news [archive 33]

01.01.2008: the clock ticks over and burning cold shit falls from the sky. everything magically turns white. and in an instant it's an auspicious start to the new year. not that a new year is any more meaningful than any of the other meaningless moments of the year. but whatever.

we've been given the most beautiful new years day morning. our walk home was perfect. the trees are dusted and everything is frosted. down huntley it's like the trees are supporting a canopy of ice, where you could normally see sky through their branches there is only snow.

the night before, the best moment of our new years celebration was when we left. the walk from the club to rachelle's house, where we were staying because it was late and we were lazy, plus she has a huge spare bed and had promised pancakes for breakfast, that was what it was all about. running along the road and sliding across the ice. snowball fights. all that fresh snow. so fresh none of it was yellow. the best snow for scraping off cars and throwing at your friends. and strangers.

we'd been at lee's palace, which was as good a place as any to spend new years. a band with "dog" in their name were playing, and by the time we'd queued for twenty minutes to get in (despite having tickets) and queued however long for the cloakroom (where they were way overcharging) and got settled, they started the countdown mid-song and it was all very anti-climatic. but then, i'm more than happy not making a big deal anyway.

i was just annoyed we couldn't go upstairs, they were charging seperately to get into the dance cave, at least until much later when it had drastically thinned (light-weights). the band was ok, but i couldn't help notice how they were having way more fun than the crowd. and the guy djing between their two sets was so bad we got a few people booing with us.

wasn't it more fun when we were hanging out earlier in the night, having dinner together and talking rubbish? about lenin's corpse and stomach bugs. about the future and blah blah blah. i don't know. maybe i'm getting old.


31.12.2007: i can't even remember what i've done and what i haven't written about. wait, there's a venn diagram in here somewhere. if only i could be bothered to draw one up.

the last two nights we randomly spent at maria and larry's. we were in desperate need of another suitcase (a fourth? i'm losing count) and i remembered they had one going that maria had found on the street (as she does). so we were over there for drinks and ended up having soup and almost going to a gig with them, but didn't. also there was a woman who does bike advocacy work for the city, who had similar thoughts about all the scenesters as we did. it's nice to know it's not just me who think some of those guys are jerks.

then yesterday we were hanging out with one of julie's friends from her trans-canada trip. we went over to little india to eat and came back to just desserts for sub-par cake (it had to be done once). we almost went the cinema but then marie phoned us and invited us to a dinner party larry's daughter was holding at their house, or something like that. a lot of actors and singers and attractive people. we felt like total party crashers but they are very nice and accommodating. it was a great time and we met some really interesting people.

and i think that might cover it. i'm sure we've done more. i guess everything else, like us getting a late breakfast on parliament, is lost in history.

that third photo is me modelling my lovely new coat and snow pants for halliburton. not too bad for less than 25 quid. then julie eating christmas dinner, a photo she really doesn't like. before that was angus and jason, etc.

happy new shite. and don't make a resolution - just fucking do it.

29.12.2007: it was 2am when the landlord called, so it must have been at least two hours since we'd gone to bed. like this is at all acceptable behaviour. when we'd arrived home from visiting the ROM, trudging through the rain at about 10pm, we'd noticed a high-pitched squealing noise coming from somewhere in our building, but we were relieved to discover it couldn't be heard from inside our apartment. so it was not to bother us.

at least until the phone rang at 2am, waking us up, and the landlord asks if we could go up to apartment 11 to help the woman stop the alarm going off. what kind of landlord is this? we have absolutely no obligation to these people, if anything they owe us. for not fixing our front door, the bathroom light fixture, the water leaking in through the storage room ceiling, the broken floorboards in the bedroom and the kitchen cupboard that's falling down. really we have a lovely apartment, and i'll miss it, but the property management is terrible. they wont even get their ass over here to sort out an alarm, they'll wake up their tennants to do it instead.

we'd seen the woman, the nicest and most reasonable of our landlords, earlier in the day. she'd come to check out the leak in the back and complete our inspection. this after julie had swore over the phone to the useless guy who it used to have responsibility for our building, the guy i've told you many hilarious stories about. but anyway, this woman was in a bad mood, claimed to have fired a bunch of people, and wasn't much impressed with the state of the building. she said they were getting strict on people leaving their apartments in pristine condition, and they were charging for all damages. i didn't bring up the missing window panel in the buliding's front door, the one that has been missing for months. but her saying this now, being so hardcore, it both troubled and amused. but it mostly just amused me, they're going to charge us how? since it was us who had to find a new tennant to cover our last month, they owe us no money. nor do they have any details with which to track us down. we are to totally disappear off the map. but this wont be a problem anyway, as none of the damage is our fault, and she left in a nice enough mood.

she would have heard the same story of her brother-in-law's incompetence in every apartment

but up on the third floor, it turns out the horrendous noise is coming from the carbon monoxide monitor. these have to be installed by law, and as such are hard wired into the wall. the woman living in the apartment had already pulled it from the wall (using a knife) but she hadn't been able to stop it from squealing. i took a screwdriver to it and pulled it apart but that didn't help. all i could do was place my thumb over the piezoelectric speaker. a guy on the phone, the landlord who wouldn't come over to fix this mess, was insisting that it must be faulty, that if the window was open and you couldn't smell gas then it shouldn't be going off (since when could you smell CO?). he said i should cut the wires. one handed whilst on the phone to him? no fucking chance. he's clearly as stupid as his brother. he told me to only cut one wire or else it would spark. i almost told him to fuck off and come over here and get electrocuted himself, because there was no way i was going to.

instead i just pulled off the piezo with a pair of scissors and had done with it. piece of shit. the woman was very grateful and wanted to buy us some beers or a bottle of wine, but we insisted that wasn't necessary. it wasn't her fault the landlord had dragged us out of bed to fix his problem.

too many shades of the ridiculous.

and it didn't help that my stomach was hurting all night, which i'm blaming on us using a jar of salsa for tomato sauce. bleck.

28.12.2007: acquiring boxes. searching for shipping companies to handle our excess baggage (no luck, any ideas?). packing away and taking down. stressing about every little item. so many books. some glass. too many decisions. and landlords and utilities and blah blah blah.

and tell me, what's the incentive to pay bills when you're leaving the country? also, what's the incentive in doing crap work when you're not even getting paid for it? i'll try and figure it out and get back to you.

also we're enjoying our last days in toronto. it was laura's birthday yesterday and we went for dinner at the ethiopian house with a few of her friends. then to a "dingy" bar at ossington and queen (yes, the other corner of town) that was more along the lines of blinding trendy. nice place, called sweaty betty's or something horrible. and just now we got back from the ROM, making the most of the free entry you get on friday nights to enjoy the dinosaurs, now that they're finally back and everything. if i ever get around to sorting out all my photos i might show you how awesome they really are.

speaking of which, photos from the other night:

and also of sneaky dee's:

taken on film, using louise's camera. these days it's easy to forget how cool film is.

thank you everyone who send us cards. especially grilly who sent us a CD that arrived just in time. sorry if i've forgot to email all of you. etc etc. times are busy and annoying.

