August 23, 2005

Other: And How Was Your Week?

Bikes, truck, computer, and now my wife: I'm starting to fear for my dogs life at this point.

We spent a fun little time in the hospital last night with what we had hoped would be a simple bit of surgery to remove an abscess of some sort from a very delicate region. It didn't work, so we're seeing a gyno today, oh joy. She has to feel all the pain, what with the the cyst itself putting pressure on huge numbers of concentrated nerve endings and all, then getting cut open and prodded at for a while before being told to go home when it hurts her to walk, or sit, or lie down; but I'm having a bit of a time myself. Mostly with not being able to do anything to ease her pain.

Actually, that's about it. Frustrating rather than painful, but not a pleasant experience at all.

So, what do you do while in a waiting room, or pre-prepped for surgery? We recited a poem by Canadas Greatest Poet, Dennis Lee:

Alligator pie, alligator pie
If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna die
Give away the green grass, give away the sky
But don't give away my alligator pie.

I'm sure you understand the form now. We started including our own verses:

Alligator shoes, alligator shoes
If I do not buy some, I'm afraid I'm gonna lose.
Take away my Percodan, take away my booze
But don't take away my alligator shoes.


Alligator belt, alligator belt
If you hit me with it, it's gonna leave a welt!
Each time you spank me's better than the previous I felt
So don't go away with my alligator belt.

Really, it just went downhill from there. The giggling seemed to help, at least.


posted by Thursday at 1:17 pm 2 comments

August 21, 2005

Science: A Win For The Good Guys!

Living (and recent) proof that logic can beat the hucksters sometimes: Kevin Trudeau has just had his science-impaired book "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About" pulled from the shelves of Walgreen's stores, and his infomercial from at least one television station following complaints from customers. The book consists mostly of the usual tin-hat brigade conspiracy babble (ie. Big Pharma makes people sick, Big Food makes them fat, and the FDA is in cahoots with them all) as well as some astounding "discoveries" by Mr. Trudeau, including:

1) sunblock causing cancer;

(Sunlight is good for you, so the rise in cancer rates must be because of...?)

2) making your blood alkaline will cure disease;

(...Or simply kill you, if you could somehow manage it. Well, as long as you send your money first.)

3) everything man-made is poisonous;

(Though, to be fair, it might only be those things with names.)

4) all drugs cause illness and disease.

(And his infomercial causes nausea.)

The infomercial, run 140 times a week, whores out the book; the book, at 3 million copies sold, pimps the web site; and the web site charges $9.95/month to people who are terrified of, well, anything they don't understand. Which, if they've bought the book, is a whole lot.

The reason he's published a book is simple: he's not allowed to sell any of his "cures" any more, what with them not working at all. So now he sells "information", nicely protected by the First Amendment. But he's also very careful about how much "information" is actually in the book: there are several odd claims (see above) mixed with basic nutrition facts (too much protien may increase your chance of osteoporosis, vegetables are good for you) and a lot of SCREAMING ALL CAPS! The erratic typeface is apparently there for the same reason the Department of Homeland Security has TERROR ALERTS: fear sells.

Look for lots of product to get shipped to the Red States.


posted by Thursday at 10:34 pm 0 comments

August 13, 2005

Sex: Pride

Pride and self-respect: these could be considered synonyms. If you take pride in who you are or what you do, is that the definition of self-respect, or only a single aspect of it? Do you have to ensure others know of your accomplishments before they count?

I've certainly done things that I'm proud of, but I don't feel any real need to brag about them: they are just a part of what I do or what I have done, nothing more. I ride motorcycles; write plays and stories; have a wonderful sex life; debate politics.

I can swim.

I'm reasonably healthy, moderately attractive (I think), and intellectually skeptical. I play well with others, obey most laws, and own a house without a mortgage.

All of these things contribute to my own sense of pride, and why not? There's a fair amount to humble myself over, too: I'm astoundingly lazy, too sarcastic and piss-poor broke. I wear "Coke bottle" glasses, an atrocious singer, and am nowhere near as fit as I was just a few years back. I don't make enough money to treat my wife as she deserves.

