Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Relativity
- A.H. Reginald Buller

There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day,
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.

Monday, June 28, 2010

North American History: The 1st Three Intercontinental Wars

French and Iroquois Wars (encompassing King William’s War/ 1st Intercolonial War) (1642-1698)

The French and Iroquois Wars, or Beaver Wars, were a succession of bloody clashes fought by the Iroquois against the French and their Algonquin allies. The Iroquois relied on the beaver trade in order to obtain European goods and firearms from the Dutch. These firearms, in turn, had caused them to become so efficient at hunting beavers that they needed to expand their territory in order to find new hunting grounds. The Iroquois looked down on the other tribes who had edged in on their trade and they sought to displace the tribes who were growing rich through trade with the French. Initially, the Iroquois merely attacked those they saw as trade rivals, but eventually their brutal efficiency at waging war against the French allies led them into direct confrontation with the French. Armed by the Dutch and the English, Iroquois tribes drove rival tribes northwards and westwards, made raids on French homesteads and settlements, and blockaded Montréal. Finally, in the 1660s, France sent a small group of regular troops to New France to defend their settlers. These, combined with the Dutch loss of the New Netherlands to the English, helped lead to the pacification of the Iroquois. After a nearly twenty-year respite, the war resumed after the French began pushing aggressively into the western fur-trade, placing pressure on the Iroquois. The newly formed French militia was joined by regular troops and eventually became Canada’s first standing professional armed force. These French troops imitated the guerilla warfare of the Iroquois and became specialized in swift silent strikes against the Iroquois. They also carried out brutal raids against English settlements. The wars finally ended in 1698 when the Iroquois sued for peace with the French and signed the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701. The Iroquois now saw the English as a greater threat and saw themselves as holding the balance of power between the French and the English.

Queen Anne’s War/ 2nd Intercolonial War (1702 – 1713)

Corresponding with the War of Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714), Queen Anne’s War was fought in North America by the British against the Spanish and the French. Responding to the Spanish attack on Charleston, English colonists attacked and burned the Spanish-held city of St. Augustine, Florida. Later, in 1704, the Apalachee of Florida were massacred by the English, sold into slavery, and relocated. A second attack in 1706 by the French and Spanish on Charleston was also repulsed by the English. In 1703, in response to the destruction of the village of Beaubassin in 1696, Leneuf de Beaubassin, a French naval captain, led a few French troops and Abenaki Indians into Massachusetts. The deadly guerilla warriors laid waste to over 72 square kilometers (44 square miles) of colonial farmland and killed or captured nearly 200 colonists. In February of 1704, Hertel de Rouville accompanied by a force of Abenaki, Caughnawaga, and French-Canadian soldiers raided Deerfield, Massachusetts and killed over 50 settlers, capturing approximately 120. New England colonists responded in July of the same year by capturing the Acadian settlements of Minas and Beaubassin. Two attempts by English colonists to capture the Acadian fort of Port Royal failed in 1704 and 1707. Finally, Port Royal and all of Acadia were captured by British and colonial forces in 1710. A large British fleet floundered in their 1711 attempt to capture the French cities of Montréal and Québec. Finally, the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 brought a close to the war. The French were forced to recognize British control over the Iroquois and lost most of Acadia, Newfoundland and their trading posts in the Hudson Bay region to the British. The French retained their territory surrounding Montréal and Québec and the island of Cape Breton.

Dummer’s War/ 3rd Intercolonial War (1721 – 1725)

Dummer’s War was less of a war and more of series of clashes between the French and the English over competing land claims. Samuel de Champlain had explored the Kennebec River in Maine already in 1604 and the French considered it to be part of Acadia. Angered by the English settling along the Kennebec, the French supplied arms and ammunition and used their Jesuit missionary, Father Sébastien Rasle, to goad the Abenaki into launching raids on the encroaching English settlers. Finally, in July of 1721, a force of Abenaki delivered a letter addressed to Governor Samual Shute in which they demanded that the English settlers leave Abenaki land. The English responded in January of 1722 by launching a raid on the main Abenaki settlement of Norridgewock. The tribe was out hunting while their village was ransacked. The Abenaki, encouraged by their Jesuit father, responded by launching raids on English settlements on the Kennebec River. Governor Shute declared war on the Abenaki and offered £100 for every Indian scalp. In August of 1724, English troops snuck up on Norridgewock and launched a surprise attack, killing and scalping 26 Abenaki warriors. 14 Abenaki were wounded and the rest fled across the river. Refusing to capitulate, Father Rasle fought until he was shot through the head. The remaining Abenaki buried their dead and relocated to Québec. In December 1724, John Lovewell, a retired soldier, led a militia in response to an Abenaki raid. He and his men only managed to gain one Abenaki scalp. Another expedition launched in January of 1725, led to the killing and scalping of ten Abenaki in what is now Wakefield, New Hampshire. Lovewell, with a force of 46 men, launched his final raid in April. After killing and scalping a lone warrior, Lovewell’s force was ambushed by the Abenaki, resulting in the death of eight of Lovewell’s militia. In the resulting battle the Abenaki chief, Lovewell and twenty-six of the militia were killed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dear Fellow Tenant,

