Tuesday, November 30, 2004

FM Radio: The One Place Where The Dog is Mightier Than The Hawk!

Those who know me well know that I like a wide range of music. I appreciate fresh, original talent in all genres, and I respect and admire radio stations that reflect this attitude in their programming. However, in these days of media consolidation, music programming on radio stations has become formulatic in order to "satisfy" the widest possible audience. This has diminished the quality of music at stations across the country, especially out in my neck of the woods!

Out here in the Strait Area of Nova Scotia, the quality of music on the radio ranks anywhere from bland, to downright atrocious. 101.5 FM The Hawk (Port Hawkesbury, NS) plays whatever is hot on the nation's music charts, which is sorta okay, except when you hear these same songs five times in a day! Being subjected repeatedly to the wailings of Marc Anthony, Tal Bachman, and Larry Gowan over the course of a work day is not only numbing, it could very well fall under the provisions against cruel and unusual punishment set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

I shouldn't be too cruel to our local radio outfit, they are great in the community, grant exposure to East Coast artists of all stripes on Sunday morning, and they have employed a number of old high school friends over the years. However, I always endeavour to call a spade a spade, and this card is lying on the table in plain view!

Regrettably, 98.9 FM The X (Antigonish, NS) does not fare much better than the Hawk in my book. It does play a little more rock than the Hawk, and the specialty programming that it does air is in tune with the communities unique flavour (Scottish fiddle music at 6pm on weeknights), but the vast majority of the programming is boring, stale adult comtemporary and easy listening music. Yawn.

I find it funny that the best station in the area is one that is run by high school students. 93.9 SAERC FM (Port Hawkesbury, NS) plays music 24/7 with no commercials, interrupted only occassionally during the day by its green-but-learning crack staff of DJ's! The playlist is eclectic, ranging from the familiar (pop, rock, rap, oldies etc) to more edgier stuff (punk, speed metal, instrumental), to even theme songs of old or current TV shows (HNIC, Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles)! Alas, the wattage is so low, that the mountain that stands between Port Hawkesbury and Havre Boucher blots out the signal completely. Crap!

Fortunately, it now seems that 100.9 Big Dog FM (Truro, NS) upped its wattage recently, as its fomerly weak signal now comes in quite well on radios inside my house! I've been treated to its solid blend of rock and pop every time I've travelled through Central Nova Scotia, and now I can enjoy it from the comforts of home. If only these top 40 stations learned from stations like Big Dog and realized that songs don't suck because they've fallen off the charts, or that playing a song more than twice a day eventually causes their listeners to get sick of it, and subsequently, the station itself. Balance and variety are very good things!

Tomorrow, I send health insurance money to New York, and then I book an appointment to get my oil changed/winter tires equipped! The expenses just keep a 'comin!!

Quick, Somebody Call The Exorcist, The Car's Audio System Is Frothing At The Tape Deck!!

I went to Halifax yesterday, as I mentioned previously, to get my passport application processed in person. That in itself went smoothly, but it was during the trip up that provided me with the highlight (crisis?) of the day: the tape player/radio in my car is now officially possessed!

I went to press some of the preprogrammed buttons on the radio to tune in a station when I inadvertently pressed two at the same time. For some reason, this caused ALL buttons on the radio (minus the manual tuner thankfully) to perform the same function (i.e. display the current station). I was just minorly annoyed at the turn of events, when I got the bright idea of pushing in the cassette that was in the tape deck to see if that would solve matters. OOPS! Now, the only function that ALL the buttons would do was to flip the cassette over to the other side!

Now, it looked like the audio system in my car was doomed to play the same tape over and over for all eternity! Luckily, I pulled over at the Irving in Sutherland's River in Pictou County, NS and read the car's manual. Apparently, if the cassette in the tape deck screws up, the unit would eject the offender! So I took a screwdriver that was in the dashboard, and jostled the cassette that was playing inside the deck. Suddenly, the audio took on the likeness of The Chipmunks and it appeared for a second that NO audio would ever pour from my car stereo anytime soon. Fortunately though, I pressed the flip button (now any button), and the tape deck did its job, spitting out the little troublemaker! WHEW!

