Monday, July 31, 2006

My molar

I had a tooth yanked out recently. It was a molar, and for about thirty years had served with honour and distinction. Uncomplainingly masticating right along with the best of them. At one point it had hosted a cavity, but a filling took care of that, and all had been sunshine and hog calls since. Even a few years back when the butcher H******** (an alleged dentist) jerked out my wisdom teeth (along with some chunks of jaw bone) the previous second molar took over as hind-most molar, and did it’s duty. The other day things took an unfortunate turn. Part of the problem was that filling from so many years before. Unnatural stresses had been applied to the tooth, weaknesses introduced, and yet still the tooth lasted for years. And then a crack appeared in the enamel, working it’s way down to the root, with another crack appearing on the opposite side. Unbeknownst to me, an ugly situation was manifesting itself. The tooth began to ache, as they occasionally do. The next day it really began to ache. Of course this was on a weekend, and all dental activity had been curtailed for a few days. I scored some extra strength Bufferin and spent Sunday trying to ignore the pain. Monday was a work day, and the heat being expelled from my machine caused the tooth to hurt, and convinced me to give the dentist a call (our current dentist, Doctor F*******, is an officer and a gentleman, and nothing like the butcher H********, who is now retired. Probably only one step ahead of many malpractice lawsuits.) The receptionist wondered at the fact that someone who had a tooth turning on him wouldn’t want to come in right away and have it dealt with, but the work angle seemed to satisfy her, and to cut an increasingly long story short, two days later I was safely bolted into the dentist’s chair. The Dentist presented me with his evaluation of the situation, and my options along with his recommendations. The tooth had to go. I agreed, and then I asked for a few final moments alone with my tooth. That over with, they pulled out some metal tools that would have made a Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition piddle with envy. The procedure began, and I am forced to admit that there was a certain amount of pain involved. The only part of me not flailing around like a fish on a hook was my head (I figured that if it hurt this much with my head being still, how much would it hurt if I moved my head?) Any comparison between this pain, and the discomfort of childbirth would be purely speculative on my part, but there was a great deal of relief when the tooth finally cracked free. So now the tooth is gone, and my mouth is pain free. Yet, a valued member of my toothal family is gone, and I feel a little poorer for it.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Friday, July 28, 2006

Just wondering...

I was just wondering; did Adam have a belly-button?

Anyway... Humouroceros

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Annoying easterners

It is now official; Albertans have taken over from Torontonians and Quebecois as the most annoying Canadians and let’s be honest, the competition was pretty stiff. In a poll commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the US Republican Party, Canadians from across the country were asked which of their fellow Canadians were the most annoying and Albertans scored highest in most categories (excluding the ‘ramming French down everybody’s throats’ category) and even setting new records for high scores in the ‘smugness’ and ‘self-righteous’ areas of the poll. Congratulations Alberta!

We in the west have to wonder though; what is it about easterners that makes them so prone to being annoying, and why does it not seem to affect the Maritime Provinces? Albertans have at times claimed to be part of the west. In Calgary they even hold a stampede every year where the locals spend their time running around wearing huge foam rubber cowboy hats and eating free pancakes (or do they call them flap-jakes? You know, just to be "western"). We in the real west find that sort of behavior laughable but generally it can be safely ignored, just like that annoying yet harmless relative that keeps showing up at family dinners.

Albertans appear to be trying to portray their province like the Texas of Canada, and just like Texas they are painting themselves with a wild-west sort of ambiance that bears no resemblance to reality (imagine a western starring Roy Rogers; it’s that sort of “reality”). Here is the Albertan version of being tough on crime; considering the recently issued resource debate checks, $400 free dollars per Albertan to spend as they see fit (AKA: Prosperity Cheques) (more on that later) some of the eligibility criteria were that one had lived in Alberta since Sept 1, 2005 and that one was not in prison on Sept 1, 2005. So in theory some guy could have moved to Alberta in August of 2005 to be, say, the CEO of some mega-huge corporation and to live the good life. Unfortunately the high cost of living makes the good life not a real great life so to supplement his legitimate income, Ken Lay-like he turns to a life of crime. Not being very good at this crime thing he is caught before he has the opportunity to steal too many millions and ruin too many lives and is tossed into prison in October of 2005. Does this guy get a prosperity cheque? According to the rules soft-on-crime Albertans say, yes he does. That’ll larn him.

Also playing along with the Texas “connection” are the so-called Resource Rebate cheques, or as real people call it, “the bribes”. Of course the bribe is a time-honoured tactic in politics in both Canada and the US. A hundred years ago it wasn’t uncommon (like air isn’t uncommon) to find political folk standing outside polling stations (or ‘saloons’) with free booze and these folk would even be so kind as to walk the voter in and even to vote for him! It was a different time then and things were a little more forthright than they are today. “We’ll give you this bottle of cheap whiskey and you vote for the candidate of our choice.”

Today in Alberta that bottle of cheap whiskey costs $400 and the total cost for the province is between 1.3 and 1.4 billion (with a ‘b’), which must be the going rate for purchased elections in Alberta even if they’re not sure to within $100 million how much it’s all going to cost. When you think about it, that $100 million is a lot of $400 cheques and I have to wonder how they know that the administrative costs will be under $10 million. Just my curious nature I guess.

