Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random Black & White

I'm not sure if I have any clue as to how to take a good black and white photo, but here are a few random attempts. Click to enlarge.

A small, old (now unused) church and its graveyard. This was taken just down the road from my mom's place.

A detail from the St. John's Anglican church in Truro (from a couple of posts ago). This picture reminds me of an old vampire movie...

The "roof" of a carousel at an indoor amusement park in Moncton, New Brunswick (Crystal Palace).

My mom's mailbox.

Some gnarled tree roots on a riverbank.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This Month in Existentialism

Not Even Wrong

Umm... what the fuck does "existentialism" mean again?
As the Joni Mitchell song says, options traders are looking at life from both sides now. This bout of existentialism follows Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's decision to lower interest rates by 50 basis points (a half-percentage point).

In English we are learning about existentialism. In this philosophy, life is meaningless.

When all those spirited mental wrestling matches you have about existentialism start growing old (yeah, right!), you can always put an end to the debate with cogito ergo sum [sic]. René Descartes, the 17th-century French philosopher, coined the phrase as a means of justifying reality. According to him, nothing in life could be proven except one's thoughts. Well, so he thought, anyway.

Try This
At bottom, every human being knows very well that he is in this world just once, as something unique, and that no accident, however strange, will throw together a second time into a unity such a curious and diffuse plurality: he knows it, but hides it like a bad conscience why? From fear of his neighbour who insists on convention and veils himself with it. But what is it that compels the individual human being to fear his neighbour, to think and act herd-fashion, and not to be glad of himself? A sense of shame, perhaps, in a few rare cases. In the vast majority it is the desire for comfort, inertia - in short, that inclination to laziness [...]

Stumbling across quotes like this reminds me why I am the way I am. I am...

When your wife and daughter want to get a puppy...

Never agree to listen to such a foolish proposition in the first place. If necessary, pretend you've gone deaf.

Explain to them (paying particular attention to the child) just how much responsibility is involved in caring for a pet. Exaggerate as much as possible. ("Yes, dear, not only will he eat all your toys, he'll always be bumming snacks and shitting and pissing all over your bed. And you'll have to take him outside at least 10 times a day so he can shit and piss some more...")

Remind them (paying particular attention to your wife) of the expense. ("Hey, look at this, honey, one year of dog food costs about the same as 20 pairs of Italian shoes. Or 19 pairs and a nice bag...")

Concentrate on, and reinforce, negative images. ("Dogs sometimes bite little kids, you know..." "Hey sweetie, let's watch this movie I rented. It's called Cujo...")

Never agree to go to the pet shop just to "look". That way leads to your doom. If approached by pet shop staff, make like you're about to pull out a gun.

Never actually "look" at the puppies in the shop yourself. At least don't let your wife catch you looking at them (as you fondly remember your own childhood days playing in the yard with your own dog, and a tear starts to form in your eye, and you want to smash through the glass and scoop up the little puppy with those big, sad eyes and hug him and hug him forever and ever, and... damn, did she see that...?).

Never entertain rhetorical questions of the type "what would be a good name?" or "where will he sleep" or "doesn't he look just like Snoopy?"


Forget all of the above and face the facts: you're fucked...

A Foggy Morning on the Halifax Waterfront

The post title pretty much says it all (click to enlarge).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Truro Churches

On the main street (Prince St.) of my hometown there are no fewer than five different churches lined up on the same side of the street, with no more than 500 meters separating the first from the last. One of the funniest moments (for me, at least) of our recent trip home occurred as I was walking down Prince St. with my wife and daughter. Seeing so many churches situated so close to each other seemed to be a source of great puzzlement to my wife. I noticed her expression and asked her what was bothering her. She thought about it for a moment and then asked me why there were so many churches in pretty much the same place.

Now I was the one who was puzzled. The question didn't (initially) make any sense to me. I asked her to explain what she meant. She seemed to think about it for a moment or two, and then explained that in Japan you would never see, for example, five "7-11" convenience stores lined up like that on the same street, or five "Mr. Donuts" shops...

Momentarily confused, I stood there with my mouth open ("catching flies" as they say) until, slowly, I began to see what she was driving at. As understanding dawned I began laughing, causing my wife to get a kind of bewildered, pissed-off look on her face. Sticking with her analogy, I explained that the situation was more like having five different convenience store companies or donut shops lined up on the same street. Now it was her turn to laugh...

