ed_rex: (Default)
2017-04-17 03:11 pm

LJ 18th anniversary, or The irony, it burns!

Car crash at Somerset Street & Percy, Ottawa, taken in January or February of 2017. Click for full-size image.

It's pretty hard to believe it's been 13 and a half years since I joined Livejournal. Paradoxically, it's also pretty hard to believe it's only been 13 and a half years since I joined Livejournal.

What's even harder to believe, is that I've been on Dreamwidth since May of 2009, just shy of eight years, – more than half the time I've been on Livejournal – during which I have made DW my home, cross-posting to LJ from here.

14 years. 8 years. Either way, the mind boggles.

Anyway, over the years, LJ/DW (but especially) it has at times been a central part of my online life, if recent years have seen its importance diminish (almost the only posts I've made directly to LJ since moving to DW have been an automated record of my tweets). And now, the movement away from LJ to DW, which started fitfully back in 2009, seems to have really taken off. Last I checked (two or three days ago) there were a half-dozen dead journals listed on my LJ Friends List; there might be more now).

I'm not closing my LJ. Not yet, anyway. Nostalgia and inertia are powerful forces, and the Doctor Who community over there is still pretty strong. More importantly, I'm not much more concerned about servers being located in Russia than I am about DW's being located in the United States. Indeed, a case could be made that, as a Canadian, I am more likely to be targeted by nefarious forces in the USA than I am by the powers-that-be in Russia.

But regardless, as a wannabe writer and sometime publisher, the vast majority of my on-line life is conducted in public. And I harbor no illusions that anything I post on someone else's server is not accessible to government forces should they happen to put me in their cross-hairs.

So here I am; and there I will stay. And a happy anniversary to me, and to Livejournal.

#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday

ed_rex: (Default)
2017-03-02 05:09 am

Appropos of nothing much in particular ...

12-hour shifts &mdash even relatively easy 12 hour shifts — are hard.

It's 05:09 as I type this. I've been home from about 1 hour and 40 minutes after a 12 hour shift. 12 hour shifts are long. And become 14 hour shifts if you take travel times into account.

I've managed to eat, and watch the latest episode of The Expanse, which is that bloody rare example (perhaps Game of Thrones rare — or maybe that's a bad example, since I've never read the books and gave up on the show a season or two back. But I think it serves to illustrate the point) of a television adaptation which is very nearly as good as the books on which it's based.

But for now, it's time for a shower and some rest.

Just thought it was more than time this space (LJ version) showed more than bloody tweets (and, DW version, showed anything at all). (Hi Nellie!)

Exeunt! (But have a picture! After almost a week of rain, it's hard to believe this was the scene on my street only a week and a half-ago (February 19th, 2017, to be precise).

Where are the snows of yestermonth?

ed_rex: (Default)
2017-01-13 01:21 am

Popularity problems

Not my popularity, but Dreamwidth's.

A whole bunch of my Livejournal Friends (well, maybe a half-dozen) have gone and done what I did a few years back - duplicated their journals here. Worse, they're now cross-posting new entries. Er, as I do.

So, my heretofore almost-moribund DW Reading page is suddenly a lot busier. But (which two exceptions so far), busier with people whose words I will also see on LJ.

It's not nearly as onerous as scrolling through Facebook, but the duplication isn't actually welcome.

Aw well. First-world problems, I guess.

ed_rex: (1980)
2017-01-05 05:59 am

"You're dead after school, Dow!"

Back in grades seven and eight, I was bullied in a pretty big way. Death threats (however rhetorical) were a more or less daily occurrence. Elbows in the hall happened regularly, and actual assaults on school property (inside the school itself, more than once) were, if not frequent, were not exactly rare.

And deciding which route to take home was a matter of balancing my desire to get home quickly vs the odds of being attacked by the thugs who had decided I was the one they would pick on.

Probably my biggest moment of shame and pride happened in (I think) grade eight, when the halls were full with students streaming from one class to another.