Of course Albertans don’t like the whole ‘bribe’ line of reasoning. According to their own line of reasoning Albertans are such a hard working bunch that they are entitled to these cheques. Why, in Alberta even the homeless are harder working than the homeless in any other part of Canada, which is kind of funny when you consider that it was Alberta’s own Premier, Ralph Klein, who spent an evening a few years ago staggering around a homeless shelter waving a sucked-dry vodka bottle and calling the residents ‘bums’. Now he’s giving those selfsame bums $400 each to do with what they will. Now that’s a change of heart, or is it just recognition of the fact that an Albertan is an Albertan no matter what? After all, to the Albertan mind Albertans don’t just work, they WORK. Something that the rest of us will never understand, apparently.

So here’s to you, Alberta, and congratulations of taking annoyance honours away from Toronto and Quebec, and here’s an idea I’ll toss in for free. Why don’t we move Alberta from its current location and put it over right next to Ontario? That way the top three most annoying Provinces could all be together. Since Albertans are such harder workers than the rest of we Canadians they don’t need the oil that just happens to accidentally be underneath their Province to be prosperous so then they could be righteously annoying. Something to consider. Good on you, Alberta. Keep up the good work!

Anyway… Humouroceros

PS: All facts from the official Albertan Government website at You also might want to consider: or or Enjoy.

Another joke

So, Donald Rumsfeld is briefing George W in the Oval Office. "Oh and finally, sir, three Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq today."
Bush goes absolutely pale, his jaw hanging open in stunned disbelief. He buries his face in his hands, muttering "My God...My God".
"Mr. President," says Cheney, "we lose soldiers all the time, and it's terrible, but I've never seen you so upset. What's the matter?"
Bush looks up and says..."How many is a Brazilian'?"

Heh heh heh... Anyway... Humouroceros

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Classic Rawk

Okay, what is ‘Classic Rock’? I was at the gym recently, making fun of the liquor drinkers and the karaoke ‘singers’ (sweating out the previous evening’s overindulgences, I suppose), when ‘Beast Of Burden’ by the Rolling Stones came on the radio. Cool, I thought, adding a quick ten Kg and ramping up the reps. The song ended, as they so often do, and some faceless mutt (AKA: the DJ) came on, naming the song and welcoming all to the Classic Rock Morning. I mean, what?

Excuse me, world, but the Rolling Stones song Beast Of Burden is not classic rock! It will be classic rock, one day, but it is not classic rock yet! By Crom, I can still remember buying the album it’s on, Some Girls, when it was first released a few short years ago and that album is still pristine! Not a scratch on it and it sounds as good today as it did then. Classic my hind-end. Now I’ll admit that early Rolling Stones could be and probably should be called classic rock. The song Satisfaction, the album Beggar’s Banquet, absolutely. But they’ve been out a few years now. Not like Some Girls, which, as I have already mentioned, is a fairly recent release.

Elvis is classic rock, as are Bill Halley and the Comets, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the rest of that crowd. The stuff they play at graffiti dances where everybody puts crap in their hair and wears polyester. That’s classic rock so all you dinks who are making these terminological decisions, get it straight. Quit trying to make me old. I am taking care of that on my own (with a little help by time) and what I do not need is some wiener saying, “You know all that music you bought when it was new? Well it’s all old and that makes you really old!” You can all just get out of my face, and stay there. Now it’s time for my nap.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pope Benedict to write a book

Pope Benedict XVI, notorious Catholic and leader of one of the world’s largest faith-based organizations, has begun work on his latest book, which is confidently expected to be a huge best seller along the lines of those written by Tom Clancy, Dan Brown or Ann Coulter. His subject is to be Jesus Christ, well known prophet, Messiah and Son of God, and this book is expected to blow the lid off many of the myths that have grown up regarding Jesus over the past two thousand years.

Father Gert Rottweiler, head of the Vatican bookstore, Now Dat’sa Good Book, and author of the religious pamphlet, ‘Most Of Us Hardly Ever Molest Children Anymore’, is very excited by the forthcoming book. “The Pope has a proven track record when it comes to writing,” he says. “He loves the process; the research, the study, the playing Solitaire on the computer. It is all a source of great joy and relaxation to him.”

When it was pointed out that after two millennium it was difficult to believe that there could be any new information to be found on what can be a very controversial subject, Father Gert replied, “You’d be surprised what we have stashed away down in the Vatican basement here. Very surprised. There are nooks and crannies everywhere and I think the Pope will find some interesting little bits of new information when he looks. Hey, you never know! I know that whatever he finds will hold your interest.”

Does the Vatican expect the possibility of new information to be a major selling point? “Well, you know it might be but we’re not going to depend on it. Perhaps to those who are not members of the Church. As far as those who are members of the Church, we have a saying here in the Vatican book store when it comes to books written by Popes, “Better read than excommunicated and sent to never-ending torment in the fiery depths of the deepest bowels of Hell.”

