Friday, August 30, 2002

Slammin' the Shaaman
Ended up to going to the gym last night, to do a bit of climbing with my friend David. Around 9, an older man walks in, say mid- to late-40s. The guy looked like he was a holdover from the summer of love, had that not occurred 32 years ago. (Which makes me wonder: if anyone is 30 to 32, do you wonder if your folks were ingesting illicit chemicals back then, and that you are the result of their alterred states?) Anyhow, the guy's got long, scraggly hair tied up in a braid, his skin looks like the result of being subjected to years of sun and wind, tinged with a grayish palour brought on by mucho cigarettes over the years. Thin, but mostly wiry. Had this been the 1700s, I would have thought him a mariner. I remarked to David that the new guy was probably climbing in the '70s, when pot smoking was de rigueur in order to "climb higher."
So, the guy comes in, and just plonks himself at the base of the hardest wall in the gym. Now, normally, you go climbing with at least one other person, since you need a partner to climb -- Allez-Up is definitely not a pick-up joint -- and you usually try to be with someone you trust. Not Mr. Deadhead. Just sat there for about 20 minutes, warming up, massaging his arms.
I walk over at one point and ask him if he wants me to be his partner for a climb or two. The guy's grateful and proceeds to climb. Does it with style, nothing too flashy, just straightforward. Good enough, we introduce ourselves and start shooting the shit. The fella tells me his name is Shaaman/Shamik/Sha-something. He's Polish and an itinerant carpenter. It turns out that he spends the winter living on the beach in Thailand, and the summer in California. Finds odd jobs where he can and just gets by. Funny, he was bemoaning the fact that Thailand is become expensive, since the rent for a bungalow is now about $10/night. So David asked him what he was doing in Montreal, to which the guy replied he was getting some money together to leave again. "Okay, so where do you live?" Shaaman answers that he lives in his VW van.
As I left the gym, I took a look at said van. Now, I expected something from the '80s, perhaps a bit run-down but still functional. This thing, however, was mind-blowing; it must have dated back to the '60s. Full of various stickers, all the seats ripped out of the back so that there are only the two front seats remaining. The fan is overflowing with camping equipment, climbing equipment and carpentry stuff. The funkiest thing, however, was the dashboard. About as simple as can be, I don't remember seeing either a radio or anything. Oh, and the steering column rose out of the middle of floor for about 3 feet to end at the steering wheel. And this is where Shaaman lives.
It's strange, but after awhile, you meet a lot of people like this in campgrounds. A roadtrip, done properly, costs about $5 a day, and you're sitting pretty. Down in Kentucky, home of Ale-8, you can camp on the field behind Miguel's Pizzeria for $2, surrounded by bucolic splendor and, when you can no longer bear to smell yourself, you splurge and pay a buck for a hot shower. VW vans rules in these places, but regular pickups and vans work just as well, and everyone gathers around someone's truck or van at least once a day to see what modifications the owner has made to it. Mind you, this isn't a bunch of good ole boys talking gaz mileage and cylinders here; it's more like, "Wow, you put in shelves and a secret floor?! Cool." or "Dhude, excellent use of storage space. It'll go, man."
Honestly, I think we're all interior designers at heart. Your job now is to count the number of non sequitars in this post.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Waiting with bated breath
We only have to wait less than a day for baseball to go on strike. Oh please, oh please, oh please make it happen. Let the Expos leave so we can finally stop talking about them, and let us get back to the business of bitching about the Habs. Okay?

Amerika uber alles
I'm so angry I could spit. According to the Canadian Press (I got it from the CBC, it seems that the US and Canadian governments are going to sign a treaty that allows the other's army to cross borders, in order to "catch terrorists," whitout needing the host country's permission. Of course, it's said that this will happen only under "extraordinary" circumstances. Um, since Canada doesn't really have a problem with terrorists -- unless, of course, we keep kowtowing to US pressure -- it only seems logical that the American military and government are going to find any excuse possible to impose their own set of warped values on us.
Why the hell are we allowing this? We have even gone so far as to turn over Taliban soldiers to the US military, knowing full well that these soldiers will in turn be shipped off to Camp Xray and stripped of their rights under the Geneva Convention. Meanwhile, we don't even raise a peep when our own soldiers are bombed and killed by American pilots. Since September 11, thousands of muslim and Arab Americans have been jailed, denied due process and visits from relatives. I have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that the same thing may happen here.

