October 2008

Yay for October

Somehow in my mad rush to enjoy fall (as evidenced by last months entry) I always manage to overlook my annual on again off again stint with a wide variety of ilnesses. It's something of a mystery to me how I manage to do it, but I do so here I am again nursing a wonderful headache/flu combination at 1:24 in the morning trying to write something poignant in an effort to pass a couple of hours before taking another doomed run at sleep.

On a side note, if you're feeling brave read this sentence and then look away and try to spell poignant.

Don't feel bad, it's actually quite impossible and I've done extensive scientific research and testing to prove the point.

On a side note, there is no such website as www.dictionary.ca, it's just a generic search page url holder thingee.

A damn tragedy that.

I have serious concerns for the survival of the English language and it's Canadian subset. The odds are looking more and more in favour (that's right, favour) of it being assimilated by the American language.

Which would be a great tragedy in my mind. Rome is without a doubt starting to show flames as opposed to the dull smolder it's been working on for the last four years and the idea that one of the things left behind when it finally does collapse is the inability to muster the effort to add a "u" when there should be one is quite tragic.

Mind you, if history has anything to show us it's that in the next few hundred years the American language may not even be around any more.

I mean, outside of medical shows and unbelievably pretentious snots who always try to make themselves sound smarter than they are by finding reasons to throw some Latin into conversation when was the last time you heard someone actively speaking Latin?

Unless you hang out with PH’ds. They are known to bust out the latten now and then, but really they’re using it to name a species of something and if we were to be truly honest with ourselves, they’ve deserved it. We gotta cut some slack there.

Anyways, Yay for October. It is and always will be the month closest to my heart.

You, Yeah You...

Sigh.

Really? Do I really have to go over this again? I’ve made it pretty clear that it absolutely drives me up the wall (where I generally stay until the source of discomfort walks away). Usually people like this are so self absorbed that if they’re still there after a while they very rarely have the wherewithal to realize that you have vanished from the wall and are now off to get the gun from your glove box.

Here’s why I hate these things.

If you lie to me and I find I out down the road (which I usually do) whatever it was that you lied about will be in my memory for a very long time, usually resurfacing on days when you need help moving, or you need someone to watch the kids, or you need a new kidney or if you need me to… Well, lets just say that any sort of help from me will be iffy at best.

Second of all, if you really think that you can get a few untruths past me, you should know I’m not easily fooled, and if you lie to my face I can usually tell after just a couple of minutes after having met you. I’m no Christopher Walken (a la suicide kings), but I am pretty good.

In fairness, if it’s important enough in your head and I really don’t need to know I’m ok with that. But don’t lie about things that I may need to know, and in the name of all that is holy, I beg of you only one thing. If you’re going to lie do it well, if I can see through it without even the slightest effort that doesn’t help your situation at all. While lying to me demonstrates that you don’t respect who I am, lying badly demonstrates the same lack of respect, but you’ve added in the further insult to my intelligence.

There, glad I got out of the way.

Now for the manipulation…

With the sudden explosion of management positions available I’ve noticed a trend these days. People no longer talk to each other. One of them is always trying to manage the other. Sometimes they both are. Now having spent some time in several of Canada’s larger companies I can say with a reasonably high level of confidence that most people continue on the behaviors that use in the workplace. So now, instead of personal relationships we have personal relationships being conducted like semi-professional relationships with many of the people we know. Seriously, next time you’re out with some of your friends keep an eye out for any soft bargaining or passive aggressive behavior. I guarantee that you will see at least some.

Which is one of the saddest things I can think of. People are no longer people, they are coworkers and subordinates in the office and then they get home and try to manage the people they come to. Soft Bargaining and passive aggressive behaviour. You’ll see it.

Usually people like that make me want to manipulate them into some well deserved reward for their selfishness and their inability to simply say what they think they need to see and then politely walk away after I’ve given an answer.

Contrast

The fumbling difference between black and white. Not polarized, but a progression if one chooses to see it that way. I read in National Geographic today that Russians see the world as made up of 20% black and white and 80% gray.

I can get behind that.

Years ago I used to be convinced that the Russians were ready to drop the worst nightmares of nuclear science on my family and I. I remember the end of the cold war, and I remember being in grade four discussing the ridiculousness of duck and cover (which was, in all fairness, spectacularly dated even then). I knew that if that button were pushed that no amount of ducking or covering would stop the inevitable end.

That is, after all, how inevitable works.

That never happened. It turned out that the Russians were just as nervous about dusting the planet as we were. Yes, it came close a couple of times, but either cooler heads or fate always intervened and I always found myself walking home underneath a missile free sky.

Which is more than can be said for many parts of the world these days.

As I was eating a sandwich a couple of days ago, it occurred to me that the greatest robbery of the richest country in the world has taken place directly in the spotlight of the world stage for the last five years, and there is no end in sight. Like a bad Disney film with dodgy animation, it goes on and on to the growing collective horror of the world.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, trying to paste together collections of random thoughts into something that not only passes for coherent, but that might appear to even be attempting a point.

