September 26, 2008

Windsor Car Park

Last Friday I went to the Oil Kings game. These kids are all about 4 or 5 years younger than me, which makes me feel old and useless. It also makes me realllllllly want to play hockey again. Even though I am *ahem* a little out of shape.
This game wasn't over until after 10 on a Friday night. Like, way to cut into my Friday Night Without Borders, right?! In addition, I didn't get out of work til over an hour past my quittin' time. Long day. But I had to hurry up cuz of it being the season opener and a 7 o'clock start time n'all! I've also had a contractor causing hella lot of stress @ home lately, which had contributed to my feeling a little under the weather. But I got there. I took the train using my illegitimate bus pass, as I have done in order to travel about 5 blocks to school for these past 3 weeks. You see, I had my previous 2 bus stickers on my last OneCard, rather than the new one.
After a 5-1 defeat, we traced our footsteps back to the train station. That's when it happened.
A fat, belligerent, ignorant, disgusting, retarded, fat, miserable transit guard looked at my illegitimate bus pass and says "sorry, you can't use this". I don't respond to transit giving me a hard time after giving the ETS 12 years of service very kindly.
This "man" was adamant that 'Thou Shall Not Pass'! So I let him have it. I said many bad things. Things that children usually don't hear until at least grade 4 at recess (which is probably more like Age 4 in the year 2008). This guy was not getting my $2.50. This city was not getting my money.
Eventually I walked away saying that I will just go ahead and take the bus, since 80% of bus driver's don't even say anything when I show them my library card anyways. This wasn't a real solution since it would take about 2 and a half hours to get from the coliseum to millwoods on the 8. So rather, I walked just around the corner (in a huff) and ...
...kicked the wall.
It didn't even hurt at first. The blood pulsating through my head was out-pumping the blood pulsating through my Big Toe. After a few minutes of trying not to cry, I returned back to a second ETS money guard. I explained the situation how I was in fact a legitimate student and haven't had the chance to get down to get a new bus sticker. (I needed a new One Card after all, since I am finally graduating!) He explained to me (through deaf ears) how the city loses $3M per year in lost bus fare. Bull. It's a service. It is FOR the people. It is a system designed to lose some money for the sake of taking care of its users that are so dependent on it. It is discretionary and subjective. It is reasonable. He went on to say how in This "city" called Edmonton, bus driver's are not required to do a lot of things, which in effect summed up to being DECENT human beings. But we already know all this.
After having to let him "do his job", I suppose, he handed me a little piece of paper. A bus transfer. Decent. Subjective. Reasonable.
6 days later, I am still hobbling around, with that 2 and a half bucks still in my pocket, and a nice pink bus sticker on my shiny new OneCard.
Oh right. Windsor car park. This whole story actually has a lot more to do with the kinds of people that make up our society, our work force. Well, on Tuesday I missed classes in the morning since I was feeling even worse. I did go for x-rays on Monday morning, but am pretty sure that I was beyond repair (as I am in soooo many other ways) So Tuesday I role around to Windsor Car Park at about 10:45 ready to carry on with my day. (I wasn't going to take the bus from farther away like I usually do, given my new handicap). $10. To park! In another 15 minutes, it would be only $5. So I said to the guy that I will be back, and went and waited in my car around the corner and read a book. At about 11:03 I pulled back up to the gate at Windsor Car Park. "FULL". Yeah, full of shit! I said (nearly as angrily as I talked to the first ETS guy) that I would turn around, but instead drove in and found a spot pretty close to the door since someone just happened to be leaving. Parking Dude wasn't impressed. When I got to the gate he said he would charge me 50 dollars and get the parking security to take me away if I "wasn't walking like that". I said "how bout 5", tossed it on his counter and hobbled away. He also said something about keeping so many spots on reserve for passholders. Bull. More like, if they can't force people to park before 11am and pay $10, they would rather see the lot sit empty than let someone in for only $5.
Needless to say, I will not be parking at Windsor Car Park again any time soon.

September 18, 2008

It's What You Do With It, Part 2!

