Healthcare in Ford Nation

I’m glad that people are talking about the reality that drug addiction is a health issue. I’m glad that my friends and the media are taking time to say that you shouldn’t shame someone for having a drug addiction. What’s being left out of the conversation is that not everyone who uses drugs is abusing them, and not everyone who abuses drugs is addicted to them.

I’m not the only person in the world with friends who are total dickheads when they drink. They’ll say shitty things, they’ll do shitty things, and you don’t want to be anywhere near them when they’re drinking. If they decide to get wasted every now and then and get into fights and drive home drunk, that doesn’t mean they’re an alcoholic. It just means they’re an asshole. Substance dependence is a serious medical issue. Being an asshole is not.

Have you ever been to a college town? Hung out at a university bar? Those drunk people trying to grab your ass or get in your face are assholes, not addicts, and it’s worth taking a second look at Rob Ford’s history and thinking about which profile he fits best.

But Jairus! Isn’t that a false dilemma? Sure. But being an alcoholic is a lot more than binge drinking and acting like a shithead, and being a drug addict is a lot more than smoking coke and calling someone a fag.

On a sparkling evening in July

+ Audra and I have been working together as Townhall Communications!
+ I’m also working on a redesign of a major staffing firm website.
- I have not been working very much on my own projects.
- This is in part because my apartment flooded.
+ But it’s fine now!
± I have been making a proper budget again instead of being rich for a week and then broke for a week every time I get paid.
- This means I am not rich twice a month.
+ It also means I am not broke twice a month.
+ I am having friends over tonight to watch Godzilla movies.
+ I am hosting an event at the Academy of the Impossible next month about music in a post-scarcity world!
+ There are a lot more plus signs than there are minus signs in this update.

In which our hero misses his train home

I am very tired.

I’m also in Ottawa! I came down Saturday for the Ottawa Industrial League festival, and stayed a few extra days so that I could DJ at my old industrial night. The festival was a blast. I got to play live with good friends, and I got to see a ton of new talent perform. Two of the acts had never played live before. And they were great! My first show was a disaster.

DJing last night was even more fun than the OIL festival. A ton of people came out to see me play that I haven’t seen in forever. People who haven’t been to Zaphods in years. Years! I played a ton of new music, and somehow also a ton of old music. Is there anything I enjoy doing as much as DJing?

It’s actually quite emotional to go back and be the guest DJ in a place you spun weekly at for close to ten years, which I’m sure is surprising to no one but me. The place seems nicer. When I saw my old book of CDs — my book! — it seemed so surreal that I didn’t live there anymore, that I left all my music behind, that I wasn’t there every week. It wasn’t an “oh my god what have I done” moment; it was more like looking at home movies and thinking it’s so insane that you used to be seven years old and lived in that house and now you’re a grownup with grey beard hairs who has to file taxes and consider intersectionality and whatever else grownups do.

I miss Zaphods a lot. I miss the venue and the community and the everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a music community like that again. Probably not, right? It took almost ten years to build that one, even if you ignore everything I did before I started DJing there. If I started a weekly night tomorrow I’d be forty-five before I’d have ten years of history behind me. And the idea of starting a new weekly night in Toronto that lasts ten years is hilarious.

I miss Toronto too. I miss my house, and Josh, and Audra, and Blinky and Mothra, and the Jamaican woman who sells me my beef patties and everything else. I should be home right now, in fact. Except I ended up trapped in Orleans and wasn’t able to make my train home. So now it’s the 1 AM greyhound for me, which completely fucks everything up because there was a ton of work I wanted to get done on the train before I ran out of steam. And I’ve got Things To Do tomorrow from 10 AM onwards, including a job interview that I am going to be wiped for. Not to mention buying the extra ticket wipes out all the cash I made from selling merch, which is depressing. The only saving grace of the whole fiasco is that a May Day protest rolled past the bus station when I was buying my ticket, and I got to spend the next couple hours marching and chanting with young punks and old commies.

Aside from missing my train, which has resulted in me being that weird guy in a sports bar wearing nail polish and writing journal entries at midnight, it was a fantastic trip.

I’m looking forward to coming home.

I don’t believe bad things come in threes (except when they do)

(…or, Why I Haven’t Answered Your Email Yet.)

1: Leslie

Leslie, with whom I spent almost a decade attached at the hip, nearly died a couple of years ago when a couple of her vertebrae collapsed. She was in the hospital for a long time, and surgeries and months of intravenous antibiotics left her severely immunocompromised. A couple of weeks ago I got a call saying that she contracted an infection which went septic. Her heart valves were infected, her liver and kidneys were in serious trouble, and she was in a coma, on life support.

After a couple of days of her getting worse, I packed a suit, made a few phone calls to people who needed to know, and headed to Ottawa. The first few days were brutal. A lot of sitting around with other friends of hers and talking. A lot of thinking about what the funeral would look like. Much to everyone’s surprise and great relief (including the doctors), things slowly started getting better.

