet the whole blazing sun. In fact, for now just a sliver, maybe. But a widening one, made of intentions carried to fruition with an uncharacteristic regularity.

For a while, I think I can handle the penumbra.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

23 June 2008

No comments on the last post.

It was the Britney Spears comment, wasn't it?

Knew I should have kept my mouth shut.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

10 June, 2008

A list of circumstances I never thought would occur simultaneously, but have:

Our little boy is nearly fourteen months old.
The price of gas is dumb.
One of the hermit crabs has just molted.
My tarantula is about to molt.
Two of the fish are pregnant.
I'm nine months away from being a journeyman.
The latest Britney Spears album is actually not that bad.
The basement is sort of tidy.
Our property tax didn't completely screw us.
I got up on time today.
I have three websites I need to take care of.
We're almost out of bread.
The kitchen drawers need toddlerproofing.
The weather is nice.
This coffee is tasty.

So far, today's looking pretty ok, really.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

30 April 2008

Does anyone else out there ever feel like the moment you manage to get up and dust yourself off, you just get hit by another effing truck?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to get more sleep.

Read Comments (4) | Add Comment

28 April 2008

I am tired today. Because after many years I may be just sick enough of living under the shadow of the things I have not done to start living more deliberately.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

23 April 2008

Generally, drilling is pretty near the top of the list of jobs machinists try to avoid. It takes pretty much no real action, very little knowledge or skill, and even less brains. Not to mention the sheer boredom; sometimes it can take an hour or more to put a single hole through a single piece, and there's really nothing to do for that whole time but stand there and listen for a sudden and telltale change in the shrieking noise that would alert you that your cutting tip has had it, and needs to be changed. But some days, I welcome the time it affords me to think.

The machine itself is an old Warner & Swasey hex turret lathe. I browsed through the manual and documentation on it today, and the most recent material it contained was dated November of 1965. It's big, dirty (no one ever bothers to clean it), doesn't have a single surface where the paint isn't half worn off, and it's as solid as a rock. Brutishly powerful, its decrepit appearance and sheer aptitude for what it does make it beautiful in a romantically ugly kind of way.

And at some point today, during one of several half-hour-long holes, sitting on my stool with empty hands, little bits of clarity fell into my head like the broken shards of steel that fall out of the hole as the drill pushes slowly and relentlessly through.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

22 April 2008

"Mysterious light industrial wounds". That's what I call most of the cuts and scrapes I find on my hands. But the one hampering my typing efforts tonight was not so mysterious.

It was innocent enough, just pushing a heap of metal chips down the bed of my lathe, force applied directly against the load so there would be no sliding motion against what one fellow machinist calls "ninja ribbon bladeness", wearing thick leather work gloves (of course, never while the machine is running).

And yet, despite all of this caution, one little bit of ninja ribbon bladeness found its way right through the leather glove, slicing and embedding itself into my left index finger. And at about two inches long, I couldn't get my hand out of the glove until the chip came out of my finger.

Oddly, my first thought was "Crap. Tell me I'm not gonna have to spend three hours in a waiting room to get stitches. It's already five to four, and dinner's at six."

Luckily, the shop has a Vietnam vet, who served as a medic, on the payroll, and he put me back together in short order. No stitches necessary, just some specific instructions for care.

The good in all of this is that it affirmed to me, in a strange kind of way, that I was cautious. This cut, probably almost a quarter inch into my skin, was the worst that could really have happened, and I knew it at the time. Cuts are acceptable risks, and cuts like this might happen one time out of a thousand. Life and limb weren't on the line, because I take great care not to put them there.

Like I've said so often before: A cautious machinist has eight or nine scars. A careless machinist has eight or nine fingers.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

9 April 2008

I'm still trying to get my website working properly on the new host, after my longtime and loyal host announced it would no longer be operating. Bear with me while I work the kinks out, especially on the comment functions.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

Just to see if this works...

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

18 November 2007

Some days, the cracks show more visibly than others. And some days, you see new ones in this wall that you realize is now beyond repair. Hoping desperately that it holds long enough for you to complete the new wall you're trying to build. Frantic like a pilot in an airplane that's falling out of the sky. Dropping the trowel and spilling the mortar, but somehow getting one brick on top of the other. Just not nearly as quickly as you'd like.

You can scream all you like at the water on the other side, but it's just doing what water does. It's not the water's fault. It's yours.

The shoddy workmanship and its headaches wear you down. But you keep going. Because living here is worth it, flood notwithstanding.

At all costs, you need a wall that holds. You just need to figure out how to make one.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

31 October 2007

Just tell me now: Anyone else want to take a shot at me? Go ahead, knuckle up. The line's over there, on the right, but there's really no need to wait your turn. No "one at a time" rules here. It's free to try, and fun, it seems. Don't delay, or you may miss a fresh and unbruised spot (space is limited).