Part 2: Family Values (Ch 6.2)

I realize these blogs haven't been published in order, but rather, in the order that I felt like writing them. In addition to this, I am constantly adding ideas & topics of things that one day I hope to write about. The hard part is putting stuff out there when it actually may be relevant to the current events. Like what ever happened to tent city? Did I ever get anything posted out there about that? I know that I have ch. 10 reserved for Native Issues (that's a baaaaaad pun), but really tent city was a pretty big story in itself, and had more to do about this city's splendid growth than "Native Issues". So I guess we will just carry along and put out "It's What You Do With It, Part 2" 4 months since "Part 1" and 2 months after "Part 3".

This is a big one though. Important. And really, I wish I could be writing about "Part 4" right now but I have put this one off long enough. There isn't much more in this world more important than family after all...
The first person in my family that died was my dad's grandmother. I was about 8 or 9 so that would have made her old. I didn't even really know anything about her, besides that she gave me money for Christmas and birthdays. A week into Grade 7 my 18 year old cousin was killed in a car accident. This was the most traumatic thing I had ever experienced in my life. I think about her probably not as much as I should, but I remember how great she was to her little cousin and how the room was truly brighter when she was in it. 2 years later, I lost the second most important person in my life: my Mom's mum. Grandma ... what can I even say?! I was blessed (like many others) to have the BEST Grandma in the world. I experienced the death of other loved ones from cancer/emphysema, Alzheimer's disease, and most recently, a plane crash. 

This blog is dedicated to hoping that its readers stop and take the time for family. All and any. Near or far. You can't be too busy for family. Yes - Even if you don't like him or her. Those older ones are especially worth your time. Within my extended family, I have yet 1 grandma still kickin' @ 89. One of her sons said to me a few weeks ago, "She's got BALLS, that woman"! I have been very fortunate to hear many stories of the Days of Yore, including how milk was brought by horse and carriage and when she had to flee on foot from the Princess Theater from "boys looking for trouble". I've heard war time stories and farm life stories. These veterans are worth your time. Geriatrics. Survivors with a history. Really, history should be paid close attention to after all - since it repeats itself n' all.
My last New Year's Eve was spent @ the University Hospital with this last remaining Grandmother of mine. Not her daughter or sons or anyone else. She fell, you see, and I was the closest one to do anything about it. So I spent the next 14 hours or something hanging out in Emergency while my companion 20-somethings drank and got ridiculous. Efrem and Co. had a show in Calgary that night, which I would have thought to be a pretty good time. But forget regret. Be happy that I could be the one that could help.
Your grandparents deserve your help. Anything that you are capable of. Even if it's programming the remote, I have learned that even something as simple as that could make all the difference in their quality of life. If you don't get along with your grandparents, then don't forget the rest of your family is important too. I know some of us just can't wait to get married and/or move away from our families. If these geriatric veterans are deserving of getting something back from the younger generation - with all if its power and capability - surely, your parents deserve a little something in return, too. If you don't consider yourself as having any family, then there are other people out there that need your help. Regular people. That can't even move around their own 1 bedroom suites, that don't have the cabability of shovelling their own walks.
So look again - hard - at the way you spend your time. I promise too also. This Tuesday will mark the 12th year since my cousin's car accident. I pray that you will never have to experience this kind of tragedy and that you make the most of the time that you have with the most important people in your life.

You can't always get what you want.

So last night I went to Elliott Brood. When I got there @ 9:30, the first thing I noticed was the set times. Mr. Brood wasn't coming on til 11:40. Yikes. It's a school night after all! So after a really brief scour through the place in a search for any familiar faces, I jetted off to Chapters. To fill the emptiness - this void inside of me - I have been spending loads of money lately. Chapter's took about 40 schmackers, and Blackbyrd suckered me in to buying a Moldy Peaches disc and another local indy-rocker local band "The Last Deal". This, in addition to the Elliott Brood ticket. In addition to the $20 rancid t-shirt I wore last night, in addition to those packages of gum & sudafed.