All told, I'm content with what I am and what I'm doing. But then, it's easy for me to be so. Among all the things I am is also male, white, and hetrosexual. Oh, and born in Canada, and in modern times. When I say that I grew up (and still am) poor, I mean Canadian poor: I've got glass in all my windows.

Now, what say there was some aspect of myself that was considered, by society at large, to be not just slightly weird but utterly intolerable? I've never had a need to hide any part of myself from others; sure, there's things I don't tell people, and things that I don't think they'll want to know, but I don't lie about my life because I don't need to.

Question: why are there gay pride parades?
Answer: the need was there.

Ask the majority of gay people if they chose to be gay, and you'll get a very empahtic NO. Who would want to grow up in a world where you weren't supposed to exist? Where your very presence meant you were a threat to society? Fear, doubt, self-loathing, lonliness are all words you hear when a homosexual talks about their youth. A strong argument could be made that pride parades aren't about pride so much as sheer joy at being allowed to exist. That acceptance has to include the rights and freedoms that exist for others in this society, or else it rings hollow.

Allow me to mention one friend of mine: her partner of ten years was dying of cancer. There was little chance of her survival, and they both knew it - for the last days of her life, she was going to be in a hospital, which she had been in and out of several times over the year previously. Finally, it was time for her last visit, and when she went through the front door, my friend never saw her again. That was because she wasn't part of her partners "immediate family", and was barred from visiting by the blood relations who hadn't spoken to their child and sibling for a decade. There was nothing she could do about it. The same family took everything they could from my friend with the claim of "bringing it back to the family", and tried to take more with an argument that "it might have been [our daughters]."

This was less than five years ago.

I didn't like that, didn't want it to happen, didn't see anything that was right or good about it. I still don't. So when I consider the twitching rage some can fly into at the mention of gay marriage, they get, at best, a confused glance; at worst, a boot to the teeth.

I did say I obeyed most laws, right?

I would be simply astounded if more than 5,000 couples across Canada got married (not including cross-border marriages) in the first five years. Will this symbolize the end of marriage, as this shaky piece of causality reporting concludes? Or is it just an extention of rights to another minority, acceptance by a nation that is trying to help all its citizens?

Acceptance. Something else to be proud of.
posted by Thursday at 9:37 pm 1 comments

August 11, 2005

Other: Advice For Criminals

For the most part, criminals are, well, pretty stupid. For every Hannibal Lecter, there's a thousand of these nimrods. So as a public service to the particularly thick, here's a bit of advice: it's the habits that get you caught, every time. So try to avoid being in the public domain if you happen to be wanted for "murder, illegal weapons charges and multiple counts of kidnapping", okay?

And yes, playing online computer games counts.

**Later addition**

Even funnier, and also done by astoundingly stupid criminals: a September 11 Hoedown. Headlining the last performer who still supports the Iraq War who has even a modicum of talent, jingoist Clint Black.
posted by Thursday at 10:26 pm 0 comments

August 09, 2005

Motorcycles: Falling Off Horses

Funny story.

I was taking a friend of ours back to Victoria on Monday (she stayed with us over the weekend - fun was had by all) when the clutch cable snapped. No panic necessary, but it meant stopping along the highway in 30 degree weather in full riding gear.

Which sucks.

I tucked my passenger into some nearby undergrowth for shade and hiked off to find a phone. No problem there, just some sweat and chafing, so I joined our friend in the shade and waited to the Significant Other to come riding to the rescue. A couple hours later, I joked that it would be funny if the truck broke down on the way. Heh. Ten minutes later, the truck arrives...

The power assist for the brakes had given out on the way, which made using said brakes more difficult, but not impossible; so we tossed Clover into the back and strapped her down and limped into Victoria with wife, friend, dog and self packed in the front. Leaving the truck with its cargo at the first service station we found, the friends roommate gave us a ride to my parents place, where we parted ways.

