Friday, May 26, 2017

Progress?

Last night, after visits with Aqualad, Dog Whisperer and Earth Writer, I came home inspired, logged onto the video game from hell, tried to bring myself to destroy my cities, chickened out like a spineless jellyfish (which is not a particularly rare form of jellyfish), left a farewell note for the members of my remaining fellowship and then departed from it, and changed both city names to TEMP INACTIVE.

I’m praying this buys me some time until I can grow up and put this thing permanently out of my misery.

After coffee with Earth Writer I heard myself saying, “You know, it’s clear that the struggles in the world are going to get a lot worse before they possibly get better. There is so much need for people with the capacity for gentleness and peace to achieve that and to have their effects on others. I need to achieve that. There is too much good work to do for me to be wasting my time.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Biting off what I can chew

I joined a small role playing group. Four of us meet online every other Friday to play World of Dew. A sort of collaborative story-building game in the Samurai genre.

I’m starting to get more shifts at work now and stand a chance at full-timish hours until November perhaps. And if this does not gel I’m ready to pull the trigger any time with regards to seeking a second employer; one more of the night watchman variety. I have some good leads.

I am falling back into a more substantive role within the Support Circle community and being moved by the tremendous attitudes of special people; volunteers and former offenders alike. The trust, the generosity, the wisdom, humility and acceptance. The courage in the face of uphill battles in pursuit of dignity, well-being and some semblance of belonging. The genuine camaraderie. No volunteer, including myself, goes out of their way to demonstrate to visitors or new participants that we are one of the volunteers and not one of the offenders. How’s that for genuine camaraderie?

I’m now thinking about a return to the lacrosse community in some smart limited scope; without getting completely sucked in, now that the baggage has dried up and the love of the game, it seems, has remained.

I’m thinking about a couple other volunteer opportunities too, now that I’m driving a reliable car again thanks to fifteen hundred and sixty well-spent dollars. 

I feel very positive.

I feel like I have the strength to defeat this damned video game habit and get more productive again.

I feel good about my writing and my excellent Scooterville writing pals who are at this blessed moment re-considering their schedules to see if we can accommodate a bit of re-structuring to write-in schedules so that I may participate more.

My burgeoning friendship with the Courageous Comedian has buoyed me. Facebook suggests that she is outrageously popular yet I boldly messaged her and said, hey, I think you are awesome in a world of mostly dickheads! You want to hang out and chat some time? A day later I thought, fuck a duck. Does she think I’m after a creepy date? But no. She finally messaged me back and said that sounded awesome and we would have to make that happen. Though it has never been apparent to me, C.C. battles mental illness of some measure while championing noble causes and educating us about them. She sees the troubled world with brave unflinching eyes and performs on stage her very fun jokes and sometimes her screamy screamy music with her band which I will probably continue to avoid!

And Neo is now finished at university. He has been so busy that I have missed him much but we are to gather very soon and I will find out what sort of plans he now considers and to what degree they might overlap my own. I suspect that there may be opportunity for collaboration of some form.

Yes, I do feel positive. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Infrastructure

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

Life in Southern Ontario works pretty much like I expect it does in just about every corner of Fabulous North America Ass-Kickers Of The Woeful World: Our loathsome bottom-feeding politicians and our loathsome bottom-feeding corporate elite, with their hands deeply buried in each other’s pants (and from precisely the same community of good ol’ boys) run everything precisely the way they want it, while the rest of us dull helpless mewling sheep either keep their mouths shut about it and enjoy the comfortable temporary benefits of temporarily-upper-tier slavery (most of the people I know) or somehow remain ignorant of this most basic structure of our society (most of the people I generally avoid) or – three – regret the slightly-diminished complicity in our own individual personal circumstances, and often rebel in largely ineffective manners (myself and most of my favorite peeps); all of us having one thing in common: We all let our rulers run just about everything precisely the way they want it.

As such, the future of southern Ontario’s infrastructure is being mapped out with more and more semi-circular toll highways radiating into the countryside, killing farmland and precious biodiversity and paving the way, well into the future, for the proliferation of car culture, car manufacturing, gas stations, drive-thrus, public-raping toll consortiums and as much cash-in-the-pants as politicians and their gleeful gruesome sugar daddies can possibly fondle.