I was attacked by three or four guys, who took me to the floor and got in a few shots, then, laughing in triumph, took their leave. At which point I got to my feet and leapt upon the leader — Terry Scovron was his name, I'm pretty sure — and got in a few licks of my own.

Naturally, his thugs came to his aid and I was once again put down, but I felt a certain amount of satisfaction in having gotten in a few of my own.

What rankled, though, was hearing later, that word had gotten 'round that Scovron had beaten me up, no mention of his three or four henchmen.

Anyway, I digress.

I was actually friendly with one member of that gang. He was a nice enough kid, I guess. He hung with the bullies to protect himself, I think. They'd abuse him — mock him and hit him, but not too hard, and in exchange he had their protection and, presumably, some measure of prestige.

Anyway, one day after a test, when we had some free time in the same class-room, I asked him, "Why? Why don't they just leave me alone?"

"They're scared of you," he said. And when, baffled, I asked him how they could possibly be scared of me, he told me that it was because I didn't play their game. I just wanted to be left alone. He said (and I paraphrase; it's been a few years, and he didn't use the kind of vocabulary I'm gifting him with now) if I would just accept their dominance, they'd let me be. But because I kept fighting back, they had to keep putting me down. And because I didn't seem to care about their barnyard strutting, they had to keep putting me down. So that I would care about the grade seven, then eight, pecking order.

(This shit went on for two fucking years; and yes, the constant worry that I might be attacked for no good reason did do some long-term damage. Although, on the other hand, I think it's given me a little more empathy for how women feel when walking a dark street, or navigating a mostly-male workplace, than a lot of men have.)

Anyway, flash-forward to the present. The boss' mother (and titular owner) aside, my workplace is entirely male. Many of them immigrants, almost of us working class. Some, like me, with book-larnin, most without much of it.

I don't have a regular shift there, but get a new schedule every two weeks. And further, if I am going to be driving a crew out of town, I get an email with the specifics of time and (sometimes) of which vehicle I'll be driving.

A few days before Christmas I got one of those emails, with a note about the weather: you'd better come in at least 15 minutes early, so you can scrape the ice off the windows.

I texted back, "Thanks for the heads' up. And if [R] is fretting, tell him I'm already on the bus."

Fretting. I guess I should have known better.

R has made a point of using the word, fretting, every god damned time I've been in the office at the same time as him ever since.

Unlike grade school, it's okay. Instead of punches, my co-workers throw jokes. They tease, "the way men do".

One of the nice things about being a grown up, is that other people (usually) grow up too, at least to some extent. Where once my eccentricities elicited violence, now they are an identifying trait, not a threat. I'm weird, but I'm okay, I'm liked.

Which is a really nice change, even after all these years, let me tell you!

But even so, I think I'm going to get pretty damned sick of the word fretting before too long.

ed_rex: (Default)
2017-01-02 05:49 pm

2016: Confessions of a procrastinator (2017 edition)

A New Year's post-mortem

Cover of Self-Loathing Comics #1, by R. Crumb. Click image for more information.
Image from the cover of Self-Loathing Comics #1, by R. Crumb. Published by Fantagraphics Books. Click image for full cover.

It's a sobering fact that Neil Young manages to make records faster than I can absorb them, and that Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes books faster than I can fucking read them.

As John Lennon put it, "And so happy Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over ..."

Am I going to manage to do something with the new year just begun?

A look at what Young Geoffrey has left undone. If you're not interested, just skip to the video below. Emmy the Great is exactly what Emma-Lee Moss wrote on the tin when she was young and un-selfconscious. )

"You say you love me like a sister
Then you walk me to the cafe
where the drinks cost more than music ..."

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-12-18 11:53 pm

Mon pays, c'est l'hiver!

Have I mentioned that I love soccer? And also, cycling? And even, winter?

