Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tenderfooting

My Friends,
   My woman recently put me onto this website/blog called “Mark’s Daily Apple” (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/).  Its run by this dude in California named Mark Sisson who advocates a primal lifestyle.  I don’t know too much about the eating part of it (although I would assume its similar to the paleo or caveman diet) but I found myself reading lots about the physical fitness aspects of the primal lifestyle.  The idea of natural movements that exercise the whole body (without isolating a specific muscle group for aesthetic reasons) has great appeal to me.  This is one of the main reasons I like parkour; it brings out my inner primate.  A major tenet of this movement is bare-footing and as I read more about it, I found myself positively enchanted by the concept.  Since I was young I have always been inclined to walk with bare feet and I am starting to think that perhaps this was not a fluke but an expression of my genetics.
   When it comes down to it, a shoe is an unnatural augmentation to what is a highly-evolved mechanism: the foot.  Sisson argues, and I concur, that we are doing ourselves more harm than good by constantly wearing shoes.  He illustrates the point with diagrams from a study conducted in 1905 (that’s how long we have known about the detriment to our feet caused by most footwear).

When I saw this first picture my first thought “wow, that is a weird-looking foot.”  Since it looked dissimilar to mine I naturally assumed it was a set of feet that had been damaged by years of poor footwear.  But much to my dismay, the article pointed out that this set of feet was the healthy one, belonging to an individual from the “bare-foot sample.”  Notice the wide spread of the toes, almost as if each has developed to play an active role in walking?
   The article then shows an individual from the perpetually shoed (sic) sample:

Shit.  While I wouldn’t say my feet are that mangled, I (and most people I would guess) share a similar deformation of the toes.  The big toes point inward, which is apparently wrong, and the other toes have been cramped to the point that they look atrophied and shrivelled.  Most dismaying about feet like this and is that they seem to be a milder version of feet like these,

These are the feet of a woman who was exposed to the imperial Chinese practice of foot-binding.  While the deformation of the toes is far more pronounced and effectively crippling to the woman, the comparatively benign deformation of my feet is still scarily reminiscent.
   What to do about this dilemma?  We live in a society where we wear shoes.  End of story!  But the shoes we wear, even athletic shoes are having a detrimental effect on our feet and our joints  (Read more about this here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flat-feet-treatment/).  I can speak first-hand about this.  Recently I have gone from running 4 times a week or so, not including running to commute, to not running at all, due to chronic ankle pain.  The impact from heel strikes, even with the cushioning of a “quality” shoe has proven too much for me.  Having heard a while back that man in nature typically has stronger arches from running unsupported on the balls of his feet, I suspected that I should perhaps look into “toe-running,” as it would have a lesser impact on my joints (It is no coincidence that uphill running is my favourite, less impact and its all on the toes).  However, during my most recent session of ankle physio I asked the therapist about getting into this type of activity.  Skillful as she was with active release therapy, she seemed really unsure about how to advise me.  Essentially she said “whatever you do, take it slow.”  I didn’t find that incredibly encouraging so I sat on her advice until yesterday when I read the article linked from Sisson’s website.  Now I am convinced that I must rectify the years of damage that have been done to my feet by literally airing them out.
   To that end I took a long barefoot walk that included terrain such as concrete, asphalt, cedar chips, grass, gravel and wooded trail.

Going barefoot will also help me get rid of unsightly ankle tanlines

Throughout the process I made a conscious effort to spread my toes with each step and really feel the ground I was walking upon.  Basically, it hurt after a while, but that doesn’t really bother me: As I have been told during my tenure in the military, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  As I sit here writing this I feel the same kind of soreness you feel on your hands when you stop using gloves at the gym; both soreness from abrasion and tiny muscle soreness.  My goal is to keep walking around barefoot until I lose the sensitivity in my soles.  When that happens I will attempt toe-running barefoot.
   What is equally exciting and daunting for me is the implication that barefooting would have on my upcoming trip.  My backpacking boots are incredibly good at what they do: providing support for my ankles and arches.  But wearing them for the next six months seems like it will negate any progress I make in the next few weeks leading up to my departure.  As I walked I could not help but think that I may yet be able to train my body to carry a load whilst barefoot.  I would have to stick to a strict training regimen and re-evaluate things before I left but going around the globe barefoot would be an interesting thing to do.  I’ll keep you updated.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Naivete and The Lonely Road called "Follow-Through"

Last night I infiltrated a group of criminals who had some vague plans for crime (go figure).  As I worked with them I began to laugh and joke with them and respect them as people.  Suddenly my plan to bring them to justice became complicated.
I think this is the problem for those who want to “change things from the inside;” to get inside you necessarily have to conform with norms.  When and if you finally get into a position where you have influence over the way things are, you have likely become so ingratiated to and dependant on how the way things are that you balk at change.

