Monthly Archives: January 2012

In a House with Unlocked Doors…

My Friends,
   In the total absence of gainful employment with which to attend, I have turned my attentions toward self-betterment.  Specifically I am exercising my brain on a website called that a friend put me onto.  Being a trivia website it was right up my alley, what with my stockpile of useless knowledge.  I find the quizzes to be quite challenging and have as yet only gotten a perfect score on a couple.  As with anything though there are aspects which I don’t like.  For one, the quizzes seem to be mostly user-generated.  Normally this would be fine and quite understandable but it has ruined the literature section of the site: said section is teeming with Harry Potter quizzes.

“Who the fuck is this Shakespeare guy?  Which Harry Potter book was he in?”

I don’t want to disparage Harold Pottinson but this is a little ri-goddamn-diculous.  I fancy myself well-read but because I haven’t crushed the Harry Potter series I am a literary dunce…according to Sporcle.
   My favourite quizzes thus far, weirdly enough, have been the geography quizzes.  “Name All 50 States” was not too tough and I mastered it pretty quick, but “Name All the Countries of the World” is one I am still struggling with.  This is a hard one.  For example, apparently San Marino, Timor-Leste and Burkina-Faso are the names of actual countries.  There are 196 nations total and my best score thus far is 189.  I figure this knowledge might come in handy one day so I do the quiz a couple of times a day.  It beats workin’ for a livin’.
   In related news, I haven’t been outside too much the past few days.  Some might say this is a good thing as the outdoors is only for people who fail at the internet, but being cooped-up, even on an elective basis, starts to fuck with me after a while.  Its why I limit myself typically to one new video game a year: I spend a few days or a week mostly indoors playing it, then I can go back to my mostly active lifestyle outdoors.  However, this isolation has less to do with any new video game than it does with the altogether shitty weather outside.  For real, what’s my motivation to go outside when its pissy and grey and I can hear the wind swaying the bungalow I live in?  Work?  Lol, I think not!
   The biggest problem with reclusive tendencies is that you begin to dissociate your bio-rhythms from the solar cycle; that is to say you begin to go to sleep and wake up later and later.  The situation reached a head yesterday when I awoke at noon.  Its by no means the latest I have ever slept in, but its as late as I care to go at this point in my life.  It looks even worse when contrasted to my woman who gets up habitually at 6:30 am every day.  She has a full quarter of a day longer than me to be productive.  I was there once and I wanna get back there again.
  But before you start worrying about me and the self-destructive spiral of sleep and isolation I am currently a victim of, please be reassured that I have plans to be active.  Chief among these plans is to attend the “Coldest Day of the Year (Bicycle) Ride” in Toronto tomorrow.  Being a dedicated mountain-biker I am going to have to work extra hard to keep up with all the city-slickers and their fancy and faster road bikes, but it should be a good time nonetheless.  Plus, there’s free hot chocolate which totally makes it worth the ten dollar trip to the city.  Simple math.

   Then after an arduous ride through the city I am going to my friend Mumtaz’s house for dinner.  The last time I saw him was in 2009 when he was my interpreter in Afghanistan so its a meet-up which I am quite looking forward to.  We kinda lost touch after I rotated out and I always wondered how he and my other interpreter Iqbal had fared after I left.  Both are in Canada and safe which I am quite happy for.  I can’t wait for dinner tomorrow, as it should be reminiscent of the good old days where we ate delicious but modest meals on cardboard tables waiting for bombs to drop on us.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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My Girlfriend: The Big, Fat Racist

“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings”
-Optimus Prime

My Friends,
   The other night I got into a conversation with my woman regarding the possibility of an artificial intelligence (AI) achieving self-awareness and a level of cognition matching/surpassing that of a human being.  Us having debates is interesting because if often turns into a war of the apples & oranges; I have a boundless imagination but often argue about subjects which I have little training or practical knowledge in.  She, on the other hand is a much more nuts & bolts (lol, nuts) scientist type and is quick to shoot down my more fanciful ideas as implausible.  However, since the debate was a philosophical, hypothetical and robot-related one, all of her training in biology gave her only the slightest edge.
   As is the case with many conversations, this one started at dinner.  She had made me Moroccan stir-fry and I was suddenly compelled to ask her if she had heard about the field of teledildonics (perhaps it was the sensuous shapes of the veggies I was eating).  For those who don’t know, Wikipedia defines teledildonics as “electronic sex toys that can be controlled by a computer to reach orgasm.”  Predictably, she scrunched her face at this concept, claiming it was weird and unnatural among other criticisms.  What struck me most was her insistence that another person was key for fulfilment.  Ever the deviant open-minded one in the relationship, I put to her a hypothetical scenario in which a sufficiently advanced AI existed and controlled these sex toys or even inhabited a totally life-like android body.