As of this writing my success is largely measured by the fact that I lost my notebook so I'm flying purely by the seat of my pants. I'm pretty sure that I've done this riff before, the lost notebook leading to a desperate last ditch play for something worthwhile, and if I was so inclined or had the time I might wade my way through six years of these things in order to quote myself.

But time is precious and my inclination is somewhat erratic these days, even to my own surprise.

I have a rather detailed scorecard made up. Several weeks back it occurred to me that I could not reliably or accurately account for my whereabouts for the better part of the last 12 years or so, and being that international travel is again looming on the horizon and I know better than to trust police states I should maybe put some sort of a timeline together.

I was somewhat surprised when I took this accounting of things. Depending on where you stood, the list that I compiled made me out to either be a dangerous madman or an adventurous student of anthropology and sociology.

I suspect that the truth is, much like the Russians, 80% in the middle of those two.

I’ll share that list soon enough. Gotta give you three something to come back for…

The Obligatory Scary Story

So I had this dream.

I was living in a very large vacation home in the mountains. The vacation home was built on a grassy plateau almost at the top of a mountain range. The only way on or off of this plateau was by helicopter, so it was about as away from everything as you can get. The plateau was very flat and had grass all up and down it. It was quite a beautiful site, all things considered, and there was even a large creek that ran from a hole in the cliff that was above the plateau and ran through the plateau working it’s way down the mountain.

So in looking around the mountain scenery with my amazing Optic 1050 binoculars I noticed at the far end of the plateau there was another house. It was hard to make out very clearly as a fine rain was falling but I made my best guess that this other house was probably no more than five kilometers away, and somehow and somewhere in my head I was quite sure that my house was supposed to be the only one on this particular plateau.

So I decide to throw on a small travel pack and hoof it on over and say hi to my newly discovered neighbors.

It took quite a while to get there and while it was especially challenging to jump the creek, I made it across(although I took note that judging from the looks up it during winter melt off it must be just about impossible to pass).

I made my way to the house and walked up to the door. My finger went instinctively for the doorbell but there wasn’t one there. On closer inspection I did notice that there was indeed a knocker, so I knocked.

An old man in a stained grey terry towel bathrobe answered the door. He looked to be at least 90 but he had a great big warm smile on his face. He informed me that he didn’t get many visitors and offered me some toast and jam.

I accepted it, as I understand than in many cultures it is considered the height of rudeness to decline such an offer.

As is the correct fashion, I asked if he had strawberry jam and he did. He asked me to follow him to the kitchen and I told him that I would be right behind him as soon as I undid the shoelaces of my boots. He said ok and gave me directions to the kitchen so that I could find it once I had unlaced my boots.

Even in my dreams I am wearing steel toe boots. Explain that to me…

Once I got my boots off I intended to make my way to the kitchen but instead wound up in a room no larger than a walk in closet with a girl sitting in it crying. I asked her what the problem was and all she said was that I should get out while I could.

Which was, let’s face it, somewhat unnerving.

At which point a frail hand rested itself up against my shoulder.

Startled, I turned around and saw the old man. I asked him who the girl was and the old man calmly explained the girl was his granddaughter and that she often sulked in the closets and the cupboards of the house. He told me my toast was ready and while somewhat still uneasy I followed him back to the kitchen to have my toast.

It is after all the height of poor etiquette to refuse the offer of toast as I explained earlier.

While we ate, the old man explained that he lived a completely self-sufficient life and had no power from any utilities company. He had a couple of solar panels on the roof with which he powered a small radio that he listened to from time to time, but he had no other technology in his house. I raised a curious eyebrow and asked if he didn’t even have a phone and he laughed.

“Who would I call?” He laughed uproariously. “I have no use whatsoever for a device like that and I highly doubt the phone company would run a line over all of these mountains for one lonely house’.

He was of course onto something. My vacation house had only a satellite phone, and even that was a touch and go exercise. There was no cellular reception either.

The old man and I talked for quite some time, and I liked him quite a bit. Early on in our conversation the light drizzle had turned to a hard rain and it had been pouring for three hours after we had finished considerably more than 2 slices of toast apiece and enough tea to sail a ship in. I announced that I should be on my way as I had concerns about the creek.

The old man thanked me for my company and wished me luck, although he was very clear that if I chose to, I could say at his house for the evening. I thanked him for his continued generosity and I started my way back to my vacation house.

But then I got to the creek and my worst fears had been confirmed. What was once a large creek was now a roaring gushing funnel for all the water above the plateau.

I stood there for probably more than twenty minutes trying to decide my next course of action before finally accepting that the only course of action I had available to me was to go back to the old mans house and take him up on his offer.

And so I turned around.

When I arrived at his doorstep for the second time and knocked on his door he seemed noticeably less pleased to see me. Annoyed even. Nonetheless, he did take me in and showed me to the guest room.

There were no offers of toast.