Just fucking get on with it.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

9 October 2007


Two nights ago I took the telescope out to the Blackfoot staging area, forty minutes outside of the city and away from all the lights.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer number of visible stars, the stars themselves becoming the sky rather than punctuating it. Familiar constellations were nearly lost in the spectacle of it all, the gaps between the brighter points of light filled in with dozens, or hundreds, of dimmer ones.

The next thing to strike me, almost immediately after the first, was the Milky Way, clearly discernible above, cutting a wide swath right from one horizon to the other. I do not remember ever seeing it before. Certainly, I have not seen it in my adult life, and only perhaps as a child. To see the arms of one's own galaxy is an awe-inspiring sight, and, like the effect of visualizing the plane of the solar system, gives one an impression of where he stands in the universe.

Through the telescope, I found some of the sky's wonders that had, until now, eluded me. M81 and M82, a pair of galaxies in Ursa Major, surrendered themselves to the eyepiece readily that night, from twelve million light years away, the first a spiral and the second more oblong. The Andromeda Galaxy, which I had observed several times before, brought its friends along, two more fainter galaxies that I had never seen, these a mere three million light years from our own.

And the sight of all of these little lights in the sky owed itself to the very absence of light. The city's lights, there to make plain as much as possible, drowning out the very lights you want to see. Darkness and a curved mirror, much like silence and carefully directed thought, reveals the immense realities that we could not have guessed, that need to be coaxed out of the black, pulled from the backdrop as though they were shy.

I've benefited from both combinations lately.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

4 October 2007


Yesterday, for the first time, I lined up Venus in my telescope. Somewhat of a challenge, since I was hunting for it in broad daylight. Point the scope at the sun, leaving the lens cap on and aligning the tube by its own shadow; thirteen degrees north, two hours and forty-five minutes west. Look along the tube to the patch of sky the scope is pointing at now.

And there, apparent to my unaided eye, was the point of brilliant white light against the blue of the clear October sky. So bright you would wonder how you missed it. And yet, if you look away for more than a second or two, it vanishes. Lost in the backdrop, like it had sunk below the surface of the sky.

It's only obvious when you know exactly where to look, and even then it takes a second. But once your eye has found it, it can hold on to it like it was a beacon. Certainly well enough to align the finderscope on it, and put the planet into the eyepiece.

Through the eyepiece, it was a beautiful sight. The crescent shone with all the intensity of a welder's torch, the shape so distinct that your eye would almost convince you that you could see the rest of the sphere. To see it in phase like that, and to be able to see the sun at the same time, gives one a very literal sense of place. Venus reveals the plane of the solar system, the vague disk all of the planets orbit through. And looking up, I could see, in my mind's eye, the track our own planet would follow, far up into the sky, and inclined so sharply to the ground on which I was standing that I momentarily felt as though I were falling over.

Like so many things difficult to perceive, upon finding them, you wonder what took you so long.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

27 September 2007

So what if this is the first real post in a very long time? Actually, that could be important. I'd like to say that I'll make no apologies, that I'll waste no time explaining. But it just so happens that the reasons, the circumstances that ultimately led to so long a silence, are precisely the things weighing in on me now. The lower priorities that are so important. The things you need to do, those integral self expressions, are the very things you'll dismiss. The phone will ring, your friends will ask what you're up to, and you'll say "Nothing," when in fact the truth is that you were doing one of the things that most makes you who you are.

And after, those things will seem to you like the friend you didn't stick up for, the friend you cancelled on for some other "priority". The friend you realize, after a while, that you haven't seen in years. This will also be the same friend who teaches you the most about yourself, and the one you need more than any other.

Why am I so abysmally bad at making time?

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

20 September 2007, later still

I still can't figure out why Safari doesn't let me submit comments. Firefox works fine.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

20 September 2007, but later

What's going on with the submit button of the comments and Safari???

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

20 September 2007

Come on...

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

19 April 2007

I swear I'm gonna figure this out.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

I still don't know what's wrong.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

I'm having some trouble with this now.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

It was six days ago, on the 13th, that David Turner McEnery was born. All babies kind of looked alike to me until then, when I had one of my own; now they all look markedly different.

It is difficult, of course, to describe exactly how this feels. The nearest I can come is to say that there is an overflowing of sorts, like I'm full up to bursting. It's a love of a particular sort, one I hadn't yet experienced, and words would have been wasted had one tried to explain it to me before this.

