Crashers@Banff

The Crashers crashed the Banff Springs kids. We played music for the masses and were rewarded accordingly. Aside from that I can’t really remember too much about the whole affair. I do remember some sort of gourmet poutine. And moving things. And then driving. Oh, and then moving more things again at some point. And I remember Mike Tyson’s Punchout ….I think. Or maybe it was that this guy reminded me of it. Hard to say….

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BBJ@Palliser

The Fairmont Palliser in Calgary is one of those old gems that keeps going and going …100+ years and counting too. It’s quite nice inside and reminds me of the Springs in many ways, although the rooms are substantially better as far as my experience goes; more roomy and perhaps a bit more modern (don’t get me started on the ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen/halls/elevator experience though!) And don’t take my word for things either ….I was there for a good time, not a long one.

And a good time it was too, as the BBJ’s played a wonderful wedding for some wonderful people who danced the night away to all the hits from yesteryear onward. Gourmet-type hot dogs were the anticipated midnight snack (as gourmet as you can get with chicken feet that is….) and spiced-rum and coke’s were the goto beverage for yours truly as he used the magical mixture to drift into a sleepy slumber at around 3 in the morning when the #kingsizedbed took him away from all those earthly-world troubles.

I’ll have to snag me one of those pillows.

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Edward Snowden

Jefferson, on the other hand, wrote: “God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion …What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? …The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” pg. 116, from In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson.

Well, I don’t know about the blood of patriots and tyrants but the point about the spirit of resistance is something to pay attention too ….and in that spirit let’s mention the poster boy for digital treason himself; Edward Snowden. Yes, the Oliver Stone directed, Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred movie opens tomorrow and I think I’ll stop in for a visit. Justice is an ever-changing pursuit that has to morph along with the wills and wishes of the people, and when those who administer it fail to keep up with those wills and wishes, then there’s bound to be some form of outrage. And after that, hopefully, restitution.

Or maybe just a poster boy rebranding of sorts.

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consent

I’ve heard too many accounts from women – many of whom are my friends – about their own experiences of ‘relenting’ to coercion. Though there are countless people who defend this system (and the numerous ways in which it privileges men while excusing any accountability they need to take for their actions), is it actually the kind of society people want to live in? One where sex can be cajoled and forced out of people who will invariably experience some level of trauma afterwards?

The answer to the above question should obviously be no. It’s from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Clementine Ford who brings attention to the idea that Western culture often supports male perspectives and privilege when it comes to the initiation and general course of heterosexual sex. Her discussion centers around mature women, however I’d like to focus on how it’s the juvenile/immature attitudes prevalent in youth (but definitely not limited to!) that become the launching pad for these failures as an adult. The way the ‘I’m young and inexperienced in sex’ game plays out, often defends misguided assumptions (….such as boys will be boys, boys are aggressive, girls are passive, girls have no sex drive, girls are nurturers, boys have no self-control, girls secretly like it rough, etc, etc.) and it becomes a given that these sexual encounters will be fraught with regrets and mistakes; it’s simply the nature of the experience.

And it may be the nature of the experience, but it may also be the fact that many occasions are ‘naturally’ negative because they’re one-sided, male dominated affairs; that the often traumatic experience for the girls has been negated or downplayed because it’s not the narrative guys want to hear. Boys want to know that they’ve done it right …that their new-found penis power not only gives them satisfaction but also pleases the girls they share it with. And so perhaps it’s the fact that normal has never really been normal, and maybe it’s time to call BS on those who suggest that early or immature sexual experiences are bound to be messy, hurtful and often regrettable happenings. Perhaps it’s time to admit there’s an imbalance of power, and to promote the idea that sex should not only be rooted in equality, but that it equally brings pleasure to all involved.

We need a new normal.