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m sure it does, you seem cheerful.

We don’t know each other. In fact, we’ve probably never spoken and it’s possible we’ve never even seen one other. If you’re wondering who I might be, I’m the tall ruggedly handsome gentleman with the dignified receding hairline and the rapier wit. You’ve possibly never experienced my rapier wit because I tend to hold back on it when travelling in the elevator with strangers. I’m not certain who you are, although I know you’re a male, you’re exuberantly cheerful, and you were on your balcony this morning.

This leads to the reason I am writing this letter. At 5:04 this morning when you decided to visit your balcony, I was sleeping. Then, when you greeted the entire city of Ottawa with jubilant abandon by loudly proclaiming “Good morning Ottawa,” I was awake.

I would like you to know that I had no desire to wish you a good morning in return. In fact, at this point, I was hoping something bad would happen to you. I was honestly wishing that you would stub your toe on your way back into you apartment, that your favourite team would lose their next important game, and that you would one day fall in a mud puddle on the way to the most important meeting of your life. I’ve reconsidered since then, and I only wish that you stubbed your toe.

I would just like to ask that, in the future, you address Ottawa with your cheerful greeting only after 8:00 am on weekdays and pretty much never on weekends.

Thank you,

Your fellow tenant.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Reading

The microphone wavered in his trembling hand.

I should put the mic on the stand, he said to himself, so that it doesn’t shake so much.

He fumbled clumsily with the stand, holding the microphone awkwardly between his wrists. The stand did not move in the way he expected, the base was too heavy. As the pole slipped from his moist fingers, he juggled the microphone between both hands before clutching it to his chest, the microphone releasing a deep rasp as it rubbed against his shirt. He laughed self-consciously.

I should tell a joke now, he decided, it will release some of this stress. Quick, think of something funny to say.

“Aahm, butterfingers McGee,” he muttered into the microphone.

He grimaced, that was stupid. I heard someone laugh, though – but were they laughing at me or my joke? Me, must’ve been me. I hope my hair isn’t sticking up. He ran a hand over his head – everything seemed in place.

He slid the microphone into the top of the stand and then repositioned himself in front of it.

“Mohammed and the mountain, y’know?”

There was a twitter of laughter. Was that Islamophobic? No, it’s a common idiom. A common idiom, no worries. Funnier than his previous joke, butterfingers McGee, where does that even come from?

He blinked twice, his eyes were watering too much. People might think I’m crying, maybe I should pretend that I feel a sneeze coming on. He opened his mouth and wrinkled his nose, prompting a tiny tear to pop from his eye. He quickly wiped it off. The lights are too bright he reasoned.

“I have a poem that I wrote to share.”

That came out wrong. It should've been I'd like to share a poem that I wrote. Maybe they’ll think that I wrote the poem to share it? That makes me sound like I write in order to have people hear it, not for the art of it. Argh.

“I wrote this poem, but, uh, I didn’t want to share it.”

Shit. That was stupid, now they’re going to think it’s a bad poem. He adjusted his glasses and crinkled the paper in front of him.

“I, uh, wrote this poem . . . I wrote it from a place deep within.”

Yeah, that was pretty good. A place deep within. The pretty dark-haired girl at the front table with the horn-rimmed glasses and the flowery pantaloons might be impressed.

Don’t look at her, don’t look at her, don’t look at her, he urged himself as he glanced nervously toward her. She was whispering something to her blond friend with the hemp tam on her head. They were giggling.

“Ahm, um, well, here it goes.”

“Yeaaah, go for it bruh!” a voice of encouragement. It was the pale lanky man wearing the African robe.