We all have love for people around us. The love a man feels for his wife is completely different from that which he feels for his sister or his father, and it can't be understood until he's there. And the same goes for this. Love itself is impossible enough to explain to one who has never experienced it, and it comes in many flavours, each as indescribable as the other.

The thought that I am somebody's father is both insane and exhilarating, at once fraught with the fear of great responsibility and the pride of having a great honour bestowed upon me.

And I do believe that both the responsibility and the honour were given.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

8 April 2007

I've recently taken an interest in amateur astronomy. Up until a little while ago, looking at stars seemed as boring as, well, just looking at stars. But it's funny how a little familiarity with something makes it that much more interesting.

On the very good advice of my wife, I spent only a little bit of money on a decent pair of binoculars instead of immediately rushing out to buy a telescope. I would be lost with a telescope right now. It's no good to you unless you have some idea where to find interesting things.

And sometimes, looking up at these distant points of light, it's humbling in a funny kind of way. Not the way people always talk about, how you feel so small in the universe and so on. But rather, the feeling that strikes you when you realize that the light coming through the lenses and striking your eyes has been travelling, uninterrupted, through space, for millions of years, and only now, is meeting its first obtstacle: your retina.

It kind of makes you feel like you should step aside and get out of the way or something.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

3 January 2007

They say it comes to us all.

It was three days ago now, on New Year's Eve, that Parker died. Old age, the entemologists had told me, was most likely the cause. The diagnosis came as no surprise; I'd watched her slowing down, not eating anymore, seeming to stumble when she walked despite having all eight legs. Like she was unable to keep the weight of her body up off the ground, her soft underbelly scraping the soil as she moved.

She wasn't able to be a spider anymore. It took me a little bit of time to come to grips with the fact that it wasn't going to get any better, that she wouldn't be coming back from this. After eight and a half years of caring for her, this would ultimately be it, the finish, the end of the line.

Thank you to my wife, who stood next to me as I put Parker, dying, into a small box and into the freezer, where her body temperature would simply and peacefully drop until the spark was gone.

So long, old friend.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

13 November 2006

It is frightening to consider just how rarely one can look back on the past twenty-four hours and, honestly and without reservation, call it a day well-lived. Or perhaps I ought merely to speak for myself.

It's not for lack of virtue, or will, or even wisdom. In my own defense I think all of those things are there. But there are other things as well, little cracks in the framework, little systems that don't function properly and render the whole shaky and haphazard. Like a Spitfire with a jammed rudder; an excellent machine but impossible to fight effectively with because of that one little flaw. Stalling out and flopping on the turns, firing desperately with little or no hope of actually getting a bead.

It's frightening, then, to consider how many crushing defeats could be chalked up not to bad decisions, or lack of skill, but something as mundane-sounding as poor maintenance. And it probably happens so much more often than anyone wants to admit, due to the simple fact that maintenance is boring, and no one likes to do it.

"It's boring" sounds like a pretty damn lame excuse when you're staring at the smoking wreckage at the end of the runway. Right up there with "but I was tired" and "at least I checked the oil". It doesn't make the poor sod in the cockpit any less dead.

In hockey, penalties are awarded according to the severity of the offense. And that's why they call it a game. Reality has no referee, no jury. Only consequence.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

23 October 2006

Wow. It has actually been more than a month since I posted. That's pathetic.

First day back at work today. And not a bad one, either. I don't know why it felt so good, just drilling and broaching some parts on a lathe. After two months in school, perhaps it was just gratifying to actually make parts that were useful to someone, instead of just making parts for the sole purpose of evaluation.

One would think that this would be the month in which I would post the most. At least, I would have thought that, had you asked me at any other time of the year. Going back and reading my first post of October of last year, I find that everything I said then holds true now, a year later. It just isn't quite as obvious, drowned out by so many other priorities and events and challenges.

But today was the sigh of relief. On Friday I wrote my apprenticeship board exam, and then left with my wife for the cabin. We returned to Edmonton last night, and I went back to work this morning. The first normal day. When the pressure of you-only-get-one-shot-at-this was off. And suddenly the thick presence of October was there again, like a backdrop suddenly revealed as props are whisked away by a silent and efficient host of stage hands.

Got to make the most of what's left. Seven more days left in the month. I'm hoping there's more than that left of the weather.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

18 September 2006

More on cafes:

I recently realized the primary feature of good cafes. Or at least, the primary feature of the ones that I like. This comes after spending a night in the only real decent cafe in my neighbourhood, which is ok, but stops just short of being really good. Of course, there are many features of a good one, but the single, most central element I've found is one best expressed not as itself, but by naming the barrier that stands between an ok coffee shop and a good cafe.

