Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Ambrose Bierce wrote that "a novel is a short story padded". I am beginning to think he was referring to my latest project, which seems to have no point and no end in sight. I am barely into the first year of a 7-year history and already I am busting at 119 pages.

I was approached on the street by a volunteer from Amnesty International. She asked me if I had some time. I rudely walked on and muttered "No". No time? I thought about that. I had no time, but I came home, had a 30 minute nap, and then watched 10 minutes of the Simpsons before walking Shrub.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The New York Times is really starting to annoy me, and not just for the Sunday Style section. During their Week in Review, they published an article titled Discount Nation: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?. The writer quotes several proponents of Wal-Mart's efficiency, which makes us wonder what we ever did without Wal-Mart. The author does not quote a single opponent of Wal-Mart, and not because they are difficult to find. The best they can do to appear balanced is to quote a professor from Howard University, who isn't sure whether it is bad or not.

As if that were not enough to anger me on Sunday morning, The New York Times Magazine puts some co-ed on its cover with the title The Dean Swarm, in an effort to make Dean look like another McGovern; a hopelessly idealistic candidate who appeals only to lovesick college kids.

Every week I consider cancelling my subscription.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Friday, December 05, 2003

I am probably late in the game here, but if this helps one person, then I'll have done my part.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Vancouver Moment #29

West End, July 2003

There was a group of them at the west end of English Bay, on the last stretch of grass before the path goes up the hill and you enter Stanley Park. They were all well into their 40s, and the dozen or so of them sat cross legged on the grassy slope, facing the guitarist. Each of them had some form of percussion instrument; finger cymbals, bongos, congas, even some tiny home made disco balls with perhaps rice in them, that a few of them were shaking to the beat.

The guitarist got into his groove. He too was in his late 40s, and he looked like you standard issue BC civil servant; greying beard, cheap sunglasses, new-age clothes left over from the 80s. He began to sing just as we were walking by.

Used to work
Used to drive my car

We had passed by him by the time he got to the next verse, but the words stuck with me, because they so aptly described the singer and his audience. Yes, he used to work in some office job, commuting from the suburbs into the city, or even worse, from one suburb to another suburb. And he drove. He drove everywhere to get to anything.

Now, safely ensconced in the West End, he didn't need to drive, and he could probably get away with not working for someone else by doing tarot card readings or making quilts. In this way he connected immediately with his audience, who either "used to work", or dream of the day they can check out to the Gulf Islands.

I wanted to stay and listen to more, but Anya, having grown up here and known these types all her life just wanted to move on. Now everytime I see your standard BC issue aging hippie, I have to sing used to work.

Happy Birthday Chris

It is my friend Chris's 33rd birthday today. When I called him to wish him happy birthday, he was at home from work with a cold, and playing his guitar. It reminded me of the time that he stayed home sick from high school so he could fix the pickups on his electric guitar. His parents were away, so his older brother Dave wrote a sick note to the principal which he signed:
Yours in Christ,

Monday, December 01, 2003

10 Years Ago Today

Whistler, December 1, 1993

In order to pay my December rent, I had to sell my 1974 Volvo to my older brother. He had no license, but that didn't faze him, as he had $400 and a dream of getting to the mountain on time. I insured the car under my name, but passed the keys to him.

He slipped me four $100 bills outside the North Shore Credit Union in Whistler Village, three of which I passed immediately to my roommate who collected the rent, and also worked as a teller at the Credit Union. It was snowing heavily, so the mood in town was light and jovial. Now I needed to break the $100 bill so I could get change to take the bus home.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

How to Cross the Street, Montreal Style

Having grown up in the North America’s most European city, I had to endure North America’s most European drivers. Montreal boasts the most aggressive, dangerous and pedestrian-hating drivers in Canada. However, this hard upbringing allowed me to develop my tried and true method for navigating Vancouver’s streets.

First, a disclaimer. I am all for the smooth flow of traffic, which requires that pedestrians occasionally must cede priority to vehicles. If I cross against the light, or in the middle of a street, or anywhere other than a marked crosswalk, I fully realize that vehicles have the right of way. I recommend this crossing technique for marked crosswalks without a stoplight.

Make eye contact. The first thing you must do is prove to the driver that you, the pedestrian, do in fact exist. Cars are marketed as extensions of ourselves, and many drivers feel their cars are their own private world, with their own music and climate, and whatever happens “out there” is merely a distraction. If you want to cross the street, you must get drivers to acknowledge your existence. Do this by stepping off the curb a few strides, and staring at the driver in the oncoming car. Most of the time you won’t be able to see their eyes, so just stare wherever you think their eyes will be. Stare intently, like you want to make something of it.

