A vacuum cleaner salesman comes to your door. “You must buy this vacuum cleaner,” he says. “Why?” you say. “Because I know what’s good for you,” he says. “I know things you don’t know.” “What are they?” you say. “I can’t tell you,” he says, “because they’re secret. You are required to trust me. The vacuum cleaner will create jobs.”
“Where is the vacuum cleaner made?” you say. “In another country,” he says. “So the jobs will be created in another country? Not here?” you say. You believe it’s your right to query: It’s your money and, come to think of it, you pay this guy’s salary.
“Stop bickering,” he says. “I am competent. That’s my story and I’m sticking it to you.” “I’m not bickering,” you say. “I’m asking relevant questions. How much will the vacuum cleaner cost me?” “I can’t tell you that,” he says. “Why not? Because it’s more than you claimed at first?” you say. “Or because you don’t really know the cost?” “I can’t tell you that, either,” he says. “But you have to pay.”
Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long have come out with a haunting new track just in time for the May 2nd polls,
reminding people that there’s no such thing as a wasted vote, only a wasted election.
“A kiss would do it.
One sprinkle of milkwhite salt
and I’ll break like bread at your table.”
– S. Sloat
Uncertain about my weekend away, I find everything I wanted to write about draining away, replaced by the landscape outside the train windows. There is a large, strange boat abandoned on part of the shore, a hulking, rotten thing, the discarded corpse of a predator. Every time I see it, I want to visit. Climb upon its ribs, explore the depths of its throat. The house near it, that of a witch. Driftwood, black paint, sorrow. Somewhere a hand-painted sign, STAY AWAY. The water is smooth today, enough to reflect the sky, a strange illusion of clouds and occasional threads of blue. Soon it is replaced by green farm fields dotted with tiny isolated homesteads, the tracks swinging in-land. A bridge, blue herons, the shock of a log yard with violent wood-chippers, the elegant, golden spray of chewed material gouting from the top of a long metal tube, propelled by a quick, vicious conveyor belt and the hunger of consumerism. Touch it and you’d lose your hand. (It scares a child sitting behind me). Next, a dense, sputtering flock of birds swarming like massive bees, a horror of movement next to a small white farmhouse, paint peeling in antique strips as potentially old as the magenta hot-rod rusting out beside it, fins pointed to the sky like a prayer.
The closer I travel to Canada, the more everything is gray. The more the trees I like, honest, naked, are replaced with depressing evergreens. To another set of eyes, the view might be spectacular – inspiring, pristine nature of the sort usually found only in magazines – but if it wasn’t for my lover in Vancouver, I would be certain that I’m traveling the wrong direction, towards failure. My home behind me, as if I am running away.
I wasn’t going to, but apparently Shane’s slated to perform at some point, so now I’m glued to it, waiting for him to show up and astonish and mesmerize the largest Canadian television audience in history.
7:20 pm – Augh! Brian Adams! No!!
7:23 pm – This is hideous.
7:25 pm – There was no excuse for that painful mediocrity. Poor Nelly Furtado. Poor everyone. No one deserved that.
7:35 pm – The virtual whales were purdy. More please of the whales.
7:46 pm – I am oddly cheered that Canada is being represented by punk fiddlers and plaid. Also a tap-dance off. Viva mohawks & tattoos!
7:50 pm – Hey! It’s Brock! Go Brock! Hope he gets to keep the costume.
7:51 pm – tap dancers with flaming shoes ftw.
8:10 pm – SHAAAAAAAAAYYYYNE!!! ON A PLINTH!
Fuck yeah! That was one of the most satisfying things I’ve EVER SEEN!! Shane Koyczan!!
Everyone has now abandoned boring politico for a Shane-love Facebook party! Sweet! ROCK THE PLINTH!
8:32 pm – Oh KD Lang, your cover of Halleluiah is one of the nicest I’ve ever heard. From here on in, I love you.
8:42 pm – wow hair! hair and incredible pipes!
8:48 pm – yes, drugs are bad, we understand. why is that such a high profile message?
8:53 pm – I was so programmed as a child that I can still recognize Rick Hanson
8:56 pm – yep, Wayne Gretsky.
8:57 pm – all the mittens make me think of is the Regretsy bear molestation painting.
8:58 pm – mechanical failure!!!
9:00 pm – who out of the four missed out lighting the torch due to the broken mechanical floor?
9:07 pm – I wonder how Gretsky appreciated driving through the crowds of protestors (not pictured on TV) to go light the second torch.
9:10 pm – uh? we have a superman castle of ice torch platform? where??? WHERE WAS THAT?
I picked up my passport today. The pretty young man behind the counter had a chocolate coin festively tied around his neck with shining pink-yellow ribbon. When I asked about it, he explained he’d won an award in the office today, then slyly showed me a glimpse of a rather official looking document that stated OFFICE CLOWN. "That’s a good thing to win for," I said. "The best," he replied, "sign here." And that was it. Everything’s done. I can now legally leave the country.
Current travel dates
Vancouver to Calgary, June 19th – Calgary to Vancouver, June 22st
Vancouver to Seattle, June 26th
Seattle to San Fransisco, July 1st – San Fransisco to Seattle, July 6th
Seattle to Vancouver, July 6/7th
In a breakthrough that could have huge implications, British and Canadian scientists have found a way of reprogramming skin cells taken from adults, effectively winding the clock back on the cells until they were in an embryonic form.
Because the cells can be made from a patient’s own skin, they carry the same DNA and so could be used without a risk of being rejected by the immune system.
Scientists showed they could make stem cells from adult cells more than a year ago, but the cells could never be used in patients because the procedure involved injecting viruses that could cause cancer. Overcoming the problem has been a major stumbling block in efforts to make stem cells fulfil their promise of transforming the future of medicine.
Now, scientists at the universities of Edinburgh and Toronto have found a way to achieve the same feat without using viruses, making so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell therapies a realistic prospect for the first time.
Something I only noticed recently about Canada, in that way where one realizes things about home only when one is away, is that we’re incredibly soft with our Metric System. Our highway signs are in kilometers, but we typically measure height in feet and inches and weight in pounds. Though I was raised with only metric in my textbooks, my units of measurement are as follow: millimeter, centimeter, inch, foot, meter, yard, kilometer, mile.
Is this just a Canadian thing?