Yet still the void remains.

But nevertheless, I wandered back and caught most of the opener, readily anticipating a pretty good show/night. The kid had a good voice, especially if you like kids with those kinds of voices. It was a bit much for me after a while though...
I noticed a lot of things last night and took a lot of time reflecting on what it was I was doing. Where I was. What else I could be doing. I noticed a lot of happy people. Despite the late hour, smiles were all around. There was dancing. Grubby hippy couples, all male and all female couples, old couples, and some kids that looked like they weren't old enough to be in the bar. All dancing. Have you ever seen an engineer dance? There was this one dude which was definately as geeky as an engineer. Maybe a compsci student. He danced. This is why I try to dance less.
Last night I was stood up from all of my non-dates. I must have suggested to at least 3 members of the opposite sex to come out. At least as a friend that has reasonable taste in music, if nothing else. I guess people just can't be bothered or are just too darn busy with their so-called life. Or they are saving their money to buy a condo... When none eventually showed, I contemplated talking to some realllllly nice looking girls, but really they were just tooo darn cute to even talk to!!
Enter escapism blog. If I was 19 or 20 again, nothing could stop me from getting maybe 3 drinks then just talking to...whoever! But I am past that. Getting loaded and talking to girls at bars only leads to trouble. Being sober and talking to girls at bars is Just Plain Hard!! Not to mention that the end of cheap drink prices and my excessive spending really makes not drinking an easier option to go for.

So of the very wide demographic at the show I started to realize what my future could be like. I could legitimately dance IF I found someone crazy enough to dance with me. Or I could be a grubby old loner sitting by myself drinking in a corner watching everyone out there have the time of their life. It certainly was not the same way kids tend to rock at the Bad Religion shows, but I suppose after a certain amount of time, these kids grow up, chill out, and just smile & dance.
The headliner performed just swell. The show went late and some kids took off. I saw 1 friend from years ago. She's a pretty big Brood fan I think. I don't know if she made it to the end since the show went til past 1. But Elliott Brood may just make it on to my facebook music list some time very soon.

September 7, 2008

The Necessity of Escapism (ch. 32)

Ch 32, Part 1.
i want something more from this misery called life

it's hard to keep my dreams alive

when there's all this pain and strife

i dream of a place where all of us can hide

a world where my answers can never be denied

i want to move to disneyland and forget about this place

what a better way to get away from the fucked up human race

i want to get away! i want to go to a world where all i have to do is play!

and i never want to leave! there's no way to make believe!

-strung out, 1992

Need I say anymore? This past June, I took my 4th trip to Disneyland. Well, one time was to DisneyWorld, Fla. actually. But nevertheless, I get this place. I get the idea of Walt's dream where a family can go together to be happy. The second that you walk through those gates, everything in the outside world: war, famine, taxes, crime... are purged from your mind completely. It's more than the sights, smells, and sounds. It's got something more to do with the air you breathe within those gates that make you feel like you are young again, and nothing in the world can bring you down.

People do need a break. The news is sick. Lucky for us, Daryl McIntyre, Kevin O'Connell and Nicola Crosbie are effing ridiculous. Jello Biafra has a silly media spoken word thing that makes fun of newscasters and how they can flip from being Oh So Pleasant and Smiley to tragically emotional and serious in a flash. Without the news though, we would be ignorantly blissful. (AMEN!) But in application, this is not possible. We rely on news so that we can decide how we live our free lives. (Don't try to pull into PetroCan for gas, don't eat Maple Leaf products and don't holiday in Afghanistan any time soon, for example).

So we vacation when we can. We exploit our credit cards, odometer, or air miles collection so that we can simply just get away from it all. It doesn't end there either. Alcohol. That's usually the very first thing the adults reach for when they get to their destination. Something to take the edge off from all the stressful packing, driving, or sitting in the airplane I suppose. Alcohol is such a cure! God knows there would be sooo many more potheads out there without it. That's why he probably continues to make it so readily available in most of the countries you would think to escape to. The other day at Ceili's across from GMAC I noticed that the menu didn't actually have a "drinks" or "beverages" section. It was called the "alcoholic" section. If that's the first thing you look for when you sit down at the restaurant, then maybe you should take a look at your life and wonder what on earth makes it sooo stressful that you need that dulling effect of what is also known as a depressant.