There are pockets of meddlesome opposition to their rosy plans; some of them making a laudable din about proposed mega toll-highway 413, to be built just a few kilometers alongside current mega toll highway 407. One particularly stupid and soulless cretin defended his political complicity in the scheme by claiming “Everyone knows that cars aren’t going anywhere [so we need to build more roads]”.

Of course there are many people who know damn well that cars will be going away, one way or the other, no matter how much we pretend otherwise, or how bad we fuck ourselves over (or rather our swiftly-approaching descendants by delaying this transition. Some are those who have a healthy curiosity for science despite formal education’s best efforts to make science a tortuous learning experience, and some are those who have a healthy awareness of the egoic corruption of the mind and the ubiquitous insanity of the modern human which convinces us that anything normal or common is automatically legitimate (which is pretty much never the case).   

Barring specific technological leaps, near impossible in the short term, Cars will indeed go away. It’s a logical certainty. In no way can the Earth possibly sustain them. But with respect to the A-Z format, that’s a story for another day.

Oh and yeah – It’s April 46th in Fantasy Writer Guy land by the way.

Oh, and simultaneously it’s April 411th 2016 with regards to last year’s April A-Z which I have also not officially given up on. It’s my blog. I make the rules. So there!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby steps

I have not quit playing the insidious city-building video game. In fact I played it a bloody lot the other day. In my defense, we are inside a two-week quest period where great rewards abound for those with sufficient organizational skills.

And yes, that is no defense.

I also did not leave the fellowships yet, as Aqualad prescribed. But here is what I did do today:  I wrote twin emails to the archmage of each of my fellowships and proposed the following: I said that I needed to cut back on game play in order to address personal issues and would begin decelerating my participation next week and then in nine days, at the close of the current quest: I would resign from the fellowship. I asked for consent to the exit strategy before I would message the group as a whole.

So there. It’s a half step but better than nothing. And it’s sincere.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fifteen year hiatus

It must have been about twenty years ago when I agreed to produce a web site for a local Junior A lacrosse team which my young brother was playing for.  The internet was not what it is today. The site was a bulky laborious one by today’s standard but quickly became the most substantive one in a league in which probably half the organizations didn’t even have a team site yet.

I photographed and interviewed the players and other team officials and began writing articles and attending the games in order to track statistics. The site was even featured in a national lacrosse periodical.

I kept stepping up to fill holes within the organization and the community at large. I became the team statistician, was appointed Director of Media Relations,  headed up fundraising efforts, produced the most voluminous game program in the league, served as timekeeper or ball boy on occasions and was soon elected Vice President. I served occasionally on the Junior A council and began touring the league watching games and posting game stories online under the pen name Blue (my dog’s name and my presumed nickname due to a misunderstanding). I was embraced by a small community of eccentric “internet reporters” and developed a following around the Ontario lacrosse scene. My game stories were then picked up and published on Ontario lacrosse’s premier web site which garnered thousands of hits daily.

This experience was important because it gave me some cred and confidence as a “writer” which I’d never before imagined I would become.

But aggressive parents, organizational politics and tribal delusion began to wear me out. I had a voice and thus became a target of the posturing and positioning of everyone with an agenda: mostly unhealthy ones. After five years I was burnt out and exited the lacrosse scene entirely. I didn’t even attend games as a spectator.

I have aged well though , and peace has worked its magic. It has dissolved bad memories and strengthened the good memories: Like the artfulness of the masterfully creative native teams I admired; the dazzling performances of so many great young players and their eventual promotions to the pro league; the road trips with lacrosse pals; the accolades from random spectators who spied my note-taking and asked, “Are you Blue?” The warm greetings of players who thanked me enthusiastically for my service to the team; and perhaps mostly: the amazing feeling that came from giving back to a community from which I once benefited as a youngster. I was astounded to discover that the joy of giving back was not just some platitude. It was precisely real.