In this situation she still felt that even if the AI had emotions and could learn and empathize, such interaction was not quite kosher.  But I had great difficulty in getting her mind to even make that leap that such an AI could exist in the first place.  It was at this point that the conversation ceased to be about the relative merits of fucking robots and began to be about the plausibility of a super-intelligent AI.
   Now many of you have probably heard about the idea of the technological singularity (If you haven’t, do some homework:  I had read up on it about a year ago and found myself very interested in the predictions futurists have made about the manner in which the machines will become self-aware.  My main argument the other night was that regardless of our feelings about intelligent machines we have to accept that they will exist eventually whether we like it or not, and we would do good to embrace them as friends rather than to treat them with suspicion and caution from the outset.  Some of you might recognize this position as similar if not identical to my thoughts regarding how we should treat other people.  If the AI is sentient, why not?  Expect better and people & artificial intelligences (sic) might surprise you.
   My woman found this prospect (and my habit of referring to the machines casually as “them”) odious, and made some interesting remarks.  Some highlights were:

-“I wouldn’t want them living among human beings like they were the same as us.”
-“They’re not human; they can’t feel.”
-“They’re not the same as us.”

Listening to these refusals to acknowledge a sentient machine as life, I said that many people have voiced these protests before her, except in previous cases “they” referred to homosexuals, blacks, Jews, etc.

No troll intended

She REALLY didn’t like this comparison but I thought it illustrated an interesting point.  I could understand her denying a sentient machine’s humanity, insofar as humanity referred specifically to homo sapiens from the planet Earth, but I couldn’t agree with it.  I especially could not co-sign her refusal of their status as life-forms simply because they were not biotic.

After all, its not like all human beings are biotic either.  Only some…

And the funny thing is, she’s not even a bigot.  Rather she’s by all accounts a compassionate person.  However, when you extend compassion to only human beings and then exclude a group from that classification you have structural bigotry.  

Some of the sweetest gals you’d ever wanna meet…unless you’re der Juden

For example, Thomas Jefferson is widely considered a decent-enough guy.  But all his lofty talk about freedom and rights kinda fizzle out when you realize he owned people.  Except they weren’t people at the time which technically meant there was no contradiction.  So while he was all rad & progressive & stuff, he was still a product of his environment.  My point to my woman was that we can’t afford to be products of our environment when it comes to accepting new forms of life.  When we deny something’s (someone’s) rightful sentience or humanity, we are marginalizing them and that’s how atrocities happen.
Shit like this…
…is analogous to shit like this
Then, when they gain enough clout (and they will unless we genocide them first, and really, who wants that?) there will be a reckoning and we’ll owe lots in reparations.
   I suppose I could be criticized for having too broad a definition of what constitutes life.  But if a corporate entity can be considered a person, and the in utero slime which will eventually become a fetus can be defended as life, then I have no problem having sex with giving a thinking, feeling machine its inalienable rights.
   Speaking of which, the aliens we will inevitably come in contact with get to be persons as well.
But only the sentient kind which abduct people and use ray guns…

…not the mindless infestation kind
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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Naivete Part Deux

My Friends,
   Back in August 2011 I wrote a post detailing how I tend to foolishly believe people when they have awesome ideas for adventures and express their intentions to carry out out these ideas (“Naivete and the Lonely Road Called ‘Follow-Through’,” 28 August 2011).  Well, there’s another aspect to my credulity which I have noticed over the past few years but which came up again in the last few days.
   To explain it, let me first ask a question: What does it mean to have a girlfriend/woman/wife?  If you asked me, I would say it was someone to be close and intimate with; someone to be devoted to and have good times with. Most importantly, it is someone who is (ideally) your best friend.  Now if you asked me that same question while my woman was present I would probably say it was someone to tease, make fun of and pick on, but that’s just how I flirt.

‘Stop Hitting Yourself’ is a favourite game of ours 

What I wouldn’t say is that a girlfriend/woman/wife is someone to fuck around on or whose trust you should break as opportunities present themselves.  Yet I am surprised by how commonplace this idea seems to some.
   Now to qualify my line of reasoning here, I am no angel; I have made mistakes in the past, I have tried (often abortively) to play the part of the pimp and ladies man with girls I was seeing/dating, but through it all I always had the idea that once things became official, that was it.  I mean why bother even calling someone a girlfriend or boyfriend if you’re gonna sleep around?
   This has come up in the past at times when I was going out with some friends and someone made a comment about hooking up with some girl when I knew he had a girlfriend.  Yet by bringing up his relationship status in response to his claims I only got a perplexed look.  Similarly, when someone would allude to all the ass I could get on a given night and I was like “naw, I got a girlfriend,” a look of disappointment and confusion would come across their face.  Now maybe people only said those things to hype up the evening, but if that’s what it takes to get excited for a night out why bother?
   Strip clubs are a bit of troublesome issue because all girls seem to have different opinions of them.  Fortunately, my woman and I are both of a similar mindset: you can look but don’t touch.