The book is expected to be released sometime in the next few years.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Proposed book cover

Friday, July 21, 2006

Time magazine

An unfortunate use of assault rifles
The Time Magazine dated July 24, 2006, has a cover story regarding the ongoing current situation in Lebanon. The story itself is the usual fine bit of unbiased reportage (although I am sure that there are extremists on each side who would disagree with that statement), but it the cover photo of the magazine that I am concerned with here.

As you can see, as a photographic illustration of the continuing middle-east strife, two rifles (a Russian built AK-47 7.62mm and a US built M-16A2 .22 caliber) have somehow had their barrels tied one to the other. I don’t so much find the image disturbing as I do find the destruction of these two fine weapons for the purposes of a newsmagazine cover disturbing.

Consider, if you will. These two fine assault rifles, which formerly could have been used on the international stage to fight terrorists, or on the domestic scene for home defense or to bust caps at a rival gang member, are now scrap metal. I am the first to admit that I know nothing about guns other than the fact that they make a lot of noise and are damn annoying when pointed at you, but I suspect that once a barrel is twisted like that, you don’t untwist it. Yep, these babies are only fit for that big metal grinder in the sky. Such a waste.

So, to Time Magazine and all the other newsmagazines out there, please. Please think before you do these kinds of things. There are folks out there who want assault rifles and who can’t get hold of them. Think of these poor folks. Thank you for listening.
Anyway… Humouroceros

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Guarding the border 2

Gentlemen; reading over my notes from my last communication, RE: a border wall betwixt Canada and the US (or do you prefer ‘betwixt the US and Canada?) as well as on your southern border, it occurs to me that the wall I described, while being effective would also have been slightly unsightly. I seems to have a bit too much of that ‘Berlin Wall’ ambience that, as a potential world society, we should be trying to get away from. The optics of a huge ‘stay out’ type of barrier, insinuating some sort of xenophobic theocratic dictatorial autocracy hiding behind their own fear and ignorance are perhaps not what we are looking for. Fair enough.

I have a second idea, and this is one that will tie in nicely with the ‘traditional American values’ thing you folks have going. It’s a little more ‘just folks’, a little more ‘county’, and a lot more ‘low key’ than a thirty foot tall perma-crete wall surrounded by rabid animals and quicksand. Gentlemen, have you considered a white picket fence?

What could be more folksie, down home and ‘hey neighbour, how ya doin’’ than a white picket fence? Yet, let’s not fool ourselves. This fence is not merely for decoration and good public relations. It is also a first line of defense tool, thus I suggest that each picket be armed with a 21,000 mega-joule optical fiber laser attack system, operated by Tandy multi-processing fuzzy-logic CPUs, tandem tied to a profile recognition central computer.

I believe that this system will be less costly to build than the first wall, although maintenance will be a little more expensive. In any event you can depend on it to slice, dice and dust any terrorists who try to cross it. Thank you for listening.
Anyway… Humouroceros

Short sample of white picket fence test built in Idaho - 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

Guarding the border 1

Gentlemen; it has come to my attention that the current Presidential Administration in your country appears to be so afraid of the rest of the world that they are doing their level best to cut your country off from the rest of the world. Not that this is a new feeling on your part, if I read my history right. As I recall the US was in no hurry to join in World War I (seeing it as a European problem) or even in World War II (since that Hitler guy wasn’t all that bad really, was he?) Since then the US has only entered world affairs when feeling threatened economically, or when Communism was involved. At least up until recently. But hey, fair enough.

The latest I’m hearing out of your country though is a little odd. As I understand it, you will be requiring that all visitors to your country must have a passport or some sort of identification card to get in. And even odder, any US citizen who travels outside the homeland will need a US passport to get back in to the US. What, are you kidding? Identification? Any terrorist with half a brain could fake this sort of stuff with a second-hand computer and a cheap printer. If you really, honestly want to keep the rest of the world at bay, I suggest you consider building a wall.

I’m not talking about some scabby little unit like what you’re putting along the Mexican border either. A chain link fence is okay for around a schoolyard or to enclose a dog run, but to keep the terrorist hoards from ravaging your country? Get serious. Even that cement thing the Israelis are building to enrage the Palestinians is kind of lame. One decent sized car bomb or I.E.D. (Improvised Explosive Device) and a big chunk of that wall is busted. There’s your security right there.

Gentlemen, I say if you’re going to do this thing, do it right. To start, I suggest a six inch tritanium solid core with vent plugs every four feet or so. On each side of this, three quarter needle pin reinforcing bar with a four inch cross pattern, gamma welded together (this could even be double layered for added security and durability.) This would all be encased in perma-crete, making the final wall about eighteen inches wide. It should be about thirty feet tall, traveling the full length of both north and south international borders.

This is a good start but in this crazy new world we must consider the ingenuity and the sheer animal cunning of your modern terrorist. These people will stop at nothing so I believe that in order to deter spontaneous or unplanned acts of terror you should make it difficult to even approach the wall. Wild animal runs, crocodile moats, quicksand pits, shark infested lakes, why you can let your minds run riot. A decently facilitated brainstorming session should give you enough ideas to make it very nearly impossible to get within a half mile of the wall.