Last Thursday night, after about fifteen years, I finally attended another OLA lacrosse game: A Junior B tilt between Scooterville’s Bengals and the visiting Thunderhawks. It was a joyful return. The junior B game appears to have evolved mightily in a decade and a half. I would have believed it a junior A match. What a treat to just enjoy the game without the shadow of diplomacy lurking over me.

The home squad jumped to an early lead and carried it comfortably until the end. The boys were all new to me of course though some had familiar names: like the son and the nephew of players (and coaches) I once knew in their prime.

Old habits die hard. I scribbled constant notes and swiftly began to glean the various roles, strengths and idiosyncrasies of each player who now seem ridiculously young to me at fifteen to twenty-one.

Afterward I had a beer with their general manager and coach, Mister D, who was a close associate years ago and has since won Ontario and pro league championship titles as coach and who earlier in the year sent me an email out of the blue to lure me out, without disguising his interest in getting some volunteer work out of me. I’m not ready to commit to anything and he was wise that night in not asking. But I know we’re both thinking about next season.

I do feel an urge though, already, to write about lacrosse again. It is sparked by a paternal inkling, as it was two decades ago though I did not understand it then. My inclination at the time was to write with players and parents in mind (though there were other followers). My artless policy at the time was to ensure that every player in the game was mentioned at least once in a positive light: some measure of praise for something done well; even if just a great pass or a faultless period on defense.

I think my reports would differ now though, for I am not much the same person, and that I would remain more neutral and noble and write more consistently from a non-partisan perspective; from the context alike the traditional native view. For lacrosse is an ancient game; a creative one; a game of collaborative rhythms; a game prone to serendipity; to beauty in motion. A game that, it was long ago said, was a gift from The Creator, and one to be played for His enjoyment.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FAIL!

Okay. Let’s stop pretending I have any credibility whatsoever with regards to any commitments to this blog. If I’m hoping and intending to correct that problem then I will just keep that to myself and stop making any promises here.

And now for the even-more embarrassing part:

I have been in a mire of non-productivity since Christmas eve/Christmas morning 2016. For the third year in a row I spent Santa's Magical Night of Yule on a 12-hr shift all alone at the main Tim Hortons store-slash-learning centre (Ingeniously called Tim Hortons U) with no actual duties all night, and for the third such annual gig in a row I dispensed with any notion of productivity and entertained myself with a video game of the challenging resource management variety, which I dig and did rarely indulge in. Problem is – I accidentally chose a game which was not the usual play-twice-and-then-get-locked-out-unless-you-pay variety (I never pay). I accidentally chose what looked like a typical resource management game and which was actually a massive multi-player city building game – WHICH – never locks you out. Surprise! It just bribes you to quicken your city-building experience by purchasing “diamonds” with real money. Diamonds are the universal currency which you can use to hasten any sort of transaction without waiting for goods or supplies or income to mature (but again, I never pay).

So here’s the confession: I got totally hooked; totally addicted to this insipid bloody game which I don’t even think I enjoy anymore but which I am constantly compelled to play because it’s like… It’s like blackjack. It’s the mental challenge of succeeding. I’m hooked on that challenge (though I’ve always been smart enough to carefully moderate my blackjack participation).

I’m also hooked on the creative component; wanting to build a city that is beautiful; that I would wish to live in, and also on the community aspect: I am the proud pathetic owner of two cities in separate “worlds” and in each I have joined fellowships where I can help – and be helped by – other players which insidiously triggers my paternal instinct. Anyway I feel like a complete loser.

I took my troubles down to Madame Rouge – sorry – I mean Aqualad – because he has plenty of experience around video game compulsion and a very bright head on his shoulders and he told me that step one of my deprogramming is to ditch the fellowships which are admittedly a bad influence. He also hornswoggled me a copy of SimCity, theorizing that this much-simpler game might satisfy my idiotic city building needs without such a destabilizing time-commitment.

I’m seeing him again this evening and will have to report that the strategy has so far not paid off. I’m still playing the damned game. And hardly writing. And hardly blogging. And hardly volunteering. And hardly exercising. And hardly researching. And not composing. And hardly addressing my growing employment-shortage problems. And hardly being there for people who deserve my attention.