Pictures of strippers neatly break up the monotony of a wall of text

Not being much of a strip-club fiend at all, I still find myself reluctantly dragged to such establishments at least once a year for birthdays, stags, or whatever and I find myself disappointed in my fellow man every time, especially at stags.

This entry would be all but unreadable without some photographic aids

Where did this idea of “last night as a free man” come from?  Yeah, she may not be your wife yet but that doesn’t mean she’s not your girlfriend or fiance.  Yet the prevailing idea seems to be to get the bachelor’s dick wet and have him make as many regrettable mistakes as possible in one night.

Photos: Because picturing what a stripper looks like in your mind is hard

Hopefully he drinks enough that he doesn’t remember anything and doesn’t have to carry the shame of betraying the woman he ostensibly loves for the rest of his life.  For the record, should I ever do something as stupid as decide to get married and any of my friends reading this want to take me out for a bachelor party, I am down to get shit-faced, hop on a plane to anywhere in the world, do any drug, get arrested and fight a dude, but please don’t try to buy me a lap-dance or a hooker.
   But like I said in the first paragraph, such naivete on my part came up recently.  Specifically, someone was shocked to learn that I didn’t sleep around during my four months going around the world.  Not shocked because its something they would have expected of me, but because it is something they would have expected of themself.  I tried to explain that seeing the world was what I wanted to do, not cheat on my woman but they insinuated that I was pussy-whipped if I didn’t get my dinky stinky.  Needless to say this irked me, and not just because it came from someone whom I had heretofore looked up to.
   The way I see it, remaining faithful is a very liberating thing.  If you remain faithful you can justifiably expect behaviour up to the same standard from your partner and not have to worry about them fucking around on you.  If you fuck around, you’re always gonna expect the worst of others because you know what to expect from yourself.  Who needs that headache?  Of all the hardships I dealt with during my time away, the last thing on my mind was my woman cheating on me.  Yet some guys were struck with my lack of concern, which I think is very telling about their behaviour when the cat’s away.
   That’s all I really gotta say on the matter.  A younger me often felt pressure that if I remained faithful in the context of a Dudes Night Out I would be judged negatively by friends, kind of like how an undercover cop has to get high with the criminals he’s infiltrating or else they’ll feel they can’t trust him.

Cause it’s 1-8-7 on a undercover monogamist!
Now, a little older, a little more confident, I couldn’t give two fucks about what people might think about my wick-wick-wiggity-wack choice to remain faithful.  
   But to be clear, I am not advocating monogamy/faithfulness per se, but rather honesty, with yourself and others.  If you’re on the fuck bitches, get money tip then you got no business tricking someone into a serious relationship.  Conversely, if you are all about monogamous relationships, but unhappy in the one you got, don’t hang around the titty-bar or the chat-rooms looking to make some mistakes.  Instead dump that bitch and find someone who truly makes you happy.
Last pic so I had to make it especially classy

Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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Joblessness, NASCAR, and Cheap Pants

My Friends,
   Slow week for news.  So lemme break it down real quick:

Stayin’ on my Grizzy
   So far the job-hunt has had mixed success.  I have yet to receive a call-back and when I did a telephone follow-up to the one place which seemed promising, the manager I wanted to speak with wasn’t there.  Then I went to a job-fair yesterday, or what I thought was going to be a job-fair.  It was being held at the new Turtle Jack’s location in Burlington and google led me to believe that there would be a plethora of employers just waiting to hire me on.  As it was, the building was still under construction and there was a table of TJ’s managers doing interviews for the opening of that specific location.  It was a bit of a letdown because there was no point of me applying there (far end of Burlington + unreliable bussing).  It wasn’t a total loss though; I was with my little brother who, although gainfully employed, was looking to upgrade from the deli he works in to something in the restaurant industry, preferably front of the house.  As they insisted he fill out an application to supplement his resume, we sat a table for a while while he started (tentatively/painfully) filling one out and eventually I just grabbed his application, threw it aside and re-did a fresh one for him on my own.  If he gets the job he’ll basically owe me for life.
   The biggest news in the job front is that I got an advertising gig which may or may not be a volunteer position.  The military family support group Canadian Heroes is entering a NASCAR car into the Daytona 500 next month

and when I contacted the founder looking to be involved in an advertising capacity he delegated/commissioned me to write the history of the first NASCAR dedicated to Canadian soldiers as a way to spread awareness.  As well as not being an advertising job proper, it was also a more latitude than I was expecting with my relative inexperience, but I have always said “you gotta walk before you can crawl,” so I’ll take it as an opportunity.  I’ve spent the last couple of days brainstorming what exactly I am going to do and I think I know the angle I will approach it from.  Hopefully by the time of the next entry I have some words on paper.

