Happy Festivus

rick_mugDec 23, 2003

Festivus is upon us. Time to mount the pole, air family grievances & limber-up for post-dinner Feats of Strength.

Festivus is my favourite of the secular alternatives to Christmas. Others prefer to spread the message of peace & good will to all men.

onionOnion.com did a great piece on bringing Christmas to Iraq — by force. Xmas is an easy mark for humourists & cynics.

Actually, this is my favourite holiday. I’m happy to be together with family after missing last Christmas in New Zealand.

For others this quotation rings true:

Christmas is … an excuse for alcoholics to mercilessly crush their families, children to have their innocence strangled by overwhelming greed and people who hate each other to gather and inflict torture over a cheese ball and crackers.

(from vegetarian Bill, as quoted by acclaimed journalist KZ.)

Hitler was a violent herbivore non-smoker too, actually, though that is possibly just a coincidence.

masons_2003_santa_smSpeaking of vegetarians, my surrogate family the Masons invited me to one of their favourite annual events, Chocolate for Breakfast. This is a CUPS Christmas fund-raiser for the homeless sponsored by Bernard Callebaut fine chocolates and terrific dance band The Dino Martinis.

Appear Sunday morning in your PJs and dance away your decadent brecky! For the second time in the past 3 years the Mason clan won the grand prize, a huge gourmet chocolate Santa! (click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Trust you are getting a break over the holiday.

If you lack Christmas spirit, go see Love, Actually. It’s a chick flick but anyone would enjoy it — a Hugh Grant movie set in the weeks leading up to Christmas in London.

I’m jolly. Life is good. The gym club is going well, my apartment building now fully rented and I’m healthy if not wealthy nor wise.

I’m always cheered when days grow longer. Makes me pine for hiking adventures next summer.

Know that I am one of those annoying MAC devotees who dis Windoze users while denying the faults of Apple computers. We Macolytes have never been flying higher.

Time Magazine voted the Apple on-line music service iTunes the coolest tech invention of the year. (You can sample the service but it is still available only to Americans.) US$.99 / song — fast, easy, reliable.

Rick KramerFinally Apple has made a dent in the real world — the 97% of people who use Bill Gates operating system. Apple iTunes works on Windows. (I even downloaded iTunes on to Mason‘s PC when he was busy dressing the kids for tobogganing!)

Best song of 2003? I’d vote Where is the Love by the Black Eyed Peas. Great message, catchy song, great video. Uplifting too is Shania’s She’s Not Just a Pretty Face. Go girl!

I’m finally back to Saskatoon for New Years. The Longs host a wonderful weekend with a giant bonfire on frozen Emma Lake. You have a terrific New Years too!

All about the work,

Rick McSchneider

travelogue – Happy Birthday?

Nov 2, 2003

rick_mugI am … 40something today. There is some debate on the exact number. As you know, I don’t have to count those years in which my birthday was not acknowledged by anyone. I missed two for sure: in Kathmandu & Moose Jaw.

My family has never had much use for birthdays though we will celebrate this one.

Birthdays are, perhaps, a good prompt for introspection.

rick_bike2Happy Birthday?

Lets see.

I’ve written of my philosophy of voluntary simplicity; following my bliss; having achievable goals:

 

  • 1 hour reading / day
  • 1 hour exercise / day
  • few possessions
  • few commitments
  • eat modestly
  • lots of time on the www

This year I want to get out of debt & even start earning some income from this website editing hobby.

My buddy Rockin’ Ronnie travelled to Lynchburg, Tennessee for the Jack Daniel’s World Championships of Barbecue. They finished 2nd in pork butt! A dream come true.

Best news is that I bought a new mountain bike. It’s a half hour commute to the gym each way through the zoo and Inglewood Bird sanctuary on superb river bike paths.  I see more coyotes, deer & bunnies than people or dogs.

Biking takes care of my exercise quota. Lately I am finding cycling better for fitness than running. And it’s easier to get motivated to hop on the bike.

double_miniWork at Altadore Gym Club is going well. The boys program is relaxed & we have 3 full-time men’s coaches to shoulder the load.

The boys are strong on tramp and, in the mode of Kyle Shewfelt, good on floor and vault.

This lad, way high on double mini double back, is an Altadore trampolinist who just finished 5th in his age group at World Championships.

I always wanted to be a slumlord. 🙂 You can find me downtown in Bridgeland; Little Italy. TC got me a job as resident manager of an apartment block near Edmonton Trail.

apartment-Edmonton-TrailFrom my balcony you can enjoy a vista of skyscrapers — a compelling homescape even to a recidivistic wanderer like myself. (So far I am camping but camping on real hardwood floors.)

My first duty was to evict 3 of 17 tenants including the sickly alcoholic handyman who is here somewhat at the charity of the owner. Ne’er fear for those I displace — they can camp free a few blocks away at the park beside Edmonton Trail bridge.

Actually, we post eviction for everyone even a day late with rent. All three eventually coughed up the dough. As a capitalist stooge, I don’t care where the money comes from just so long as I get it.

My MP, Stephen Harper, leader of the Official Opposition, the Reform Party CCRAP (Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance party) Alliance Party? Conservative Party will defend my right to lord it over tenants.

I’ve never lived downtown before but I always thought that if one must live in the city, one might as well live in the urban hardcore handy to LRT (Light Rail Transit), the main public library, Eau Claire market, Princess Island.

There’s an urban beauty best exemplified in Calgary by the surreal dead calm between towers, illuminated by the reflection off mirrored windows. Brighter than Heaven.

_calgary_glareParty-wise, I am a stone’s throw from the Cecil Hotel & Beer Land (cheapest beer in town). The inner core is an interesting place to live — I saw a pick-up truck hawking live pigeons in China town last week — though I need to wheel around the odd passed-out bag sniffer.

Calgary is a boomtown inevitably attracting a population of angry, damaged dysfunctionals. There seems to be a pretty good social safety net at the nearby Calgary Drop-in Centre — but they won’t let you in at night if you are stoned or drunk.

BM invited me to volunteer to serve breakfast for the homeless sleeping in the gym at Knox United church downtown. Quite a civilized group of people. Many had daytime jobs, actually.

calgaryThe copious amount of media time on the gay marriage debate was a waste of time IMHO.

My own solution is practical; abolish all marriage. Isn’t it a throwback to the time before church & state were separated? What is sacrosanct about the heterosexual couple? Devout Muslims can have 4 wives; a good Mormon as many as he could stand. A Tibetan woman marries a man and all his brothers.

As a happily single guy (that’s my story, I’m sticking to it), I long ago quit apologizing for not being married. I’m not sure of the stats in Canada, but less than half the adults in Australia are married.

Hmm.

In a democracy we could organize. Majority rules, right?. We could vote to TAX all marriage.

Happy birthday to me. 🙂

I’m mostly listening to 50, coveting, like him, an iPod. But RC turned me on to (Trent Reznor protégé) Johnny Cash’s final album. Have you heard it? Excellent!

Johnny lost his beloved wife a few months before he succumbed. Testament to a marriage that worked.

He sings a life retrospection:

You can have it all,
my empire of dirt.

What have I become?
my sweetest friend.

Everyone I know
goes away in the end.

Kind of a bleak way to end a birthday reflection, don’t you think?

OK. Instead a joke:

I was tempted to join the international Sceptics Society — … but can I trust those guys?

Calgary Rick

chloe_rings_2003sm