27.12.2007: hurray, we all survived. well, not all of us. but yeah, there's no need to be getting morbid, apparently it's still christmas.

downtown is a hellish nightmare. there's even more of a shopping frenzy than last week. and our apartment isn't much better. our stuff strewn everywhere, into every corner, and julie just put on limp biscuit. the huge bulge in the storage room ceiling isn't helping either. the size of a football, i swear. i'd measure the amount of water that burst through when i pierced it, only it looks like dark rusty piss water. and fuck that.

did you have a good christmas? me and julie had a good one. after talking to my parents on christmas day morning we caught a bus up to barrie to hang out with the maize family. this mostly consisted of eating and drinking and playing cards and table tennis and music and snow shoeing. we had surprise presents (i finally own 'v for vendetta') and a bed and breakfast to stay in. it's not the same as spending christmas at home with your family, but it was a good alternative. luckily jill is english and we had proper mince pies and proper christmas cake. the only food i've missed out on this year is cranberry sauce (which i could have made) and sosmix rolls (which my gut can do without anyway).

boxing day was pretty much the same. getting back to toronto was somewhat a chore, having to deal with assholes who thought it was ok to fill the last remaining seat of the bus with their luggage etc. get a haircut. back home we ate christmas dinner leftovers then went to the cinema (apparently this is a norwegian thing, but that's not why we went) to see 'no country for old men', which we both enjoyed. the guy behind us didn't, muttering about it being shit on the way out and talking all the way through it.

perhaps boxing day brings out the worst in people?

we'd walked through town on the way back from the bus stop and.. wait, i've already dealt with that. nevermind. can we get over christmas now? please?

yeah, not really feeling the blog recently. sorry.

24.12.2007: the best thing (acutally not the best thing at all) about having a scandinavian girlfriend is that you get to celebrate christmas twice. apparently we don't all celebrate christmas on the 25th. who knew?

so today has been lovely. and also slightly frustrating. i'm used to getting up in the morning and everyone opening their presents, but in scandinavia they wait until after the christmas dinner. i have to wait all day for the exciting part? more so this year because over the last two days i'd set up an elaborate treasure hunt for julie, starting with a note under the bed saying "oh no! the presents have gone missing". it was great fun, her running around in a "happy kwanza, bitches" tshirt and me trying to give too many clues. having built the trail in pieces, trying to be subtle and not get caught, i hadn't noticed it grew to a massive 45 clues. who even knew there were that many hiding places in our apartment. fun fun fun.

now i'm sitting on the sofa, stuffed from our huge dinner and julie is trying to offer me another fig roll. and she's getting annoyed because i'm not responding because i'm too busy writing this. we did a proper good roast, with a nutloaf and what passes for sage and onion stuffing in canada. and everything. except i'd steamed the carrots and broccoli and then forgotten about them. we'll have them on boxing day. because tomorrow we've been invited up to a farm to spend christmas day with the maize family. which is too nice of them.

all that's missing is the mince pies and sosmix rolls. but they're both way too fattening anyway. not that i.. yeah. nevermind. anyway, etc.

my secret project is nearly completed. but not in time for christmas (not for those in europe at least), but then it never really was meant to be for christmas.

other christmas celebrations including seeing the skydiggers at the horseshoe tavern on saturday night. they play there ever christmas and is somewhat of a tradition (they've been doing it for over 20 years). and we had the honour of being on the guestlist as two of laura's plus three. shame they wouldn't let her in because she didn't have enough ID. but that's when being the neice of the band's singer helps. in support was angela desveaux, who sounds like tanya donelly should have when she did lovesongs. without my glasses she looked like her too. but that was a fun night. especially walking home past the 'far coast' cafe. they'd cleaned off my previous scrawl, leaving behind a massive ugly bleached mess you could almost read anyway. they were asking for it. so on different panels i wrote "" and on another something about it being a shame their respect doesn't extend to columbian union workers and indian villages. seriously, fuck them. i would have written over the old graffiti but there were too many people around. fuck all of them.

oh yeah, and happy whatever.

22.12.2007: the theme of yesterday was "free". interpret that how you will. actually don't, i'll be more specific.

firstly, and most importantly, i am free. the last eleven months have flown by, with mixed feelings abound, and now i don't know how to end this sentence. fuck it, my sentence is up..

julie came up and we were taken out for lunch at the strange italian place. the one where they keep coming over and offering you different food, like a serviced buffet. good quality food too.

after the free lunch we were all over the free clothes. i picked up my stuff from the other day and julie got in on the action too. she wins with a top score of 483, to my measley 380. ouch. i must try harder next time.

now we were feeling rich, and with time to kill we went to the cinema. we saw a rubbish film that was entertaining enough, a film i have absolutely nothing of interest to say about. but halfway through the film the projector suddenly stops and the lights come on. there was mild confusion and quick toilet breaks, and a few minutes later the film resumed. only to stop twice more before finishing. it was miserable but didn't exactly ruin the movie (i am no cinema purist), but we tried to get our money back anyway. cash was never going to be returned, even with a fight, so we settled for two courtesy tickets. good enough, and actually quite awesome.

we paid for the subway. but nevermind.

we spent the evening with angus and jason. we've been determined to check out a pub down parliment street (the house?) so tried for there, but on entering the fantastically cosy abode we were told there was an hour waiting time for a table. before, when we'd attempted to come here, we'd walked in the wrong direction (my bad). so we went back to chapter11 again instead and laughed at their stupid games. sat by the fire. had a few beers or a chocolate raspberry martini. stuck some red "driving" stickers on the stop signs.

the evening before we'd been over to sedric's place for a small get together. i spent a cold half hour on his balcony taking photos out across the city. i'm determined to get my moneys worth out of that tripod. it was too dark and cold to focus properly, but i think i got some nice shots. back inside, i was wondering how many of these people i'll never see again. how many times will i meet great people but not manage to cement a long lasting friendship? meh, i'll just have another beer instead of worrying about it.

and on and on.

20.12.2007: where to start this story?

i guess we're in a phone box, using an ipod as a torch and trying to find change. we need an extra three dollars eighty and we're getting ever more desperate by the minute.

or perhaps we've just been dropped off at the coach stop in haliburton, past this town's bed time, and we're standing in the snow wondering if someone is going to pick us up or if we should get a taxi, not yet realizing the taxi driver is going to charge us $40. the asshole.

or after all of that, after we can't find change for the phone and don't have anyone's phone number anyway. when we're in the middle of nowhere up in the forest surrounded by so many empty huts and not a soul to be found in any of them. when we have no idea what's going on or what we should be doing. where the fuck anyone is. and we're walking back along the long and straight purple track that leads back to the main road, thanking the sky that the weather isn't worse.

or maybe when we finally find our place to stay and it's a hole with the heating stuck way above comfortable and a poster of a half naked woman on the wall. a post-it note to it, "enjoy your wank - freida". here, when i can tell the story of us arriving at haliburton forest in retrospect and how we laughed about it in the end. except we didn't really. we knocked on the door of the first house we found with lights on, and were greeted by worried faces peering out of the upstairs window. us trying to shout at them that we were stuck and needed to use their phone. five minutes later we have their phone but no one is answering. we try the phonebook and finally get through to someone, waking them up and them being confused as to why we're there already. because they didn't read the email properly? they forgot? i don't know or care, they gave us directions and ten minutes later we'd found our way into this too hot and dry room with the dirty carpet. a single bed and a sleeping back and an alarm set for 7am.

the next day started well, except i met the kitchen chef too early and she showed me the menu and told me i'd have to work weekends. no one gets them off because those are the busy days. also the only days julie wont be working. there was also some kind of misunderstanding about how many hours i'd be working. that or i'm yet to understand what i get out of all this exactly. i was waiting for the good news, but all i got was french toast with fake maple syrup. not to sound miserable, but the only reason i wasn't crying was because i was holding out judgement for as long as possible. still waiting for that good news.

out in the forest everything was better. out in the forest it's so quite you can hear each snowflake smack you in the face.

we skidded some timber with two beautiful horses, lady and penny. both scarily strong animals. they're just incredible. i got to help out but only mildly, mostly just attaching chains to the logs and taking photos. it was julie who got to take control of the horses. i didn't want to confuse them. amongst other lame excuses.

later in the day, after a shower in the nicer of the two bathrooms and an awkward conversation about my role up there, we walked over to the wolf centre where we'll be living come january. at first my only ray of hope was that we might live there rather than under the cook house. we'd heard it was the much nicer of the two apartments, but through the day we began to hear a different story. this was somewhat crushing, but it was also lies. the biggest bonus of living under the wolf center is not being next to the wolf food freezer (deer roadkill, just thrown in, and beavers stacked up, their tails sticking out of plastic bags) but easy access to the centre upstairs and the observation deck. walking in there it was pitch black and freezing, but through the windows we could see the large dark hulking shapes of the wolves prowling against the snow.

we were up at six thirty the next morning to catch our coach back to toronto. luckily someone was on hand to give us a lift down to the town, saving us the $40 taxi fare. the rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful.

and i guess that's about all i have to say for now. there was more i wanted to write about the horses but i went and forgot. so whatever. and we still have a bit more sorting out before we move, mainly involving what they're expecting me to do for no money. but yes. anyway.