That barrier is ideological neutrality. It is not enough for a coffee shop to be independant, apart from any chain, locally owned and operated. The shop I was in tonight meets all of those requirements (and they are requirements, almost without exception), and yet it fails to acheive "good cafe" status. The posters on the walls in that shop depict interesting looking but insignificant buildings, or various representations of coffee beans or drinks, stylized to a point but lacking any real substance and devoid of any expression. The music is generic top 40, chosen not without thought to coherent style, but certainly lacking any coherent ethos. All media, while stylized, are (as Paul aptly put it) sanitized; every poster or piece of music, the very vehicles of expression, is carefully selected as to not say anything at all.

Contrast this with any good cafe I've ever frequented. Every one, whether it was immediately obvious or not, was saturated with a politic, a stance; it dared to express. The cafe itself was a character more than a setting. The music was provoking and original, the art varied and deliberate. The whole building seemed alive and unafraid to offend. It spoke to people who thought about ideas and had carefully reasoned and impassioned opinions. It seemed to playfully pick a fight with you while at the same time making you feel like you were right all along about so many things. It invited you to say what you really thought, whether it was nice or not. And, to ice the cake: it had good coffee.

Owners, pay attention.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

28 August 2006

Ten years since graduation and so many looked so much the same. I think I was one of them. But gatherings like that have a habit of making me feel like I'm the only one battling back the wolves at the door.

Really, though... I think I was probably one of many. And there aren't really that many wolves.

Read Comments (6) | Add Comment

21 August 2006

To Paul Gauthier

I know it took a while, but I was finally able to find your little nook on myspace, and you've been added to my links.

I missed your writing. Sure, there have been many emails between us, but of course, that's something altogether different. That little bit you posted about the muse... I loved it. I could have found that written on a scrap of paper in the street and I would have known you wrote it. Same goes for that little bit about Toronto.

Nice to see you again.

I'm writing this from Remedy, again. Trying to make it a bit of a habit to get out here on a regular basis, even though it's a long way from Clareview. I'm by the window, upstairs, you know the one... view of the Garneau theatre across the street, the speckled lights of downtown on the other side of the river. And being in this place conjures up the memory of more than one of your past muses, and perhaps one of mine as well.

I thought I came here to write, and yet I haven't even opened my notebooks. And it's not for lack of ideas - my hard drive is full of projects begun and neglected, that could be completed if I just got to it.

I think I came here to stop. To find my footing. To check for something I fear I may have left behind. And there's something here, but I'm not quite sure what it is. I'm not even sure it's anything I left behind; it might well be something I've never had. Something like what I need, even if this isn't quite it.

The coffee here is still good, by the way.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

18 August 2006

Gotta see if this really does work properly. Had a little issue there. Sorry.

Read Comments (5) | Add Comment

17 August 2006

At long last, comments finally work properly for Safari users!!! Turned out to be ridiculously simple. All I needed was a night at Remedy to get it figured out and play with it a little.

This little excursion feels good. Like I've been buried for a while, under the weight of so much progress. Good things can be heavy, too. Tonight I, I, fought my way to the surface. Came up for air. Just one deep, full, three-hour-long breath, uninterrupted by splashing water or choking dust.

Circumstance has been pushing me around a lot lately. But tonight I chose to be here. And here I am.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

3 August 2006

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Things have been crazy busy, and also, something was screwey with some file permissions. But it's fixed now. Apparently.

Got my mini-lathe today. It's exciting and smells of packing grease, and has real inspection certificates stamped by Chinese factory officials.

Read Comments (4) | Add Comment

5 June 2006

Tonight, as I stood in the kitchen making my tacos, I heard the familiar sound from around the corner of my cat chewing on something. The cats are always chewing on things, and you've always got to look quickly and figure out what it is they're eating. So I abandoned my tacos, moved quickly across the kitchen, and looked around the corner to see what I was going to have to shoo him away from.

It was cat food.

I feel like I understand my parents a little better now.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

24 May 2006

Why did no one ever tell me about dealership? I just discovered them through an online radio station, along with about a billion other awesome bands I'd never heard of. Internet radio rocks.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

17 May 2006

Ha. Take that, San Jose. That's what you get for booing our national anthem.

It baffles me that those fans did that, seeing as some of their best players are Canadians (like Cheechoo and Thornton). It doesn't make any sense. Unless those (admittedly few) anthem boo-ers were just too stunned to know that. Which, y'know, you would kind of have to be to do that anyway...