After you have stared for perhaps two seconds, start walking out towards center of the street. Do not take your eyes off the driver! This is the moment where the car must cede the right of way to you. The driver will see that it is a crosswalk, and that yes, when it is occupied, they must reluctantly give right of way to you, but they will be looking for hesitation, thinking that you won’t mind if they buzz through and the car behind them stops.

Continue walking out into the street, staring at the driver. By now you should be able to see him. As long as he is looking at you it is unlikely he will run you over, even if it a cab driver. Turn your head towards them as you walk out in front, just to maintain that you are the one in charge here, and remind them it is they who are yielding.

You should be in the middle of the street by the time they slow down. At this point, raise your arm closest to the slowing vehicle and turn your palm towards the driver. Your arm should be bent 90 degrees at the elbow, making a gesture that is combination friendly wave and policeman order to stop. Once you make this gesture, take your eyes off the driver, but keep your hand up, just to remind them that you are the one in control.

There is a lot of paperwork involved in running over a pedestrian. The driver will likely have to submit to a breathalyzer, the car may be searched, and a criminal record check will be done. While clearly it is more of a hassle to be killed or seriously injured by a car (as happened to 3000 people in Vancouver last year), it is enough of life-changing event for a driver to deter them from running you down like a dog. Remember this, and use it to your advantage. They don’t want to kill you, they just want you to let them through before you cross. Don’t give them this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I have been run off my feet since last Thursday, and haven't had time to catch up with anyone until tonight.

Saturday night Anya and I went out to Delilah's to celebrate her birthday, then down to the Lotus Sound Lounge to see Jon Delerious. Danced all night until 430am, which is a perfectly civllized time to wind up things at a bar or club. Not so, say some citizensof our uptight city.

We watched the Trial of Henry Kissinger on Monday. Having studied as a youth his impact on the world, it was not possible for me to have more contempt for the man than I already did. That was what made reading the book so difficult. It felt strange that I was not even shocked.

Not exactly uplifting material and unlikely to revive your faith in humanity, it is however required viewing, as an example of what can happen when power goes unchecked.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

There is a wedding ceremony taking place in the vacant room next to our apartment. Originally planned as a fitness room, its only function now is to serve as our strata council meeting room. The wedding was supposed to take place outside, the father of the bride told me, but it was too cold. It’s November 22. Go figure.

Lots of “woo-hoos” and “okay just one more” and “ready, cheese” coming through the walls.

While it is unusually cold for Vancouver, it is nowhere near as cold as it is in Edmonton, where Rob and Derek are watching the Heritage Classic. The Habs and the Oilers are both wearing their old jerseys tonight, Montreal with its classic lace up neck.

Just before leaving, Derek sent me the worst hockey logos of all time. The bad, the ugly and the just plain bewildering.

And this via Michael Moore. I always suspected the existence of such people, so I am glad it is finally being discussed in the mainstream media.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Merv sighting…..

I first met Merv when I was helping Rob move some of his belongings into Maple Leaf Storage on Mainland Street. Merv’s job was to manage their storage warehouse, which did not seem to take much effort. People moved their belongings in, paid Merv the money, and then came back some later date to move them out. He was an amicable fellow, and spent most of the time sitting on the loading dock smoking cigarettes, with his legs dangling over the concrete loading bay.

He spoke with a real hoser accent of someone who had lived their whole life in British Columbia and had probably never left. Recalling a Simpson episode which showed people Lionel Hutz living in a storage locker, I asked him if people ever tried to live in the lockers.
“All da time. Soon as I find out, I tell him you got 45 minutes to get out or I’ll call da boys in blue.”

I asked him why there was a public storage facility sitting on such valuable land. He said the owner just wanted to hold on until he could get more money for it. They had been offered $45 million for it but were holding out for more.

A year later our office moved right across the street from Maple Leaf Storage, so I could see Merv, on sunny days, sitting on the loading dock smoking.

In October, the warehouse was torn down. Would I ever see Merv again? I did this morning. He was sitting outside of Starbucks in Yaletown, smoking, telling a homeless man with a shopping cart that he had won $50,000 in the lottery just 2 weeks ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I am getting so sick of the New York Times that I am considering cancelling my subscription. It's great for keeping in touch with what opinions are being formed by the opinion-forming classes, but as far as actual real news is concerned, it misses the story.
Fortunately for the fans of the montreal canadiens here on the west coast, Saturday night’s Soiree du Hockey always shows les Tricouleurs, thanks to the required bilingual broadcast of our state run broadcasting agency. This means you never have to worry that you'll be stuck watching the Toronto Maple Leafs, because you can always watch the Habs in French.