Gotta get me one of these
(Ed note: sorry, photo source not working.) Walking back to my desk yesterday, I saw my co-worker Marlene working with some doodad. Curious, I looked over her shoulder and noticed this Forest Fairies box. Okay, so it's simply a little do-it-yourself kid's project for making dolls. However, looking at the package a bit more closely, and especially all the extra wording, I really started to get the heebie-jeebies. Honestly, "Make 5 fairies and play with them forever!". Don't you get the sense that, once you've made one of these dolls, you pass through some sort of medieval portal and find yourself interminably stuck in "their enchanted world"?
First chance I get, I'm going to brew myself up a gallon of absinthe, get over to Westmount, where I'm told these kits are sold, drink myself silly on the absinthe and then stare at the fairies. If everything works well, I might find myself running through leas and forests with Puck and all the other characters from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Looking for Mr. Goodbar?
If I'm to believe my ex, we have returned to the dating scene of the '70s. Kim came by the appartment last night for supper and to drop off my mail -- even though I've filled out the forms to have my mail redirected to my new place. Anyhon, Kim was tellng me about this new guy she met in the metro. He asked for her number, but she took his number instead: turns out it was his pager number. Regardless, they get in touch and feel each other out on the phone. Kim doesn't feel comfortable about the guy, and declines his invitation for a date. "Well, okay," says the guy. "Then how about us having sex. I'm sure it'll be great."
Did I miss something in the past few years? Normally, I would simply pass off this conversation as an aberration but, according to Kim, this is the second time this summer that someone has suggested simply knocking boots -- the first guy even went so far as to suggest that she not spend the night -- without bothering even going for coffee or anything.
I wonder if this approach is for me...

Monday, August 26, 2002

Headline of the day
Man accused in wedgie case

Watching the clothes go 'round, watching the clothes go 'round
Oh, Saturday night, time to do my wash again... For the first time in over five years, I had to haul my clothes to the neighbourhood laundrette. (Unfortunately, there was no young, punkish
Daniel Day Lewis hanging outside.) I felt like a complete tool; stuffed about a month's worth of dirty laundry into a duffel bab, and shuffledmy way down the few blocks to the laundromat. Once there, I searched all over for the change machine, which I couldn't find. Head next door to the Métro, buy some groceries and get a roll of quarters. Head back to the laundrette, and finally see the change machine as I walk in the door. Cram by clothes into the machines, and plop my coinage into the slots. Couldn't figure out why there were only three slots for the $1.50 machine and, being somewhat pathetic, I had to ask a women what to do. Felt like such a parody of the newly single man who can't even wash his own clothes.
Went home and made crêpes.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Cheap socks and underwear
For the first time in a long while, I'm spending the weekend in Montreal. I had planned to head down to Georgeville tomorrow to see the 'rents, but they're having a soirée. No problem, haven't seen them since October anyhow.
Normally, faced with a summer weekend stuck in the city would depress me but, to my amused bemusement, the St-Laurent street sale/fair/flea market is hap-hap-happening this weekend. I've grown indifferent to the event over the past few years, being nostalgic for the sales of 10-12 years ago and disliking the cheap glamour that it's become now, but I'm going to keep my snobbishness in stride, since I really need to pick up stuff for the appartment. As well, it's probably the best time to pick up those necessary tube and "wool" socks, and also the many different name-brand underwear that probably all come from the same sweatshop in China. These should get me through to the next street sale, when the cycle starts over again.

Fridge note: No, no one came by last night to fix the fridge. I've been keeping what little food is in the appartment in a picnic cooler. My cordon bleu abilities are waning.