Next you should plan for the full-on, well trained terrorist. These guys are not part-timers, they are hardcore and getting to the wall will be difficult but not impossible for them. I suggest a twenty foot ponji-stick pit next to the wall (ponji-sticks with the usual festering substances spread on them as used by the Viet-Cong during your country’s Asian adventure in Viet Nam), and a razor wire ‘film’ placed on both sides of the wall. At the top of the wall should be a crushed glass layer with a ten foot high micro-fiber mesh net. Try to climb that and any terrorist will lose fingers.

This wall as described should provide adequate protection for the lower forty-eight states quite nicely. As regards Alaska and Hawaii, I wouldn’t worry too much about Alaska (unless you get the oil drilling going there) since it is kind of cold and terrorists are generally a warm weather animal. As far as Hawaii, why not just give it to Canada? The Hawaiians already have a Commonwealth flag as part of their state flag, so they’re pretty much half way there already. With Hawaii out of the picture it would be one less thing for you guys to worry about, and besides, everybody likes Canadians so it would also be one less thing for the Hawaiians to worry about (in an emergency we could even hide the islands in the Hudson Bay or something.) Sounds like a win/win situation to me. Something to think about anyway. Thank you for listening.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Artists imaginative conception of the Wall

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Did you know...? 2

The book mark was created in 1460 by Gunter Gutenberg, the eldest son of Johann Gutenberg who had invented the first movable type printing press. It is called a book mark because the first one was fashioned from a German one mark bank note.

King Arthur's round table was actually more of an oval.

South of the equator the hands of a clock are called it's feet.

When the Titanic sank, over fifty percent of the first class tickets had not yet been paid for in full. The final lawsuit in this matter was settled in 1952, with the victory going to the plaintiff.

When a light bulb burns out, at the moment of 'final flash', for one Pico-second the filament reaches the temperature of the surface of the sun.

If you fold a sheet of paper in two, it doesn't actually get smaller. It's just folded in half.

If Mount Everest were sunk in the deepest part of the Earth's Atlantic ocean, it would still stick out of the water almost five and one half miles.

The word 'library' comes from the Latin 'Libre arie', which means 'free chickens'. To many Romans the writing on the scrolls stored in 'Readium' (reading rooms) looked like the marks made by chickens with ink on their feet.

The first person to say, 'It's Greek to me' was actually talking about the Chinese.

The skin of a rhinoceros is quite thin and if you scrape one it will probably stomp the living heck out of you.

During the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s the Red Guard tried to force traffic to go on red, and to stop on green.

Scientists now believe that the first domesticated animal was not the dog, but more probably was a sheep or a pig.

The first bowling trophy was won by Morris Ogilvy in Cincinnati in 1912.

There are one hundred and eighty six different varieties of penguin, ranging in size from the very tiny shrew penguin (1/2“ - 3/4”) up to the lumbering dogwood penguin (6' - 6' 7 1/2“). Scientists believe that in prehistoric times there were cave penguins that were even larger. There is no evidence to back this up however.

Generally speaking, a duck would rather be a hammer than a nail.

Frank 'Slugger' Lange of the New York Rangers (1957 - 1964) could swing a baseball bat so fast that it is estimated that the bat's tip was traveling ten times the speed of sound.

The first computer (Univac) was so large that several technicians became lost inside it and were never seen again.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I guess we all have days like that.

Anyway... Humouroceros

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

West Nile Virus

I was out at my parents a few weeks back, scratching around in the dust and fixing the rear brakes on the Jeep (I find that when a retracting spring snaps it causes a whole bunch of damage really fast) and I couldn’t help but notice all the mosquitoes landing on me to suck my blood before bugging off to do whatever it is that mosquitoes do when they’re off duty. Oddly enough it was just then that they interrupted the radio show I was listening to (Thrash Afternoons Extreme Mosh) so that some know-it-all pseudo-celebrity could waste five minutes of my life with some pithy remarks about that West Nile Virus. I listened to it all because it is possible that information that you don’t have can kill you and afterwards I thought it is well worth considering the Killer Bee situation from about thirty years ago.

As we all know Killer Bees were a genetically modified insect consisting of equal parts common honey bee and P.O.ed African attack bee. They were created by ex-Nazi psychopath Joseph Mengele on the banks of the Amazon in sunny Brazil. One summer evening in either the late 60’s or the early 70’s they were ‘accidentally’ released (as recreated in the book, movie and Broadway musical, ‘The Boys From Brazil’) and they spent the next fifteen years or so slowly making their way north, stopping at all the tourist hotspots and camping whenever they darn well pleased. Some time in the mid 1980’s as they were set to enter either the US or Canada (or the US via Canada) they magically all disappeared.

It’s a mystery that haunted the Internet and all the popular conspiracy periodicals for decades until recently declassified documents from the US Air-force Project Bluebook files show that beginning in early 1984 huge mesh nets were set up along the US/Mexico border and for months on end hundreds of thousands of Killer Bees were trapped. They were then stored in the Klinksgate Caverns in New Mexico where they were trained as couriers and in counter-insurgency technique. In 1991 several served with distinction in US fifth-column units during Gulf War I earning the country’s highest decorations for insect bravery.

