The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

July 28, 2007



Such as drunk astronauts, people who do or don't want their pictures or stories on my blog, hoodoos and voodooos, politics, George W. Bush, Iraq, the silliness of religion and things like that there.

So in a lighter moment, and because Homo Escapeons actually had a shower that at my place recently so as to totally embarrass me, I thought I'd expose myself as the single, idiotic male that I am.

Ladies, you can turn your heads away now. Please don't hold this against me.

I know I've told you in the past about (and shown you) my fridge, my stove, my shoe closet and other extremely personal things, things that I have cleaned right before your very eyes. And I know how impressed you have been.

But the bathroom, the loo, the WC, whatever you call it in your part of the world, well, that's different. And I am not about to show you my toilet, which would truly be criminal and whose lid is, admittedly, up all the time.

What I am going to expose to you is my bathtub. And this disclaimer: it's white, it's an apartment tub and I have never had such a dirty bathtub, ever.

But having said that, and I'm sure my daughter is prancing around in glee even though she's never complained about it and my son appears not to care in the least, here are some before and after shots:

I seriously do believe that this tub is impossible to get clean. However, I also admit that I do not make much of an effort to clean it. It's only my feet that ever touch it. Doesn't that make at least SOME sense?
I still have to scrape out all that grunge along the side of the tub and put new caulking in, and I promise to do that. I still have to apply more Comet, Mr. Clean and elbow grease to try to remove the black from the white.
If there are any suggestions, I'd welcome them. In the meantime, I have a semi-white tub that is much better than it was before. Please do not ridicule me. Man was not made to scrub white porcelain. He was made for much more fun things.



Except I can't but laugh over the huge furor rocking NASA and the media about a report suggesting some astronauts might have been drinking right before they lifted off.



Those seven astronauts at the top died when the space shuttle Columbia exploded during re-entry to Earth's atmosphere in 2003. They were obliterated. Disintegrated.
The same thing happened to Challenger in 1986, but that explosion happened shortly after lift-off.

And neither disaster happened because the astronauts were all looped.

It was technical issues.

And if I understand correctly, during lift-off the space shuttle crew doesn't really have a lot to do except strap themselves in and just survive the launch itself until they get into space.

People administer drugs to their pets just before they're shuffled off to the under-belly of a plane during a domestic flight, just to try to calm them and numb their terror.
OK, so maybe astronauts are something close to human, just like the rest of us. They have fears and problems, as evidenced by Lisa Nowak (below) who got caught in that astronaut love triangle.

And so how are they different from the top politicians, entertainers, athletes and others, who we already know have done far worse things and still get our undivided attention?

Alcohol abuse is virtually a worldwide problem. In the West, it's not just legal, the sale of it is controlled -- and massive revenues derived from its sale -- by governments.

At least in Canada it is.

The same governments that spend millions on advertising campaigns warning people not to abuse alcohol benefit from its sale by populations that consume it to numb the pain of their lives that governments help create.

And the media gets billions of dollars from the liquor companies that advertise with them. Sports stadiums are named after beer brands. Alcohol is deeply ensonced in our culture.

If I was an astronaut and I was about to get on a spacecraft like Discovery or Challenger or Columbia and put my life in the hands of scientists and technology, I wouldn't mind a few toots either.


NASA astronauts tanked up on liquid courage before flights: report

We shouldn't make too much of this news, that astronauts flew into space while marginally blotto, because the report that it comes from queried members across all 40 years of NASA flight teams.
Nevertheless, as Reuters summarizes, it's kind of kooky:

NASA astronauts at least twice were permitted to fly in spacecraft despite signs they were drunk, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. space agency. NASA said it intends to investigate the allegations.
“Interviews with both flight surgeons and astronauts identified some episodes of heavy use of alcohol by astronauts in the immediate preflight period, which has led to flight safety concerns,” said the report from a panel assessing astronaut health matters.
“Alcohol is freely used in crew quarters. Two specific instances were described where astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety.
"However, the individuals were still permitted to fly. The medical certification of astronauts for flight duty is not structured to detect such episodes, nor is any medical surveillance program by itself likely to detect them or change the pattern of alcohol use"
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin ordered the report as well as another also released Friday after February’s arrest of then-astronaut Lisa Nowak. She is scheduled to be tried on Sept. 24 on charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary.

