November 27, 2008

Bad Habit: A Lesson on Driving Etiquette

Don't race the car next to you when waiting at a red light. You will only end up right next to them 2 blocks later. Don't start breaking for stop signs and red lights 3 meters before the stop line. Stop at stop signs - don't just slow down & keep going. Don't stop 3 feet into the crosswalk. If you see the Flashing Hand, don't step on it. Speeding up through intersections is not a good idea. Especially when there's a crosswalk in front of St. Richard's School or the University Hospital. Don't enter the far lane while making a turn. Make the turn then signal to get over. Signal. Always. That means put the damn' phone down. That includes texting. Don't tailgate and don't cut people off. That's just rude. Don't cross solid white lines in order to get to the turning lane a few seconds faster. Your time is not that important. Don't block intersections. Don't enter lanes when you know that the person in that lane is speeding so fast that they will have to RAM on the breaks to stop from hitting you. Enter the lane after they pass. Don't drive 80 when the speed limit's 50. Don't drive 140 when the speed limit's 100. Don't drive with your brights on in the middle of the city. It's not the least bit necessary. Don't let your 16 year old drive a 40 thousand dollar truck. Don't get into fits of rage about the redneck truck driver asshole that wouldn't ever read this blog. Don't drink & drive. I am pretty sure that after 2 drinks, 90% of people would be safer to Not Drive. Drive as little as possible. And when you do, don't kill animals. Don't kill people. Don't get killed. I like you.
Hey man you know I'm really okay
The gun in my hand will tell you the same
But when I'm in my car
Don't give me no crap
Cause the slightest thing
and I just might
When I go driving I stay in my lane
But getting cut off makes me insane
I open the glove box
Reach inside
I'm gonna wreck this fuckers ride tonight
I guess I got a bad habit
Of blowin' away
Yeah I got a bad habit
And it aint goin away
Well they say the road's a dangerous place
If you flip me off
I'm the danger you'll face
You drive on my ass
Your foot's on the gas
And your next breath is your last
Drivers are rude
Such attitudes
But when I show my piece
Complaints cease
Somethings odd
I feel like I'm god

finish it yourself.

November 23, 2008

Punk Parallels and Perpendiculars

Ch. 40

Punk Parallels and Perpendiculars

The degree to which music has an impact on a person's life is likely related to how much this person really thinks about the music they are listening to how it is reflected in his or her own life.

A person will either bop to the beat of the latest Rise Against recording or else swoon to the sexy stylings of Justin Timberlake or Kanye West. Snoop Dogg may inspire you to light a doob or Slipknot might make you wanna tailgate the hell out of the car in front of you. But within the vast realm of music generally classified as punk, it is important to realize it as one of the more pensive genres. Go ahead and argue back that TOOL or SOAD writes thougtful music... and I would have to agree. Go ahead and argue that NOFX songs like "See Her Pee"or "Fun Things to Fuck (if you're a winner)" are exceptionally juvenile, and I would have to agree. But depending on the type of punk we are talking about, the messages that these songs carry are likely the most direct and explicit way of demanding a change out of ourselves and eachother in a repressive and injust world.

But before anything else, I wanna talk about a few shows. First: October 2007 - The Circle Jerks with Ignite and Pennywise headlining. In the height of popularity, The Circle Jerks were hated by cops. They would love to shut shows down when the kids got a little rowdy. But the only reason the kids got rowdy is because of the passion they felt towards the message that the band was singing about (Reganism, for example). So the pigs would pull out their batons and bust open as many heads as possible, as requested by the local governmental authorities, in order to surpress the kids from thinking that they even had a chance of changing the school of thought in which the way that society was being run. Keith Morris and his 5 foot dreads was good enough to skank around for a solid 80-90 min set and really get the blood flowing for the crowd.

When the lesser known band IGNITE came out, there stood the same group of motivated and challenging youth standing & singing, just as they did with the Circle Jerks 15 years ago. This time though, the pigs carry tasers and tasers kill people so the rowdiness was deterred.

