Old Houses and Outer Space

This is only a test. I want host pictures directly rather than using a middle man, namely Flickr. I totally love Flickr, don't get me wrong, but this makes my life much easier. This shot comes courtesy of L. This was taken during our last visit to Victoria. I'm still amazed there are little gems like this building still standing in that town. One of the reasons I had to escape Victoria was because the town ceased being attractive. When I first moved out on my own I would wander around and look at the heritage lots near downtown. Most of them stood tall like proud soldiers, showing off their fresh coats of paint. Over time, the place lost much of its luster. Maybe because I was becoming resentful of the people around me, or the frustration associated with being an introverted bookworm.

But now I get share Victoria with someone new. L and I love walking around my parents' neighbourhood and beyond, commenting on the houses we pass by or the little coffee shops and such we see on our travels. Victoria is especially nice in the spring, when a gentle breeze blows in from the ocean, shaking the new, green leaves on the trees. I loved walking along the beach and smelling the salty air and kicking sand around. I think when you walk away from a place like Victoria, and then return with someone who has a fresh pair of eyes, all that is charming and gorgeous comes creeping back.

A little off-topic: I'm concerned about our species' growing curiosity with Mars (see previous post) and whether water is available. Obviously, colonization is on the horizon. The most common argument I've heard is "we should worry about our problems here on Earth before we got shooting rockets out into space," and I agree. There are people starving to death on this planet. Sending humans to Mars while others watch their families die from famine, disease and war is morally wrong. Billions of dollars are spent on building bigger, faster engines rather than attempting to rebuild devestated nations and economies. Proponents of the current space program point to simple human curiosity, we are an intelligent (sort of) species who naturally want to walk on the red sands of Mars because of scientific interest. Projects propelled by humanity's curiosity should not take precedence over humanity's well-being. Most scientists the world over would agree with that notion, assuming of course they are the secular humanists I hope they are. And, the naturalistic argument makes my teeth hurt. Any claims of "naturalistic" characteristics in human behaviour are either twisted to fit an ideological argument or just plain wrong. I suppose I'll have more to say about this later on.

What was the public attitude toward the first Moon landing? I suppose, like any epoch, citizens had diverse opinions on topical events. However, I've noticed there is little documentation or representation of those who opposed the space program in 1969.

Water on Mars?

I was looking through Boing Boing this morning and found an interesting report from the European Space Agency. The possibility of the ice found in the crater being carbon dioxide is unlikely, because the carbon dioxide has already vanished in the same region.



There is something to getting old. Now, I'm not old, but I'm older. And that means, yes, a birthday has come and gone and it gets me thinking about mortality. If I'm going to age, and I'm going to stick around for awhile, I might as well age like my favourite wine. A thickened body, a smooth, complex taste and a certain dignity that no one can clearly point at, but just knows it's there. That means sticking to my French diet: drinking nothing but water and wine, and eating smaller portions. And walking everywhere and watching people and listening to their conversations. Continue carrying a notebook everywhere. Observe cat behaviour. Walk with my hands in my pockets. Get a haircut. Neglect to shave. Take many baths. If drugs appear on the scene, ingest said drugs and put on music or write or draw. Read more. Read more. Discontinue relationships that will eventually cause suffering. I know, life is suffering, but I really need a break. Don't be ashamed when I blurt out how much I love someone. Blush, often. Brush my teeth. Ride my bike. Buy a new bike. Write a poem and give it to a stranger or leave it on the train (and try to get friends to simply call the Skytrain a "train," as in "we took the train downtown and went out for coffee and firecrackers") for someone else to read. Less is more and more is less.


I'm taking Wednesday afternoon off, then finish my homework in bed. Take that, subconscious fear of failure and/or success!


The Future.

All my assignments are finished. All I have to do for the next week is edit, edit edit. I also have to write an article for the paper, and I'm trying to figure out what exactly I'm going to discuss; probably some reviews of upcoming books. I suppose there's lots to talk about after the San Diego Comic-Con, so I might dig around for juicy gossip and previews of new comics.

What I really want to do is review poetry. Not that I don't like reviewing comics (I will probably keep it up during my tenure at UBC, since I learned how to receive free comics for review) but in my heart of hearts I would like to devote three to five hundred words on poetry, maybe on a monthly basis. I'm not sure if there are any venues for this sort of writing at the student level. Students can contribute to papers and journals, so perhaps there's some space in those publications. I'm just stoked to be writing on a regualar basis again. Also, I'm going to try out for editorial positions whenever they come up.