He flashed the thumbs up in the direction of the voice. Ooooh, that was weak sauce. I shouldn’t have flashed the thumbs up, it’s like the international symbol of lameness. Or not? Hadn’t I seen that one soccer player, what’s-his-name, flash the thumbs up? Are soccer players cool? Yeah, definitely, definitely cool.

He grasped the paper in both hands, reading the words carefully. His voice shook slightly when he got to the line about the paper birds. He coughed, licked his lips. This is a good place to pause.

Don’t pause too long.

The pause was too long, he decided.

The next word out of his mouth emerged with an unfamiliar squeak. Like I’m thirteen again, he thought as the rest of the line spilled from his mouth. Just keep going, just keep going.

His eyes were watering again. He blinked heavily, lost his place momentarily and then promptly interchanged two words. He read the line over, stuttering slightly but righting the word order. His ears were heating up, hopefully they weren’t turning red. The more he thought about it the hotter his ears became, his cheeks warming now.

Maybe they wouldn’t notice his red face in this light. No, the lights were too bright. He rushed the next line. Bad idea, that was a pretty important line. He slowed for the next line again. Bad idea, that was the worst line in the poem.

Don’t think about your red face.

He thought about his red face.

His face was now a deep red colour, he was sure of it.

He finished the final line, pausing dramatically before the last word. He was done, his face was cooling.

“Thank you,” he said.

The applause was scattered at first but then grew in intensity. He heard a wooooh, probably from the lanky man in the dashiki.

He flashed the thumbs up.

Yeah, that was cool.

Monday, June 21, 2010

“There is two kinds of music the good and bad. I play the good kind.”

~ Louis Armstrong.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Things that People Find Annoying that They Really Shouldn't:

~ Less than exemplary service at a fast food restaurant. It's a fast food restaurant, the person serving you is probably in high school and is making minimum wage. You should be mad at yourself for eating low-grade food.

~ Doing the dishes. Yes, yes, doing the dishes is very annoying. What isn't annoying is having hot and cold clean running water, which makes this chore a whole lot easier.

~ Airplane delays. To paraphrase Louis CK, you're sitting in a seat in the sky. You are living the dreams of countless generations before you and shaving a week to three months off of your journey.

~ Lost cellphone signals. Honestly, you can wait ten minutes until you get a signal again, your call can't be that important. You do not need to be connected with the world at every single moment.

~ Slow internet connections. There was a time when people relied on their memory, encyclopaedia salesman had careers, and people mailed letters to each other. Just wait that extra fifteen seconds and be thankful.

~ Old people driving slowly. Just let them drive slowly, they've witnessed revolutionary change in transportation, they drive better than most young people, and, most of all, they've earned it.

~ People not having your taste in music. I know that you and I have excellent taste in music, but there is no need to get upset that other people like different music than us. Unless, of course, that other person likes Fergie or Nickelback.

~ Immigrants stealing jobs. Immigrants often take jobs that no one else will or creating jobs that didn't exist before. Either that, or they're highly skilled and taking a job that the people most vocally complaining could never even dream of having.

~ Players diving in soccer. Whaaat? Actually, people really should be annoyed by this.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Which I Answer Some Serious Questions - Final Edition

If a bunch of cats jump on top of each other, is it still called a dog pile?

A bunch of cats would never jump on top of each other. If they did, they would cease to be cats.

Do sheep get static cling when they rub against one another?

No, they just get dirtier.

In libraries, do they put the bible in the fiction or non-fiction section?

They put the Bible in the religious section.

How old are you before it can be said you died of old age?

If you’re a fly, you only have to be a couple days old.

If K.F.C Stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Why do they play sweet home Alabama on the commercials (sic)?

Because Kentucky and Alabama are pretty much exactly the same state as far as us northerners are concerned.

If people with one arm go to get their nails done, do they pay half price?

People with one arm do their own nails, that’s how good they are.

What type of animal is Snuffaluffagus?

I don’t know, but he talks and his best friend is a gigantic talking canary. We have bigger problems here.

If you had a three story house and were in the second floor, isn't it possible that you can be upstairs and downstairs at the same time?

Unless you’re on the very top or the very bottom, floor levels are relative.

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

If it’s a federally owned hearse or if there are two occupants in the front.

Why do they call it "getting your dog fixed" if afterwards it doesn't work anymore?

It doesn’t work for the dog, but it works just fine for everyone else.