So anyway… if you know me in real life be sure to slap me in the face the next time you see me and tell me to get my shit together and stop being such a dickhead.

Sincerely,
FWG/Not-Much-Of-A-New-Day-Rising (who secretly still intends to start blogging productively)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Health

I think the reason most bloggers do not blog every day is generally because they don’t have enough to say. Or else they think they don’t have that much to say.

I have more than enough that I wish to say (whether appreciated or not). One of my April objectives is to defeat the barriers which keep me from posting. One of them is this: If it’s too simple and obvious then I’m reluctant to say it.

Because A-Z is so structured I feel like there is no room to go exploring on the page until something subtle and useful comes out and thus the subtle useful thing must in this case be part of the plan. And for letter H this year, there is no such plan. But here: let me hold my nose and swiftly get this over with.

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

H is for Health!

When I spent two months between vehicles; after the banana boat was grounded, I found myself in a very joyful position. I was often walking downtown (not downtown Scooterville but rather the village area of our particular burrough) in order to run small errands. I was also taking buses and walking to the stops. I was getting exercise and doing a small favour to the environment. My circumstance was physically healthier and mentally healthier.

Unfortunately the unreliable nature of bus company logistics convinced me that, given my current roster of commitments, I needed my own car again in order to be sufficiently reliable.

There is little doubt I think, that in this chronically obese society, we’d all be getting more exercise and subsequently healthier if it weren’t for our personal cars. The problems with making yourself an exception to this norm include the above instability, which is less a problem in heavy metro areas and a progressively greater problem the less urban you get, as less and less participants (and smaller budgets) leave public transport a flightier prospect; a less-robust system.

Another problem with being the exception in your community is that walking or biking for health/recreation is wonderful on the trails, but doing so out of logistical necessity means you’re sharing auto routes and sucking exhaust fumes the whole time. Not a boon to health.

And that’s about all I have to say on that topic. Short and sweet. And it frankly could have been a lot shorter. I think it’s great to be concise. And I know I’m generally a more concise (and appropriately, more subtle) writer than many. But I have to convince myself that it’s okay to post small pieces. In fact I should try to make it more the norm.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Garages

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

When I was about nineteen and working an entry-level bank job for about 20K per year, I took my first car – a little Toyota Tercel into a Speedy Muffler King shop on my lunch break and reported a squeal which I thought must have been a brake-wear indicator. The slithery, slimy, kitten-eating cretin of a mechanic told me that indeed that was so and I needed new pads, rotors, shoes and drums immediately and to the tune of $1200.00 which was an unfathomable sum to me way back then.

I told him I didn’t have that kind of money on hand and needed to get back to work but that I would soon return. He claimed the car was unsafe to drive and had to stay until repaired. Being precociously skilled at diplomacy I talked him out of my car and fled the place like Luke-and-friends fleeing the Death Star in a squealing Millennium Falcon.

Shortly after I took the little Tercel (everyone always asked me, How’s your little Tercel! To which I finally started replying, It’s the same size as every other Tercel) – sorry. I took it to a little independent garage near my home which I’d never been to before. I think his name was Tony. Or maybe Mario. He gave it a good inspection, fixed the squeal which required no new parts after all, and told me that all the brake components were in such good condition that he would be happy to sign an affidavit guaranteeing that all my brake parts would last at least another year – in case I wished to pursue legal action against the Speedy Muffler King of Crap.

I was wildly angry at the time that this soulless bastard had tried to criminally steal from me and make a disaster of my finances. I went to the Better Business  Bureau and there learned that it takes a gargantuan effort to achieve any kind of truth or justice through the Better Business Bureaucracy and that I didn’t have what it takes.

Tony-Mario meanwhile had won my loyalty and I only took my car to him for the next year or two.

But I couldn’t help but notice that every time I went to Tony-Mario the bills grew gradually higher.

In the decades since I have noticed a rather consistent and interesting pattern. The newer I am to a garage the less my repairs cost and the longer I stay with someone the higher they grow. I have theorized that garages have a general strategy of sucking in loyalty by treating new customers with honesty and then gradually juicing you like a poor defenceless lemon the longer you are lulled into their warm sticky embrace.