The same cannot be said of the mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. In fact several of the more ‘off the wall’, or ‘nuts’, right-wing commentators currently polluting the airwaves have even claimed a connection between mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus and the high command of the terrorist organization Al-Qaida. Be that as it may it must be admitted that the death toll from West Nile is going up faster than a shark going after a seal. In reaction to this obviously upsetting fact I have come up with a plan of action that should if not eradicate the scourge, it should make things better and more comfortable for those of us who live in paradise.

I propose that some sort of international organization, such as the UN or the US armed services, take some time out of their busy schedules and figure out how to wipe out every last mosquito on earth. A radical idea, to be sure, but one that will virtually stop the West Nile Virus in its tracks. Admittedly there are those who will express some concern regarding how mosquitoes, as annoying as they may be, are a vital part of the circle of life and how there are little birds out there who depend on mosquitoes for food and in a mosquito-free world these little birds would suffer some hardship. I don’t really see how this is my problem though. I don’t owe anything to some stupid little birds and I have to be honest here. There have been times when an extra ten bucks would have made the day go a bit better and there was no way some cheapskate little bird was going to give it to me. So that, plus the fact that I should be able to sit outside with a coffee and a good book without losing a quart or two of blood and dying into the bargain makes things quite clear to me. In the words of Darth Sidious, “Wipe them out. All of them.”

Anyway… Humouroceros

The West Nile Virus Mosquito

Monday, July 03, 2006

The longest undefended border in the world 3

Well it’s early days yet and I’m still getting the hang of this digital camera technology but I think I’m off to a good start. As you no doubt remember, John, ever since you pointed out how my home country is a hotbed of Islamic extremism and a haven for terrorists, Klingons and other assorted bad guys I have taken it upon myself, at some personal risk, to hunt down and photograph terrorists wherever I can find them. I’m using a digital camera because as we both know, time is of the essence these days. I can just fire the digital pictures straight onto the computer instead of having to wait for them to be developed. I believe this will be handy in case ‘something were to happen’, if you catch my drift.

John, before we get started I sort of feel I should explain something. As the Chairman of a subcommittee you have probably developed a thick skin of sorts when it comes to considering terrorists and their various terrible activities. Remember that I’m new at this and if finding out that you’re living in a hotbed of terrorist activity doesn’t give you the jitters then nothing will. This will explain the first picture.
I was walking through my living room when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. “Holy cow!” I thought, “It’s a rotten terrorist!” I quickly turned and snapped a picture. It turns out that it wasn’t a terrorist at all but was instead a picture of our family dog, Razor. Razor is no terrorist; in fact she is as gentle as a kind-hearted fly which is pretty much the exact opposite of a terrorist. She would never hurt anybody or anything, unless it’s a mouse or a cat or something. Once Razor chows down on one of her fellow mammals (not that I buy into that evolution stuff or anything) we don’t have to feed her for that day. This first shot may have been a misfire, but it was good practice.

Next, I was taking a slow buzz around town on the old Raleigh Tomahawk II and I began to notice how much crud is lining the streets these days. I know that back in the day it was acceptable to dump that old refrigerator or washing machine by the hiway or down a ravine. The argument could even be made that this was a form of free enterprise, as one would have been avoiding the cost of the dump fees. In this current age of environmental awareness tossing your unwanted items out along the side of the road is frowned on, which is just one more freedom lost. Subtle, isn’t it? Correct me if I’m wrong, John, but are not free enterprise and freedom two of the things the terrorists hate about the west?

Then, to be even subtler, the terrorists take another tack. Now that everybody is so used to seeing everything so nice and tidy, it’s the terrorists who run around tossing junk all over the place, thus causing a loss of morale and feelings of deep anxiety. Almost makes you wish they were on our side, right? Except that we don’t want bad guys on our side.

John, my third photo may be a little controversial, but allow me to explain (I know, John. I’m not big on “explanations” or “understanding all the facts” either but just bear with me here.) First, a disclaimer; some of the information to follow is a little strong. As the chair of a subcommittee you may be used to this sort of stuff, but it gives me the creeps. This organization, which is very old and has managed to insinuate itself into almost every facet of our very lives, at one time would take people who didn’t agree with it and tie them to a stake. Then they would pile oil-soaked wood around these people and burn them to death! Also, this organization, like the Islamic extremists do, claims to be religious, in this case they claim to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than Mohammed. Somehow I just can’t see Jesus tossing faggots of wood onto a fire that was being used to murder somebody so this is obviously just another example of religion being contaminated by extremists.

These people had/have other habits that are kind of nasty too, but the burning thing pretty much does it for me. Here is a photograph of one of their local buildings and as I was taking it I had to wonder, what are they getting up to in there?

So that’s it for now, John. I’m still on the case, as it were, and I’ll keep you posted. Keep up the good work.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A cure for feeling 'down'

We have all had days where everything just doesn’t feel right. You’re a little down, it’s all sideways and you just can’t snap out of it. Usually it’s no big deal. A large coffee and some loud music and before I know it I’m back in the center square. Good stuff, when it works. This time though, it had been three days of moping around like a politician who had just had his third pay raise of the year turned down. Pretty sad.