Does a 'Marks-A-Lot' marker, mark any more than a regular marker?

No, you’re looking for the ‘Marks-A-Lot-More’ marker.

If the funeral procession is at night, do folks drive with their headlights off?

Only vampires have funeral processions at night, and they drive carriages with lanterns.

What happens when you put a lightsaber in water?

Lightsabers don’t exist. But if they did, it would make a sizzling sound.

On Gilligan's Island, how did Ginger have so many different outfits when they were only going on a 3 hour tour?

Ginger orchestrated the whole disaster in order to model her favourite fashions. Pay attention next time.

If I had my legs amputated, would I have to change my height and weight on my driver's license?

Are you planning to have your legs amputated because you’re unhappy with your height and weight? I suggest rethinking this entire issue.

If nobody buys a ticket to a movie do they still show it?

Yes, and they skip the commercials.

How do you tell when you run out of invisible ink?

When your diabolical plan starts to unwind because your secret agents are not receiving their messages.

Do movie producers still say lights, camera, and action when it is a dark scene?

Unless it’s a pitch black scene, everything continues as usual.

What do you call male ballerinas?

Wimps.


How does Freddy Kruger wipe his butt?

With fictional toilet paper.

Why people are so scared of mice, which are much smaller than us, when no one seems to be scared of Mickey Mouse, who is bigger than us?

Mickey Mouse does not spread diseases.

Why are the numbers on a calculator and a phone reversed?

They still go left to right, so they’re not totally reversed. In other words, I don’t know.

Why are plastic bears the only animal you can get honey from? Why can't you get honey from a plastic bee?

Listen, you should not take honey from a bear, plastic or otherwise.

Can bald men get lice?

Hi, how are you? I hope you’re doing well. You know, sometimes we ask silly things without realizing that the answer is right in front of us. There were a few times that I asked where my keys were when they were in my hand or my pocket. I sure felt silly afterwards! Oh boy, did I ever. There was another time where a friend of mine asked how many quarters were in a basketball game. Can you imagine how embarrassing that was for her? I can. We all have these moments where we ask questions where the answer should be patently obvious to us if we just think a little harder. That’s why I will retype your question with an important word bolded for your attention: Can bald men get lice?

When your photo is taken for your driver's license, why do they tell you to smile? If you are stopped by the police and asked for your license, are you going to be smiling?

They tell you to smile to get you in trouble with the police officer. The officer will see your smiling picture, compare it to your glowering face, and immediately assume that you are using someone else’s license. Now you’re in so much more trouble than before, and it’s all because the license bureau does not like you.

Do butterflies remember life as a caterpillar?

As an amateur insect neurologist I can confidently say “probably not, but maybe. I’m not sure.”
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

They are hungry.

Does the postman deliver his own mail?

If his house is on his route, I assume he would.

Why does toilet bowl cleaner only come in the color blue?

It comes in green and turquoise too.

What happens when you put hand sanitizer on a place other then (sic) your hand?

Then that part of your anatomy is sanitized. Just don’t put it in your eyes. Use eyedrops instead.

Why are women and men's shoe sizes different?

So it’s hard for women to convert the size difference and then laugh at men with small feet.

Can you "stare off into space" when you're in space?

Can you see space when you’re in space?

Where do people in Hell tell other people to go?

Manitoba.

Is "vice-versa" to a dyslexic just plain redundant?

No, unless they read everything twice it’s just backwards.

How come you can kill a deer and put it up on your wall, but it's illegal to keep one as a pet?

It’s legal to have a pet deer, but you need special permits.

Why do we say we're head over heels when we're happy? Isn't that the way we normally are?

People used to walk on their hands when they were sad, so it made more sense back then.

If prunes are dehydrated plums, where does prune juice come from?

Steamed prunes that are mashed into a pulpy watery mess for your consumption, old man.

Is it appropriate to say "good mourning" at a funeral?

Since 'morning' and 'mourning' are homophones, no one will hear the difference. They might smack that smug smile off your face if it’s an afternoon funeral, though.

If there's an exception to every rule, is there an exception to that rule?

I like this question. I think there's an exception to almost every rule.

When you're caught "between a rock and a hard place", is the rock not hard?

No, it’s pumice.

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

Freezers sometimes do have lights.

Doesn't a lightning rod on top of church show a lack of faith?

If you believe that churches have divine protection from bad choices like being uninsured against the elements it does.

Who coined the phrase, 'coined the phrase?'