Even though the game was on in both English and French, I decided to watch it in French, just to keep my skills sharp. The struggling Canadiens were playing the mighty Senators, and the Radio-Canada annonceurs had outlined the three keys for a Canadiens victory:

Payer le prix devant le filet
60 minutes de hockey

Very basic goals, even without the second one, translated literally as “pay the price in front of the net.”

Saturday, November 08, 2003

my hands are so cold from the appartment being 15 degrees. It's not like i don't have heating, or enough money to turn the heat up as high as i want, but the place has been so damn cold lately. i have been in this place for 3 hours now, tapping away on this keyboard, and i think i have been slowly freezing my extremities.

I have not written anything in here because things have gotten so damn depressing since august. Not in my life really, but in the state of the world. But enough about that.

Due to my oversize monitor and our smaller apartment, I have to store my desktop computer in our storage locker. There’s just no room for it up here. Oh, and for a while I had no computer as it was packed up or in storage. Shortly after I moved in I went on vacation. And so I was away from the computer for a long time.

The only thing worthwhile on my 4 year old computer is the mp3 collection, which was getting quite large until this summer. So I have no access to them, and I haven’t bought a cd in years. Tonight I bought my first CD in what must be a year:

Pete Rock, Petestrumental. This is what I have always been looking for in hip hop. All instrumental with funky but subtle bass lines. I guess ‘subtle’ hip hop would be the best way to describe.

I also picked up Air Farina. However when I got home and unwrapped it, the CD case was empty. I wonder how often that happens, that mistakes just happen out there on the manufacturing lines of Asia.

They will make you anything over there. Mark tells me that you can show them any shape of anything and tell them you want it made out of frozen cat food the next morning and they will do it.

Feeling good right now about everything.

I think the tide is finally turning.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Brain Fog

My brain is covered in a fog right now, which protects me from doing anything too strenuous, but I have to run a team meeting in 1 hour and i honestly have no idea what I am going to talk about for an hour.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

So That's Why They Call it Silicon Alley

I am in the midst of moving from the West End to Yaletown, right next to this place. It will lkely be a difficult adjustment going from a neighborhood full of gay men to a neighborhood that seems to flourish with surgically enhanced women.

While getting my hair cut there last week, I was astounded by the number of women who walked by the salon with the most ridiculously large implants. I mean, who do they think they are kidding? Who are they trying to impress? Who pays for these? Where do these women come from?

A 20-year old girl sat in the station next to me. She could was about 5'6 and could not have weighed more than 110 lbs, but her chest was a D-cup that defied gravity. They were practically pointing at the ceiling. I asked the hair stylist about these women, if she knew any of them, and perhaps if she knew what they did with their lives besides yoga and pilates. Apparently they work in retail and live 3 to a one-bedroom in one of the "live it, love it, rent it" appartment complexes. The breasts are merely an investment, either for a husband or the stage.

However, I can't slag these people too much, as they are my future tenants.

Monday, August 18, 2003

From Hanging Day: Can you tell the difference?

Monday, August 11, 2003

There are a few books I have that I am always re-reading; occasionally picking it up and reading my favorite passages. One friend has remarked on this odd habit, and considers it useless.

Reading something that inspires you is so much more rewarding than reading fresh lines that mean nothing to you.

It is not a coincidence that the books I reread the most are all by mordecai richler. I was exposed to him in Grade 11 with The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Being a Montrealer I was immediately hooked on his acidic wit and his uncanny ability to perfectly summarize montreal, or any other subject, in a short paragraph.

Richler left Montreal for London in 1953, and figured he would never return to that drab provincial backwater called Canada. Yet after moving to London, he says he was never able to let go of Canada, and his identity as a Canadian. Despite spending six months a year in London, he continued to write about Canadian issues, weighing in for opinion when it really was needed.

My favorite Richler passage is from Solomon Gursky Was Here, in which he provides a pinpoint description of the Eastern Townships.

Moses immediately struck out for the 91. He drove through New Hampshire and Vermont, to Quebec’s Eastern Townships, crossing the border at Highwater. Wet slippery leaves lay scattered everywhere on the Quebec side, the bare trees already black and brittles. BIENVENUE. Even if the border had been unmarked, Moses would have known that he was back in the townships. Penury advertised. Suddenly the road was rippled and cracked, and he had to swerve to avoid potholes. Rusting pickup trucks, bashed and abandoned, cannibalized years ago, lay in the tall grass and goldenrod, here and there. Sinking barns rotted in the fields. Small mills, which had once manufactured bobbins - employing eight of the locals – chewing their fingers, were shuttered. In lieu of elegant little signs directing you to the ivy covered Inn on Crotched Mountain, or the Horse and Hound, originally built as a farmhouse in 1860, there were roadside CANTINES, with tarpaper roofs, proclaimed by a stake in the ground OPEN/OUVERT, and offering Hygrade hot dogs and limp greasy pommes frites made of frozen potatoes. There were no impeccably appointed watering holes, where the aging bartender, once Clean for Gene, would offer you a copy of Mother Jones with your drink. However, you could pull in at “Mad Dog” Vachon’s and knock back a Molson’s, maybe stumble on a tree-week-old copy of Allo Police. Or the Venus di Milo, where scantily clad pulpy waitresses from Chicoutimi or Sept Iles stripped and then sank to a bare stage to simulate masturbation, protected against splinters by a filthy flannel sheet.