19.12.2007: returning home sunday night, then another thirty minutes spent out in the cold:

cause her eyes were as vacant as the seas.

cause i didn't waste eight bucks on a tripod to always take grainy night photos at 1600 iso.

18.12.2007: i've walked too much in this snow. it's all the wrong muscles and it hurts. all i did saturday was walk. but anyway, enough complaining about stuff like snow. snow is awesome. like rolling over huge piles of it by the side of the road, feet flying through the air. when no one is watching. then the bus pulls up to its stop, only the people can't get out because of the meter high wall of snow blocking the door. and the salt truck zooms pass, firing and covering your ankles with large salt crystals. piaow piaow, etc.

sunday was all the same. and we all walk in the road and the cars can fuck off and no one dares come outside and experience the wonderful weather. except the guy who drives around in his SUV all smug and not really experiencing anything and all "now who says i don't need one in the city?". what he forgets is we now have infinite ammo. it burns, it burns, etc.

and it turns out the coca-cola owned fairtrade coffee shop "far coast" has closed down. hurray, punch the air, etc. we don't want your kind round here. although i doubt that's the reason it closed (like the nike store in kensington did). i'm sure the scum who shop on bloor suck that shit right up.

"at far coast, every culture we celebrate is a demonstration of our respect for the world and all who live in it. this respect is central to who we are and how we do business - and it's the cornerstone to an abiding philosophy of social and environmental responsibility"

it's a shame that respect doesn't stretch to not murdering union leaders in columbia and not causing water shortages and polluting groundwater in india. it was quiet when i passed (excluding the three vehicle armada of snow plows) and i had beer in me, so i figured i'd scrawl something angry across the "thanks for your support" board (which promises global domination, or something). just scribble something simple and unintelligent about their evil corporation and fuck you anyway. only i had the wrong pen. so it looked shite. but nevermind.

sudden topic change. if you don't read the dumpster diving blog you'll have missed out on all our 'food not bombs' adventures. that's ok, but you've also missed most of my photos from the last month. here's a quick representational selection of my favourites:

and now i'm off to haliburton. for two nights. to test the frozen waters.

17.12.2007: hurray for new clothes.

the only way to attack a corporation is to hit its bottom line. this is all it cares about, profit. your options include, but are not limited to, slacking off at work, property damage, promoting mass boycotts, and theft.

so this is how i politically justify my most brazen shoplift yet.

yet? whilst not strictly being true, i've never stolen anything before in my life.

so. if you look at it superficially, american apparel seems like a decent company. everyone uses their tshirts, from funky stores in kensington market to greenpeace (even the 'support daniel mcgowan' tshirts are american apparel). they're made in downtown LA, sweatshop free, with no logos. sounds brilliant. underage girls looking suggestive and wearing no underpants in their adverts? i guess you don't have to look that hard to start seeing why i have a problem with them.

the company has already been outed for union busting, and you just know it's going to be all mexican immigrants working those factories for minimum wage. is it only non-sweatshop by definition, because they're made in america? (unfortunately the wiki page is rather heavy in "[citation needed]"). and it's a lifestyle brand, which is way worse than just having a logo. oh yeah, and don't forget about those half naked girls showing too much hair in the adverts (at least they have hair?), who are mostly store employees (when they're not pornstars) and get 'benefits' from dov charney (mr.american apparel) himself.


but how brazen is brazen? does putting on a hoodie under my coat, in the middle of the shop, and then chatting to the employees before leaving the store count? (can i claim "she made me do it"? no). and also stashing a bag of various other clothes (to a total value of $380) behind the counter to be picked up later.

and there i was quibbling about sizes and colours. should i get the brown shirt or the blue shirt? or maybe i should get both. maybe i should get the lightweight hoodie in black, then a second one with a thermal layer in red. they don't have the thermals in cranberry, so should i get olive or teal? don't you think i need to lose some weight for this style? no wait, it's all free, it doesn't matter. and you are only limited by your imagination and decency. i mean, it'd be a crap act of dissent if i didn't take the piss, right?

ok, i'll drop the 'righteous' facade. this is purely about greed and taking advantage. stealing from a company i love to hate. feel my wrath, i'm wearing your clothes.

and it's all possible because the staff do it as well, and none of them care. infact, they've been told to not confront a suspected shoplifter, rather let them get on with it. something to that effect. you're almost immune.

so it wasn't the adrenaline rush you're supposed to get when stealing. it was too damn easy. it just made me feel cool and hip.

praises be to those friends in low places..

the next step is 'thermals not bombs', let's scale it up. thieving from evil corporations to clothe the freezing homeless. that would be righteous. want some longjohns with your soup, sir? who is in?

17.12.2007: "a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash." that's what roberto pompeu de toledo said. and i commend his understanding of disorder (a state that can only be maintained by ever-escalating exertions of force) in relation to capitalism and marketing.

incase you haven't heard, the city of sau paulo has banned all outdoor advertising. read that sentence again. either you missed it, thought it was a joke, or your heart stopped halfway through. i was having difficulty understanding the implications, what with adverts being so ingrained into the appearance and aesthetics of our cities, but this photo set helps to visualize the awesomeity. and this short video too, which is beautiful until irony rears its ugly head and you realise it's an advert itself. sky, you idiots.

no billboards, no posters, no neon signs, no tv screens, no flyering, no sandwich boards, no blimps, and no golf sale. public transport free from corporate abuse. heh, just think of all the new graffiti space.

but the thought of walking through a city free of adverts almost scares me. the idea that after all these years of fighting it's actually possible. that things can change so dramatically (and it will be dramatic). that the sky is the limit and we have no excuses. demand the impossible.

capitalism, the people shoot you down.

ok, it's just a scratch. but beasts like that take time to down.

and no, the new law is not injurious to society, it does not inhibit free expression, jobs will not be lost (at least none of any value), and the streets will not be less safe at night due to the loss of lighting from outdoor advertising. and not all the other stupid things that people have said about it:

"We live in a consumer society and the essence of capitalism is the availability of information about products." - Marcel Solimeo

"I think this city is going to become a sadder, duller place. Advertising is both an art form and, when you're in your car or alone on foot, a form of entertainment that helps relieve solitude and boredom." - Dalton Silvano

boom. you fail. and you fucking lose. we win.

forget about berlin, i'm moving to sao paulo

15.12.2007: somewhere near the end of the night (sometime before 4am) the sounds coming up from the basement made me think of waterboarding. a mixture of sobbing, terror and vomiting. really, more like dry heaving. or retching. either way i was wasn't going down there. absinthe takes another over-keen victim. and i'll be honest, i can't remember seeing anyone more ill from drink. except that time ***** cut his arm open and bled all over the house. you remember the scene in that film when he wakes up with a horses head in his bed? that's what the next morning was like, but nevermind that. it was an equally surreal moment to this one now, with me standing at the top of the basement stairs over some kind of pit of utter despair. honest, it sounded that horrible.