Young Geoffrey sets out for his soccer afternoon in Ottawa.

ed_rex: Winter Warrior icon (Weekend Warrior)
2016-12-12 12:05 am

Fight or flight?

Fright or flight?

The author takes the right seat - just don't touch anything! Photo by Raven

The strangeness of fear (or lack thereof)

December 11, 2016, OTTAWA — Fear — pure, irrational fear — is the damnedest thing.

I'm talking about the fears that don't make sense, or at least, that don't make sense when taken out of context. Fear of spiders that aren't poisonous, of rodents nott dangerous, of heights well-barricaded.

This last — heights — is my especial irrational bugaboo. Standing on a chair to reach a high shelf makes me uneasy. Getting onto the counter to change a light-bulb makes me nervous verging on frightened.

Hell, one of my earliest childhood memories comes from a terror near paralysis I experienced when I had to ride a down escalator at the old Eaton's in Montreal. In fact, it's only in the past five — maybe 10 — years, that I've learned to travel the moving staircases in more or less complete serenity.

But put me in an elevator or on an aeroplane, no matter that the latter, especially, is objectively much more dangerous than riding an escalator, and I feel no fear whatsoever.

At least, that's always been my experience on commercial airplanes. But I've wondered, ever since I first flew as a passenger in a Dash-8, how I would react were I to ride in the cockpit of a small aircraft, without the illusion of safety even a small passenger liner provides.

Would my fear of heights reassert itself in such a flimsy platform?

Last month, I finally found out whether I have any fear of flying.

_______

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-11-13 04:09 pm

The waves of virtue are ...

I'm sick. 2nd degree hacking cough and a head full of mucus.

The cold came on fast Friday afternoon and evening, during what turned out to be an 11 hour shift. Nevertheless, I hoped on my bicycle for home come about 02:15 Saturday morning, then got back on it at about 11:15 for a return trip and another 11 hour shift on Saturday. I returned home a little after midnight, having cycled about 35 kilometres since the onset of symptoms.

I say all this not to brag (or not to brag much), but to note:

Less than 10 years ago, when I caught a cold it was my practice to take to my bed, to suck down Neocitrin, and basically spend the next four to seven days in bed.

Since then, though, I stopped smoking, cut my drinking by more than half and started biking a lot more and playing soccer. And — fancy that! — now when I catch a cold, I function. I doubt I get over it any faster, but I don't take to my bed like some upper-class Victorian lady with The Vapours, I just carry on. (And, probably, spread my illness around to my passengers, but what the hell; I'm pretty sure one of them gave it to me in the first place.)

And speaking of that cycling, I've long maintained that my bicycle is my primary mode of transportation; now I have proof.

After I bought a new machine some time back in August, I decided to splurge on an odometer. Which turned out to be an unreliable piece of junk, which I was fortunately able to return. At which point I took Raven's advice and tried out a GPS-based cellphone app called Strava — which works like a charm (so long as I remember to enable my location services). I started recording my rides on August 23rd. I've missed a few and will manually enter the information later, so the image below does not include all the miles (kilometres) I've cycled since then, but it's not too far off.

1,290 km in less that three months, damn it! And you know what? I'm proud!

1200 km cycled in less than 3 months!

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-10-25 01:34 pm

Pee Story or, Good Cops or White Privilege?

After dropping off passengers at the Trudeau International Airport in Dorval, I headed back to Ottawa driving an empty van, torn between the comforting inanities of the sports station on the radio (go Habs go!) and the distorted eco-rock of the eternally-rejuvenating Neil Young, playing with the much-younger men of Promise of the Real.

Anyway, though I'd make a quick stop at a nearby hotel to pee, about half-way back to Ottawa I began to feel that pressure again, the one that says, Really, Young Geoffrey! You do like your fluids, don't you! And it's true, I do.

After balancing the twin desires — the relief of a good pee vs the desire to get home as soon as possible — the urge to pee won out over a frankly pretty brief stop.