So I'm stuck with FM radio and dialing in stations manually until I got the money to replace the bloody thing with a CD player/radio. Things could've been a heck of a lot worse though, that's for sure!

In other news, I got my passport processed on the 15th floor of the Martime Centre in Downtown Halifax (express elevators with windows are fun!), and afterwards, I got half my Christmas shopping done at the Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth. The drive down and back home (minus the incident detailed above) was standard, but very rainy and wet, though it doesn't hold a candle to the rainstorm I went through last Fall in October, when I was driving back to Saint John, NB from Moncton.

I gotta give more of my money away now in preparation for my trip! See you all later!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Aftermath of Club Med, Or My Paycheck This Week Was -$14.23!

I hope anybody who was at Club Med in Freddy Beach last night had an awesome time, and that Residence Admin didn't do anything to screw things up (like last year's debacle). As for me personally, I had a few drinks last night to get into the Club Med spirit (see yesterday's post for more on that), though regrettably, I could not be there again this year.

Today will be, for the most part, a typical Sunday. I will be watching The Apprentice on Prime this evening, as I was very busy Thursday evening and missed it for the first time ever. I find it funny how the youngest guy (Andy -- 23) looks exactly like one of my friends, Mark MacEachern. Weird stuff!

Finally, I've been meaning to mention this for a week now, and a letter to the editor in yesterday's Chronicle Hearld brought it back to the front burner in my mind. It was regarding a Peter Duffy column about a girl who was working at a gas station to help pay her way through college. Now, I had not known before that when people steal gas (i.e. drive away without paying), that it is common practice to dock the attendent's pay the exact amount of the gas purchase.

With the minimum wage salary that this job has to meagrely offer to its workers, I find this policy very Scrooge-like and cold-hearted. Some people have to pay their rent and feed their children with this pittance, only to have it largely snatched away from them. It is exceedingly hard to attend to customers in-store, while keeping an eye out for thieves looking to steal gas. Their only recourse against these people is that their employers offer them training to recognize people who are typically thieves. This may catch a few that fit the stereotype, but vast majority play it cool and get away scot-free, taking some poor person's livelihood with them!

To heap this on workers is morally untenable, as it amounts to little more than greed, not so much on the retailer's part, but on the part of Big Oil. In recent years, they have been forcing retailers down to profit margins that are razor-thin, or sometimes non-existent. These companies should invest in technology that positively ID's anybody who attempts to drive away without paying, instead of exploiting the working poor in order for them to cut their losses. It is the least they can do to help relieve the public's cynicism that is surrounding Big Business these days. Social responsibility must be an essential cornerstone of business, not a burden to be cast aside in the pursuit of the amighty dollar.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Happy Club Med Day!

So today's Club Med in Freddy Town! To all the boys there to take in the party, have a kick-ass time, and have a few for me! I wish I could be there, but my bank account's hurting right now, and I gotta travel halfway across the continent after Christmas, so no dice this year.

During my thought process regarding the future of the Aitken Alumni site, I came up with the idea that on the day of Club Med (or on a designated weekend each November), all Aitken Alumni should observe the day with a party of their own (15 tons of sand optional). It could be as big or small as fellow Animals would like it, and alumni could tell their fellow alumni where they would be taking place. I think it would help keep the spirit of Aitken alive, even as the realities of the real world cause us to have such celebrations in fewer and fewer numbers with the passage of time. I, for one, will be having a few beers tonight in lonely Havre Boucher, NS in honour of the best beach party on Earth!

How about you?

Friday, November 26, 2004

"It's On My To-Do List!" - Shrek

Short entry today, as not much is happening at the moment. I gotta fill out that reference and credit check and fax it to my landlord. The Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre (new hockey rink, auditorium, offices, fitness centre, walking track, dance studio) is having its grand opening this weekend, so I might go check that out! On the agenda in the next week is going to Halifax on Monday (luckily George Bush is coming on Wednesday, so it won't gum up the streets in downtown Halifax) to get my passport done, in preparation for my trip to Michigan. Fianlly, I gotta get my winter tires put on my car before heavy snow swamps the garages with an overflow of customers.