me, i just needed the toilet. whatever. i waited for the one upstairs but was convinced someone was being sick in there too. quietly. like that disaster of a house party we had at the girls' house in birmingham, when there was a queue to be sick in the two toilets. they were held up for two hours. anyone needing a piss had to go outside (but don't tell the girls that). but anyway no, grant comes out a minute later all smiles and tells me the toilet is all mine. but as i walk in there's a girl curled up beside the bath tub, bent a bit crooked. i gave him a confused look and he tells me not to worry, that she wont mind. the dude left his girlfriend passed out in the bathroom, nice. i decided against locking the door, much too creepy, and happily started my long needed piss.

thirty seconds later julie has come in and she's talking at me too loudly. i try and motion with my head, trying to direct her attention to the body in the corner, not really wanting it to wake up. tomorrow that girl's going to feel like someone shat in her skull and took a hairdryer to it, but right now i swear she's smiling. i take a quick photo with her camera, because otherwise she wont remember this, before nicer people lift her up and carry/drag her to a bed.

the party pretty much ended there. a strange end to a good one. i enjoyed it a lot, and i still am the following day. feeling fantastic, despite violently mixing my drinks. wine, beer and absinthe. a shocking combination. plus a small amount of bourbon. there's a skill i thought i'd lost.

but it wasn't great just because i survived it. i also got to play a cello, until everyone upstairs shouted at me to shut up. except that was lorien playing with the bow, i was only holding down the strings. i was happy pretending it was a double bass. perhaps i should acquire one. oh, and the piano. it had the most gorgeous sombre tones. shame about the trashy pop coming from upstairs. i know it makes me sound miserable, but there was no chance i was going to get into it. that's why people need alcohol. not to lose their inhibitions and get over themselves, but to get over the music. maybe it's just me.

i know it's not.

the food was fantastic too (thanks krista). both indian and thai. on the same plate.

and that fucking strobing flash (for focusing). no wonder the dogs went ape shit. yeah, there were dogs there. at a house party, that we were having in a house because the parents had gone away. we regressed back to college. meanwhile, i spent about ten minutes playing with the big fat furball of a cat in the basement. but that was before it was commandeered for the sick girl and it smelt of vomit. probably. that was about that.

and now snow. thick so when the wind blows the street is obscured behind a whirling wall of white. patterns traced across the ground blow my mind with every gust. on the radio they warn us about the storm coming up from texas. we're warned to stock up on food and brace the windows. we're not going anywhere this weekend. we are to be snowed in and stocked up. mulled wine, new books (don't ask), chestnuts and condoms (where applicable). behind double glazing and a hot apple cider i am more than prepared. i have nothing to worry about.

14.12.2007: in case you weren't sure, using climate change to make money makes you an asshole. this includes using it to tart up your adverts (thank you diesel) and all shades of greenwashing (go find your own examples).

but what about housing a laptop in bamboo and calling it eco-friendly? that makes you an asshole and an idiot. because it's what the shit is polished with that matters, right? it's like "green" cars. there is no such thing. no car, no matter how hybrid it is, whether it runs of fucking marshmallows or dog shit scraped off the streets as it passes, will ever be environmentally friendly. it should be illegal to say so, and in norway it is. go them.

i'm also a little suspicious of greeniacs. i know it's easy to pick on people with nasty coloured backgrounds on their website, but here are three choice quotes from their about page:

"Our vision is to be the most comprehensive, non-political, non-judgmental, friendly website for going green."

"Greeniacs are people who are green-curious but may want to keep the lifestyle they currently enjoy."

"Greeniacs is not created as a non-profit simply because we don't believe that label is necessary to do unselfish work."

denied. it's a political problem and you have to treat it as one. you can try and be non-judgmental, but the next person to pass you in an SUV is a fuck head. and you know it. i'll let you be friendly. but as for keeping the lifestyle you're currently enjoying, driving around in your cars, drinking bottled water, eating meat or babies or worse, watching shit on your plasma tv, surfing the internet on your bamboo fucking pc.. it's not going to happen. you can't solve climate change without changing your lifestyle. you're animal lovers who eat meat. you're fighting terrorism by bombing civilians. you're probably just an idiot. what does "green-curious" even mean? for fuck sake.

and that last quote means it's nothing but a business venture. maybe you mean well, but it sounds like you want people to save the world by having them talk about it. by telling them it's ok as long as they join your stupid social network. at least they no longer charge their users. and maybe waivering the fee will make it less sickeningly middle-class. another bonus is they don't harvest all your personal data, which is interesting. and also makes it a pretty crap business venture. except there's no venture capital.

so maybe it's ok after all. maybe i missed the point, or i wasn't seeing the bigger picture.

"What if 20,000 Greeniacs encouraged one another when buying their next car, to only purchase one that got 35 miles or more per gallon? Notice surely would be taken. The sky's the limit. Being a Greeniac is going to be a hip badge of honor. Log on and join us."

or maybe not.

13.12.2007: i spent all evening fighting with a pair of scissors, starting at 6pm. and it must have been about 10pm when i switched to the scalpel. now my fingers ache in funny places and i've promised myself i'm never cutting anything ever again. at least not 234 times.

this is my super-secret project that i'm working on. the one that i'm now trying to convince myself is still worth doing.

now it's snowing again. it makes me just want to sleep. everyone else gets to snowball fight. but then they don't get free food and wine from the tenth floor. and as i walk the five minutes to the TTC, through all that snow, with every red and white light surrounded by a winter halo, i pass five people slumped on the sidewalk asking for money. and there was me stuffing my face with as much food as i could. and you know how wasteful catering is. it made me feel sick at myself.

but thanks ryan. most people are normally a bit more constructive in their comments, but then i also realise that the english have lost that ability. along with their politeness. you could have at least been a little creative. or had the balls to give me your real email address. boo to you, i would have sent you nice things. especially since y'know, you went to the effort of filling in all the fields on my comments form, just to give me that nice little message. you must have been feeling really bored. or spiteful.

don't worry, i am too. bored that is.

11.12.2007: yeah, i totally hit the door on the way out. and not even a little bit. it winded me, and it's been time since that last happened. stupid automatic doors, what's the point of a "warning: automatic door" sticker if you can't see it when the doors already open?

completely unrelated, we finally made it to (the world famous) sneaky dee's. maybe not that famous, but it's definately a toronto landmark. like a younger persons matador, like i would have a fucking clue. we'd been in there just long enough to order too many pitchers and they started playing my favourite 'mates of state' album. toronto suddenly felt like home. funny how that happens isn't it? how beautiful everything is when you're walking out the door. i hope i get to go there again before we leave toronto (yeah, i'll tell you about this sometime soon), sit in the booths with skeletons painted up the back of the seats, order a plate of nachos and shout "they have bands at sneaky dee's?". yeah, everyone will think i'm super cool if i do that.

we'd been out eating at rancho relaxo, the mexican with the seriously relaxed service, celebrating the finishing of everyone's final presentations. everyone was happy and relieved, and julie did very well i'm told. everyone was dressed up all smart in their shirts and suits, drinking pints before dinner. we used to call this 'graceful degredation'. chomping through film, i'd forgot how different analog cameras feel. good night. nice taxi ride home. whenever that was.