Essentially, you become “Toruk Makto”

My Friends,
  Two evenings ago I attended an alumni mixer for my alma mater.  It was a pleasant affair, with free drinks and food. Had I known that being alumni would have such perks (recent alum are also being offered a free course which I will not be able to take advantage of due to travel plans) I would not have taken 7 years to graduate.

-“A lot of people go to college for seven years.”
‘-Yeah, they’re called “doctors” ‘

Although I had fun and met some cool people I kind of felt like an odd man out.  Most people there who were my age (26 going on 27) had already not only graduated, but done a post-graduate degree, law school, and/or started a career.  In fact, many people a lot younger than me were already finishing up grad school and starting careers.  Bearing that in mind I was a little self-conscious when people asked me about myself.  Now for the record, I try to ignore social pressure. or the idea that my life should conform to some idea or some schedule, but I can’t help it sometimes; I feel like I have to qualify myself to others for their approval.  That said, the people I talked to were not there to impress or outdo each other, as they are in certain engagements I have previously attended, but instead listened attentively without trying to one-up me.  It was an unexpected relief, but it was a relief that came with its own set of problems.
   While speaking with one gentleman we got on to the topic of me (a field I consider myself an expert in) and through the course of conversation he learned about some of my exploits, works in progress and future plans.  He seemed genuinely impressed and said quite earnestly, “wow, you’re like my hero.”  As much as I like to be appreciated, I handle it awkwardly sometimes.  I kind of just broke eye contact and mumbled something about how the trade-off for an adventure-filled life was being a 26 year-old undergrad with no career to speak of.  He reassured me that there was no rush and that given the chance to do things again, he probably would have taken time off like I did to gain some more life experience.  As encouraging as it is to hear that someone admires your lifestyle, you still have to wonder why more people don’t do what is apparently so admirable, namely taking their sweet ass time with growing up and getting a real job.*
   I don’t think its fear, as that would imply that I am somehow braver than others.  Not the case.  I can say without exception that the most important adventures I have had in my life have been terrifying for me either for the inherent danger or the abysmal loneliness. (more on loneliness later)
   I don’t think its aversion to travelling or adventures either, as most people I talk to seem to view the general idea of “travel” as a universally positive thing.  
   In a lot of cases, especially among younger folk I think there is a problem with being beholden to someone else for your livelihood.  Parents tend to canalize the aspirations of their children and shoehorn them through the path of least resistance so that the children can propagate the cycle of maturity-breeding-dying in an expedient and streamlined manner.  And when these parents hold the purse-strings (ps travelling can cost money), the dependant has to play on their terms even if their inclinations are contrary to the the beaten path.
   In spite of the allusion to expense I just made, I don’t think that cost is a big deterrent.  While travelling  can be expensive, it by no means has to be.  Certainly adventures can be had on the cheap just by finding a “No Entry” sign and entrying entering.
Everything happens in high-definition beyond the “No-Entry” sign

And let’s be honest, when has cost ever deterred people from pouring money into something with no foreseeable financial return?  Dining out, movies, automobiles …. people are well accustomed to dropping money into things that aren’t profitable.
   I could continue speculating but ultimately everyone is different and they all have their reasons for what they do or don’t do.  Yet whatever it is that deters people from taking the scenic route in life it has left me feeling kind of alienated.  As I prepare to go hitch-hiking around the globe this Septober I can’t help but wish I had a travelling companion; someone else with a cavalier attitude toward the daily grind who would take six months to traipse about the globe simply cause it makes good sense.
Why do what most do? Do what you s’poseto…

But instead I am forced to go it alone again.
   Getting back to the title of this entry, I have a certain naivete that, while inconvenient, has served me well.  Essentially, I take people seriously.  When someone has an awesome idea my reaction is typically “let’s make that about to happen.”  But depending on how much time and effort the idea will take they will put it off or disavow it completely while I remain enchanted by the prospect and resolved to do it.
   Most of my greatest adventures weren’t my ideas.
   Compounding this problem is the fact that I am averse to bullshit; If I said I’m going to do it I’m going to do it or at least give it the old college try.
“Your word was everything, so everything you said you’d do, You DID It
couldn’t talk about it if you ain’t live it”
-Jay-Z
I am very afraid to go around the world by myself but I am even more afraid to be called out for talking shit.  I am most afraid of putting off indefinitely something I want to do because it is inconvenient or dangerous. (that’s a slippery slope)  Fear can be a powerful motivator I suppose.  But if its my fear that enables me to face my fears then so be it; I’ll go it alone taking what solace I can in the fact that others would have liked to be there with me but they were just too brave.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo
   