Well, I got stuff to do. TGIF!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

My Passport Photo Makes Me Look Like a Zombie!

As you may have noticed, I got my picture uploaded to the blog today (not the passport, you gotta be serious looking for those, or as they say, a "neutral pose"), so you all can see how ugly I am :P The passport photo taking today only took 5 minutes, from the time I walked in the door, to when I charged the whole thing on my credit card! The Model of Efficiency I tell you!

Tonight, I went for dinner with the extended family, as it was my mother's birthday today. Being out of work for 9 months, I got her a scratch ticket with her card (not a winner, unfortunately); oh well, I'll get her something a little better for Christmas. Dad got Mom a replacement for the crappy Spacemaker radio in our kitchen. This one has digital sound, with a CD player included. Not BOSE, but very tasty sounding indeed!

I couldn't get my guarantor (the village postmaster) to sign my passport forms tonight, so I won't be able to get to Halifax to complete the application process until Monday. I still have plenty of time to do it up though, so no worries!

One last thing before I go. Some of my best friends just updated a website detailing their home/private bar, The Rubber Duckie Lounge. Makes me miss being in Freddy Town (I should get back there to visit in May sometime, graduation time perhaps?). Such is life, bah...

Passport Photo Day

It's a windy, rainy mess out there today, which will make it harder for me to get up off my butt and go to Port Hawkesbury. I'm headed over there later this afternoon to get my passport photos taken, which may come in handy if the border crossing guards have any doubt to my Canadian-ness (likely there's nothing to worry about, but you never know these days).

Afterwards, I'll be stopping by the bank to pick up a fax from my new landlord in Ann Arbor, MI. I have to do some reference checks I guess, same thing I had to do the last time I got an apartment, so it's standard procedure.

I just want to get moving to the next phase in my life, especially with the letdown that happened last time I was to take this intern job, back in August. It'll be tough leaving between the holidays, but the adventure of diving into uncharted territory and into a new job should make up for it, I hope.

Anyhow, that's all I gotta say right now, peace out...!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Play Hockey for Fun, 'Cause You're Not Making it to the Show (odds = 0.07%)

I had a good supper tonight! My Mom had this turkey in the downstairs chest freezer, which had been down there for quite a while. So we fixed everything else that goes along with turkey (e.g. stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, carrots), and had a Thanksgiving dinner more than a month and half after the fact (and incidentally, the day before American Thanksgiving). I considered it as such, since everybody was too busy to have Thanksgiving dinner back in October (my parents are both shift workers, so that holiday came at a bad time this year.)

Later on in the evening, I watched a good, yet troubling documentary on the Fifth Estate on CBC. It was regarding Patrick O' Sullivan, the American 2nd Round NHL draft pick, the one who had an abusive father. The story was a microcosm of what many kids are forced to deal with when they participate in minor sports in this country. They face off against the unreasonable demands and expectations of parents who somehow feel that their kid has a chance to make it, or that by having their child get to the pros, it will redeem them for their past athletic failures. These attitudes are damaging, and they go against the true reasons of why anybody should involved in sports. Here's why:

According to a study conducted by Ontario Minor Hockey Association, out of the 22,000 players that participated in minor hockey in Ontario that were born in 1975:

  • Only 232 were drafted into the OHL (Ontario Hockey League).
  • Out of the 232, only 105 played at least *one* game in the OHL!
  • Out of the 105, only 90 finished their full elgilibility in the OHL.
  • Only 41 of the 22,000 played NCAA Division 1 Hockey.
  • Between the NCAA and the OHL, 48 were drafted in the last year (1991) where there was 12 rounds (4 snuck in via free agency)
  • Of the 48, only 35 signed contracts with NHL teams.
  • Of the 35 signees, only 26 have seen action in at least *one* NHL game!
  • Of those 26, only 16 are still active with their NHL teams.