you see the evolution stuff in the news? if we are evolving faster than ever, then we really are fucked. actually there's a lot i wanted to say about this paper, but i'm having trouble tying it all together. this is how i see it:

our gene pool is growing at a troubling rate, and with it of course you have an increased potential for diversity. this is obvious, and nothing new. the larger our population becomes the more mutations we're inflicting upon ourselves. and i say inflicting, because our selection pressure is largely based on sexual selection, no longer 'survival of the fittest' (obvious counter examples would be various regions in africa and iraq, etc, where survival means more than paying the rent on time). here's the problem, modern science and social safety nets do not slow evolution (that's just a stupid suggestion), they mearly remove the important selection pressures. our genes are mutating at the same rate, only not in any useful direction - as our genes wander into adverse areas of gene space we try our hardest to support them.

for sure we're increasing our genetic diversity, so theoretically we're more likely to survive (as a species) when something suddenly goes horribly wrong (or continues to go horribly wrong unabated), but i'm worried that we're becoming more diverse in what are basically crap genes. we have become genetically weak, but we look fantastic.

which isn't true either. but then don't forget we're going to evolve into two species, a genetic upper class and a "dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like" underclass. that article still cracks me up everytime i come across it.

but what am i saying? we should let the weak die? we shouldn't allow sub-healthy people to breed? we need to ration breeding so as to carefully sculpt a race of ubermensch? hitler 2000? no, not really. it's us privileged who will suffer first, and that's fine by me. we deserve it.

if you're looking for good news, well, germany has decided that scientology is unconstitutional. it seems a bit unfair to go ahead and try and ban it, but.. hell, what the fuck am i saying? i'm totally moving to germany.

and fark trying to trademark 'nsfw'? that's just fucking link bait. don't succumb.

10.12.2007: i've always stood by google. i've always defended them when they've come under criticism, such as when privacy international claimed they had the worst privacy practices of all the "key internet based companies" they investigated. i was also quick to praise them when they refused to hand over data to federal prosecuters, and not because the child online protection act is bullshit, but because privacy is something worth fighting for. they were the only search engine to fight this, and the majority of companies who received the subpoena not only happily complied, but refused to publicly disclose what data had been handed over and to what extent this may violate their users' privacy.

google may have their faults (cooperating with the chinese government and censoring their results), but their stand on privacy has always been commendable, even if their size and dominance isn't. it's not like they've done anything so heinous as handing over data to foreign authorities that has directly resulted in the ten year imprisonment of a pro-democracy journalist, right? they could never sink as low as yahoo, could they?

sigh. so, it breaks my heart (ok, nothing quite so dramatic) to hear about lakshmana kailash k, who was jailed after being mistakenly identified as the user who uploaded "offensive" pictures of chhatrapati shivaji to the social networking site orkut, owned and run by google.

the incorrect identification (presuming it was incorrect, and lakshmana hadn't spoofed his IP) was the fault of airtel, an indian ISP, but they couldn't have identified anyone (correctly or incorrectly) had google not readily handed over the user's IP details.

in the COPA case the US government was originally asking for "all queries conducted on [google's] search engine, and all URL's identified through search queries" over a two month period (original subpoena, and much more) to evaluate the effectiveness of child protection filtering software. as well as demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of what they were asking for, the data could have been used to identify users. admissible evidence, etc. in the end google only handed over a random sample of URLs from its index. there's no reason why the prosectutors couldn't have collected the search queries themselves.

but when the indian authorities come knocking, google supply them with supposedly incriminating evidence that'll send someone to jail. over an image. why is that?

maybe it's because indians make up over 7% of orkut's users (the third largest group after brazil and the usa) and orkut is the fourth most popular site in india (behind only yahoo and google). and perhaps it's because google have already been taking a lot of flack from various groups (shiv sena, bharatiya janata yuva morcha and the national students union of india) who want orkut banned in india, and google will do what it can to appease them. exactly like what they've done in brazil (and reports on the usage of this data? any trials and charges? nothing). the indian ministry of communications and information technology has already demonstrated several times that they're happy to temporarily block ban sites (including blogspot and many yahoo groups), it's not so unlikely it could happen to orkut.

you might argue that google are following the law and being constitutional by handing over this data (i'm sure that's how they would justify it, if they'd comment). in which case they shouldn't be storing the data, nevermind messing around claiming they're going to be anonymising it at some point. it's already too late, you mother fuckers.

i think that's it for me now. i don't know what that means, but it means something.

09.12.2007: many months ago i came into possesion of a starbucks card. it's not a loyalty card, it's more like having a starbucks account. you put money on your card so when you buy your sick expensive coffee it doesn't feel like you're actually spending any money. like you could stick $100 on your card and never have to worry about the cost of your coffee habit ever again. at least until the week after.

but anyway, someone gave me this horrendous card and it already had five bucks on it. actually, it was five and three cents. or maybe i earnt the three cents in interest since. but none of this is important, because the card just sat in my wallet for months taking up space. i mean, when do i ever walk past a starbucks and think, wow do i want a coffee right now? never. but since we're leaving toronto soon (what, i didn't tell you?) i thought i should take advantage. so walking home this morning through the snow i decided to treat myself. if that's what you call it. and i could be proper canadian.

why not get a tall egg nog latte? how bad could it be? i guess pretty bad right? and it was. but that's ok, for free i can't complain. and it's my fault for going into starbucks in the first place. i think once is enough.

the worst thing is they boast that their cups are made from 10% post-consumer waste. like that's something to boast about, like it makes it ok that they're not recyclable. and apparenty "it's red again". what does that even mean? bono should sue.

i'm sorry, that little story had no purpose. i just liked me walking home in the morning with my steaming hot coffee and the pretty snow falling around all everywhere.

07.12.2007: i was writing about daniel mcgowan yesterday, but i made a crucial mistake. i left it up to you to find out about him, and i bet none of you did. so i thought i'd give you some perspective on his case.

he has been found guilty of commiting two acts of property destruction, both of which took place in oregon during 2001 under the banner of the ELF. daniel provided look-out at the first action, and helped start the fire at the second, torching a fleet of SUVs. their targets were the superior lumber corporation, who were logging old growth forests, and the jefferson poplar farms, who were involved in genetic engineering.

he was arrested outside of his workplace on december 7th 2005, on an arrest warrant signed under a provision of the US patriot act, and placed in federal custody. at this time 14 other individuals were also being arrested under similar circumstances, all as part of operation backfire. daniel had a brief hearing in brooklyn before being shipped across america in wrist and ankle shackles, finally arriving back in oregon on december 21st, where "he was kept on suicide watch ... and designated maximum 1 status". on january 25th he was granted bail for over one and a half million dollars.

he was originally charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit arson, 14 counts of actual arson and two counts of possession of a destructive device. if found guilty of these he would have been facing a mandatory life sentence (335 years).

no living creatures (be them animal, human or cop) were hurt as a result of his acts, and there was no evidence of any intent to harm.

on june 4th 2007 daniel was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, after accepting a plea bargain that was offered in exchange for dropping an inquiry into whether NSA wiretaps had been used illegally (something that if true would have ruined the entire operation backfire), and narrowly escaping a terrorist enhancement penalty that would have bumped him back up to life imprisonment. however, his sentence is still significantly higher than what was given to some defendants, those who had co-operated with the government by testifying and informing on others (information on all defendants can be found here). daniel is basically being punished for not snitching on his friends.

and here's the perspective. before his arrest in 2005, daniel had been working for womens law, a non-profit organisation that provides legal assistance for women suffering from domestic abuse. in the rare cases when men are actually prosecuted for domestic abuse, where they've actually commited crimes involving serious mental and physical harm, the sentences they recieve are drastically lower than that of an "eco-terrorist", as is the bail.

beating you wife versus burning an SUV? it clearly demonstrates what's important about being an american.

if you want a more personal take on the events, you can read a transcript of this fantastic interview between daniel and amy goodman.

and if you think daniel's had it rough, you should check out eric mcdavid too.