I flicked my turn signal on and pulled off the highway, stopping entirely off the paved shoulder, turned on my hazard lights (yes, as a cyclist, a driver and a pedestrian, I've become a bit of a signal-nazi; and no apologies), and got out from behind the wheel, walked around back to the passenger side and opened the front passenger door, in order to more discretely go about my business.

Job done, I zipped up, closed the door and started back around the vehicle again. Only to see, as I reached the driver's side, a car pulling up onto the shoulder behind me. One with flashing lights on the roof.

Oh my Christ! was my first thought, am I going to be busted for indecent exposure!?!

But surely not! There was no proof I'd exposed anything, was there? It was dark and I'd completed my ablutions before they were anywhere near me!

Still, I could only wait to find out. I turned to face them as an officer emerged from either side of the car. The driver carried a flashlight, but she didn't point it aggressively towards me, but rather just illuminated the ground between us. "Good evening!" I said, waving at them with my gloved right hand.

"Hi," said the cop, "are you all right?"

"Oh," I said, a little non-plussed. "Yes, yes, I'm fine thank you."

"Well good," she said, "we just stopped to make sure everything is okay."

"Yes, it is," I said, then added with completely unnecessary candour, "I just had to, y'know, empty my bladder." (Idiot! came a voice from the back of mind, never volunteer anything!) But no harm done. She smiled and said, "Well good night, then," and she and her partner turned back to their car.

"Okay, thanks," I said, waving. And I thought, making sure "everything is okay" is what cops should do!

But when I got back in the car, I had to wonder, would that have been the whole of the interaction if I'd been a brown or a black man?

And that — after she finished laughing — was just what Raven said when I told her the story after I got home" "Yeah, because you're white!"

I'd like to think that she (and I) are wrong about that, that those particular cops really were among those "good cops" we hear about every time a Sammy Yatim is gunned down like a made dog that's not even on the loose, but it's hard not to wonder if I was only benefiting from my white skin.

Anyway, here's Neil Young and Promise of the Real, to give you something else to be angry about. ("Monsanto").

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-10-14 12:28 pm

A tale of burns and aloe or, Farenheit five-oh-oh

You know what's scary? That moment when you realize you've grabbed the handle of a copper pan just out of a 500 degree (Farenheit) oven, just before you start to feel the burn.

I let it go awfully fast, so that only my fore-finger and, to a lesser extent, my thumb, sizzled. But even so, I knew it was going to hurt. I went immediately to the freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen corn and held it tight for some minutes, even as we ate.

The conversation, as it will, turned to the wound, which pulsed with pain every time I took it away from the icy kernels. I wondered if I could try analgesic I'd bought for a sore tooth a couple of months ago, and Raven wondered whether there was some sort of natural remedy I might try.

And that question turned on the proverbial light-bulb: Aloe!.

Raven has been carrying for an aloe plant longer than I've known her, and so she made her way upstairs and snipped off a bit for me to try.

And ladies and gentlemen and fair folk (hmm ... does that last term work?), let me tell you, it worked like a fucking wonder. The sap went on cool and soothed the burns instantly. Within an hour, the pain had vanished almost entirely. This morning, the dead skin is dry to the touch, but it doesn't hurt.

Kids! If you don't have an aloe plant in the house, get one! They don't take a lot of care. As Raven pointed out last night, it doesn't like a lot of water and she never fertilizes it, and yet it grows and it grows and it grows. Just keep it away from frost. And when you need it, snip a little off and apply liberally until the pain goes away.

A tale of burns and aloe: photo shows burned finger with aloe plant in background
ed_rex: (dhalgren)
2016-09-27 01:14 am

Preliminary remarks on the final phase of US Election 2016

Should any of you be interested, I think Trump is likely to win this election. I'm not cheering for him, mind you, but neither am I cheering for the war-criminal Hillary ("we came, we saw, he died!") Clinton. As a foreigner, I see no good outcome in the short term, and probably not in the long, unless Black Lives Matter and the renewed anti-pipeline native movement(s) can somehow coalesce in a broader, genuinely revolutionary movement with whatever remains of Bernie Sanders' supporters.