Ignite is an incredible band that sings about historic communist oppression in Eastern Europe, as well as perhaps more local issues like domestic violence, poverty, strength, and brotherhood. The passion & the power with which they sing, though, is just what the doctor ordered for a world that can only be SHOCKED into action, with such clear, concise, and important lyrics in each & every song.

Pennywise? Well, really what can I even say. Go buy a record. Then you'll know. But in my notes, I have "greed" written down, so I think that this is one (of many) important songs by pennywise which encapsulates the way that society operates souly based on greed. I would daresay that this is one of the root causes/fundamental problems with what there is in the world today. They never played it though. The Pennywise set list, I either have published somewhere else or jotted down, but a pennywise fan could probably guess about 90% of the songs they played that night.

The second show I wanna mention was last summer when I saw Edmonton local band "The Wednesday Night Heroes play with D.O.A. and Rancid. This was a punk show just the same, but it was raw. It was sloppy & scratchy - violent & loving.

The Heroes are local but have done well to represent our city - maybe not as much as SNFU, but hey that's just an opinion.

D.O.A. was soooo tight! How could you not be, after playing together for 25 years +? It was aggressive and vulgar - not as much bodily fluids being sprayed in the air as the guttermouth show - but maybe it just seems that way cuz the Agricom has a hellofa lot more air space. Joey Shithead continues to tour small Canadian towns, representing a set of values in which soooo many shared through the mid-80s, and a certain amount now try to continue to live by.

Rancid, the big hellcat, spent the show entertaining its audience with endless wartime imagery on the screen over the stage. It included video from WWI & II and every depiction of armaments in any shape or form. It was an anti-war show, but unlike anti-flag, Tim Armstrong didn't lecture us about anything we should or should not be doing, but simply let the images from the atrocities of war do that for him. They played I Wanna Riot & I danced.

Aside from these 2 great shows (I mean, these blogs are fucking horribly long anyways...) let me just generalize a few more things before getting to my point.

The fun punk bands (Less Than Jake, Gob, The Mad Caddies, Slick Shoes, The Bouncing Souls...) have just as much to offer to society as the more politically motivated (say, satanic surfers, propagandhi) bands. Aside from their "let's party" attitude, these bands still sing to kids for the most part, about the tough things about being a kid. If anything, these songs induce passion in the kids, and passion is where it starts. It was No Use For A Name who opened for NOFX last summer.

The angry punk bands like Death By Stereo, Blood For Blood (hardcore), Union 13, Raised Fist, The Suicide Machines, do an incredible job of REJECTING the mess we have made for ourselves and absolutely calling for action NOW. Blood for Blood speaks to the kids that have had a rougher upbringing, union 13 caters to the ethnic, repessed minorites, death by stereo gives the burb kids from socal an escape valve from the ludicrus lifestyle from being raised in the valley, and the suidice machines just dislikes government and status quo. but these bands, i think do the best job of getting kids moving, thinking, doing...

Straight up hardcore bands like suicidal tendencies, refused, sick of it all, H2O, and 98 Mute, do just the same as what the "angry bands" do, but with less screaming - mor
e ... yelling. Yay.


So the music we listen to will be largely dependent on 2 things: demographics & geographics.
Besides the kids that grew up watching Black Flag and TSOL on Huntington Beach, or Social Distortion in the OC or Death By Stereo, 20 years later, there wouldn't be a large reason for kids to listen to "underground" anti-system...anti-anything kind of music in these areas. Life was peachy. Similarly, South Beach Miami would be a more difficult place to find anti-authoritarian music. Sub-cultures and countercultures thrived more in places like nyc. boston. edmonton. That's right. Here. Bands are usually impressed with what a tight underground scene we have here, when they final tour all the way up to 53° lat. That's largely because our kids have not a hell of a lot to do. We have spikey-haired kids up here, some of which can be parallelled to the socal kids that come from (oil) money or overly-normal suburban families. The punk population in any region will be somewhat divided by the not-so-subtle differences like the crowd with its spikes & chains @ the rancid show or the crowd with its machismo and backward black ball caps @ the pw show. Despite this, we are united by a stronger - the STRONGEST force - a will & hope to see a brighter future.