The parents were a little surprised to get a call from their house when they were several hundred kilometers away, but not so much that they couldn't make me feel guilty about never calling them. One awkward conversation (and an encounter with their housesitter) later, the SO and I decided to call up the fellow we're rebuilding RDs with, have him pick us up, take her and the dog back home, then I go to his place and retrieve the one RD that we've got working and I'll ride it home so we have at least one vehicle to get me to work and her back to Victoria the next day.

About this RD: Artie and I have a bit of a love-hate thing going on here; actually more a love-fear thing... Last time I rode this bike, he seized on me as I was turning a corner doing 120 km/h. Not my favorite moment, but it did leave an impression: I was assured that the possibility of this happening again was negligible, that our co-conspirator had ridden it a few times now, and a good distance at fair speed, he even doubled his daughter on it. Don't worry, it's fine. Oh, and the signals don't work, and watch out for the left handgrip - it comes off. Have fun!

This time, I rode Artie home along back roads exclusively: left hand poised over the clutch, ready to disengage the engine at the slightest sign of seizing; checking my mirror and trying to guess if the car behind me will catch up before I needed to signal a turn, and hoping they weren't RCMP... I made it to within 10 klicks of home when the engine started to bog. With a sinking feeling I applied more throttle, vainly wishing it was simnply a "flat" spot on the powerband, but no joy this night. Once I pulled in the clutch, the engine thudded to a stop.

Despite all the reassurances, despite taking apart and inspecting the engine myself, I knew in my heart of hearts that this bike was going to seize again, if out of nothing but sheer spite. Somehow, Artie had found out about Clover, and didn't like being foisted off for anothers use.

Jealousy is an evil, evil emotion.

Happily, two helpful young women stopped to see if I needed aid and offered the use of their cell phone. So one again, I called the wife, my own personal BCAA this day, to come pick me up.

"With what?" came the logical reply. I was going to have to push Artie home.

But, much like those who expect miracles see miracles, I had gone into this ride knowing what would happen. Only under the pressure of possible physical labour did my mind start to consider other possibilities. Like being out of gas. A quick switch to reserve, and home I went. The SO has had Artie all day today, after dropping me off at the ferry to work, and hasn't had any problems.

Except the left handgrip falling off.


posted by Thursday at 9:39 pm 2 comments

August 07, 2005

Other: If You Insist...

There are certain standards a company must maintain if they are to be viable: knowledge of the product or service they provede; keeping good relations with their customers; at least a modicum of marketing ability. Those are fine examples, but they pale when compared with the ability to perform basic accounting.

For instance:

For those not in the accounting know (and who isn't, I ask?) brackets around a number means a negative number. In the case above, for instance, the senders of the letter have noted the first payment was more than was owed by $194.31, so it's in brackets. The next three are billing amounts for services rendered, so no brackets.

Hey! Wake up! This gets better. Promise.

This letter is a FINAL DEMAND for payment, or else the customer will be listed with Dun & Bradstreet, a local legal firm. The amount the business in demanding payment for is ($62.13). To paraphrase, they are demanding the customer receive payment of $62.13, or they'll call the lawyers.

That's right: make us pay you or we'll sue.

Gods, I want to see this in court...
posted by Thursday at 6:02 pm 0 comments

August 06, 2005

Religion: Equal Time

The Kansas School Board is getting a flood of letters regarding the possible teaching of Intelligent Design and evolution side-by-side. Nothing new there.

The fact they're coming from this guy is fairly new. If I weren't already an athiest, I'd be sorely tempted to convert...


  • Flimsy moral standards.
  • Every friday is a relgious holiday. If your work/school objects to that, demand your religious beliefs are respected and threaten to call the ACLU.
  • Our heaven is WAY better. We've got a Stripper Factory AND a Beer Volcano."
Sorely tempted, I tell you...


posted by Thursday at 10:47 pm 0 comments

August 05, 2005

Motorcycles: Pride

What is sometimes the most obvious aspect of pride comes through our posessions. Not a specifically bad thing: an artisan values their tool above much else, for instance. But when something is taken from the realm of mere functionality, it can become much more a status symbol. Houses, cars, and wives can take on ridiculous porportions just to make sure that someone is looking at the right time, and in the right way.