I think I’m probably the anomaly, but my early sexual experiences were never things that I controlled, maneuvered or even desired to be in my favour ….actually, it was quite the opposite. [TMI alert!] I was always the somewhat reluctant recipient; avoiding the blow job from the first girl I kissed in my friends basement for fear of someone walking in on us, ejaculating in my pants while dry humping another and then not being able to ‘get it up’ when she pulled me on top of her at the drive-inn, being with a girl who although younger, was more experienced and I simply went along with whatever she had in mind. Even my 1+ year relationship in high school (that came after these others) was a non-intercouse affair because it was something she didn’t want to do and I was perfectly content with the other activities we shared. Sex in those early days was never something that felt forced, and it was not only fun for me but I’m fairly certain fun for my partners as well; we shared, learned, got awkward and enjoyed things together. That was my normal.

But again, I may be the anomaly. The idea that you have to have consent in a relationship was a no-brainer; of course you have to have consent. The opposite of that is non-consent, which would imply that the other person you’re with isn’t in to you …which should not only be a blatantly obvious red flag in any healthy relationship, but a strong indicator that yes, you most certainly shouldn’t be sexually intimate with that person (…I’ll rattle off my prostitution views at another time.) And if that person wasn’t in to you, then you either worked it out and resolved your differences (because communication is king after all) or you moved on to another relationship. The concept of forcing, or as Ford mentions coercing, someone into sex is a completely foreign notion – or at least it was, until someone close to me opened up about their unhealthy past. But I digress….

Here in the present though, the discussion of consent catches not only major news stories but local as well. A Court Of Queen’s Bench judge overturned a lower court judge’s ruling on a ‘consent’ case involving two teenagers and an accusation of sexual assault here in Alberta. After reviewing a partial video of the event, Justice Juliana Topolniski remarked; “It’s long beyond debate that in Canada, no means no. / Consent means yes. / The word ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ / The word ‘no’ coupled with fending off an attacker with a water bottle does not mean ‘yes.’ / There is nothing ambiguous about it.” Judges are usually the ones with the final say, and when they themselves are at times bias, prejudice and comment inappropriately on issues they’re unfamiliar with, complainants are further injured and justice certainly not served. Consent should be something simple, and the fact that we’re devoting time to it for both young people and seasoned judges alike is indicative of a far greater problem.


The idea of equality in sex has to begin when the topic is first understood. If it’s not, you’re simply playing a game of catch-up that is bound to produce casualties. The following is from a recent campaign at the University of Winnipeg put on by Jan Byrd, the university’s executive director of wellness and student life:

One of the first things people think about, whether they want to or not was, ‘Well, was the victim drinking?’” To prevent that victim-blaming, she said 150 posters have been pinned up around the school with the taglines, ‘Drinking isn’t a crime, sexual assault is,’ and ‘Alcohol causes hangovers, not sexual assault.

Post secondary institutions are prime grounds for sexual exploration, and many students simply go along with the prevailing notions in terms of behaviours and attitudes, which is why it’s important to make them aware of the inaccuracies surrounding issues of both sexual consent and more importantly assault. When consent is at all ambiguous and alcohol is involved, futures may hang in the balance – as what was intended to be a simple night of fun can turn into traumatic, life altering experiences. The fact that sexual consent needs its own program/campaign in post secondary studies (when students are already adults) demonstrates the need for such learning to happen sooner …and the earlier the better as far as I’m concerned.

The failure to grasp the idea of consensual sex, whether by an inquiring youth, a confused, misguided adult, or a seasoned judge, isn’t going to go away on its own. Sexism and misogyny coexist with a conflicted sense of tradition and an ever-blossoming porn culture that taints the views of young boys and men (and girls!) in all walks of life. There needs to be an openness for such discussions in the family. Classroom solutions need to happen sooner …and as convenient as they are, will only be effective when reinforced with open dialogue – especially having males speak out on the issues whenever possible.

Guys let guys get away with things because heck, we like to fit in. Who doesn’t. There’s a price to be paid for not speaking up though, and when you turn a blind eye to that idiot friend of yours (the one who goes off on his recent exploits or on a tirade of sexist remarks) because you feel uncomfortable or don’t want to be the party pooper and bring the mood down, you’re not just hurting yourself but potentially the females in your life now and in the future. We have a vested interest in the sexual health of women, and to disregard that for self-centred reasons will only diminish our own sexual experiences in the long run.