I did. It’s a good one, isn’t it?

If there were a thousand seagulls in an airplane while its flying, each weighing two pounds a piece, but they were all flying in the airplane, would the airplane weigh 2000 pounds more?
The birds are part of the airplane because the air in the airplane is being carried along with everything else inside the airplane including the flying birds. So yes, the airplane would weigh as much as everything it’s carrying.

If you soak a raisin in water, does it turn back into a grape?

Yeah, it works for prunes too, old man.

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

If someone is killed because of their political or social views by someone they don’t know, it’s safe to say that they were assassinated.

Why do they call steam rollers, steam rollers? They don't produce, get rid of, or have anythong (sic) to do with steam.

They used to be steam powered, so they did have something to do with steam. So there.

What is another word for "thesaurus"?

Tesauro. Yeah, I used Spanish, so what? Two people can play the smart aleck game.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup Vuvuzelas

The vuvuzela is incredibly annoying,it sounds like a hundred thousand angry killer bees are in attendance. These killer bees become enraged whenever the action heats up, and furiously censor any chants or songs that dare try to impinge on their monotonous buzzing. Killer bees have no place at the Word Cup, especially if they are angry. From the games I have watched, it seemed that a lot of players were thrown off by the noise. I am sincerely hoping that the vuvuzelas are banned from the World Cup so that the environment can be improved for both players and fans.

That being said, there was a letter to the editor today where the writer claimed that he would not be watching any more of the World Cup because of the vuvuzela. Yes, it is quite an annoyance, but there is a handy button on the remote that allows all the sound to be muted – it’s called the “mute” button. If the commentary is important to you, you can just let the vuvuzelas blare on in the background, eventually you barely notice them. The World Cup only happens every four years, and to let thousands of blaring plastic horns dissuade you from watching the games probably means that you’re not really a fan in the first place.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wisdom and War

We do not care-
That much is clear.
Not enough
Of us care
Anywhere.
We are not wise-
For that reason,
Mankind dies.
To think
Is much against
The will.
Better-
And easier-
To kill.

~ Langston Hughes

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Urban Chickens?

Laurianne and I were walking down Bay street one day when we saw a turkey. Yeah, a turkey just chilling on someone's porch like it was the master of the home, and king of the laneway. It was surreal seeing a turkey in Ottawa's downtown core, and I am still a little bemused as to how or why that turkey was there. Turkeys don't belong in the city, do they?

Well, some urban residents, including some Ottawans, firmly believe that chickens belong in this city. I have read their letters to the editor and gushing comments on the internet, and they seem firmly convinced of the rightness of their cause. They are thoroughly entranced with the idea that they can raise chickens and eggs of a higher quality than those who do this full time. They seem to have this ideal of chickens running around in their yard with little Tyler and Madison gathering their eggs each morning. They wax eloquent about the lovely orange colour they remember eggs having and how store-bought eggs never having this quality. They look down their nose at these farmers whose chickens just aren't pampered enough to taste good. If they had a chance to raise these chickens, they argue, these chickens would lay absolutely delectable eggs and make meat of such a deliciously unattainable quality that chicken farmers would have apoplectic fits of jealousy.

Alright, I may be exaggerating - but just a little.

Who am I to question these urban chicken enthusiasts? After all, I'm just another city boy, right?

Yes, but I do have some authority to speak from. My grandfather was a chicken farmer, my father grew up reluctantly tending these chickens, and my brother-in-law is a full-time chicken farmer. When I mentioned how enthusiastic some Ottawa residents were for the idea of city-bred chickens to my brother-in-law he laughed good-naturedly and proceeded to list off numerous good reasons that chickens don't belong in the city. I can't remember them all, but there were several that stuck with me.

Here's the reality. While imperfect, chicken farming is heavily regulated. Every chicken barn has notations for every visitor that arrives and for the number of daily chicken deaths. Each barn is carefully inspected by government officials to exacting standards. Farmers who fail to meet the regulations have their quota stripped from them. These standards are in place to stop the spread of disease, to protect consumers and they are highly effective at ensuring that any diseased flock is immediately culled.