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The Hit or Miss Nature of Aphrodisiacs

My Friends,
   Today, whilst at the coffee dispensary I frequent, I overheard the barista and baristo debating the merits of facial hair … and body hair in general.  Nosey eavesdropper that I am, I questioned them about the final verdict while they made my espresso.  The gentleman said that he had had good luck with the ladies with a few days’ stubble, and I conceded that my woman has also expressed her preference for this degree of unkemptness (sic) on numerous occasions.  The female however, expressed her preference for a man with a thick beard, long hair, hairy chest, manly smell, and even raised by wolves if possible.  She went on to lament that men these days were just far too pretty, (I apologized for this) and that women her age (mid-30s) appreciated manliness.
   Now I don’t even want to touch the issue of hairiness constituting manliness, but I have noticed that facial hair, and body hair by association, have a love-hate relationship with women, and vice-versa.  And typically I find that it is older women who prefer au naturel while their younger counterparts prefer a body that bespeaks perpetual adolescence (read: shaved balls).  While this cleave in opinion based on age group is interesting, it hints at a far more interesting issue: the general division of opinion on aphrodisiacs, irrespective of age, gender, etc…  Not all aphrodisiacs are created equally and I find it to be consistently true that their is rarely a middle-ground when it comes to turn-ons. (nobody is “meh” when it comes to vaginas; either you’re “dick-riding” vaginas or you’re riding some dick)  Same thing with copious amounts of body-hair, (stubble doesn’t count) it seems to be a love or hate thing.  I can’t help but feel that a woman who likes her man with body hair to the RobinWilliams-th degree, has some latent feelings of zoophilia she has not dealt with.

Catherine the Great: One of the lulzier historical deaths … allegedly

But then, you could also make similarly creepy inferences about those men and women who like their partners all but hairless … still talking about zoophiles.
Hairless pussy: not just for latent pedophiles anymore

So, really its a moot point: any preference for body hair, lack thereof or pretty much anything, can be taken to its logical extreme and be shown as symptomatic of perversion.  However, I would suggest that their are no sickos with perversions; only human beings with their all-too-human tendencies.  But I digress.
   In regards to the hit or miss nature of most aphrodisiacs, I think the simplest way to illustrate the point is to just list a few widely perceived “turn-ons” that, in my experience, have a like number of detractors as proponents.
Avocadoes: These are a tough one because most people I know don’t eat them for prowess in the bedroom.  However, the soft, fleshy texture apparently necessitated the locking up of virgins in Meso-America during the harvest several hundred years back.  I love them personally, but many people don’t like the texture or flavour, so a viable aphrodisiac they are not.
Oysters: Similar to the avocado, the oyster has a rep for causing a hankering in the loins.  But some people have no use for them and their slimy texture despite the potential benefits in the boudoir, leading me to believe that perhaps the legends are somewhat overstated.  I would say that they have provided more botulism that boners.
Thongs on Men: Most girls I have spoken with say that its weird, however I don’t think a single one of them would pass up a chance to see a man with a decent physique in one.  In general, more skin shown while still being technically covered is a turn-on, so I would say that in spite of their protestations to the contrary, thongs on men are a hit with women.  If not, why are they so popular with Chippendale?
Not this Chip & Dale; they prefer full nudity to better facilitate playing with their nuts.  LOL, like testicles, ya know?

Piercings: Another obvious love it or hate it.  Certain places that are pierced have become so normalized as to become relatively vanilla i.e. ears, tongue, eyebrow, and even nipples … so they don’t count.  I’m talking the piercings that make you wonder how the pierced (or piercee) functions in day-to-day life with the presence of such invasive metal intrusions.  For example, during one of my many forays into the internet I came across some fetish pornography (who woulda thought? on the internet of all places…) of girls with excessively pierced everything (particularly labia majora).  Now I’m not sure if my initial shock was a result of their bedazzled ladyparts or what they were doing with their fists (hint: they weren’t giving each other props) but I was repulsed … until it got right to me.  However, a few minutes (and one sock) later it got wrong to me again and I closed the window quick-fast.  But overall I’d say piercings = win, although many would disagree.
Tattoos: I would say win, unless they are just dumb-looking.
Like my first tattoo for example.  Was supposed to look a little less like shit…

…and a little more like this

In most cases they serve to accent and complement what is already there, and when skillfully, and more importantly tastefully done, they can be quite pleasant to look at while crushin P. (that means sex)  But, extreme tattoos, like sleeves and such, don’t seem to be a uniform turn-on across the board.  I would say there’s a right way and wrong way to do extensive tattooing if you want sex-appeal.
Right Way

Wrong Way

Honestly, guys and girls alike: who would you rather roll around nakey with?  I thought so.
   Well, I know this has turned into more of a personal evaluation of different things regarded as turn-ons than a discourse on the inherent qualities of aphrodisiacs in general.  But if I have provoked some thought or dialogue, or even a elicited a smile, I will have exceeded my aim.  
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo


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"Can’t Talk to a Psycho Like a Normal Human Being"

My Friends,
   Whilst grocery shopping yesterday I noticed at the check-out this month’s issue of Reader’s Digest.