Dumb as rocks
Watching the news last night, I saw a report on George Dubya. Seems he was some place in Colorado, where there have been two forest fires in the past years. So Dubya, in his ineffable manner, states that the only way to reduce forest fires is, get this, cut down more trees! I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

The fridge saga continues
Last Friday morning, I arranged with my supervisor to come in late to work, so that I could be at home when the repairman came by. The guy checks out the appliance, completely disregarding the howling noise coming out of the motor, and simply adds some freon to the reservoir (or wherever they put it). The fridge seems a bit cooler, so I head off to work, taking a $10 taxi ride for the final leg, since the business is located in butt-fuck St-Laurent.
Get back home Friday night, looking forward to finally having something to keep my beer cool. Walk in the door, and the beast in the the kitchen is screaming louder than a banshee. "Okay," methinks, "I guess I can put up with this." Open the fridge door and I'm blasted with a wave of heat. Not cold... heat. This time, all my food has gone bad. Smells horrible, and some of my veggies are soft and wet. Curry sauces, vegetables and, heartbreak of heartbreaks, various Belgian ale yeast strains all get thrown in the trash. Call up Elvis and give them a piece of my mind, thereby leaving myself with less brain matter. They tell me they can send someone the next morning, Saturday, but I've already plans to leave for the weekend. So it's arranged to send a techie on Monday morn, so I get my upstairs' neighbour Todd to be at my place at 9 on Monday. Needless to say, no one comes by.
More nasty phone conversations ensue, and a concession is made for Tuesday evening. I take off from work early, get home by 5, and the guy finally shows up at 6:30. He takes one look at my fridge, is shocked by the motor's sound, and tells me that the guy from the previous Friday screwed up; I need a new motor. So, apparently, some guy is supposed to come by tonight to fix things up. I'm not exactly keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I've been in training since Monday, and it should continue all through next week. Coming into it, I expected the course to be extemely dry and boring, full of technical jargon about PBX switches, ports, E1 and T1 lines, etc. As it turns out, I'm finding it all rather interesting, perhaps because the technology involved is targetted for remote locations around the world. There are only two other students in the class; another tech writer and some guy entering his last year of engineering at Conned U. He's been here for three months and I don't think he's learned a thing.
Perhaps Marie-Jo can explain this; why is it that, in every class, there's always at least one person who acts completely dumb, asking the same question every 5 minutes, with only slight variations on the theme? When he's not trying to get his synapses to connect, said student is sucking up to the prof, leading the instructor off onto wild tangents. And here I was, thinking I left brown-nosers back in high school.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hate it when that happens
I believe it's Oscar Wilde who once wrote, "Beware any enterprise that requires new clothes." Then again, it might have been HD Thoreau; I'm not up to date on the words of dead white guys. Anyhow, I quickly realised, when I started my present job, that my days of dressing ultra-casula were over. I'm willing to accept this up to a point, as I might finally start buying new clothes after 7 years of wearing basically the same thing.
So, this morning, I was heading out the door wearing jeans, and then reconsidered the image I was projecting. Mind you, I'm one of the few at work who doesn't wear a tie. (I have a problem with the phallic imagery and all.) Go back inside and change to beige pants and head off to work. Happened to walk past a mirror after a few hours, and realise that I have a huge, black smudge on the seat of my pants. Hmm, I've been waliking around work looking like I crapped my pants. Lovely. Shoulda gone with the jeans.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Shaky legs no more
You know how, if something terrifying has happened to you, from which you've escaped, that you tend to get the shakes afterward? We all know that this is simply the body's reaction to a surplus of adrenaline pumped through the body when faced with a fight-or-flight situation. Following a certain little operation a few years ago, it was deemed unnecessary to re-attach some of my adrenal glands. This has had the weird side-effect that, no matter how scary the situation is, I can only coldly assess the recent accident/fuck up, thinking, "Wow, I just nearly died. How interesting. Oh well, carry on."
Yesterday, I was high on a cliff with my sometime-partner Suzie B. About 200 metres up, Suzie starts climbing this huge crack before deciding that she's in over her head. It's getting kinda late, so I figure I'll try and, if things don't work out, I'll just come down and we'll simply rappel off. I start climbing and quickly decide that we don't have the necessary equipment to continue this climb safely. So, there I am, trying to arrange some gear so that I can come down safely, when I suddenly peel off from the wall, landing on the rock and sliding down to either serious injury or, you know. After about 20 feet of leaving a lot of skin on the rock, my fall is arrested, due to a good partner and a tree. (I should point out that, in the space of 5 months, I have fallen into trees, both of which times have saved my a$$.) I stand up, bloodied, expecting to start quaking like a leaf at any moment. No such luck. We take 5 minutes to compose ourselves, take a look in the guide, and realise that where we should have been was only 10 feet off to our right. Finish the climb and get back to the car at about 8 o'clock, ten hours after we started. Just another little epic.

