Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a photo of america - don't be stealin' it.

I think I took this shot at St. Paul's chapel across from the World Trade Center site. If I remember right, then this picture has marginally more significance. Feel free to insert your own interpretation of any symbolism I missed. Just be sure to send me your theories so that I can use them when the smart people ask me what this photo represents.

I didn't mean to visit the World Trade Center site, I ended up there by accident. I thought it would be a little crass. It wasn't. Some miracle of good taste prevented the selling of memorial coins or 'kill osama' hats.

Seems like it's popular to hate the USA. I worked with someone who hated Americans. I guess she only met the ones on bus tours wearing ball caps that say 'USS Iowa', and saw military dominance in their eyes. She was a little nuts though. I think her boyfriend told her the lunar landings had been faked and she took it personally.

You just shouldn't judge a population by their government. The tricky thing about modern democracy that they don't teach you in grade school is that you need to have a nasty disposition and money to try out. I suppose they do cover that in junior high student council elections.

It's too bad about the stereotypes, because Americans I have met hold the record for fastest stranger to helpful new friend transition.

Well, not all of them. I have met the bus tour people as well.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

what happened to the internet?

I have been posting quite a bit in the past couple of months. I have also been leaving comments on other blogs. Usually I do this when I see or read something I like. I was told that this would drive more people to look at my blog, and though that is somewhat self interested, why else would I put things up on the information superhighway unless I wanted strangers to have a look? It sure makes the whole process worthwhile. Maybe I would even make real internet friends that didn’t want to sell me on a bigger penis.

My best friend in the world is French Panic. She also leaves posts on blogs. Sometimes people think that her comments are mean and cruel. I know they aren’t, but then I have the advantage of knowing her in human form, others do not. Without using emoticons (which don’t count as letters or language, you know) it is hard to establish the subtleties of human speech. Thus, she finds herself misunderstood far too often.

I had the mistaken impression that when you put a comment section on your website or blog, you expected to receive feedback and had accepted that some of that feedback may be negative, or at the very least, it wouldn’t always be ‘you rock!’

So Panic pointed out something that wasn’t quite right in a blog by some person that she had nothing against really. It was not meant to insult, but apparently one is not to disagree with the blogger or she/he will incur the wrath of the blogger and all of the blogger’s friends.

What did I do about this? I saw how the electronic conversation was going and added my own informed opinion. All that schooling has to have some practical use. I thought that what I had said would maybe clarify the issue. I did spend some time of my life dealing with the topic at hand.

One of the blogger’s friends decided that I didn’t have the right to reply. Somehow the logic of said friend rushing to defend the original blogger didn’t apply to me.

You can read the whole affair here, but I wouldn’t comment if I were you.

Apparently I caused someone a headache with all my properly spelt words. I hate having headaches myself and I felt pretty bad about this, so I re-read my initial comment. I did suggest that the person was ill-informed. But I tried to soften it up with a ‘have a brilliant day.’ Again, if only I would embrace the emoticon, the lack of irony in my ‘brilliant day’ sign off would have been more obvious.

It is probably a flaw in my character that I can’t let an argument just die. Why should I care that someone disagrees with me? More to the point, why should I care that a perfect stranger, that could just be another computer programmed to respond with random letters, doesn’t like what I’ve typed out?

I thought that the internet would provide for better communication between people. That was the intent. When blogs came along, despite the fact that I hate the word ‘blog’ I figured it was a great way to have your own soapbox outside of a university class. Write something or show a bit of artwork and you have an instant forum to discuss without having to pay several thousand bucks a year.


There is a strange code of behaviour within the blog world with even more made up words. Apparently what I was doing was ‘flaming’ a comment section, and that is frowned upon.

Now had I said, “You dumb shit. You don’t know anything, fucking loser” I would agree. That would be hateful, mean, and wrong. But I just thought we were having a debate.

What the whole experience has taught me is:

1. Reasonable, articulate people are harder to come upon than I imagined.
2. Folks don’t like disagreement, even polite disagreement.
3. Emoticons are stupid, but until people find a way to read something without adding their own perceptions to text, it might be worth learning a couple. Maybe just the smiley face one... oh and that winking one would be good too.
4. The kids out there really do need to learn to spell. Come on. If I can get most of my words right, surely those that believe themselves much smarter than me can manage the same.
5. I have far too much free time on my hands at the moment. I need a proper hobby that doesn't involve my precious computer.

