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What have I become or, The Devolution of Young Geoffrey!

Young Geoffrey Simpson!?!

There are times when looking oneself in even a metaphorical mirror is a sobering thing indeed.

Jesus, god, two written apologies in eight days! What in the world has happened to Young Edifice? Did I somehow turn into that middle-aged white guy? The one whose idea of conversation is to "share" his opinions about this, that and especially the other thing, whether or not anyone has asked for it.

The first incident I might have just chalked up to social awkwardness born of my long hermatose years in Ottawa. Outside of Raven and family, and my weekly soccer games, I could count most years' social interactions on the fingers of one hand. So I suppose a gaffe or two might be in order.

The other two, though, were the sort of explosions of ego that I have always found appalling in others; hearing them in myself is frankly a little nauseating.

That first incident happened two Sundays ago, after a soccer game (we won, thank you very much) which featured a former team-mate as the opposing captain.

Robyn and I last played together two or three years ago, and our sole contact since has been a LinkedIn "friendship", and three or four email exchanges when I've been looking for a sub for one of my teams.

She is an athletic young woman, and one with whom I enjoyed talking when we played together and, yes, I liked the look of her as well. Had I been single, she was someone I might have pursued, if had she wasn't a vegetarian. (I know. Not as big a deal as politics or religion, but still ...) Whether any of that contributed to my behaviour a week-and-a-half ago I leave to the judgment of the reader; for me, I don't think so, but it's possible.

Anyway. As opposing captains we shook hands before the game and then, as fellow cyclists, afterwards we talked on the way to the bike rack, and rode off together, catching up as acquaintances will do.

And then, when there was a brief lull in the conversation, I leaned into my handlebars and said over my shoulder, "Well, and with that I will bid you adieu!" And I stepped hard on my peddles and pulled away as if I was being chased by the devil himself.

Why? Why ever would I be so rude to someone I liked? As best I can recall, I was worried that I was presuming too much, that she might feel I was pursuing her in some unseemly way. That, despite the fact she seemed for all the world happy to see me and to be enjoying our chat. And when I made my sudden departure, her "Okay," came with a distinctly confused tone of voice.

It's one thing to not be an aggressive prick, Young Edifice, but you are actually allowed to talk with women. You used to do it all the time. Hell, there have been long periods in your life when most of your friends were women!

Another incident came on a return trip from Montreal, when one of my passengers directed me to where he had parked his car. A 1970 Thunderbird, all bright red paint job and obviously one that had been lovably restored.

As, in fact, the pilot explained. And he asked for a few appreciative words about his classic automobile. His crew made the appropriate sounds but what I heard coming from my own mouth appalled me, even as I was unable to stop the words from spilling forth. "Well, if I was one who liked sports cars, I guess I'd like it."

Jesus. God. What a fucking ass. Did anybody, I asked myself, actually ask whether you liked sports cars, Young Edifice!?! Just say, "Nice car," would that be so hard?

Then there was this past Sunday, another soccer game. (We lost that one, and I was filling in as keeper. Ten balls got past me. It took me a while longer to process my behaviour because of that.)

One of my team-mates is a young journalist (since when are national magazine writers allowed to look like they're barely out of high school? When did Young Edifice get to be so old!) and when she arrived we got to talking, almost as if we were carrying on from a chat we'd had the previous game.

Anyway, she told me that she was covering the NAFTA negotiations — and I fucking cut her off.

Cut her off and — again, almost as if I were listening to some asshole who wasn't me, except that, y'know: it was my mouth that was flapping, my voice that was spouting off.

Because spouting off was what I was doing. "I haven't really been paying much attention to the negotiations," I started off by saying. And then, rather than asking her to fill me in — since she was, y'know, paying a lot of attention to the proceedings — I launched into a mini-rant on how I didn't trust Trudeau &ct &ct &ct.

For some strange reason, that kind of killed the "conversation", though I didn't really notice it in the moment, since we spoke at half-time and it was time to get back out onto the field.

And on the field, I let in another four goals (for a grand total of 10 — not my most shining hour as keeper!), so it wasn't until I was home and recovered from the defeat that I replayed my words and voice in my mind and realized what I must have sounded like: That Guy. That middle-aged white guy whose idea of conversation is to opine, to lecture, and god knows, not to listen — especially not to a younger woman even if she is actually involved in the topic at hand.

Yuck.