Nicely done, Edmonton. I could hear the honking and cheering all over the city tonight. Bring on Anaheim.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

10 May 2006

In response to Riley's comment on my previous post:

I do remember telling you years ago that I'd heard a rumour about Darwin, not Einstein, refuting his own claims before he died. I also remember telling you at the time that it was a totally unconfirmed rumour and that I wasn't sure I believed it myself. Now, years later, I'm pretty convinced it was nothing more than a rumour and never had any truth to it at all. At the time, I vehemently resisted Darwin's ideas. I was also about thirteen years old. And I really don't think it's fair to deny me the right to change my mind.

As for Genesis and relativity - you'd really have to read Schroeder's whole thesis (by the way, that link is an extremely compressed version of his theory). My explanation of his ideas to you was sketchy for two reasons: one, I don't really understand relativity all that well, and thus can't explain Schroeder's ideas; two, it was at my St. Patrick's day party, and we were both drunk.

In the end, my evaluation of Schroeder's idea is this: he has proven nothing. SFA. He has, however, shown a very plausible scenario in which Genesis was, in fact, right all along insofar as its timeline goes, and that we just didn't know it until Einstein. Schroeder may be proven wrong in the future. But for now, all the current evidence is leaning in his favour.

There are some out there who are actually bashing Schroeder for even attempting to make this case, suggesting that to try and reconcile the Bible to modern science somehow "devalues" it as a spiritual and inspirational text. This is a load of crap. In effect, these people are making the ridiculous claim that the Bible's strength and power lies in its status as a fictional, warm-and-fuzzy text, and that it will somehow be stripped of its spiritual significance if it actually turns out to be true.

That notion is idiocy.

Some of his other opponents are tearing his theory apart based on their own unaided reading of a bad English translation of Genesis, and the kind of approach to the book that one would take to The Little Engine that Could. This is also foolish. Genesis, and really the whole Bible, is a big, heavy, complicated book, and it's for grown-ups. Whether there's truth in it or not is, I suppose, for each of us to decide. And I've taken my stance.

I may change my mind on some of the details here and there. But then, that isn't really the heart of the matter.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

5 May 2006

It's funny, the things that come to mind. I just watched the final episode of season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, and realized how much it resonated with me. All that talk of the sciptures, the prophecies... Maybe some of you will think I'm going too far here. But my last reading of Jeremiah had much to say to me. As did Nehemiah. These priophesies are not mere myth. There is somehing real here. Ask Gerald Schroeder, Genesis wasn't wrong. Written six thousand years ago, and it knew things we didn't have the knowledge to know until now. Ultimately, Einstein unveiled the truth. Genesis had it right. We just didn't know it until now.

Not long ago, my brother-in-law told me that my faith must have been shaky to have waited for such evidence as Schroeder's. But I think he misunderstood me. It's not that I was waiting for such evidence as his. I always believed. I always believed that one way or another, Genesis was right. I just didn't expect that I would understand in this life. I expected that this was something I would take on faith until my grave.

I've found there is a gross misunderstanding about faith. The unbelieving feel that faith must be something that one believes in, despite all evidence to the contrary. That is not so. Faith is something you believe in without conclusive proof. It isn't something you hope for. Hope is different from faith. Hope is something you wish to be true. Faith is something you believe to be true. New evidence does not negate faith. It validates it.

Whoah whoah whoah. Edit. I need to stop posting drunk.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

27 April 2006

After many years, I just went back and read A Clean, Well-Lighted Place again. And I get that old man perhaps now more than ever. One of those "who need a light for the night"... Perhaps this really only comes in response to six months on the night shift, with no one around by the time I get off work. But in any case, Hemingway hit it.

But now I need to turn off the light, eliminate the shadows and their sources, and embrace a kind of nothingness.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

26 April 2006

This has been one of those weeks where seemingly everything goes wrong and you just can't get a break. Like all of the stupid little details of life, insignificant and easily dismissed singularly, gang up on you and mount this massive assault. Like being attacked by a horde of ants.

I'm going to bed now.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

19 April 2006

Thirty days have now passed since my last cigarette. I'm getting used to it, and there's no more of the hair-pulling/teeth-gnashing feeling. The odd thought, the occasional crave, easily dissuaded by the thought of great investment, is as bad as it gets now.

Everything is better. But I'm tired tonight. I shall retire.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

18 March 2006

Head hurts. Was a good St. Patrick's day. Jello shots are a lot of fun, but they are downright evil when morning comes.

Thanks to all who came out.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

15 March 2006

I can't believe I never spotted this before, but there's a definite irony in the fact that DIMM, and its (supposedly superior) successor, the SODIMM, are terms we use to describe types of computer memory.

No idea what they mean or what they stand for, but the humour of it just hit me.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

12 March 2006

Has it really been that long? No matter. Finally managed a little propulsion in the right direction, that direction that's always changing, never linear, looking very much from a certain angle like coming full circle. But it isn't. You don't travel on the line. You orbit around and along it. The helical coil of self-reinvention. Identity reconstruction, as someone once put it. The real trick is to hang on tight enough to survive the ripping centrifugal force.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

21 February 2006

I could make a post, but it would be nothing that you haven't heard before. I am tired of this broken record.

