Thursday, December 20, 2012

To the Hole in My Pocket,

You swallow so many things, yet you have no digestive tract, no stomach, nothing with which to hold that which you consume.  You will never be sated by the many coins that you have consumed in the midst of your endless, sisyphean hunger.  This is your curse in life, to always eat but never be satisfied, to be ever consuming but never retaining.

Basically, I think you should give up because your whole coin swallowing trick is getting old and I keep forgetting that you exist.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To the gentleman who cut me off on the way into the parking garage,

  I am glad that I was able to facilitate speedy access to the parking area for you. I understand that you, no doubt, had very important things to do — things that were much more important than anything I might have had to do. The speed with which you took advantage of my act of opening the garage door leads me to the conclusion that you are a very august person, for whom ordinary rules of parking lot decorum and civility do not apply. Perhaps you are a superhero or a billionaire philanthropist on your way to save the universe or a small poverty-stricken village in Northern Ontario. I do not know how you would do these things from the comfortable confines of your humble apartment, but I shouldn't ask too many questions of your noble personage. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to aid a person of your obvious importance in your quest for quicker access to the condo's parking garage. I feel that your importance has enhanced my own importance. If there are any other ways that I can convenience you by, say, losing my place in the grocery or bank queue to you or using my face to test the structural integrity an oversized backpack you wear on the bus, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Yours affectionately, John

Monday, December 17, 2012


There is a restaurant in Ottawa named “Gezellig.”

Gezellig is one of the Dutch language’s greatest words.  There is no English equivalent, which explains how this word can survive sixty years to a generation of Anglophone Canadians of Dutch descent.  For the uninitiated, gezellig (with the g’s pronounced with the beautiful guttural phonetics that no one can pull of quite like the Dutch) is a word that calls to mind warmth and coziness, the feeling that one has after having a warm time or moment with family friends.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, there is a restaurant in Ottawa called “Gezellig.”  When I first heard of their existence I was very excited because I thought I would finally be able to dine on some fine Dutch fare – perhaps have some steaming stumpot or a nice appeltaart.

But no, apparently this restaurant does not actually serve any Dutch food.  I was disappointed to learn this and then bitterly remonstrated, in my head, against this callous act of linguistic appropriation.  Imagine if there were a restaurant named “Jolly Good” that didn’t serve any British fare or a restaurant named “Jambo” that didn’t serve any East African food.

Still, I heard that the food is very good, and they’ll definitely be getting my business sometime in the future.  When I do go, I should suggest serving at least one Dutch dish. You know, because they borrowed such an awesome word. 

I can always get some fine Dutch cooking from my mother.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


  • Shout out to Celine and Steve.
  • Where the heck do I find Miranda’s blog, Celine?  I am of the opinion that, if a thirty second google search yields no solid results, a thing does not exist.
  • Other things that do not exist: A Murray McLauchlan fan club (too bad, really), Wal-Mart Inc.’s conscience (wasn’t expecting one), and sour grape mentos (why is that?).
  • Interesting thing I just learned: Fruit Pizza with Almond Extract is a thing.
  • Also, there are cockroach enthusiasts in this world of ours.
  • I just ate pie.
  • It was good.
  • It was filled with various berries, one of the varieties was definitely blueberry.
  • There was this movie I seen one time about a man riding across the desert and it starred Gregory Peck.
  • We’re moving / in the process of moving.
  • I just wrote a skit for Christmas this year and then I realized that last year’s skit is still on the first page of my blog.  That’s a shame, John.  A real shame.
  • Our new place has a full wall mirror in the living room.  A shag carpet would really bring the room together.
  • We picked up the following items at Ikea yesterday: A large computer desk with attached shelf, a kitchen table, four chairs, a computer chair, a small kitchen table, two lamps, and two light bulbs.  We fit all of that into our car because Laurianne is a genius.
  • The light bulbs are the part that impressed you all most, I’m sure.
  • Ikea how do you have an aisle zero?  That shit is just weird to me.
  • Rob Ford . . . Toronto, that was a silly thing to do, electing him like that. 
  • Dalton McGuinty . . . remember when you were the one defending teachers?
  • Stephen Harper . . . thanks for taking away the protected status of over two million Canadian rivers.  We don’t need our waterways protected, it’s not like we use that water for anything.
  • I have a new cup for my tea that changes colour when the water is at the correct temperature.
  • Signs you are getting old: you get excited about a cup for your tea.
  • My coworker referred to records as “those giant cd things.”
  • Really though?  Really?
  • Signs you are getting old: your coworkers are too young to easily call to mind the word for record.
  • I downloaded an app that allows me to rate beers.  I never know what to say when I rate beers.
  • Here’s a sample of one of my reviews: “I like it.”
  • Here’s another sample: “Great.”
  • Here’s a slightly less glowing review: “Good.”
  • Here’s a review where I am more critical and in depth: “Smooth, not my taste though.”
  •  That's it.  That's all I have to say right now.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Fantasy Soccer Graph