So, What have we learned on the show tonight, Craig?

All of that has brought us to this:

Acceptable vs a RESPECTABLE lifestyle: a new way of thinking

Thanks to: the industrial revolution, adam smith's wealth of nations, fordism, taylorism, lawyers, and hollywood, north america has been consumed with consumerism. All of the tools were put into place that allowed the Western World to THRIVE off of material things, in which corporations got rich off of. Laws put into place ensured that these inanimate moneymakers are financially secured so that the minority few could get rich off of them. All of this turn-of-the-19th-Century activity, making the rich man richer had the effect of making the poor man poorer. Especially with Globalization and the such, the cheapest labour was exploited and continues to be exploited to this day. The results go beyond human effects - the environment gets dumped on and all of life is affected as a result.

Adolescents - youth who have yet to be corrupted by money, materialism, & that testosterone that makes the world go round - might find that punk rock outlet for a short period of a time, prior to having to invest in an education, house, job, or family (as these things all cost money).

But there exist great men like Dr. Greg Gaffin, Ian MacKaye, Keith Morris, Jello Biafra, and sure why not: Henry Rollins, who continually sound the message to youth (in speach or song) that they have the right to demand for something MORE from this world and that the system as it stands is a failure. They show how a 4 or 8 year punk rock stint can be MORE than just a phase: it can be a legitimate long-term lifestyle. Even if we aren't all just sopping up the royalty money that comes our way from being on Fat Wreck or Epitaph. We can be smarter in everything we do. We do not have to be belligerent, anti-intelligent "punks" that bust out windows, shave cats, and spraypaint cars. We do not have to be viewed by the whole of society as a "temporary but necessary, pain-in-the-arse acceptable counterculture outlet" but rather, change this perception of "punks" into something more --- something that gives our society hope in an obviously horribly failed system.

The revolution is beginning. I can feel it. People are noticing the state of environment, the state of life, and are starting to make changes in their lifestyles. As more and more people make these changes in their lives, they will continue to be pushed farther and farther to their breaking points as the population problem continues. Things will likely become very tense in coming years & decades and we will not be able to sustain this way of life. It will only be when things get as bad as they can possibly get will people be willing to finally come together and fight for something more from the powers that be. We will have to rise from the ashes and rebuild a system of equality and opportunity, and this will only happen when people wake up and find the passion necessary to be the change they want to see - that passion that is so essential in a punk.

Time for another piercing.

If you're a 15 year old girl, you'll love this.

I think I was in grade 8 when Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time" video was at the top of the charts on MuchMusic. Yowza. What a girl!! That grey skirt and white blouse with form-fitting school sweater... Thank you Mickey Mouse Club for giving a kid a chance. But outside of the naughtiness of the schoolgirl uniform, this music didn't really have much to offer to adolescent boys that were not unlike myself.
Years later (circa 2002) a Canadian Punk Rocker rose out of nowhere. Avril Lavigne was taking Canada - and the WORLD - by storm. It was hard even for us cool kids to dislike her first release "sk8er boi" when it hit the airwaves. The song had a lot to offer (a pretty dancer who likes a punk but was too proud to bring herself down to his level) and the girl that sang it had attitude. But then she got rich & famous & married fellow pop-punkster Mr. Sum 41. Next thing you know it, she exchanges her attitude and grit for blond hair extensions and a clothing line.
Other music that is commonly loved by 15 year old girls might include cd releases by Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. I grew out of my 15 year old girl stage by the time they got real popular, so I wouldn't really even know where to begin to comment, aside from that I am pretty sure that popstars that do porn aren't really the best role models for other 15 year old girls. I don't think that digitalizing a person's voice to death in order to make sure it is in key is really the same thing as being an amazing singer.
However there is one exception where a young female country vocalist is really doing a damn' fine job. This girl does it all. She writes her own songs, plays acoustic guitar solos, has the (second) cutest smile on this side of the earth and the curliest long blond hair I have ever seen. What talents, hey?! Taylor Swift likely sells more records to pre-teen girls than any other demographic out there (including 24 year old men), and is keeping some self-respect while doing it. She's the writer of the songs that speak so passionately to matters of the heart. Songs that I wish that I could be writing about, but with gender roles exchanged. I think Brad Paisley is the guy that has stepped up more than most others in that respect, so Thanks Brad. I think there are probably more 24 year old men that like Brad Paisley songs a little bit more than they like Taylor Swift songs; but what these guys fail to appreciate is hearing the beauty in the simplicity of her songs. The simple strumming banjo and that ohhhh soooo soft, sweet voice. Yeeeeaaaahh - I have a big crush on Taylor Swift. And she's not under the age of 18 anymore, so I don't even feel that guilty saying so.

