Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Imagine standing in septic water. Behind you is a dirt wall eight feet high. In front of you is another dirt wall, nearly vertical, eight feet high. Your feet have been soaked for days and caked mud covers your wet wool uniform.
No one speaks. It’s absolutely quiet except for the occasional match being struck to light a cigarette and a cough from someone suffering from mild gas inhalation and likely pneumonia to boot.
Your hands would shake from the cold and nervousness if it weren’t for the fact that they were too busy hanging onto a ten pound rifle. You look into the dirt wall and pray the ammunition isn’t faulty.
All you can do is wait and stare into the dirt wall in front of you. You briefly close your eyes. You haven’t slept or had an edible meal in a week. The thought of food is not enjoyable as the scent of blood, death and human suffering waft upwards from the trench floor. It is acrid. It may be the last thing you remember.
A whistle blows and an officer shouts in the distance. You can’t make out the words as the constant shelling has left a ringing in your ears. You’ve been here before you know what the officer yelled. ‘Make Ready’.
You fasten your bayonet to your rifle and check your ammo pouch. The whistle sounds and flares go up. You jump and roll over the top of the dirt wall. Up on your feet you run as fast as you can. Boots covered in mud. You can’t feel your feet. You know they are underneath you but they are numb.
Bodies fall all around you. Don’t think about it. Keep moving. You can feel the German machine guns rattatat tatting a hail storm of sonic lead at you. The light from the flares dies and you fall you into a crater created by a gun that’s sole purpose was to kill you or your enemy. You don’t care. It’s cover. You slog to the far side of the crater.
Your feet sink into the bottom and you fall forward into the carcass of a horse. It smells slightly worse than the trench you hurled yourself over the top of. Fighting for every inch you scramble up the business side of the trench. You peer over the top of the crater. You’re the only person from your squad that has made it this far and is not dead or wounded.
Random flares go up into the air all over the battlefield. You lay splayed out on the bank of the crater. You can hear the bullets scream by. That doesn’t seem to bother you as much as the moaning and screaming of your injured mates laying on the field, crying for their mothers and possibly being blessed by a quicker death as they lay muddied, wounded and alone in a foreign land.
Hours go by as lay on the inner wall of your sheltered crater. Except for an occasional burst of a heavy machine gun. The flares have quit their arched trajectories. You are alone. In the dark.
You need to get back to your trench. Once the sun comes up you are not going to be able to move. If you get back to your trench you may be able to live for at least one more day. All you want is that one more day.
You make your way back to relative safety. Through craters and over corpses. Thankful with every gained foot that the Germans didn’t shell you with Mustard gas. Ahead of you is a soldier from your unit. He is tangled in barbed wire and you can see the moonlit almost reflecting off part of his leg. It’s the blood leaking out from where he got shot. He knows enough to not make a sound. He is still alive.
Slowly and methodically you cut him loose. Now the task of dragging him back to your trench is all yours.
An hour after you cut him loose you push his unconscious body over the edge of your trench and you scurry over the top and are happy to land at the bottom in the septic water. If your friend is lucky he will only loose his leg and not succumb to any type of blood poisoning. A slow painful death.
You lived another day. Maybe if you live through a few more you can go home and see your son who was born a few weeks after you were shipped off to this wretched foreign land. You hate yourself for thinking that far ahead. You’ve seen too much death, too many friends lying in the mud, eyes open on a battlefield where the last visions were of death and a place one could only describe as a living hell. Don’t think too far ahead. You’ve only lived one more day.
Strangely, if you make it to the end and live, sometimes when the cold wind rattatat tats against your shutters as you sit next to your fire alone, all the memories, all the pain comes back. Forever you will see your friends and comrades open eyes as they lay dead in the mud in some awful foreign land.
Never take all the freedom and the life you get to lead for granted. Never Forget the men and women who gave up their lives. Never Forget.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sex Ed,

Premier Wynne has decided that her parties new sex education bill is awesome and in that bill (somewhere) is the request or demand that children ages 5-6 years old should be taught sex education or specifically what ‘consent’ is. Five and six year olds also need to grow up knowing the difference between ‘rape culture’ and ‘consent culture’.
When I was five years old my biggest hope was to tie my own shoes and not piss my pants at school.
Wynne wants to spend time having teachers dedicate time to teach the difference between rape and consent to kids who think Barney the dinosaur is real, trains can fly through outer space and a dead animal on the side of the road is just ‘resting’ .
Really? A law has to be made and taught to kids who still can’t work out the mechanics of how to blow their own noses? The entire idea makes about as much sense as trying to kick a 400 pound anvil through a swamp.
Why don’t we make them do calculus and tell them if they don’t get the right answers they are going to have their toes smashed with a hammer? It would be about as useful as trying to gently and accurately explain what rape is to a five or six year old.
How would a teacher go about this Herculean task? ‘Little Johnny? Have you ever seen your mommy and daddy “wrestling” under the bed sheets’? ….’ They rassle all the time Miss Jenkins. I think mom loses most of the time. Her screams wake me up so she must be really mad about losing!’