The cover story piqued* my curiosity because I am fairly certain I have met many psychopaths in this world and I wanted to know if I was correct in my criteria for diagnosis.  The only problem was that I am reticent to buy the impulse items on display at the checkout because I feel by doing so I am simply a sucker for the marketing techniques employed by the store instead of the crafty consumer I wish to be.  So I resigned myself to not buying the issue on principle.  However looking back at the issue, I noticed that the plastic bag in which it was packaged also contained the “Reader’s Digest 2011 World Map.”  Sold!  I’m not sure what the reason was for putting a map in with a copy of my favourite bathroom periodical, but being something of a traveller, and also being more superstitious than I care to admit, I took this as a sign that I had to buy the issue.
   The article itself was fairly interesting; there were anecdotes about people who dealt with psychopathic types in the workplace, key signs to look for in diagnosis and also a scientific overview of the causes of this condition.  Also the article mentioned Dr. Hare’s “Psychopathy Checklist-Revised” (PCL-R) as a diagnostic tool which had been widely employed since the early 1980s.  Obviously, I had to google this test to see if there was a version of it online; there was => http://www.okcupid.com/tests/the-are-you-an-psychopath-test.  So I set about answering the first few questions which dealt heavily with unrealistic self-perception (superficial charm, delusions of grandeur, USI, etc…), and I realized with alarm that I stood a very serious chance acing this test.

USI = Unwarranted Self-Imporatnce

Fortunately, the questions switched to my social interaction habits and my answers became less indicative of a psychopathic nature.  The test was short and after a mere twenty questions I clicked “See Results” only to have this disturbing score presented to me:

“Fucking Normal?”  This was most definitely worse than being labelled a psychopath, at least then I would be special.  But as it is, I’m just an average Joe with an average flow doing average things with average hos.  Nay!  I refuse to see myself in this benign yet unflattering light; I can cheat and manipulate with the best of them as my woman will soon find out lol.  I joke, but it actually kind of made sense.  I don’t lust after power over others and I have a very acute sense of guilt.  I often sometimes cry when I listen to sad songs and I lament how individualistic the world has become.  Basically I am a mark for potential psychos to exploit for their own gain … and proud of it!
   What was interesting was that the article mentioned four careers that psychopaths are inclined to take up: policing, military, politics and medicine.  Obviously, all of these jobs endow a person with certain powers and being in the military myself, I can attest to the fact that hearing about how brave and heroic you are all the time can inflate your ego a bit.

If John Q. Public only knew how much fucking around we do in the army…

Although anecdotal, I have my own story about a certain military captain whom I never had the displeasure of meeting until recently.  He struck me as incredibly self-absorbed, remorseless, and narcissistic based simply on this one encounter where he tried to justify stealing something off of my sergeant’s desk because of his perceived need for the thing. (it was an obsolete piece of uniform that it turns out he didn’t actually need)  I objected to the theft strenuously but with his clout as a captain there was not really much I could do aside from courteously protest; in all honesty I wanted to give his smug face a knuckle sammich.  After the encounter I vented to one of my friends about what a douche this guy was and he concurred.  I left thinking the guy was incredibly arrogant and likely a closet-case.  I later learned that he had gotten in trouble a while back for spousal abuse which further confirmed his doucheness in my eyes.  However, after reading this Reader’s Digest article I see him as a psychopathic personality.  
   It may be an overly simplistic diagnosis but he was attracted to a position of power (although a captain in the Canadian army reserves is not exactly a Shogun), he had no regard for the people he perceived as obstacles to his goals, not above violence against those weaker than him, arrogant, and his subordinates complained of his micro-management => things had to be done his way.  Unfortunately, in the army people like him are unavoidable.  I can only assume that anyone who has worked in policing, politics or medicine has similar stories about co-workers or bosses.
   The article mentions also the nature-nurture dichotomy in regards to causes of psychopathy but I am inclined, as I usually am, to put more emphasis on the importance of nurturing.  I think that psychopathy is the natural end result of the society we live in.  “Me Against the World,” “A Dollar and a Dream,” and “Dog Eat Dog” are romanticized notions in our society.  We lionize self-made men (as if there could be such a thing) and are conditioned to believe that its a cold world out there.  With these ideas in place how can we not become psychopathic?  Obviously nobody gives a shit about us so why should we give a shit about anyone else?  If you can’t answer that question, maybe you should take the PCL-R quiz.
This guy has never received any support … except that rock he’s standing on…

