ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

November 2005


Musings30 Nov 2005

So far I feel the campaign is going really well. In an effort to appease Ontario voters it is imperative that we bring forward an image of moderation. To this end I would like to point out that I waited a full five hours after parliament dissolved before I started in on the queers.

~Rick Mercer pretending to be Stephen Harper. He’s got a fun message from Paul Martin too.

Yes, election time is upon us. The Canadian Government has fallen. I had to reassure one of my internet friends from Croatia that the “fall of the government” was not something cataclysmic, and that, yes, despite the government being toppled, Canadian politics are still pretty boring.

I stumbled upon this awesome picture on cbc, as part of a story about whether the party leaders are hip enough.

I encourage you all to go take a look at the photo. In it, we see:

  • Gilles Duceppe looking like sitting with the other three is beneath him
  • Stephen Harper looking bored
  • Jack Layton practicing his “statesman” look
  • Paul Martin’s gaze wandering to something outside the frame. A commotion? A work of art? A pretty girl? We can only speculate.
  • Hooray for reading election campaign coverage: I can feel like I’m doing my civic duty, and also procrastinate, all at once!

    Musings29 Nov 2005

    Well, almost alright. I’m still a little mad at them over their shenanigans last night. They pre-empted an interview with Yan Martel on As It Happens to cover the fall of the government last night.

    I’ve started listening to CBC radio again in earnest the past week or so. I listen to As It Happens while I eat my dinner, and then tune into Ideas later in the evening. Ideas is a great show. If you’re not familiar with it: it’s basically an eclectic series of multi-part documentaries on a whole range of topics. Last week they ran a three-part series called “Thank You Mr. Sinclair”, which was an extended interview and retrospective of Ideas former host Lister Sinclair, one of my favorite radio people ever.

    Mary Lou Finlay is retiring from As It Happens. Her final show is tomorrow. I’m going to miss her excellent interviews, but I’m sure they’ll find someone else to cary the torch. I still fondly remember listening to Michael Enright and Alan Maitland running the show when I was a kid. Mary Lou is only the latest in a long line of excellent journalism.

    Also, if anyone else missed Yan Martel last night: you can listen again online.

    News25 Nov 2005

    BJ
    They put him down this week. Sorry for the poor image, it’s all I have.

    “Hotshot” (barn name “BJ” – stood for “Big Jerk”) was my old coach Lori’s old Grand-Prix jumper. She bought him when he was three and showed him quite successfully for a number of years. Eventually, when he was approaching his 20′s, it became clear that his body wouldn’t stand up to the level of competition, (20 is getting up there for a horse) so she retired him.

    Around the same time, I needed a better horse to ride in low amateur jumper. I wasn’t the only one in need of a partner: BJ had not taken well to retirement. The first time Lori loaded the other horses on the trailer to go to a show and left him behind, he went berserk. It seemed like a good fit: BJ wasn’t in shape to handle 5′ jumps anymore but 3’9″ was no problem, and I got to ride an absolute veteran.

    There are very few horses for who are not completely content with a life of eating grass every day, and BJ was one of those few. He loved to jump, and he loved to compete. This is a large part of what made him so special. In the show ring, he grew a foot taller and would almost strut, no doubt thinking “all of these people are here to see me“.

    He was not malicious in the slightest, but you always had to watch him carefully because he enjoyed mischief. One of his favorite things to do was get loose at horse shows and go for a gallop around the show grounds, gleefully staying one step ahead of the people trying to catch him.

    At the same time, he could be very forgiving. Once at the Atlantic Winter Fair, while making final preparations to go warm up for our class, we were suddenly surrounded by a large crowed of small children and their parents. A lot of horses are easily startled or agitated in such situations but BJ just patiently stood and waited. He even tolerated one small child whacking him on the flank with a balloon. (Many horses would have gone ballistic and put someone in the hospital as a result of that – parents of city kids need to get a clue about animals, but that’s another story). The whole time he had the air of a celebrity receiving his adoring fans. He had quite an ego.

    Although very experienced, he was by no means an easy horse to ride. The first time I got on him he bolted on me and took me for a nice long gallop around the arena. When I finally managed to get him stopped, Lori said, “Well, you didn’t fall off like the last person I put on him”.

    In the photo I’ve posted you can see I’m holding two sets of reins. The bit in his mouth is called a “gag”, and it’s a pretty hefty piece of hardware. If one thing defined BJ it was his desire to go fast: whether you asked him to or not. When Lori first started riding him she got out of control in the show ring and ended up actually jumping out of the arena and going for a gallop around the show grounds on more than one occasion. Fortunately he had mellowed a little by the time I got to ride him.