06.12.2007: having guests in toronto means eating out a lot. that's pretty much what's best to do. so we've had some good dinners. last night i was eating rigatoni in a lemon and cream sauce with saffron. if i shut my eyes i can still taste it. dessert was plum and port ice cream. the night before i was drinking a peanut butter and jam martini, which despite sounding vile was the perfect mix of frangelico, raspberry vodka and chambord.

this was at olive&lemon on harbord and chapter11 on parliment.

which means a lot of fast walking in the cold and dark. it's the price you pay for feeling posh and bourgeoise. when someone else is paying. anyway, to make up for it..

if you want to read something interesting you could do worse than daniel mcgowan's blog. as part of operation backfire, daniel was arrested and convicted on several counts of property damage and arson, relating to two incidents in 2001. he refused to cooperate with the government, refusing to incriminate others (unlike some who informed for reduced sentences), and is now serving a seven year sentence, whilst blogging. part of me was surprised that america would let its prisoners do that, how very nice of them. anyway, check him out.

he has some gorgeous shirts for sale too. shame they're american apparel. gack.

and to be fair, you should check out everyone listed on the greenscare website. they all have very similar and horrible stories. buy all their tshirts.

04.12.2007: it's getting to the end of the day again and i still haven't written anything. i'm in a lull or something. i've got other things on my mind. preoccupied. trying to work things out. waiting for things to explode.

it's all good.

i've spent most of today trying to decide whether i want a new lens for my camera. i mean, it is christmas soon. but then again, we're not really doing christmas anymore. but then again, maybe i want a new lens.

me and grilly got distracted for a while talking about the game portal (which i haven't played), and how the next game should have time portals as well as spatial portals. it would be easy if you used a primer style model or time travel. when going through a portal you appear out of the other one at the time it was created. branching dimensions makes simple enough. the permutations are endless. then we moved on, rather obviously, to discuss a game with four spatial dimensions. you could still only "observe" three at any one time, but you could either switch which three you saw at any given time (i.e. swapping the y dimension for the w), or control how far you were currently rotated into the 4th dimension (something like when they first introduced looking up and down into games like doom). this would work better without gravity, but maybe losing such an important anchor would completely disorientate anyone playing it. texture maps would also have to be 3D. and grilly came up with the best idea, any kind of multi-dimensional being could look normal (human) when viewed in the standard three dimensions, but as you rotate or slide into the fourth you would be able to see behind their 'fleshsuit', as it were. all i want to do is give children nightmares. and create really fucked up but fantastic games.

all this got me staring cross-eyed at this fantastic stereo rotating tesseract applet.

i also managed to get in a good conversation about extra spatial dimensions over dinner on sunday night, inbetween furiously scribbling down the names of various comics in laura's notebook. we were eating at the ever fantastic and friendly 'la palette' with the rand/maize family. all thoroughly pleasant. they know their cheese and beer in that place, for sure. then after drinks at the embassy, or whatever it's called.

then yesterday some more people came to look at our apartment and we went over to uni so julie could get her graduation photos taken by jason. which is what probably got me thinking about lenses again. and we went to the future cafe and had cake. it had been a long time, and it will be again.

only problem is, if we move out of our apartment on new years day? what the fuck?

01.12.2007: so i feel bad right now cos julie and jens are working hard transofrming our sofa into a bed, fitting all the covers etc. but then, i did cook dinner, an almighty saturday roast. and i had two slices of pumpkin pie to follow, so i feel especially bloated. and i won at eve's quest. which might make me the best feminist, but almost certainly not.

what happened to yesterday? i remember it being very pleasant, but i'll get to that after thursday.

thursday night i attended a gathering at scally's of local internet marketing people. we make a strange crowd, and i know you dont doubt me. it was a lot of fun, i'm sure the bar tab wasn't. it was good to be back in that pub too, it brings back some good, and very drunken, memories.

friday was the day to start our battle with the landlord. in this country they ask for two full months notice before moving out (actually they ask for 60 days, which isn't quite what they mean), and they enforce this by making you pay your last months rent when you pay your first. bastards. so we need to find someone to move into our apartment at the start of january. everyone loves our apartment, but timing is tight. and moving is a hassle. for sure.

anyway, my vienna journal is live. go go go.

29.11.2007: i can't think why (maybe here's a clue), but i've been laid up the last few days, and completely uninterested in doing anything other than lying on my sofa and complaining. i didn't leave the house for over 60 hours. and what's a guy get done during that kind of time, spent six feet under the ground? he learns the features of the walls intimately. and how to play lots of system of a down songs.

back in the real world, things are happening quickly. there have been sudden changes in plans. there are last minute openings. progress is being made. notices have been given. future is being set in motion. it's all very exciting.

more substantial explanations will follow shortly.

26.11.2007: it'll be a while before i've written up holiday, but you only want to look at the photos from vienna anyway. if even that. they're all there now though. and here's the abridged version:

i understand that's still a lot. but nevermind, or fuck you. whichever you're most in the mood for.

and don't forget about radio emo.ware, continuing with the most offensively heavy and angry songs i could find. don't worry, the season is almost over. but it's going to get worse before it gets better.

25.11.2007: winter has come upon us. like a million tiny shards of glass falling through the street lights, stinging you in the face. in the face

best cycle ride of my life. probably not. i once dreamt i cycled up kilimanjaro, maybe even twice. but that's nothing, two guys actually did it for real. except my trip was beautiful in ways theirs could never even compare to. apart from the being real bit.

all beside the point. because every new season is my favourite season when it starts. i'll be sick of it in a couple of weeks for sure, when it's nostalgic value has worn off and i'm just cold and wet, but for now winter is everything i'd hoped for.

and how have we been enjoying it? saturday was 'buy nothing day', did you notice? it was easy to miss. there were a few of us hanging around dundas square, holding a barter market as we did last year, except we were fewer. i was mainly there representing (food not bombs), giving out free radishes, etc. i swapped a dodgy crime thriller novel for a large jar of salsa, which was about the limit of my bartering power. i fancied the copy of watchmen, it would have made a fantastic gift (for who i don't know), but it wasn't to be. other quality items included a purple snes and a n64, several hardback harry potter books, loads of clothes, a guitar pedal. i guess most interesting of all, one of the girls there was the fifth grand daughter of darwin. i believed her straight off, but just incase she even had a darwin fish tattoo. and she confirmed there are no creationists in the darwin blood line. score. we also found wally/waldo, who was unfortunately taking part in some kind of filming. we totally ruined their shot. that'll teach them. do they even know that isn't public property?

on friday i'd tried to chill out. reading american virgin over porridge. buying cheap plastic cups. walking over to everyone's favourite comic book shop only to find nothing i really wanted. i ate chips with mushy peas. sat and read hunter s thompson in my favourite kensington cafe. later, sitting in the graduate student pub talking about phds and getting all kinds of crazy ideas from smith. i should have spoken to him about this when i first arrived here. then we went to find an ethiopian restaurant down bloor west, and we did, and it was super cozy. the food arrived quickly (we'd taken a gamble by sitting at a reserved table) and despite being slightly too salty was all tasty goodness. we had more than enough between us and the bill came to only eight dollars. we left a sick tip. then went for drinks at the concorde cafe, or whatever it's called, tried to draw a flow diagram of our lifes, and probably failed. the important point, for me at least, is this was all done in good spirits. and that's despite the two bottles of beer costing more than our meal. the jazz was good. as was our walk home, except we were too early getting to cobs and the stupid girl, who doesn't get paid enough to care, wouldn't give us bread because they have to throw it away. them's the rules. and it was too cold to wait. it was ok though, because it turns out that our friends raided the bins ten minutes later and got plenty for everyone.

and so sunday was food not bombs. that's all for now.