IRS’ing Myself
   Now that my most recent credit card statement has been issued, I have been able to audit myself and find out just how much my last foray into the world cost me.  The final number, including immunization/travel prescriptions, flights, trains/busses, equipment, cash advances, consular fees, and everything else was $7913.64.  This is about $1500 – $2000 more than I had planned on spending in my initial budget, which I now see was kind of unrealistic.  Still, its over a thousand dollars lower than the figure I thought it would be toward the trip’s end.  And really, for 107 days that’s not too bad.

Clothes Make the (Grown) Man
  Operation: Upgrade Wardrobe began inauspiciously this weekend with the purchase of $11 khakis from Winners.  I don’t think I have owned khakis since the 90s.  Does this mean I dressed better as a kid…


…than I have so far as an adult?
Entirely Fucking Possible!

In addition to my bawss new non-jeans, I also stole a belt and a button-up shirt from my dad which made me respectable enough to go to aforementioned job-fair and fill out my brother’s application for him.  So that’s something.
I solemnly swear that even if I have to staple my cock to my leg and then attempt to pass through a metal-detector undetected, I will have something more interesting to talk about next time around.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Figuring Out What the Hell is Wrong With Me

My Friends,
   Last night I accompanied my woman to her sociology class.  It was called “Canadian Adolescent Issues” and it studied the phenomenon of the teenager.  I use the term “phenomenon” deliberately because the professor described teenagers as a by-product of the schooling system which keeps kids in the edumucation system until they are legally adults.  Anyhow, the topic lectured upon last night was “self-consciousness,” and its actually a lot more complex than I thought.  You see, while kids might get shy and overwhelmed if put up on stage in front of people, it can’t properly be called self-consciousness (SC).  Proper SC requires the knowledge that other people have selves which differ from our own.  Kids think everyone is more or less like them (everyone likes chocolate milk, etc…) and have no concept that people are different consciousnesses.
   As they get older and get a clue not only do they realize that people are different but by association they also reason that people may be (are) judging them.  This matters to them.  A four-year-old has no clue that people might think less of him for his tantrums and if he did he probably wouldn’t care.  A fourteen-year-old on the other hand is the polar opposite, scrutinizing the self which he portrays to the world in depth to the point where it becomes stupid (Would ebony or cobalt mascara make me look deeper and edgier?).
   But I digress.  As the professor continued, one point among all others caught my attention; the double-edged razor of maturity.  In his words, it was good to the extent that it helped people be respectful, and compassionate, but often maturity requires people let go of their justifiable anger in order to conform.  Essentially, if you want to get ahead in this world and become a productive member of society you must, to some extent, resign yourself to the injustice you see but which is integral to how the system works (I call it “selling your soul”).  Herein lies my problem; I haven’t been able to let go of this anger.
   But then my development didn’t follow the model he presented in class.  Unlike the typical teenager he described, I didn’t start to really doubt myself until I was about 18 and I didn’t start to doubt that the world was essentially just until I was 22 or 23.  Now, I can’t stop doubting it.
   Frankly, I know how much this anger affects me; my woman remarks often that I have to let shit go and stop dwelling on things that I can’t change.  For my part I refuse to accept that and get annoyed when someone presumes to tell me that I can’t change things for the better.  My struggle for the longest time has been trying to figure out what I can do to effect the change I want to see and thus far I have been at a loss.  My only idea at this point is that the mindsets of people have to be changed first, because very few believe in a better way.
   I make no secret of the fact that I am an idealist and the way I see it we shouldn’t settle for a world that is “good enough” when we could have the best world possible (it’s the same logic I have with dating and relationships).  So even though it causes me no shortage of pained thoughts and sadness, I hope I never lose my justifiable anger.  It’s the one thing I’ve got.

Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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My Least Favourite Activity

My Friends,
   Yesterday I decided it would be prudent to stop living off of my savings as I have been since September and re-enter the job market.  I dropped off applications/resumes at The Keg and Milestones, looking to get hired on as a server.  Job-hunting has to be my least favourite thing in the world because of my fear of rejection, but also because it takes some presumption to walk into a place and hand them a resume.  It’s the equivalent of saying “motherfucker, you don’t know how much you need me, but I do, so you best hire me.”  That said, the two places I stopped at went well enough; the Keg told me they were fully-staffed but given my previous employment with the Keg they would pass my resume along to the dining-room manager, and the guy at Milestones said he would give me a shout before the end of the week.
   This was all well and good but it didn’t give me the feeling of well-being you might expect and not merely because two jobs in the bush don’t equal one in the hand.  Rather, my lack of peace of mind was more attributable to the fact that if/when I get a job, it is the beginning of the next phase of what I want to do with my life, and I am quite nervous about it.  Essentially, there is another job I want, more of a career than a job  (Not to disparage employment in the food-service industry because its a ton of fun and a great livelihood.  But in the career-type job they will be looking more at the education I have paid so dearly for and they will probably not also employ high-school students like every job I have had thus far), and I don’t feel quite ready to apply for it yet.
   Why don’t I feel ready?  Feelings of inadequacy really; my wardrobe consists mostly of wife-beaters, jeans and athletic clothes, and I would like to invest in some more 3-piece ensembles before I start knocking down doors and demanding employment.

I’m thinking I’ll spring for some tweed.  I already have the pipe and I’m still undecided on the leather cap & goggles

I know this is a superficial concern but unfortunately we live in a world where the garments you wear give an indication of your suitability for the job…
What He said!

…so I am forced to play the game.  This is where the job-type job comes into play; clothes cost money so now I will make some so I can upgrade the wardrobe to the level of refinement society expects from a 27-year-old.  
   However, it must be said that waiting is more than a means to an end.  Its a fun job and one I could see myself doing for years alongside other jobs.  If nothing else, its a break from routine, gives you an opportunity at problem-solving (every table is different), and forces you to keep your interpersonal skills sharp.
   I’m gonna go a tweak my resume some more but will keep posted on developments in the job-market and also the process by which I psych myself up for the next step.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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I Less Than Three Gin

My Friends,
   Last night I headed up to my older brother Alex’s place in Orangeville for my first visit since returning home.  It was to be a relatively quiet evening, more of a double-date night with our respective girlfriends, but his girlfriend Krystal had gone and sprung for a bus ticket to bring my younger brother Adam home from Montreal, and with the three of us reunited the chances of the evening being quiet diminished.  While waiting for Alex to get home from work, Adam and I decided that it had been entirely too long since we had had martinis.  Furthermore, in spite of being a prodigious, young alcoholic due to university life, Adam had never tried Tanqueray Gin…

My personal favourite brand

…or even a Gin Martini.  These were two oversights I -nay, “we” had to rectify.  We stepped out to procure the required spirit.  Like a good enabler, Alex already had vermouth and olives on hand.
   We returned from our foray, crushed some take-out Chinese and set about finishing the 40oz we had bought.  It had been a good year since I’d had a martini but I found my skill in making them hadn’t diminished.  That is to say we got smokin’ loaded.  Well, maybe not that bad, but I did at one point strip off my shirt and wrestle the dog.

Pictured here when she was a lot easier to wrestle into submission

At some point after I gained new tooth & claw marks all over my body, the girls decided that they weren’t tryin’ to have this nonsense and went to bed.  We moved boldly forward committed to our cause.  All of us being together we finally took the time to try out the nargile/hookah which my father and I had picked up in Istanbul.  It was a good smoke and as we sat in the frigid garage shooting the shit I reminisced fondly about Turkey and all the time I had spent in opium dens hookah lounges.  
   At some point between the smoking and going to bed I got onto facebook and noticed this picture I had recently been tagged in:
My sixth grade class photo (I’m in the back wearing a dark vest and sweater and a shell necklace with a shark’s tooth on it because that was cool back then apparently).  Seeing this photo had taken me back when I was sober but in the sloppy state I was now in I got a little click-happy and began adding all of the former classmates who had been tagged in the picture and who were (through some egregious oversight) not currently on my friends list.
   Upon awakening this morning I had an inkling that I might have perpetrated this irresponsible facebookery but it was all a blur.  However, when I later checked my email my suspicions were confirmed by two notifications for accepted friend requests.  So thanks Grant & Ashlee; apparently you two saw nothing off-putting about an elementary-school classmate drunkenly reaching out to you after midnight.  And really, that’s how it should be.
   Overall, a good night.  Didn’t finish the bottle but caught up with my brothers, had some good laughs and made some new(old) friends.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo 

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You Gotta Swim Before You Can Crawl