Well, an alleged thousand-mile trip in a diaper to confront a 'love rival' seems pretty tame compared to flying $20-billion of U.S. tax dollars while over the legal limit. I wonder what it looks like to vomit in space?

July 25, 2007

Note the word "anal" in the word "analogies"


And they can be fun too -- whether they work correctly or, even moreso, when they don't.

I'm a writer by trade.

Generally, I try to avoid making analogies if I can unless I absolutely know they work perfectly and no one could possibly not get the parallel or comparison I'm trying to make.

Analogies can work exceptionally well, or they can fail miserably. I tend to use them more in every day speech than I do in other ways.

For example:

"He's built like a brick shit house."
"Homo Escapeons has a face only a mother could love."

Anyway, all of this is a phoney lead-in to something I got from a fellow writer this week, and which I hope gives you a few giggles. These are actual analogies used in essays assigned to high school students.

But a final question before you read them...what is your favourite analogy of all time?

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighbourhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

July 22, 2007

My Daughter's DOH! Big Adventure



My super-independent daughter, who's 19, borrows my car often.

This past weekend, she wanted to use it again to go either to Grand Beach on the eastern shores of Lake Winnipeg or to a nearby provincial campground/beach called Birds Hill Park.

Grand Beach was once voted one of the top 10 sand beaches in North America, if I'm not mistaken.

Lake Winnipeg is the 22nd largest natural freshwater Lake in the world. That's pix of the beach, above.

My daughter wanted, ahem, to just sunbathe with a friend and be a beach bum or bunny or whatever.

As per my previous post, this somewhat cramped my own plans to mingle with the masses in the summer heat.

However, I acquiesced.

She used the car Saturday night and kept it overnight so she could leave early for the beach on Sunday. She called me Sunday evening to return the car.

"So, where did you go," I asked.

"St. Malo," she said. "We got lost."

St. Malo is southeast of Winnipeg. Grand Beach and Birds Hill Park are northeast of Winnipeg.

St. Malo's an OK place, but it ain't the rockin' spot that Grand Beach is, or even Birds Hill Park. They took the right highway but they went south instead of north.


It's a good thing Manitoba is known as the Land of 100,000 Lakes.

You can basically drive in any direction outside of the city and hit a nice lake with an acceptable beach.

It's the beauty of living in the Canadian Shield.

"It was OK," she said. "We had a good time."

And she even put some gas in the car, although the "Check Engine" light's been on ever since she had it.

I've spent $3,000 on this car just in the past month alone. But that's another tale.

I've shown her what to do if the car overheats. Now I guess I've got to show her how to read a map.

July 20, 2007

Sizzling in the Heat


I plan on takin' in some rays and feel the sweat pour off my brow.
And mingling with the masses.
Cooling off when I need to.

And taking cover when it gets too hot.

Whatever you're doing, wherever you are, have a good one.

July 16, 2007

An apparently non-cathartic experience

I was going to say that I have had a cathartic experience.

But as far as I can tell, I would have been wrong.

Because according to, a carthartic experience involves, at least in one context, a cleansing of the bowels. I have not had my bowels cleansed, although maybe I should.

No, in fact, what has been recently squeezed through the wringer of my life is my supposedly naive view of the Internet.

I appear to have been caught -- like a doomed deer caught in the glare of oncoming headlights -- in the vaccuous nebula and space-time continuum of the World Wide Web.

Too trusting a soul, too enamoured by the miracle of instantaneous communication, too blind to the dark element of humanity (or some newly devised software that randomly scans computers and lifts off images for other uses).

My habit, my desire, my wont has been to often post on my blog about people I care about and to display pictures and stories of those people on and, with many more pictures, on my Flickr site that I also put on my blog.

It has been a wonder of my world, at times, an avenue for telling fellow bloggers -- people I have come to care about -- what's going on in my emotional and personal life, and to talk about my feelings for and history with those people.

Little snippets, as it were. From Spaceship Orion. From Within, Without.

I have told you about my kids, some of my loves, my different lives, my self, my ups and downs, my immediate and extended family members, my upbringing...the stuff that has brought me to where and who I am now.

I also blog far too much about Bush and Iraq and religion and a whole bunch of other crap that really doesn't matter, except to our current and future existence.

Oh, and about my fridge and stove and my closets and my shoes and my nosehairs and my small male brain, too.

But I have felt most alive when I'm posting about things and people that really matter to me. But as of now, I can't do that any more. At least not in the same way.