Graph Plotting Effort Invested in Fantasy Soccer Versus Score Outcomes Per Week (Effort Measured in Units of Thought)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Ox-Bow Incident

I picked this book up on a whim for 35 cents at a used bookstore in Maine.

By far, this is the best 35 cents that I have ever spent in my life. Not knowing anything about the book, I was expecting a sort of rough Western story about how a hero was able to face off against a lynch mob. This book delivers so much more than that. The exploration of mob psychology, authoritarianism, and the nature of injustice was enthralling. Reading this book is like witnessing a car hit a pedestrian in slow motion. I know, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the book, but hear me out.

I’ve never witnessed a car accident in slow motion, but I imagine it this way: I’m standing on a curb seeing a car headed toward a witless pedestrian (slowly, of course) and I’m thinking that maybe the car won’t strike him. The pedestrian’s head is down and he doesn’t see the car, so I’m worried. I look at the driver of the car, and I see from the way his eyes are focused that he does see the pedestrian. The passengers of the car are yelling. One of them is pointing angrily at the pedestrian, another is eerily smiling, while the other is pleading passionately, a pained expression etched on their face. I feel a sense of relief, he’ll stop in time – slam on those brakes. He’ll listen to reason. Indeed, he does start to decelerate and that’s when the pedestrian finally sees him. The pedestrian’s eyes widen, and he starts to leap. Maybe he’ll be able to evade the car if, for whatever reason, it can’t stop in time. But the car is no longer slowing down. In fact, it’s speeding up. The passenger who was pleading looks sad, but resigned while the others maintain their facial expressions. Now the clash is inevitable. I can’t watch this, but I can’t look away either. Maybe a miracle will occur, some kind of divine intervention. No, it happens, the man dies.

At one point in the book, one of the doomed men says of the lynch mob: “I thought there was a white man among you.” It’s a jarring quote, and I took it at face value at first. But, no, it is clear use of irony. Clark was well aware of racist lynching and he clearly had this in mind when he wrote the book. One of the most sympathetic characters in the book is a black man, Sparks, who has the least social standing in the entire community but is steadfast and brave in his stand against the lynching. Clarks book is a protest not just against injustice, but against the profound racial injustice he saw all around him.

Van Tilburg Clark has created a deeply intelligent book that serves as a startling reminder of our capability for evil. We make excuses for inaction in the face of injustice. After all, what can we do? Clark’s choice to have his protagonist act as a mostly passive members of the mob is a good one. I can’t imagine the book being as effective without this decision. Personally, I was forced to question my own decisions. When had I participated or stood by while someone was bullied? When have I chosen to be quiet in the face of injustice? When I have chosen the easy route of inaction?

This is an engrossing read that inspired a lot of self reflection.

“The book was written in 1937 and ‘38, when the whole world was getting increasingly worried about Hitler and the Nazis, and emotionally it stemmed from my part of this worrying. A number of the reviewers commented on the parallel when the book came out in 1940, saw it as something approaching an allegory of the unscrupulous and brutal Nazi methods, and as a warning against the dangers of temporizing and of hoping to oppose such a force with reason, argument, and the democratic approach. They did not see, however, or at least I don’t remember that any of them mentioned it (and that did scare me), although it was certainly obvious, the whole substance and surface of the story, that it was a kind of American Naziism that I was talking about. I had the parallel in mind, all right, but what I was most afraid of was not the German Nazis, or even the Bund, but that ever-present element in any society which can always be led to act the same way, to use authoritarian methods to oppose authoritarian methods.

What I wanted to say was, ‘It can happen here. It has happened here, in minor but sufficiently indicative ways, a great many times.’”

Walter Van Tilburg Clark, 1960.

Who deh?