I’ve never bought into that Oprah/Dr Phil methodology of self-flagellation thing, and I don’t particularly like the self-help book industrial complex. Approach the issue from an oblique angle, dive from the sun and punt that sucker right through the uprights is the way I figure it. To this end I pulled out my copy of Dirk Gently: The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul by Douglas Adams. Don’t be fooled by the title, this is not some sort of arty-farty self-help book aimed at old hippys and other nimrods but rather the second book in the Dirk Gently, holistic detective series. There is an interesting concept in the book where when Dirk gets lost he chooses a car at random and follows it. The holistic theory is that you may not get to where you want to be, but you will get to where you need to be.

I tossed a couple of Snapples into a cooler, popped the whole works into the Jeep and was off. I feel that it’s best not to over think these things so the first vehicle I saw I dropped in behind and let the cards fall where they may. The vehicle I was behind was one of those huge pickups you see, a Dodge or a Ford I guess, and that dude was here to travel. We hit the hiway and turned south and that’s all she wrote for quite a while. I hadn’t been down this way in a long time and when after about an hour we turned left off the hiway I began to think this was totally weird.

We were heading in towards the S**** Lake campsite. I flashed back to a camping trip I had taken with some friends starting on May 16, 1981, and everything just fell into place. Good times, good food, good beer, good tunes, just all around good vibes. Mayhap we weren’t all standing around bobbing our heads to some righteous Rasta dub, but hey mon, it was good none the less.

The road has not improved at all over the last twenty years and there are still loads of curves and whatnot and then we arrived at the lake and here things have changed! It’s no longer the place I remember with single and multiple player campsites laid out amongst the trees, fire-pits included. Now it’s just a big open area on the water uncontaminated by trees or bushes or anything. Just dirt and rocks, then water. Just the thing for those who enjoy either a minimalist camping experience, or those who would enjoy the German style of sardine camping (get an area about 50’ x 50’, put thirty motor-homes and about a hundred Krauts in there and watch the fun). I still like the idea of trees and stuff when I camp. Fortunately I wasn’t here to camp at this particular point in time.

The pickup pulled off to the far side of the bare area while I pulled intot eh center and parked next to a large rock. I set up my camping chair, cracked a nice iced tea and waited for the long ago good vibes to kick in. And wait I did. The sun rose higher into the sky making me grateful that I had brought my official Boy Scout Tilley hat, and the Snapples were going down pretty easy. I guess the warmth and the relaxing ambiance made me a little drowsy and I spent a certain amount of time in that area between being asleep and being awake. Given this you can understand why I thought I was dreaming when I first heard the sound. There was a steady thumping that slowly became louder and louder. The last sort of dreamy thing that I can remember thinking was, “Hey, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.” Then hundreds of black helicopters began landing all around me. That’s right, black helicopters as mentioned by various militias, loonies, and oddballs, and they were thapping to the ground all around me and the rising dust and grit was making it pretty dark. The ground was shaking and it was getting darker and darker, then the lights came on. Yeah, I know how that sounds so let me explain.

As it turned out the ground shaking was actually a huge elevator lowering all of the helicopters underground. Then a pie-wedge shaped lid slowly covered over us (see the moon landing in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey for visual info!) The helicopters were all shutting down and loads of military dressed guys were jumping out and forming lines and marching and stuff. I was all agog. I thought this sort of stuff only happened in movies with that Stallone guy.

Then this caricaturtypical English twit guy comes marching up to me (you know the type: too much tooth, too much ear-lobe, not enough chin, probably named ‘Nigel’ or ‘Clive’). “I say, old chap,” he says. “Are you the chap called Agent X, eh wot?” I raised my eyebrow, Spock-like and enigmatic which was apparently the correct move because the next thing he says is, “I say, jolly good show. Follow me please, old cock!”

We, and a pair of armed guards that fell into step behind us, wove our way through the heavily armed helicopters until we arrived at a wall containing a couple of small offices. An officer of some sort occupied the office we entered. The guy was covered with epaulets and ribbons, and as much as I hate to say that he looked like a South American Junta Leader, he did actually look like a South American Junta Leader. “I say, Agent X, sir,” says the inbred appearing English mutt. “Grunt,” responded the officer.

The office was small, yet appeared even smaller with me, the English mutt, the officer behind his military surplus desk, a pedestal with a red button on top, as well as the two guards all wedged in. The officer finally looked up from the hyper-important bits of ‘bumf’ he was looking at and said, “The first most important thing you had better understand, boy, is this. Under no circumstances should you ever, and I mean ever, press that red button! Do you understand what I’m saying here, boy?” (I have heard that this is called ‘foreshadowing’ by many of those in the writing game and is pretty clever besides.)

“I am Six Star General William ‘Stomper’ Featherington-Stonewall I, finished 97th and 123rd in my graduating classes of 1970 and 1982 at the Virginia Military Institute. That’s ‘the Citadel’ to boys like you. Loved that place so much I just had to go through the program twice. These are my credentials, now who the hell are you?”