So as you see, your average neighbourhood Gretzky only has a 1% chance of just being drafted to the OHL. Make sure your kids are playing for the love of the game first, not for false dreams of fame or endless cash...

A Sunny Day in November? Am I Hallucinating?

Another day, more preparations for my trip to the United States. I'm going shortly to get my hair cut (the stuff grows like a weed!), as I am getting my passport photo taken sometime this week. I've also been trying, with no success thus far, to reach the landlord of my new place. I need to work out a sublet deal that covers me from late December to the first week of May. That's good, at least I'll be able to leave in better weather, rather than the sort I'm likely to face on the way up (e.g. lake effect blizzards and the like).

Well that's all for now, gotta go to the bank first so I will actually have money for my appointment. See you all this evening!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I Miss College (Schoolwork Excepted)...

I was on the current Aitken website today. Footy just updated the thing from the last time I looked at it; it's good to see our presence on the web continue, and hopefully they'll make it bigger and better over time!

In the News section, I see it's Club Med time yet again. Dang, this'll be the second one in a row that I've missed. I wish I were still in college (minus the schoolwork aspect), or at least in Fredericton. Oh well, life is seldom fair, but I'll be back there sometime in the Spring (can't go up before I leave for Michigan, money is tight) I'd imagine, unless I get work in Ontario or something, which would make a trip out East harder to do! At least there's quite a few alumni who live within the Centre of the Universe (j/k), so I wouldn't be too isolated from old friends.

Well, I'm off to do a little work on my current project: the reconstruction of the former Aitken House Website, which will soon become THE site for Aitken Alumni everywhere. See ya tomorrow everybody!

Found My Place to Live in Michigan + Sports are Good for People!

This is rare, being on the internet at this hour. My little sister is usually at the computer during this time of the evening, but she's in Antigonish for a doctor's appointment and not yet back, so here I am!

Well, I got my accomodations in Ann Arbor, MI all but wrapped up today. My boss looked at the house in my place on the weekend. She called me yesterday to say that the place was very nice, and it was actually around the corner from where one of the Humantech VP's live. So I was able to get ahold of one of the house's occupants this morning to confirm my acceptance of their vacant room. Just got to do a credit check and work out the terms of the sublease and it's a done deal.

Also, I read an article online at the Ann Arbor News today (click the outside the US tab when the address screen comes up to ask you where you live) which demonstrates some of the positive aspects of sports. It seemed like a nice follow-up to the dodgeball post from yesterday, as I think we need to stop trying to lynch physically beneficial activities because of the negative sides of some of these activities. We should be coming up with creative compromises (see dodgeball post for examples) that eliminate or minimize these bad points, while promoting the crap out of the good things that recreational sports/activities bring to the table. The sooner we act to smash these harmful stereotypes that have acted as a roadblock to participation, the better it will be for the lives that it could potentially be enriching in the future.

Monday, November 22, 2004

In Defense of Dodgeball: How to Save This Sport From A Modern-Day Athletic Witchhunt!

I was going to write about this yesterday, but it slipped my mind, so tonight I will address an issue that really irritates me as a Kinesiologist: the villification of the game of dodgeball. I was reading the Sunday paper over breakfast yesterday when a story caught my eye. Apparently, a lawsuit in Albany, NY was being heard regarding a 7 year old girl's broken elbow as the result of a fall on a gym floor during a game of dodgeball.

Okay, so I can understand that there may be legal wranglings over faulty gym facilities, but the article goes on to highlight a movement that is afoot to banish dodgeball from P.E. classes everywhere. Their contentions?

"But the game is also being targeted as unfair, exclusionary, and warlike for school-age youngsters. Some schools in Maine, Maryland, New York, Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts and Utah have banned dodgeball or its variations, including war ball, monster ball and kill ball."

Okay, so essentially they are saying the game discriminates against those who are slower and less athletic, breeds and encourages predatory behaviour in kids, and "promotes" war as a fun activity.

I'll address these one at a time:

(1) Dodgeball discriminates against those who are slower and less athletic.