In the short run, whoever wins the Presidency, the Pentagon will ensure lots of foreign wars and lots of foreign casualties; and most likely, President Trump will prove just as friendly to the 1%, the class to which he belongs, as President Clinton.

All that said, I watched the debate with a sort of morbid fascination. Was surprised that Trump was so well-coached and impressed by his cool body language; when he wasn't interrupting, he appeared to be listening to his opponent. Clinton surprised me by being mostly fairly personable, much less stiff than I expected. But the eye-rolling and impatient smiles at Trump's more outrageous lies and innuendo probably did her no good.

No clear winner to my eyes, though; it's going to be a long couple of months. So I'll leave you with a picture.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-09-25 02:04 am

On the importance of having pockets (or not)

The pocket is political

She's got hands in her pockets ...

Women’s pockets were private spaces they carried into the public with increasing freedom, and during a revolutionary time, this freedom was very, very frightening. The less women could carry, the less freedom they had. Take away pockets happily hidden under garments, and you limit women’s ability to navigate public spaces, to carry seditious (or merely amorous) writing, or to travel unaccompanied.

Normally this is the sort of thing I would just post a link to on the faceplace or the twit, but the person I am almost certain would find this interesting (if they haven't already seen it) has withdrawn from the hurly-gurly of Zuckerealm, if only temporarily.

And so, I commend to your attention the surprising history of pockets and why — if you're a woman — your clothes probably don't have any. None usuful, at least.

The Politics of Pockets.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-08-18 04:08 pm

Healthy - ish

I think I mentioned it in a comment on someone else's journal, but I haven't said anything about it here.

I had an appointment with my MDeity this morning, on account of Raven having noticed a scaly kind of discoloration on the side of my neck way back around Easter. At the time, I dismissed as probably being a result of my bike helmet strat abrading it or something, but she took a photo of it around the end of July and that was enough to make place a call to Doctor Chow's office.

If you want the details, they're below the cut, hidden for those who don't want to be reminded that human skin is flawed and patchy and full of holes. )

Anyway, the news today was mostly good. She told me the markings aren't cancer (the big worry, 'natch), but since she doesn't know what they are, referred me to a specialist. Figures it will be about four months until I see her.

She also told me that the blood tests she'd sent me for blood tests to check for adult-onset diabetes (I'd complained of a series of "near colds", maybe a month in which I felt like I was coming down with something every two or three days). Not only were my results good, she said, they were "very good. I pee a lot 'cause I drink plenty of fluids — and the near-colds stopped happening the moment I walked out of her office last time.)

And finally, the arthritis. She says it will subside with time, and approves of my desire to stay away from meds that would see me getting blood tests to make sure I'm not fucking up my liver every three months.

So, yeah. For now I deal with the pain, take ASA and see if the twice-daily does of turmeric tea (which I started trying this week) does any good. When I mentioned that I can't do push-ups because of the pain, she made the very sensible suggestion that I do them on my knuckles and I'll give that a try.

So. All things considered, not to bad. The process of deterioration is ongoing, but moving at a pleasantly slow clip. And there's nothing stopping me from playing soccer or carrying on my 25 kilometre round-trip commute to work on my new bicycle.

Now if I can only get back to writing, I'll be in clover.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-08-12 03:42 pm

44 questions, not beers, in the meme ...

Yoinked from sabotabby's LJ.

And cut for the protection of your friends' page. )

44. What song do you want played at your funeral?

I want more than one, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to include this one:

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-08-12 03:03 pm

Heatwave dreams

The pitch was bright, all hard sun baking wilting astro-turn, the mid crowded with bodies of the enemy. I punted a cautious pass towards my downstream team-mate, calling out his name as the ball left the toe of my shoe and floated over the defenders' heads. He turned, but mis-calculated and the ball bounced, then dribbled toward the enemy.