"Take me back when our world was one block wide
I dared you to kiss me and ran when you tried
Just two kids,  you and I"

November 10, 2008

I Don't Wanna be a CBC Hippy

(Ch. 49)

Instead of drinking my face off on Halloween a few weeks ago, I went to a presentation that incorporated the (disaster of the) Alberta oilsands and water resource quality & depletion. It was put on by the Council of Canadians and had 3 guest speakers to address the 100 60 year olds in attendance, in addition to the 50 middle-aged people, and finally, the 10 people under 30.

The newly appointed United Nations' Senior Advisor to Water Issues, Maude Barlow, was the first to address the CoC for a 30 minute schpiel on water issues within our borders, and on the global scale. She talked about water as a commodity vs. water as a human right. Since I am currently working for a water utility who capitalizes on people's ability to buy water, it made me wonder more if I could be doing something better with my time. Sure, we all have yummy fresh cold tasty water from each of our taps if we live in the City of Edmonton, all for a relatively inexpensive price. But there are injustices nevertheless. Just look around. There's a difference in the colour of Edmonton lawns in August depending on what your postal code is. Different service lines in different locations might give you a shower with noticeably more pressure than your friend in a different part of the city - yet still, we will pay the same price. And I know that filling the hot tub each time will make a noticeable, if not significant increase to the water bill at the end of the month I fill it. And here in Edmonton, we have it good! I have done some reading on how privately owned & distributed water in various impovershed countries is essentially killing people. A friend recently sent me this link where they discuss how even the rain water was privatized: So what to do. I am young and fun and deserve to be going out, getting drunk & having a good time, right? Why is it that so much of my time is spent not drinking and laughing but instead spent thinking about what on earth am I doing here and why other people have ... the lives they have?! What gives?!
Aside from water privatization, Maude Barlow discussed the health impacts from water table contamination from the development in northern Alberta. She talked about the people dying - specifically Aboriginals surviving off of Lake Athabasca or ground water well tables nearby Tar Sands Development - from the rarest forms of cancer. Despite countless statistics and physical evidence, Fort Chipewyan Dr. O'Connor was accused of raising undue alarm by Health Canada. Eventually he had to flee the region if he wanted to keep is license, as the Canadian government denied to drop the charges even after countless reviews of the overwhelming evidence. Oii.