I have done a lot of escaping over the years. But please realize that I have had a lot of time to "build my character" (as an ex-gf put it) with respect to a lot of my history. Now I just drink mostly @ home cuz I am sick of carbonated/sugar-saturated alternatives and water/milk/oj can get very redundant. Drinking at school was done out of habit. A good habit, but a habit that I am quickly falling out of since Matt, Gary, and Dan have all graduated. I don't drink more than 1 @ shows cuz I have to drive. I don't drink @ clubs because I don't club. From time to time though, my Binge Drinking skills return. This is mostly because of special occasions like getting my heart broken, having a really exciting concert come through, or perhaps celebrating a family member's birthday. Otherwise, I really respect straight edge lifestyles/movements and like to think that I too could be strong enough to keep sober and suffer this reality called life.

I know that I will always be able to count on Disneyland to escape to after all.

DISCLAIMER: Disneyland is a place that generates large amounts of wealth, often at the expense of others. This exploitation I acknowledge and appreciate but I will not apologize for still thinking it's great.

September 4, 2008

My Last First Day of School

September 6, 1989. There I was. 3'8" 57 lbs. Combed hair, new shoes. Without a clue in the world. Get out the camera. My mom still has that picture. I'll bet your mom has yours too.

I had this goofy grin, rosy child-chubby cheeks, and a Mario Brothers lunch box. Off to kindergarten.That was a fun time. I remember a lot of playing with blocks and boats and sitting on carpet listening to stories (not unlike in kindergarten cop). "What's a tumour?" ...It was nice knowing some people - it made the experience a little less scary. Crystal is married now!

A year later I returned. *Real* school this time. Where we got to use crayola scissors and big red pencils. We got to send Valentine's for the first time. I think I might have one in storage that says that Krista Loves Me.

Fall of '91 was an interesting time. This is when we finally were all old enough to anticipate seeing familiar faces from last year. Nick and Rowan spent countless lunch hours trying to not laugh so hard to make pop or milk come jetting out of our noses. But as tight as the 3 of us were, it wasn't until this new kid from out of town made friends with us. His name was Mike. Little did I know at that time that we would have sooo much fun times together for years to come! Similar antics of pop-through-the-nose, snapping bra straps, playing dinosaur tag or red ass continued through the years. I think it was Amber who I had my first childhood crush on. She was so smart, so pretty! In the same time, Krista, who loved me, managed to pull the pom-pom on my toque into a steel post, with my head still in it. Richard, Greg, and Mike were also an awesome trio to watch fight. And lest we forget the epic battles between Ken and Richard.

The start of the year was also fun when you were told you were going to be in a split class. It made you feel all warm & fuzzy like someone really thinks you are doing something right besides your parents. This is what I attribute to always being able to relate pretty good to those kids a grade younger. This was especially the case since in Fall of 1995 I was torn from the main group of grade 6s and first met my favorite Romanians, Virgil and Andrei. Virgil, myself, Dan Michael, Derek, Meghan, Jessica, Gemma and Ashley were the core group of 6s that had to cope with 3 times as many grade 5s. Paul and Juliane were supposed to get married. Lauren was embarrassed about talking through her retainer. It was fun being bigger.

But the Big Year was 1994 where I left St. Richards to go to JPI. Mr. Engel was such an inspiration to me, and I think most of his class, right from Day One, that one of the first things I did when I started facebook was make a Mr. Engel Tribute Group. This is the year that I really changed. All because of Tab the Kid and that little glass jar. That is also where I met a future Harvard student, Tom, for the first time.