On the way to the guest room, we had to again walk past the small room where the girl had been earlier. There was only some faint scratching at the door.

The old man showed me to my room and told me in a voice that was completely uncharacteristic from based on our lunch of toast earlier that I was not to leave my room under any circumstances or there would be “consequences”

I smiled politely and agreed.

That being said after trying to get to sleep and discovering that the room was actually cooling down quite a bit, I stuck my head out of the door to ask for an extra blanket. The old man saw me and proceeded to scream at me to get back in my room. I was so taken aback at the sight of this old man who had seemed so kind earlier about to pop a vein with rage that I did just that.

The next morning, I woke up to the smell of toast and jam and coffee. I slowly opened the door and looked out and was greeted by the old man again, but this time he was wearing a huge grin and was fabulously happy. He invited me to the kitchen again for breakfast and was so kind that I convinced myself that my experience from the previous night must have been a dream of some sort.

We sat in his kitchen and had our toast and tea. The old man was a friendly as I had remembered from the morning before. The only low point in the conversation was when the man advised that the rain had slowed somewhat and he was unsure as to whether or not I would be able find my way across the creek again. He suggested that I take a walk to see for myself.

Now this is where the dream gets a little weird…

As I was walking down the plateau towards the stream, I somehow noticed that all along the ridges surrounding the ravine we people in mountain climbing gear. It took me a little longer to realize that they were all staring at one of the cliff edges on the plateau side of the canyon that was about 140 feet over from where I was but at least 400 feet above the plateau. Standing there was a young woman wearing a coloured toque. She had her back to the canyon and didn’t seem to be aware (if she even cared) of all the people, myself now included, who were staring at her. She stood there for quite some time before she simply put her arms out to her sides and took a single step back into nothing but the fresh mountain air.

She dropped faster than I could have ever expected. About halfway down the cliff face her head hit an outcropping and sent her into a pinwheel spin. It was the spin and the bounce when she hit the ground as well as the considerable distance she had traveled outward since hitting that took her from her single grassy rocky impact on the plateau right into the depths of the ravine, all loose and limp the entire way.

At this point I decided that all attempts at civility aside, there was something deeply disturbing going on on this side of the creek. I liked my side much better. For some reason though, before I was to make a second attempt at crossing the creek, regardless of the cost, I decided to go back to the house and try and rescue the girl.

When I got to the house the old man had again reverted to his angry personality and was livid that I had returned so early. I informed him that the creek was now passable so I had just returned for a few things I left in my room. He grunted and let me in. As if a mind reader, he also told me that if I knew what was good for me I would stay away from “that dumb girl” while I packed my things. And he told me to be quick about it.

I had no intentions of being anything other than exactly that.

I made it to my room and grabbed the backpack I had brought with me. It had a small hunting knife in it with a cheap leather sheath so I tucked it in my back pocket. I then tried to sneak as quietly and quickly to the closet and free the girl. As I opened the closet she looked at me in fear and screamed “Behind you! They’ll kill us both!”

I spun and pulled the knife out of my back pocket and with one quick move put the blade between the old mans ribs. He sagged a little and then collapsed. I looked at him in shock and horror. They say killing someone is never easy, but killing the elderly is worse in my opinion. Here was this poor isolated insane man who was, and there’s no other way to say this, from a physical standpoint, surprisingly easy to kill.

I expected to see more of the anger I had seen earlier.

And then it hit me, the girl said they.

I stood up just in time to be tackled from the side by a picture perfect duplicate of the man laying dead at my feet.

I desperately pushed this second version of the man I had just killed off of me and struggled to my feet. My mind reeled at this most bizarre of situations while at the same time my instincts were screaming at me to defend myself.

The old man had found his way to his feet and his eyes were blazing with hatred and anger. As he took a determined step towards me I lunged forward and slipped the blade of the knife into the old mans stomach.

He barely slowed down.

In fact, he only smiled.

Well smiled and took another step towards me.

As my brain pieced together the reality that this man had to be a twin and that there was some bizarre back story going on that I would never fully understand I stabbed at the man again, landing another deep wound in his abdomen. He looked up and smiled the same wide smile.

In desperation I began to stab wildly at the old man before he finally slowed and slumped to the ground.

He didn’t say anything just stared his hateful stare as the light faded from his eyes.

And then I woke up.

Deneoument

There is treachery afoot. I'm not sure the source or even it's design, but I can smell it. Like the misplaced smell of cappuccino in a public washroom late at night, something is out of place enough that you notice it.

These are dangerous waters here. They run deep and dark and even the bravest of divers knows that some rules are universal and inescapable. Like coming up for air too quickly, a careless pause or the reckless assumption that the long knives are sleeping can quickly lead to certain doom. Be it nitrogen or deceitful egos, these are the waters that quickly and mercilessly take what they wish and only a fool would think differently.

Tread lightly my friends, dark things are drawing closer.

And they can smell your fear.

You know where to find me.

Nate@natepike.com