Some of those people closest to me have told me they don't want me publishing pictures of them on my blog or on Flickr. Some object to me saying things on my blog about my family.

And as much as I think their concerns about image manipulation or child abductions or someone being able to track them down and do harm to them or their kids or their property is overblown, I have to honour those feelings.

Even in the face of the advent of Facebook and similar Web trends, these ARE their faces. These are THEIR lives too, not just mine, even though this is MY blog and I feel I have a right to write and say what I want.

So I have obliterated my Flickr site altogether.

I'm in the process of removing most pictures from all my posts of the past, pictures that have revealed some of my most favourite people, but who fear having their images or the images of their kids on the Internet.

And while I've been doing this, the word catharsis came to mind.

But I guess I never really understood the word entirely. Here's the definition from that comes closest to the reason I've so enjoyed posting about more personal stuff:

"An experience of emotional release and purification, often inspired by or through art. In psychoanalysis, catharsis is the release of tension and anxiety that results from bringing repressed feelings and memories into consciousness."

I wouldn't say I've been releasing tension or anxiety when I blog about people who are close to me.

It's been more of just a joyous, exhilarating experience that, yes, has brought these memories into consciousness so I can celebrate them in some sort of new way.

But now I'm going to have to find another way.

Forget the enema and laxatives. Where's my Bran Flakes and beans? I can feel myself loosening up already...

July 12, 2007

Can't find my blogging brain...

It seems to have gone missing (how does something "GO MISSING," anyway?)

Oh...there it goes...detached right from my brain stem. My mom always said if it wasn't attached to my neck, I'd forget or lose my head, too...I guess she was right.

Anyway, I feel a bit like a caged alpaca...

A bit up and down, so to speak...

It's summer, time not to think but to do.

I feel a bit jumpy...

See you later...

July 10, 2007

My Brainiac Brilliant Brother


This IS my brother, Doug. I love him. He arrived Tuesday with two of his three kids and his girlfriend, Sara, fr0m Ottawa, for summer vacation. Doesn't he look at least a bit like John Lennon?

And I hope to soak up every available minute I can with him. He looks a bit more like this now (pictured below with my mom).

But I'll still always remember him more as this, the independent, free-thinking, far-more-conscientious-guy-than-me Doug who always goes beyond the surface...

He's an intellectual, far more intelligent than I am, a true deep thinker.
He was the school president, he made Chief Petty Officer at Navy League in the sea cadets while I was just a joking Acting Petty Officer...

I was the oldest of six kids, he was No. 2. I was into all the sports and a troublemaker, he was the "good kid" compared to me, he always got the better marks in school...
He was the voice of reason while I was just the Loud Voice of Chaos...I respect him so much for what he's been through, where he's gone, what he's lost and found again and what he's become.
One of his most salient comments ever, which I will always remember, is when he told me: "There is Love in Silence."
We are two different breeds of cat. But we are inexorably linked together.
Welcome home, Doug.

July 9, 2007

My Seven Blunders of the World

THERE was a big worldwide web popularity contest that unveiled the new Wonders of the World on the weekend.

You probably heard about it. The list of the new seven (actually, it's eight, they relented to pressure and granted the Egyptian Pyramids a special spot) is at

The list:

1. Egyptian Pyramids in Giza
2. Great Wall of China
3. Colosseum in Rome
4. Taj Mahal in Agra, India
5. Ancient city of Petra, Jordan
6. Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7. Machu Picchu, Peru
8. Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Like most any internet endeavour, this was dreamed up by a profit-oriented businessman, is not scientific, allowed multiple voting so its results are skewed and and it's designed to make big bucks.

But despite its contentious objectives and the perception by some that it was a hollow and shallow exercise, it did create a lot of buzz and web traffic and, basically, much ado about very little.
So in that sense, it succeeded.

Seeing as I didn't cast my vote, I decided to come up with my own Seven Wonders/Blunders of the World...and I invite you to post your own or simply to add others if you decide to comment.

1. The American Soldier

He and she keep shipping off to fight in a war that was created under false pretences by Bush and his cronies, a war that can never be won. The numbers of dead and injured staggers the mind.

They're like lemmings or buffalo being herded overseas, where they're essentially being stampeded off a cliff while an Iraq Study Group contemplates yet another troop surge or withdrawal.

They must be amazing people and very patriotic. But thousands are dying for no reason. Well, actually, they're dying because of the misguided or simply stupid illogic of No. 2 below...