And why would we want to do that?
*video from blueseatstudios.com*

canadian blood services

I decided to give blood today. Don’t know why really, other than it’s been something that’s been in the back, back, back of my mind for a long time ….and so I finally decided to strike up the ol’ routine again. I had to donate whole blood however, and not the plasma/platelet variety that I was used too, as it’s been so long they wanted to make sure I could still bleed. It seems I can -lol. It was January 2009 when I last donated, and they said I had 130 something donations on my file. I can go back to plasma/platelets as well but I’ll have to wait the 50 or whatever days it is after a whole blood visit, and so I shall.

The clinic was somewhat familiar, but then a little different too. The super nice thing was that one of the old staff recognized me sitting in the waiting room. I didn’t recognize her right away (it was Shelia….) but she did me, and knew my name as well. Even had a stab at my last name lol. And so I recounted the tale of her accident in the Zellers parking lot …and we were instantly caught up. She still works in the plasma section of the unit and gave me the wink/head-nod saying they look forward to having me back. So yeah, that was kinda nice. I guess I’d been going there for a few years fairly regularly so it would make sense that I wouldn’t be completely forgotten.

I’m looking forward to catching up :)

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Incline dumbbells

I haven’t done much in the way of dumbbells for chest ….at least not in the last two years or so. I stopped a while back when I was having issues with a shoulder that would give me grief, then after stopping I avoided getting back into it because the gym changed its benches and weights (a bad move all around….) plus it was always busy in that section of the gym, and I didn’t feel confident starting over in terms of poundage and then having to fight for equipment. So I gave up, used mainly machines and benches, and held my own without much care to that corner of the room.

Sporadically I tested out the odd dumbbell exercise to check the shoulder, especially flies, and today I threw in an incline set (it was late and not many people around) that convinced me to toss my hat back into the whole routine. Things felt good, and I forgot what a nice feeling it is when you target the chest in that way. I only used 60’s but cranked out 4 sets, finishing off the exercises with some slow flat bench. Long story short, I’m looking forward to putting this back on my menu. Dumbbells are a great building block for anything, and when done effectively make almost everything else easier.

Me@Wedding

It was the first wedding I’ve gone to where it wasn’t for work in years …I know, weird. My cousin Kristen took the plunge (with her now husband Chris) and it was a wonderful affair filled with laughs, smiles and of course tears. Yeah, I cried. I’m a wus. I cried a bit at the ceremony and then again during the first dance. It was kinda neat …they coreographed a routine to Rainbow Connection that was sweet. Everything they did was un-traditional as well; no matching outfits with bridal party, first dance before dinner, DIY seating for the guests and an awesome crab boil with roasted pig that had everyone beyond stuffed. Excellent snacks as well.

I’m glad I went, and I had a fun time. The only negative was that they didn’t have a band lol, however they didn’t have a DJ either so maybe it all balanced out :)

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burkini or bust

The controversy seems to have moved on at this point, but I still wanted to chime in on what exactly it is that’s at the heart of things for me. In case you missed it, select cities in France banned the burkini (a Muslim appropriate swimsuit for the modest, muslim woman) and recently repealed the law that prohibited the outfit from certain public beaches …places it was originally designed to be used.

Setting the whole terrorism aspect aside (because it is foolish) I find it interesting that justification for the ban spouted by the ‘powers that be’ include remarks on how the burkini is regressive and misogynistic, and how muslim women have somewhat bought into its empowering nature. The burkini, in the eyes of policy setters, isn’t necessarily a problem of flaunting religion as much as it is a denial of women’s rights and freedoms …and France is no place for such blatant and obvious displays of inequality.

gerard-araudSomeone supporting the position held by Gerard Araud (France’s ambassador to the US and owner of the above tweet….) went so far as to defend him in the twittersphere by calling out a burkini supporter, saying she herself was oppressed to the point that she couldn’t recognize her own oppression, saying essentially that she doesn’t understand what it is she herself thinks she understands….