Anyway, here are some pics of three of the above-mentioned churches (click to enlarge):

The First United Church of Truro.

St. James Presbyterian Church.

St. John's Anglican Church from the front...

... a little closer...

... and from the side.

Not a God-damned sandwich or coffee or donut to be found in any of them...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Boats, Ships, Etc. (2)

A few more pics of some of the many water-going vessels in the Halifax Harbor. Click to enlarge.

A small sail boat near the MacDonald Bridge.

Arr, this be a pirate ship.

Hmm... a riverboat in the harbor.

A couple of fighting ships (no Canadian Navy jokes, please!)

A couple of underwater fighting ships. Except they're not under the water...

Boats, Ships, Etc. (1)

More pics from my trip home. Daily viewing in the Halifax harbor. Click to enlarge.

I had to post this one because catching a ride on Theodore Tugboat was probably the highlight of my daughter Kaede's trip to Canada.

There are (I think) three different ferry routes travelling several times a day across the harbor.

Holy shit. It looks like the Love Boat!

I have a hunch that the people on these boats are rich. They probably have some killer weed, too...

I like this one...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Cockroach

[Warning: the following post contains graphic, stylistically-enhanced depictions of human-on-cockroach violence.
Disclaimer: A much shorter version of the following story originally appeared in the comments section of someone else's blog, but I'll be damned if I can remember whose. I, of course, was the author of said comment.]

Miyazaki has some pretty big cockroaches. I'm talking 2-3 inches long, and mean-looking; sleek, shiny, with these big spike-like things on their legs. I want to say "samurai cockroaches", but the way they sneak up on you makes them more like "ninja cockroaches". Ninja-samurai cockroaches.

I hate them. It wouldn't be unreasonable to say that I have an irrational hatred of cockroaches, particularly the Miyazaki variety. The first time I saw one, it was dead, and stuck to the inside of a "roach motel". It was fucking huge, and it was at that very moment I knew that the world was not big enough to contain the both of us.

Our condo is on the fourth floor of a building that's only 5 or 6 years old. It's a very clean, modern building and, so far as I know, nobody has any problems with cockroaches. During rainy season in June and July, however, motherfuckin'-big cockroaches will sometimes crawl up the walls of our building to hang out on the balcony. Only the "best and strongest" make it up to my place.

One night a couple of years ago I went out onto the balcony for a smoke. My wife was at work and my daughter was sleeping. I had no sooner lit my smoke when I noticed what must surely have been the "King of the Cockroaches" sitting on the balcony ledge just a few inches from the ashtray.

Now, these bastards are fast, so it's necessary to move quickly. Unfortunately, this fucker had taken me by surprise. I had to improvise (actually, he was close enough to grab with my hand, but...). A quick scan of the balcony's contents presented a pair of sandals, either one of which would do the job I needed to do nicely. With one fluid motion my right hand swooped down, picked up a sandal, raised it up, and smashed the ledge where the cockroach was sitting. I lifted up the sandal to inspect the sole.

Nothing. The bastard had escaped. I was furious. No, I was enraged. A quick scan of the balcony turned up no cockroaches. I wasn't finished, though. My senses were on fire and, inspired, I leaned out over the balcony and inspected the walls of our building. There he was! On the wall of the building about 4 or 5 feet from the edge of my balcony ledge!

I quickly jumped up onto the ledge of the balcony, sandal in hand, and worked my way to the edge. It would be a bit tricky, but I calculated that, if I could maintain my grip on the edge of the balcony wall with my left hand, and smash the wall (where the cockroach was) with the sandal in my right hand, I could kill the bastard.

He was a bit farther out than I had originally calculated. I was literally hanging by my fingertips when I smashed the sandal in my hand against the wall. The sandal rebounded almost instantly, and my adversary, seemingly suspended, clung for a moment to the building. A moment later, with a slow, almost graceful arc, he fell to the ground four stories below.

I, clinging to the side of the building like Spiderman, let out a howl of triumph. At that very moment my wife pulled into the driveway and, glancing up. saw me hanging off the building, sandal raised triumphantly, and shouting fuck-knows-what...