22.11.2007: my photos from vienna are still a little way off, but i took a few reels (am i kidding anyone?) at the natural history museum. you can view them here. if you want the quick version you could just look at my favourites:

or just the thumbnails if you wanted. whatever.

21.11.2007: the streets are sodden and vile. they stink. every car that passes drenches you in gutter water. slick brown dirty essence of automobile. what sky makes it between the grim buildings depresses in every shade of acid grey. and this is what passes for a "clean city". i hate to imagine the filth down south. it fills me with wanton dread.

photos of marble run, disguised as photos from the party we had back home:

they're dark and blurry but i like them. i don't know why. maybe because of the memories. because of the people in them, smiling and happy and all around me. some soppy shite like that.

and here's a good article on the 'v for vendetta' movie, and the title says it all - b for betrayal.

20.11.2007: me and laura and some dude went to see the final cut of bladerunner last night, so expect spoilers. if spoilers are even possible, it's almost identical to the previous cut. sure it probably looks better, some obvious mistakes have been removed (the sixth replicant etc), and the sound is awesome (not that i've seen it in a cinema before), but i was hoping it would make more obvious the ambiguity surrounding deckard's status as a replicant. i don't mean answering the question, but proposing it in more concrete terms.

what about hints at deckard's backstory, and an attempt to tackle the issues of using a replicant to hunt down his own kind? maybe even how that might have come around. and more unicorns, damnit.

i mean, the unicorn is pretty conclusive. but that last line shatters the whole concept, stating how their differences aren't differences at all, so what does it matter? i think there's your take home point. ridley scott doesn't care whether deckard's a replicant or not, because it doesn't make a difference to his musings on death.

"it's too bad she won't live. but then again, who does?"

as well as looking way more impressive than i remembered (still better than any recent special effects movie), it was also more brutal. the violent scenes are gruesome. maybe the word is 'effective'? and the rape scene (you couldn't call it anything else) is disturbing in its apparent acceptance. the only thing that might justify the scene is if it's intended as an empathy test for the benefit of the audience, a test that deckard fails utterly. that would make sense, but it presumes a lot, primarily that the audience isn't full of wife beaters who think such behaviour is acceptable. the lack of any internal comment on deckard's coercive behaviour leaves me cold and doubtful.

anyway, the film's intro still gives me goosebumps.

my cycle home was beautiful. after nine there are no cars through rosedale. just silence and yellow leaves scattered across the slick streets. the occasional tasteful pre-christmas decoration. just me and no one else.

19.11.2007: what else of the weekend? i missed a lot. the light saber battle outsite the ROM. the santa parade (not a santa rampage, luckily). a hundred other things that might have happened in the city. what did you miss? you missed food not bombs. but anyway.

i guess i spent a lot of time thinking and not really getting anywhere. except to the bequiling, where i purchased around 2 kilos of hardcore retail therapy.

and here are two photos i took outside the royal ontario museum using my dad's new camera:

who knew what fun you could have taking photos of the reflections in red plexiglass? it's a fun effect for sure.

i ate a whole bag of mixed toffees and fudge. except it's no big deal because it was only about ten in total.

feeling unsafe on several fronts. until next time..

18.11.2007: i know the photos are late, and hence totally pointless, but just to prove a point - that i did eventually carve a pumpkin this year (and not minutes too soon) - here are the photos:

do i get bonus points for using commas, hyphens and parenthesis in that last sentence?

i'm feeling absolutely knackered. and the only thing i've done today is food not bomds (only?!? ten people in our apartment cooking for homeless people? sheesh). and we were round rachelle's last night and i couldn't help but keep falling asleep. and like an idiot i'd forgotten my gloves, so i was cycling home with my left hand going through the early stages of frost bite.

and to make it worse i went and left my wallet and glasses at rachelle's so i have to go back now, only i can't leave the house because i can't lock up. i'm such an idiot. i might just cut my losses and go to bed now. i'm sure it's late enough somewhere in the world.

i don't think i can blame my tiredness on jetlag for much longer.

16.11.2007: walking around jarvis and church at 7am, i can't deny it feels good to be back. and despite the full-blown nightmare i had to live through to get here (more on the later). sure it's cold and grey, but where isn't at 7am? and where else has ninja squirrels? name it and i'll meet you there in five minutes. months, years, whatever.

it makes me wish i'd got up earlier, but i didn't get home until 4am my time. now it's midday. at 7:30am.

we had fun though didn't we? i enjoyed my time back in europe, but it wasn't at all long enough - all the people i didn't get to see, the places i didn't get to visit. etc etc. but that's ok.

so what of my terrible journey? it all started to go wrong when our virgin train pulled into watford junction ten minutes late and someone announced we'd have to run if we wanted to make the connection to gatwick, which isn't so easy with luggage. i legged it but still didn't make the train. it sat there infront of me, doors not opening, for a good fifteen seconds before pulling out.

how many rude people do you have to speak to before someone will actually help you? my guess is it's the number of men working there. our woman said the best bet was going through london for an extra however much money, and the train was leaving in three minutes. she agreed that didn't really give us time to pay, so she stamped out tickets and said she'd call ahead. there's decency for you. except what she'd told us what to take the gatwick express, without telling us that it'd be a further 15 quid each, on top of what we had to pay on arriving in london. we weren't really up for that so when the ticket collectors (a gang of them, all with funny accents) came to squeeze us for cash we stood our ground (rather my mum did), much to the disgust of the bitch sitting in the opposite seat.

luckily for us there were no transport police onboard, and by the time the staff had been all the way down the train checking everyone elses tickets we were already at gatwick. that or they simply couldn't be bothered to deal with us, they surely don't get paid enough to. i understand how it works, how they're a different provider and it's not the fault of the NEG that virgin didn't get their train in on time. it's that i just don't care. it wasn't us at fault, why should we pay?

they should never have privatised the railway.

ten hours later, after watching four films i hated, i was being grilled by customs and immigration. needless torture. filling you with a dread that sticks and consumes. dread, not because you're doing anything wrong, but because they make you feel like you are. because i take advantage of consecutive tourist visas. because i just want to be with my girlfriend as she pumps money into their higher education system.

and then it started to snow. and i'm suddenly excited about winter. or is it because winter reminds me of freedom?

just for today, time is going so slowly.

14.11.2007: i'm back from austria, still yet in rugby. and it's good to see that all the crimethinc stickers (you are under surveillance) that i'd stuck on all the local surveillance cameras are still there.

tomorrow i'm traveling back to canada.

what was i doing in austria? just holidaying with friends for a few days. if i can be bothered to write it up and you can be bothered to read it, one day you might be able to. or look at the pretty pictures. but, like every time i do this, it has only fanned the flames of discontent at my non-nomadic lifestyle. a small amount of traveling just doesn't satisfy. it only infuriates.

that is all for now. if you are waiting on an email from me please be patient because i'm going to be extremely busy in the next couple of days with work, planning and traveling. also eating and sleeping. it doesn't mean my love for you is fading. my love for you burns like a candle in the wind. potentially a really fucking big one.