My Friends,

   In attempting to re-integrate back into N. American life and ultimately get back to where I was at (or beyond) prior to leaving, I am paying especial attention to my fitness.  It started with wanting to get back down to the weight I was at before I left, but my intention is now to incorporate exercises I typically do not do and see where it takes me on the scale instead.  And not just any exercises; where possible, I want to perform exclusively exercises which mimic natural movements.  I have alluded to this desire previously (“Tenderfooting,” 30 August 2011) when I started training barefoot, but I really want to run with it now.  Call it the primal lifestyle if you will, although that implies a change in diet as well, and I am not looking to completely overhaul what I eat.  For the time being, its all about the exercise.
   Now when it comes to strength-training and muscle-building, doing it like a caveman seems easy enough; lift rocks, climb shit, bash your woman over the head with a weighted club, etc.  Cardio training, for me at least, is a little more problematic.  
   “Why don’t you ride your bike,” you ask?  Well, come winter I only really use my bike for commuting as you never know what condition the trails (where I do my bike cardio) will be in.  And while a muddy, slurry of dirt and melted snow might make for awesome and challenging terrain, I must weigh this potential benefit against the reality of being stranded out in the cold, kilometres away from help if I have any bike breakdown or malfunction.
Or if, ya know, a rock falls on me

   “Why don’t you go for a run,” you ask?  Well, this is what kind of got me into primal exercise mode in the first place; all the running I was doing over the last year with conventional trainers was giving me chronic ankle & foot pain and I was looking to do a conversion to barefoot running.  The problem for me now is that its January and fucking cold.  
   “Why don’t you use the Vibram 5-Finger shoes you’ve been dick-riding hard for the past few months to run ‘barefoot’ in the winter,” you ask?  A good question, and I will have to look into a new pair (the pair I used for going around the world may still be athletes foot infected and they are also a trekking model more than a running model) of those once I start wage-slavery again and have money to spend on shoes.  
   For the time being however I decided that if I wanted a lean “swimmer’s physique,” why not swim (cavemen swam, right?).  I have heard only good things about swimming as exercise but I have always been too lazy to actually bring trunks to the gym and then carry my wet gear back with me.  On top of that, I always just viewed swimming as leisure; I go to the beach or a friend’s pool, float around some, get hammered and that’s it, and its been that way since I was a kid.  But now, with my desire to adopt primal exercises more completely into my lifestyle, I was forced to take another look at swimming as the only viable way to get cardio-training for the time being (it was either swimming or intercourse).
   Today was my first day at the pool and not long after entering the pool I realized with some alarm that I don’t really know how to swim.  Sure I can fake it for a length, but when I start to get winded, any technique I might be aping falls apart, my speed in the water (such as it is) tapers off, and I am sort of left kicking haphazardly in the water trying to stay afloat.  The problem I realized was fundamentals; essentially, I have none.  I don’t know how to stroke, I don’t know how to breathe, I didn’t even know the direction of traffic flow in the pool.
   Still, I toughed it out for half an hour (it might have only been 20 minutes, but it felt long) and I think I completed only 8 full lengths of the pool, with breaks at every end and more than one break mid-length.  While changing, I asked this dude who had been out there and was obviously more experienced than me (goggles, no boardshorts) how to breathe during freestyle stroke.  He said exhale while your face is in the water instead of trying to both exhale and inhale during the brief moment my face comes out of the water every third stroke.  That may seem like a small thing but the implications are mind-boggling; I now await my next trip to the pool eagerly, wanting to employ my new secret weapon: breathing.
   Now I’d be a fool to think that my breathing is the only area I can improve.  ‘Til my rematch with the water I plan on seeing if there are any vids on basic swimming on youtube kind of like I did when I was taking up parkour.  Armed with the experience and wisdom of others plus my own stubbornness I figure it’ll be like a week before I’m Michael Phelpsing out there.
“HYAH! And monkeys might fly out my butt!”
Stay Thirsty,
Andre Guantanamo

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…Where Credit is Due

My Friends,
   I’m back home in Canada after circling the globe over the past 107 days.  It was in many ways not the trip I was expecting but perhaps for that exact reason it was also exactly the trip I was expecting.  For you see I was looking for adventure, something which is eminently un-plannable, and adventure is what I got.
   However, the success of this venture rested on more than just my own overtures toward worldliness and Quixotic affectations.  Rather, I was helped at almost every step by others; some I knew beforehand, most I did not.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who made my trip not only what it was, but possible in the first place.
   So, Thank-You…

To my friend Tommy and my brother Adam for helping me try to get financial assistance for the trip.  It may not have been successful but it was a lot of fun to hang out and make videos.

To Steve and Lynn from modrobes for the clothing you provided and the re-supply mid-expedition.

To Mark from Oakley U.S.A. for your generosity.

To Maria, Victor and Wilson, the first three people who showed me any kind of goodwill in my trip but whose contact information I lost in the robbery.  Thank-you so much and I will keep attempting to find you guys on Facebook.

To my parents for all of their help after I got robbed.  Thank-you for booking my flight back to Lisbon, scrounging through my boxes in the basement to find pieces of documentation so I could procure a new passport and making sure replacement cards, documents and gear made it out to me as quickly as possible.

