Category Archives: Musings

Things written without reason, but perhaps some rhyme.

Never Trust Your Memories

I just had the most fascinating experience of falling down the stairs today.

Ice storms have ripped through my city, and as I stepped out the front door to have a smoke, my feet shot out from under me and down the stairs I went. While no bones cracked, they certainly creaked, and I have spent the rest of the day sleeping and healing up, leaving me with a lot of time to think about my experience.

I remember it vividly:

  1. Opened the door, noticed ice.
  2. Felt the deck and confirmed it was slippery
  3. Brought my second foot out and onto the deck.
  4. As soon as my second foot met my first, the momentum of my feet just carried them down the steps.
  5. I watched my feet go down the steps
  6. I reached out for something to grab onto (nothing but air)
  7. I felt my back meet the last step (with a thud, something other than air)
  8. I watched my heels dig two ruts into the sod at the bottom of the stairs.
  9. I remember not being able to breath, and getting up in the hopes it would allow me to breath easier (it didn’t)
  10. The wife opening the door and peering out to see what the sound was. (I distinctly remember waving her back inside, as I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to yell to her)

Very scary, very stretched out, and very vivid; but also not real.

Note steps 6 and 10, they contradict one another. I remember stepping out, and reaching for something to hold onto; I even have scrapes on my hands where they finally slammed into the decking; but if the door had been open (it opens outward), and I had been standing in the doorway, I would have had something to hold onto. Also, I was totally cognisant of The Wife opening the door, and me panicking that she would get injured coming out to find me. She knows she had to open the door, also she would have heard more clearly if the door had been opened.

I must have closed the door before slipping.

I must have closed the door, but I distinctly remember not closing it.

The Wife and I have discussed false memories in the past, and this experience serves to remind me that we cannot trust even our own experiences and memories. It reminds me that we must always test, verify, and approach life with a healthy dose of scepticism, because the easiest person to fool is yourself.

It also reminds me to salt the steps prior to an ice storm, and to keep an adequate supply of Ibuprofen in the house.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory

 

Apex Predators

http://imgur.com/gallery/ASyumRs

It’s funny how science fiction universes so often treat humans as a boring, default everyman species, or even the weakest and dumbest.

I want to see a sci-fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.

How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyse or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-line and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew shit up with our teeth?

Like that old story “they’re made of meat”, only we’re scarier.


More seriously, humans do have a number of advantages even among Terrestrial life. Our endurance, shock resistance, and ability to recover from injury is absurdly high compared to almost any other animal. We often use the phrase “healthy as a horse” to connote heartiness – but compared to a human a horse is as fragile as spun glass. There’s mounting evidence that our primitive ancestors would hunt large prey simply by following it at a walking pace, without sleep or rest, until it died of exhaustion; it’s called pursuit predation. Basically, we’re the Terminator.

(The only other animal that can sort of keep up with us? Dogs. That’s why we use them for hunting. And even then, it’s only “sort of”.)

Now extrapolate that to a galaxy in which most sapient life did *not* evolve from hyper-specialised pursuit predators:

  • Our strength and speed is nothing to write home about, but we don’t need to overpower or outrun you. We just need to outlast you – and by any other species’ standards, we just plain don’t get tired.
  • Where a simple broken leg will cause most species to go into schock and die, we can recover from virtually any injury that’s not immediately fatal. Even traumatic dismemberment isn’t necessarily a career-ending injury for a human.
  • We heal from injuries with extreme rapidity, recovering in weeks from wounds that would take others months or years to heal. The results aren’t pretty – humans have hyperactive scar tissue, amount our other survival-oriented traits – but they’re highly functional.
  • Speaking of scarring, look at our medical science. We developed surgery centuries before developing even themost rudimentary anesthetics or life support. In extermis, humans have been known to perform surgery *on themselves* – and survive. Thanks to our exterme heartiness, we regard as routine medical procedures what most other species would regard as inventive forms of murder. We even perform radical surgery on ourselves for purely cosmetic reasons.
  • and by god, we will eat anything

In essence, we’d be Space Orcs.

It’s one ting to face down a cheetah, which will slam into you at 60 mph and break your neck.

It’s another thing to run very quickly to get away from a thing, only to have it just kind of

show up

to have it be intelligent enough to figure out where you are going to be, just by the fur and feather you’ve left behind, your footprints and piss and shit, and then you think you’ve lost it,y ou bed down for the night, and

there it is

waiting

so you split! but it keeps following you, always in the corner of your eye, until you just can’t go on, until you just can’t go on any more, and give up, and

die

We are scary motherfuckers

 

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

It has been a while since I have last written, I’m not sure I still have the knack of it, but here we go…

In my last post, I discussed that some of my writing seemed to have gotten me into trouble with people I had met. People were misunderstanding what I was saying. What I was really saying is I seemed to be getting ostracized for some reason, and all I could think of was the fact that Annapolis Royal is a fairly Anti-Firearms community (in the way that is typical of urban areas) and I had written a Pro-Firearms article. I’m starting to think I was mistaken.

Continue reading Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

On Coming to, and Leaving Calgary

Calgary has been my home for many years now. Originally from England; I made my space here in my early twenties.

I have survived, although not thrived, many winters of temperatures it’s hard to imagine until you live them. I have promised myself time and time again to enjoy the short, short summer, only to realize, too late, that winter had reared its ugly head once again.