Leslie’s illness (and my visit) also coincided with the Zaphod Beeblebrox 20th anniversary week, which means that I filled in for Leslie as a guest DJ for the 20th anniversary edition of Industrial Strength Tuesdays. I’ve been part of Tuesdays for about ten of those 20 years, but it was really fucking tough to be in that booth without Leslie.

All told, I was in Ottawa about a week before I headed back home.

2: Graham

A few days after I got back to Toronto, I got the call that Graham had died. (My bag from Ottawa was still packed, suit untouched.)

I don’t even know how long I’ve known Graham. I met him at the first couple of 2600 meetings I ever went to, which means it was a loooong time ago. Mid to late 90s. We were teenagers. Not only does the cafe we had them at (Cafe Wim) not exist any more, but neither do the next two cafes it moved to after the first one closed.

The meeting I remember most vividly from those early 2600s (aside from the meeting where I was congratulated by Graham and Mike on how my ‘Hack of the Year’ had hit CNN and thinking “CNN. Well, I’m going to jail.”) is when we ran a telephone line from our table at Cafe Wim down to the payphone in the basement. We stripped the payphone wiring with a lighter, got some alligator clips, and one hastily assembled beige box later we were ringing up the payphones at the 2600 meetings happening in California or wherever the fuck it was we called. They couldn’t understand Paul’s accent (“No, I said Canada. CANADA! WE’RE CALLING FROM CANADA! WHERE SANTA LIVES!”) and Graham took the handset and became our ambassador for the rest of the meeting.

But the reason losing Graham is excruciating isn’t because we were hackers. It isn’t because we were going to the same raves as teenagers, or DJing the same raves a few years later. It isn’t because of the roadtrips we took, or the terrible movies we watched, or the fact that we always had each other’s backs when one of us was calling someone out for sexism/racism.

This is why losing Graham is excruciating: When you put all of those things together, when you’ve shared so many important and formative environments, you end up with the rarest of friends — someone who understands you. Not just someone who understands what’s important to you, but someone with an intuitive sense of who you are, someone shaped by the same things that shaped you.

I don’t have much in my experience to compare that feeling to. It’s a bit like how I feel about my siblings. It’s more like when I read about people who have been through a disaster (or a war, or a cult, or…) and they describe the experience of running into someone who has been through the same disaster/war/cult/whatever. They’re a kind of family, because they understand so much about each other.

Graham was that kind of family. We understood so much about each other. And I’m having a hard time coping with the idea of a world where I don’t share with someone the experiences that Graham and I shared.

3: Jairus and Joshua

I don’t believe bad things come in threes. Still, I said to Audra when I got back from Graham’s funeral that even though I didn’t believe bad things came in threes, I was still anxious, I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

A couple of days later, it did:

Please consider this your notice to Terminate the Tenancy at the End of the Term for Landlord’s Own Use as per the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act. Once you vacate the premises, we will be renovating the property and moving in after the work is complete.

Now I get that it may seem weird for me to post about having to move in the same category as people dying and almost dying, but if I’m going to be honest here, I actually find moving more stressful than people dying and/or almost dying. I’m not being hyperbolic, either. I can’t deal with things that threaten the security of my living situation. All of my life’s most-stressful-events involve my living situation being threatened. (I was going to add an exception for ‘being kidnapped as a child’ before I realized I should probably pencil that in under ‘security of living situation’ anyway.)

So now we’re looking for somewhere new to live.

Postscript

I don’t want to write an entry that is all doom and gloom, so I’ll end with this:

Every day this week, I have eaten my lunch outside in the sun, reading. Spring is here.

Status Update

A few things.

  1. I have started a new amazing gig, which is keeping me very busy. Details soon.
  2. I am still in the process of moving, and am living out of boxes in the interim. Moving Day #2 is June 29th. Any Toronto volunteers will be cherished and/or fondled.
  3. My internet access at home has been down for a week, and I’m way behind on email. Please don’t be offended if I haven’t replied.
  4. As of today I haven’t DJed in 4 weeks, which is the longest I’ve gone without DJing in almost ten years. I might start podcasting to scratch the itch.
  5. It took me A Very Long Time, but my Toronto phone number is (647) TROUBLE. How amazing is that? The answer: Quite.

More to come!

613 + 416

Announcement.

I am leaving the fair city of Ottawa at the end of May.

I was born here, I spent my formative years here, and I’ve been back eight years or so now. I’ve been here more than anywhere else in the world, and I live about a ten minute walk from where I was born. I’m returning to Toronto, in the hopes of being closer to rare family members I want to spend time with, and in search of web communications work that doesn’t require bilingualism.

