Oh no! Not exercise. I don’t really like exercise


I hated gym class in school. In fact, I’m not certain if I’d trust anybody who didn’t hate gym class and who also didn’t consider PE teachers the lowest form of humanity in any institute of so-called learning.

Doesn’t mean I hated all PE teachers at a personal level. In my teaching days I met some who were quite personable people – I just hated what they did because what they did, in my esteem, was humiliate saps like me with no athletic skills and no desire to acquire any.Popeye1

I’ll be candid. I was hopeless at team sports. Last picked and an evoker of groans from the jocks who ended up stuck with me in some dumbfuck school athletic endeavor. So, since I was sucky at team stuff, I was left with individual endeavors. I opted for weightlifting in high school and university. Weightlifting was a good thing because a fellow could develop ‘muscules’ just like Popeye. I lifted weights right through my 2nd year of university and developed a certain amount of strength. I could lift heavy stuff.

Problem was, even with that, in order to succeed you had to keep at it. Keeping at it involves ‘repetition’. I hate repetition because I’m easily bored. Or lazy. Whatever fits and depending on whether or not you like me.

As years went by my exercise regimes grew a bit paltry. I did some things, like swimming, when I got the chance. And walking. Walking is probably my accepted form of exercise. I like it because you are going somewhere and you are seeing stuff and yet you are reaping a benefit. I even got myself a pedometer which I faithfully forget to bring along with me.

Low-Back-PainDuring the Max years I did a lot of walking, every day, rain or shine, didn’t matter. You have a dog, you walk. He’s not going to take himself for a poop. Since the boy left the scene (sigh) I am still trying to keep my walking up. My doctor attests it is still at the top rung of worthy and healthful exercises. Sometimes, however, without my boon companion it’s not quite the same.

However, for the past few months I have been considerably plagued by lower aback problems. Yesterday I went to a physiotherapist. He was very thorough and I’ll be going back next week. A sore back is a distressing thing to deal with, so I’ll do whatever it takes.

What it takes is exercise. Repetitive exercises.


Some mighty big pawprints for the new boy or girl to fill


Not to belabor a Max point, but Wendy and I are both regularly asked if we plan to adopt (rescue) another dog now that our dear, dear boy has gone.

Of course we will. Rescue is the only way to acquire a canine in my view. We are not looking for pedigree, we are looking for ‘dawg’. A good old boy mutt. Like Max was. In the context of this I am running a photo of Max; one which saddens me. It is taken of him in the shelter in Nanaimo on the day we adopted him; the day a wonderful gift came into our lives. So no, I don’t like the photo because he looks forlorn. I like to remember him looking happy.max in the joint

We’ll do so when the time is right but we’re just not emotionally there yet. You see, Max was a very special dog. From the day we got him we never had a moment’s problem. He was quiet, he was clean, he was ‘honest’ in that he never stole food or took anything that wasn’t given to him. We could have left a steak on the floor and he wouldn’t have touched it unless we directed him to. He was also well-behaved, unaggressive, and friendly to a fault.

Max was also immensely charming. He had a literal gang of fans and everybody knew his name. I sometimes thought I’d like to have had him when I was single because he would have been such date-bait. What female wouldn’t have sought a relationship with a guy with such a great and handsome dog?

We ran into a fellow the other day and with him he had a rather cute little Pomeranian thing. Friendly and likeable little dog, though I’m not really a small dog person. Anyway, he too was a rescue dog. A rescue dog from Kuwait.

Well, good for him for taking it, but I also think there are hundreds of dogs in this country that want adopting, so why go abroad? Get one here. Check out the shelters in your own area.DSCN1821

So, yes, we will adopt again. When the time is right. As yet it isn’t. The new dog will have some big paw-prints to fill and we don’t want to be stuck with making comparisons. That’d be less than fair for the new boy or girl.

Our ‘naughty bits’ may just be in the eyes of the beholder, I guess


Have you ever seen a female in a niqab in this country? I’m betting not.

I have see women so garbed, but in the UK, not here. I suspect that if a body was to go to the Middle East you’d see a whole passel of them.cartoon

Do you care if a woman in Canada has her face shrouded in such a manner? For me, try as I might, I cannot call up the major negative vibes that Harper and gang think I should have. Personally I think it looks kind of exotic and mysterious. But, maybe that because I dig seeing representatioins of other cultures – even here, in a country that used to pride itself on being ‘welcoming’.

‘Used to’, I must emphasize. If the current Ottawa gang has its way, I, and the rest of you, are supposed to be offended by this affront to all that is decent and Canadian, like Labatt’s beer, Tommy Hunter, and hockey.

The invented foofrah over the niqab is reminiscent of the also manufactured outrage over turban wearing Sikh Mounties. Have you worried about that much lately? Of course you haven’t. You haven’t even thought of it.