Critics make this claim because slower, smaller, out-of-shape, less athletically-inclined kids may be easy targets. I hate to break this to you guys, but they have just described sports in general. Success in basketball is much more difficult to attain for shorter people, slower and less agile players end up getting hit more often in football and in hockey, people with bad eye-hand coordination find it hard to hit a baseball. This is just the nature of sports; part of the character-bulding aspect of it is learning how to cope with defeat, and then how to learn to overcome that defeat. To counteract the propensity of slower kids getting hit (and therefore being considered 'out'), a jail of "captured" dodgeball players should made to hold the hit kids, where they would be able to throw any dodgeballs that come their way at a member of the opposing team, earning them their freedom. This would eliminate the "5 seconds and done" concern that people have about the game, keeping ALL kids engaged in the action at ALL times.

(2) Dodgeball breeds and encourages predatory behaviour in kids.

Another concern parents have is that in games of "every man/woman for him/herself" dodgeball, the players instantly go for the weaker players, geting them out first, and doing so with bravado, and sometimes with unnecessary ball force. I couldn't agree more. What needs to be done is to ban the previously-mentioned derivative of the game, and to only allow the team-based component of the game. In this setup, the kids work together instead of hunting each other down. Slower kids can take up the rear of the playing field, relaying the dead ball to the attackers up near the dividing line, allowing everyone to contribute an invaluable skill to the team. And if bravado still emanates from some idiot on the other team, the teacher should expel him/her from the activity, and send them to the office. Do your job guys!

(3) Dodgeball "promotes" war as a fun activity.

This slant on dodgeball by the bleeding hearts (don't call me a neo-con, I'm a liberal and proud of it, but I realize that our side can go overboard sometimes too!) applies to sports in general, as George Orwell once proclaimed that sports are like war, minus the shooting. Now, I hate unnecessary armed conflicts as much as the next peacenik, but this really is a case of trying to read something in between the lines that really isn't there. Yes, sports strategy can be analogized to war strategies, tempers can flare on the pitch, etc. But sports, especially in these days, are becoming much more about socializing with other people, building self-esteem and confidence, among other positive aspects. Comparing dodgeball to war cannot be done without lumping in just about every other team sport alongside dodgeball. It's time to move past antiquated cliches.

And finally, about the ball? Make it softer and less dense. A matter of simple ergonomics (gotta use my degree for something!).

In the meantime, I hope the concerned groups hoping for dodgeball's demise see the bigger picture. If they take down this sport, they gotta take down every other team sport that's the same or worse in intensity. They won't get far, I think, and hear's hoping they see the light before then.

I gotta watch Dodgeball: An Underdog Story one of these days...

Web Site of the Week (or so): Wikipedia!

I was surfing Blogspot last night when I came across an entry in someone else's blog, singing the praises of a website called Wikipedia. Now I had seen this site referenced elsewhere on the web, so I figured I'd check it out.

All I have to say about that site is wow! It's essentially a people's online encyclopedia, where anyone can publish information on just about anything. Editors on the site review and edit the entries to maintain the professionalism of the site, and anyone can update or add new sections to existing articles in the encyclopedia. I would highly recommend this site to anybody as a good starting point in their research. It gives baseline facts, and external links throughout the article, and at the end to aid further online research. Being part of the web, the authenticity of the information will always have a proverbial question mark hanging over it, but based on my persual of the site, it seems very credible and professional, containing info on people and things that you wouldn't find in your typical encyclopedia.

As for today in my life, another typical November day: overcast and dreary. I'm waiting on some phone calls regarding my place to live in Ann Arbor, MI, and I gotta call Bob Martin (photographer) about getting pictures done for my passport. I've been told that they are not necessary for Canadians, but I don't want to take a chance in these days of Orange Alerts, especially at Christmas time. Later, I gotta cut up some cardboard so that they will fit in the recycling bags, and then I will go for a jaunt around the village. I've been working out alot lately (pushups and sit-ups in the evening, in addition to walking), and I think it's starting to show. Ladies of Michigan, look out!!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Argos win the Grey Cup, and then Ricky's trailer blows up! Concidence? Absolutely.