   I often delude myself into believing that people are essentially good, but I know this to be erroneous.  People are what they learn to be in order to survive.  But I believe strongly that there are very few lost causes and everyone has a better nature that can be appealed to.  Would many of my cop friends disagree? Absolutely!  They deal with the “write-offs” in society on a daily basis.  But these wretches come from wretched places and I believe strongly that if immersed in a more nurturing environment (not jail) anyone can relearn to be a person.
   There is a constant struggle in my mind between “seeing the best in people” and “[seeing] things how they are and not how [I] like them to be.”  (“A Good Argument in Favour of Book-Burnings,” 11 August 2011)  I don’t know any way to reconcile these two points of view so I must give everyone a chance, approaching them with positive assumptions (See: “One Night in the Big City: Part 1,” 18 Aug 2011).  I have long felt that if you don’t believe something about yourself you will never make anyone else believe it either.  Well, hopefully it works the other way too, and that by believing the best about  others I may convince them to see things my way.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo
   
*To anyone who uses this expression it pique, not peak
   


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Toys for Breakfast

My Friends,
   This morning, when all I wanted to do was sleep in, my woman made me go grocery shopping because for the last few weeks I have been letting my food stores dwindle; little by little I have been progressively (or regressively) getting by with less and less until most recently, with no fruit or granoly bars left I had to resort to snacking on crackers topped with Dijon mustard.  So this is what rock bottom feels like.

   Having not gone grocery shopping in a couple of weeks I was perhaps more receptive to the whole experience and noticed things I formerly did not.  Or perhaps there has been some shift in priorities among the nation’s children that I missed, but when did this start happening?
Gas Cards?  In cereal? Like f’real for real?  It all just seems a little lame sauce to me.  I know if I was a kid and I got even a thousand dollar gas card I would have been vexed.  Now in fairness, they were giving these prizes away in “Family Size” boxes, technically marketed to the adults of the family as well, but axe yourself: if you were a kid and your parents got a prize in the cereal, even a prize you didn’t want, and you got nothing, would you would or would you wouldn’t be pissed?
   I remember a simpler time when I used to get excited for the junk they would toss in with cereal.  More excited than for Happy Meal toys.  I suppose with a happy meal you are guaranteed a toy that is all yours, but with cereal prizes I had four siblings I had to contend with for first dibs which created a higher demand.  As well, I got to a certain age where my parents deemed me to old to be in contention for cereal prizes even though I still wanted them.  More than once, they handed my youngest brother or sister the toy and the vile offspring would look at me smugly while my incendiary rage burned and I plotted their untimely demise.  
   What was the all-time best cereal toy I ever got? That’s a tough one but if pressed, I would say the “Crazy Straws” contained in Cinnamon Toast Crunch back in the mid-90s.  They were a completely modular set of straws of various shapes that could be attached together to make drinking a beverage the wacky and zany experience it was always meant to be.  The problem, if I can be so presumptuous as to presume that this pinnacle of plastic cereal box junk perfection may have in fact been flawed, was that only one straw segment came in each box, and that simply did not cut it for me.  For starters the segment was far too short, forcing me to stick my face into my glass when the lacteal fluid dropped past a certain level.  As well, each straw brought something unique in the way of shape: some were spirals, some were loops and others were simply bent in odd ways. (Each segment had its own “thing” if you will)  So for someone like me who wanted to put his milk through every possible obstacle to ensure that it earned the right to be in his mouth (I do the same with women), with only one segment, I was only giving the milk one hoop to jump through.  
   Of course I could always buy more CTC once I finished my current box but because I only had it at my Dad’s house (Moms wouldn’t buy that shit) and I only visited him every other weekend I had no hope of finishing the box before the promotion ended.  Have you ever been stuck with a four inch segment of straw that is completely inadequate?  I imagine its like having an inadequate penis of similar length.  But while the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crazy Straws are still something of a sore topic for me I am careful not to let my bitterness detract from my esteem for them.  
   I have to give an honourable mention to my next favourite cereal prize of all-time: Glow in the Dark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles temporary tattoos.  I don’t recall which cereal carried these bad boys but my Nonna (yeah, Im part wop) saved some up for me and I put radical phrases such as “RADICAL” up and down my arms like it was cool.  I think my pride and joy was the “COWABUNGA” I had on the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger like a prison tattoo.
Where the fuck did you get that placa, Little Bo Peep?