Urban chicken populations could not be inspected with the same efficiency as chicken farms. While recognizing that some urban amateur poultry farmers would keep highly hygienic coops and extremely healthy birds, there are others whose laziness and/or ignorance would result in abusive conditions, unsanitary coops, and woefully unhealthy birds. What you're left with then, is a breeding ground for disease, vermin, stench, and filth. Raccoons, coyotes, domesticated dogs, and other predators would be drawn to these coops like flies on a cow patty. The SPCA already has its hands full dealing with dog and cat owners who can't handle their responsibility, stretching their resources further to deal with amateur urban chicken farmers is a waste of time and money.

While chicken farmers have regulations for disposing of carcasses and chicken waste (i.e. shit), urban chicken farmers would have no idea or guidelines to carry out these duties. I can imagine that a few of the sensitive types would have somber chicken burials while others would merely throw them in a garbage bag with the rest of their trash. Some urban chicken enthusiasts would try to fertilize their gardens with their chicken manure, only to find their plants burn up. Others might be a little smarter and try to compost it first - either way their neighbours won't be entirely pleased. Still others would merely throw it out with the rest of their trash. As for the straw, it does not take long for it to become contaminated with chicken feces and urine. How will this be disposed of? So with all these chicken carcasses, contaminated straw, and all this chicken shit going into our city waste, what would happen? I don't know, but I don't want to find out. I'm not a big fan of rats or disease.

These amateur chicken farmers poo-poo the idea of their chickens smelling (yeah, that was a totally awesome pun, I know). However, modern chicken farms have space, sophisticated ventilation systems, and, well, space. Urban chicken coops will not have space, will not have sophisticated ventilation systems, if any at all, and will stink. Pig manure certainly smells more, but the ammonia from chicken urine and the stench from chicken manure is quite strong. Precious lawns will be scuffed up, devoured, and burnt by hungry urinating and defecating machines - engendering even more displeased neighbours.

Urban chicken enthusiasts point out that dogs and cats excrete and urinate quite a bit too. This is true, but rats, mice, weasels, and raccoons don't go after dog and cat food or the animals themselves. Dogs and cats are not being raised for eggs or for meat and are kept in limited numbers.

Some of these city-bred chicken fans have the idea that their children can gather the eggs in the morning and it will be a wonderful way for them to have a taste of rural life in the midst of the city. You may have your children try to gather these eggs a few times, but once they get the angry end of a chicken's beak on their hand or arm they will not be too enthusiastic about that particular chore. As for raising the chickens for meat, count me out unless your chickens are butchered by a professional.

Chickens belong in the country, that's where the farmers are.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Update:

~ According to the Ottawa Citizen, 24 billion people will be tuned into the World Cup.

~ Estimated World Population as of 2010: 6.8 billion.

~ Accountants are always stressing the importance of decimal placement.

~ I wish it were about 70 degrees warmer outside right now.

~ Hup, Holland, Hup.

~ Ottawa always seems to be talking about a light rail transit system. It seems like none of the people talking about the transit system actually ride public transportation.

~ I think Ottawa is secretly jealous of Toronto.

~ Ottawans seem to spend a lot of time complaining about how Ottawa isn’t bike-friendly. They should try riding a bike through downtown Toronto. If they did, I think they’d stop being jealous.

~ Ottawa has 170 km of bike paths.

~ I still don’t consider myself an Ottawan.

~ The bread I buy is always slightly too dark on top, almost burnt.

~ The previous statement was incredibly boring to those uninterested in my bread consumption.

~ Everyone is unquestionably interested in my bread consumption, though. You're welcome.

~ I favour peanut butter and jam, with a preference toward raspberry over strawberry jam.

~ Enthralling, I know. I should do an entry just on my bread consumption.

~ I was able to make a dentist appointment for Monday, I’m pretty sure I have a cavity. If not, I just have a tooth that doesn’t enjoy being touched by anything sweet, hot, carbonated, or any combination thereof.

~ I believe it has been almost ten years since I have been to the dentist.

~ I’ve eaten a lot of bread since then.

~ My youngest sister, who’s in grade 8, received first place in high jump at Master’s field day.

~ I remember trying for the school record in grade 8, but I didn’t match it. Then I jumped really badly on Master’s field day.

~ My second youngest sister is en route to become a Neurosurgeon.

~ Sometimes I spread misinformation.

~ My third youngest sister is the world’s most helpful person. Ask anyone who knows her.

~ Sometimes I spread truth.

~ My second oldest sister is enroute to becoming Florence Nightingale.

~ Sometimes I make bold assertions that hinge on a comparison between heroines of the Crimean War and a sibling's future career.