Despite his criticism of Canada, Richler loved it. He admitted late in life that in spite of all his frustration with Canada, he could never completely leave it.

This seems to be the problem with two conservative writers from Canada who have left but cannot stop criticizing it. Mark Steyn and David Frum never waste an opportunity to diss the land they left. They remind me of guys who can’t stop talking about the ex-girlfriend they hate, but they can’t seem to let it go. They both left because there was no audience for their conservative views in Canada, likely due to the fact that no one wants to read a column that tells the reader how poor, unproductive and doomed they are. Steyn has branched out to host his own website of ranting in defense of Bush and his neocon cabal. Frum continues in the same vein, though closer to the witches den than Steyn, as part of the National Review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Back in Ohio, or as I call it, the O-dot. However, Ohio does not lend itself well to hip buzzwords applied by software sales representatives. Let's just leave it as Ohio then.

I spent the weekend in Toronto, with John and Daphne
Speaking of good friends, I finally saw Jamie, my old high school trouble-making friend, and Barb, his code-punching girlfriend. I had not seen them since my wedding 3 years ago. Jamie kept quoting Platoon at every chance: "Cocksucker fell asleep!"

Blue Chemise Cheese

Why do all sales guys dress the same? I have talked about this before, but spending 2 days in a room with 200 of them is more than I can bear. That must be the reason they all get wasted immediately after the event.

And the PowerPoint presentations. Christ on the everloving cross, can you really call reading off a slide a presentation? All I ask is that you are able to speak clearly and intelligently without reading the slide. I can read it myself. Why don't you sit down and play music while I read it? That would probably make it easier for you.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

While trodding to work one morning last Monday, I noticed a woman getting out of a pimped-out Dodge pickup truck. She had long hair, and an attractive physique made visible by her tight nylon tearaways and cropped t-shirt. I immediately wondered why she was getting out of a parked truck at 6:30am on a Monday morning in the West End. It wasn't until I saw her boyfriend or companion get out of the truck that I realized she was either a stripper or a working girl.

He had the signature Vancouver pimp/bouncer/drug dealer look: shaved head, goatee, steroid-induced massive upper body constrained in a black tank top. His gigantic arms were covered in tattoos.

Since it was Monday, they must have been partying all night, and were now heading back to their friend's apartment for a little come down. Or perhaps they were going to shoot a porn video in the apartment. Their friend was holding open the lobby door, a big smile on her slack, boozy face.

It occurred to me how far removed I am from these people, and also how close I was to them at one brief point my life. Not that I was hanging out with strippers and their bouncer/dealer boyfriends, but I was definitely a few degrees less removed than I am now.

Of course they didn't notice white-collar guy walking up the street. I still can't believe how big his arms were.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

During a day of time-wasting surfing, this made me laugh.
Only 240 years late! Bush is really on top of current issues. Next he will be condemning robber barons getting rich in tulip futures.
When someone gets fired or laid off at our company, my coworkers and I refer to it as "getting the bullet", as in "did you hear that so and so got the bullet?". It originated with a district manager, who was asked by one of his direct reports to describe exactly what he was good at it. The manager hitched up his elastic-waist jeans and replied, "I am good at closin' business and giving people the bullet."

Over time this expression evolved from "getting the bullet" to "getting the mullet", in the way that words and phrases are morphed by young men with nothing better to do than flip around letters and sounds in between bong hits.

Rob suggested that when someone "gets the mullet", they should be forced to come back to the head office and wear a fake mullet wig. While he takes a more hard-lined approach than I, it would be funny to watch these fallen sales gods return to the head office for the walk of shame in a bad haircut.

I had a mullet once, for about 2 hours. This was before I had ever heard of the term mullet, when I simply called that style "hockey hair". I was attending the wedding of my girlfriend's brother in their home town of Orillia, Ontario, where they told me I spoke pretty good english for someone from Quebec.

