So I buy organic milk. It is generally glorious, but sometimes it sours before it ought to. I regularly forget about this, and try to consume it anyway. Usually I try to cook the milk for consumption and it will curdle in the saucepan, thus sparing me from actually having to taste rotten milk. Tonight, however, I wanted milky tea. So I made tea, poured a generous dollop of milk into my mug and wandered over to the computer. Then I tasted my tea. Worst. Tea. Ever. “But Wait!” I thought “maybe it is just that I don’t really like this tea because it is not one of my favourite kinds.” So I tasted it again. Still. Worst. Tea. Ever. So I wandered to the kitchen, poured it down the drain, and started boiling more water for more tea. While waiting, I decided that I should really taste the milk (even though I abhor milk in its natural form due to childhood milk related trauma) to make sure that it was the milk that was off and not the tea, since the tea really isn’t my favourite thing in the world. So I poured an ounce, steeled my courage, and sipped. Turns out it wasn’t the tea. Milk’s off.
It has been some years since I paid much attention to the Catholic church, but when there is a major policy shift welcoming people of other faiths into its dry, bony arms, even I sit up and take notice. As the news has been telling me for days, the Catholic church has welcomed some Anglicans into its fold. I was a bit surprised to hear this, since it echoed ecumenical tendencies of JPII that I assumed would have died under this pope. What with his reputation as a rabid fascist who adheres strictly to dogma. As a cardinal, the man was nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” for this exact reputation. I know people (far more devout than I, mind) who have left the church because of this man’s election and direction. He denies women the priesthood, denies that contraception might be a good thing for some people, denies that condoms should be given out to help stem the tide of HIV/AIDS that is decimating a continent, denies the blessing of civil unions. I could go on. But I don’t really need to. As the above CBC story states, people are leaving the Anglican church because “many Anglicans have become disillusioned with the more open stance of their church in recent years, including its ordination of women, election of openly gay bishops and blessing of same-sex unions.”
Know what? You can have those people, Pop Benedict XVI. Open your arms to the hating haters and watch my contemporaries leave the church in droves. Because we don’t believe that only men can understand and deliver the word of God, or that Every Sperm Is Sacred above and beyond the life of the people creating it, or that gay people are an “abomination”, or that hate and intolerance should trump love and spiritual community. You take those people. We will keep spreading the love.
I totally maintain that translation is an art. In this case, what the product does (remove makeup, presumably) and what it claims to do are … a little different.
Water Démaquillante 3 in 1 Phyl’ Activ with fluid ultra texture was especially designed to remove the face and eyes in only one gesture, without rinsing.
The link here.
There has been muttering in the press of late about anti-spam legislation and the do-not-call list that Canada instituted a year ago. For the most part, the list is ineffective because it doesn’t really apply to any business to which one thinks it should apply and the anti-spam legislation seems to be going to same way. These pieces of legislation are gutted before they are ever made into law, most likely because it pits the interests of big business against the interests of average people. Who, of course, always lose. I mean, we lose when it comes to important things, like business taking lives and poisoning our environment (to name just a few. I could go on, but it is depressing and I don’t wanna). Why on earth would our interests be deemed important when it comes to what is, after all, a minor annoyance?
All of this to put into context a phone call I got at work the other day. I am currently working as a secretary, and I get all sorts of odd calls that are mysterious in nature. Generally they go something along the lines of “Oh hi, this is so-and-so, I am calling regarding something, please call me back”. Yesterday’s message was no exception, and I had to listen to it twice to get that what Abigail was calling about was “your debt problem”. So of course I assumed it was a creditor looking for someone until I listened to the message again and deduced that Abigail was calling to talk to me about my debt-collection problems. So it seems my telemarketing caller was actually haphazardly calling (people? institutions? work numbers?) to purchase bad debts. Which, I’ve gotta say, seems like bad business policy. How many people are just holding onto debts? Even if I were holding a debt, would Abigail be interested in the twenty bucks that I had loaned to a friend a week ago? If not, if this is all a sham, what is Abigail looking for?
Blog, I have neglected you. For this, I am sorry. I have been busy, but now I shall now rectify this atrocious behaviour.
Last night I went to the Punk Show! Hurrah! The Bouncing Souls were in town! Hurrah! The GIT and I got tickets a while ago, but he is out of town, sadly. So I canvassed my friends, and one agreed to go with me, and we bullied his lady friend into going, too! I loved it, had a blast, and cannot wait until they come again next summer!