~ My oldest sister cooks the world’s best chicken, bakes the greatest raisin bread, and has the most amazing children.

~ Sometimes you just want to go to Saskatchewan.

~ In comparison, I was voted the most likely to own my own tropical island in my last year of high school.

~ I am well on my way to not owning my own tropical island.

~ World Cup tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Graffiti

There’s a park by the bus stop that I frequent where people are free to practice their graffiti art. I always enjoy seeing the constantly changing face of the wall there, and I’m often impressed with the talent that these artists have with a spray can.

That being said, there is one thing I can’t stand. Heist. Heist has his name up on that wall. He also has tagged at least seven other places that are not that wall – and that’s just on my route to work. Four of these tags have been removed, but the other ones are still there. They’re quickly done with very little art to them, they’re ugly, and I’m sure they’re not cheap to remove. I am tired of seeing this word on my way to work. I read it inadvertently and immediately regret it. When I read the name Heist, I hear it being read in the voice of an angry high-pitched German. I have nothing against the Germans or the German language, but this particular word hits me like the squealing of bus brakes or the sound of teeth being dragged across a blackboard. Teeth. On a blackboard.

I hope that someday soon Heist, whoever he (or maybe even she) is, owns a car. I hope that this car is a very nice car. I hope that Heist really likes this car. Finally, I sincerely hope that someone paints a big, beautifully indelible picture of a cow patty on the hood of this car.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.

~ Victor Hugo

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Boer War Memorial

I sometimes walk through Ottawa's Confederation Park on my way from the Rideau Centre to Elgin Street or vice versa. Whenever I do, I pass the Boer War Memorial, with its mustachioed hero doffing his cap. He's smiling, his rifle butt resting on the ground, and I'm left pondering whether I like this chap.

With no control over its foreign policy,Canada was drawn into the war as soon as Great Britain declared war. Canada's Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier, was not enthused by the war and was left in a difficult position because of the sharp divide between English and French Canada. English Canada was fervently behind the British in South Africa. Over 7,000 Canadians served in South Africa, with 89 being killed in action and 130 dying of diseases.

Now, despite my last name being den Boer my ancestors were not at all involved in the 1899 Boer War (also known as the Second Boer War). I would wager that, like most Dutch (and much of the world, for that matter), their sympathies lay with the Afrikaners rather than the British. In fact, popular opinion was so strong that the Dutch government sent a cruiser to South Africa to pick up the Afrikaner president, Paul Kruger. Two small Dutch-speaking Republics were fighting against a world power; a world power that seemed motivated entirely out of a lust for diamonds and gold.

Canadians don't seem to know a lot about the Boer War. When people have trouble pronouncing my last name, as they often do, I tell them that it's pronounced "like the Boer in the Boer War." Reactions range from blank nods to a vague look of recognition. I doubt very many Canadians know that the Boer War was the birthplace of the first concentration camps, made for Afrikaner families and their black allies, or that some of the Canadian troops had a reputation as a rough, undisciplined lot prone to excesses.

For these reasons, I find it difficult to pass the Boer War Memorial without a little cynicism. This was not a just war. Admittedly, the Boers were far from angelic in their treatment of the local African populations or their annexation of African land, and it was the Boers who pre-emptively attacked the British in the Second Boer War. However, this does not justify their treatment at the hands of the British or the British annexation of the Boer Republics.

War is a tragedy, especially when it is waged unjustly. Still, the men who died in the Second Boer War deserve to be remembered - whether they were African, Boer, British, or Canadian.

So when I pass the Boer War Memorial I think of all the needless lives that were lost, the greed, anger, and hubris that humanity will never lose, and the emptiness of so many of the wars around the world.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Title: Warning to all Vilators
Location: 500 m from my abode.
Number of Signs with the Same Spelling: At Least Two
Lesson for Hydro One: Proofread your Signs
John's Imagination Says: A vilator is a futuristic car that interferes with Hydro-1's electricity grid. This is a sign from the future.
Google Says: Did you mean: violator?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Factory

The factory was old, far older than any of the buildings surrounding him. He felt his age in his sagging wooden floors and the yellowing walls of his interior. The once bright red bricks that he had worn so proudly had faded into a rose, and a few had begun to crack and crumble. Few of his paneled windows remained, most had been broken by drunken vandals. The machinery that had hummed almost constantly deep in his belly had been silent for decades, as if his vitality had been sucked right out of him. The machines, once confident and powerful, had been stripped and their remains left to corrode. At night, when the city lay almost silent he could hear his joints creak and groan from his own mass and from the weight of the plunging temperatures. His faces were crisscrossed with tattoos left by romantics, desperate fame-seekers, and angry urban poets. He had come to enjoy the surreptitious visits of these night-time artists. The bright colours that they left behind covered his faded brick and their shadowy visits gave him the attention that he missed so greatly.