The 3 Variable Funny Test

the Wit
(73% dark, 21% spontaneous, 16% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

Also, you probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 88% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 11% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating


My gut wins again.

Ugh. I'm not feeling too hot. And, I have a very long paper (well, the draft anyway) due Tuesday. I'm just over-tired and congested and my kitchen looks like the aftermath of a train collision. With trains filled with grease. I'm going not into work tomorrow. I need my body back, thank you.

Other than that, I'm counting down the days until school is finished and I get to spend the month doing what I want. And by that, I mean sleeping and writing. Right now, I can smell wood smoke wafting into my office, followed by a deep aroma of barbecued meat. Being a veggie, I'm surprised that scent triggers rich memories of summer. I remember when I was a kid I would watch the ribs roast on the grill, all smothered in barbecue sauce; I really need to replicate the sensation of grilling meat on a fire. Marinated tofu? Gluten? Maybe mixing up a batch of sauce using liquid smoke? I just found another activity for August: grilling.


R.I.P. Alfie

Originally uploaded by Decepticons Attack!.

Earth, receive an honoured guest.
W. H. Auden

On Tuesday, July 19, 2005, at around 2:00 PM, our beloved friend Alfie passed away. His health was rapidly declining, so my parents thought it would be appropriate if he were put down.

Alfie was a member of our family for almost twenty years. In that time, he traveled across the country from Ontario to British Columbia, lived in a tent for month and mentored many younger cats who had the fortune of being adopted by my family. On the day of his passing, tenants in my parent's apartment building lit candles in his honour. On Wednesday, a small memorial was held to celebrate his life. Alfie spent most of his time hanging out in the building's foyer, and many people would often stop by and say hello to him. Even past tenants sent their condolences and flowers to my parents. He was a well-loved cat; his warm, friendly personality made him an instant charmer, especially with the ladies. His cool demeanor was his most enduring quality. Alfie could sit on a window ledge all day and be content just watching the world slip by. You could count on him to sit on your lap when you were feeling blue, or cozy up to you in bed to keep you company.

Alfie lead a unique life. He was born in a woodpile behind my dad's work, and the employees took in his brothers and sisters. When we decided to adopt one of the kittens, my dad tucked Alfie into his checkered lumberjack jacket, and rode the subway back to our apartment. I was only around ten years old at the time. I'll never forget the first time we met: I was watching television, sitting on the floor with my shoulders resting against the coffee table. Suddenly, I felt a warm, furry something brush up against my neck. I turned around, and there was Alfie. Originally, his name was Alf, named after the television show of the same name (I was an avid watcher back then) but over time his name became Elf, Elfie, then Alfie. Well, at least that's what I called him. He was a constant companion while I was growing up. I will miss our time together; playing with string for what seemed like hours, having him snooze on me while I read, or talking to him late at night. Even after I moved out, he was always there, hanging out in the foyer greeting passer-bys, always open to a scratch behind the ears. He was such a sweet boy, and I miss him terribly. We know, Alfie, that wherever you are, you can finally rest.


Bowen Island, food and the soccer ball and the sea.

I have to leave shortly and pick up some food items before it gets too late, so this entry may have to be a two-parter.

Saturday was lots of fun. I woke up early, drifted back to sleep then woke up again just shy a few minutes from my departure time. I'm terribly fast at getting ready. The only setback was my ferry ticket: I left it on the dryer. I didn't realize what had happened until I was on the bus heading downtown, and that nauseating panic that creeps up from my belly returned, in spite of my self-assurances that my co-worker had a book of tickets with her. I was right. When I met my co-workers she did, in fact, have the spare tickets tucked into her bag. It wasn't that big a deal, but to make the trip interesting, adding some drama to a mundane experience makes mornings bearable.