If you wish to leave a comment on my little blog, feel free. When can discuss things reasonably. I will even agree to admit that I am wrong. You can blast me with hate even. In the end, I just really want traffic... (and maybe a couple of faceless internet friends.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

concrete rooster terrorizes small vietnamese town

Yup, it's happenin'. Concrete birds are gettin' angry. I blame bird flu .... and president bush, cause why not.

depressing urban landscape

I took this picture on my daily walk to school in Edmonton. I miss school. It was so educational, and there were people to talk to everyday. Mostly it was a reason to put on pants.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill O'Reilly, the Boss, and me

Until a year or so ago, Bill O’Reilly wasn’t a name I really knew. He hadn’t yet made any impact on my life ‘cause I have the good luck to be Canadian and am not subjected to Fox News except where it makes an appearance on the Daily Show.

About a year ago I was working at the world’s smallest and stupidest newsroom and the Boss had been bragging about talking to the presumably good folks at Fox. The Boss was very excited. I was not. I knew that Fox News was one of the great jokes in journalism. The sort of joke that really isn’t all that funny.

Overworked and simply counting the paychecks, I lacked the enthusiasm that I had had when I first started working there.

For a month or so, before I realized the boss was nothing more than a spoiled child in a chunky man’s suit, I believed what he told me and shared in the excitement of working in a newsroom.

Those days were over.

I watched the first Fox News clip that came into the office. It was Bill. He did a marvelous job of shocking me out of my work induced coma.

I think he was interviewing Cindy Sheehan, the lady who lost her son to the Iraq war and was now protesting said war. To call it an interview is wrong. It was a form of bullying that I had never witnessed on television outside of an after school special. Bill belittled her cause claiming that were her son alive, he would be very angry with this protest, and how dare she. The war was a raging success in all but the minds of those unpatriotic liberals who would probably have allowed the Nazis to win the second world war.

Perhaps because of the Fox claim of ‘fair and balanced’ reporting, O’Reilly gave Cindy the ‘last word’, which he preceded to talk over anyhow.

He does this with everyone he disagrees with. The only people allowed to have an actual last word seem to be military types and Republicans.

The idiot boss was phoning from his Blackberry every 5 minutes wanting to know the status of this brand new exciting clip from Fox. I warned him that it was not truly journalism and was certainly offensive.

‘Are you sure you want this up? We also carry clips from BBC and Reuters, I’m not sure this is up to the caliber of journalism you keep going on about.’ I said.

‘I agree with you about thirty percent, 80% of America watches Fox News, and that makes it important news. We want people to see both sides. What is the video clip about?’ said Idiot Boss.

‘It’s a piece by this guy Bill O’Reilly. It isn’t even journalism, he’s .....’

I got cut off by an exclamation of ‘RIGHT ON! PUT IT UP NOW! HOW LONG UNTIL IT IS LIVE? THIS IS GREAT! O’REILLY’S A BIG NAME,BIG NAME!- hold on, I’ve got another call’

And that is where I’d be left on hold until I realized that he had completely forgotten he was talking to his lowly video editor.

That is how the Boss talked, with made up numbers and overbearing exclamations. Idiot Boss also loved punching the air with a circular movement when he was excited. Sort of a modified Arsenio Hall whoop. I believe he developed this at his frat house where I’m sure he was quite popular.

I realized that he was not that much different from the moron on the computer monitor in front of me.

I was fired a few months later, but not before I was forced to endure O’Reilly drivel every morning. I learnt a lot through Bill and my Boss. Here is a short and incomplete list.

- Free Speech is important, but listening to it is not.

- Yelling your own opinions over the free speech is good way to make it go away.

- Never let facts prevent you from telling a good story. If someone questions your facts, yell out their personal shortcomings.

- Pointing your fingers at people violently is a fun debate technique and a good way to show off your expensive suit.

- No one ever questions statistics, they just assume that you have done your homework and must have read it somewhere. Make up your own.

- Don’t allow your lack of mathematical prowess get in the way of your statistics. Yelling will eventually silence your detractors and other purveyors of numerals and facts.

