Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Writer's Blogk

Random mental wanderings for when politics gets too boring to write about - Note: I titled this post to reflect the fact that I had nothing to say and yet this post is kind of long - take that as you will, but it could certainly be construed as a warning

When I got home from soccer tonight my girlfriend had on Rob and Amber's wedding. It's probably a sign that I have politics too much on the brain, but as I watched all the ceremony and the dress and the bachelor party and how happy everybody in both families was (or at least seemed to be), I couldn't help reflecting on how nuts it seems to me that people would go to such great lengths to prevent gay couples from being able to hold this kind of ceremony.

And yet, this time (early 21st century) and this place (Western world), is probably one of the only (or few anyway) instances of a culture where my opinion wouldn't be in a very small minority (at least that's my understanding of history - I'm open to correction if others know a different story). I don't really know what it means, but I feel like we can have tolerance without license, and be accepting without society degenerating into some kind of anarchic no-holds-barred free for all.

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I was on the bus heading home from work and we passed by a church with an (I thought) odd sign out front reading, "True courage is the ability to step into the unknown" (or to leave your comfort zone, or something like that, I don't recall exactly). My first thought was that *true* courage, for me anyway, has been going back and facing the things I know all too well - there's worse things in life then the unknown.

Of course as church signs go, that was pretty coherent. I remember when I lived in Waterloo, there was a church on King St. (near Waterloo Town Square), which used to have the oddest, most incomprehensible sayings out front. I used to wonder if maybe the priest responsible had lost his faith years ago, and the sign was his silent cry for help. Or maybe the local students were into high-brow acts of deviance and just liked to rearrange the letters on the sign as a test of their anagramming skills. It was a long time ago so I don't remember any specific instances, alas, but if I had to make up something reminiscent it would be along the lines of, "God's raincoat can be worn even on sunny days" or something like that.

I bet a nice long driving tour around North America (preferably with side trips to Fenway, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Comerica, etc.) would yield enough church sign gems to make a good toilet side paperback novel. (sort of like Bushisms only Churchisms), but I'm probably being too hard on churches. After all, anything they write is more entertaining than the 99 million variations on 'buy this' which litter the urban (and suburban and rural to a large extent, but especially urban) landscape. I remember the park/zoo by where I grew up generally limited itself to notices of upcoming events, an occasionally invasive exhortation to smile or be cheerful and, in the spring, warnings to drive slow to avoid running over the baby ducks. I've learned over the years that you could do a lot worse as a sign writer.

Speaking of invasive exhortations, I pity the people who drive the 401 regularly and have to put up with the sign-nanny constantly nagging them about wearing a seat-belt, not using the cell-phone, allowing space while following, signaling, checking blind spots, not drinking and driving, thinking positive thoughts, and generally reminding them that everything they need to know they learned in kindergarten.

If I was put in charge of the signs, the messages would be more like, "Drive Clean, No Celine" (accompanied by a stick figure with a line through it), or "It's 8 A.M., how fast do you think it's moving beyond the next transfer?", and the word "Express" would generally be surrounded with ironic single quotes. I wonder what the impact on traffic fatalities would be?

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My vast legions of hyper-observant cyber-stalkers will have noticed that I switched internet providers from Telus to Shaw recently. Looking at it rationally, there were 5 reasons for the switch. 1) Telus stinks 2) Telus' customer service is terrible 3) It took 11 days from when the phone was disconnected at our old place for them to get it (and the internet) working at our new one. 4) While on hold (which always started with the song 'Smooth' by Santana - and I'm sure it's not just people who've (somewhat) recently taken Cha-Cha lessons who think this song is already seriously overplayed) for 50 minutes on one occasion, I was repeatedly advised to get faster service by going to their website. Despite the fact I was on hold after telling the Telus robot that I was calling about Internet connection troubleshooting - possibly a good hint that their website wasn't really an option at that moment. 5) The bill I got from Telus the other day was pretty incomprehensible (and part of my work is writing computer generated reports, so generally I'm fairly good at reading them) 6) We were given wrong information on a number of occasions. Such as being told (on a Saturday) that a person could come tomorrow (and then when nobody came being told that of course nobody would come on a Sunday). 6) When I asked for the issue to be escalated to a manager I was informed that they would then (by telus guidelines) have to respond within 24 hours. And they did, calling us 23 hours and 55 minutes later. 7) As far as I can tell (remember what I said about the bill) they don't seem to be planning to charge us for the phone line for the 11 days it was out - but they *are* going to charge us for the internet during that time. Did I say 5 reasons? You're lucky I'm stopping at 7!

I should mention that so far Shaw has been excellent in all respects (not to mention cheaper). If you get your internet from Telus I highly recommend switching (unless you like aggravation).