It’s a manufactured issue designed to appeal to the bigoted baser instincts of certain Canadians and also designed to divert people from the real issues of this country like, say, the economy, freedom of dissent, the economy again and fuck it, the economy.

It’s also the mark of a governing party that is running just a bit scared and is playing the card of ill will as much as it can. In other words, it is playing the Tea Party card. Oh hell, such mental-midget meanderings are working for Trump south of the border, so why not?

So, call me wishy-washy, but I don’t give a sweet-goddamn about a recent arrival wearing a costume that hides her face. Put her in a room with another woman. Have her removed the offending garment to reveal her face and everybody should be happy.

But don’t count on that happening.

Sigh. I just don’t like my country right now as much as I used to.

It’s heavily-armed madness in the eyes of much of the world, so why isn’t it fixed/

mean gun

This past week in the otherwise pretty sensible and civilized state of Oregon there was another mass slaying. I won’t bother enumerating how many whack-job bloodbaths there have been the US in recent, but the toll is horrific when compared with other countries that the US deludes itself that it is just as civilized as.

In light of these horrific events and its steadfast refusal to invoke laws to protect its populace it, quite frankly, is not as civilized as Belgium, the UK, or even Canada.

This is not a diatribe against the US. I love the US, I was just there last week and have traveled in many states and have always felt at home. I love America and I love Americans. But, and this is a huge ‘but’, American gun carnage is ghastly and it isn’t being addressed. Even Obama’s statements the other evening – well-intentioned and civilized as they were – will not change a fucking thing. They won’t change it because apparently there is no will to change. You might have thought Sandy Hook was the watershed moment for change, and there was a great deal of rhetoric at the time, but ‘wrongo’ much as Columbine meant diddly in terms of changing anything.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.02oregon-obama-tmagArticle

And nothing has changed. And if there is another mass slaying next week, month or year, the same tsk-tsk platitudes will be trotted out and nothing will change. The likelihood of Americans getting a gun-law change is about the same as the chance of them getting universal health coverage for all American citizens. Zippo.

One of the reasons why a gun-control bill goes nowhere in the US is because it’s all tied up in politics and the notoriously inefficient congressional system. Currently Congress is a bunch of right-wing, Ted Nugent loving arch-conservatives who are devoid of original thought – or so it seems. And if they aren’t devoid of basic decency they aren’t about to let anyone know because they believe it would be political suicide to express a ‘liberal’ thought. And for the most part those of liberal bent – OK, I am showing my bias here – don’t want to go around blasting the shit out of anyone.manhood

I was once in a little store in a tiny Oregon town and the proprietor – who was a bit like a character from a Hunter S. Thompson tale – let it be known quickly that he was a survivalist. He then offered to sell me a handgun, and further opined that when the day-of-reckoning we anti-gun Canucks were going to be SOL with nothing to protect ourselves.

I graciously declined his offer but bought a packet of frankfurters instead. The wienies seemed safer to me.

As for guns, I have no answer, but it would behoove Americans to find one sooner rather than later. Other nations are watching.

At one level this news came as a shock, but at another level it did not


A friend of mine died a few days ago. Tragic enough in itself. The fact he died by his own hand compounds the shock of his unanticipated passing.

I say ‘unanticipated’ but also not a complete surprise. He was a troubled man and had been for years. He also came from a large family in which there had been other suicides. And he had faced (and sometimes dealt with effectively, for a time) some major substance abuse problems and a few other things.gloomy sunday

And yet his premature demise is such a waste. Indeed suicide is always a waste but I found his especially poignant. He was a very very bright man. One of the brightest I have known in my life. He was also an artist – a good one – and writer; an excellent (and published one), and a poet and a passionate lover of the Canadian hinterland.

He once invited me to lunch at his small apartment. And we got to talking, and we talked and talked and the time just flew and I can recall thinking, I could converse with you forever, my friend, and we vowed to meet up again. Yet, as people do, or do not, they make vows they don’t keep. And then it’s too late.

He was screamingly witty and droll and literary allusions rolled off him like water off a duck’s back. We laughed as much as we talked. Such a fun guy. Yet, it is now obvious that life wasn’t really fun for him.

He left the community a few years ago and I basically lost touch, but I kind of kept a track on him via some mutual friends – he had a lot of friends, and assuredly female friends who found him quite irresistible, and even though I am male, I get it. I understand the allure he would have had in that realm.

At the time of his death I found that he had been married for a year in the interim, but no longer was at the time he closed the curtain. He was also back in this community, which I also did not know. Could I have done anything to have thwarted his decision. I think not.

But it’s a sad end to a man with more potential than I think he realized. I value greatly the sporadic friendship we had.

Never thought I’d say this but my northern expedition was actually enchanting


I have always balked at the concept of North. North has connotations of frigidity and it makes me happy that I have my home on the balmy west coast of the country where it rarely gets severely chilly.