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I somewhat agree with Taylan on the point that often the oppressed don’t realize their own oppression, but I wonder if he can make the leap to consider that he and his own culture might be just as guilty of the same offence? Over time, clothing codes (as well as certain behaviours/routines surrounding them) become normalized and people eventually reach a point where such things aren’t given a second thought. You carry on carrying on, convinced that the freedom you experience in making your choices is and has been entirely yours to make. The fact that you even have a choice, to many, is all that freedom really is.

There’s more to it though.

The idea that hijab, burka or burkini wearing muslim women are oppressed by their culture ignores or at least downplays the oppression experienced by those here. Women in the Western world experience the same sorts of enforcement of feminine codes; cleavage, makeup, jewelry, high heels, short shorts, shaved legs and armpits, even body shape and size itself are all steered by an industry that encourages women to present themselves a certain way. The fact that women accept and conform to these codes follows along the same train of thought as oppressed people ‘choosing’ things that go along with their oppression. The argument that muslim women don’t recognize their own oppression is not so dissimilar from Western women not recognizing theirs.

Medical/biological related programs (plastic surgery, dieting, fitness etc.) are billion dollar industries profiting from women reshaping themselves to ‘societal norms’ while the failures from those who miss this societal mark (manifesting as depression, anorexia/bulimia, body image/shaming etc.) open even more avenues for profit. Oppression is big business in the West even though it’s cloaked in personal and plentiful options, pleasing propaganda, and packaged under a far less nefarious title. We think we’ve got it good not just because our past was so bad, but because we’ve convinced ourselves we’re at the forefront of rights and equality. The truth is that cultural progress is much slower than the technical ….and quite often hard to see let alone measure.


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The sad part of it all, for women that is, is that many of their ‘choices’ among these fashion codes are to a great degree influenced by men. Men and male dominated aspects of society are often the ones deciding on what is acceptable; showing too little skin and they’re told they have to loosen up, while showing too much and they’re accused of looking for attention ….varying with and tied into age. The male gaze is primal (so we’re led to believe) and to a large degree beyond man’s control, and so we place the responsibility of male sexual desire on the doorsteps of female fashion. We can’t control ourselves, so you should control what you wear – this is as true here in the West as it is in those societies we vehemently label oppressive.

For heads of state (which are predominately male) to proclaim a moral superiority over other heads of state (which are also predominately male) when it comes to what women can and cannot wear is hypocritical to say the least, yet not given a second thought as it’s so entrenched in our Western culture and traditions. The system itself is and has been designed along patriarchal lines for hundreds of years, and for one organization of male leadership to condemn another over the choices being allowed to their females, does nothing to level the playing field or bring meaningful dialogue on equality among the sexes.

The burkini is an affront to women’s personal freedoms, but so are many of the other fashion/clothing demands placed on women in the West. Freedom shouldn’t be limited to a numbers game decided by the amount of choices one has, but instead based upon the ability to decide whether or not that choice should even be something that’s on the table.


Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

It’s been hectic lately kids, and the Man has had me putting in some unusually long days at (on?) the grind. Another week left though, then things will simmer down and return to their normal-ish routines. To top it off I’ve had some weird body issues too; a lower back ache that’s been around for close to 3 weeks with pain that ebbs into my hips and groin. Add to that stomach cramps, bloating and the occasional bouts of the ‘unspoken’ ….quite the picture of health lol. It’ll pass I’m sure, it’s just taking its sweet time.

Because of all this I think I’ve experienced my first ever taste of sleep paralysis the other morning. It seemed to be of the Hypnopompic variety as it happened when I was waking, and somewhat scary too as I remember being completely unable to move or even talk. I knew I was awake, and breathing, and as hard as I tried to say something, I could only get out some low moans or grunts as my tongue and mouth didn’t cooperate. Stupid tongue and mouth. I was flat on my back with my legs crossed, and I rarely sleep on my back. I remember a cat for some reason too …what it was doing I have know clue, but I know it was there. Somewhere.

It probably had the Feline Aids.

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Image from cachet.org