When is this going to end?

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

18 February 2006

A few things I know about myself:

I like the world late at night
I can beat Sopher at darts anytime I like
Planning ahead is not one of my skills
The beaten path is rarely my preference
I am terrible at romance
I have strange toenails
I end most days with new regrets
I forgot to learn self-discipline
Very often I am late for work
I am a half-decent singer
I function best in a crisis
I tend to talk too much
I am easily distracted
I would like to believe I am a work in progress

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

3 February 2006

By request from Phil: a paper on OK Computer. Please forgive any formatting or spelling errors, as this was hastily converted from an old Word 2.0 file. Thanks.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

27 January 2006

It's been a long time since I've done this. Listened to OK Computer straight through from end to end. It strikes. Me. Like nicotine after its own long absence. In that way that only a few scotches (haven't tasted that in a long time, either) makes possible.

Dovetailing nicely with the sting of unanswered emails, sent to persons nearly forgotten. There's an antique clock to the left of me that used to chime a deep sound every thirty minutes. It stopped working one day and I haven't fixed it. I should fix it. I didn't realize until now how it had defined me. And I'm wondering what the hell happened to that young man, barely more than a boy, who one time drank scotch and smoked his pipe, on the deck of a house at a party with some guy who was the son of some government official. That particular memory resides in my mind the same way a dream does - only in pictures, brief and vivid.

Phew for a minute there ilost myself i lost myself

That was always my favourite song. Perhaps it still is. I have only forgotten. I don't know how to do this. This reckoning, this reconciliation. My life looks so different now, and I'm not unfond of it. I wouldn't trade it. For anything. And yet there's something in my past that has failed to carry over to the present. I'm not sure just what it is.

H. Ph/M, I need something from you. I don't know what it is. If you're reading this, well, you don't know how long it took me to write that last sentence, like I didn't know just how to put it. You said something once that made me think you might find this. It's a safe bet you've read some Marx, and I need someone who's read some Marx. Paul, I know you're out there, and I know you'll see this, and you know as well as anyone that I love you like a brother... and I mean that... that's not the scotch speaking, that's just the scotch enabling me to say what's always been the truth. But the roots of this lie further back than even you, further back than the eight fuckin' years that I've known you...

Forgive me, readers, for some reminiscing. August, 1998. I saw you in the stairwell. You were moving in, and I recognized you from the smoking lounge in HUB Mall at the U of A. We said hi. Neither of us, at the time, could have known the ramifications of that moment. Recently, you described me as "the fuckin' rock" in your life at a time shortly following. I don't know if I ever told you to exactly what degree you have been the same in mine. And yes, I say this with full knowledge of the fact that this is as public as it can possibly be. That's intentional.

Pull me out of the aircrash/Pull me out of the lake/cause I'm your superhero/we are standing on the edge

But there was that time. Betweeen June of '96 and August of '98. Names. Faces. Nick. Rhonda. Brent. The Sugarbowl as it used to be and the riverboat. Phil, Tyson, Matt, the memory of Kirsty Foote and Jenny Erechuk. Yes, I remember Jenny Erechuck, and I still have the obituary in a box somewhere. I'm saying more than I ought to and I don't care. I confuse the two, and I don't care..

While I'm at it, and while I have the liquid courage to say so, what the hell happened to you, Jess? Somewhere between Second Cup on 124th and Bistro 112, something changed. You're not the same girl that asked me for my phone number that day outside HUB, just to see (as I found out much later) if you could get it. And I suspect you know it, too. I have a sneaking suspicion that, given enough "liquid courage", you'd be making a post much like this one right now.

I'll probably regret this in the morning. Mr. Objois, this is ammo for you. Mock away.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

24 January 2006

You gain a whole new appreciation for hummus when you actually have to peel the chick peas yourself. This takes a long, long time. But it's well worth it.

And thanks, Tex, for the recipe you gave me two years ago. Can't believe I waited this long to try it.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

20 January 2006

I discovered this morning just how much I love doing math on a chalkboard.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

10 January 2006

So this is the eve of what will be the third and fiercest day of the battle. And it's one I really don't know that I'm going to win.

A part of me cannot sleep, fearing that tomorrow will come too soon, while the other part wishes desperately to sleep, for fear that tomorrow will not be over soon enough.

I know full well I'm obfuscating here, but wish me luck anyway, okay?