This is gonna be a short entry, I think. Argos won the Grey Cup, which is great. Like I said in the previous post, I don't follow football as closely as other sports, but it's always nice to see a team that has been struggling over the years win it all!

Outside of that, it was a pretty typical Sunday at home here in Nova Scotia. Go to church, come home, kill time, go to my grandfather's, get treated to his extraordinary cooking, come home, channel surf until my sister Meghan is off the computer, and then surf the net until bedtime.

Before posting this, I did notice one thing in my channel surfing after the Grey Cup game ended. I flipped the channel to Showcase, where the latest episode of the Trailer Park Boys was just coming to a close. It was a dramatic cliffhanger ending, as Ricky's trailer blew up in a ball of flame (propane leak). Might have to start watching that show again, at least until I go down to the States (I think they have it on BBC America though, so I might be able to catch it still)

That's all for tonight, talk to y'all tomorrow!

Sunday Mixed Bag: Grey Cup and the Aitken Alumni Website!

Man I am so bored right now. There's never very much that's good on TV on Sundays, so I'm at the computer right now, trying to kill time. Oh, it's Grey Cup Sunday! Well that snuck up on me from behind! With the election in the States and the historic World Series occupying my attention, the CFL sorta just slipped under the radar this year. I don't normally follow football nearly as much as I do baseball or hockey, but I can appreciate the strategy, fast pace, and the hard-hitting action that defines the Canadian game. It's just that I've never identified with any team in particular (like the Habs in hockey), so developing a passion for the sport hasn't happened with me, at least not yet.

I also have been refurbishing what used to be the official Aitken House Website (current website for the house can be found here) over the past week or so. I am working towards making it THE website for Aitken House alumni. It will serve as a vehicle for alumni to recall their glory days at Atiken and UNB, as a means of letting your fellow animals know where you are in life, and as a way of facilitating potential alumni get-togethers. While the 5 year reunions are great (try to make it out the the next one in 2008, 50 years!), they are located in Fredericton, where many of us cannot make it due to distance and time. This site would allow for more frequent, informal meetings of alumni, in places across North America, and Overseas. This, I think, would further strengthen the brotherly bond of friendship that began at UNB, which is what really our house is all about, beneath it all.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Playing a Human Speedboat in a Cartoon = Career Death!

Heyyy everybody! Had a long day, went to New Glasgow, NS today with my little sister (16). I took her to see the Spongebob Squarepants movie, as my Mom was busy taking a course in Antigonish, NS all day and couldn't do it herself. I wouldn't have gone on my own accord, but I knew it wasn't going to be overly kiddy, as the show is laced with "wink, wink" jokes and references meant to entertain the adults.

So we get there at 1:10pm, buy our tickets and our food (isn't it funny these days how the concessions cost more than the tickets? Gotta love a captive market!), and proceed to the theatre showing the movie. Sure enough, there was an overabundance of kids under the age of 12, as well as a bunch of seats in the top half cordoned off for birthday party of roughly 20+. With all this sugar from the cake these kids are gonna be eating, they're gonna make one heck of a racket, I thought.

Due to this unforseen turn of events, my sister and I were relegated to the lower half of seats, the seats where you actually have to tilt your head back so that your eyes can take in the whole screen! The movie started, and to my surprise, the young audience remained fairly reined in, as far as laughing and uneccessary talking and movement were concerned (they must all have been on Ritalin or something...). Someone's cell phone rang though, which should have resulted in a red card and subsquent ejection from the theatre, in my opinion. It's commonly known etiquette these days that you either shut them off, or you leave them at home! I think it's worse than having it happen in a restaurant personally...

As for the movie? Well, it was pretty light-hearted, with some "stupid funny" gags that entertained me sufficently to make the show worth my $7.50. I will say however that David Hasselhoff's career in film will be in flames after people see this movie. His role was just plain bizarre, and the acting and dialogue (which is pretty hard to screw up considering the subject matter) was like one horrific train wreck unfolding before your very eyes! It was that bad, and left a weird taste in my mouth after what had otherwise been a rather entertaining toon.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Paging Rex Banner, The Beer Baron Has Been Spotted At STU!