The inherent flaw in this prize was its temporarity (sic).  TMNT ruled my childhood years and when I had these tattoos I was at a point in life where I would have willingly fellated a turtle…or at least permanently tattoed “Turtle Power” on my dick … in all caps.  I was enamoured with the whole TMNT mythology that I even wanted to go down into the sewers to see if they were there.  That’s right I wanted to go down to where people’s shitpiss goes so I could look for mutated turtles.  My uncle, hoping to disabuse me of this inkling took me for a walk to a manhole cover near my grandparents’ Woodbridge home.  As I peered down the holes of the cover I hoped in earnest, and even half-expected, that the ninja turtles would reveal themselves to me, regardless of the fact that we were in the suburbs of north Toronto and they probably had crime to fight … and also they were ninjas who specialized in not being seen.  But I guess in spite of everything that I believed then, and still do, I just was not that special.  And the turtles, if they were there, saw fit not make their presence known to me.  
   I would have stared down that manhole all day but my uncle, likely saddened by the realization that his nephew was none too bright, forced me to go back to the house for lunch which I grudgingly ate while I watched the last remnants of my ninja turtle tattoos flake away.  
   I must make a dishonourable mention for what I felt to be the most lacking cereal prize ever: Star Trek Deep Space Nine stamps.  Where do I even start here?  It was a rubber stamp which would impress the likeness of one of your favourite Star Trek: DS9 characters on paper or skin.  Favourite is a relative term in this instance, kind of like talking about your favourite STD.  Well, the geniuses who sent the stamps out forgot to include an inkwell so they were effectively useless.  After all, who wants a cereal prize that you have to sink more money into.  To compound matter further, my effectively useless stamp was not crafted to resemble the likeness of someone even borderline cool like Commander Sisko or a Cardassian, but instead it was this guy:
Constable fucking Odo!  He looks like sunken-eyed grandmother for christsakes.  What made General Mills (I’m pretty sure it was a Honey Nut Cheerios promo) think any kid would want this?  In retrospect, not having ink was probably a good thing, cause really who wants the image of this guy all over their paper and body?
   In retrospect I suppose I can’t be that mad about Odo; after all, I could have gotten nothing.  The problem was that my expectations were too high and for a while I let my preferences for the prize determine the cereal I bought, leaving me with a useless piece of plastic and a cereal I was often not crazy about.  I guess shopping for toys in the cereal aisle is like going for lunch at a titty bar: It’s not really why you’re there so don’t expect much.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo
   

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One Night in the Big City: Part 1 (The Long-Awaited Sequel to Part 2)

My Friends,
   Apologies in advance cause this is a long one.  Here goes…  

Toe?
   As the title implies I spent yesterday afternoon and evening in Toronto visiting my younger brother who was in from Montreal.  Leaving Union Station and making my way north on Bay St. as I am wont to do upon arrival in the city, an advertisement caught my eye:

“The official tapwater of Toronto?”  I automatically assumed the worst: that most precious of utilities, tapwater, was now being branded and therefore privatized.  And while the ad mentioned that the t.eau (ya know, like T.O. … its a homonym) is free I resigned myself to the thought that they would eventually jack up the price and we would be paying exorbitant fees for what was once more or less free.
   Thankfully, I did a little bit of homework before going on a rant about the corporate plutocracy we live in and found out that the water and its “ownership” has not changed, just the name.  Apparently its an effort by “Toronto-based social change agency,” Manifest Communications to promote Toronto tapwater.  I suppose that’s a worthwhile goal but something tells me that running water is an idea that sells itself and doesn’t need promoting.  However, this concept of a “social change agency” seems very interesting to me and could be arguably put to better use than making running water the drink of choice for pretentious urbanites.  (Every Torontonian city-dweller in the world is already inclined to think that their city is the best city EVAR, so should we really enable them to boast of their tapwater as well?). 
   I think that social change agencies, insofar as they seek to affect people’s perceptions, could be at the heart of some of the positive changes that this world needs.  Change cannot happen without being accompanied, and likely preceded by new awareness and new ways of thinking.  So I think I will do a little more research into what the social change industry is all about and hopefully have more to report at a later date.

I WILL STEP ON YOU TO WIN!!
   This slogan caught my eye in Dundas Square, as it was emblazoned on the Nike t-shirt of this little fat kid who had probably never won anything in his life (I can say that ’cause I used to be a little fat kid).  Really Nike? Really?

Now Nike has had some interesting slogans during its tenure which have afforded me various degrees of motivation.  Let’s take a look at a couple of classics before getting back to this particular one.