- Key words are important. Read the first chapter of important business and political books to get a feel for some new ‘it’ words. Repeat them several times in conversation. People will think you are current and in the know. Fun tip: magazines are a faster read and have more pictures. Keywords and quotes are usually repeated in large fonts somewhere in the layout. Use them.

- Quote big thinkers in media. Actually you only need to know one; ‘Media is the message’. It doesn’t matter that you can’t elaborate on that quote. Very few people can. However, it does show that you attended a class on media.

- Pretend to give a last word to your guest/employee, then talk over them until they give up.

- Comparing your opponent to a nazi after they have left is a good way to nullify any damage they might have caused your argument. Pointing out their hate conceals yours.

- People don’t like yelling and will eventually go away to avoid it.

If you have your own lessons learnt from various jerks, please do post them on my comments section. I firmly believe that assholes can teach us things too.

Monday, August 13, 2007


For three summers, I was a treeplanter. It was a hard job. Probably the hardest.

When you’re little, the schools fill you with the idea that pioneers had it tough, that the work never ended, and no one ever got rich doing it. The proper response was to show admiration and be grateful that we didn’t have so many chores to do. I’m not sure why teachers and parents fill kids with stories of how rough things used to be. Why do lessons taught to kids have to be fraught with so much guilt?

The fact is treeplanting is probably at least as hard as being a pioneer in terms of pure physical labour, not to mention similar mental anguish.

A planter of trees, at least during my time, was only paid for the number of trees put into the ground. The average for the time when this photo was taken was about 12 cents per tree, more if the terrain was especially difficult. Then there was the 25$ per day for camp and food costs. Then you had the amount owed on the gear you had to purchase from the company and whatever your tent and boots (at least 2 pair per season) for the year cost.

You only got paid if you planted the precious trees correctly each time. And there was always a company man/woman walking around making sure you did it right, or you started again... this time no money made, since you had already put the trees in the ground. They also had a habit of making sure you wore your hard hat, despite the fact that in your average clear cut, there aren’t actually any trees standing.

Payday was generally more stressful as the reality of your work was played out for you on a piece of paper, ironically made by the trees that you just replaced. Some people came out of a season owing the company.

Add the bugs (mostly blackflies and mosquitos, but also wasps, deer flies and other strange bitey ones), the bears (which leads to inevitable bear mace can explosions) and no escape from the rain, sun and hail... and that is about as hardcore a job as one can find in Canada.

One day this cool cat I worked with was sitting on the ground. He stared back at me. Since he was a rookie and looking pretty sad, I asked him if he was alright. He replied, "You know, if someone on the street came up to me, dropped a dime in front of me, and all I had to do was pick it up and put it in my pocket, I wouldn't do it."

His logic was impeccable. The saddest part as he left the job for good was that it was another week until black fly season
Hence this picture of an old friend who is rolling a joint at the top of a hill, trying not to let the wind catch our communal stash of precious marijuana.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

alberta hippy - not a myth

A hippy from Alberta is as annoying as any other sort of hippy.

When I was a kid, I asked my parents what a hippy was.

My mom said they didn't exist anymore.

I said, 'like the dinosaurs?'

My dad said, 'yes.'

They giggled like they knew something.

I don't know why.

It isn't as if they were ever hippies.

I know cause of their vinyl collection. It tells no lies.

work clothes for the unemployed

Last week I bought a suit.

I haven’t bought a suit since French Panic and I worked our way through Vietnam (Saigon to Hanoi via multiple bus trips, if you’re curious).

Although the Vietnam suit was tailored to me, that was the slightly more svelte traveling version of me. I don’t eat as much in tropical heat, apparently. It seemed like a good suit at the time and it only cost me 30$. I know many good deals can be had in Vietnam, but there is a strange bulge in the jacket, and the pants split a couple of hours before my brother’s wedding last year. Apparently, the sweat shop saved some money by buying thread from thread pirates who aren’t known for their attention to quality.

Thus despite the kinda cool asian collar that looks like Canoe Reeves’ collar in one of those Matrix movies, the suit has gone largely unseen except for two weddings. I also have to note that while it seemed cool at the time, I fear it makes me look more like a priest than a science fiction hero. Sometimes a good deal is not actually a good deal.

So now I have a suit that I’m much more comfortable in. As I don’t have regular employment other than my pretend job of super spy, I’m was not immediately sure when and how I was going to wear my new suit.