My girlfriend was afraid I would get myself a bad haircut from the stoners that cut my hair in Whistler, so she had an appointment booked for me in Orillia. I told her before the appointment that they would probably be naturally inclined to give me hockey hair. My instructions to the stylist were clear: the back must be short, indeed it must be as short or shorter than the sides. She nodded and began cutting.

When she was done, it appeared that she had just avoided giving me a mullet. I ran my fingers through the wet hair to test the length in the back. While it was not a great haircut, it would have to do. I was, after all, in Orillia. I paid for the haircut and left. It was hot outside, and by the time we had returned to her house, the hair had dried, and my thick mane had sprouted into a mullet.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Scott sent me this article about how Bush & Co. are using sophistry and rhetoric to instill Americans with a sense of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Even today, on Independence Day (Happy Independence Day to all my American friends) he speaks not of the founding fathers' struggle and triumph against an imperial power, but of impending doom. To listen to him you would think the barbarians were marching up Pennsylvania Avenue. All he ever talks about is an impending terrorist attack, preventable only by his ability and willingness to strike out at any regime he wants. Just trust me.

"The enemies of America plot against us... We will act, whenever it is necessary, to protect the lives and the liberty of the American people."

Just what does this mean? Of course your enemies plot against you, but it doesn't mean they are sitting in bunkers planning to attack the Super Bowl. This kind of vague statement is Bush's trademark, and allows him the luxury of telling the truth while not committing to do anything but wage war. The US is so superior militarily, no other country or group can threaten the "liberty of the American people".

While I imagine this photo will be censored in the US, the BBC chose not to edit Bush's pit stains.

I was in the fitness room at work today when some developer almost set me off. CNN was on the TV we have in the room, muted so that the CC streamer runs along the bottom. There was some military official going on about the potential for an attack on Independence Day celebrations in Washington DC.

This needed to go. The fewer people that watch CNN the better. I changed the channel just as the developer was getting on the elliptical trainer.
"Oh, can you turn it this way a bit so I can see?” Sure, I switched the angle for him.
"What channel are you changing it to?”

"Anything but CNN" I said.

"Could you be more vague?" he answers without looking up.

Excuse me, who the fuck does this guy think he is? Some developer punk straight out of university is giving me attitude about changing the channel from CNN. I think about what I am going to say next, because not everyone has views as radical as mine (they are not even that radical, but times are tough).
"How does CBC Newsworld sound?” I ask him.

Again, he answers without looking up. “You think CBC will be less depressing than CNN?"

"At least it's true." I walk away.

He proceeds to sweat all over the elliptical machine, eliminating any desire I had to ever use it.

Friday, June 27, 2003

One of my most avid readers, if not the only avid reader, mentioned to me yesterday that he reads this blog about twice a week, "which is more often that it is updated". Suddenly I felt bad about letting down my audience and about not giving them enough.

I immediately came up with the excuse that "nothing is really happening", and I was reminded of the scene in Adaptation, where the character Robert McKee lambasts Nicolas Cage for thinking that nothing really happens in the world. "What planet are you living on!!" he screams. Every day people are raped and murdered, they fall in love and are betrayed. There is so much going on that the problem is choosing what to use.

So, with that as my inspiration, I give you my weekly update:

Report Magazine has finally died, striking a blow to right-wing fanatics all over western Canada. The magazine had hoped to spread into Canada the shift to the right of mainstream politics that occurred in the US during the 1990s. It succeeded only in preaching to the converted about the evils of liberalism, the need to integrate into the United States, and the usual right wing hack agenda.

David Frum eulogizes it on the blow to the conservative mvement in Canada. Gee David, I wonder why this never caught on in Canada. Could it be that we are different from right wing Americans and like it that way?

Is it possible to revoke his citizenship?

Jeffrey Simpson must have read his eulogy and felt compelled to kick them while they were down.
The last time I saw it was in a Save On Foods in Penticton. Eminem was on the cover with the headline "All You Need Is Hate".

My brother Michael was picked to play the part of a giant tongue in a Hi-C commercial. I had no idea they still made Hi-C, but apparently, they do.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Women Who Do Yoga

I see them every day on my coffee break, which is now just a walk break since I quit drinking coffee 2 weeks ago. They walk into Yaletown around 9am, with their coffees in one hand and their yoga mat bags in the other, dressed in the latest Lululemon fashions. Often they are yammering away on their mobile phones, probably to other idle women, about what to do after yoga. Shopping? Lunch? They need something to fill the time between yoga, working out, and pilates.

Yaletown is full of these people; all image, no substance. Who is footing the bill for their lifestyle I wonder? I can only assume it is some guy working in one of the office towers downtown, or prowling Yaletown in his Escalade, searching for a parking space close to Cioppino's. What amazes me is how hard they work at creating the image despite the transparency of it all. Vancouver ain't New York, but a lot of people think that if they act rich, they will be rich.