The Good: “Just Do It”
   I have always liked this one because it is simple and catchy.  However it is vague enough to be applicable to any undertaking you may wary of attempting.  Don’t feel like going for a run in the morning? JUST DO IT!! Don’t want to get off the couch and find a job? JUST DO IT!! That guy in the van says he has some free candy back at his house?  JUST DO IT!!  In truth, I find “Do It, Faggot!” more motivational and lulzy but good luck trying to mass-market that slogan in these politically-correct times.

The Bad: “Can You Say Kick Some Butt?”
  If memory serves, this gem of a slogan came to prominence briefly in the early 90’s.  Back then I thought it was the coolest thing going.  I even had a tracksuit with this plastered on the top AND the bottom so that passersby would know that I was one little fat fuck who most def could say “kick some butt” even if I couldn’t actually, ya know… kick any butt.  However, not all slogans are created equal, and this one hasn’t aged well.  I think it is because of the inherent redundancy in it; if one can read the slogan in the first place they can most likely say the words in it (unless they are mute, because fuck you, mute people).  It’s akin to me typing, “Can you read this sentence?”  All it serves to do is establish that we can read what we are reading.  Well done, Nike; colour me motivated. 
   I would probably only wear this slogan ironically now, if I was the kind of pretentious fuck inclined to wear things ironically.  Interestingly, I couldn’t find an image of this slogan on google.  Some things are best buried forever I suppose.

The Ugly: “I Will Step On You To Win”
   Threats of violence to achieve victory are perhaps not the road we want to go down.  I understand that they are trying to convey the passion of fierce competition but when does it go too far?  In a few years I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a t-shirt that said, “I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE DICK TO WIN,” or “I WILL HEADBUTT YOU WHILE THE REF IS NOT LOOKING TO WIN,” or even “I WILL SEXUALLY ASSAULT YOU IN AN AGGRAVATED MANNER TO WIN.” 
   Thankfully, we are not yet at the point where rape during a sporting event is a 1-minute minor infraction.  But for the sake of argument, let us take stepping on the opponent to its logical end.  First, it presupposes that you are going to bring your opponent to the ground to make easier the job of stepping on him.  In some sports it is indeed required to bring an opponent to the ground, so we can assume that the initial takedown is fair play.  However, the “stepping on” part is still problematic because these sports typically require specialty footwear like cleats which would perforate the back or face of those unlucky enough to situate themselves in oppostion to me and mymymymymy boogie shoes.
   Even worse, what about hockey players? Forget perforations, we would have parts of people’s faces littering the ice.  It is for that reason that “I Will Step on You to Win” is a sentiment I can not cosign.

Nancy Sinatra has no such qualms

Talking to a Girl at the Bar is Easy by Comparison…
   How do we know when someone is homeless, or at least a beggar?  Ratty clothes? Unshaven? Toting a cart of some kind, the contents of which are covered with a tarp?  Now think real hard for a second; if you saw someone in the city who satisfied these requirements would you be a 100% certain they were poverty-stricken?  In most cases it wouldn’t matter but I found myself needing to ask a homeless person some advice yesterday and I didn’t want to just make the assumption that he was homeless when he could have just been one of those billionaires that dons rags to mingle with the common folk out in front of Tim Hortons.
   Basically, it all started with my trip around the world next month.  I was thinking that I wouldn’t mind picking up a puppy somewhere along the way as a travelling companion.  Kind of like the Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3 or even Mad Max.

Pretty much exactly how I envision my trip

The problem is that being essentially homeless for 6 months I don’t know that I will have the ability to care for an animal.  And so it was, this thought was lurking in the recesses of my mind when I happened upon the aforementioned homeless-looking man in front of Tim Hortons in the vicinity of Front St. and Blue Jay Way.  He was holding a leash to which was tethered a beautiful adolescent husky.  More than that, the husky looked healthy and not malnourished.  I wanted to strike up a conversation with the dude about how he kept his dog in such good health despite being homeless and all, but that’s a pretty difficult conversation to strike up.
   For one, I like to approach people with positive assumptions. (i.e. “That’s nice of you taking your little brother out to the playground.”  “Oh, he’s not my brother, he’s my son”  …that kind of silver-tongued bullshit).  Even if you are wrong they will be flattered.  Approaching people with negative assumptions is a conversation ender and homelessness is a pretty negative assumption to make.  So I kept staring at the dog and making eye-contact with him hoping beyond hope that he would start the conversation by asking me for money, (they do that from time to time I hear) so that having my assumption proven I could proceed to hand over some change in exchange for some nuggets of pet care wisdom.
   But the dude refused to play ball.  We kept up this charade of mutual coyness for a minute or two until our dreamy gazing was interrupted by an Asian dude coming out of the Tim Hortons.  The homeless man held out his palm to the Asian guy immediately causing me to get jealous; “Was I not good enough?”  “Did it not look like I had money to spare?”  “Did this homeless guy have the yellow-fever?” However, the Asian dude proceeded to grab the dog’s leash and walk away leaving the homeless guy to pack up his stuff and shamble on.  I reasoned that the Asian guy tossed the homeless guy some skrilla (money) for his dog-watching services while he went in for coffee.  Being a dutiful employee the homeless man must have felt it unbecoming to pester me for money while he was on the clock.
   I’m not sure if there was a lesson here.  There certainly isn’t one about judging books by their covers: my initial assumption regarding his dereliction was accurate.  And I would hope the lesson isn’t that you can pay homeless people to do anything.  However,  the possible lesson in this instance is but a trifle to the real issue: I still don’t know how I will take care of a pet once I am in transient mode.  I may have to figure this one out for myself.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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One Night in the Big City: Part 2 (Part 1 to follow)