I wrote both women letters of apology (the pilot? Well, I don't have his email address anyway), and both graciously said it was fine, but I still don't feel like it's fine. I can only hope that I'll be given the chance to behave better in the future.

I don't think I've always been like this, so what happened? When did I turn into That Guy? Will I soon by loudly proclaiming that all modern music — everything made since I turned 20 or so — is crap? God knows, I keep running into men (and they are usually men, no question) who make such statements with no apparent sense of irony, or awareness that they are surely channelling their own parents, who doubtless said the same about the music they now idolize as The Best of All Time.

Please, Lord: I do not want this to be a taste of my future self. Self-monitoring — intense self-monitoring! — must become the order of the day from now until at last I slide from this mortal coil into eternal darkness.

Emmy the Great describes the type (I don't want to become) with a wonderfully acerbic wit.

You say you're looking for the truth,
Like you got rifles in your books,
But up above your parents' roof
I saw no star tonight,
Only the black from whence you came,
And where they'll send you back again,
And no blue plaque will keep your name
From falling out of sight.

And you can wage this war of one,
And I am still the only one
Who will remember you when you are gone.

ed_rex: Soccer (Soccer)

One of my favourite passengers is a pilot [let's call him] Richard. He's a big, loud, blustery man who gets his political news from right-wing talk-radio and who suffers from a distinct inability to pick up on everyday social cues. In short, he's a nice enough guy, but not too bright and not too sensitive. A couple of years back, when he insisted on interfering with my instruments one time to many, I had to stop the van and quite loudly tell him he could either get our of the shot-gun seat or find his own way back to Ottawa from Dorval.

He remained banned from the front of my van for a few months and, since I allowed him back in, he's behaved a great deal better.

Anyway, he is also the sort of guy that people talk about. It's not just his chauffeur that finds him a handful; so do his co-workers.

Which is why I know that Richard is the guy who, when someone (for some reason) asked him what Quebec's F&eagrave;te Nationale, (the former Fète de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or Saint-Jean Baptiste Day) was all about, replied,

"Don't you know about John the Baptist?!? He's the guy who baptized Jesus and made him Catholic!"

Well, one of my real favourite regulars is another pilot, John, who is also loud and likes to take liberties in the front of the van, but who makes up for that by being both a funny and an interesting conversationalist.

And sometimes a helluva gossip. Especially about Richard.

The latest occurred the last time the two flew together. John mentioned that he had recently vacationed in Vietnam. Richard (so John assured me), didn't express any curiosity about John's trip, but only fear and horror.

"Oh," said Richard, "I could never go to Vietnam! I'm afraid they'd put me in jail for calling everyone 'Charlie'!" (But wait, there's more.) "And I'd have to get shots for scurvy and e coli!"

I don't know for a fact that this is true, folks, but I'm pretty sure no one would bother to make it up.

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One of the things LJ has that I don't think DW does, is feeds from such things as Scott Adams' Dilbert. I can't much abide Adams' politics, but his comic still makes me laugh more than most, and so when reading my LJ friends' page, I have for years clicking the link that would take me to the latest installment of his comic.

But, I've been ridiculously busy of late; keeping up with my reading has been a matter of desperate baling while the waters pour over the gunnel's at best.

And so it was that, maybe four or five weeks ago, I decided to just skip a Dilbert as it came down my feed. And then I skipped another, and another, and another. And cetera.

Three weeks into the experiment, I realized that I hadn't missed his cartoon at all. And a week or two after that — tonight — I said to hell with it. If I'm not going to read the damned thing, I might as well unsubscribe.

And so I did. Farewell, Mr. Adams!

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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

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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?

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To Kingston and back again; a New Year's journey or,

Young Geoffrey VS the ravages of age!

Our son, the driver!
Our son, the driver (I'm so proud)! Carl the Second takes the wheel.

Raven had a brutal couple of months at work and insisted that a post-holiday holiday was in order.

Kingston (Ontario) being reasonably close by, and boasting one of our favourite eateries, the humbly- and confusingly-named Pat's Restaurant, which serves up some delicious fare that, I'm told, is about as authentically Cambodian as one is likely to find in a small Ontario city, I rented a car and packed up the family for a whirlwind getaway last Thursday morning. (Yes, more than a week ago now; I've been busy.)