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

8 January 2006

Okay, this is not going to be a particularly deep post or anything, but I feel the need to complain about Edmonton for a minute. There is absolutely nothing for a guy to do on a weeknight after 2am in this town. And when you don't get off work until 1:30am, that really sucks. Seems all the decent 24hour places closed down. The Breadstick Cafe, I believe, shut down years ago. Naked on Whyte blew up not too long ago (a mishap with a pressure valve on an espresso machine - I'm not kidding, wrote off the whole cafe when it blew). Naked on Jasper is supposed to be open until 4am, but lately seems to be shutting down right at 2, which is precisely the time I would arrive.

This is particularly irritating since I just bought myself an old G3 PowerBook and am itching to take it out to someplace cool and do some writing.

Whine off.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

4 January 2006

There is some definite weirdness going on between by website and Safari. Sorry, folks, this one might take me a while to figure out.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

28 December, 2005

Well, Christmas went pretty well. With the one glaring exception, which was the necessity of putting down one of our rabbits, Basil, right on Christmas Eve.

He'd developed a tumour on the crown of his head a few months ago, which we'd had removed by the vet. After the biopsy, we learned it was a malignant tumour, and would probably reappear somewhere else.

And reappear it did, with a vengeance. So, the morning of Christmas Eve, with the tumour having taken over most of the side of his face and creeping up over his head, he breathed his last.

I've never watched an animal be euthanized before. As odd as it sounds, there's something peaceful about it. Perhaps especially when you know the animal's life has reached the point of misery.

And yes, to those of you who are wondering: I did cry.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

14 December 2005

Still in the fight. Not down yet. But damn, it sure feels like I'm taking a beating.

And certain of those around me are getting hit even harder. The knowledge of that, and the knowledge of my own limitations, account for many of the blows landing on my skull.

I've often poked fun at inspirational cliches. Oddly, I've no inclination to do so now. Something about the darkest hour. And dawn. This night can't last forever. But I've got no way of knowing just how far into it I am.

Pressing on. Toward something. I think.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

30 November 2005

At the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Admiral Nelson devised what some may have seen as an exceedingly foolish plan: send the ships straight at the enemy fleet, and engage in a completely disorganized "pell-mell" battle without rhyme or reason. But it worked; the French and Spanish under Admiral Villeneuve suffered what would become one of the most crushing defeats in the history of naval warfare.

Nelson's plan hung on one fact: the crews on his ships could out-gun the combined fleet, bar none. The advantage of brute force favours disorder.

But the challenges I face now I cannot out-gun. I do not have that force of arms, that sheer firepower. They are more than a match for my unreliable cannons and unpredictable ammunition. Crushing defeats abound in my own history. And so, something other than brute force is called for. This battle must be fought with discipline and finesse, and an adherence to protocols, no matter how arbitrary.

And so, as other admirals at other engagements knew well: Take the weather gauge in your favour, then hold a single unbroken line of battle, come what may.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

21 November 2005

Can't sleep tonight. Or rather, this morning, since it's actually 5am the next day now. These past weeks have been confusing, in a way. Going to the night shift was a big change in lifestyle. Rearranging the living room makes the whole house feel different. Old interests have been renewed.

The changes are welcome, in some ways. Night shift is hardly ideal, but the break in routine might be a bit of shaking up that needs to be done. Because there are some other things that need to change along with the mundane. Changes I have tried to effect so many times, and failed over and over again. I did not realize one could become so set in his ways at so early an age.

The same things that are killing you are killing me. That sudden realization might prove to be the penny that tips the scale. It remains to be seen. But this upheaval might present a chance to break the line, to fight through the breech.

This is no time for pondering.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

12 November 2005

I have this box of old photographs that are not indexed in any way at all. I don't know what compelled me just tonight to look through them, but what an experience that can be.

Some of these photos date back as early as 1993. Some were taken in high school, and many around '97, back during the glory days of the Sugarbowl on 124th, while it was still one of the coolest cafes in town.

In going through this box I have learned certain things about myself. Things I had forgotten. I'm not sure what they are. But one thing I did learn, that I can most certainly put my finger on: Nostalgia can be painful.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

17 October 2005

The perspective of a very old friend is a priceless thing. Nothing sheds more light on those things you didn't realize you already knew, those things that need to be spoken.

Just like old times, it was. But the right ones. I'm grateful we chose to simply skip the revisitation of the bad trip that was 124th street and go directly for the warm and the yellow of our old haunt on the south side, little-changed after all these years. And talk. Like we both needed to. One final barrage of tangible honesty before you moved out East.

I wonder if there ever was a time when we pulled punches with each other. I don't remember one.