So we showed up for the show at about 9:30, because although the start time for the show was 6pm, there were three opening bands which I am just not hardcore/patient enough to stand around for. I know, I know, I am probably missing awesome local music, but I just can’t bring myself to do it! When we arrived, Youth Brigade (good-not-great, IMHO. But then, I am picky) were playing: we got some drinks and spied the crowd, playing the concert variant of my favourite game – what is their relationship? In this particular variant of the game, the player attempts to determine who brought whom to the show. Sometimes it’s really easy to figure out (say, the punk boy with his genuinely-trying-but-still-kinda-preppy girlfriend, or the punk girl accompanied by same), but my own example reminds me not to judge too hard. Most people looking at me and the two friends that I was with would NEVER guess that I was the ticket buyer and the one about-to-be-squealing with glee when the Bouncing Souls finally took the stage.
Youth Brigade finished, and we (having smoked while everyone else was watching the band) staked out spots in the middle of the floor. These spots were carefully chosen to be at the forward-half mark of the crowd. This is a very important spot to try to get – you want to be far enough away from the stage that you not are immediately drawn into any mosh pit that starts, but close enough that you can join in if you feel the need to fling yourself into a pit of sweaty, punching, kicking, pushing, flailing bodies. The first two rows near the pit are the best, because the people are not so thick there as they are further back, and you get the occasional flailer trying to punch you in the face. If you’re lucky, some burly young man will make it his responsibility to block the punches that are aimed directly at your face and deflect the bodies that come hurtling out of the pit at you. Thus, you are left to push the occasional straggler, jump up and down like a crazy thing, and generally squeal with glee. GOOD TIMES.
Sadly, this did not work out so well. One of the two friends I was with does not deal so well with crowds, so we made our way to the back, where there were tables (for putting empty beer bottles on, presumably) and thus a little space. Crisis averted, I thought. I found us a good spot.. The Tiny Blonde One was happy, I could see the band and still feel the crowd of other appreciating bodies, all is good. EXCEPT, as it turns out, that I had chosen to stand beside the biggest loser ever in existence, who decided that I was the most likely piece of tail of the evening (why? WHY did he decide this?), and proceeded to do his drunken best to woo me. He did a very bad job.
Our conversation ought never to have taken place, I have decided. It began when the bouncers (who were from all appearances belligerent jackasses. Hint: authority figures are generally responded to badly at punk shows. Especially fake authority figures who have taken so many steroids that they have no penis and only rage left to fill that void. But I digress…) ousted some dude for crowd surfing. Now, there are signs posted that s clearly state no crowd-surfing, no something else that I don’t remember, and no fighting. But this is a punk show, my darlings, and people is gonna crowd surf. Just the way it is. Sadly, this particular crowd sent the surfer right into the not-so-loving (I’d imagine) arms of a bouncer, who started hauling the offender away. Now, the Bouncing Souls were not so ok with this. They stopped playing (cutting short a song, if I remember correctly) and attempted to convince the bouncers that it was a rock show, and that we were all just tryin’ to have a good time, etc. etc. They actually left the stage, at which point The Tiny Blonde One decided that she should pee and then smoke, since if the crowd rioted (we were like 20 minutes into the set at this point) she would be crushed. This, as it turned out was a bad idea, but more about that later.
The dude who had decided to engage me in conversation took the opportunity of the band breaking to strike up a conversation with the nearest female (viz, me). He asked what was going on – a pretty normal concert conversation – and I mentioned that I had just been telling my friend that I would riot if the band didn’t go on (joking, of course. Though I would have been angry, rioting is just not my style). He asked for my friend’s name, and then “smoothly” told me that he hadn’t caught mine (he had not asked, I had not offered), but I was too drunk at this point to keep any lies straight, so I gave our real names (Fool! Fool that I am!). The band resumed (they played Fulsome Prison Blues, which was neat) and this dude continued talking to me. He asked if my friend was going to “take you home and put his penis in you” (why? WHY?) then asked if same said friend was my boyfriend, asked my age when I told him that I had no idea who Mellincollin was, thought it was fantastic that we were the same age, and told me that “at least we had one thing in common” (ie, we both liked punk). At last! I thought, and quickly told him that the only reason I was there is that I had gotten tix with my boyfriend, but that he could not be there because he was away. He then started talking to me about his girlfriend (younger by two years) who thinks that he needs to “grow up, stop going to punk shows, and get a job”. I concurred with his girlfriend, though secretly I thought that his “girlfriend” was actually his “conscience”. Since, you know, he was obviously trying to sleep with me. I dropped the “my boyfriend” card again, and the dude finally turned his attention from me to my friend, who was texting his lady friend, at this point outside and smoking.