To the staff of TAP Airlines in Funchal Airport for giving me money to buy lunch when I had lost everything.

To the flight attendants on my TAP flight from Funchal to Lisbon for giving me all the food I wanted after learning I got robbed.

To Bev and Darryn Cross, who saw to it that I had a hotel to stay in upon my arrival in Lisbon.

To Eneida and Gisella at the Canadian Embassy in Lisbon.  Thank you for all of the free calls and the speed with which you helped me out.

To Antonio, Antonio & Penelope for making my stay in Lisbon better than it could have been given the shitty time I was having.

To Vasil & Nadia for letting me camp in their garage during my last night in Portugal.

To “Belgian Teacher,” Greg & Maria, “German Couple,” Samuel, Jose, Sergei & Andrej & Dimitri, Bianca, “Hungary Dude” & “German Girl,” Therese & Stefano & Hannah, “Granada Dude,” “Guadix Family,” “Lorca Dude,” Juan & his Dad, Paul & Sonja, Andrew & Laura, Antonio, Julius, Maria Jose, Xavien, Keira & Ali, Claudia, Rene, Hugo, Tomas & Sandra, Moroccan guy who may or may not have wanted to rob me, “Gay Michele,” Dominique, Miro, Benoit, “Fronk”/Franc, Mohmed & Kh____ (x2), Simon, Gwen, Claudio, Nasir(?), Orsun(?), “Gas Station Patron,” “Nameless Dude,” “Old Dude,” Erol, Veysel, Ali, Ibrahim, Mehmet & Besir, _____ & Ramazan, “Some Trucker,” “Mini-Bus Full of Dudes,” “Big Bus Full of Dudes,” “Turkish Family,” “____ From Antakya,” “_____ & ______ From Antakya,” “Family in a Pick-Up Truck,” “German/Turkish Couple,” Hasan & Usan, _____, Mustafa & _____, The Syrian Secret-Service/Cab-Drivers, Jima, and finally Havid & Family.  Thank-you for picking me up instead of just speeding by.

To Ricky, who came out of left field to offer me his house to crash at in Rota, Spain.  Your generosity was overwhelming.

To Annelies & Annejet, who gave me sunscreen, a pink towel and would have given me a ride to Malaga but I slept in like a dunce.

To Toby, who came back and picked me up from McDonald’s just like he said he would.

To the Collet family who picked me up and let me stay in their beautiful home.  If you have any plans to visit the south of France you should definitely consider a stay in one of their residences:

To Neil, who showed me around San Remo, bought me a bus ticket, and warned me about just how corrupt Italy was on arrival.

My cousin Steven and his family in Legnano, Italy.  Thank-you for your hospitality, helping me deal with lazy Italian officials, and the delicious food which fattened me up for the cold weather which laid before me.
To Imad and Lina who made me feel at home in Beirut, took me around the city and included me in their Christmas-tree decorating.

To the proprietors of the cafe in the Suez bus station for letting me crash in the back-room.

To Jima, who picked me up, took me into his home and broke bread with me during my last night in Egypt.

To Brian for for offering his flat in Zanzibar which I never made it to.

To Robert for sharing his campfire in Ein Gedi.

To Amina & Gulmyra, my Kazakh “aunts” who forced me to eat with them on the train and led me to the bus station in Almaty.

To “Opie,” who made my welfare the highest priority in his life.

To the Chongqing Police Force for allowing me to use your computers and inviting me to share your Christmas dinner.
To Erich and Serena, for inviting me into your home and the delicious perma-cultured eggs.

To everyone I met who posted pics on my Facebook.  Thank-you so much for enabling me to have photographic reminders even after the loss of my camera.

To my regiment and my friends back home.  Thank-you for being there if I needed something taken care of.

To all my siblings who were supportive of me through the duration of my time away.

To my sister Tanya who posted entries for me while I was in China and unable to access anything but hotmail.

And finally, to my beautiful woman, Chelsea.  Thank-you for not making me feel bad about leaving and for encouraging me in all my goals.

Nobody makes it through this life on their own and even when I felt most alone, I knew I wasn’t.