Here's something I never expected to read: Finally, Good Wine in Screw-Cap Bottles

Friday, August 16, 2002

Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians
When we were kids, my father made it a point to get involved with any sports we played, especially soccer. This usually meant that he would read up extensively on the subject, and would then become either a coach or a member of some committee. At one point, he was so into the whole thing that he became a member of the '76 Olympic committee, bringing some of the qualifying matches to Sherbrooke. However, his greatest love was teaching 10 year olds, whom he found he could easily motivate. Soccer was relatively unknown at the time, and usually only played by the sons (no daughters) of the UdS's European and African professors.
My father, not being the most diplomatic person, was usually rewarded for his transgressions by being assigned to coach a bunch of juvies, most of whom it was assumed would quit within a couple of weeks, leaving the richer kids to play amongst themselves a month into the season. So, at the beginning of every summer, my father would be responsible for a group of nobodies who were probably there if only to avoid the abuse they might endure at home; either that or they were "encouraged" by their parents to get out of the house. I don't know how he did it, but pops was usually able to get these kids to play well, sorta like The Bad News Bears, and usually they would end up playing in the city finals.
The secret to his success? Simple. Whenever the team was down, my father would bribe them, telling them that he would treat them all to a chocolate-dipped ice cream at Dairy Queen if they won. For a lot of them, that's all the inspiration they needed. Beating the rich kids helped as well.
I had completely forgotten about this, until last night. Spent a few hours walking around the Plateau, trying to find a fan to alleviate some of the hot, still air in the apartment. Needless to say, everyone was sold out. So, after supper, drenched in sweat (again!), I headed up the street to Bo-Bec for some ice scream. By now, of course, my brain is absolutely fried, and I ask the woman behind the counter for "a large softy dumped in chocolate." It took a while for me to be understood, since I really couldn't form a sentence but, oh, when the cone did come, it was all worth it.

Sidebar: A few years into it, my father decided to coach a senior team, most of them between 18 and 25, all living in the east end of town, which, like Montreal, meant the meanest, dirtiest, economically depressed section of the city. Most of the guys on my dad's team were factory workers, garage workers, that sort of thing. They eventually went on to play the finals, against a team of African immigrants. Needless to say, it turned into a race riot about two thirds of the way into the game, each team's players taking out their frustrations on the opposing players. I never want to see, again in my life, what soccer cleats can do to someone's face.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Um, this isn't right
Somewhat similar to lightspeedchick's recent tribulations, my food is going rotten. Back in July, when I was getting ready to move, Kim and I headed over to, where else, Ameublement Elvis, where I bought what I thought was a working fridge. Plugged it in, and the sound coming out of it reminded me of the little locomotive that could. The sound eventually settled down, but lately, perhaps because of this heat, the whole thing has started to crank out the noise like a Deep Purple concert.
Well, I guess I can put up with a little noise, I think. Unfortunately, at some point last night, I wake up totally drenched with sweat, completely parched. Stumble into the kitchen, and grab a bottle of water from the fridge. Wet, but room temperature. Damn, there's no more cold air in the fridge. My food's going bad. Even the freezer ain't working. Even if the appliance is still under warranty, I'm probably going to have to cough up some money, since I'm not home during the day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Bearing the shield, helmet and trident of the national symbol Britannia, model Michelle Liebetrau laid a giant penny against the railings of a subterranean loo in central London, near the spot on Fleet Street where Britain's first public toilet opened in 1852.
Read on.

Treasure hunt time
To all Montreal folks (or those who happen to read this), I received an e-mail today from Philip Preville, who used to be the news editor of the Mirror, the guy who interviewed Raymond Villeneuve (that was a fun day!), and also the mind behind The Thing, a fine little section that the Whore,..., um, the Hour, has decided to copy, in a much inferior way, as is their fashion, with the Explainer (or whatever they call it).
Anyway, here's the e-mail. I'm sure it'll pique at least someone's interest.