2. George W. Bush

Having put fear into the heart of the world by manufacturing and then mass-producing the "War on Terror," he has de-stabilized the world, increased Al Quaeda's resolve and has caused more terror, not lessened it.

He has his own troops and others, particularly weak-kneed and stupidly obedient Canada's, in Afghanistan dealing with another unchangeable reality while Iran watches Americans, Britons and others die on its western and eastern flanks.

The wonder here is that Dubya was elected twice. And that he's still in office, openly defying the American justice system by commuting the criminal sentences of his buddies and maintaining the invasion of Iraq was justified.

But hey! At least the U.S. military manufacturing sector is sure humming along!


3. Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, Anna Nicole Smith and other

That we pay attention at all says everything about us and our Entertainment Tonight culture of fascination with idiocy, monumental failure and non-achievement except in the most shallow of ways and for the most shallow of reasons.


4. Professional sport "heroes"

Everybody knows Barry Bonds is on steroids. The Tour de France has become a drug-infested laughingstock of a cycling road race. Every day, NFL players are getting busted for DUI or physical violence offences.

But we still keep watching.

I suppose if many of our "celebrities" are liposuctioned, silicone-enhanced, facelifted and otherwise artificial reproductions of what they originally were, why shouldn't our sports heroes be?

It's all about ratings and what we'll watch and pay attention to. We want sleaze and living on the edge? We'll get it.


5. Rampant Commercialization

"This pitching change is brought to you by Rolaids, when you need relief..."

"The first down line is brought to you by Ford, Ram Tough..."

"The Mutual of Omaha Masters Open of Golf is brought to you by Blue Cross, the Color of Caring..."

Everything is brought to us by money or the interest in making money, particularly ours.

Watching pro sports -- watching almost anything, but particularly watching pro sports -- has become one big constant, never-ending sales pitch.

We can't escape it in pro baseball, basketball, football, hockey...there are ads on the hockey ice and boards, on the football fields, on the baseball home run fences and behind home plate.

Even the last non-commercial hinterland holdout, the Olympics, has gotten into the money game in a big way. The Olympics always purport to be about Faster, Higher, Stronger.

That's taken on a new meaning: faster (and feistier) commercials to get their brands out there, higher levels of saturating the viewer/reader with their repetitive messages and stronger sales pitches to market their products.


6. All Religions

I was raised Catholic. I was an altar boy and went to church regularly as a child.

What I've come to believe as an adult on the other side of the journey is that religion hurts more than it helps, it's borne out of fear and guilt, it separates people rather than bringing them together.

It's all about fear of the hereafter -- what's going to happen to us after we die? And we can't accept the uncertainty about that, we can't let that go, we have to believe in something, even if we can't know it's there.

So we form these groups of believers.

And if you don't believe in what I believe in, then you're threatening my little picture of what's going to happen to me after I die.
And I can't have that, because you can't be right, I must be, otherwise my whole belief system is wrong and I'm on a road to nowhere.

And because I'm so insecure about it all, I have to prove you wrong and me right.

Thus goes the theological battleground between Christianity and Islam and Buddhism and every other religion on the planet, none of which can be proven or disproven but which we cling to and fight wars over.

It's all so mind-numbingly stupid and irrational.
But then religion can't be rational because religion and churches and all that doctrine and everything else about it are solely created by us to facilitate our beliefs in something that can never be proven.

It's all driven by guilt and fear, in my opinion, at least the most extreme elements.
Everyone has a choice to be religious or not religious and to believe in whatever religion they want. If people could just let other people believe in what they believe in, religion might not be so contentious.
But the most extreme fundamentalists in all religions won't. And that's the problem.

The worst perpetrators are those most extreme elements in any belief, for example the Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. and the Muslim extremists who will blow themselves up in suicide bombings.

It's all so useless and ridiculous. Almost the entire population on the planet can't understand it, but it's these wars of the extremists that affect us all. And we're completely helpless to stop it as the idealogues battle it out.

These people should be on the fringes of society. Instead, they've taken centre stage. Argh.


7. Blogdom and the Thinking, Feeling Individualist

Just like religious fanatics and any other group, the bloggers I know are people who have found a home for their ideas and thoughts about a world that, for the most part, whizzes past us every day at light speed.

Blogging isn't for everybody and my impression is a very small percentage of people do it. The others, I guess, watch TV or work out or take their kids to soccer games.
Some amazing people can do all of that AND blog and more yet.

