Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Day May Day

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - There's a phrase that I really have a hard time with, and yet you hear it often enough to make you wonder if it's true. If you give something to someone and then subsequently take it back it's said to be "Indian Giving,"making you an "Indian Giver."

So let's think about that.  The term was in the 1860 Dictionary of Americanisms referencing the thought that whenever an Indian gave anything away, "he expects something equivalent back or to have his gift returned".¹

Then there were the English.  On May 1st, 1328, the English gave Scotland back their own Kingdom. The wars of Scottish Independence ended in a treaty that had the Kingdom of England recognizing the Kingdom of Scotland. On May 1st, 1707 - the 'Act of Union' once again saw the English take Scotland's independence away and formed the United Kingdom.  And Scotland has been itching for its independence ever since.  So... maybe there is something to this "Indian Giving", but the English had that covered centuries before.  May 1 is now largely recognized as May Day, which was once a celebration of spring, and Maypoles, and dancing, and festivals, but that was soon taken over by the labour movement - like a union on a factory - like Oprah on a ham - like a fat kid on a Smartie - like a union boss on a rampage.

May Day now is often marked with union marches, touting brotherhood (with non-relatives and the lazy fat guy who sleeps on the job but won't be fired because of his seniority), and solidarity. It is no wonder these marches often turn to ugly protest, often by self proclaimed anarchists who bask in every syllable of Sol i dar it y. What's hard to understand is that if someone feels so passionate about that solidarity, about not conforming, about anti-rule, why do they have to cover their faces whilst smashing storefronts and lighting rubbish bins? Is there a moral in their strife? 

Would Mother Goose have written a tale about it? There was an anarchist, lived in a hole, had so many issues they'd  taken their tole. He went to the markets with a bat and a mask, and smashed up the windows in hate he did bask.

So while some may march with their breathren, and some may smash storefronts and call it a cause, some may also want to pull out their Mother Goose collection and celebrate Mother Goose Day.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012 - There have been many days when I've got up to the sound of someone calling my name, and each and every time I wake up thinking "What now?". Well, today, it was to find out that the hamster had escaped her cage and is running free in the house somewhere. I'd step on it's tail if I found her... but she is a rat without a tail. What use is a stump of a tail when trying to catch a hamster?

All rodents are rats of some variety.  There are hamsters - which are nothing more than rats without a tail. There are moles - rats with bad eyesight. There are voles - which are rats on the hunt - and sometimes the seeing eye rats of said moles. There is the capybura - sumo rats. There's the porcupine - rats with pricks. There are lemmings - the retards of the rat world. There are groundhogs and prairie dogs - rats with good legs.  And there are squirrels - rats with good hair.

We can appreciate the squirrels (though not today - Squirrel Appreciation day isn't until January).  After all, who doesn't appreciate a good hairdo? If we didn't think hairstyles were so important, we'd all be walking around with bouffants and mullets. The hair product industry wouldn't offer so much choice, and hair colours would come in blonde, brown, black, and ginger. Hairstyle defines so many of us. For uncle Bill, having hair would be a new style - a bouffant or an afro... wouldn't matter.

Whether your hair is natural or coloured, straight or curly, long or short, full or thin, there or bare, your hair has a style - even when it has no style at all.  There was a hot pink iroquois coming out of the escalator by Microsoft yesterday. It's arguable that this was even a style at all. Today, there is no matter. It is Hairstyle Appreciation Day. It is also National Honesty Day. So if you see a "style" and you don't like it so much... you might be forced to say so.  Perhaps this is why the hamster escaped today. Without a tail, she doesn't even have bad hair, and she didn't want to be told the truth.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Whips and chains.....

Monday, 3 October, 2011 -  When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you come across your share of tree huggers and granola crunchers. They certainly serve a purpose. Without them, there would be a huge backlog of granola on store shelves making it near impossible to find the Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch. In Vancouver, prior to last year's Winter Olympics, the road between Vancouver and Whistler was in desperate need of an upgrade. In order to make the road safer and decrease fatalities, the road needed to be widened and many of the hard mountain road turns needed some de-turning. This did mean that some trees needed to go. Alas, the above mentioned tree huggers decided that the trees carried more importance than the lives of safety of human beings, and chained themselves to the doomed logs with leaves. This is beyond a little tree hugging and seemed to get right in to a little tree S&M.  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me"1.

So what about all the trucks, SUVs and monster cars that grace our roads? I know there is the North American bigger is better mentality at work, but many of these large vehicle drivers also have a little granola crunching in them.  Look around at any of the campsites and you'll see most campsites adorned with Tahoe's, Escalades, and F150's. It is doubt the woman strapped to the tree cycles to work, and as a guess, her partner was likely bringing her her granola in a vehicle. Today is Alternative Fuel Day.  This isn't a preaching for the conversion of your Escalade to alternative fuel, after all, the Escalade driver offers much to the economy. Nor is this a suggestion that you hold off on buying an SUV if it makes sense because the world is going to pot. Drive your vehicles. Jack up the price of fuel, convert your vehicle, strap yourself to a tree, chew on twigs and leaves, or drag race down the I5. Everyone helps contribute to the economy, and likewise to our environment. For every little old lady who gets inappropriate with a tree, there are thousands of SUV's driving the road to Whistler a little safer.  If you can do that drive and have a smaller impact on the environment, perhaps its worth considering.  If the trees get cut, mulch them down to an alternate fuel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Enslaved to the Web

Monday, August 1, 2011 - Did you ever expect that you would be a slave to the Internet? Does a day go by that you are not connected to the World Wide Web in some way? Have you checked your email? Did you think about checking your email? Did you us an ATM or do any online banking? Have you gone in to see the teller in recent days? That doesn't escape the net... the tellers do your transactions online for you. Have you been out to do a little in person shopping only to ask the salesperson to check the availability of an item in a different location?