I’ve parted ways with my employer, given my notice to my landlord, and have started the search for a June home base in Toronto while looking for work and a July 1st apartment.

I love this city, and I will be back eventually. It might be five years, ten years, or twenty years — in the meantime there are streets to explore, and adventure to be had.

Forward.

[08/30] Of cities in dust

Day 08 – A moment, in great detail:

It was snowing now, light flakes betraying the morning sun’s promise of spring. I took a long moment in the doorway before I joined the crowd, fifty people moving in a hundred directions. To work. From work. To a friend’s home. To pick up the baby. To start a new job. To break up with their lover. To light the fireplace at home.

I feel insulated, now. The crowd protects me from the snow, the snow protects me from seeing anything too far away, and anything too far away doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense anyway.

I duck into a coffee shop for caffeine and quiet reading. I’ve spent so many hours of my life here, but it’s somehow different now, and there isn’t a flicker of recognition in the faces of anyone who looks up. I’m still insulated by the snow, by feeling like you’ve come home and found some other family watching your TV and eating off your plates.

I make my order and open the book to page one. It’s a beautiful place to be — fresh coffee, crisp pages, a new story in a familiar setting.

Toronto.

In the trenches

Just came back from PodCamp Toronto, where Audra and I gave a presentation on Social Media in the Public Service. It went over really well, and it’ll be up on SlideShare once the video/audio archives are up at PodCamp so I can stitch it all together.

I spent a fair amount of the trip feeling ill, and to my horror, I’ve realized that I always started feeling sick about twenty minutes after having a few cups of coffee. Caffeine is one of my most treasured addictions, and I don’t know how easily I would be able to function without it. I don’t think there has ever been a period in my life where I was caffeine-free.

I’d like to go back and spend some more time wandering the city once it warms up a bit. I think I’m slowly coming to terms with my relationship with Toronto. We’ll never be what we were, but I think we could learn how to be friends.

Twiin, Tea, and Me.

Upcoming Jairus Events:

Tuesday Oct 28th: Playing live in Cyanotic for Industrial Strength Halloween. Lots of new angry industrial to play. It sounds great.

Friday Oct 31st: DJing for the ReVamp Halloween night at Dekuf. Digging through old spooky goth records. Will be fun.

Friday Dec 20th: DJing with Leslie at Denise’s Steel Ball! This is actually a really big deal for me. When I was young and sneaking into clubs, the two pillars of the scene were Industrial Strength and the Steel Ball. It’s very humbling to be here, over ten years later, participating in them both with the two women that made the Ottawa industrial/fetish scene the institution it was in the 90s.

Will be going to into the studio in Toronto next week to record for the new Cyanotic album. I’ve got this horrible feeling of anxiety and dread in my stomach and heart, and I don’t know why it’s there, or what I need to do to get rid of it. I’m hoping this will help.

oooOOOOooo

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Halloween show. There was all kinds of chaos leading up to it, and the Fire Marshall made us take down the biggest and best decorations before Tuesday night, but everyone looked fantastic, and it was a great night. Aside from a glitch during Encephalon’s set, there were no surprises, which is always a good thing.

(Except for Will, who’s boycott obviously doesn’t extend to the cake.)

I’m going to be playing Dark Rave in Toronto tomorrow. I have no idea what time, or what I’ll be playing, I just know I’ll be in the main room. Be there or be… somewhere else. (Edit: Looks like I’ll be on from 1:00 AM to 2:30 AM or so, in the main room.)

In other news, I’m thinking about shutting down my LJ. I might setup a website on one of the countless domains I keep buying and doing nothing with, or I might just move house to Vox, the new LJ-like service from the owners of LJ. It’s what LiveJournal would’ve been if LiveJournal was made today, instead of five years ago.

…which is what it is, I guess.

If I end up migrating there, I’ll post a link. Any of you who want a new community-oriented site, you should

646

September 30th, Toronto: “PLAY! A Video Game Symphony is a Symphony world-tour featuring music from blockbuster video games. The music is performed by some of the finest, world-class orchestras and choirs. Graphics on large screens suspended above the orchestra accompany the scores, highlighting memorable moments from the video games.”

A typical program:

Uematsu Play! A Video Game Symphony Fanfare
Uematsu Final Fantasy
Kondo Super Mario Bros.
Mitsuyoshi Shenmue
Eriksson Battlefield 1942
Uematsu Aerith’s Theme ur Final Fantasy VII
Nakamura Sonic the Hedgehog
Iwase Metal Gear Solid
Hülsbeck Apidya
Shimomura Kingdom Hearts
Soule The Elder Scrolls III
Uematsu Swing de Chocobo ur Final Fantasy
Grefberg The Chronicles of Riddick
Mitsuda Chrono Cross-Chrono Trigger
Hayes World of Warcraft
Yamaoka Silent Hill
O’Donnell/Salvatori Halo
Kondo The Legend of Zelda
Uematsu One Winged Angel ur Final Fantasy VII

Mike/Oni T, you guys down for a roadtrip? The tickets are, unfortunately, orchestra priced, but there are some fantastic seats available.