Then there is the coke dealer with the 64 impala. He works so hard to advertise that he is man of leisure, except when he is doing drug deals. Isn't the point to hide what you are doing when you're in that business?

Monday, June 16, 2003

Hey Fuckhead!

Are you the man that honked at me on Davie St last Friday? Yes, you remember. It was around 630am on a splendid summer morning. Hardly any traffic at that hour, but you must have been so hurried and so important, perhaps you even had to get to a conference call with an important client, maybe even an important American client.

So you had to honk at me. At first I didn't think you were honking at me. What could I have done? Riding my bike happily in the left hand lane was no reason for honking. I have to ride in the middle of the lane, as that is the only way to get respect from cars, and not get pushed into the gutter.

This, apparently, is new to you, and you brand new Toyota Echo. So you pulled up close to me and said "You're not a bike, eh bud?" I don't know if it was a question or a statement. I think the "eh" means "what i have just said is true, is it not?", so i'll treat it as a question.

Normally my first response would be "Fuck you motherfucker", a reaction that has been drilled into my synapse from years of defensive cycling in this city. However, as i was still blissed out and zen-like from my yoga the night before, I calmly said, "you need to respect me like a car. You need to treat me like a car."

To which you replied "Fuck you".

Ouch. I was so hurt that my calm approach failed, and I almost went to work in a bad mood.

Okay, i was in a bad mood at work, but that was only because i was suffering from caffeine withdrawal.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Be Careful What You Wish For

The importance of setting goals was a concept I never seemed to grasp until my mid-twenties. Perhaps at some point in my youth I had set goals unknowingly, but these were usually forgotten quickly in the lazy haze that covered my mind at the time. I think I set some fairly unrealistic goals (win the gold medal in the men's downhill at the 1988 Olympics), but I never had any realistic goals, written or otherwise.

One ambition that I did voice repeatedly was the dream of being a foreman on some type of work crew so that I could drive a pickup truck. While waiting for the school bus I would often see the city workers in their pickups and I wanted to be the one in charge. My oldest friend Chris never fails to remind me that as a child this was my ambition.

Perhaps it is coincidence that in the summer 1996 I achieved this goal, a mere 16 years after setting it. I had become a foreman on a forestry services crew comprised of drifters, scammers, ex-cons and morons. But I was in charge.

The dream had lost in lustre in the light of reality. Skidding to a stop in the truck and jumping out to berate unproductive workers seemed like fun when I was 10 years old. But at 26, it was pathetic and depressing. As the job wore on and the productivity and work quality went through the floor, I asked myself "How did I get here? What am I doing here?"

It didn't occur to me at the time, but the seed had been sown as a 10 year old child, wishing to drive a big truck and yell at people.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Why am I spending so much goddamn time in front of a workstation? I think it is starting to have adverse physical effects on me. My jaw locks and my eyes glaze over moments after I sit down and rest my arms on the desk. My body does not like it when i do this.

I turned 32 the other day, and for the first time really feel like I am in my 30s. I have recently noticed how creeping changes have now become distinct shifts...

Hip hop (am i supposed to capitalize both H's?) no longer holds any interest for me.
I don't care what people think I look like, or how i dress, or whether women think I am hot.
I spend a lot of time looking at young couples with children.
I am much more left than I was at 19. Isn't it supposed to work the other way around?

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I rented a DVD. It was raining torrentially, and I had nothing to do while waiting to meet with someone later in the day, so I headed to Independent Video and picked up the documentary film Biggie and Tupac. I have enjoyed Nick Broomfield's other documentaries, but was excited for this one, having missed it at the Vancouver Film Festival last fall.

It is typical Broomfield guerilla-style film making, where he puts so many of his interviewees in an uncomfortable position with his direct questions. His soft English accent makes him seem less aggressive while dogging his interviewees for their stories.

Before seeing the film, I had bought the idea of a East Coast vs West Coast rivalry as the reason for the killings. However, Broomfield shows that if you want to solve a crime, follow the money. In this case the money leads back to Suge Knight, and two of the dirtiest cops to ever wear a uniform.

In the end, it was all about money and power, and two talented young men paid the price with their lives. This got me thinking about how many people have been murdered in the US with the full knowledge of the police of FBI, simply because they had grown too popular, and thus too dangerous.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ever recognize yourself in a book?

