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.

Yukon Ho!

When I was ten or eleven years old, I had a Pennysaver paper route. It was the worst thing. Every Sunday morning they drop off a bundle of papers (98 in my case) and a dozen bundles of advertisements. So you open up all the bundles and separate out all the different advertisements. Then you open up a newspaper and put one of each of the dozen different flyers inside of it. Stick the finished newspaper in your little newspaper cart, and repeat 97 times. I actually cannot even begin to describe how miserable this is. It takes hours, and there’s a crazy amount of paper strewn everywhere and it is a total disaster zone from start until finish.

It was through this weekly process that I first learned to recognize the emotion we call ‘dread’.

After you’ve got your little newspaper dolly full of the freshly-stuffed papers, you wander around the neighbourhood and drop them off in people’s mailboxes, often while people inside yell at you about how they don’t want more junk mail. Because who does, right? Also, the dolly doesn’t fit 98 stuffed newspapers, which means that you need to go back home in the middle of your route at least once to re-up. Eventually you deliver all 98 newspapers to all 98 homes, you get back home hopefully before the sun sets, and you phone them to let them know that it’s all finished.

This is all a lot of responsibility for someone in grade 5.

Once a month or so, we’d get these ‘specials’ where there’d be a full-on second newspaper to deliver along with the first. So you pack your cart with the stuffed newspapers and the special newspaper (which takes up twice as much cart space, which means you need to re-up twice as often) and try to jam both of these things in people’s mailboxes while they yell at you.

One snowy and grey Sunday morning, I opened my front door to get the papers and saw we had a ‘special’ that week: Phone books.

There was a hill I had to climb on my route, and I remember trying to drag my stupid cart full of soggy phone books through this thick wet snow, crying all the way. My hands were red and raw from trying to pull the cart, and completely numb from the cold. I ended up leaving the cart there and going back home to ask for help. My mother’s husband drove me out to the cart, picked up the phone books, and delivered them all himself — probably the nicest thing he ever did for me in the many years we lived together.

The worst part about all of this is that you make something like thirty cents per paper delivered. Not lucrative. After fees and whatever else, for a full day’s work I would get a cheque for twenty-odd dollars. (Years later, I worked as a delivery boy for the Citizen and got cheques ten times that amount for a route a fraction the size. This is how I learned about ‘exploitation’.)

But, at the time, twenty-odd dollars was a lot of money. And it was the first money I had ever earned myself. I took my first cheque across the street to the mall, cashed it in my TD Bank Junior Savings Account, and went to the bookstore where I bought the Calvin and Hobbes Yukon Ho! collection, mostly because I saw the title and thought it was cool that a comic might be about Canada.

Buying that book changed my life. I read every strip and bought every book after that. Calvin and Hobbes is a fucking subversive comic, man. Sexism, racism, environmentalism, war, death, friendship, bullying, love, an existential crisis, labour issues — they were all in those books. Before I learned about any of that stuff from Asimov or Aristotle or anywhere else, I learned it from Calvin and Hobbes.

I got a Calvin and Hobbes tattoo when I turned 19 because I was terrified of not being a teenager anymore. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be as the same kind of person as I got older, and I wanted to leave a reminder to future-jairus that ‘growing up’ means whatever we want it to mean. And to leave myself something like a litmus test:

If, when I got old, I didn’t like Calvin and Hobbes anymore — then I was right to be afraid as a teenager, because it would mean I had become someone else entirely.

We’ll never have to clean a plate
Of veggie glops and goos.
Messily we’ll masticate
Using any fork we choose!

The timber wolves will be our friends.
We’ll stay up late and howl,
At the moon, till nighttime ends,
Before going on the prowl.

Oh, what a life! We cannot wait,
To be in that arctic land,
Where we’ll be masters of our fate,
And lead a life that’s grand!

No more of parental rules!
We’re heading for some snow!
Good riddance to those grown-up ghouls!
We’re leaving! Yukon Ho!

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!

Trauma Center

…and so ends Jairus’s Albertan Teaching Adventures – class wrapped up today. Jairus’s Albertan Hotel Adventures will continue for another couple of days.

Class was good. The students are all pretty fun and friendly, so it wasn’t too tough. Mostly people I’d end up hanging out with outside class, if I lived in ALBERTALAND. The oldest student is sixty, but he’s easily the most fun. His daughter is a professional snowboarder, his son is an actor (Dead Like Me, Final Destination 3), and he loves industrial music. I might’ve sold him on coming to COMA in April.

In other news, I stumbled upon a Wii. It is sitting in a shiny white box, waiting to be loved upon my return to Ottawa – and loved it shall be.

I had more delicious burgers today, but paid the ultimate price for them: Hiccups. As the wise Siddhartha knew, life is suffering.

Delicious beefy suffering.

white cowboys, red meat, and coloured help

Some content, perhaps.

The trip started well. I touched down around noon after a slightly-delayed (but mostly boring) flight, and proceeded directly to pay Telus far too much money for wireless access that consisted of a “System error, try again later” page. (This is what happens when you forget to setup your ICMP VPN tunnel before you leave home.)

The hotel is alright, but the internet costs more than Telus’s, and the food is seven kinds of terrible. I have vowed to never eat here again, regardless of how convenient it is.

So, in search of delicious diner food, I scanned the ‘best of’ list of the local alterna-weekly (which has a 2/3 page ad for a darkrave/powernoise party “dedicated entirely to the harshest beats” on the evening I’m leaving), and found a seemingly delicious diner. Upon arriving at said delicious diner, however, I discovered a hole in the wall with a lineup of trendy indie rockers half-way down the block.

I then cheesed it to a nearby brew pub, which had burgers of such deliciousness as to defy description.

The first day of class went mostly okay today, although there are some technical issues to be worked out with the PCs. And they forgot to order the courseware for one of the students. Also they forgot mine.

I have discovered that my anti-discrimination hat, while indeed having the reverse effect here in Albertaland, does not cause nearly as much scorn and malice as learning that I’m from Ottawa does. I get the impression that they believe me to be some sort of comically evil landlord tax-man, delivered straight from the belly of the beast so that I can garnish their wages more effectively. Or something. I couldn’t really understand what they were trying to communicate through all the talk about oil revenue and housing booms.

In the end, I built a bridge of trust through the time-tested tradition of trash-talking Toronto, and was accepted into their tribe. We then engaged in celebratory ritual consumption of sate chicken at a Vietnamese submarine shop(!) downtown.

Now, to numb my mind with hotel television.