Sunday, 21 December 2014

Turning the Page on Global Warming

Dateline: Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 6:03 PM – Winter is officially here.
Dude! Where's my car!?
I'm dreaming about getting the cycle and the kayak out in Spring.
Today is the shortest day of the year and tomorrow is officially the first full day of winter. I'm already planning the first days I can drop my kayak into a river or tune up the cycle for a ride. Of course, my immediate concern is whether I have amassed enough movies and books to get me through. Hmm... Perhaps a few more of each.
Winter is an ideal time to plan an exodus. Not the two week variety. The big one.
Of course, this morning I kick on the iTunes, click “random play” on my selection of Sunday morning mix tunes and... wonder of wonders... Bob Marley starts off the morning taking me immediately to a mental scene of palm trees, white sand and breakers foaming over a reef.
The whole event around Solstice and winter got me thinking about how difficult it is for Canadians to have success in outdoor sports. We’re pretty much snowballed unless it’s hockey, skiing or riding a CO2 belching motorized dog sled. And then there's hurtling at a hundred miles an hour down an iced tube. They call that last one Bobsled. I'm thinking Bob was missing a few ice blocks from his igloo.
To combat this discrepancy in sports such as golf, we have devised mechanical wonders like indoor driving ranges with industrialized, sub-atomic heaters blowing warm air at our frost bitten crotches and virtual screens where you can pretend-play against some of Canada's best (like the 2003 Masters champ). Still, it hasn't the same allure as real world antics where I can crank a golf ball off the nearest Sugar Maple, have it ricochet back and leave a good sized divot on my golf buddy’s family jewels.
Hmm… it could have been a frozen hockey puck there, Jacques. Stop moaning, you sissy. You're up next. Next time wear a cup. Oh... and here's your missing jewel.
Then, there’s one of my preferred activities… cycling. A few hardy individuals brave the winter by riding their bikes through the season looking like a puffy Don Cherry in raving lunatic Technicolour. Donned in a snowsuit, mukluks, snow mobile gloves, battery-powered-automatic-feed Tim Horton's travel mug and a triple thick balaclava, if they strolled into a bank in the States they would be porous by way of hot lead faster than Jean Chr├ętien can choke a voter. Here in Canada, the bank teller simply offers a free cup of Timmies, a donut and a tissue for ever present cold weather nasal snot.
Oh my God I'm gonna have a coronary!
So I turn to cycling indoors which means a spinning machine at the local YMCA or in my living room. Cycling at the gym or "The Y" isn’t entirely nonconstructive. All a person of my vintage need do for motivation is choose a cycle behind a blistering hot, sweaty twenty-something in black spandex shorts and spend the entire session trying to catch up. Perfect, my brain thinks. I'll be in great shape for Spring!
Until I dismount the contraption and my legs betray me like over-cooked spaghetti leaving me puddled on the dead-sweat-smelling gym floor.
Cycling in the living room has its own dilemmas. The same motivation doesn’t exist. (Well, there's Charmed reruns and it just isn't the same.) On winter evenings, there's hockey on the TV to get the RPMs up though it's quite the balancing act riding a stationary bike, whooping it up when the Leafs score and avoiding spilling beer (sacrilege). During the day, all you really have for motivation is Days of Our Lives, Doctor Phil or a droning talk show about the most recent medical break-through to moderate menopause.
Ready for a winter paddle.
And... while spinning along, every so often the contraption kicks off its stand conveying the unsuspecting rider (me) at warp ten across the beige medium pile carpeting into the fifty-two inch Hulka-Monster big screen TV. Now I find myself with the television horizontal and me lying prone on top with beer, pretzels and regurgitated Timbits strewn everywhere. The great part is the right leg disappearing into the wall... beside the hole made by the left leg last week... and the other hole left by my elbow the week before.
I think I have it fixed now. A half dozen lag bolts into the antique wood floor and I'm all set.
The long winters here make it difficult for us to thrive in outdoor summer sports. On the other hand, we’re great at hockey, pretty damned good at skiing and very proficient at sliding down the middle of an icy, hilly city street on our Hugo Boss clad asses. That last one isn't a sport but it’s a hoot to watch. I gave a guy a ten last week for careening off a British green Miata, grabbing some lady's take out coffee on the way by and scattering a waddle of nuns from Sacred Mary Heart of Sleet before coming to rest with feet in the air against an "icy conditions" street sign.
Dreaming of somewhere warmer
All of this brings me back to this year, the early spring and late fall. Could this be Global Warming? Is it possible Al Gore is right? If so, we’ll be the new Florida soon and finally produce some respectable tennis players. All we need to do is sell more tar-sands sludge and eat more Alberta beef.
As often as we find ourselves positioned as Miss Congeniality in summer sports, is there any doubt we have to be pretty damned nice people… eh?
So... promote Canucks in summer sports by buying more gas and driving around in endless circles on your snowmobiles. Don't forget to load up on steaks and ribs. Hurry, will ya? Kayaking on the dining room table in front of a seascape on a big screen TV is... well... I rolled off twice yesterday. Helmet, dude! Helmet!
I'm gonna need a vacation.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

On the Soap Box Yelling at the Queen

Sometimes it has to be said.

There's a box one can stand on in Hyde Park, London, England where, as long as you remain on the box, you can say anything you wish... including denouncing the Queen herself... and no-one can touch you. It's called Speakers Corner.