Raven had also got us tickets to see something called Lumina Borealis, an interactive sound-and-light show held in and around "historic Fort Henry". I had feared we'd be standing around watching a display similar to that which shows up on Parliament Hill every summer, a technically impressive, but edifyingly bourgeois entertainment, which we would passively consume while standing in the damp and frigid Kingston night as it was projected upon the Fort's walls.

Image of one part of the Lumina Borealis light-show in Kingston, Ontario.
A wall near the end of the Lumina Borealis show. Pictured here are people hurling orange snowballs at the display; a hit results in sound and a reaction from the imagine.

Happily, it was a good deal more interesting — and fun. It was cold (a damp cold! And for those of you who live in warmer climes, a dry cold is a lot easier to handle), but the show — a variety of sights and sounds, including physical objects, light-images and microphones into which we could speak or sing and affect the visual goings-on upon the walls around us — more than made up for it. We probably did the circuit in 45 minutes, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had thought I would.

If you have kids, they'll love it.

But I digress. Aside from the Pat's (Cambodian) Restaurant, the other memory I had from our last visit, was of the best biscotii had ever tasted.

Come morning, we left Carl the Second in charge of our motel room and set out in search of coffee — and biscoti.

Carl the Second guards our room at the Super 8
Carl in Charge! Our son was proud to be responsible for protecting our room from strangers and nose motel employees.

I didn't remember the name of the place, but had a pretty good idea of its location, and it didn't take too long for me to find it. Coffee & Company at 53 Princess Street. We entered and took our place in line. When it was my turn, I ordered a Large coffee (sensibly, they do Small, Medium and Large; that's it, that's all) and not one, but two, biscotis. The second I asked for in a bag, as I wanted to take it home with me.

Dream on, Young Geoffrey!

Two biscotis became one, then almost none, in very short order. (After snapping the photo below, "almost none" become "none".) And when it was time to go, I found myself lurking near the counter and smiling and nodding at the young woman in charge with all the deranged charm of a temporarily sober drunk at a family gathering..

The remains on the tray. A small piece of a once mighty biscoti.
The remains on the tray. Yes, your Honour, it was delicious. I regret nothing!

"I need another biscoti," I said, brandishing the empty bag into which she had earlier placed my second. "To go."

She smiled and nodded in return, as if I weren't on the edge of drooling. As she reached the glass jar in which the biscotis were on handsome display, I blurted out, "Make it two. No! One. No! Two! TWO!"

"Are you sure?" she smiled, a kindly Pity dripping from her eyes like sweet honey.

"Yes," I whispered, and stared as she set about her labours.

She grinned and tonged one, then, two, then three biscotis into the little white paper bag. As the third dropped from sight, she winked at me and mouthed, Don't say anything!

What could I do but grin and nod, then shake my head emphatically in reply?

When Raven and I left the cafe, I asked her, "Do you think she gave me the third biscoti because she thought I'm a hot stud or a cute old man?"

"Oh please!" quoth Raven. "A cute old man."

The sun sets on Young Geoffrey's Youth or,

A young woman struggles mightily to extricate foot from mouth

Our son, the model!
Carl II somehow travels backwards in time, to when all was a panda's paradise: black and white!

Back in Ottawa, I worked a late shift on Saturday that saw me home after 03:00 Sunday morning and in bed close to 05:00. And up again far too soon, for a soccer game at 13:00 hours.

Despite a two week lay-off for seasonal gorging, the game was a good one, hard-fought and close, ending in a 5-5 tie. And, more importantly from my personal stand-point, I played better than I feared I might, running hard and placing some nice balls, if I do say so myself. I even assisted on at least one goal.

Anyway, at one point early in the second half I and a young team-mate called Maddison, with whom I've shared a team a few times before, found ourselves on the sidelines, chatting.

"You're doing really well today," she said. I demured as one does, but she insisted, "You've really mastered the one-touch exit. And you really move! You run just as hard, and pretty fast for, uh ...

There was an expression bordering on social panic in her clenched jaw as she realized her near faux-pas.

Jesus, the things people take offense at! Or might take offense at.

I smiled widely and said, "It's okay, I know I'm a little older than most of you guys. I'm not under any delusions about that."

She nodded, sheepishly, then added, "I don't know if I qualify as young any more myself."

"Oh please! You're under 30, aren't you?"

"I'm 26."

I laughed. "I'll be 52 in February. You're still pretty young from where I stand!"

And I thought, before I took the field again, how strange it is that merely verbally acknowleding an obvious truth — such as, that a man twice her age is "older" — can be frought with such anxieties.