The building behind him, a soaring glass structure would peer imperiously down at him and wonder aloud when his view would improve. The glass building had a slight curve to its roof which made it think of itself as an architectural masterpiece.

The factory muttered hollowly to the himself about how derivative the glass building was, how there were thousands of it throughout the world, how few people noticed the shining reflective glass. He, however, had stood the test of time. Had he not heard the recent urban explorer enthuse to his friend on how much character he had?

Years passed. The machines showed up. The factory was excited at first, assuming that they had come to revitalize him, to shore him up, to re-open him to the rough workmen.

That was until they pulled down his first wall, the faded brick crumbling as it hit the ground. They were tearing him down, his tired bones shuddered with fatigued relief. His walls creaked and groaned, their age giving away easily to the destruction. He heard the soaring glass building humming happily to itself, "I shall have a wondrous view."

“Your time will come,” he groaned as his ancient roof caved in, “Your time will come.”

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

In Which I Answer Some Very Serious Questions - Part 3

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

Have you ever tried making a round box? More importantly, have you ever noticed how easily round boxes can be crushed?

Do bald people get Dandruff?

Why was the word dandruff capitalized here? Anyway, the answer to your question is that bald people are impervious to any and all disorders of the scalp.

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

White supremacy.

Why do superheros (sic) wear their underwear on the outside of their clothes?

Superheroes don’t exist.

If you get cheated by the Better Business Bureau, who do you complain to?

Superman.

When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs?

No, they generally use megaphones and effigies.

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

I know, right? I mean it’s so hard to check if paint is wet but so easy to count to 4 billion.

Can you cry underwater?

Yes, I can also breathe underwater.

Why Does Pluto Live in a dog house, eat dog food, etc. but Goofy, who is also a dog, lives (sic) in a condo and drives a car?

Cartoon speciation.

If you blew a bubble in space would it pop?

No, it would continue to expand until it consumed the entire universe.

How come all of the planets are spherical?

They’re not, they’re oblate ellipsoids.

When a pregnant lady has twins, is (sic) there 1 or 2 umbilical cords?

One, they take turns.

Why doesn't Winnie the Pooh ever get stung by the bees he messes with?

Winnie the Pooh is an anthropomorphic bear who can talk, don’t you have a better question?

Why do they put holes in crackers?

So they sink in your soup.

Can you still say "Put it where the sun don't shine " on a nude beach?

No, it’s forbidden.

What do people in China call their good plates?

Good plates, but they say it in Chinese.

How come toy hippos are always blue, or purple, when real hippos are brown?

Real hippos are brownish-grey, come correct or don’t come at all.

Why don't woodpeckers get headaches when they slam their head on a tree all day?

Their ancestors slammed their heads against the inside of a titanium box, so they’re pretty tough (see part 2).

If someone owns a piece of land, do they own it all the way to the center of the earth?

I was going to say yes, but the dude who wrote War and Peace disagrees, and who am I to argue with him?
“The earth is the general and equal possession of all humanity and therefore cannot be the property of individuals.”

If an escalator (sic) breaks down, does it become stairs?

No, it becomes a staggered group of stationary steps that are just the right distance apart for the average biped to travel swiftly between two separate levels.

Why do they call him Donkey Kong if he is not a donkey?

The Japanese creator wanted to relay the idea of a stubborn gorilla. No really, that’s the answer.
Why do they say a football team is the 'world champion' when they don't play anybody outside the US?

Because the United States is the world, silly.

Do stuttering people stutter when they're thinking to themselves?

No.

If you put a chameleon in a room full of mirrors, what color would it turn?

The colour of the floor.

What are the handles for corn on the cob called?

They’re called the left and the right ends of the corn on the cob.

Why do British people never sound British when they sing?

Listen carefully.

Why do we press the start button to turn off the computer?

I usually click on the Start menu button, then the shut down button, and then press okay. You may want to upgrade from DOS.

Do your eyes change color when you die?

I don’t know, I haven’t died yet.

Who deh?

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