A year ago I bought a 2002 Saturn, old but safetied by the selling garage – for $2000.00. I mentioned that I could hear a ticking kind of rattle during the test drive – coming from the front passenger wheel. They assured me it was nothing. I was so desperate for a car, so broke and barely employed at the time, that this deal was a major score and I was cornered into optimism.

The noise grew though, with time, until it could no longer be ignored. Knowing almost for certain I had been fudged with, in terms of a questionable, likely unlawful safety certificate, I took it back to the same place where the head dude, a young fellow whose personality positively dripped with venom, told me I needed new bearings on both front wheels. Hoping he felt guilty and/or scared in relation to the original deception, I hoped for a compensatory discount and appeared to get one: two new sets of bearings of the finer quality for a discounted price and no tax (and thus no receipt – wink-wink). Again I was desperate and accordingly optimistic. I paid the $500.00 knowing almost for certain I’d be getting the low-end parts instead from this lizard but satisfied that our verbal chess match had gone as much in my favor as I dared hope.

A couple months later at most, the noises came back and I took the beast to the garage of my housemates’ preference and there learned that I still urgently needed new bearings on both front wheels; the passenger side most urgently, and that it looked like someone had machined a “hub” in order to fit bearings onto my wheel which neither looked new nor were the right size for my car! And thus I now needed a new hub part as well.

 So I paid yet again for new bearings on the one side which I never should have needed in the first place and vowed to soon return to deal with the driver’s side bearings. I then plotted how I would return to the garage of origin and handcuff the slime ball to his hoist before burning his oily mechanical lair to the ground. “I’ll tell you what, Officer!” I would say. “Just let me stand here in the parking lot a little longer – until his screams stop, before dragging me away to jail – and I’ll sign a full confession! Deal?”

Since then a third garage – one I have pretty good reason to trust due to family-friend connections, indeed declared that I need bearings and on the driver’s side only.

These kinds of stories are everywhere. A friend when I was young was a mechanic and he told me one day, very defensively, that he only cheated customers as much as every other mechanic does and no more. I later stopped being his friend for several good reasons.

For the years that a pal of my stepdad’s took care of my cars – both sold them to me and fixed them – I paid next to nothing each year in auto repairs. Many problems were fixed without even needing new parts.

It’s pretty clear to me that almost universally, garages and their mechanics cannot resist the urge to cheat people for money. They have us at their mercy. I used to buy my own brake parts for the Tercel and fix my own brakes in the driveway. And with my uncle’s help and two years of high school auto shop learning, I even performed my own engine work. Today cars are complex and computerized and we are so dependent on mechanics that they are like evil wizards who will do with us as they please.

I sometimes think that if our society had any actual sane regard for truth and honesty that we would legislate small arena-like garages where mechanics, like surgeons addressing interns, would do all work transparently before our eyes and have to show us our damaged parts in comparison to the new ones and demonstrate the need for replacement and be obligated to answer any of our questions.

This over-replacement of parts is no help to the environment obviously. And the problem is further propagated by garages who give mechanics commission on replacement parts. How messed up is that?

Here’s some advice to consider: If you don’t have a mechanic you trust because either he’s a blood relative or you’re sleeping with him, or else you know where he’s been burying bodies – try going to a new garage every time and see how my Theory of Customer Newness holds up!

And two: Stay away from garages where there is little activity and they can always book you right in, spur of the moment. Because if they’re not busy they’ve probably been scaring customers away due to suspiciously high bills, and now being dormant, are more desperate than ever to jack up imaginary repairs and part-replacement needs.

Good luck. It’s a jungle out there.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fire!

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

One day when I was a young man, living here in Scooterville, there appeared on the southern horizon a nasty dark haze which centred over the community of Hagersville; a small farming town about a half-hour drive away which is known for several things:

1. The birthplace of Neil Peart; drummer, composer and lyricist of Rush and the most significant musician since the birth of Rock and Roll by my own subjective accounting!