This evidence was reinforced by highly esteemed and well-published academics Dr. David Schindler from the UofA and Andrew Nikiforuk. Each of them had some terrificly horrifying statistics and visuals to share about Canada's water dilemma, especially when the oil industry compounds the degree of the problem like mad. The audience was captivated. Wiebo Ludwig's story was told from a moderately objective look by Andrew Nikiforuk in his book: Sabateur's: Wiebo Ludwig's Fight Against Big Oil so I knew a little about this guy's stance & reputation. As far as these well-trained and highly regarded experts in their fields are concerned, our water is in trouble. Enter Environmental Engineering Degree. Someone Please Help Me Put It To Use. IMPACT, right? We all want to have an impact.
I get out sometimes. It's not all just doom & gloom - reading non-fiction & watching the local news, and listening to various speakers forwarn us of an apocalypse. I get out to Rock Shows. I see bands. Last spring I remember seeing NOFX, SNFU, and a third metal or punk show all within a week. I even got down to Virgin Festival to watch The Hip, Matt Good, and City & Colour last July. I have seen African drumming circles, George Strait, Weird Al, and Celine Dion. It doesn't matter the type of music - as long as I get away from the doom & gloom once in a while. But.
Most recently, I went to a Justin Rutledge concert at Convocaton Hall. There, I was mildly suprised to see that same group of post-hippy burnouts that was at that forum on Halloween: a bunch of babyboomers & enlightened academia-type folk aging upwards of 45, with that arrogance in their stance which suggested that they really enjoy being a b-side alternative type character with better taste in music than the rest of those redneck closed-minded Albertans. This same "Linda Duncan Electorate" from the University area that I saw 3 weeks ago were happily tapping their feet and patting their laps to the beat as Justin splendidly strummed through an amazing set. Big deal? I suppose not. I didn't let that deter me from enjoying the hell out of myself for the duration of the show. Especially since my friend came with me so I didn't have to sit alone! But at the same time, I can't help but think that one day I will be one of these people. Sure, there were other young folks there but there were easily just as many Old Farts there, too. I don't wanna be an Old Fart. That's likely part of the reason why I keep on going back to punk shows!! And with this Iron Ring on my finger now, I am gonna be able to really punch some kids out real good @ the punk shows now too! But in all seriousness, I really do think that for as talented as Justin Rutledge (and his band) is, it's a shame more people weren't aware of his amazingness - like I said - only people that fall into a certain status/class and have that certain air of arrogance about them will be @ shows like this. I don't want to be this same kind of person in 20 or 30 years. I don't want to limit myself relying on CBC Radio for letting me know what the best in Canadian music is, or the most important social and environmental issues that Canadians face. I want to have some hope in our young people, such that they will pay attention to the important issues of the day. I want to find someone that understands the important issues of the day and for that person to try to keep me hopeful! I don't want to be the only less than 25 year old in attendance at a Council of Canadians meeting, and I wish that more common people would be exposed to the greatness of Justin Rutledge, rather than just sparing him for that elitist and enlightened few.
It's past 2. Time for bed.

November 8, 2008

Another Dead Soldier (Ch.9)

So it may be argued that the timing of this blog is inappropriate or completely unnecessary altogether. You see, Remembrance Day has come upon us once again,which means we have a day off to "remember" the sacrifices our forefathers had made for us in order to be living in a "free world". And my life is free, so no complaints there. Expensive, but free. "Thanks, pops!"
But since 9/11, the context of Remembrance Day has changed. Sure, there are a probably a lot of Canadians out there that may not know even know which of the World Wars that Remembrance Day commemorates historically, but really it's not so much about the historical wars anymore anyways. It has become a day to remember the sacrifices Canadians continue to make in Afghanistan, and peacekeeping missions around the world today. But for school age children, it means spending a day colouring red flowers and memorizing a portion of In Flanders Fields. Engineering students take it for a chance to get caught up on assignments and projects. Working adults attempt to arrange for some days off such that they can get away for a long weekend from the nauseating and exhausting daily grind that they have become so tired of. So what it comes down to is our veterans doing what they can to represent those of us who are just so worn out and busy living in this free world, in spite of diminishing health and enduring lifespans. An 18 year old in 1946 would be 80 today. That's a lot of time between then and now putting up with a lot of bullshit, especially when you think about how these heroes prevented naziism from taking over the world! So thank you under-appreciated senior citizen. I am sorry we couldn't be doing more for you now.