06.11.2007: this morning the last of the leaves finally fell from the branches now hanging naked outside my bedroom window. we've barely had our autumn (hell, england barely had a summer) and winter is almost upon us. all this says is that i timed my return home perfectly. a leaf has the most beautiful death throe, and i got to witness it a thousand times over. now they litter the streets along with so many empty crisp packets and chocolate wrappers. burying the filth. and that's why autumn is the most beautiful of seasons. if only we had more trees, the flurry of leaves might cover all the people too.

so, i figured it was about time i visited mark's mum. this december it'll be five years since he died, and almost as long since i last saw his mum. but going over is one of those things that's all too easy to put off. and if i'm being honest, it is tempting to avoid the potential awkwardness and complicated emotions by simply not bothering. but then i realised that actually, i really wanted to go see her.

pulling into the street, it didn't feel like it had been five years gone. we did it so regularly, picking mark up or dropping him off. it was so familiar. but not remembering the street name or which turning it was (we got lost on the way, although i do still remember the phone number), but the feeling of it. it highlighted every way in which i've changed during the last five years. the younger me superimposed over the current me. it was a strange feeling. and then pulling into the driveway and my heart beating in my chest, a slight nervousness coming from where i don't know.

and she's looking good. and doing well. we had a great chat. inspecting the incredible doll's house and all else. after a while i plucked up enough courage to ask if i could see his old room. i wasn't sure if that was cool, but i'd have been annoyed with myself if i hadn't. i regretted not asking every other time i'd been there. these days it looks more like a storage room, but there's still plenty of mark left in there. all his books and oddities. the lyrics to 'pure morning' blue tacked to the wall above where his bed used to be, something scribbled over it in orange that i can't remember. a mannequin in the corner. clothes made out of rubber and clothes made out of wood. piles of art. his old sainsbury's uniform. even some of alisha's artwork. and sue had recently found a brilliant sketch he'd done and framed it (actually i must get a copy). it was amazing. and photos from when he was at leamington. bags and bags of his clothes. his huge red boots. and all of it fascinating. i could have spent hours in there rummaging around, but didn't want to touch too much. i didn't feel comfortable intruding. into what i wasn't sure.

so that was that. and last night i'd been down to the merchant to catch up with an old friend from middle school. we hadn't properly talked since enrolling in separate schools when we were twelve. what's that, fourteen years ago? that's most of our lives to catch up on. "so what happened at ashlawn?" yeah, it was that long ago. you'd think it might be a bit awkward but it wasn't at all. it was great. and again, it really gets you thinking about the decisions you've made and how they've shaped you. if shaped is even a word? i don't know. but it's been a good week for catching up (also see nicola, who i must have last seen at tom's birthday party in london over two years ago. although i did miss johanna).

and the beer i was drinking tasted of vegemite. the best aftertaste ever.

04.11.2007: the sunday after a party is always the same. suddenly i'm on my own and don't know what to do with myself. too tired to think straight but too anxious to do nothing. i'd sleep but i'd feel like dying when i woke up. i'd go out but where would i go? the days fading. it was already dipping before i dragged myself out of bed. gorgeous day though, we had a lovely walk down to the station. autumn in full swing. autumnal, not autumny. perfect for being sad lonely.

time was, i'd see my friends all the time. time was we did this every week. but these days i'm lucky to see my best friends four times a year, if that. like i rolled off the real world (i kind of have). and there's the friends that slip through the net every time i'm back, the ones i rarely get the chance to catch up with. and so we blow it all in one night. as many of them as i can gather in one room. more alcohol than you can focus on.

grilly came a day early (to get our geek chat out of the way) and we spent the night playing a game that revolves around collected and stealing cheese. fondue. it's a well thought out and clever game, except as you introduce more players it gets unproportionally more difficult. with six players it's become impossible to win. and we got in the essential pizza delivery, which made my night. it's sad but i've missed those pizza the action pizzas.

saturday was the big day. and by the time we'd finished breakfast and reading comics, whatever else we were doing, it was time to pick up aimee and nicola from the train station. the train lines are all messed up so they both arrived by bus, enabling us to sit on the coach station wall pretending to be gutter scum. whatever this years incarnation is. we stopped short of spitting and throwing stones at random people. really i'd prefer to stare at the pinky orange sky and the clouds like wings stretching across it. you can always get a good sky in rugby. it's because the weather's so shit and there's nowhere better to look than up. actually, i probably would rather throw stones at people, but nevermind.

it was a lazy evening started slowly. infact, we were stuck on cups of tea until ben arrived. that's the kind of guy he is, wont turn up without a beer. then he drags us all down with him. and those huge pans of curry. i can be mean about ben because he owes me, now that i've given him my 'gut feeling' and 'live and hungry' belly bootlegs. he might say i gave them back, but i traded for them fair and square.

we played marble run, which i'm sure will one day inspire me to great things. but first i need to buy the extreme super delux box with over a hundred pieces that i can modify and build a fortress out of. a really noisey clackity-clack one. then martin and jen arrived. and corey had already. so we were really in business. rearranging the living room and keeping the fire going.

i must remember to never try and explain three dimensional eyes or five dimensional aliens again. a forth spatial dimension does not mix with a good party atmosphere. also converging universes, timewave zero, noospheres or holographic universe theory. also property and inheritance. grilly caries that one much better than me, he argues with more conviction.

but then he goes and writes 'eddie valiant' on aimee's head and of course she doesn't guess it. she missed the obvious question "am i a human that interacts with anthropomorphic cartoon animals". i spent the whole game trying to work out why i was famous, only to find out i wasn't. boooo.

and before i've managed to suggest going out on a whiskey-fueled baby-stealing window-smashing 4am rampage around town, everyone has decided they're tired. i'm telling you, we don't have parties like we used to. time was ben would get in a fight and run off. we'd spend all morning looking for him so we could enjoy our oatcakes without worrying about how muddy and presentable to his parents he'd got. the stories i could tell you about ben..

i'll save them for another day. maybe.

jam ur hype.

02.11.2007: i dreamt about zombie sex frogs. a female one had got onboard our boat and needed to mate with a human. she was seducing all the men and killing all the women. and then some idiot went and doomed the human race by having sex with it, so there were loads of giant red furry sex frogs running around everywhere butchering all the women and dripping over the men. frog rape. it was grim but not particularly scary.

when i woke up i started reading transmetropolitan, as is my habit, and spider says "one day, the kids from the housing project where they yank mutant frogs out of the sewage flow and fuck 'em were throwing rocks at her ... apparently the frogs explode on your dick at the moment of orgasm".

maybe it's because i've worn new socks every day this week. fresh on every morning. lovely.

or because i've been really sad and catalogued all my books.

maybe i'm just missing julie. although, i'm not sure how that would result in me dreaming about giant furry frogs trying to rape me. so nevermind.

01.11.2007: apart from hating on the country, and so much so it's driven me to reread transmetropolitan and fuel my hatred further (a classic downward spiral i'm sure you can appreciate - and is almost lethal when chased by a quick read of the sun and dailymail headlines), it's been a nice but unremarkable time.

for instance, i went the dentist and a couple of quick x-rays say that my teeth are fine after all. no worries see, because the alternative would have been nasty business. my new dentist is very nice too. he's called stuart.

and we went for a bike ride and found a purse that we handed in at the police station. model citizens we are.

also we went to the cinema and saw stardust. i had to really, at least at some point in my youth it was one of my favourite books, and how bad could it be? well, perhaps i've forgotten the book, but it was actually ok. it was rubbish how they did the first 99 pages in ten minutes, and then completely ruined the meeting between yvaine and tristan. and after that it was all chase and no breathing, but that seems to happen with all film adaptations. blah blah blah. and what happened at the end? where did they pluck that ridiculous fight scene from? who said the understated and poignant 'defeat' in the book wasn't enough for a film? it just shows how shite the film industry is (i wont dis film as a medium, but i am tempted). also, and this isn't really a plot spoiler, what was that crap about him living forever? he ate her heart did he? those last five seconds were rubbish. in the book he dies in a good and proper epilogue. but nevermind, it was still enjoyable.

then we went home and saw a real comet. comet holmes exploding in full celestial glory. really just a smudge on the telescope lens. that's what it looked like anyway.

new blog idea - a post a day explaining what's wrong with the day's dailymail front page. pros: would be easy. cons: would require far too much swearing and you'd have to steal and read the dailymail every day.

were not wasting paper [or grammar]
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