Oh the song of the future has been sung
All the battles have been won
On the mountaintops we stand
All the world at our command
                      -Gordon Lightfoot

Stay Thirsty,
Andre Guantanamo

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Tirade Disguised as Blog Entry

My Friends,
   Last night I went to Toronto to visit my sister, Tanya and her boyfriend, Brian for the first time since my return to Canada.  We crushed a good meal before I decided to accompany them that evening to the east-end of Toronto for the political event they were attending, as I had nothing better to do.  I didn’t know it at the time but the event in question was the nomination/election gathering for late NDP leader, Jack Layton’s Toronto-Danforth riding, and there were three hopefuls looking to replace him.  The reason Tanya and Brian were going there in the first place was because one of the hopefuls, Claire Prashaw

Pictured Here

was Brian’s cousin and he and his family wanted to offer moral support.  We arrived at the church and while standing in line it occurred to me that if my die-hard conservative father could see his two kids standing in line for an NDP function it would kill him.  With that thought, I suggested to my sister that we try to get the attention of some of the cameramen to maximize our exposure.
   As we waited in line there were left-wing types peddling their socialist newspapers and I was reminded of Arthur Koestler’s reminiscences of meetings of the German Communist Party during the 1930s in “The God That Failed;” it just gave the whole assembly a subversive feeling even though it was a sanctioned political event.  As we entered the venue (a church) it began to seem a little more legitimate again, and we found seats in the upper pews to the right of the altar.
   We spent about twenty minutes waiting for things to get going and in that time we looked down on the floor where reporters, photographers and cameramen were interviewing, photographing and filming the candidates and other notables.  One notable of note was Trinity-Spadina MP, Olivia Chow,

Pictured Hyah!

who, as well as being a politician in her own right, is the widow of the former NDP leader.  Brian remarked to me as he watched her working the room how much he hated politics and the fakeness of it and I was inclined to agree: watching these people pander to audiences even though I was not even able to hear what they were saying really bothered me.  Politics to me seems like the most obvious manifestation of The Spectacle.  If you are not familiar with this term you are perhaps more familiar with The Matrix?  Essentially, the dream-world which has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth of what is really going on.  It has nothing to do with robots and human beings being harvested for their energy (at least not in a literal sense): Politics, professional sports, reality TV, rap beef, terror attacks, etc… -These and others are all just things to distract us from the real problems that persist in our world and more importantly, the real solutions.
   Real Solutions.  This is important because anyone who thinks that a vote for X candidate or X party will bring about the change that they need (not want) is deluded.  In fact, most people don’t even know what they, and ultimately “we” as a species, need.

We don’t know that we need free, unlimited, and democratic energy sources.  Instead we want cheaper, cleaner energy.

We don’t know that we need free, dignified, and well-constructed living accommodations for everyone on the planet. Instead, we want more affordable housing.

We don’t know that we need a world without borders where people can live where they want but will never have to migrate because of war and persecution because these things would not exist.  Instead we want more immigration policy reforms.

Finally we don’t that we need to be free from wage-slavery; to be able to develop our interests and talents without being beholden to a job which degrades us as human beings simply so we can make a dollar.  Instead, we want “more jobs.”

   The “Gentleman Pimp,” A.S. Jackson once said, “He who thinks in terms of catching mice will never catch lions.”  While seemingly a non-sequitur at first glance, there is actually a lot of wisdom in that statement.  We are so pre-occupied with choosing from the pre-approved list of options that we are given

I’ll just leave this here…

that we don’t stop to think that they all suck and are all affronts to our dignity.  And when we do realize this we just laugh it off and say some bullshit like “well, that’s life,” not daring to imagine that life could be better.
   So anyhow, back to the nominations: They did a tribute to Jack Layton which consisted of pictures with some corny song playing in the background.  As I listened to the words (Love-letter to a nation…) and the chorus (…hope is better than pessimism…) it occurred to me that they had just “songified” his final letter to the country which he wrote before succumbing to cancer.  Everybody knows that if you are going to songify something you gots to use auto-tune.

“[They] are so dumb … for real…”

While I really found his final letter inspiring it didn’t do much for me in song-form aside from making me face-palm.  
   Following this tribute, they had the nominations and speeches which only further convinced me of how bullshit politics is: if the three candidates gave a fuck about the country why wouldn’t they just go into a room and decide amongst themselves who was the best among them to be in office?  Surely one or more of the candidates suspects that their opposition might do a better job than they could hope to.  Therefore, they only campaign and perchance get elected to the detriment of the rest of the country.  Honestly, I would have a lot more faith in politicians if the nominated candidates didn’t campaign but instead talked amongst themselves and came to a decision about who was best for the job.  Instead, personalities clash and we have to listen to the same speech delivered several times in different but equally rousing ways.  



   In the end, the person who wins is the one who represents themselves as the most (or least, as the case may be) black/female/LGBT while also appearing to be the last bulwark against the drugs/guns/terror/brown people who threaten our existence, through the use of appeals to lofty but vague ideals such as democracy and patriotism.  It’s absurd, but it happens.  And it was depressing that most of the people at this nomination/election actually took it seriously.  
   In the end, Craig Scott won the nomination instead of Claire Prashaw (perhaps if my whole heart had been in my sign-waving…).  But in the end, like all political races, the outcome doesn’t really matter.

It’s not like government really sets the agenda anyhow.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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