Thursday, April 21, 2005


Fountain PenAs some of you may be aware, I aspire to eventually write a novel. So in an effort to exercise my authoring abilities I've decided to write (very) short stories from time to time and post them here. This of course will allow me to practice while hopefully garnering constructive criticism.

For those who are about to read: Enjoy.


Slowly, ever so slowly, the oblivion began to fade. What had been an intangible void reluctantly began to give way to darkness. Though it wasn't much, it was still identifiable and so welcome. Next came the cloudy awareness of self, a mind trying to make sense of its environs. Familiarity was one of the first things it reported, as though the oblivion had temporarily receded several times before. Hovering on the edge of consciousness and hungry for sensory input it tried to focus through the pervading haze in order to get its bearings.

Its first attempts were met with failure. No response. Just darkness. Then, gradually those connected to it began to report in. One by one, they made their presence known: lungs (labouring), throat (sore), mouth (dry), arms (heavy), and so on. Finally, in a muddled chorus, the whole of them communicated complete exhaustion, as though every last one of them had been exerted to their limit. Then, one by one they began to fade, disappearing in the returning oblivion.

This time it was different though. Rather than fading to nothingness, the darkness gave way to images, inexplicable dreams, each more frightening than the one before. The net effect of which was a paralyzing terror causing the mind to reach out to its subordinates in desperation.

The lungs were the first to respond, with a sudden and deep gasp of air filling them. The dormant muscles in the back came to life arching tightly to assist the lungs in maximizing their capacity for oxygen. The heart by now was pounding at a feverish pace.

Then it happened.

The eyelids snapped open widely, letting in a flood of light through the unprepared pupils. The resulting overload on the retinas translated into a sharp stabbing sensation in the brain. That's when the entire body slacked.

Some time passed while the mind absently pondered it's awakening. Little by little, it began to venture into higher levels of thought culminating in one distinct question: "Who am I?"

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Ever go rockfishing?

RockfishNot like this you haven't.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Are you really surprised? Really?

Justice John GomeryIt's been almost two months since the Gomery Commission began to investigate the sponsorship scandal and I have one question for everyone who's dumbfounded at what they've witnessed thus far: are you really surprised at what they've uncovered? I mean really?

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton (1834-1902)
I'm not being cynical here. Honestly. I'm being serious. Can you find one government, just one--past or present--whom you can point to without a doubt in your mind and say "they're honest!" I'm willing to bet the answer is a resounding no.

Unfortunately, ethical behaviour in the political arena tends to be the exception to the rule, and "looking out for the people"--as we are no doubt all aware--only happens in an election year. Promises are made, flesh is pressed, smiles are flashed and the charisma--whatever little of it there is--spews from politicians with the solitary objective of being elected into office. Once they're there, well that's a whole other story. We all know this right? So why is it that when there's a Shawinigate, or an Adscam, we act as though the accused have somehow let us down?

I don't get it. On one hand we make jokes about corrupt politicians, and on the other we hold them up to a ridiculously high standard. So which one is it? Are they corrupt through and through or are they defenders of the moral high ground? Scammers or beyond reproach? One or the other. But you can't have both. The choices are mutually exclusive.

Sadly however, we want both. We want to take our jabs, and still expect ethical perfection. Which is why I think the real scandal is the sad state of Canada's society with respect to its politics. For the most part, Canadians are apathetic. Voter participation is in steady decline. Nobody cares. Our shock factor 24/7 entertainment soaked minds no longer have the capacity to soberly consider societal politics. If it isn't naked or blowing up, we're not interested. But give us scandal and you've got our attention--for a few minutes anyway.

T.S. Eliot said it best: Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Canadian War Heroes

Canadian War HeroesThis past weekend I finished reading Canadian War Heroes: Ten Profiles in Courage by Giancarlo La Giorgia. Whether you're a history buff, a war fanatic or a pacifist, if you're Canadian, you need to read this book. In fact, Americans would do well to read it too.

In a day where our national identity is based on mimicking our neighbours to the south, where war is sterilized--I dare say trivialized--with such euphemisms as "collateral damage," where the closest we get to being at war is catching the surgical strike footage on CNN in the comfort of our living rooms, and the biggest threat to democracy is a sponsorship scandal, it may be a good idea to familiarize one's self with the real struggles and heroism of our country's past.

After reading this book I was left with two things: a sense of pride for the nation which I call home, and an appetite to find out more about the ten heroes profiled in this book. It's not expensive, it's very well written with a vivid recounting of events, and it's bursting with facts.

I could tell you more about it, but I'd rather you read it for yourself.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ben Shelton 1974-2005

Ben SheltonBen Shelton a.k.a. Diablo died on March 30, 2005 of a sudden illness.