Hello all you Montreal-based folks,
I'm researching a story about elevator interiors (yes, I know, how do I come up with these weird ideas), and I need your help.
During my years in Montreal, every so often I'd ride an elevator that still had its inspection certificate posted in the cabin for all to see. (They don't have to post them any more.) The certificate was always signed by the inspector who personally conducted the review. Over time, I realized that THE SAME GUY HAD INSPECTED EVERY LAST BLOODY ELEVATOR IN MONTREAL!
I want to track this man down, but I can't remember his name.
So if any of you work in an old building, or a building with a service elevator, can you do me a favor? Just go and see if the elevator still has its certificate on the wall and, if so, please send me the guy's name. Oh yeah, and please advise regarding the government department that issued the certificate. (I think it's the provincial government, but I'm not sure which ministry etc.)

I wished I owned half that dog, 'cause I'd shoot my half
Okay, so I borrowed the line from Puddinhead Wilson. Regardless. Someone's dog was barking incessantly last night, and this not for the first time. I would slowly be drifting off to sleep, when the cur would start up again. Damn, I've got to get up in 6 hours, and I'm being kept awake by some inconsiderate neighbours who can't be bothered to let in their dog.
Funny, though, as time went on, you could hear other neighbours slowly starting to stir, some of them closing their windows, some grumbling and, finally, a few of them starting to voice their extreme displeasure. Strangely enough, the dog shut up. I guess its owners were going to let the dog out all night, had no one reacted.

It's not so much the heat, as it is the stupidity
Fourth straight day with a smog alert, and this for the second time this summer. Smog across Canada, for that matter. Record heat this past winter (I even slept outside in January, on top of my sleeping bag, in the mountains, it was that warm. Oh, and I was kinda drunk), and 39 days without precipitation last summer. Brown smog in Asia that might end up killing hundreds of thousands of people, never mind the animals. Torrential rains and flooding in central Europe. And, the biggest kick in the teeth; we refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Sweet. Fucking sweet. Oooh, can't upset everyone's favourite drunken premier Ralph Klein, or good 'ole dimwit Dubya. God, our politicians are such fucking milquetoasts. I've never been one to indulge in the Cassandra complex--humans are simply the most evolved parasite to come along--but this has got to stop or at least slow down.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Perhaps the best nature photographer to come around since Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell was killed, along with his wife, on Saturday. I got turned on to his work way back in '82, when I first started reading Outside magazine, and always aspired to be at least 10% as good as he was.
People are dropping like flies, I tell ya. As I wrote before, an acquaintance through the Alpine Club plummeted to his death this spring when the wall of ice he was on collapsed. Last week, as I'm sure most people have heard, a couple fell to their deaths on Cap Trinité, most likely in their sleep. Then again, a lot of fellow climbers I spoke with all had the same initial thought; they fell out of their portaledge while, um, exchanging vital bodily fluids.
The saddest event, however, is the disappearance of Brian Faughnan. I met Brian a few years ago on a telemark trip, and we pretty much hit it off. Brian had a rapier-sharp wit and, while he would never be in the elite of any sport, pursued everything he did with a passion. Every year, he would scan the papers out of the Adirondacks, hoping to find news of any slides and avalanches that had occurred the previous winter, so that he could go scramble them in the spring and summer. (Clarification: Scrambling is considered 4th class, i.e. climbing dangerous terrain without the use of a rope. Severe injury is a certainty in case of a fall, and death a distinct possibility.) I personally never went on a climbing or scrambling trip with Brian for, if anything distinguished him more than his love of the outdoors, it was the fact that he was famous for epics. On almost every hiking or scrambling trip that Brian led, the group would inevitably get lost high up on some hill, usually without headlamps, and would eventually find their way out several hours later, tired, scratched, and miles from town. Heck, one time him and his roommate Michelle had to wedge themselves into a crevice on top of a cliff in order to spend the night.
I was aware of three major climbing accidents involving Brian; twice in Ontario (once when he broke his back and had to be helivac-ed out) and, a few years ago, he fell down a cliff at Montagne d'Argent near Mont-Tremblant. The latter was horrific: the fall was witnessed by a lot of friends, Brian broke his hip, his legs, his face, his arm in a few places, and he was blinded in one eye. He was hospitalised for six months, and needed mucho reconstructive surgery. Rehabilitation was a long, drawn-out process, and led to Brian losing his job. He and his girlfriend Lea also split during this time, but remained friends. Finally, this past year, things started to get better; Brian was able to go hiking again and started pushing his limits. Hell, he even started climbing again, and we were down at the Gunks earlier this spring.
Long story short, Brian left for British Columbia back in July and, on July 12, decided to solo climb a glaciated mountain. He hasn't been seen since. My only wish is that he didn't suffer, since he had done enough of that in his short life.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Typical conversation over the weekend
"So, is this a 5.9 or a 10a?"
"Let me see the book. Hmm, it says 10b/c here. You up for it?"
"Well, if not, the fall's good."
"Tie up. I'll belay."
Five minutes later...
"Good to go."
"Don't fuck up."
"Thanks. Where's the first bolt?"
"About 15 feet up. Wanna stick-clip?"
"Nah, only looks like a 6 to get there."
"Okay, but I'm not carrying you out."
Grunt. Moan. Bitch. Wheeze.
"Clipping. Damn, I'm pumping out. Where do I go?"
"I think you should head right. Drop-knee, gaston with your left on the flake, grab the crimp as the intermediate, and bump up to the sloper."
"What about my right foot? Ya see anything good for it?"
"Well, you could always heel hook about 3 feet up. You might be able to rock on if your balance is good, which would probably let you clip in. Otherwise, you could always flag it."
"Watch me."
"Okay, let me put you on belay. Kidding. Watching."
"Fuck, falling! Good catch."
"Yeah, it was pretty dynamic. I flew up about 6 feet."
Later still...
"Coming down. Do you want me to clean it or are you going to TR it."
"Hmm, feeling weak. I guess I'll TR. Just leave in a few directionals. Good climb."
"Thanks. I'm wiped. There goes my on-sight."
This conversation will be had several times over the course of a day. And I still wonder why no one understands me.