589

A Canadian aid worker kidnapped in the Gaza Strip told CBC News he was treated roughly…

until his captors believed his claims that he was not American.

Budzanowski was kidnapped Tuesday morning from the Gaza office of JumpStart, the U.S.-based aid organization he works for. At least 11 foreigners were kidnapped in Gaza and the West Bank in response to Tuesday’s Israeli raid on a Palestinian-run Jericho prison.

The Toronto native said armed men burst into the JumpStart office and aimed their guns at him because they thought he was American. They didn’t believe he was Canadian, even when he showed them his passport.

“It’s not very pleasant to be recognized as an American. They give special treatment to people of American origin,” he said.

Budzanowski said four men surrounded him in the backseat of a vehicle as he was driven to a building.

“It was a rough ride at high speeds,” he said.

With a mask over his head, Budzanowski said he was taken to a building with cement floors, shoved against a wall, a door and pushed down a staircase.

“I was sure they were going to physically harm me,” he said.

Budzanowski said he was moved at least four times overnight and prevented from sleeping.

But he said his captors treated him “nicely” when they realized he was Canadian.

“Later at night when they realized, they changed from extreme rough to lightly rough. Today they changed and treated me nicely,” he said.

Trying to find some light

I’m having a terrible week, and I’ve been trying to write about it for a very long time now. The only things that are coming out are sad, angsty, angry, and depressing. 100% LiveJournal, in other words.

So, rather than add more gothic poetry to the internets, I decided to say a few nice things about the people I don’t often talk to. In alphabetical order:

amandarochelle: You’ve always known what’s important. Thank you, and please — take care of yourself.

cephalopod: Do you remember the conversation we had over coffee, where you shared with me your infrared photography, and we gave each other secret advice? I do.

dem: Don’t get caught in the middle of scene politics. You’re too good for that. Do what’s best for you.

dharmasatya: I wish I had known you better when I was younger and wiser — I think we could’ve had some wicked ESD time.

essinem: The stars burn brighter when they know you’re watching; they, like us, are hoping to inspire you.

prox2: Y’know, if you came with us, we’d be un-fucking-stoppable. Just sayin’.

siksyko: If I won the lottery or otherwise inherited a business tomorrow, you would be the first person I’d hire.

substance_p: Sometimes I think it’d be a good idea to rent a van, drive to Toronto, and literally fucking kidnap you. I think that might be best for everyone involved.

t0yb0x: We love you, you know.

zeewhiteninja: Do you remember when there was only one set of footprints? That’s when I was carrying you.

There were many more, but the words on my screen are starting to blur. One more, for someone more familiar:

Leslie — you’re my partner in all things, and the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known. You and me, okay?

I love you.

406

Any of my friends in Toronto looking for a job? Let me know if you (or anyone you know) fit this description. The pay is very good.

Job Description 

  • Accepts ownership of all incidents assigned to them unless further dispatched to a service provider. 
  • Flexibility to accept all shifts in a 7/24 support environment. Owns the resolution of all incidents that are not dispatched. 
  • Ensures “signed on” and ready to accept calls at the commencement of shifts and adheres to break and lunch schedules in accordance with schedule.
  • Records all incidents and requests in appropriate incident tracking system
  • Provides complete and accurate documentation on status, progress and history of incidents resolved at first point of contact and closes the incident record upon resolution.
  • Dispatches incidents to appropriate entity for escalation or support, updates communication and dispatch status in the incident record, and verifies escalated incidents are acknowledged by vendor.
  • Minimizes the effects of incidents on the service levels by resolving troubles as quickly and efficiently as possible, or managing length of call

Qualifications

  • Operating systems: NT workstation, Windows95/98/2000
  • Servers: NT server and Novell Netware, MS Exchange server
  • Outlook98/2000
  • Applications: MS Office 97/2000, Visio 5/2000, MS Project, MS FrontPage. 
  • MOUS certification or equivalent experience
  • A+ certification or equivalent experience

Nice to have

  • (MCSE)Working knowledge of NT and Novell Servers.
  • An understanding of networks.
  • Excellent Analytical and problem determination skills

NICE TO HAVE TECHNICAL SKILLS:

  • 1 or more years in a Call Centre/Customer Service environment.
  • Ability to maintain customer service standards while meeting productivity standards

REQUIRED SOFT SKILLS

  • Excellent Customer Service skills
  • Ability to respond to irate customers in a professional manner
  • Excellent Command of the English language – Verbal & Written
  • Bilingual (French) – Excellent verbal and written communication Skills
  • Typing Skills -50WPM