And yet, I felt an echo of Maddison's nerves myself, when she answered my guess that she was under 30, with the information she is 26. Might she, I briefly wondered, have been hurt that I didn't suggest she was under 25?

But there you have it. Like almost every older person I know or have known, I don't feel like I am the chronological age that I am. But (and unlike many, I am blessed with my bike-riding, soccer-playing good health (and nevermind the arthritis and possible tendonitis)) I can't help but become increasingly self-conscious of the fact that Young Geoffrey is, in truth, well into his middle years.

Post-scriptum, for Nellie

"Powderfinger" is one of my favourite Neil Young songs. Bad history, but (I think) beautiful poetry, in metal.

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

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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.

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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.

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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 ..."

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Clouds so swift, Putin comin' on

But I ain't goin' nowhere ...

"Right now, Senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia. [long pause] That's a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I'm not going to make." — General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chair Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 22, 2016.

Really people, you need to get a fucking grip!

Yes, rumour has it that LiveJournal's servers have (finally) been moved to Russia. (Click here for a relatively dispassionate over-view.) I suspect it's even true. But I am downright embarrassed by the number of you otherwise intelligent people who seem to have bought, hook line and proverbial sinker, the American establishment's Putin is the next Hitler meme.

I mean, dear god, this is all just (a very small) part of the demonization of a traditional enemy by a faction in the United States that has just lost power to another faction. Why exactly the former (until recently fronted by Hillary Clinton) had as the centrepiece of its foreign policy an intention to risk war with the world's second most powerful nuclear state baffles, but that's what her no-fly policy in Libya amounted to.

Don't believe me? Maybe you'll believe the fucking Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

This isn't, I hasten to add, either an endorsement of the fascistic US President-elect, or of Russia's autocratic (at best) strongman, but rather a reminder that both official sides of the American establishemt are lying to you, and have been lying to you about anything that matters, pretty much full-time for a long time.

Are Russian intelligence services going to spy on your LiveJournal posts? No doubt, especially if you post in Russian. And, no doubt, they've been doing it for a while. If you believe the Russians "hacked the US election" (as I know at least some of you do), then you can't possibly logically think they paid attention to US laws and left LJ posts sacrosanct because the servers were outside Russia's borders?

I mean, can you?

Well, maybe you can. #Election2016 turned an awful lot of liberals into melon-heads (no offence intended towards actual melons), at least when it comes to US and international politics, especially when it comes to matters of war and peace.

Anyway, to make a long story short: although I'm happy to have DreamWidth as a back-up — and have used it as my primary posting platform for some years now; and in fact just paid for another year's membership — I'm not leaving LJ any time soon.

As my daddy told back in the infancy of teh interwebs, "Never put in an email [or anywhere else online] anything you wouldn't be willing to see on the front page of The New York Times.

Move to DreamWidth if you want (and I'll happily grant you access there/here, if you still want me around after this rant), but if you think your privacy is significantly more secure there than it is on LJ, you are — to be polite about it — living in a fucking DreamWorld.

That's it. Here, have a video from one of the best song-writers and musicians of our age.

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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)

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.

_______

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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!

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Per the subject line, testing something. Will delete anon.

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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)

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: (Default)

Being the scattered, late-night thoughts of a Canadian upon watching a video of the Second Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, after a long and happy day driving and walking in autumnal Gatineau with my sweetie. (I'd have done better to put off the viewing until tomorrow, but that promises to be a double-shift, with close to 750 kilometres on the road.)

Going much against the mainstream, I thought the first debate between these deplorable candidates of a broken democratic facade of empire was more or less a draw. Despite the sniffing, it was my opinion that Trump managed to sound reasonably presidential, which (yes) was his low bar to clear. Clinton performed more or less as expected, but was unable to hide her fundamental contempt for her opponent well enough to sway any of his followers to her side, nor to convince the former Bernie Sanders adherents to actually make it out to vote at all come election day.

But tonight's round came after the release of this video (one, I confess, I didn't bother to watch until just before I typed this sentence):

And all America went crazy. One half because they took a pathological liar at his word — "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything." — and determined that he was admitting to being a serial sexual assaulter (and let's face it: he sure as hell wasn't denying it), while the other half was shocked (shocked!) that he used such crude language as, er, "pussy".