I was watching the ATV Evening News earlier today, and one of the reports just dumbfounded me! They ran a story where there was a rumour on STU campus in Fredericton, NB that university administrators were planning to ban alcohol outright. I guess STU was tired of watching their compatriots down the hill (UNB) outrival them in ineptness and stupidity, so they just had to get in on the action!

Okay, let me say this out loud for any college bureaucrats out there that might be reading this: history has proven that PROHIBITION DOES NOT WORK!

What do they think will happen when they ban the bottle from all their residences and functions? That's right genius, they'll move their rebellious, non-soberity loving asses down to UNB's residences, and more likely, off campus. Residence at STU will be deader than an terrorist in Kansas, and proctors will be put in the uncomfortable position of confiscating contraband booze from those who choose to defy the "rules". And the word that STU is a dry campus will dissuade those who might otherwise grace its halls with their worthy minds.

By moving off-campus to do the partying that they were gonna do anyway the instant they gained their independence, freshman may be put at risk of delving too deep in the lifestyle, ignoring their schoolwork and putting their health at risk by being in environments where alcohol poisoning would be more likely. Having residence "wet" allows proctors, dons, and responsible upperclassmen/women to monitor first-year's drinking behaviour more closely, counselling them when they start to forget why they are at school in the first place, and cutting them off when they have had much too much of the drink.

If they would just focus on ways to regulate and manage the problem instead of imposing rules as they were surrogate parents, real progress towards making our campuses more vibrant and full of school spirit might be achieved. They seem, however, to be bogged down in the trend of social conservatism that seems to be all the rage among public officials these days (though the general public has been more liberal than ever, according to statistics).

Like or lump it, alcohol plays a role in college life. They sometimes get carried away with its consumption, but those who would seek to protect us from the "evils" of the hooch need only remember one thing: they are not kids anymore. If only institutions just realized that.

Stuck in the House ... Arrgh

Well, here I am, anchored to the house waiting for a phone call. The call I'm waiting for is from a potential roomate in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For those of you who don't know, I have obtained a new job as an intern at a company called Humantech, starting January 3rd, 2005. So I'm doing the long distance room search and as a result, I'm stuck here instead of being out on my walk. It's such a brisk November day, and I can't get out there and enjoy it. This sucks.

Hopefully however, my housing situation for the next four months should be decided by the end of this weekend, taking another weight off my mind. Then it will be Work VISA time, and then crossing over into BushWorld (aka the United States). I will taking photos along the way, and I will be posting a written account of the whole journey on the blog everyone at home to enjoy!

Alfonso Galliano = A Goodfella?

So I pick up the paper this morning and one of the headlines catch my eye. It was chapter # 57595.5 in the sponsorship scandal, the one that's been dragging on for the better part of a year. As a result, I normally would pass such a story over, because normally they report the same old crap over and over (e.g. Paul Martin goes to bathroom, Harper accuses him of stalling, see page A9 for details).

I read the first paragraph though, and it said that according to the New York Daily News, Galliano was a made man, said New York mafia insiders, who had visited their colleagues in Montreal in years past.

Wow, that makes me feel confident in government! We had not only crooks handing out our tax dollars, but potentially, these crooks had connections to some of the most notorious goombas on the continent. Man, I feel sorry for those who have to do the investigating of this man, having to worry about being whacked and such. Though I'm sure any bribe money would be nice... :P

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Havre Boucher, NS: Gone to the Dogs?

Checking in after another typical day of nothing here in the 'ol HB! So I was walking around the loop here in the village (from my house it's highway 4, then down close to where the wharf is, then through the newer "subdivision" that popped up in the late 70's, until finally climbing the church hill, meeting Route 4 again), down by the trailer park, when I catch a glimpse of a roaming dog. Without a leash. That saw me and started barking in a not so friendly manner.

Now normally, this won't be troubling for some people, especially those with well-trained, well-behaved pets. However, I happened to be passing by the house of an old high school classmate, and a few weeks ago, my mother told me a story that their dog, a pit bull, escaped its run and a woman down on the train tracks encountered it. It didn't attack, but the fact that it (or any breed of dog really) could have made it a serious issue.