I found out later that when the Tiny Blonde One had tweeted that she was watching glass get broken, it meant that some dude fell through glass doors onto her lap. The bouncers had finally managed to eject the crowd surfer (who was drunk and belligerent), but not without being followed by a small mob (egged on by the performers’ displeasure at a fan getting kicked out for such a minor offense) who were also drunk and belligerent. So about halfway down the 20-some-odd stairs down to the front door, the young man decides to throw a punch, the bouncer pushes him away (not wanting to be punched in the face and forgetting, one hopes, that they were on stairs) and ends up pushing this guy down the stairs. Bad news. This is all taking place in the middle of the party area in my town, so the cops are never far away, and they show up almost immediately. But at this point, the drunken belligerent dude has fallen through a glass door and is on my friend’s lap, so they immediately think that she is in cahoots. Fortunately there are like 2 other people smoking, so she has witnesses that she does not know this guy, but the cops won’t let her back into the show – either she goes with them to give a statement, or she leaves. She opted for leaving. We stayed for the rest of the show.
Meanwhile, the drunk dude who had been hitting on me noticed my friend texting his lady-friend, and tried to shut his phone (this did not work, since my friend has an iPhone) because (he managed to drunkenly indicate) my friend should be watching the show, not texting. Unlike his ass, who talked to me for most of the second half of the set, fully wrecking it for me. ALSO unlike his ass, who moments later decided that he would show off his slight of hand tricks to my friend. Being drunk, of course, this went badly. Shortly after this we escaped into the pit, which was nuts – I didn’t dance, just stood there and allowed the waves of bodies to smush me around. Covered in other people’s sweat (in a good way), I wandered over to the merch table where I spent way too much on band goods (Hey! I want them to come back!), then left. All traces of the belligerent dude, drunk dude, bouncers and cops were gone, along with the Tiny Blonde One. I am sorry, Tiny Blonde One. Next time, screw the punk show. The gods are trying to tell you not to go to them, I think.
One of the disastrous effects of the rise of Wikipedia—for me at least—has been the gradual demise of wonder . Used to be there was stuff I was curious about. No longer. With an infinity of information, greater than I could ever consume, available always at my fingertips, the beer-fueled bet that the Guinness Book was purportedly founded to settle has lost much of its appeal. Don’t get me wrong: global and universal access to reliable information is an unambiguous gain for humankind. Wonder, though, I was fond of.
This might be why I’ve been so fascinated, recently, by binaural beats. The idea is this: one frequency is played in one ear, another slightly different frequency in the other. Because of the slight difference, a “beating” is perceived by the brain, even though, strictly speaking, it does not exist. (This phenomenon will be familiar to anyone who has tuned a musical instrument, though those beats are quite real.) The claim is that these frequencies, if carefully calibrated, will “entrain” your brainwaves to a desired “frequency” to match those established long ago by clinicians as indicative of certain mental states. And people, obviously, are interested: the iTunes App Store, now one of the largest software economies in the world, is lousy with hucksters hawking binaural beats for myriad ends. Jakub Kotur’s Mind Wave ($1.99), for instance, was one of the App Store’s early success stories, charting in the top ten apps downloaded for the first month of the Store’s functioning. It claims that binaural beats can treat, well, pretty much anything—from speeding sleep to staying alert, from losing weight to quitting smoking, and even a setting that will make its listener “crazy high.” If you’ve got a health problem, Mind Wave can probably address it.
For obvious reasons, this set my Bullshit Detector blinking.
From the annals of history and the dregs of my memory comes this story (yes, I am short on material for this blog. Already. Whatever, this story is awesome):
I used to be a waitress. I liked it – there were good bits and bad bits, good people and bad people. You know. A job. I liked that people came in cranky and left happy, enjoyed my recommendations, introduced me to their tables as “one of the brightest students I have ever taught”. But I especially like the stories.
So one morning I was wandering around the restaurant getting things ready for opening, and humming “Sex and Candy” (Remember Marcy Playground? Also, incidentally, I am almost always humming something). One of the cooks heard me, and said something along the lines of “I liked that song!” to which I replied of course he did, everyone liked that song. We continued talking about it, and through the conversation he enlightened me to the fact that the titular “candy” was actually referring to heroin (I didn’t like the song enough to know any of the lyrics other than the chorus), and that the song was about some dude who walks in on his girlfriend boinking some dude, both of whom are high on heroin. He then comes out with “You know, an ex-girlfriend did something like that to me once” and then proceeds to tell me about the time, when he was in cooking school, that he came home from work and his then girlfriend was high on weed, sitting on a couch watching a movie with their friend. I of course had to ask how that was at all similar to the aforementioned scenario, and he replied that the mutual friend was a dude AND they had smoked the last of the pot. At this point I could no longer contain my laughter, and had to walk away. Because those two situation are TOTALLY ALIKE. Totally.