And for several days, as a powerful hurricane devastated Haiti and threatened much of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America, and as the world's two nuclear super-powers huffed and puffed ever-closer to all-out military confrontation in Syria, the press and the blogosphere were going nuclear themselves taking the words of a Beta Male bragging as signs of the immanent decline of Western civilization.

(And the third half was split between hoarding fatalistic pop-corn and packing camper-vans full freeze-dried meals in hopes of riding out the coming apocalypse somewhere in northern Quebec. But I digress.)

And so it was that I came home from a frankly delightful day out with my sweetie, enjoying the autumn colours in the Gatineau hills and wandering the street (yes, street, singular) of Wakefield, Quebec, and settled in to see what I'd missed.

And it started out as a shit show indeed. Brian Mulroney telling John Turner that "you sir, had a choice!" had nothing on The Donald repeatedly calling Hillary a "liar".

And of course the first questions had to do with Trump's tape. And he responded pretty convincingly. It was "locker-room banter," he said, and he stuck to that line. He was sorry he'd said it, but it was jokey stuff and he really respects women (he respects everyone! said the man who first came to fame humiliating "apprentices" on (inter)national television and then telling all but one of them that, "You're fired!"), and anyway, Bill Clinton actually did worse things than Donald joked about and Hillary got a real rapist off as a lawyer and then laughed about it ...

It was a presidential debate as the pre-fight antics at a World Wide Wrestling bout.

But once that was out of the way, shit (as they say) sort of got real. And it sort of didn't.

I was rather shocked to find that Trump made more sense on the situation on Syria than did Hillary. He said the target should be ISIS and that he would work with Iran and Russia (and even Syria) to destroy ISIS, no matter than he had just spent minutes talking about how bad Iraq and Russia were. Whereas Hillary spent a lot of time <>strike>Red-baiting Russia-baiting trump, pretty much out-and-out saying that the Donald is a Putin stooge.

And it went on and on and on ...

No knock-out blow came, but what struck me was how well Trump parried the blows Clinton (and her advisers, no doubt) must have intended as hay-makers.

Attacked for taking advantage of tax loop-holes, Trump said in effect, Of course I did! I'd have been an idiot not too. And so did all of Hillary's rich friends and contributors. And the difference, he claims is that he doesn't owe any rich people but himself, and he's willing to pay more taxes. (He also said he's going to cut business taxes, but no one really expects these people to be consistent, do they?)

Anyway, I've only watched the thing once, I didn't take notes, and had no intention of typing up a fucking synopsis.

My initial take-away, is that Trump has not only survived his Pussygate, but come away stronger. And that if he keeps focused on Hillary's ties to big money, and her support for the various failed wars the US is involved in, he might still win this thing.

And as a foreigner, I think that might (just might!) make the world a (very) slightly safer place than it would be under a Clinton presidency.

But really, no good outcome is possible from this shit-show. Whatever happens, the American experiment in republican democracy is coming to a close. The future is a failing empire that might take the whole world down with it, or a bloody interregnum of indefinate power-struggle as the waters rise in warming world. (Some of those Chinese civil wars lasted a god damned century.)

* * *

Anyway, as I said, my first thoughts; what say you?

ed_rex: (dhalgren)

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)

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)

On the uneasy satisfaction of prescience

This afternoon, I drove my sweetie to the airport. She's off to Europe for a couple of weeks, scratching her nomad's need to move. As we drove in, she noticed the Canadian flag flying above The MacDonald-Cartier International Airport's welcome sign was at half-mast. "Look at that!" she said, "I wonder who died."

It took me a moment, then I realized. "It's 9/11!"

And of course, that's who died, the special victims, our victims, to be mourned forever, because 15 years on, we are a nation at war. Sort of.

And I remembered that I had written what I thought was a pretty powerful piece of analysis not so long after the fact, and went looking for it when I returned home. Only to realize that, somehow, it was a piece of work no longer attached to my website. Somehow, gone, lord only knows when or how.

Thank god for Archive.org! There were my words (not to mention an even more primitive design than the one "gracing" my site now), preserved for posterity, and for me. Remind me to send them a donation.

In any event, what follows is (but for a half-dozen typos I could not resist correcting) exactly what I posted on October 8, 2001.

It is, if I do say so myself, almost frightening in its prescience. To quote H.G. Wells, writing (if memory serves) on the eve of the Second World War, "I told you so, you damned fools." Click here for my full, depressingly accurate look ahead from October 8, 2011.

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