On a cold night in February 1995, I sat curled on my plaid couch reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. My friend John had loaned it to me in the attempt to help me change my life. I recognized myself in what the author called Quadrant IV: activities that are neither importnant nor urgent. He did not waste much time on people who lived in this quadrant, stating only "these people basically live irresponsible lives". That was me. But what really hit me that night was his description of relationships gone wrong. There it was on page 182, my relationship described to me as if he was living in the next room. Two people leading separate lives in a fairly respectable and tolerant manner. I put the book down, looked at my girlfriend of 4 years and said, "We need to end this. Now".

I saw myself again in The War of Art.

Guilty as charged, on every page.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Leaving time! I get to go home. I didn't get much done here besides see customers, drive from one customer to the other and eat a lot of take out food.

Some things I learned: there are liberal Americans in the least likely places, Cleveland should be wiped clean off the face of the earth (although I have been told constantly that it is much nicer than it used to be) and that I I am sick of seeing American flags on every car.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Do you ever feel like you don't belong? I feel that right now, mired as I am in the midwest, surrounded by suburban sprawl, traffic, landfills, malls, and an alarming number of obese people. I have a skill at fitting in and looking like I am part of everything, but inside it is painful. Perhaps that is why I have been asked to join fraternities I despised, political parties I opposed, or churches whose gods I don't believe exist.

Whenever I come here I blend in with the rest of the people, but I simply cannot wait to get back to Vancouver.

I am staying with a friend, who, despite his intelligece and success in life, likes to watch Fox News. He has a home office in his basement, and there is a wall mounted TV above his desk, about 25 feet away from me. I have never watched it before, so it shocked me exactly how skilled they are at taking real events ( and fictional events) and dumbing them down to their most simple forms. It is the like turning healthy food into junk (there must be a word for that process). I had to turn it on mute because I found it so offensive.

And to think that I contemplated a move to Columbus, Ohio.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

While flipping channels late last night, I came across ESPN, which was showing a clip of some WWF wrestlers making an appearance on US Navy aircraft carrier, ostensibly to bolster morale. One of the officers was being interviewed, and he mentioned how much this means to the sailors, because being on an aircraft carrier is extremely boring. The only thing we have to offer the crew, he said, "was the odd war and the occassional celebrity visit like this." What kind of people see the odd war as a mere escape from boredom?
I could not believe that I had actually heard him say that.

But when I looked at the wrestlers, who were addressing the crowd wearing makeup, masks and headgear, I realized that most of the people on the ship were still adolescents.
I am scheduled to meet a client at Case Western Reserve University next week. However, due to the recent events there, I wonder if it is still appropriate. This is the building where the gunman shot 2 people. The SWAT team had a tough time subduing him because there were no straight hallways in the entire building.
I was getting bored yesterday, just sitting around listening to the rain, so I got in my car and followed the neverlost map system to the nearest large mall. Since I was stuck in the suburbs of Cincinnati, I thought I would get out and see the country.

What amazed me is how frontal and complete the assault is upon the average American here. They are told at every turn through radio ads, visual ads and television that they need to get out and spend money at this mall or that mall. Everything is in malls, and everything is designed to be done with a car.

While wading through the massive parking lot at Kenwood mall, I came across a family waiting to use a crosswalk. The crossing was duly marked with paint on the asphalt and a sign indicating that it was a crosswalk. But no car would stop, and the family made no move to signal their intention or need to cross.

I just walked right out into the traffic and made the cars stop. Everyone looked at me in disbelief. What is the point of having a crosswalk if you don't use it?

Saturday, May 10, 2003

This just found in my other blog archives...from July 2001:

It's been a while since I discovered this forum for solipsistic expression and theater of the self absorbed. Well, now I am charging into its swollen ranks. Initially my intentions were to fashion this blog from the very beginning with witty and informative quips on the human condition that were oh-so-spot on. However, I've realized the point here is merely to express yourself. If I go for being the Moredcai Richler of blogland, I will only ever look like a cheap imitator.

Someone was fired at work today, which I think is a good thing. Good because they are finally realizing that there are many people who do nothing at our company, and have been doing so for many years now...
Being from a middle class Protestant family in Edinburgh, it was natural that my grandmother was warned and persuaded not to take up with my hardscrabble grandfather. He was Catholic, he was from Glasgow and he came from a “questionable” family. That I know almost nothing about my grandfather’s background suggests to me that he came from a long line of criminals.

However, when you’re a 22-year-old girl growing up in a repressed Protestant family, you are a sucker for a bad boy from the wrong part of town, especially if he is riding a motorcycle. Sure, he might be a little rough around the edges, she explained to her parents, but he has an engineering degree from the University of Edinburgh. How respectable is that? Unfortunately, the degree was not worth much in Edinburgh, at least not in the hands of a Catholic, and he was shut out of the shipyards, the natural place for a recent grad to seek employment.