I look at bloggers as observers of the world, a mostly like-minded collection of individualists who aren't all caught up in the fear and confusion of the moment and who question life and existence.

While the internet has brought more exposure to the darker dregs of society, it has also opened up avenues for the best parts of who and what we are to co-exist on a platform of open, fair communication.

I consider the bloggers I associate with to be just those kinds of people...positive but honest, thinking and open, kind of an underground that hovers above the mass media message and with some awareness of where we are.

Blogging, to me, is one of the wonders of a world that has otherwise become more about blunders. And I'm thankful it's here.

July 7, 2007

Montana or (almost) Bust


However, I am happy to report that I and my 1996 Ford Contour, made in Kansas, did survive my 2,000-kilometre trip through western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

But not without some difficulty.

After a particularly testy encounter with a U.S. Customs weenie at the Canadian/American border at Emerson, Manitoba, I got into the Over-Excited States.

Apparently all of my anti-George Bush posts were not detected by the CIA or whatever "war on terror" government agency has taken over for it.

And if I hadn't made it clear before, it really is America The Beautiful. And its people are just that and so is the country they live in.

I always thought North Dakota was a flat wasteland that no one cared about, just a home for missile silos. But western North Dakota is an incredible sight.

And while I was preoccupied taking pictures of the hoodoos and hilly terrain that pop up right after you get past Bismarck, my car decided it wasn't all that happy with the heat.

My "check radiator" light came on. I pulled off on an exit ramp called "Enchanted Highway," complete with a structure that showed a whole bunch of Canada Geese.

Here are some pix from that particular moment of stranding, when I had no idea whether my car was going to survive or not...

This was actually one of my most memorable parts of the trip, when I gained yet more confidence and trust in the human race -- and certainly in Americans.

Two North Dakotans, one Oregonian and one Manitoban stopped to ask if I was OK. I assured them I thought I was, that I just had a radiator leak and needed to top up my engine coolant.

But I thanked them.

For the duration of my trip, I had to do this about six times, leading me to draw the conclusion I have a leak somewhere (NO JOKES ABOUT THAT)!

Nonetheless, I continued westward. And this is what I saw.

Many of you may be yawning at such pictures and wonder, why is he showing us this? Well, it's because Manitoba is flat. In fact, we are affectionately referred to as "Flatlanders," among other things.

These hills and hoodoos were amazingly beautiful to me. Their colour, their 3-D appearance, the way they sprout out of's novel to a Manitoban. And very cool.

Part of the reason for my journey was to accept a nomination into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, from my many years of riding bronco-busting horses in the American Midwest.

(Just kidding).

The sign above DOES say Home on the Range. I imagined it as THE place the cartoons always spoke about in the song: Home, Home on the Range, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play...

I had to take the pix from my car at 75 mph. Indulge me.

And yes, this sign does say "Bad Route Road." Oh, goodie! For sure I want to take that exit! Doh!

By now I was in Montana, an absolutely gorgeous state. I was able to meet with a good friend and spend some time. But the time had also arrived for me to return to Canada.

I decided, to try to preserve my fragile car in the 100 F heat, I would turn north towards Saskatchewan to avoid the up and down hills of Montana and North Dakota on the way back.

It was beautiful country.

This is a place called Froid, in northern Montana. Or was it Saskatchewan? In any event, I wondered what if Sigmund Freud had been born here as Simon Froid, and how that might have changed the world...

Once I got back into Canada, I came down to Earth, so to speak: terrible (comparatively to the U.S.) highways. I decided not to travel all the way up to Regina to the TransCanada.

On my adventurous, but stupidly circuitous route, I encountered the sign above. And my question is, BROKEN PAVEMENT? What pavement?

But I loved taking the less-travelled route back to Winnipeg.

I could see this huge storm in front of me, and even though I was still 500 kms or so from home, I wondered if that system was directly over Winnipeg. It taught me a lesson about perception and distance.

Within a few short minutes, I was right underneath it and into it. The rain lasted about 10 minutes. Ha! Just like life! You think something you're heading into is going to last a long time.
It lasts seconds, then it's gone.

Yes, the sign above in Saskatchewan really does point to a town called Forget.

I loved the yellow crops (mustard seed?) against the purple sky here...

My favourite pic (above) of the trip, the colours...

Ever feel like the rain's falling just on YOU?

But that everything's going to turn out all right in the end?