“I’m, ah, Agent X,” I answered. “I used to be Agent W but I got a promotion. My friends just call me Agent. Sometimes I have an egg for breakfast, with a couple of cups of coffee. I used to bowl about thirty years ago, but I wasn’t very good at it. If I had a choice between being a hammer and a nail, I’d rather be the hammer, but nails are pretty sharp too. I’ve been electrocuted a couple of times, but I find that you never really get used to that. I pulled a bird out of the grill of my truck once…”

“Hold on there, cowboy,” the General interrupted. “You’re heading into the too much information area now. What I need to know is, are we good to go? I want to get this party on the road. We are ready to rock and roll now and I don’t want the boys going stale, so what’s the situation outside?”

“Fair to middlin’, I suppose. Sunny with a high chance of temperatures later. You know.”

The General didn’t look happy. “Don’t be yankin’ me boy, are we clear here? Is the element of surprise on our side here or not?”

“Well,” I said, “you guys sure surprised the heck out of me.”

“Boy,” the General said, “I am becoming very suspicious of you.”

There’s not much worse than having a crazy General suspicious about you. I guess being chewed on by a rabid (or even a rabies free) pitbull could be worse. An explosive bowel movement right at the start of a long international flight would probably suck pretty bad, I suppose. Knocking over a Hell’s Angels motorcycle wouldn’t be good. Then again, everything is relative so the crazy General thing was quite bad enough to be getting on with at the moment. At any rate he was still looking at me suspiciously when he asked, “What we really need to know, Agent X… You really are Agent X, right?”

“No,” I answered, not thinking for a moment. “No I’m not actually. I mean, uh…” Damn! Busted.

Oddly enough things became a little menacing at that point and the tiny office became just a little more crowded as the two guards pulled out their side-arms (taking up some very critical shivering room, I might add). There wasn’t actually enough room in the office for them to point the weapons at me, but just the fact that the weapons were out and obvious had introduced an unwelcome sense of menace to the entire situation.

I figured I had better try to lighten things up a bit. “Hey,” I said. “You guys are that One World Government crowd, aren’t you? The one that is supposedly led by the background boys in the United Nations, but which is actually backed by the Soviet Politburo in hiding based out of some shadowy eastern European capital, right?”

I didn’t like the way that everybody in the room was nervously eyeing each other after they had heard that little outburst. Nope, not at all. Then the General spoke up. “Perhaps,” he said slyly. “And which international law enforcement agency do you happen to work for? Interpol? The FBI? The Mounties? CSIS? The Boy Scouts?”

“Ha!” I said, “None of the above! I’m just a concerned private individual, a citizen of this great nation and I’m only trying to serve and protect democracy as we know it. The right not to vote. The right to watch porn on the Internet. The right to rock out with your cock out.” At first I didn’t know if I should have added that last bit or not, but as they all tried to edge away from me I figured that it was okay. They had been kind of intruding into my personal space somewhat.

Then the General laughed. “Well hell in a basket, we got ourselves a rompy one here alright! You don’t like the One World Government idea? Well me neither! How about them apples? How about One World under God? That idea grabbin’ you okay, boy? No more Islam, no more Buddha, and no more of that Jewish stuff. Just one good old fashioned Christian God, worldwide! But none of the wimp-ass commie, girlie Jesus stuff like what’s in the New Testament. No way in hell, boy. We got us a kick-ass Jesus. A real man’s Jesus. A take no prisoners Jesus. A cigar chompin’, black coffee drinkin’, good woman lovin’ Jesus!” Man the spittle was flying as only a true stone-crazy General can do. Not a lot of fun when one is trapped in a small room with one.

“And democracy,” he continued, “I don’t even know what the hell that means. Hey you!” he says, pointing to one of the guards. “You know what this boy means by democracy, soldier?”

“Hell no, sir,” the soldier yelled back. “It’s Greek to me, sir!”

“Well I should guess to hell so!” The General pointed to me again. “I’ll tell you about the new democracy, boy. We in charge will be telling you what to think, and your right will be to do as you are told. ‘Reality’ television programs, infomercials, Televangelical news, and approved entertainment news will tell you all you need to know. Do as you’re told and there’ll be a minimum of trouble. We will probably get along just fine. You’re a Canuck, right?”

“I do indeed have that honour, sir.”

“Right,” then to the guards he says, “Take him to that Canuck guy, Major-General (acting) Bob ‘Doug’ MacKenzie.” He looked back to me. “He’s the leader of the militant arm of the Western Canada Concept. He’ll know what to do with a nut like you.”

Right ho, I figured, then what the hey and I pounded my fist down on that red button and all heck broke loose (right, like you didn’t see that bit of business coming from a kilometre off. Remember the foreshadowing thing?). The entire underground area (or space, as an interior decorator would say) filled with the sound of aircraft grade machine-gun fire. The General stood up and yanked out his side-arm. He scrambled over the desk and shoehorned his way to the door, which was open. He looked at me and slowly shook his head. “You mad, mad bastard,” he said. “You don’t know what you’ve done.”

“Darn,” I said. “I thought I had just stopped a bunch of rock-head loonies from trying to take over the world and force some sort of Conservative Theocracy down everybody’s throats which would have created a planet-wide regime of intolerance and unforgiving self-righteousness like what currently exists in Iran, Burma, and the United States.” I took a breath. “Right?”