Last week I went off on those who criticize others, specifically those who mete out their criticism with a good dose of racism, sexism or any other “ism”. Being critical is not an issue with me. I believe questioning everything is a good thing. That which stands up to criticism usually proves valuable. Personal attacks on one's heritage or gender or sexual orientation or physical appearance is never to be stood for.

I noted a couple of things since last week after my rant.

Firstly, I received feedback stating there would always be people out there who would be critical and would attack others on a personal level. So? Does that mean we stand idly by and watch? I think not. Where would India be if Mahatma Gandhi had stood idly by and let the British continue their regime? Where would South Africa be if Nelson Mandela had decided to cave in to his captors pressures? Where would African Americans be if Martin Luther King had just let things slide?

How about Helen Gurley Brown or Gloria Steinem?

Malala Yousafzai?

Another message I saw was something along the lines of... promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. I have a problem with that. While I agree there is a balance between the two activities, one cannot turn a blind eye toward injustices. A Poly-anna attitude might work for the individual. It does not work for a society.

And no, I do not believe war or physical violence is the answer.

I don't disagree that too much focus on bashing what you hate is likely to cause more problems in your life than good. However, at some point, each of us has to stand up for what we believe. Most of that is good, I think. Some of that standing on the soap box is directed at things that need correcting.

I know of that which I speak.

When I was younger, I was bullied. There's no point sugar coating it. I was beaten up, pushed around, laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, stolen from, threatened, had property damaged, etc. This from the time I was five in Kindergarten until I was sixteen. For twelve years I would go to school knowing I would be bullied in some way. For twelve years I kept my mouth shut. For twelve years my friends let it slide.

The only message the bullies got was that I was an easy mark... and the beatings continued. The bullies had little to be afraid of because they knew I was too scared to speak up. The bullies had little to be afraid of because they knew my friends wouldn't be there to back me up.

Not speaking up about injustice serves only to send one message to the perpetrators of injustice... “It's okay to continue behaving badly toward others because I can get away with it.”

I know what it means to be bullied and face those fears every day. I know the courage it takes to get in the arena to face the lions with critics surrounding me no matter how much I might not want to get into the fight. The truth is, if you're playing the critical voyeur watching from the sidelines and not in the arena standing at my side getting your nose bloodied, your body bruised and your ego molested and taking the criticism just like me scrabbling in dusty, muddy, bloody combat... then I'm not interested in your opinion of how the battle is going.

If you're not willing to step in there and fight injustices, your opinion about the fight is of little value. I'm not interested in hearing it.

While I agree there are people out there doing ugly things and there likely always will be and I agree that focussing on the positive most of the time is a good thing, I also whole-heartedly believe that we need to speak up when we see injustice. Turning a blind eye or smiling and focussing on something pleasant doesn't solve the problem.

As Dr Phil says, whether you believe you are a fighter or not, if someone is throwing punches, you better damned well defend yourself because the reality is... your in a fight!

The reality is, we have to stand up to injustice... period. We're in a fight and we better defend ourselves.

I wonder if the Queen can hear me.

If you think I'm the only one who thinks this way, click here.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ship of Fools

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King


For some reason, I've seen far too much of this crap in the past few days. The only reason I can seem to come up with is the Universe wants me to write about it. I hate writing posts like this. Too often, my blood pressure is up and I usually don't feel particularly good about myself afterwards. Yet, the topic covers a litany of unadulterated stupidity unmatched by much else I can think of (other than the continuous raping of the planet... which also pisses me off.)

You may wish to read this article by Amanda Blackhorse before continuing because it's exactly the type of low brow, ignorant, Neanderthal behaviour that induces constipation.

I understand the major issue in these instances is a lack of education. Let's face it, people who react in such an abhorrent manner toward others are ignorant. They haven't experienced the life others have yet have an opinion about how the other should behave. They ought to take a few courses with Ms Manners before allowing their putrid psyche to shit out all over the page.

They lash out because of fear. What that fear is will probably be personal to them and I can guarantee you they feel threatened in some way. Constantly putting other people down is a sure sign of your own immaturity and lack of self confidence. Oh, you may look hard and tough on the outside and inside your a malleable blob of goo easily swayed by any piece of odious sexist, racial bullshit your drinking buddies or knitting group care to stuff down your gaping maw.

Basically, your a piss-ant who can't wipe his own ass without permission.

The internet has made things far worse when it comes to hate mongering. Too often I see crap spewed out under the guise of humour with little or no regard how those words are going to be taken at the other end. More and more often it seems there is little attempt at passive aggressive humour and it's simply straight on aggressive behaviour. Hiding behind a screen and spewing hateful tripe is cowardly. More often than not the person subjecting the crap wouldn't have the intestinal fortitude to say it to your face. They'd piss their pants before they would stand in front of you and use the same language.

If you don't have the fucking courage to stand in front of me alone, without your gang of idiots, and say it to my face in real life, then shut your fucking mouth on the internet.

Does that piss some of you off? Tough. I don't really give a rats ass.

The type of person who would subject another with aggressive, hateful comments around gender, race, creed or religion in a vane attempt to bolster their significance on this planet isn't worth the time of day. If your idea of making yourself look bigger is to make others feel small, I'll be the first in line to verbally take you down. I have little tolerance for those willingly sailing on a ship of fools.

If all you have to rebut any argument is red-neck, hateful discourse, shut the fuck up and keep it to yourself. 

Your vacuous truculence toward others shows just how much of an elephantine ass-hole you really are.

I don't feel any better.

In the words of spiritualist John Parkin... fuck it.