I pinched, fast and hard, reaching the ball only milliseconds before my opponent. Kicked out, hard and ...

... and hurled myself right off my bed and into the wall, down which I slid to the floor.

From above, I heard Raven cry out, "Honey, what happened? Are you all right?" She burst into laughter when I explained what had happened, and I did too, as I got to my knees, checked for damages (slight scrape on the inside of one thigh), and clambered back onto the bed.

Soccer dreams are all well and good, but somebody's gonna get hurt if this keeps up. A rude awakening indeed.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-07-08 01:43 pm

A road not taken (by me)

When I was a kid, a teenager (and beyond, in fact), I played the guitar and I hitch-hiked quite a lot. As a grubby-looking, long-haired guy, that latter activity meant I spent a lot of time standing by the side of the road, day-dreaming. And a recurring day-dream was that I would master the guitar to the point where I might find myself someday sharing a stage with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, noodling away like a 'head from the Haight.

Obviously, it never happened. I didn't have the drive to become a good guitarist nor, I suspect, did (or do) I have the innate talent. Sometimes biology is destiny.

But last night, I happened on a video of a very recent concert by Dead & Company, a band made up of former members of the Grateful Dead and others, younger players.

I don't expect many (or even, probably, any) of you to watch the video — it's more than 3 hours long, but who knows? Maybe someone's trippin' ...

Anyway, listening to it and (sometimes) watching it and it hit me: John Mayer, the lead guitarist (whose name but not work rings a bell with me), though 12 years my junior, is doing something I fantasized I might do on those long, dusty days with my thumb out waiting for a ride.

No wonder he bounces. No wonder he looks so happy. He's jamming with the Dead, man!

Dead & Company is a nostalgia act, sure, but there's still some creative life in the old bones, if only through the input of young(ish) blood. The Rolling Stones could take a lesson.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-05-02 11:25 pm

Game of Thrones or Orphan Black?

Not that anyone cares (nor should they) but I for some reason feel compelled to announce publicly that I have grown so disenchanted with Game of Thrones I can't even be bothered to read episode synopses, let alone actually watch it any more.

Pity. It was fun for a a while.

But on the other hand, last week's Orphan Black made me squee like the greenest fanboy. If you're not watching it, why in the hell aren't you?

Happy (Orthodox) Easter, everybody.

Image: Mock poster showing Marx, Engels(?), Lenin and Christ with hammer and sicle.

ed_rex: (Default)
2016-04-13 07:26 pm

Brought to you by the letter M!

silverflight8 gave me the letter M.

Something I hate: Mortality. See "Someone I know", below.

Something I love: That's easier. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, a series of novels that puts the E back int eh word epic. And more, a story that is forever noting a reader's expectations, then giving them something very different. Robinson kills three of his most charismatic players in the first volume and has the heir apparent simply ignore his "destiny" in the subsequent two. And what's not to like about a series that features middle-aged (and then old women among its prime movers, as well as not one, but two, constitutional conventions as part of its action?

Somewhere I've been: Montebello. A very small town on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River/Rivière des Outaouais, about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal. It features a hotel that is (I think) the world's largest log cabin, and is a 10 or 15 minute drive from Parc Omega, a drive-through animal "safari" in which moose demand carrots at your window, wolves loll about only metres away and wild boar engage in public sex acts without so much as a by-your-leave. Great snow-showing, too.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Manzanillo, Cuba. Why? Because it starts with the letter M and 9 days was not nearly long enough a visit to that country.

Someone I know: Maria. Well, I don't know her well, but we went out once for a pint, to talk books and publishing two or three years ago. She's a Serious Christian and it turned out we didn't share much in common philosophically or aesthetically, but what made it memorable for me was that (a) she was an attractive woman who was (b) roughly my age and (c) a fucking grandmother. See "Something I Hate", above.