The General looked surprised. “Okay,” he finally said, “so you do know.” He pointed at the guards. “You guys are with me. You, Limey. Deal with this guy, if you know what I mean. He knows too much.” Then with an Animal House Bluto-style howl of “Let’s go” he and the guards trotted out into the smoke filled darkness.

The English-twit guy turned to me and to be honest, I figured this was it. Tits up, toes curled, eyes ‘x’ed, pop your clogs, drop the racket and jump the net time. At that particular moment though it didn’t bother me too much as I was getting tired of having guns, knives, and bad breath pointed at me all the time. Then the English guy says, “Right ho then, chappie. The deal is this. You don’t tell anyone what you have seen or heard here, and we let you go free. I must warn you, I do not bargain as that is a game for cads and other riff-raff. What do you say, what?” I agreed, we shook hands and he ran off into the darkness after the General.

Zounds, I thought, that had been close. I took a peek out the door and I’m no military expert but it looked as though this One World Government thing wouldn’t be happening today. It appeared the red button had activated all the machine-guns on all of the helicopters, and since they had been lined up pretty sardine-like in the confined space of the underground hanger this had caused some explosions that had pretty much totaled the base. Smoking helicopter husks littered the floor and there were all sorts of other military looking wreckage smoldering all over the place. Good thing the base emergency fire suppression units had kicked in or it could have been pretty ugly.

Also, things had become really quiet. Too quiet as John Wayne used to say when he was sober enough to remember his lines, and alive. Then I noticed all the holes in the ceiling, and the knotted ropes that were hanging down from them, so I figured that the One World soldiers had evacuated the base. Next thing two scruffy looking mutts in worn and stained military fatigues walked out of the wreckage and it looked like they were drinking beers. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought, but it appeared to be time to make nice. “Hey!” I called. “One World Government! Yeah! You go girl!”

They both stopped in their tracks and dropped their military surplus beers. “Look, Jeb,” said the uglier of the two. “It’s one of those black-helicopter goobers. Wanna shoot ‘im?”

“Yup,” said Jeb as he raised his rifle to his shoulder.

Not again. “You fellows have got the wrong end of the stick!” I called. “I’m not a black-helicopter guy!”

“Oh well,” says Jeb. “Maybe he’s one of those fruity guys. Let’s both shoot him.” Now they both had their rifles pointed at me and it wasn’t looking good, man. I heard a voice call out, “Hey! I know you.” I looked over and there came Psycho Tom striding through the wreckage and for the first time since I met the guy I was almost glad to see him. Circumstances are everything. “Hey, Tom. What’s up?”

He walked up to me and put his shaved and tattooed head up next to my non-shaven and non-tattooed one. “What’s your name again?”

“Ah, Arnold,” I answered using the most manly, robot from the future name I could think of. “Arnie, you know.”

“Right. Arnie, from work.” Tom scratched at his head and looked around. I looked around too, noticing that Jeb and his ugly brother (or cousin, or brother and cousin) had bugged out. “So what’s up?” I asked again.

“The boys and I just decided that we should clear this rat’s nest out.”

“The boys?” I asked

“Yeah. I told you before, man. We’re the Coon Valley Rangers.”

“Oh yeah.” Then I remembered. “You’re one of those private militia groups.”

“We’re rangers. I told you.”

“Okay. And those were a couple of your boys there drinking that military surplus beer.”

Tom slowly shook his head as he lit a six paper joint. “Yeah,” he said. “Don’t use that stuff anymore, myself. Have to stay straight and clear. Clear and straight. You know?”

“Yeah,” I agreed having never believed in arguing with an armed and crazy guy, especially an armed and crazy guy who has bizarre and cryptic tattoos all over his head. “Where are those One World Guys? They sure as heck didn’t fly out of here,” I said, pointing to all the wrecked helicopters.

“That bunch, man,” he said in disgust. “They ran up the ropes, out the holes and off into the hills. I don’t think we’ll be seeing them around again.”

“Why?” I wondered.

“Dope growers and bears will get most of them,” Tom explained. “And a hard winter will cull the herd even more. By this time next year none of those boys will be in any sort of condition.” Tom shook his head. “I don’t know, man. Foreigners just don’t do well here. Soil’s too rocky and there isn’t enough water.” He shrugged. “Oh well. We’ll just get Wade buddy’s truck in here and fill this pit up with dirt and that’ll be that, y’know?”

“Shouldn’t you maybe let the authorities know about all this, or something,” I asked.

“Nope. Gotta keep under the radar. You know how it is. Hey, you want to join the Rangers, Arnie?”

I shook my head. “No thanks, Tom. You know how it is. I’m allergic to weapons and crazy people.”

“I hear you, Arnie. Jesus loves you, you know.”

“Yeah, I know, Tom. That and ten bucks will get me a coffee at Starbucks.” Tom was lighting a cigarette as I climbed one of the ropes back up to the Jeep. The bright spot, to me, of this entire affair is that I was no longer feeling out of sorts. Funny how stopping religious extremists (AKA: “nuts”) from taking over the world can do that for a guy.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Black helicopter from my back deck