Ignite puts it best in their song Veteran:

Hey senior,
have you been taken past your prime,
have you been taken advantage of, are you forgotten, tired, and poor
by the ones you've voted for?
you're abandoned - so sorry - you're just a waste of their time,
you've been lied to once again,
they've paid you no mind.
But here in the Heartland, we will fill out a pretty good crowd for ceremonies at the Legislature or the Butterdome, old and young people alike, on the morning of the 11th. We are a soldier city after all. Just today, the movie tickets at the Grandin Theatre were discounted from $8 to $5 for military.
As of November 9th, 97 Canadians have died in Afghanistan since the "FRIENDLY FIRE" killing of the first four Canadians by our neighbors to the south in April 2002 (average age = 24.5). The most recently killed was 36 year old Scott Shipway who died in from a roadside bomb on 9/7/08. Why? A lot of girls I know simply love a guy in uniform - but I also know they love to see their loved one...alive.
Some of the sadder facts (as far as I'm concerned) is that soldiers aren't the only ones dying. Civilians, diplomats, aid workers, and children are losing their lives as a result of this war. Although I wouldn't ever dare to guess how many of these lives are lost by the hands of Canadians, I can't help but feel that if we didn't have our guys stationed there at all, we would be making less enemies, have more living, non-murdered people (including 97 of our own Canadians, and not face any more real threat to terrorism if we hadn't gone there in the first place in early 2002.
It's not like we need the oil.
Day to day, we seldom hear about any "progress" made either. Hell! When men die we hardly hear anything on the the headlines of the news anymore! So why are we there? Because Harper's the President's Little Stooge? A puppet?? Where's the leadership? 6 years is a long time to be fighting someone else's war. Think of the money that could have been spent on creating green energy jobs or social programs securing Canada a more prosperous future, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for recession to strike! With any luck, Obama will get his troops sent to the right country and we can bring our guys (and girls) home.
But even if we had a committed 2009 troop withdrawal date, like we hoped to have originally oh sooo many years ago, it doesn't change the fact that we have a Conservative government that allowed 97 Canadian families to endure the murder of their loved ones. It would be very interesting to see how many Canadians would get out to vote if the issue of continuing the war in Afghanistan was put on the ballot last October. I am guessing more than 60% of the people would come out. Policy change could really be represented in a democratic fashion (for a change).
In order for us to see a change in the country, the world, we have to start with our kids. This is just one more thing that I am starting to really get frustrated with is the indoctrination of Canadian youth as per what society dictates that is so damn' important for them to know. If we had a more enlightened youth population that was raised with values that will help our Country to have the vision required to be truly a world leader, then a thorough restructuring of public education is required. A more tolerant nation founded on traditional/historical Canadian values can still appreciate the wars that Canada has been in and ways to mitigate conflict in years to come. But that blog is still a topic for another day.
In the meantime, let's just try to acknowledge the state of the world, with all of its wars and killing and torture and genocide. Let's think back to grade school where we would sit on the lap of Santa Claus and wish for World Peace - and a street hockey net. Let's think of those conflict zones like Somalia,Sudan, Georgia,Tibet, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Let's appreciate that people are in fact dying for us to stay here in a free (expensive) Canada, allowing for us to continue to do what we do. And since that's really what this all comes down to, let's start acting nicer towards eachother here at home and hope that for the love of God, we will never have to be the ones who have to go and kill people to defend the way we live.

A little more with the music:
No Use For A Name writes: "How many weapons, how many do we need? What about the economy, what about the economy?" in Fields of Agony.
Anti-Flag comes to town every few years and yells at our kids about people dying over oil, without even having the slightest clue what city they are in - a city where people have been dying for oil for the past 60 years in this region. Silly punks.
In 1993, Strung Out wrote one of my favorite songs on their "Skinny Years" album: "Support your troops but not their cause. Your Leader's a desperate man!"
Whereas CRASS recorded a 42 second chant: "Fight War Not Wars" somewhere between the late 70s and early 80s.
And lastly, In 2002, Bad Religion sang that there will "be sorrow no more when all soldiers lay their weapons down / Or when all kings and all queens relinquish their crowns / Or when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves!!"