Life in a tent
Within the past, say, thirteen to fourteen months, I calculate that I've spent over a month and a half sleeping in my tent within the past, oh, year and a half. That means six weeks going without cappucino. It also means going six weeks without washing, except for grabbing a shower in some gym, jumping into a freezing stream or, last September, giving myself a sponge bath while it was raining, using the same sponge that I use to wash my pans. In fact, riding in the bus coming back from the Gunks in September, my body was just reeking, and I couldn't even bear my own stink. Strangely though, more people spoke to me on that bus trip than any other. Also, crossing the border was really simple, since I don't think the border guards wanted to bother with me too much.
This weekend was no different; hiking up to the cliffs on Saturday morning in the sun just got the sweat a'poring, offering a regal smorgasbord to all the sweat-eating bacteria. Everything was okay that day, but yesterday, which was even hotter, I almost couldn't bear to reach up for a hold, seeing as how my armpit was directly in line with my face. Regardless, I love sleeping out. Strange, though, that I can enjoy living in a space about 6m2, when I used to come home to a 4-bedroom apartment.
In March, when I was on a road trip in Red Rocks, Nevada, a huge wind storm came up on our last night there. The wind gusted at about 80kmh for hours on end, and it was impossible to go outside without inhaling sand, which was also getting into every nook and cranny. Trying to sleep, the walls of my tent were just getting blasted, and I knew that if the stakes pulled out, the tent--with me in it--was going flying. Scary as all get out. After about 7 hours of this, the tentpoles finally gave out the ghost, completely bending, trapping me under all this nylon, "imprisoned" by the wind. Then again, twice in the past year, I've gone to sleep on a beautiful evening, only to wake up in the morning to find the tent buried under a freak snow-storm.
So here's my latest camping story; whenever we head down to Rumney, NH, we stay on a farmer's field, across from the cliffs. Saturday evening, speaking to the landowner, she informed me to keep an eye out for raccoons. "Um, okay," thinks I. It was a beautiful night, with more stars visible in the sky than I've ever seen, and I'm lying on my back, just vegging out. I hear this "sniff sniff" outside the tent, but don't think anything of it. Turn my head and there, staring right at me with bandit eyes, was one of said varmits. "Oh, what a cute animal," was my first thought, my taking-in-stray-cats sensibility coming up. "I should probably let him into the tent." Then reality sets in. "Holy crap, this thing is feral and probably has rabies. What the f--k?!" So I hiss at him, he hisses back at me, I hiss louder, he backs up and hisses back. So finally, I start swearing at him. He finally runs off, and I'm left there wondering if he'll come bac and spray my stuff. That was fun.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Perseid meteor shower this weekend. Try to find some place dark and enjoy the sights. It's the perfect time of year to make all those wishes on shooting stars.Myself, I'll be in deep, darkest New Hampshire, camping by the side of a stream, a third wheel on a budding relationship. Sigh.