One day while they were riding on his motorcycle (made entirely from “found” parts), the brakes failed, and they both crashed into a brick wall. My grandfather was not hurt, but my grandmother had knocked out all her front teeth on the wall.

Time to make a run for it, thought young Jimmy Smith. He booked passage on a ship headed for Canada, with a job arranged for him in Vancouver, some small town way out on the west coast. My grandmother did not want to leave her sister behind, but staying in Scotland was no longer an option. So the three of them came over, but on the way my great aunt nearly died of pneumonia. When the ship docked in Montreal, Auntie Alice was too ill to get on the train for another 6 days to Vancouver. They settled in Montreal.


The last time I saw my grandmother was in August 2001. I pulled up to her house and parked, and was immediately asked by a neighbor what I was doing. I walked over to the man and told him that I was Mrs. Smith’s grandson. He shook my hand and introduced himself as “Gary”, and said that he lived across the street. He told me to have a nice day, and put his hand on my bicep and gave me a little squeeze.

I thought nothing of it at the time. When I went in to see nana, she asked me if I had talked to Gary. I said yes, and that he seemed like a nice man, looking out for his neighbor like he did.

“I think he’s gay son” she replied.

Clementine Lavin Smith died on May 8, 2003. She was 98 years old.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I guess what bothers me, or what makes me feel inadequate, is reading all the other blogs that seem so much better than mine, by people who are probing the outer boundaries of CSS development or developing new ways to post text, and who seem to live lives that are so much more interesting. Well, at least they make it sound interesting. The problem is, and I have known this for a long time, is that what I am doing is not what I am supposed to be doing. I put on a pretty good show, but in the end, I really don't care about helping some company sell more hams and more effectively manage their supply chain, or their sales forecast.


They all wore pleated pants, and all were double pleats. The corporate American uniform- pleated pants and a button down shirt or even better, a golf shirt with a logo. Most of the my other attendees, being 33 year-old American salesmen, wore pants with double pleats. The pleats create the appearance of a smaller waist by inflating the area around the thighs.

I have only pants with single pleats or flat front pants. I can pull this act off for another few years, but it is starting to get a little painful.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Another quarter end, this time falling short, with one man let go. As much as it had to happen one way or another, it still hurts. It feels like somebody died and everyone else has woken up to their own mortality.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Last Saturday, like millions of others around the world, I marched to protest the proposed invasion of Iraq. After marching and spending time with my younger brother and then writing, i realized that for the first time in months, i could not feel the chronic pain in my jaw and ears. I think getting out with all the people was therapeutic in a way.

My father used to pretend that he could play the piano and would always air-piano Rhapsody in Blue. After being on hold with United Airlines for a total of 30 minutes today, I never want to hear rhapsody in blue again.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

last night i went to see The Pianist, a story about a young jewish man hiding in the warsaw ghetto during WWII. It was disturbing to wathch how cruelly humans can treat each other. I hope that Jews who watch it will be reminded of how horrible and pointless it is to tear people from their homes and put them into camps.

However, I doubt it will make any difference at all, and will probably encourage most Jews to rationalize how Israel is terrorizing the Palestinians. I had the same hopes that after Sept 11, the US would stop and think about how it treats everyone else. I did not expect this to happen, but I remained optimistic. Instead, GWB shose to beat the war drums.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

All for one and one for all, and lots for oneself! And therefore . . . no slackers allowed! no deadwood! no lightweights! no loafers! You headed straight for your desk, your telephone, and your computer terminal in the morning. The day didn't start with small talk and coffee and perusals of The Wall Street Journal and the financial pages of the Times, much less The Racing Form. You were expected to get on the telephone and start making money. If you left the office, even for lunch, you were expected to give your destination and a telephone number to one of the "sales assistants," who were really secretaries, so that you could be summoned immediately if a new issue of bonds came in (and had to be sold fast). If you went out for lunch, it better have something directly to do with selling....otherwise--sit here by the telephone and order in from the deli like the rest of the squadron.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

A nation has lost its way...

Monday, January 13, 2003

What is Andrew up to today?
a) writing his memoirs
b) upgrading his blog to blogplus
c) being a total fuckhead and getting stoned on Monday night

Saturday, January 04, 2003

While falling asleep on the couch last night, I watched Much Music's diary of P.Diddy. It was a"day in the life of" style documentary on the daily grind of a hip hop producer, actor, father and role model for aspiring hip hop artists. During one of the commercial breaks, I saw an ad for "Much 90s" compilation CD of hits from the 1990s, which I may have to remind you, were only 4 years ago. Just as The Onion predicted.....

Friday, January 03, 2003

What this war is not about, by Rick Salutin. Did I mention I love Canadians?