The day was great. We sat around on J and P's porch, which a gorgeous view of the water and surrounding, um, islands. I really didn't know the local geography, so from the porch it was hard to tell where everything is located. I swore I saw some of the North Shore mountains. Anyhoo, some people swam, whereas I found a shady spot on the beach and read Federico Gracia Lorca's Songs and Ballads, translated by Robin Skelton(!), who taught English at the University of Victoria and was a practicing Wiccan. The rest of the day was spent eating (tabouli, macaroni salad with apple slices; the delightful summer fare that I've denied myself for sometime now) drinking beer, and kicking the soccer ball around on the beach. The damned ball kept ending up in the drink, and I had to wade in to retrieve it. Right now, looking down my hallway from my office, and I can see my socks still drying in the bathroom.

Which reminds me: we were half an hour early to meet the ferry back home, so we kicked the ball to each other in a park beside the marina. Well, the ball made it back into the water, but it was near impossible to grab it in the conventional matter. The water was too deep and the ball was a good distance away. The ferry was slowly making its way into the harbour. One of my co-workers grabbed a brush and pan used for sweeping up litter in the park. They were attached by a length of rope. He then stood in the middle of a bridge that allowed pedestrians to walk onto the dock, right under the soccer ball. He lowered the broom/pan, and swung. The pan knocked the ball back to shore, where I had climbed down to fetch it before it floated away again. When I tossed the ball back up, the person at the top waiting to catch the ball nearly missed it, and scrambled to grab it before it returned to the sea. I don't know what is up with my new soccer ball, it really wants to explore the ocean depths or something. Too bad its incredibly buoyant.


I just registered myself in courses for next semester and the following semester. The University of British Columbia will never know what hit'em. I'm in mostly English and sociology courses, and one linguistics course. The literary theory course is full, so I'm on the waitlist. Luckily, the class doesn't start until next semester, so by that time I will have the bureaucracy figured out and maybe I can shmooze myself into the classroom.

Looking forward to Bowen Island: I picked up the soccer ball (along with some comics; Walking Dead, Albion, New Avengers and Desolation Jones) and I'm going to prepare by doing as much homework as possible, while totally disregarding the mountain of dishes in my kitchen.


It is a relief and joy to finally post something. I feel a mild itch whenever I am away from the computer for too long, thus marking my first stages of addiction. But what a sumptuous affliction it is; staring at the monitors gentle glow as I type reports to a largely unknown audience, if there is an audience at all. Blogging is much like having a radio show. You transmit yourself through invisible waves across the globe, in hopes of reaching another person, as if you're talking to yourself. To ease myself back into a regular routine, some itemized entries concerning yours truly:

1. This blog is a year old. Hooray.
2. Last weekend, being this confederacy's birthday, my good buddy W dropped by unexpectedly with his lovely girlfriend K (or C, I'm not sure how she spells her name) plus mountain bikes and other supplies required for urban adventuring. They had been driving around the province for two weeks, hiking and biking and checking stuff out. We hung out at the local bar, biked for three and half hours around Vancouver (one the highlights being the alleys behind Granville, as we raced along dodging pedestrians and cars) with W's dog S following along. The weekend was a blur, since the booze kept coming, courtesy of W. My cat had a field day spanking W's dog repeatedly. I miss him already.
3. School is coming to a close, and my last semester has been a memorable one. I've taken a lot in since I've been here, and found the confidence I was sorely lacking. I'm ready to enter university, but the sheer size of the institution still intimidates me. I rediscovered my love for literature, writing, and generally just arguing over the finer points of social theory and language. Academia is one of the few places were nitpicking is considered good form. I'm stoked to take my first linguistics class, as well as literary and social theory classes.
4. I had a birthday recently. Thanks to J and J for hosting and supplying the needed ingredients for an evening of talk and food. And booze. We had a great discussion on the problems with contemporary activism and its preoccupation with identity politics, or, the fact that grassroots organizations are ineffective is its insecurity with its member's origins and intentions. Discuss among yourselves.
5. I'm picking up a soccer ball on Wednesday as a gift from myself, and will try to get a game going on the 16th; I'm spending the day on Bowen Island, where one of the faculty members has a cabin, and some of the staff will be barbecuing and enjoying the surroundings.
6. Some photos I've posted were taken by L, not me, and I will give due credit in the future. Also, L has made a website devoted to her graduate work, and if you're interested in urban exploration and photography you should swing by and say hello. For some reason, the site doesn't appear on Explorer, so if you have alternate browsers (Safari or possibly Firefox) then there shouldn't be a problem. Speaking of photos, I've contributed some shots to the Space-Invaders project on Flickr. If you're a member, go and have a look.