The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 29, 2008

The end for me and my Bum Buddy




"She" is my wallet. And today, after a lengthy and loving relationship, I cast her aside for someone new.

She's been loyal and faithful, a constant companion.

I've taken her out of my back pocket, rifled through her, caressed her, held her, taken a lot of things out of her, and then just stuffed her back inside my pocket.

She's never complained once.

But she has worn herself out, or at least I've worn her out. She's getting a little frayed around the edges. Inside, she's a little tattered and torn, no doubt as a result of me trying to put too much in her.

So when my daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas, a new butt bumpkin was one of my answers. And she came through.

Here it is on Feb. 29, a unique day, when I decided to say goodbye to Wilma my Wallet.

We've spent most of the day just going over old times and exploring the recesses of our minds, seeking out those old memories.

I've now emptied her of all her contents so she feels rather alone and naked, but I've assured her she's beautiful in her nakedness.

No more credit cards, frayed health insurance cards and the like, my driver's licence with the goofy photo.

Her leather skin has faded but is still that same old beautiful brown, Made in Canada, that was stuck to my cheek all these years.

I've lightened her load and I've told her my life will never be the same.

But it's time for her to go, because my daughter has found me someone new.

She's very pretty, shiny, and that same brown that I like...and I explored her this morning on my bed to learn more about her.

She's made in India, not Canada, for one thing. Is anything made in Canada any more?

Not to complain, mind you. But there are other things I've noticed.

She has way more slots for credit cards. And I try to limit my credit cards, so I inserted other cards in their place. I hope she's OK with that.

You might also note that this new wallet, whose name is Winona, came with a Diner's Club card and a Gold Mastercard, although apparently, as below, they mistook me for someone else.

So my pseudonyms are now Frank Helgen Felder and Bruno Olivier. No problemo. Those credit card numbers seem a little suspicious, but I'm sure I can get by with three identities rather than just one.

All I'll have to do is show the fancy inner lining of my Winona, and any skeptical maitre d's or cashiers will immediately be sucked in about the extent of my great wealth.

And if that doesn't impress them, certainly my change purse and the very obvious reference to my Winona being all-leather will wow them. I don't anticipate any difficulties at all, although I put all my change in my pocket.

So today, I have mixed emotions. I'm giving up one bum buddy for another, who will be new and have her own character and will conform to my butt as she sees fit.

Wilma has asked to be cremated, but I don't know if I can bring myself to do that. I hear burning leather kind of smells.

I might just kind of keep her hanging around, just in case Winona doesn't work out or she dumps me...or I dump her.

February 25, 2008

Someone Saved My Life Tonight*


(*This post examines and criticizes the notion of all religions from my point of view; it is not intended to offend. So please stop reading if you do not want to run the risk of being offended.*)

It's the Church of Sc(i)entology, which worships all things that smell, except for that (i) in brackets.

And while no one knocked on my door, I expect a couple of clones of a famous Hollywood actor were the culprits, passing along the word of Omigod, just to save me...

...Save me from life's perils, the worry over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Republicans actually getting re-elected again, our own Canadian blubberment led by Steven (Let's Get Even) Harper...

And it all comes from here, some glittery star-struck haven in L.A. or Vegas or wherever it is...

Yes, Sc(i)entology is going to sharpen my senses, rescue me from pollution, greenhouse gases, my own procrastination, this cold winter we've been having, my mountain of'll give me all the answers, right here, right now.

And I don't even have to think for myself! All I have to do is join and absorb the message!

This reminds me of the brother of two of my very best friends in my teens and early 20s. He disappeared. They found him in New York. He had become a Moonie, one of Sun Myung Moon's mindless disciples.


They're all followers, that is...not thinkers, followers. Mindless. Searching, my friends' bro was, as we all sometimes do, and they found him, like a deer blinded in life's headlights and paralysed by fear. And they brainwashed him.

He was eventually rescued from being "rescued," in the real sense, by his family and friends, and spirited back home and deprogrammed and unbrainwashed and now he's doing fine, thinking on his own again.

That means he's human. That means he makes mistakes and he pays the consequences and lives a real life. Good things happen to him, bad things happen to him. He does stupid things, he does smart things.

The point is, HE'S the navigator, he's the captain of his own boat sailing the sometimes calm or sometimes rough seas. His life is governed by him, not by some deity or religious belief system that he can grasp to save him.

And so with that, we come back to the subject at hand.

Where did religion come from? ALL religion? This is what I imagine, and I'm going to use the most historically correct mass media production of all time -- Monty Python's Holy Grail -- to illustrate the point.

The historical timelines and years don't really mean much here, and so they won't be accurate in my depiction. Suffice to say that long before organized religion, living on Earth was a very dark place.

It was no picnic, apparently. And we have these historical pictures to prove that. Violent deaths awaited many. For those who survived that fate, they lived very short, difficult lives in squalid conditions.

While the lives of regular townsfolk and villagers was a living hell and dominated by the fight just to get enough to eat and to stay alive, wars were commonplace and towns and villages were pillaged often, with horrifying results.

Only the soldiers and warfaring upper-class had any fun at all.

It became clear, as history stumbled along, that this wasn't going to work. The upper class wanted to continue its lifestyle and its need to go to war and conquer others, which resulted in tremendous power and riches.

But it couldn't do this without a middle- and lower-class that could survive and thrive (if only in a mundane, far more poor manner) and continue to support the warriors and merchants while they did their thing -- make war and make money.