2. The birthplace of Jay Silverheels; the most significant actor to ever follow around a masked man, calling him “Kee Mo Sah Bee.“

3. The place where I lost my cherry to a married high school teacher. We don’t talk about that.

And 4… the place where thirteen million tires at the Tyre King recycling yard caught fire, burned and smoldered for seventeen days while heavily toxic fumes chased four thousand people from their homes.

Expert fire fighters converged from across the nation, employing 350 tanks of air per day and two water bombers normally employed against forest fires. The disaster loosed tonnes of oil into local groundwater and inflicted “rare and aggressive cancers” on many firefighters.

This “lark” perpetrated by five local teens cost ten million dollars and one year to clean up and remains the worst environmental disaster in Ontario history though I do not know by what criteria specifically. A scarred tundra the size of 18 football fields remains there today.

Tire fires, most of which are ignited through mischief or accidental mishandling of nearby legitimate combustion, are either occurring with increasing frequency or else are being reported with increasingly wider circulation. Reliably, two per year make broad headlines in this decade. The second of 2017 has already ignited on March 5th at the En Tire facility in Phelps City, Missouri and burned for days.


Friday, April 14, 2017

E-Tests

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

I left a prosperous I.T. career in order to embrace a simple, reflective, creative, charitable life. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I work on a plethora of creative projects now; musical, literary and recreational. I do a lot of research and exploration, do some volunteer work and squeak by on a part-time low-income wage. I’ve never been happier.

Every four or so years I buy an old car for next to nothing and together we grow older.

And every other year the Ontario Drive Clean Program kicks the crap out of us.

Every twenty four months I must take my old car – not to the one garage where I trust the mechanic; a friend of a friend of my family – but to the licensed rapist of my choice; a government approved garage licensed for the Drive-Clean program. “Clean” meaning they take you to the cleaners.

Invariably my old car computer kicks out a trouble code or three; whether legitimately or because these strangers, alone with my car, out of my sight, have tinkered with something, I cannot possibly know for sure. What I do know is that I don’t trust these people who invariably deal with me with sharp no-nonsense voices and averted eyes.

Then the magical Drive Clean math kicks in and I end up spending precisely the $500.00 cap plus a little more in order to get a conditional pass (which allows me to renew my vehicle license), some $60 part I’ve never heard of and a baffling receipt detailing another $470.00 in taxes, fees, re-testing fees, labour for installing the mystery part, a perfectly-priced Eco-Check-up-and-Maintenance package(which means who-the-fudge knows what) and then some additional mystery labour for good measure.

I then get the car back with the same old throaty muffler I could have replaced had I not just been financially assaulted, and a mysterious new noise; a symptom of something new gone suddenly wrong with the car while it was behind enemy lines and which will necessitate another garage visit ASAP.

Let me be clear: I’m all for the environment. But every other year when this crap goes down, I could be doing a lot more for the environment with that $500.00 instead of spending it all on fees and taxes and imaginary services.


I get screwed. The environment gets screwed and the government and corporate-owned garages make a bundle of money for accomplishing nothing. In the name of the environment the poorest of us get hit the hardest while rich corporations continue to get away with murder, for instance: documenting their imagined worst-case-for-the-environment process scenarios and implementing their best-for-profit scenarios and claiming environmental reward money as if they’d done us a favour when they haven’t. The injustice always strikes me as deplorable and scandalous.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Drunk

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)


 Many years ago – I was nineteen or twenty years old; the age when men think they know everything and if their lives go well, later discover they knew nothing  – I got into the habit of hanging out at a little bar across town. It was the local bar where Bio-Dad hung out every night and got completely drunk before staggering a couple blocks home. I tended to go on Friday nights. A group of five owned the bar and served as its main bartenders. We were chummy with all of them. They replaced my beers without needing to ask – until I stopped them, at which time we switched to vodka and tonics. And if the night grew long enough the vodka and tonics turned into shots of sipping whisky. Then when the bar officially closed at one thirty or so in the morning they’d lock the door and often a few of us would stay behind and help ourselves behind the bar for free.

Sometimes Bio-Dad and I cabbed it back to his place where I crashed on a pull-out sofa, or sometimes I would just retreat to the parking lot and crawl into the backseat of my Chev Cavalier and sleep off the worst of things before drifting home in the morning with a pounding head and a blood alcohol level likely still on the wrong side of the limit. I was not a big guy back then.