 Turns out not, really.
All appearances to the contrary, I am a bit of a Luddite. I do not fear or loathe technology, per say, but I am by no means competent with it. When something goes horribly wrong with my computer, I turn it off and hope that the problem goes away. Whenever we move, the GIT (AKA my loving conjoint) deals with all of the wiring. Which is not necessarily simple, and is sometimes more complicated than others, because I insist on being able to listen to the radio in the kitchen. At one point, we had two stereos wired together to allow me to do just that. I still call my dad when something goes horribly wrong in the house and the GIT is in the field. Honestly, changing light bulbs is trying for me (what wattage? Does it matter? Will things explode if I choose poorly? Which base?). My life is fraught with technological difficulties.
Which is why I have been harassing my friends for a while to advise me on the best way to get my music from vinyl and onto computer. I have been resisting this step for a while, because I like my vinyl. I like cleaning, flipping, having to listen to songs of which I am not-so-fond because it is really just not worth the effort to attempt to skip the track. I love shopping for records, perusing 50 cent bins, finding weird crap that I purchase based on cover art alone (this generally works out for me), and feeling like the coolest kid in town because I just spent 2 hours flipping through records, deciding which ones I REALLY wanted (Peaches or Dusty Springfield? The High-Tops or Johnny Poi?), taking them home and being either delighted or terribly disappointed in the record. I like asking for vinyl at shows, and the conversations that ensue with other concert goers and/or the merch dudes.
However, the one REALLY BIG disadvantage to records is that (however much you love the obscure music that you have found) it is decidedly not portable. The GIT got into MiniDiscs years ago, and it is possible to copy from vinyl onto the MiniDisc, so we have been doing that for the last 8 or so years. But all technology eventually dies, and his MiniDisc player is broken, and mine is starting to do that thing where the earphones need to be plugged in just so in order that both earphones produce sound. And, since MiniDisc technology has been outpaced (replaced?) by MP3 players and their like, it is time to digitize my music.
Yesterday I took matters into my decidedly inept hands and started researching software that will allow me to get music onto the compy. And I think I have it figured out. I think. Maybe. We shall see. In the meantime, however, I needed to purchase the appropriate cables to hook the turntable up to the computer. Which brings me to the point of this post: my foray into the world of buying technological apparatus.
I arrive at my local technology store to be confronted with a pile of teenagers working. (Which, I mean, whatever. We all had jobs when we were teens, and these dudes know more about their product than I do. I mean, presumably they do, since I have already established that I rarely have any kind of a clue about what I am actually doing with technology.) I go to the corner where all of the cables are (I am familiar with this corner as my cat is a cable-eating terror) and stare blankly at the wall. I know EXACTLY what I am looking for, since I know a little bit about my record player (enough to make it function, as is my want), and I have spent all morning researching this process. I want a wire that has a red jack and a white jack on one end, and one single jack (to go into the microphone plug on the computer) on the other end. But the wall is covered in wires, and I really don’t want to spend all day inspecting the wires, so I ask a young man for help. Our conversation, goes something like this.
ChokeCherry: “Hi, I’m looking for a cable to hook my turntable up to my computer.”
Store Guy: “Oh yeah, I know exactly what you need. This way.” Leads me away from the cable she needs to the USB cables, and chooses one from, the shelf. “Now this…”
ChokeCherry: “O, no, I don’t need a USB cable – my turntable doesn’t have a USB port. I need a cable to plug into my pre-amp and the microphone jack on the computer.”
Sotre Guy: walking back to where I was looking in the first place, choosing one of the cables from the shelf “Oh, right, ok, well, then you need this cable.”
ChokeCherry: “Well, yes, except that I need a cable with two thingies on one end (a red and a white), and one on the other end, for the microphone jack.”
Store Guy: choosing another cable from the shelf “Right, ok, then you want this one.”
ChokeCherry: “Perfect! Yes! That’s it. Now, do you have one that is longer than three feet, because three feet is NOT the distance between my turntable and computer.”
Store Guy: choosing a 6 foot version of the same cord “Yup.” Now at counter, ringing things in. “Do you need anything else while you’re here? 9-Volt batteries? Everyone needs 9-Volt batteries”
ChokeCherry: “No, thanks. I do use 9-Volt batteries, but I have rechargeable ones. They are better for the planet.”