And the upper class needed to be able to recruit strong young men from the lower classes to be able to sacrifice themselves in war for the greater good (that is, for their good).

So they got together one day and they invented religion.

Something for the masses to believe in, to fall back on, to look to for strength and spiritual nourishment, for morale, for a reason to keep on living, for the answers they didn't have.

At the same time, those villagers and hut-dwellers were getting together themselves in the town squares, kicking at the dead rats and eating dog meat. None of them had any teeth, but that's besides the point.

One elder stood up and gummed, "You know what? We have no clue what we're doing in this life. We're invaded all the time and our women and children are raped or killed and we get the shit kicked out of us.

"Or we sharpen our spears and axes and arrows and we go and do the same thing to them. But we have no idea what we're doing or whether any of it makes any sense at all! We need a belief system!

"Gimme that ole time religion!"

So realizing they had no way of proving there was any point to their measly lives or having no answer to why they were here or what they were supposed to do or how they could possibly cope on their own, they were prime subjects for the upper class's new religion.

And so it happened. The scholars started writing the Bible, developing incredibly unbelievable scenarios that they dared you to buy into, such as parting seas, burning bushes and the like.

History's first mass Public Relations campaign was put into motion, as these pictures from that critical juncture in Earth's history clearly suggest. An idea was planted of a supreme being up above and all you had to do was look up to God.

Heaven and hell were invented, God and the devil were devised. Tales of lore were penned. Holy places of worship were constructed, popes were appointed, priests grew out of the woodwork, monks started combing the countryside.

They wrote a book about people dying on crosses and three stars and salvation and after-lives and this and that. Ten Commandments. Seven sacraments. This and that in other religions which I'm not privy to.

And as the upper class cemented into the collective consciousness the religion of their region and the need for the population to believe, they made it stick by including guilt and the threat of eternal damnation if you DIDN'T believe.

So while the masses were held to this new religious standard and burned at the stake for not believing and were told to embrace things like the Ten Commandments, the upper-class was breaking all of those same rules.

Eventually, a great war was waged. In fact, since the advent of religions worldwide, many great wars have been waged, continue to be waged and will always be waged, often because of religion and the need for power and resources.

But that's besides the point too, I guess.

The whole thing is, this religion thing has all been an extremely poorly done PR campaign. It clearly hasn't worked and will never work. It's a divisive force, not a unifying one, in the global sense.

Yeah there's the Far Right, the Christian Right, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, all with their own belief systems and all of them at war with each other, either in the media or with actual weapons.

And it's all about going to Heaven and avoiding eternal damnation. Or surviving in a screwed up world. Or whatever. Billions of people feel they have to believe in something beyond just who they are.

And even as we speak, even as we've had all this proof that religion just doesn't work as a crutch or as a unifying force or as a placebo or real cure for what ails us inside or out, new religions continue to be trumpeted onto the scene.

What are they lookin' for? Whatever it is, I don't think they or their followers will find it.

As a final incredible addendum to this post, I today, perhaps by divine intervention or just because religion spams just as bad as everyone else, received this Dear John email:

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February 18, 2008

Random Acts of Procrastination


The best of times, of course, being roughly April-October, when humans can actually survive and thrive up here in the frozen Prairie tundra we call Western Canada.

When you factor in the painful, pitiful plethora of never-ending cold and -40C windchills from December to March or so, I go into virtual hibernation, which is where I'm at right now with blogging. But I digress.

Here's my current checklist, as incomplete as it is, of procrastination. In fact, I'm even procrastinating about posting this post. So if you don't actually see this on my blog, you'll know why.

But then, of course, you wouldn't know I had been procrastinating. Oh, never mind.

The lovely Anna had sent me a recipe some time ago for African style braised chicken in peanut sauce, to be cooked in a crock pot, but I have been negligent.
Now that I have two days off, I'm going to try it, dammit! And I even have a crock pot! But I need to go out and buy more ingredients. I've even written them down on a shopping list!
The unfortunate thing is I don't think the chicken parts above will actually thaw out until next Thursday, so I might get hungry. Might as well order in pizza...
I'll let you know how it turned out, if I remember or don't procrastinate further...
My toaster has more crumbs on it and in it than granny's applie pie. I'm sure I'll put this task off yet another few months. But hey, at least I'm thinking about it!

I think I need to take out my recycling. On the other hand, having all that crap on top of my trap door to the underworld prevents all those zombies, rats and other things from entering my apartment.
I think I'll think on that a bit more...

This is my son's bedroom. OK, I laundered his sheets and all, so that's my doing. The rest is his incredible mess. If I'm the master of procrastination, he's the overlord. He's in deep doo-doo when I see him next...
My guitar, which is a girl, is gently weeping as I don't play her. I really should. She just sits there, looking pretty. She wants me to hold her and play her and strum on her strings. I think I need lessons again...
Well, what else is front closet is a disaster. My rollerblades are way out of style and I need new ones. I just can't wait until I can wear my sandals again. What's a guy to do?

I have to renew my passport, which expired in July, much the same as me. I could get called on to travel outside Canada from my work at any time. This is one of my main priorities. Maybe next month.
As you can see, I keep all my bills and financial statements in perfect order. As someone said to me today, I'm a piler, not a filer. When I get around to it, I guess...
I can't believe this, but some arse actually stole the shovel I had leaning against my apartment wall outside. So the goofs at this apartment complex shovel only up as far as you see, then leave the rest for me.
I have to buy a shovel now. And this snow and cold won't go away until March sometime. Sigh. On this one, I can't procrastinate. What's the world coming to?