My idea is now as follows: I’m going to do the morning commute with everyone else in Montréal. I will get up, starting this Monday, put on my suit, head to the closest Metro station and take that metro ride all the way around. Then I will get off at the station where I started, or maybe another station that is also close, walk home with my satchel over my shoulder and a travel mug of coffee in my hand, sit down at in my little home office, and work away - possibly at this blog, probably at the couple of largely ignored projects I should have finished a year ago.

I enjoy a good morning commute. So much people watching to do. No need for small talk, since no one wants to talk. And then there’s the metro ride. I do love a good train trip.

The afternoon commute is not so enjoyable, however, so perhaps I’ll just walk around the block, buy a couple of samosas and announce that I’m finally home when I get back.

It’s fun to pretend to be a contributing member of the workforce.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

man purse

Man purses in public are not cool. Not cool at all. Some things can only be pulled off by a woman. It's what make us different. Like how some birds have different coloured feathers between the genders to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

My dad carried around a man style clutch for a year. I'm glad he had co-workers who I imagine teased him until he gave the thing up. Thank god he didn't jump on that short lived man-skirt that was also being thrust upon north american men in the mid 1990s.

If you are a man and need to carry a bunch of stuff, but not enough for a backpack, why not get an old military satchel like Indiana Jones had. No one would call that a man purse.

on the mountain

Montréal has the incredible good luck to be centered around a very large hill that the locals call a mountain. It's like someone planned it that way. Sometimes when the hippies aren't banging on bongo drums, usually on weekdays, it is surprisingly quiet.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Today, I hate the CBC

Nearly everyday I look over the job opportunities at the venerable institution. Some jobs are well beyond me and my skills, such as president, or anchor, or journalist. I don’t want to get myself in over my head and either get fired on the first week, or have a staff that resent me for my incompetence. (I have been that staff. Being the incompetent one in charge fills me with dread.)

So I apply for jobs I know I’m capable of doing. Things such as assistant camera person, technical helper monkey, production assistant, maybe even video editor (again, I’m happy to be an assistant at this too). I even applied to be the video archives clerk cause at least it says video in the job title and I don’t mind working my way up from a windowless dungeon, if that’s what it takes.

The online process is routine. The website even saves your information so you only have to change the relevant bits.

But there is one section that fills me with annoyance. The one section that gives you the option of not filling it out.

It asks the following questions: Are you aboriginal? Are you a person with disabilities? Are you a member of a visible minority? What is your gender?

I have considered lying at this point. Of course that would be caught the moment I show up for the interview, but then, who is to say that I am not a visible minority, or that I don’t have some native blood in me somewhere?

The following is from the CBC online application process:

"Members of visible minorities" means persons, other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”

So not me, so much. In fact the only yes answer I can give this series of questions, is yes I’m a man and a white one at that. Not my fault, not my choice, but I don’t feel guilty or responsible for that.

Let me be perfectly clear; I don’t believe in racism or treating handicapped people like dirt, beating up on women or feeding aboriginals rot gut in an effort to steal their land.

I don’t believe in those things, and have not done those things. I do acknowledge that such things happen.

The reason I don’t agree with these sorts of actions isn’t because I’m such a great fucking person. It is because no one should be evaluated based on an element of their life that they can do nothing about.

Racism is wrong because the judgment stems from the colour of a person’s skin or their culture.

You can’t do anything about that. You are simply born. You don’t get to make those decisions. You are male or female, white, brown or purple, based on barely understood realities of biology.

Thus on a purely logical basis, you cannot and should not judge another based on such things.

Affirmative action does not work outside of theory. It places the very same discrimination it seeks to eliminate on what is perceived as the opposing party without consideration for the individual.

It is just as racist to say ‘I will not even consider hiring that person because HE is WHITE.’

One day I decided to fill out the page. Why should I feel ashamed, after all?

Today, I finally received a call from Radio-Canada, the french arm of the CBC.

I was instantly excited. Perhaps a job... I’d even take a modestly paid intern position and do it with a smile on my face.

Predictably enough, it was in french. That isn’t a problem, usually. I was thinking in english, so my brain struggled for a few seconds to make the necessary switch.

The man wanted to know more about the school in Alberta that I graduated from. No problem. I answered. I worked hard at that school and learned some stuff, hopefully the required stuff.