Since I stepped off of that plane one cold February afternoon I have learned many new things:

  • Driving in the snow and ice. (no matter what they say, ‘winter’ tires are a necessity)
  • Politely asking someone to stop by for coffee; even though you know they never will
  • Going outside in the winter with wet hair is a mistake (I know, it should have been obvious)
  • It’s not a dry cold…it’s just damn cold!
  • Visiting a friend or relative who lives 400 km away is called a ‘day trip’
  • Snow can and does happen during any month.
  • The Rocky Mountains are incredible
  • It’s much harder to ski than it looks!
  • You have to plug in your car in the winter or the chances of it starting are between zero and none.

Now I’m heading east, not to England this time but to Nova Scotia. Back to the ocean, back to feel the cool coastal breezes on my face, the taste of salt on my lips and, most certainly, the oppressive humidity that comes with it. Having lived in a climate where moisturiser is a girl’s best friend, I’m not sure how I’ll cope. As an acquaintance told me many years ago, the lower cost of living in Calgary is offset by the need to purchase so much skin lotion!

I’m excited about Nova Scotia; it’s Canada with a large dollop of Britain mixed in. It is a place where you can buy a home that’s more than 40 years old and still live in it. I hope it’s the place for me; a perfect place for us.

Surprise! We meant it

On Thursday (two days ago), I stopped by the offices of a company I used to work for (two years and a half years ago). I had gone for lunch with an friend and we stopped by the office for a hand-shake/good-bye to a few of the people I worked with.

Every one of them was shocked I was actually doing it.

This should not have come as a surprise to many of these people: I had begun to develop this idea at the time I worked there; I had run into them at a Christmas party and explained the new plan. Still, they thought I was joking. Sharon has had the same experience. A friend of her’s has expressed surprise, and envy, that we are doing what we are doing.

I am surprised, that these people are surprised. We said we were going to do it, where is the shocker?

Sharon has explained it to me.

It’s important to have dreams, but for most people they never take their dream beyond the stage of fantasy. A fantasy is an unattainable dream, or at least one you have no intention of actually pursuing. For example, I have this fantasy that I am a great king over a small kingdom and rule with a kind, but iron-fist. It’s not happening1. Sharon, and I, do not have a term for the other type of dream. The one you for which you create a plan; the one that you work year after year for. These are attainable, realistic2, planned for. Where I have stumbled over the years is to never have recognized that this is what I was doing. I have never considered the possibility of Fantasies, only the other kind of dream.

I knew a woman who had fantasies of retiring to Mexico, so went for a two week holiday in Mexico, twice a year. She was 50 years old, had just purchased a $400,000 home (which was fully mortgaged for 25 years), and had no savings (having spent all her money on Mexican vacations), and had never considered what it took to immigrate to Mexico. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this woman is going to retire, let alone to Mexico.

Most people (I am learning) never consider how they are going to attain their dreams, and therefore have only fantasies. Thus, when Sharon and I announce we are going to go live our dream, they are totally shocked.

Thanks to a Friend

I would like to thank the woman I went for lunch with3  (the one I went to go see a couple of days ago), for being one of my inspirations in all of this. While I was still figuring out what my dream looked like, she was making it a reality for herself. We had a long chat about how she thinks Sharon and I are really brave, but frankly, part of what made it possible for us was her example. She has done an amazing amount of work toward realizing her dream. For her it is not a fantasy, it is an objective.

While she feels we are going farther than her, and she is a little jealous. I would like to point out that we have not made it even as far as she has yet, we are still working to achieve some of the things she has been doing for years. I would also like to point out the the purchase of the land was a final stage. We had purchased our current house with the intent to upgrade at sometime in the future, we have just been pushed to do it a little sooner than anticipated.

So, thank-you for pushing us and giving us some good inspiration over the last couple of years.


  1. though at one time I did investigate the possibility of pursuing this dream, it entailed too much risk for the proposed payout, as well as a really long investment time. In the end I abandoned it as possible, but not worth the risk/effort 

  2. yes, my king dream is realistic, just difficult. Feel free to contact me for aspects of the plan that I still remember. Do not attempt to implement this dream unless you between the ages of 19 and 23, and have shit for brains 

  3. I’m keeping her name off the list just because I’m not sure if she would appreciate it being published 

Voluntary Vulnerability

I have long stated that I do not have any patience for people who make victims of themselves. People who live crappy lives, but take no action to get themselves out of the trouble they are in. These people irk me. More often than not, they are the people that feel the world owes them something (and by the world they mean me).

I have used a lot of terms to describe these people, some technical, some not repeatable in polite society. Today I came across an article that describes the state as Voluntary Vulnerability.

Surely we have plenty of blame to go around right now as to why this level of distress runs rampant in so many hearts at present, but let’s look at what is really the root of it (as manifested in voluntary vulnerabilities) and see what we can do to reclaim an independent life from these uncomfortable circumstances.

After reading the article I found I have nothing more to say1. Not only has the author defined what drives me bananas in the world (this sense of victim-hood being a good thing), but she has defined the reasoning behind what I am doing.

  • I want self-sufficiency.
  • I want control over my own life.
  • I want the responsibility that comes with the freedom.

But before I could want these things, I had to first find that I did not want to be a victim2. Most of all I did not want to be a victim of my own stupidity; I did not want to make my self a target just for sympathy; I did not want to be Voluntarily Vulnerable.

I said to my mother (years ago now), “I can’t afford to give to charity right now, therefore the most charitable thing I can do is to never need charity”. As the years went by, I worked really hard to not need any charity. I was always surprised by how often the opposite was true: people working hard to need charity. Either for monetary gain, or for some need for sympathy.

Much better to be the master of your own destiny.


  1. a strange state of affairs for me 

  2. I actually never felt comfortable in the victim role, but I never really saw a different way until I was much older