Lets face it... every day we rely on the World Wide Web in some capacity to get us through the day. Can you imagine work without connectivity? Can you really survive without the internet? My modem had an issue on the weekend. Thankfully, I have the internet on my phone and didn't panic too badly, but I did spend an hour on hold to tech support to get my modem sorted. Without my internet I don't have television, Netflix, iTunes movie rentals, radio streaming, or the Internet.

We have become slaves to the World Wide Web. Today is World Wide Web day and ultimately, we shouldn't worry about it. There is no emancipation from it... there is no one to purchase our freedom nor do we want to be free. We are getting more and more connected every year. We are getting more and more enslaved.

August 1 has a long history of releasing slaves. In 1834, slavery was abolished in the British Empire. In 1838 Non-labourer slaves were emancipated in most of the British Empire. Two years later in 1840, labourer slaves were emancipated in most of the British Empire. So how is it that today is World Wide Web day?  Anyone feel a chain around their neck yet?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's out there

Sunday, July 31, 2011 - Space... the final frontier... a place where no man had gone before... the usual springs to mind. Staring at the stars at the top of the mountain, and away from the light pollution of the city below, one can't help but wonder if there is other life out there somewhere. All those stars you see... some burned out, some are galaxies of their own right... and you can't be certain there isn't someone standing on the top of an elevation looking out of their galaxy at the stars above wondering the same.  There they are staring at us staring at them.

So what was the curiosity that sent the Ranger 7 space probe out to take pictures of the moon? Was it really a search for water or was it a search for those lifeforms?  Was it a deep seated hope to find that proverbial large headed alien with the huge black eyes that you see in all those graphic novels and at Roswell and in ancient Egyptian art?  Makes you wonder why the stereotypical "alien" has an iconic look from as far back as King Tut doesn't it?

Perhaps those who have been looking up at their skies towards our galaxy have already found a way out. They managed to find themselves in our Galaxy and when they landed here on Earth, they didn't find any intelligent life forms worth exploring. We think of ourselves as evolved. Perhaps we would be no higher upon the food chain in their worlds than pigeons are in ours... hardly worth writing home about. Maybe they've come back every hundred Earth years to see if anything has changed, and in their disappointment, have left again to leave us another 100 years.

Think about it, we aren't the only carbon based life form on this planet to build homes. Wasps make pulp and build paper houses. Ants build sophisticated systems of tunnels and caves, they have jobs and a payment system. Bees build homes, go to work, play and live in communities.  Bears build dens that suit their needs. They have the ability to go nearly dormant, thick fur to keep them warm, and their needs are met. We have lost our fur. We have a need for heat. Ok, we don't chew on wood and make paper for our homes, instead we rape the land and build boards and drywall for our dens. Tools no longer separate us from the rest. Chimpanzees use tools to forage for food, to make displays to attract the other sex (we use cars) and displays of aggression (we use guns).

So on todays date in 1964, when Ranger 7 beamed pictures of the moons surface back to Earth, did we think we were going to see bears and chimps?

Probably a good thing the aliens aren't in town this weekend. It's Pride Week in Vancouver, and if you think the aliens are out there...  you ain't seen nothing yet! The parade will open your eyes... in amazement, amusement and puzzlement. There is a whole other world that many will rarely get to glimpse right in your own backyard. It's all about being out and proud. One should NEVER need to hide who they are or what they desire out of life. Pride Week is about being proud: Proud to be gay if your gay; Proud to be bi if your bi; Proud to be straight if your straight; Proud to be transgendered if you are transgendered; Proud to male, female, hermaphroditic....  Just proud.  Our City should be proud to be so open, and our citizens should be proud of diversity. Why should only the aliens be OUT there?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sowing the seeds of freedom

Thursday, 11 November 2010 - Today is Remembrance Day or Veteran's Day depending on which side of the border you are on. And though we choose not to remember the great Canadian American War (that no doubt took place on a sheet of ice, with sticks and cold hard rubber), but to remember those who fought, gave their freedom and lives, gave limbs and sanity, gave blood and tears, for a world that could live as one, we sometimes forget that freedom is not a right... it is a gift. Like all gifts, there was a giver of that gift. An old Chinese proverb says:
When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. 
I spent the day yesterday with my sister, a woman who despite her circumstances, gives thanks for the gift of her beautiful baby girls, her friends and her family. Anyone in her position - dealing with the cruel challenges that life has bestowed upon her, would curse the ground, the gods, the cards dealt - and you could forgive them their trespasses. Life is cruel, and yet, we live a life of freedom because another's cruelty was fought with further cruelty and loss. Despite the pain and the daily fight, my sister is able to live  the life of a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend.  She was free to make those choices and to experience all that freedom can gift her - regardless of the wrapping.

This may seem a far stretch from what today is about, but it is the larger picture for which I am thankful. The chance to make choices about your life, to decide your studies, to choose your path, to plant your garden - these are freedoms. Freedom is a gift, lest us not forget who planted the seeds of freedom.  The veterans, the war heroes, the battle scarred, the wounded, the dead, the families they left behind.

Today is also a good friend's birthday. I have deep admiration and respect for someone who, as a matter of course, spends their day remembering not what was on the Amazon wish list, but more often than not in the rain, watching the Remembrance Day parades, and the broadcasts from the Capital, mourning the souls gone but not forgotten. It is a birthday that not only celebrates another year, but another year of freedom.

To quote another ancient John Lennon proverb:
Imagine there's no countries 
It isn't hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people 
Living life in peace 
Happy birthday. Indeed another year of freedom and life in peace is a gift. Let us not forget who sowed the seeds - in blood soaked soil.

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