The next thing I know he is asking rather technical questions, while not really hard, and I do know the answers, took me a bit by surprise. He hadn’t even told me at this point what the position was for.

So I asked. Apparently it was for a job as an assistant in a television studio. Great. A chance to work and learn some stuff. I have hung lights for theater and for studio work, so it is something I can do.

He was calling to not waste my time and theirs since they were considering asking me in to write a 4 hour exam.

Apparently, he decided that because I wasn’t ready for rapid fire technical questions at 10 in the morning and couldn’t give him an answer to the question “What do you know about electricity?” CBC would be unable to pony up the 50 cents or so in photocopy costs to write the fucking exam and prove myself one way or the other.

So I didn’t pass the screening call.

Granted I’m a little upset that within seconds my sought after chance at an interview with CBC was utterly destroyed. I do feel that had I been able to claim some sort of minority status other than the obvious western Canadian in Québec, I might of at least had the chance to write that 4 hour exam that would somehow magically make me able to hang lights, plug them in, and know to keep my mouth shut while the show is being taped.

At this point, at least for today, I want nothing to do with working for organizations more worried about how they are perceived than actually getting on with business.

I can't find an appropriate image to go along with this post. I already used the photo of shit in my last post.

Monday, August 06, 2007

poo on the road

My observant friend Mel pointing out danger on a northern Alberta road.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

i love the cbc

I love the CBC. I was brought up to love the CBC. Growing up it was the only radio station that I really knew about. Turning on the radio meant listening to the CBC.

I’m not sure why my parents were like this. They were aware that there was a knob to change the station... but it never got changed, ever.

Normally this would turn into a hard luck story about my clumsy teen age years and how unfair and weird my parents were.

But I’m happy to have lived with a stead diet of interviews and news stories along with awkwardly produced documentaries and retarded stories about a guy in Westlock, Alberta who collects antique combines. It calms my erratic little brain. Background white noise in the apartment. Plus it has filled my head with all sorts of important knowledge and even more useless trivia.

They will broadcast almost anything. They are responsible for the Beachcombers and my favorite all time teevee show, Twitch City. They even bothered to broadcast some little things that I have written. Nothing extraordinary, but it is still nice to hear your name on the radio.

It certainly isn’t perfect and that is probably what makes it so great. It stumbles less than college radio, but unlike college radio, it keeps on going despite the mistakes. The fact that something can keep on going despite being run by entirely by committees of suits is impressive.

A friend and I constantly rail against the main morning host, Shelagh Rogers. For a while we had discussed how we could get on the show and mock her somehow during the interview. It could still happen.

The strange thing is as much as we hate her interview technique and her obnoxious laugh, neither of us considers turning the radio off or changing the station. He is an artist and I sit in front of my precious computer, so we both are within easy reach of the radio off button. We both listen to the whole show, and yell at the radio and later we sometimes meet and discuss how much we don’t like her.

I do feel a bit bad about this. I’m sure if I met her I would be humbled at how nice she really is. And if I could work for her, I probably would swallow my pride, and take the job.

Why would I put my friendship with my artist friend in jeopardy? Firstly, I want to join the workforce again. My EI holiday has gone on long enough. More importantly, I just want to work at the CBC.

If this post ends up on some lowly production assistant's mandatory internet search... pass it on up the line, would you?

Friday, August 03, 2007

sadhus in kathmandu

At first smoking pot all day and people watching seems like a not bad life. However, it seems they like doing things like stand in one spot for a couple of decades, lifting stuff with their genitalia, and trying to get into the Guiness book of records.

I think I'd rather not be a sadhu. I still like teevee.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

a print shop in Freetown

I took this photo while being driven around Freetown, Sierra Leone. I was there for to work for one weekend. It was a ridiculous assignment, but I do like going on adventures.

mister donut

I never got a Mister Donut donut while I was in Tokyo. My sister says the donuts there are great, however. She spent two years teaching kids to speak english. Me and French Panic were only in Tokyo for 2 weeks.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

tokyo subway station

Tokyo is a crazy town. I never really had much of a grasp as to what was going on around me. My mouth hung open like some sort of hick for the length of our visit. This subway station had an english translation on the signs. Not all stations do though. After I took this photo, we got completely lost and got on the wrong train. It was a stressful day. The best way to deal with a stressful day is to go home, if you can find it, and eat doritos.

Bangkok temple