1996 bumbled along. Bad year. Bowen saved it. His very multi-cultural homeroom were thouroughly entertained. It was tough losing some pretty decent kids to the whiter school BK, but I think on a whole, starting every year in Junior High was pretty exciting. The X-Files of class 8B might ring a bell for Jen or Amy but I think that the kids in that class were soooooo bad that ten years later, even facebook banished them. Dan, Danielle, Gerardo, Jon, Melissa, Brooke - no stalking any of them here, and I wonder why that might be!! The first Bride and Bridesmaid from my graduating class were my bestest buddies when I screwed my way through grade 9 (98/99). I think that was also the year when dominic lost his pants on several occasions. Karmen, Kate, and Amanda (but mostly Karmen and Kate - :P) were also some really inspirational people that helped me turn in to the person I am today. See Kate? Still not a psychopathic serial killer. Highschool was interesting. I resumed my friendship with Mr. Kennedy and found terrific pals in Gerad, Trevor, and Chris through him and band class. Band class was a great way to meet girls. Especially when the band instructor's daughter yells out in class: "GOD WILL SOMEONE PLEASE JUST GIVE ME A SCREW". Colleen, Jenn, and Gina were also something outta heaven for a highschool geek like me. Older women who could really wet a reed. What?! Nick was a good trumpet player. No sexual innuendos intended.

It was the start of 2001 when a pretty bright group of Physics students (let's see - Me, John, Kyle, DMS, 2 Matts, and Tyler W) were there with the rest of the class (OHHHHHH!!!) on the morning of September 11. That year probably won't go forgotten, although the gongshow of Math 31 a year later probably *should* be forgotten about. We had a love doctor teach us after all.

The Fall of 2002 was ridiculous. GMAC = drinking. So much so that I thought it would be in everyone's best interest for me to repeat this 1 more time.

The Fall of 2003 was ridiculous. Enter heaviest drinkers in (my) world, Robin and Julien. Also, enter the hottest Heathers in the world: Guitar Heather and Bass Heather. Mark was pretty too. The Fall of 2003, we founded the Tetratards. That was ... just too much fun.

The Fall of 2004 was hell. This is where I decided that everything still will be okay as long as I eventually "C" my Degree. But the good news was that I was with a class of engineers filled with 50% women, 25% of which were 8s or higher on Ryans Ranking List. (hiiiii Taraaaaaaa)

In September 2005 I was working. Really working. I was becoming an engineer. That was a really fun experience. Sometimes I wonder how things would have worked out if I ended up @ Shelby like a whole whack of kids did, but in the end, I was really very happy doing what I was doing.

In September 2006, it was like being back in 1993 where we anticipate seeing all of our good friends again!! (Segregation? What Segregation??!!!)

New York City was a fun time in 2007 but I began to get a little bitter about having to return to school knowing that all of my classmates would be graduating only a short time later... (single tear).

So here I am. 1 am. Not sleeping. On the last time I will have to wake up for school to start a semester of learning. Pinkney @ 8 for CivE 398. And no, I didn't fail - I just didn't take it yet!! So here goes nothin'. It has been pretty fun up until now anyways. Ever since way back in 1989. Turtles in a half shell - TURTLE POWER!!!

September 2, 2008

80 X 40

Chapter 13: The Overburden of Being Underpaid as an Edmonton Area Teacher

As we enter into another year, I reflect on the past 6. That's how long it's been since I have finished high school & entered into my first year of post secondary. That's as long as junior high and high school combined. That's as long as you lived your carefree life as a child before having to enter into kindergarten. That's as long as your parents might have to carry on with their daily routine until they retire. That's as long as it will take to pay off your Brand New Car at that ridiculous interest rate.

That's... a long time.

But what's longer is the career life of a teacher. Just like that inspirational, wonderful person from your youth that was sooo full of knowledge and depth and charisma - so much so that you decided that you too should become a teacher. You will make a difference in the lives of generations to come. Well congratulations. You did it. Hell, if you did it right, you might even be starting your second year of teaching tomorrow!! Only 38 more to go. But good on ya!