    BJ also was a bit unconventional in his way of going. Jumping requires a horse to package a lot of energy, and for most horses this means a long, powerful stride at the canter. BJ was quite the opposite – he had a short step to begin with, and preferred to bounce like a sewing machine. I would routinely put 9 strides between jumps that would ordinarily be done in 5 or 6. I had to learn to not worry about strides and just sit up and look where I was going. He compensated for his short step by simply increasing his rhythm: picture his feet flying everywhere. We never had problems with the clock – timed jump-offs were his strong suit.

    BJ and I had numerous memorable times together. We almost smashed into Ian Miller in a warm-up ring once. We won the first class I ever entered at an out-of-province show by just flat out running like hell, each of us feeding off the other’s energy. Normally in a jump off one makes efficient turns and saves time that way – we just galloped as fast as we could. No finesse, just speed.

    My favorite memory of him is from the Collingwood Horse Show, which was at the time the largest out-door horse show in North America. BJ and I posted a double clear in a “mini-prix” class (tougher course, larger than usual prize money) and had a fast-enough time in the jump-off to come second, out of a field of about 50. This was especially important to me because my Grandfather, who always loved horses and, via my mother, is probably responsible for my own horse-craziness, was watching. I have such a vivid memory of the that class’s victory gallop. I was thinking “Grandpa finally got to see me ride, and see me win something”. My Grandfather passed away not long after that.

    It’s been six years since I showed him. I last went to visit him in September. He was looking old and thin, but even so he was as cheerful and as glad for attention as always. He was the kind of horse who always had an alert look on his face, and would always put his ears up when he saw you. He spent his last years turned out with Lori’s various foals, and seemed to really enjoy acting like a mother hen.

    He had so much talent and so much personality, and I am lucky to have known him. I’m feeling more than a little sad right now.

    Links23 Nov 2005

    From where I sit, this is actually good news.

    Movies22 Nov 2005

    If you were a penguin you’d spend half your time hoofing it across the Antarctic sea-ice with an empty stomach, just for the sake of making babies.

    I saw March of the Penguins. I found it to be a pretty other-worldly: Antarctica barely qualifies as planet earth, near as I can tell. The movie is beautifully shot and narrated, and generally an engrossing experience, but I had a few quibbles: mainly that I didn’t really learn all that much about penguins.

    March of the Penguins is more narrative than documentary. The audience is often told that “many penguins do not survive X”, where X is all sorts of things that stand between penguins and life, from predators to storms to starvation. However, we’re never told how many fail to survive X. I’ve got no idea what the odds of surviving a year of penguin-hood are. I think it would have added to the experience if they had said some things along those lines.

    Also, I didn’t find the movie all that funny. Apparently I was in the minority on this. Sure, penguins are pretty comical creatures, and there are lots of scenes of them tripping over their own feet, but I only chuckled once or twice at some particularly extreme penguin tomfoolery. By contrast, most of the audience found the whole film quite funny. I guess I was just too much in mind of the amount of penguin death being depicted to find the rest of it that amusing.

    Movies17 Nov 2005

    Snide remarks.

    Humorous speculations.

    I’ll probably go see the latest movie, and hopefully enjoy it, but you have to admit, HP deserves to be taken down a notch. It has become…. mainstream. Dun dun dun.

    News15 Nov 2005

    Yes. I did.

    The games Jamie and I ordered finally arrived. I have a shiny new copies of Halo, Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood and Homeworld 2. Work? What’s that?

    More fun with Warthogs. I especially like the Marine Syncronized Flying Team.

    Music and Musings13 Nov 2005

    Normally I don’t like surreal stories. I usually don’t think they are interesting enough to be worth the effort. However, there are a few exceptions, and this webcomic is the latest: A Lesson is Learned, but the Damage is Irreversible.

    Favorites include Getting Over Women and the Exclusive Interview with the Moon that accompanies this comic.

    Normally I don’t like Hip Hop music. Yesterday I listened to DNTO and they played some hip hop by female Scot named MC Soom T (though presumably her parents call her something else). Her band has some sample tracks to download, and I’ve been listening compulsively.

    Normally when I dream of unrealistically giant ocean waves rushing to drown me I wake up in a panic. The only difference between the tsunami dream I just had and the others is that in this one the waves came in the daylight.

    Normally I am chased by giant walls of water in the dark.

    News13 Nov 2005

    My internet friend from Poland just had a baby boy named Alex. Well, really, his wife did the actual giving birth.

    Congratulations Jarek!

    Links09 Nov 2005

    The eight members of the schoolboard in Dover Penn. who brought Intelligent Design into science class all got voted out. I guess making the ACLU look like the bad guys didn’t work.

    Also, the “Panda Trial” wrapped up a few days ago. I wonder how long it’ll take for a verdict.

    Update November 10:

    Pat Robertson says the people of Dover have “voted God out of your city“.

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