Plotting my potential escape route, I glanced behind me nervously, waiting for the dog to come out of the trailer park to defend its territory. Luckily, it was content enough to see me back down from a breach I never planned to attempt.

This wasn't my first run-in with leashless dogs in the community. About two months ago, I was walking along a dirt road in Cape Jack, minding my own business. Nearing the end of the road on the West Havre Boucher side, a dog barked. I looked up at the hill from where the sound came from, and I was treated to quite a terrfiying sight. Not one, but four dogs started making their way towards me, and it wasn't for free Beggin' Strips or a belly rub. They were coming to whip my sorry ass for even looking at them the wrong way. I was in deep trouble!

Luckily for me, I did exactly what hikers do when faced with an irate Momma bear: I backed away slowly, and prayed to God that I wouldn't be torn to ribbons by this crew of rabies-infested canines. Soon enough, they stopped their advance, but they held their steely gaze. "We OWN this town, and don't you forget it!" seemed to be what they were saying, incapable of human speech.

What this story illustrates is that there is a dire need for my county, and all other jurisdictions like mine, to have dog run/line bylaws for outdoor dogs. I know this is the country, and the folks here may not like government interference in their lives, as it happens in the cities. In this matter though, we cannot wait for this tragedy to unfold and shatter/take away the life of an innocent human being.

While Ontario's outright ban on pit bulls is an extreme of Big Brotherism that make the libertarian in me uneasy, we cannot sit around and do nothing, fearful of rightful government action. We should pursue and enforce legislation that detains outdoor dogs from roaming the wilds in their rural communities. This greatly reduces their chances of becoming rabid (from being bitten or scratched by a racoon/skunk), and prevents dogs with defensive tendencies from confronting people/other dogs on the streets. On top of this, more severe penalties for irreponsible owners will serve as the deterent arm of this solution, as those who would encourage aggression in their animals/abuse them, or neglect their "companions" do not deserve the privlege of owning a pet, or some cases, even freedom in this society.

Post Numero Deux

Second post on the blog, and I've come to a conclusion: not maintaining a personal web site or the Aitken House website has caused me to suck at typing. Not only that, but the creative writing process is very much like cardiovascular fitness: practice it often, or you'll lose it altogether.

This blog will help with the writing thing; I always enjoyed writing, but being out of school and busy with work the past year or so has meant that actual writing has been limited to notes/work-related stuff. No more. This blog will serve as a motivator to stay connected to the friends and family in my life who have been drifting away from me since graduation (thank you Real World!).

To touch on the other half of the analogy I made in the last sentence of the first paragraph, as a Kinesiologist (makes me sound important, doesn't it? And smart!) , lack of cardiovasular fitness is literally killing us. We're eating more, and labour-saving devices, along with devices that provide "stationary recreation", are causing us to move less. The cumulative effect of this is clogged arteries and earlier cardiac-related deaths, children that are frighteningly obese, diabetes cases are way up, etc.

Good news, it's really simple to start on the path to good cardiovascular health. Walk more! It's so simple, it's a necessary function of daily life, and it costs nothing! Simple lifestyle changes, like banning elevators from your life and using the stairs (if you work in a big office tower, get off 5 floors before your destination, and use the stairs), walking around the block after work, and parking farther away from your destination all add activity to your life, all with minimal time investment on your part.

All shifts in our daily lives start with small steps, as those who try make a great leap forward at the outset often trip in their own shoelaces...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Jimmy Hits the Blogosphere...

It's a cold windy night here out here in the wilds of Nova Scotia, and I, James Tyler Shannon, have finally hit the blogging world with a resounding thud! Okay, I won't delude myself any further; this blog will serve as insight into my everyday life for those (friends & family) who I am no longer able to see everyday (i.e. just about everybody). It will also be a soapbox for me to sound off on issues that I care about (like every other blogger out there).

That's it for tonight, stay tuned for more useless drivel in the days and weeks to come!