But then I ran into occasions where I would go there on weeknights – such as when the Blue Jays were busy winning post-season games every night en route to their first World Series championship. Everyone in the bar got a free shot with every Jays home run. And there were a lot of them. On nights like those I would slip out of the place at two or three in the morning with a work day ahead of me and a need for a short sleep and my alarm clock, and a strong sense of bravado and legitimacy: It’s the middle of the night. No one’s on the roads. Certainly no children. I can see straight. I’m walking in a straight line. There’s nothing to stop me getting home safe and sound. No big deal.

One night I even came out with keys in hand and my car in the rock star spot – right in front of the door. A cruiser with two officers on board sat parked one spot away from me – an empty spot between us, and with them looking on and my nerves tingling I smoothly slid my key in the lock, calmly entered the car, started it up and right before their eyes, calmly and smoothly drove away.

Then one night as winter had come and the roads were snowy and channeled by snow banks, I drove home from the bar in the middle of the night, confident in my mastery of the situation, and then discovered to my absolute amazement – that I was not in control. The lane I was presumably driving in (the lines were entirely erased from view beneath the tight packed shiny snow) was ending, becoming an extra left-turn lane, while I was going straight, and right directly in front of me was a snow bank and a towering steel lamp post.

I cranked the wheel, bumped off the snow bank and then repeatedly over-steered back and forth trying to gain control of the car. Eventually I hit another icy snow bank and came to a stop.

A motorist came by a few moments later and stopped beside me. “I’m fine!” I said with a wave. Soon after I restarted the car and continued home.

In the morning I looked at my car in the driveway. It wasn’t going anywhere. I’d be calling in sick. I’d done enough damage it would need repairs. My partner looked on beside me, knowing full well what sort of thing had gone on the night before. “What have you got to say for yourself?” he said calmly.

I’ve rarely felt so ashamed. All I said was: “I’m never going back.”

Bio-dad has passed away and the corner bar became a number of different retail joints over the years, including a music store for a while. I only ever went back there once: to buy guitar strings.

Carbon Dioxide

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

Heyo!

This should be an easy post to knock off quickly and we’ll let you get on with your day!

The average family passenger car or light truck (of the common combustion engine variety) in North America produces roughly 10,000 lbs (or 5000 kg) of carbon dioxide per year from burning gasoline. This is the most voluminous of my car’s exhaust pollutants which include carbon monoxide, mono-nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Yay!

You probably already know that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring trace gas in the atmosphere which we and other critters exhale and which plant life, inversely, absorbs before spitting back oxygen for us. Very convenient! Yay!

And you probably know that there is way way too much CO2 around these days and that that is a problem because though it is not the most severe greenhouse gas, it is currently the most voluminous and by most accounting currently the most significant.

Greenhouse effects are awesome! Without a substantial one the Earth would be more like Mars and humans would either not exist or we would have evolved into something more like a sandworm …(*) However…! When a planetary greenhouse system over-evolves you end up like the planet Venus did, where it rains sulfur 24-7 and where an evening stroll on the planet’s surface would pressure-cook you to culinary perfection in a matter of seconds. Yum! At one time Earth would have been on pace for such an eventual state in millions of years from now, however that pace is now accelerating exponentially. Buckle up!

Meanwhile CO2 emissions from automobiles (with a little help from cement production) is largely behind our smog problems – omnipresent in essence but most noticeable in Los Angeles and  New York for instance (the immense Chinese phenomena stems more from coal burning) and is credited for causing and worsening our most common respiratory diseases and boasts many thousands of human deaths annually and is a fairly obvious major contributor to a rare little-known disease called… cancer.

And then of course there’s all the carbon dioxide emissions which come from the extraction of oil and ore and all the manufacturing and refining that goes into building roads and cars and delivering them fuel. Oh well! It’s been a good day in Hell! Thanks for stopping by!

FWG/New Day Rising

* [Editor's note: the author has no clue under which conditions humans might have instead evolved into sandworms, nor what the heck a sandworm is.]