A film I like: My Own Private Idaho, which is in part a really ideosyncratic modern-dress re-telling of Shakespeare's Henry IV diptych, with Prince Hal as a narcoleptic rent-boy. I showed it to an ex-girlfriend whose response — "That's the dumbest movie I ever saw!" — probably set the stage for that relationship's demise.

A book I like: The Motion of Light In Water, Samuel R. Delany's 1980s memoir of "sex and science fiction writing in the East Village, 1957-1965." Part literary memoir, part social history, part personal recollections of a sexual life that, by now (according to the author himself) includes sexual encounters with something on the order of 50,000 (yes, 50K) different (almost all) men. Fascinating on all kinds of levels and, of course, brilliantly-written.

A (actress in a) television show I like: Tatiana Maslany. Because she plays something like 8 different characters on Orphan Black, and Orphan Black's 4th series starts tomorrow night, and she's brilliant and I am hoping against hope that the writers know where they're going with what is so far a brilliant show. Another Battlestar Galactica will break my heart.

Comment if you want to get a letter too! (You can cheat too, if you want to.)

ETA: I am shocked, appalled, and kind of disgusted that, given the letter M, I was unable to remember just how much (a lot) I love the work of Hayao Miyazaki. *Young Geoffrey hangs his head in shame*

ed_rex: Soccer (Soccer)
2015-10-28 11:06 pm

The Dance of Lifey Death (apologies to Eddie Campbell)

Back when I was a still a smoker, my father would regularly regale me with a litany of death in hopes of convincing me to give up the filthy weed. He was a journalist in the bad old days, starting in the 1950s, when booze and cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes were almost as mandatory as was the wearing of a fedora hat in the brim of which a card labelled PRESS was inserted.

And so it was that, around the time he turned 50, he started paying attention to the obituary columns. Former colleagues started dropping like flies, and almost always from heart attack or cancer.

And now it's started happening to me. Or rather, I'm observing the same phenomenon.

Not that most of the people I used to hang with are or were journalists, but the vast majority of the were smokers(and too many still are). In the past year or two I've learned of the following deaths: a cousin a couple of years my junior; Nik Beat, a long-time denizen of the indie writers' scene in Toronto; and Lura (no, not Laura!), a one-time friend and briefly a girl-friend. All within five years of my age, all dead of heart attacks.

I'll tell ya, nothin' says mortality like death, even at a distance.

And yet, life goes on. And so does coincidence.

Another death happened last week. Maureen Cassidy, whom I had known as a teenager better than most teenagers get to know the mothers of their friends (she and her husband Mike took me and another friend to see Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger once upon a time, not to mention giving me shelter for several weeks, among many other kindnesses), was preparing to head out to help out at Paul Dewar's campaign head-quarters the night of the election when she collapsed. It was a stroke and she died on Wednesday.

I learned of it via Facebook and another friend, who had similar memories of Maureen, will be coming up to Ottawa tomorrow for the visitation. I also reconnected with one of her sons on Facebook (we've been "friends" there for some years, but haven't really communicated much; you know how that goes).

But that's not the coincidence.

See, we've been having some maintenance issues at our apartment. In particular, and now a priority, with winter breathing down our necks, is our front door. It's warped and doesn't keep a lot of the cold air out; our vestibule is not at all far off the temperature on the far side of the door.

Anyway, CCOC's Maintenance Department has its issues and this morning I stopped into the office to make further inquiries as to the State of Repair. I was told that my last email had been forwarded up the line for a decision, but that That Guy was sick and maybe I'd hear something tomorrow. I made some frustrated but not-yelly noises and departed. I have the CEOs name and number in reserve and decided I would use it by Friday if Action Did Not Occur by then.

Image: Cover of The Dance of Lifey Death by Eddie Campbell. Click to buy at Amazon.ca
The Dance of Lifey Death, by Eddie Campbell. Click here to buy and support Young Geoffrey at the same time.