One of the more interesting facets of beginning a new job is getting used to the various personalities of the folks in your department. I love sitting back and observing who assumes the alpha role, whom the milquetoast is, etc. I've already been given the third degree by one person, and only because someone from IT came by and took a software CD. Sat there and took it for awhile, but seriously considered giving back as good as I was getting. To quote Utah Phillips, "I'm on a low-cholesterol diet. No fat heads."
Then again, probably not the best thing to do on my first week.

On another note, boy, do I ever enjoy receiving packages. When I got home on Wednesday, I had on of those little notices in my mailbox, telling me that there was a parcel for me at some postal outlet. Head over to said outlet, which turns out to be a rinky-dink, cigarette-smelling dépanneur staff by Dow beer-drinking holdovers from the '70s. I'll tell ya, this is what dépanneurs should be. Back when I was a wee lad, these places were called "tabagies," you could buy Richie Rich and Archie comic books for about 15¢, and Mad magazines for a quarter. My brothers and I used to scrounge for pennies and buy Joe Bazooka gum, 2 for a penny (yes, you heard correctly) or, if we were feeling flush, we splurge and get the "surprise" 10¢ bags, which the tabagie owner would make up in the store himself, usually with 5¢ worth of candy.
But I digress. So, yeah, get to the dépanneur and, after about 15 minutes of looking around, the clerk hands me this huge box from Mountain Equipment. Lovely. Head over to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for the weekend, all the while trying to balance the box with one hand, race through my shopping in order to get home and open my package and, once I get home, realise that I forgot to pick up more cat food. Regardless. Get the package open and drool over the gear I just got. Look at my credit card balance and realise that I won't be making any more purchases for awhile.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

What's a boy to do?
I have this weird personality trait: I'm addicted to packsacks. One of my goals in life is to find the perfect bag, one that's not too expensive, fits my body, and can carry my camping gear without making me feel like I'm carrying a horse. Oh, and if it's got a narrow profile, all the better (for backcountry skiing, don't ya know?).
I don't know how many packs I've had in my years, but it goes all the way back to those weird Canadian Tire external frame packs of the '80s. Moved on to internal frames, bags with whistles, bags without. Anyhow, this week, all the major outdoor stores in Mtl are having their summer sales, and I am seriously dehydrated from all the drooling I've been doing. I don't even need a pack right now, but strangely feel obliged to get another pack tonight. In fact, I'm probably going to blow off going to the gym tonight simply to go to Le Yeti. Thank god for 40% off.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

It took me nearly two freaking hours to get to work this morning. Two hours! I have to get from Laurier metro to either Côte-Vertu or du Collège, and I haven't yet decided which way is quicker; through the mountain on the blue line or take the loop. Either way, you then end up at two of the most depressing metro stations around, and only then to take a rush-hour-only bus. In just three days I've read two books, a magazine and, last night, resorted to buying the Star 'cause I was so desperate.
I think it's time for me to do my part in destroying the environment, i.e. buying a car. I guess I'll just put it on my list of things to buy, which also includes, oh, a kitchen table, chairs, maybe a sofa. I'm tired of sitting on the floor while eating supper.