November 3, 2008

Barely Breathing

Barely Breathing (Ch. 48)

Air. 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 1% Argon. Anything else (like CO2) amounts to less than 1% of its total composition. At sea level, the whole combination amounts to only 1.2 kg/m³. That would be the same as your 1 liter jug of chocolate milk in the fridge only weighing 1.2 grams. How come that sometimes then, this very substance which is responsible for so much of life, so much of the volume of our planet above the surface of the earth and the oceans, feels like it is just crushing us?

Before any industrialization the air must have been something like "a little breath of Heaven" as Philadelphia Cream Cheese is like "a little taste of Heaven". I wonder if its density was lower before it got just so packed with particulate and stench? But without going into too much depth about air pollution, heavy industry, and all that wonderful stuff, let me just ask you: I am the only one that feels like this air you and I breathe is just incredibly stifling?

It doesn't matter if I am in a cool, temperature controlled room with the fan humming steadily next to the open window or in a large auditorium at the U of A (with heated door handles) with 150 keen students breathing a deathly stagnant air -- exhaling excessively in their excited chatter with eachother. It doesn't matter if I am walking across Northland's pavement while at Capital Ex in July breathing 30°C dry, greasy, sweaty air or walking through the same parking lot in February through miles and miles of cars emitting upwards of 20 mL of exhaust every minute* on my way home from an Oiler's game. It's just so hard to breath sometimes.


In my hockey days there were signs everywhere in the rinks that read "Athlete's need clean air" to deter parents from smoking in the rinks. Yet now, on that same walk back to the car (whether it be after an Oiler's game or a KC Knights game), the second that the door of the building is breached, the lungs are breached too. I can feel it killing me with every breath. Just as it has killed at least one person you have loved as well. Now with smoking gone from restaurants, bars, and bingo halls, kids aren't exposed to any smoke hardly ever at all unless by choice/parents, and I can breathe at least a little bit easier now that I know that this kind of poison is being at least somewhat mitigated.

When I am in the lumber yard at 1 of my 2 jobs, I think a lot about the role I am playing in pulp mills destroying forests faster than they would be if I wasn't there. I spend too much time thinking about how wonderful Banff and Jasper are, with its fresh mountan pine air and the (moderately/minimally) controlled development and expanse of these towns. I am baffled by the amount of trucks that idle in the waiting line and continue to idle while loading. Why not just flick the wrist and turn the effing engine off?? Ignorant Rednecks. I look at the young uneducated, unmotivated labour force with me there in the yard that don't seem to have a hard time breathing at all, as they head out for their smoke break. I think about the gas I am burning to get me to this second job, as well as how stupid and pathetic the Edmonton Transit System is if a more motivated/ money savvy person wanted to breathe easier while relaxing on the bus to at least 1 of their 2 jobs instead of having the stress and expense of driving Edmonton's dangerous roads.

So I attribute my inability to enjoy breathing anymore to my having a conscience. I have this stupid sense of caring about what the world is going to be like in 20 years and in 50 years. I spend too much time following stupid policies that affect Big Industry and Foreign Exploitation and have resigned myself to the fact that immediate and drastic action needs to be taken, for the sake of my ability to breathe, if not for the sake of our world. A sense of hopelessness cannot help but be felt when a person considers the net effects of urbanization & population growth, the industrialization of China, oil depletion, and the water crisis. If you think that global warming, oil depletion, and species' dying is just a bunch of hype made for the sake of fear mongering by a bunch of hippies, then I suppose we have bigger issues to deal with first. Otherwise, I personally don't know how you could have such an easy time breathing and I wish for you to show me how.

But aside from the stresses of the world - even if the difficulty you have breathing is a result of tension at home, school, or the office - I hope that you can find in your heart a way to acknowledge some of the biggest problems that we face as human beings. It really will be like Mordor again one day, especially if we get that next big drought, where we won't even have the freshness of spring showers to look forward to anymore.

Will you be my Frodo Baggins?

*for example: it takes a person 10 minutes to travel 2 km out of a parking lot (=12km/hr) and a fuel efficiency of 9L/100km (=18mL/min) and most cars on the roads won't get that kind of fuel efficiency.