Much as I hate to do it, it's time for Clover to go. She's a blast to ride, and if I could afford to I'd keep her for weekends. (Yes, I'm talking about my bike - don't get fresh.) But the engine is a little too eager; there's a little too much vibration; and I just don't take the care of her like I should. So, out she goes.

Here's the trick: one of the things I valued most about owning a Speed Triple is the looks. Not just of the bike, but from the folks around it - it is one sexy damn bike, and the sound of that three cylinder engine is something beautiful. I know I can't replace her with an equal, as you lose money on every vehicle you buy, so what could I get that was at least as interesting...

Well, there's the practical side to consider, too. I commute about 80km a day, and a bunch of that is going to be in rain, so maybe a Vstrom 650? Great engine, fully faired for wind protection, huge gas tank, reasonable to insure - and sold out. There's tha Katana 750: no cutting-edge technology, but a reliable ride that's a capable sport-tourer (just add saddlebags). Then again, I live next to the Trans-Canada Trail, so how about a dual-purpose like the DRZ 400 or a KLR 650? But duallies have tiny little gas tanks, and I don't want to fill my bike every day, and they just don't look that good. No offence - they have to function first, be pretty second. This won't assauge my horrible vanity, though.

Ah, wait. Something distinctive, interesting, and hints of practicality?

Here's an idea...

Now to get a bike that matches.


posted by Thursday at 9:28 pm 2 comments

August 01, 2005

Politics: Pride

When does pride become foolishness?

It could be when plans you have made fail, but you call it a success. Or when someone you've married beats you regularly, but you know they are just having a bad time and stay with them "for the kids". How about thinking you're a better carpenter than most, so you must be a better electrician, too.

There's a theme here - the inability to recognise flaws, in yourself or in others. A very human trait, and very understandable. So what's a governments excuse?

As you may have heard, the self-proclaimed "Prince of Pot" was arrested on Halifax last week. He's been selling viable marijuana seeds over the internet and from his store for the past 10 years, to the tune of $3 million annually. There are several other sellers based in British Columbia; the best count I've seen says 35 or so - the number fluctuates, as you could imagine. Most of these are sold to customers in the United States.

Apparently, the DEA only noticed last year, when the investigation was launched. It took these folks 18 months and around 40 agents (their admission) to find out what he was selling and how he was selling it, which amuses me no end as, judging by this rather bumbling announcement, they apparently got most of their information from his website. (It looks a little different now.)

So where does pride come in? Welcome, Canada, to Americas War On Drugs(tm)!

Yes, it's still going on. And no, it still isn't working, despite frantic laws and charges against Crohns Disease sufferers and cancer patients. There might be a bit more hope if the U.S. Government didn't try to equate pot with heroin or crack cocaine. That is, as is shown in every day lives, an utterly moronic equation that undermines any serious point they might otherwise try to make about actual dangers of drug use.

No, kids, it's not a slippery slope to more dangerous drugs. Trust me on this one: I lived on an island where a third of the residents smoked it at one time or another, and perhaps a fifth do so with some regularity. Those folks who develop an addiction to pot have addiction issues - it's why so many reformed durg users become holy roller born agains: just another drug.

Screeching turn, now! Can't let this little gem go by without comment...

One thing the current president of the United States (that would be Unca Karl) has forbidden anyone to do in public is to admit mistakes, instead apparently choosing to honour them (re: Franks, Tenet, and Bremmer).

But why, oh why would anyone consider sending someone who hates the UN to the UN, where they return the "love"? (See "Bloton Booed" for the show...) But it looks like "Got Milk" is in the game now, with president Bush deciding to continue his astounding run of utterly obnoxious appointments.


posted by Thursday at 8:25 pm 3 comments