Anyway, I'm thinking about switching my local line to Sprint but am a little worried about the idea of them being bought by Rogers, the only rival Telus has for bad service in my experience (except for Jetsgo, but they didn't have a monopoly so they went bankrupt). I guess we'll see - it probably won't be long before Telus provokes me into switching.

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OK, you've made it this far, let's talk politics. The Liberals are clinging to power with three fingernails instead of two after winning today's Labrador byelection.

jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj
jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Sorry fell asleep with my finger on the j key there, good thing it starts to beep once the buffer fills up. Where was I, oh yeah, I was talking about my first *real* (cubicle) job, doing some routine computer stuff. I've never been much of a morning person so the whole concept of getting up 5 days a week at 7 am was even more foreign to me then than it is now. People passing in the hall could only see me from behind so I tried to position my hands on the keyboard so as to look like I was typing (or at least in the middle of a thought) and zone out. Of course I always fell asleep and was woken by the beeping of the keyboard.1


So, politics. OK, I went to the Globe and Mail's website for inspiration and there was nothing. Even worse, John Doyle is caught up in the media failure two-step, devoting an entire column to the idea that there is too much talk about Donald Trump in the media. First line,
"One of the most depressing developments of the last 12 months has been the ubiquitous presence of Donald Trump.

You just can't get away from this Trump guy"

I get that there is some Trump movie or other and John is reviewing it, but a lot of TV airs in a week - if there's too much talk about Trump, maybe he could have found something else to talk about. I think a column about the Alias finale might have been interesting. OK, it would have been dull if it was just the usual, "the lighting was good, the acting was uneven, the writing was good but the dialogue was stunted, the stunts were spectacular, it wasn't quite a thrill ride more of a 'ghoster coaster' blah blah blah, typical media review, but what if it delved into the question of why they decided to make the credits all Sydney (Jennifer Garner) in the same year she faded into the cast and only played a minor role in many episodes.

Or maybe compare the Alias Rambaldi2 storyline to the unfolding of the Iraq war to see which one makes U.S. intelligence services seem more incompetent. But no, it's 'I want to talk about why people shouldn't talk about Trump time', sigh.

OK, maybe the Star is better. Indeed it is, with some commentary from resident genius Jane Jacobs on Toronto's horrible planning process. True, I know nothing of how Toronto's planning process works but I feel free to condemn it because I lived there and - while there are certainly many examples of things done right - there are so many examples of things done wrong that it makes you shake your head and wonder what might have been (and we're not just talking waterfront here, the downtown is littered with disasters). And it's not just a case of 'well, that's how things go', because I've lived in Montreal and I live in Vancouver and both do a vastly better job of ensuring that the built environment (a little phrase I like to use instead of 'buildings' so that I sound all architectury) actually makes sense and adds to the pedestrian experience rather than just obstructing views and throwing up barriers, blank facades and wind tunnels. Of course, neither Montreal or Vancouver are burdened with a developer friendly provincial planning board and I know that Vancouver for one, has planners prettty heavily integrated into the development process (and holding some real clout). It really does make a big difference.


What, you're still reading this? You need a hobby. This is your hobby? You're doomed.




That's it, no more (OK there's footnotes, but you'll have them read in no time).




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1 I should mention that those days are long ago and I am now a highly motivated, consistently productive worker.

2 Kudos to the google's oh so polite, did you mean? function which correctly figured out that I meant Rambaldi despite my egregious misspelling of it. I wonder how many years until you can customize that aspect and get it to say stuff like, "Learn to type you idiot - I'm assuming you really meant 'whatever and have modified your search accordingly. Of course if you really meant that first thing, then I'm sorry, but you know I've seen people make that mistake a hundred times. There was this guy, in Ohio the other day, he was searching for.... etc. etc.

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5 Comments:

  • Here's a church sign for ya:

    http://www.thedigitalcourier.com/articles/2005/05/24/news/news01.txt

    By Blogger Simon, at 5:14 PM  

  • I had a bad experience with Sprint local service. In this case the grass is not greener on the other side.

    By Blogger Spearin, at 6:18 PM  

  • Church sign witnessed around the corner from my office:

    Come stained
    windows on display

    Alas, it was gone before I could get back with a camera

    By Blogger Andrew Spicer, at 9:20 PM  

  • i ended up watching part of rob and ambers wedding because the 8-yr-old i was babysitting wanted to watch it (wtf). i didnt think about same sex marriage, though. the entire time i was gawking at them for being ostentatious chavs. especially rob. ugh.

    By Blogger angela, at 12:30 PM  

  • Simon - yeah, sometimes its better when they're just cryptic and you don't know exactly what they're thinking... If only Timmy was around to post on this...

    Spearin - thanks for the tip, I may hold off for now and see how it goes

    Andrew - now that sounds like juvenile delinquent anagrammers at work! Too bad about the photo - I could have retroactively added it to the top of this post...

    ainge - sounds to me like you're just jealous about the house... :)

    By Blogger Declan, at 5:30 PM  

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