I guess my frustration got noticed. Because a half hour or so later, just as I got home, I got an email from the woman I'd been dealing with telling me she'd issued a work order and that a contractor should be calling me "soon".

I was in the middle of sending Raven a text reporting on that apparent success when my phone rang and the contractor himself asked for me.

"Speaking," I said, and he started to laugh, very unprofessionally. "You have a faulty door?" he asked, still laughing, and I said yes. "Geoff," he said, "I knew it was you! It's Ben, Ben Cassidy! I'm you're contractor!"

I was nonplussed to say the least. But pretty soon was offering condolences and then he asked if I would be around later on in the afternoon. I had the day off work and so, of course, I said yet. He came over later and we spent a couple of hours catching up on the last 15 or 20 years, sharing news of parents and siblings and kids and exes and ... well, you know. He even remembered, when he left (with his mother's ashes in his car; he's had one fuck of a roller-coaster of a week), to measure our door-frame so as to order a replacement for our damaged beyond repair number.

And of course I'll see him at the visitation tomorrow (if I can get off work) or at the celebration of life on Sunday (if I can't). And I rather suspect we'll get together in fact, not just in intention for a beer or six, sometimes soonish after that.

ed_rex: (Default)
2015-10-23 04:04 am

Confounding stereotypes

It was a small flight crew, all male: two pilots and a single flight attendant.

The Captain was a tall man, and beefy, the First Officer maybe a decade younger, not so tall and quite thin. The Flight Attendant was bald-headed and a blocky face, a bit like a super-hero. He too was at least 10 years younger than the big Captain.

Now, one thing that surprised me a bit about flight crews is that they don't work anything like, say, the crew of the starship Enterprise; they don't work together for extended periods of time. In fact, this crew of three gave me two separate pick-up times for tomorrow. One day together as a team, then Crew Sched. shuffled them around like so many cards in a deck.

So quite often, if a crew got along during the day and they aren't too tired, I will be privy to the people either getting re-acquainted after a long absence or getting to know each other for the first time.

Today, it was clearly the latter.

The first man to break the ice was the First Officer, who spoke with an accent I couldn't place. One second I thought he might be from somewhere in the Indian sub-continent, the next I wondered if he was originally from Australia. No matter. "You know I just read about an interesting study," he began. And continued, after getting some encouraging sounds from his colleagues, "It seems they've discovered a food that makes 99 percent of women completely lose interest in sex."

"What is it?"

"Wedding cake," he said, to appreciate chuckles and a brief spate of pretty standard "observations" on the differences between men and women. Eg, "Men want the woman they marry to never change, and are always disappointed; women want to change the men they marry — and are always disappointed!"

The jokes more or less came to a conclusion when the Captain allowed as how he has now been married for 23 years. "I missed my chance to murder her," he observed sardonically.

But that remark somehow led the conversation to go from hackneyed jokes to talk about marriage and relationships in general. It turned out that all three men were married and that all of them had kids. And the jokes gave way to talk about how hard it can be to maintain a relationship, that it takes work not to drift apart from the person you married.

The Captain said that he and his wife, acting on the example of a pair of her relatives, have made a point of making the time to spend an hour a day with each other, sole purpose: to talk. ("We'll usually have a drink — once in a while two — but the point is to pay attention to each other.") He went on observe that touch is important as well and said that they went out of their way to be tacticle with each other, to make a point of brushing their hands together patting one another on the back in passing, even if they are otherwise occupied in their own activities. This, from the guy who'd started by making jokes about murder.

The others agreed and offered their own strategies and examples. And from there, the talk turned to kids and grand-kids and before I knew, the cell-phones were out and pictures and videos of roundheads were being passed around for mutual admiration.

All this in a drive lasting barely more than 15 minutes. It was one of the cutest 15 minutes I've ever experienced as a driver. And from such an unlikely beginning!