She thinks I'm crazy. They all think I'm crazy. But I killed the fucker...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Head Like a Hole

I vaguely recall a time, perhaps not so long ago, when I used to write stuff to post here. I wonder where that time went, and if it will return. Maybe a few beers and some stimulating tunes can turn back the clock. Or at least get me drunk...

Headline of the Day

Wales Destroy Japan

Talking about rugby, of course...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Halifax (2)

Some more pics of Halifax. (Click to enlarge.)

There are a lot of cool, old buildings like this one in downtown Halifax.

Can't sit outside? Knock out the walls, it's the Halifax way...

Yet another South End street.

This old South End apartment building looks like it must have been a brothel in the past...

There's some nice, new, shiny stuff in Halifax, too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Halifax (1)

As I mentioned before, I took a shitload of pictures while I was home in Nova Scotia. I won't post them all here (I heard those sighs of relief!), but over the coming days and (possibly) weeks I will likely be posting quite a few. Again, I don't think my photos are really so hot, but I hope they're good enough to give you some idea of Nova Scotia and why I love it so much there. Here are a few pics of my favorite city, Halifax. There'll be lots more coming. (Click to enlarge.)

Looking up from the waterfront to Citadel Hill.

Downtown Halifax is party central, especially in the summer. My old stomping grounds: the Diamond and the Economy Shoe Shop.

Shopping at the Black Market.

A pretty typical South End street.

Another South End street.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Poor House

From the Dept. of Sublime Rock 'N' Roll Lyrics, we have the following gem:
I wanna live in a burned out basement,
Live in a basement in the sky
I wanna live in a burned out basement,
Live in a basement when I die

Burning Brides, "Poor House"

Following the basic principle that good rock 'n' roll conveys meaning without actually saying anything, the above lyric is clearly a winner. They're words to live by, in fact...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Does This Sound Like Bullshit?

Doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro (England) are apparently refusing to set John Nuttall's broken ankle unless he quits smoking.
"I want to warn other smokers. We have paid our National Insurance stamps all our lives and now we are being shut out of the NHS."

A spokesman for the hospital trust said: "Smoking has a very big influence on the outcome of this type of surgery and the healing process would be hindered significantly."

According to the article, Mr. Nuttall has been prescribed daily doses of morphine to cope with the "constant pain from the grating of the broken bones against each other."

Sooo... smoking can affect the outcome of an operation on one's ankle? It's cheaper to give a guy morphine every day than to fix his fucking ankle? I want to be clear about this: we're talking about someone's fucking ankle, right?

Sounds like bullshit to me...


A few attempts at photographing a couple of spider webs one morning while I was in Nova Scotia (click to enlarge).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Have You Ever Been to Sea, Billy?**

Adventure and Romance on the High Seas

Being the jaded type of guy that I am, it's not often that I'm startled out of my boredom by something that I've happened to have read. This caught my attention, though:
Almost everybody in the fishing business has had sex with a manta at some point...

--Comedian and ex-fisherman Taro Makeburu

Something to think about next time you're watching National Geographic or old Jacques Cousteau programs...

[** No Sir, but I've been blown ashore many times!]

The legendary Captain Highliner

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jet Lag...

... is a drag, blood like slag, head in a bag, eyes that sag, limp as a rag, the clock is a nag, it makes me gag...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Home (2): The North River

The North River runs just a few hundred meters south of my Mom's house. When I was a kid I used to spend summers here swimming and partying with friends. Unfortunately, various construction-related activities (mainly to prevent flooding) have made my old swimming holes too shallow to swim in, and some property owners have restricted or prohibited access to the river's banks.

Here are a few pics of the river taken one day while I was "trespassing" (click to enlarge).

Home (1)

As I mentioned in the previous post, I took a lot of photos while in Nova Scotia. I'm still sorting through them and trying to decide which ones to post here. As with most of the pics I post, I'm not really trying to be "artistic". Rather, I'm just trying to give the viewer an idea of what it looks like in this or that place.

My family's home is in a place called North River, a few miles north of the town of Truro (which itself is about 100 km north of Halifax). As you can see from the shots below, our house is in the countryside (click to enlarge).

The road home. I used to take a bus to school (about 10 km). Many were the very late Friday/Saturday nights that I used to hitchhike home.

My Mom's house (front).

My Mom's house (rear). That's my daughter in the foreground.

The view as you walk out the back door onto the veranda.