I thought that I was going to be a teacher. Mr. Mike Engel was the man back in '95 that really gave us kids some perspective on life. He showed us how we could be good people in a very large world. "Leaders of Tomorrow" if you will. As it turns out, one of his students will be starting Harvard this fall! But teachers like that are the ones that inspire the majority of kids wanting a post secondary education to go into teaching. Not a lot of kids are very adept to English literature, organic chemistry, or environmental engineering after all. But they know they want that degree that will get them a job. It's what middle-class white families that live in the suburbs expect from the children they raise after all. So Ed. Easy way out. I mean, it's not like these 17 and 18 year olds finishing highschool really have a fucking clue as to what other career options are out there for them besides teaching, given that teachers are the people that a kid spends the most time through 12 out of the first 18 years of his/her life; and especially when there is that societal/parental demand of getting that damn' degree. So Ed. Congratulations on your life decision.

I admire teachers as individuals. Mr. or Mrs. Borchert - both very admirable teachers. Mr. Cook - probably the most focussed teacher that the system will see in the next 20 years. Miss Bouten - amazing with kids! But the problem I have has really more to do with the way the system educates. It offers a stressful position for students, teachers, and parents. First the parents. They have the most responsibility of all (though some don't quite understand that) which includes making their child become smart. Only so much can be absorbed by the student in the classroom when they are up all night screwing around on the computer** or playing X-Box. And there is only so much ridilin in the world. FAS, abusive dramatic on-again off-again relationships from Mum & Dad, junk food, the expense (and demand) of extra-curricular activities + the need to "keep up with the Jones's" also make it hard for parents to give their child a wholesome upbringing. Balance right? Isn't it all just about balance? Well sometimes when parents get a little bit off balance, it's the child who will start to suffer - and this will become apparent where he/she spends the majority of his/her time: in the classroom.

Students are put through the ringer too by the way the system is. The curriculum is bullshit. Matric? Like come on!! A lot of kids shouldn't be forced into the 10-20-30 stream when it is quite apparent that they will have a hard time with hit. There are other options after all. The other parts that I remember being in the curriculum too, are also a lot of BS. I know history is important, since history repeats itself, yet my knowledge of the French and Russian revolutions far outweigh anything about the Trudeau government, the Great Depression, or The war of 1812. Permutations and Combinations? wtf. The origin of AIDS or the genocide by Milosovic or the battle between Tutsis and Hutus or ... So many important things are left out of the curriculum while so much more needs to be taken out! Suffer the children.

Lastly we have the Teachers. The "let's work 7 months of the year, pay hike or strike, stressridden, fieldtrip chaperones that have to come in soooooo early for volleyball practice and stay up soooooooo late at night to prepare their lessons" teachers. The same people that either copped out of engg to teach math, or coasted through highschool with ease but thought "why bother to go for something greater than something that I already know soo well already?" The same people who have to do the proper raising of your children while you are too busy bringing home the bacon. The same people who will get the first grey hairs, the first lines under their eyes. The same people that are in Zimbabwe or Guetamala that can only dream of getting to have such a prestigious career because anything beyond that is simply way beyond the hint of affordability. The same people that had that arrogant campaign only 1 year ago (when I first really wanted to write about this) stating that teachers simply have much to difficult of a job given all of the resources they have at their disposal that they didn't have 15 years ago for the pay they get. We sure as hell realize that it must be difficult taking your 3 ADD students in addition to the other 22 nine year olds to BodyWorlds on the first Tuesday after a long weekend. Or maybe it was that Thursday before a PD Day. Or the stress of Pizza Day. Don't forget that. Horrible times. Or the end of year trip to Rundle Park or at Christmas where you do nothing but sit at your desk and collect chocolates, coffee mugs, and presents. Tough life.

So I guess this 6 year degree really hasn't been that long. I do have 2 years of engineering work experience after all. That 6 years is certainly better than having to start work as a teacher after only 4, for the next 40 years. Because by that time I know I would feel like I'm 80.

**on a side note: this is the 15th year of having the Internet in Alberta. Wasn't this world really a much more beautiful, wonderful place without having to be soo dependant on computers, e-mail, and the net???