I knew Ben from my days in the demo scene. We first met in '95 at NAID Apraxia in Montreal and kept in contact on and off on the #trax IRC channel where he went by the nic "olbaid".

It's always tragic when someone dies at such a young age. Though we weren't very close, I did know him and am saddened by his passing. I pray that his family and loved ones find comfort in this time of mourning.

Rest in peace Ben.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Doctor Who?

Tom BakerIf you were like me when you were a kid, the first thing you did on Friday evenings after you got home from Scouts--even before changing out of your uniform--was turn on the TV to channel 57 (because you didn't have cable and the huge aerial on your roof did a marvelous job of catching the VPT signal from across the border on channel 57) just in time to catch the really cool title sequence for Doctor Who.

It was the mid 80s and I was privileged enough to have cut my geek teeth with Tom Baker as the 4th incarnation of the Doctor. The cheesy special effects did nothing to dissuade me from becoming an instant fan. The Doctor was an intellectual hero who rarely employed violence. Rather, he'd walk into the face of danger with nothing more than an oversized scarf, his brain, and very sharp rhetoric.

You're a classic example of the inverse relationship between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.

The Doctor
Not too long ago I fell ill with a hefty bout of nostalgia for my beloved Doctor when ExpressVu gave me a month of trial programming including the BBC Kids network which ran, you guessed it, Doctor Who reruns! (Albeit at 2AM). I was not too happy when the trial ended. For a while there, I'd record the two (yes two!) episodes every night and watch them the following day. Then, just like that, the music died.

Recently however, I upgraded my satellite package and got BBC Kids. As you can guess I was really happy, especially since the reruns were of the 4th Doctor. But then life happened and there were interruptions in programming which caused me to wane a little in my nostalgic reverie. Not before asking my wife to buy me The Key to Time, the complete DVD box set of Tom Baker's stint as the Doctor. Who knows, maybe she will.

Then, a couple of months ago, while on the BBC Doctor Who Cult website, I saw the announcement. That's right, he's back! A new season of Doctor Who begins tomorrow (April 5, 2005) evening at 8PM on the CBC. Christopher Eccleston will be playing the 9th Doctor, and get this: though the BBC's ordered another season for 2006, he won't be playing the part! The DWIN reports: The reasons cited for leaving the role included the grueling schedule and fears of typecasting. Sigh. Off to a good start I see. I guess it's ok, since that's the whole reason for the Doctor's ability to reincarnate in the first place. Easy actor interchangeability.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Letting go

Mattie StepanekI'm not like a lot of people who ascribe to broad labels like "right wing" or "pro life." Though I share values with right wingers, I can't say that I agree 100% with their points of view. Neither do I wholeheartedly disagree with those sitting on the left side of the isle. So what does that make me? A moderate? Maybe. But my definition of moderate may not be what you think. I'm not always in the middle on everything. I can't consistently apply one point of view to every situation just because "that's what my group believes." That would mean not thinking.

I prefer instead to weigh out my stand on things case by case. Where I may agree with conservatives on one thing, I just as soon may take the opposing point of view on a similar situation under different circumstances.

Which is why Thursday's passing of Terri Schiavo got me thinking. From her parents right on up to the President of the United States I saw people passionately making a case to save her life. But what was best for Terri? You read that right, I believe there's a difference. Saving her life and what's best for her don't automatically mean the same thing, and I don't think I saw one person address that question. Everyone I saw on TV was fighting passionately to keep her alive, and it seemed quite clear to me that they were doing so because, well, they believed that life was worth preserving.

As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life. But that doesn't mean that I blindly believe that life must be preserved at all cost, by all means, at all times, in all cases.

Many millennia ago, the author of Ecclesiastes in his infinite wisdom penned:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Could that mean that sometimes, under certain circumstances, even if we can keep it from happening, we must simply accept that it's a person's time to die? A while ago I heard someone--a psychologist I think--say:
We stay in a relationship because being with that person makes us feel good about ourselves.
In other words, you stick around for you, not them. Which, when you're dating, makes sense. But just because it's valid in that particular setting, it doesn't mean that it's suddenly applicable in every relationship situation under ever circumstance in our lives.

That's where my brain made the leap. If our motive in a relationship is primarily the way we feel about ourselves, then why in the case of losing a loved one are we to automatically assume that mourning their loss is actually an altruistic emotion for their loss? Which of course brings me to the next leap: If we're in fact mourning our loss of them and not their loss of life, then is it possible that our fight to keep them alive is less for their "right to live" and more for our inability to let them go? And can that lead us to selfishly cling to someone whose time has come to die?

Maybe we should follow Mattie Stepanek's mother's example when she said to her dying 13 year old son:
"Mattie, it's okay to rest. You are everything God created people to be, you are everything God created you to be, you have done everything you came here for, and it's okay to rest. I love you."

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