Raises glass: To those who never bailed.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

5 October 2005

To the dude in my class with whom I argued today:

You've made it pretty clear that you don't like me and that you consider me as anything but a "real man". The truth is, I'm very comfortable with that. Reassured, even. Because meeting with your approval would be a severe blow to my ego.

Thank you for your encouraging words.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

3 October 2005

I guess it's kind of like painting a freshly primed wall or filling in a hole with dirt. This pristine surface that you get to just fill with matter, or colour, or whatever stuff the space demands. Those first strokes and shovelfuls are almost exciting, gratifying in a strange way, so tightly woven into the representation of the great undertaking.

And then the hole gets half full or the wall half coloured. And the enthusiasm is waning. The adventure has become a chore. You are sorely aware of the little imperfections, irreversible now, in the work you have done so far. And it's so easy to become content with mediocrity. You just want to finish, and the aspirations to near-perfection you had when you first began are nowhere to be seen.

Ugh. The home stretch is no problem. It's that last stretch before the home stretch that always takes the breath out of me.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

2 October 2005

And so October arrives, quietly and with a straight face, as though its coming were routine and of no significance. It would be infuriating were it not so foreseeable, were it to come unexpectedly. But it is not infuriating. I have been waiting for it, ready to greet it with a solemn handshake and a humourless grin.

October comes bearing the same message every year. There is work to be done, and it will not be easy. Exactly how or why it tells me this, I can't say. It is not bad news. Exactly what the work is, it does not reveal. It is never a prompt to action; rather, it is a call for thought. Quiet, above all, is a necessity. Not a lack of noise, but quiet. Behind the chaos of the calendar's events there is a stillness I both intimately know and at the same time cannot put my finger on.

This is the time of year when everything starts to die. And when I get reacquainted with myself.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

29 September 2005

The gaps between the dates in this space clue me in to the fact that school has consumed me. This ego shift, this altered identity, is evident in many details when taken collectively. The change is accidental, inadvertent, feeling more like something that happens to you than something that you do, but in reality it is what we do. The sum of choices we make half-asleep and unawares.

In the space of a few weeks' time I have become something different than what I was. Or I have been something different. Or I have been being. I'm not sure just which of those tenses would be correct, but I am convinced that they are not equally applicable. There is a right answer there, to the exclusion of the others. I don't think I like the implications. I am sure I don't like them.

It is symptomatic of a certain carelessness, this haphazard and accidental living that allows one to careen wildly into identities not of one's own choosing. And we talk about how we ended up, how we turned out, what events have done to us like we were patients in some OR subject to the agenda of a sociopathic surgeon with a magic eight-ball and a tray full of instruments.

This is not to say that there are no external forces, or to argue that they have no effect. They do. But I think the effects of wind and gravity are grossly overestimated.

We've all got our foot on the gas. Not all of us have our hands on the wheel.

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

6 September 2005

Sorry for all of the rather mundane posts, but really, you don't see this everyday.

Seriously, thrown from the oche.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment

1 September 2005

Welcome to yuppyville.

I swear, it was pure coincidence that both my wife and I liked the same model and colour.

Read Comments (3) | Add Comment

30 August 2005

It's odd how quickly I have got used to being back in school again.

Yesterday I began my first-year schooling at NAIT in the machinist apprenticeship program. It's been a long time coming. But it's funny, the things that strike you as warmly familiar.

Waiting at the bus stop. The feeling of a pack of books slung over one shoulder and the faint smell of nicotine on my fingers in autumn. The sudden influx of new people into my sphere of existence, and having long conversations with people whose names you never did get, and who probably never got yours. Sitting in a classroom with a travel mug and a notebook.

It's only for eight weeks, and I'm told I'll be sick of it by the time it's over. But I'll take it while it's here.

Read Comments (0) | Add Comment

24 August 2005

The weekend I just spent in Chicago was a blast. Long in planning, it was incredible to see all of these old friends. Some had changed a great deal, and some hadn't changed a bit in eleven years. I think it would have been a disappointment in some ways if everyone had been the same people they were before; I was looking forward to the surprises.

But after it was done, after we'd had our fun and it was time to once again go our separate ways, my happiness at being there suddenly shifted to a completely different sense. A panicked kind of desperation, almost. Everything in me became focused on one thought: Get me the hell out of this country. I couldn't wait to get back to Canada.

It's a different world down there altogether. A distinct mode of thinking, a particular approach. It's not the same at all; it caught me by surprise, and I'm not sure I could ever get used to it.

I wish I could have had more time with everyone, because it really was great to see them all. But next time, could we do this in Toronto?

Read Comments (2) | Add Comment

2 August 2005

There are few things so heartwarmingly affectionate as a cat who missed you while you were away.

Read Comments (1) | Add Comment