My Friends,
   I’ll keep this short, as its late and I want to go to bed.  Let me preface by saying that one of my worst regrets is not calling the cops on September 11 2009 when it seemed like a girl was being forcibly confined in her boyfriend’s apartment two floors below mine in my former residence.  I investigated the situation; gazing through their basement floor window and hearing the dialogue I gathered that it was a guy and his mother trying to calm down a girlfriend who was drunk and freaking out.  It turned out that she was fine; that is to say no detectives came by my place afterwards investigating a murder.  However I had trouble afterwards rationalizing in my conscience my reasons for not calling 911.
   At the time I found it easy to dismiss the event by saying to myself that she probably got drunk every weekend and they were handling her as per normal.  However, her screams as she was being pinned down to the bed bespoke grief that was anything but typical.  The real reason that I did not call the cops that night is because I had earlier been busted with my buddies for drinking in public (it was frosh week) and I had spent the remainder of the evening cursing the police force and its penchant for busting innocent people.  It was sheer pride alone which prevented me from dialing 911 and ending this nonsense because I felt that it would disprove every negative thing I had said about cops that night.  I felt so much shame in the aftermath of that incident for my failure to act that I took it upon myself to be the guy to call 911 instead of the guy who assumes someone else will call.
   Up until tonight the only occasions I have had to call the police were a severely drunk driver (swerving is one thing, but this dude was in the wrong lane alternating between 20 km under the limit and 50 km over at night…that said, it was a near deserted country road) and a wounded goose (in this case I only called 911 because I didn’t have the animal control number and I got emergency to patch me through).  Tonight however, as I rode my bike home after an evening spent in Toronto,  I noticed a girl running from a guy who yelled at her to come back.  I kept riding and upon looking back again I saw the two of them grappling and decided to pull a U-turn to investigate.  As I rode past them I witnessed them grappling on the ground so I proceeded to stop 20 metres away and call 911 (which conflicted with my “thug life” sensibilities).  While describing the affair to the 911 operator, the two of them approached me, each beseeching me to call the police on their behalf.  It was a little bit overwhelming but eventually the guy took off and I was left with the girl who wouldn’t tell me her name unless she could talk to her dad.  Satisfying all of the dispatcher’s questions I hung up and let the girl call her dad on my phone whilst we waited for John Q. Law.
   During this wait I reflected on the irony of my being put in a position to have to call 911 on this night in particular: While in Toronto I had met with my friend Shane for drinks.  He is a cop and while he is what I would call a “good cop” I am pretty pre-disposed against the policing institution in general.  We typically don’t debate it, but this night we did, and though we departed amicably, it was on something of a sour note.  So imagine my surprise when I was faced with a similar situation to the one I faced back on that September night almost two years ago.
  Disturbing my reflections, the coppers arrived a few minutes later.  After getting my statement they went to talk to the girl.  While that was happening, the auxiliary that was with them struck up a conversation with me and pointed out that he remembered me from our time in the military together (nothing is more damaging to your street cred than when a pig recognizes you on friendly terms … fml).  After questioning the victim the cops asked me if they could perhaps call me later cause the chick was “being a retard” when questioned.  I assured them that that would be fine and went on my way.
   I rode home with a bittersweet feeling: On the one hand I felt good for coming to the aid of two people who seemed unable to sort out their problems without violence.  On the other hand, every time I have to call 911 I feel I compromise a bit of myself: I don’t want to have to need police, but they are, for the time being, a sad necessity for the world we live in.  Call me an idealist, but I look forward to the day when we will not need them….and I still mean everything bad I said about them tonight 😛
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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