Store Guy: Ringing transaction through, about to bag my cable, even though I have a nice big bag on my shoulder.
ChokeCherry: “O, and I don’t need the bag either, thanks”
Story Guy: “Wow. Rechargeable batteries, no bag … you must really care about the planet.”
ChokeCherry: Thinks: “You mean the planet that I live on? The only one we have?” Aloud: “Yeah … have a good day!” Leaves store.
In retrospect, I am not sure why I found this exchange so amusing. It was nice to feel competent while shopping for technology, I guess. Of course, I have yet to find out whether or not it works, because I spent last night cleaning cat puke out of my bedclothes rather than downloading software and making my music digital. Stupid cat.
 Before you suggest that I just download all of the music that I have on vinyl from the internet rather than copying my records, allow me to assure you that much of the music that I have on vinyl is just not findable on the internet. Or at least, it is not findable by someone of my technological ineptness.
 Although I did hear a rumour about a record player that went in one’s car. Apparently the cartridge was super heavy to prevent skipping, which inevitably ruined the record anyway. This is all rumour, mind. I have no evidence that these things actually existed.
I love the CBC. I listen to it all the time, as anyone who has been around me for more than 10 minutes knows. While listening to CBC Radio 1 this morning I heard that a Transport Canada Publication was used by the CIA to define the limits for yet another method of “interrogation”: Water dousing. Apparently this is essentially putting people in cold water for an extended period of time. For up to six hours, according to the CBC (read the article here).
I think it is important to note, here, that I really don’t think that our government is responsible for this. Canada’s intentions were good, and Canada’s actions were good. It is so truly not the government’s fault that information published in order to SAVE lives was used to ruin them instead. What got me to write this post is the fact that Canada’s New Government is purportedly not going to bring this up with the Sates when next our two governments meet. Unacceptable. Surely we could at least let the States know that we think that they have put a well-intentioned publication to nefarious use, and that we are sorely disappointed that they would look to us to refine their “interrogation” techniques.
So write a letter expressing your disappointment (when I get mine drafted, I will post it for ease of cutting and pasting). Your MP can be located by postal code (yes, email addresses are there), or if you already know who your MP is, send them snail mail on the Hill. The best part? You don’t even have to pay for postage. If you send it to their constituency office, though, I think you have to use a stamp. In any event, if you’re fascinated by standards of address, here is a fun website. And want to know if your MP ought to be addressed as Ms/Mr or The Honourable? You can find that out here.
* * *
Update: My letter to my MP (with certain crucial factors removed)
August 27, 2009
Honourable (your MP here)
Member of Parliament for (your riding here)
House of Commons
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss (your MP’s name here),
It was with dismay this morning that I heard on the CBC radio that the Transport Canada publication entitled “Survival in Cold Waters: Staying Alive” was used by the CIA to set the limits for their water dousing “interrogation” techniques. I understand that once information has been published, no author has control over how their document is put to use, and I do not feel any shame or embarrassment on behalf of my government’s publication. In fact, I am proud that our government cares enough for its people that it would produce such a pamphlet in the hopes of saving the lives of people who are exposed to cold waters, either recreationally or professionally.
Imagine, then, my dismay that the government which produced such an admirable publication is the same government that is hesitant to speak out when the disseminated information is put to nefarious use. I would ask you to encourage our government to at least address this issue with the USA when next our representatives meet, if only to express our sincere disappointment that information that was intended to save lives was instead used to make them a living hell. We may not be able to control who uses the information or to what ends, but we can certainly make it clear that we expect our neighbors, allies and friends to not torture people, something that I feel our government (certainly of late) has not made sufficiently clear.
I’m feeling lazy today, so here are some links in lieu of anything requiring thought. They feature Kate Bush (who I have never seriously been able to get into, despite my best intentions), singing what I consider to be her tour de force, Wuthering Heights.
Here: Music video
And then again here: Red Dress version
I think that I like version two better, because she is ACTUALLY WANDERING ABOUT THE MOORS, singing. Amazing.
Now, let the debate about Wuthering Heights begin. Is it a good book? Did you enjoy it? Want to huck it across the room? Did you think it was a tragic tale about the nefarious influence of evil in people’s lives? Or did you think it was a love story (which evidently is a valid reading, although I thought it was insane when I first heard it)? Tell me, ’cause I wanna know.
Incidentally, there is a great comic about the Brontë sisters here. But most of ya’ll probably already knew that.