Otherwise my gravitation is southward. Southern California, bits of Mexico, Costa Rica and especially the Hawaiian Islands work benevolently for me, and I could imagine no worse nightmare than being forced to reside in the Canadian hinterland – that big chunk of the nation east of the Rockies. January in Saskatchewan I think would make me want to end it all.DSCN0786

And as I feel about east I feel even more vehemently negative about ‘north’. Why would anybody want to go there? Here on Vancouver Island I tend to think that Campbell River is a bit too northerly. In BC that farthest north I have ever been is Quesnel, and that was when I was about 12. Never had the impulse to repeat the experience. Oh, I have flown over it – flown over the high arctic a few times. It looks very cold and bleak from 35,000 feet. And it looks big. Too big.

In so saying, I found myself in a bit of a quandary over our recent Alaska trip. Even more of a quandary in the sense the idea had some enticing merit to it. I may not like the idea of northerly, but I am a romantic and also a lover of literature and legend. So, I was immediately put in mind of Jack London and Robert Service, and the whole Klondike gold fever thing and Skagway’s villainous Smoky Smith and the famed White Pass and Yukon Railroad. You see, the idea of Alaska gave me some great thoughts to conjure with. Combined with the fact were to be making the passage in a rather luxurious ship, The SS Oosterdam. While the onetime gold seekers made their way on perilous little steamers out of Seattle and Victoria, we could sit in our sumptuous stateroom and watch the world go by.DSCN0828

Point of fact, I loved the trip, and towns like Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan have an allure even in name. The trip to Glacier Bay was enthralling and there is no sound quite like the rumble and cracking of a huge chunk of thousands of years old ice breaking away in the glaciers relentless if plodding passage to the sea.

This is all in the so-called Alaska Panhandle, which is that finger that travels along the upper BC coast practically to Prince Rupert. An area about which a latent sense of patriotism makes me want to call it BC Irredenta, a region of which in the early days the Brits sold us out to the Americans in a move to avoid conflict. Wimpy Brits, I say. Always sucking up. Anyway, the Yanks got that chunk of Alaska, and they also got Sarah Palin. Oh, and we looked and looked but could not see Russia from any point in the area.

The trip had high points galore, not to mention summertime temps, amazingly enough, and no fog or rain. So, Glacier Bay, as I say, was magnificent, I mean truly stunning. Our whale watching out of Juneau was unsurpassed. I have been in Hawaii. This was better. But best of all, in some respects, was the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon trip. When I was a young boy we had some big books called Engineering Wonders of the World, published sometime in the early 20th Century, and one of the chapters was about the construction of that wonderful rail line through the almost vertical mountains of White Pass. Took me right back to childhood to actually be on that train.

Have I changed my mind about northerly climes? Not really, but I wouldn’t have missed that trip for the world.

If it’s OK with you, I think I’ll just stay put on Earth


Ground Control to Major Tom …”

A recent issue of Maclean’s Magazine gratuitously devoted tons of ink to space travel. I felt my eyes glaze over even as I looked at the cover in a magazine rack. Space travel or, more ludicrously, space colonization is a snooze. There’s too much of the Earth I haven’t yet seen, so I have no desire to head out into the galaxies.

I think they are now up to Star Wars #37. I saw the first one. That was plenty. I mean, it was OK and Liked the li’l robots. But it was also silly, illogical and boring in parts, and such an egregious waste of the talents of the brilliant Alec Guinness. But, that’s just me.macleans

Star Trek? No, never a “trekkie”. Never much watched the series in any of its incarnations and the only one of the films I liked was the one where they went back to 20th Century earth and freed a whale. It had also some good bits of whimsy in it. But mainly it didn’t take place in some mythological intergalactic place, it was on good old Planet Earth.

I liked Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles because it consisted of a series of metaphors and morality tales, not really pretending to be on Mars at all in any real sense, just a mythological Mars.

And I will make exceptions for Dr. Who and any of the Hitchhiker series (as well as Red Dwarf) mainly because they’re all brilliant. Oh, and in the case of the latter, very funny. Funny works for me.

But, back to Maclean’s and their space travel and colonization ink wastage. All this nonsense harkens back to the moon landing decades ago. I have to confess that the event did not thrill me like it did others and my pants stayed dry (that time at least) at the feat of the valiant astronauts. Yep, brave guys and I know I would not have done it. But I never had any such desire.ziggystardust

OK basic point is, colonization of the Moon or Mars or Venus or any other alien orb is never going to happen in our lifetimes, and arguably in anybody’s lifetime – ever. The environments are relentlessly hostile to human habitation and at best it would have to be a domed existence. Hardly agreeable. Me, I like to be out in the fresh air. Air I can breathe.

And the other point is, how do we think we are going to pay for this bullshit? It would cost quintillions to do so and well, we cannot afford it and will never be able to afford it.

Oh, I know the fantasy is all terribly romantic for those into such things. I find my romance arises from much more mundane sources and I shall gladly stay earthbound for as long as I have the privilege.