Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


Oh, please, let my luck hold

File under: Home And Native Land, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:01 pm.

I’ve never been to the Maritimes before. This year, I’ve been feeling particularly Canadian, and particularly ready for a vacation. Freshly graduated, with some real income coming in in a few weeks from my (high-paying) new job - it seemed like the right time. And camp’s in Maine this year, which I interpreted to mean that God is telling me to get my ass over to the Maritimes this summer.

This afternoon, I sketched out a vague itinerary, which can be summarized as follows: Visit three national parks in three provinces, stopping at convenient and interesting places along the way. I bounced up and down at length, and then phoned my parents to tell them about this, and they asked me if I was aware that Canada’s national parks workers were on strike. I might want to change my summer plans, they suggested, and the Fisheries Museum is interesting…


Or not:

There were various disruptions and waived fees at the country’s 40 national parks and 150 national historic sites yesterday.

Many drivers honked. Others asked what was going on. Some stopped to pay an entrance fee, but nobody was collecting.


For now. It’d be best if this ended soon, as entrance fees pay for park upkeep, but a few days of free tourism while I’m in the neighbourhood? Sign me up.

[Edited Aug 18 to say - This is classy. The strikers are not backing down, but they are also making a point of not pissing off the public. If the TA union I belonged to had figured out a way to do that last year, we might have managed to finagle a decent contract.]


In which I bring Ebola to Mathcamp

File under: This One Time, At Mathcamp. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 9:59 pm.

I’m totally getting my money’s worth out of my medical insurance this summer - I went to the doctor the other day when my neverending cold (16 days and counting) seemed to be turning into an ear infection, and tomorrow I’ll be getting medical attention for my fingers, which aren’t healing as well as they should be from the time on Friday when I got all eight of them stuck in a window. (Story forthcoming as soon as I get the pictures of my bandaged hands online.)

In fake medical news, on today’s field trip, I found a toy store that sold stuffed microbes. I bought Ebola - isn’t it cute? Another camper bought the flu and the common cold, the latter of which I’m thisclose to hurtling against the room in frustration.

I think my favourite is the flesh-eating disease. It has no mouth, but it comes with a knife and fork!

World events, according to some guy on the radio and the people who call him

File under: Character Writ Large, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 9:48 pm.

Because the music on the local radio stations is almost uniformly terrible I’ve never been known for my ability to turn away from a train wreck, I’ve been listening to Lars Larson, a radio gadfly with, as far I can tell, no qualifications for hosting a national talk show other than a reasonably pleasant and fluid speaking voice, and an ability to spin controversy out of nothing whatsoever. A few weeks ago, a caller phoned in with the REAL FACTS about the Kerry campaign. To wit: Kerry has prostate cancer. He is planning to drop out of the race in a few months, either just before or just after he’s elected. This will promote Edwards to the post of President, leaving the VP spot open to the person who really controls the Democratic Party - Hillary Clinton. The caller had no references, of course, because this is the sort of thing that the liberal media - that is, everything from Indymedia to CNN to Fox News - is afraid to report. “Interesting, very interesting,” commented Lars, and then a big discussion ensued - would Hillary, wondered the host and his caller, settle for being second in command - or would she find some way to oust Edwards? Or at least become the de facto President, if not the official one? In any case, something to think about, since - and I quote - surely the majority of Americans SHUDDER AT THE THOUGHT of another four years of living under the iron fist of Hillary Clinton.

Today’s topic was the release of Mary Kay Letourneau, the sixth grade teacher famous (and jailed) for bearing two children by a former student of hers. In Larson’s universe, nearly everyone in the country - particularly the Democrats, the feminists, and the homosexuals - is A-OK with teacher-student sex, and only he and his small cadre of Repubican moral watchdogs have any problem with this whatsoever. At this point a 21 year old phoned in to bravely announce that HE TOO was against sixth grade teachers having sex with twelve year olds, and he and Lars had a grand old time, staking out their unique position opposing teacher-student sex in a society that, virtually in its entirety, supports it. This, I guess, was a nice follow-up to that episode a few days ago about that website that instructs married people in how to have affairs without their spouses knowing. Larson railed against this for some time - this is the poisonous effect of liberalism on America! Is nothing sacred? - until the other person on the show (not a caller, I don’t think; the reception was too clear) pointed out that the website was based in Canada.

Canada. With its communist medical system, decriminalized marijuana and marrying gays. And snow. But of course.


All your personal info are belong to us

File under: I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 11:11 pm.

CBC pissed me off mightily a few months ago when it decided that it wouldn’t display the local weather on its homepage unless I told it exactly where in Vancouver I lived. Recently, The Globe and Mail has started doing the same thing, which will surely compromise the objectivity and representative nature of its daily polls, such as last Monday’s “Do you think the recent U.S. terror alert was more about politics than about security?” The site Bug Me Not allows users to bypass compulsory free registration…

…unless those users are affiliated with sites that enforce compulsory registration, in which case they have to register with BugMeNot. I think I lost it when I got to “Would you be willing to have an RFID chip inserted under your skin in exchange for a free, 12 month newspaper subscription?”


Call for paper

File under: This One Time, At Mathcamp. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 9:25 am.

One of the other Mathcamp staff is starting a collection entitled “Great Napkins of Mathematics”, in recognition of the fact that the best math seems to be done on napkins. If you have any, send them to him - ask for his address at martin at math.umn.edu - instead of throwing them out - he’d really appreciate that.


Fire near my place

File under: I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 8:14 pm.

Bone-dry conditions, rugged terrain and human carelessness combined to create a 4,000 square metre blaze at UBC Sunday morning.

This was only a matter of time, I guess - last year, hundreds of homes burned down in Kamloops, a city a few hours’ drive from Vancouver. This year’s forest fire season started earlier than last year’s, and spread faster; I couldn’t be sure that it wouldn’t reach the forest near my house. At least “the flames were stopped just 15 metres away from school buildings and a large propane tank” - cripes. Putting that out - that’s bravery.

Still…I’m glad I’m not there to see it. I’m awfully attached to that forest; the proximity of my apartment to it is the main reason I paid double the rent I should have paid for three years.

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