I know I don’t want that kind of information and as far as I’m concerned my parent’s had sex three times-MAX! Scratch that visual from your eyeballs.
Do you know what five year olds should be doing at school? Playing. Playing and finger painting…and learning how to tie their shoes. And not pissing in their pants. That’s it. End. Period. Full Stop.
During her announcement Wynne had two thirteen year old girls with her who had ‘lobbied’ for this new craptacular bill. How the hell does a thirteen year old get to lobby and why the hell are we listening to thirteen year olds? In my humble opinion this was a bad PR move by the Liberals. “Hey here’s some thirteen year old girls who lobbied us for sex education about rape and consent!” Isn’t thirteen years old kind of young for kids to have sex? Sixteen years old is the age of consent in Ontario so anyone under that age is, in reality and possibly by definition being raped or raping if they have sex. Why can this not be taught to our tightly wound youngsters?
I’m not preaching anything religious or saying possibly kids at 12-13 years old should be taught about the birds and the bees/ pregnancy and responsibility- I think it’s a good age to teach them that, but wouldn’t common decency/parenting teach kids that rape is horrible AND teach them that rapists should be shot – okay that last part was all mine but that’s the way I feel about that subject…and pedophiles.
What is truly maddening about this Liberal laid out law is the fact that it has just enough stupidity contained in it to get under a lot of people’s skin AND….wait for it….blind us or draw us into a debate over something that shouldn’t be debated. All the while the real problems with Ontario get to fly under the radar.
Hydro rates, Ontario pension ‘tax’, Billions of dollars lost in scandals and poor business practices, debt, wage gaps, manufacturing loss and on and on ad nauseum.
Let the teachers, school boards and local communities set up their own sex-ed program. Being told what to do and what to believe by a government who is way out of touch with reality is just wrong.
Can we get to business? Can we stop fighting over scraps from the premier’s table? We are supposed be served by our politicians. Not the other way around. Lately our provincial leaders have been treating us like dogs – fake throwing a ball for us to chase and get our teeth into but laughing at us as they look at our balls in the palm of their hands ( Yes, I said Balls), while we play slug it out over issues that aren’t issues.
End the bullshit statistics of employment. Hiring 100,000 people to work for the government is not creating jobs. It’s draining/drained the tax coffers, yet they smile and pat themselves on the back for creating jobs that may actually be jobs but if it isn’t in the private sector and paying taxes-it’s a tax drain.
It’s sad that we allow ourselves to be put in a position that we feel obligated to throw each other under the bus for every idiotic, self serving piece of monkey shit legislation that gets trotted out like a prize pony.
We need a voice that can stay on point. We need someone who can curtly say, “Hey! This latest legislation is a waste of time. Can we figure out how to stop spending money we don’t have? Can we figure out how to attract new businesses to Ontario? “
It won’t happen. We’ve become trained to react rather than think. We’ve become addicted to our own personal wants and needs rather than the common good. We have become selfish assholes. From what I do, see and hear up to this point in my life we deserve what we have.

Monday, January 12, 2015


In early December my co-pilot got really sick. Vomiting, not eating, he couldn't even hold water down. It was a Wednesday or Thursday night around midnight I picked him up, put him in my truck and took him to a 24 hour vet clinic. They gave him something calm his stomach and he seemed to get slightly better until Saturday night. Lori and I stayed with him non stop.
He got horribly pukey again on Sunday night.
On Monday morning I took him into our vet.
They poked, prodded and placed medical devices on the poor mutt in places where nothing should be placed. Not a whimper or a growl. He just sat and leaned his head into my shoulder. The vet wanted to run some blood tests and other tests and get some fluids into the usually slobbery oaf. I left him at the vet clinic and waited to hear back on the tests they could run at the clinic.
Around twelve thirty that day the vet called. She asked to see Lori and I together. My heart just dropped. This is not the kind of thing anyone wants to hear from a vet, doctor, or financial planner.
Lori zoomed over and we were at the vet clinic by two. Just Lori and I standing in an examination room. No Bart. IN walked the vets. Could this scenario get any worse? If you have ever been punched in the nose you may understand the way I know I felt at that very minute I saw the two vets walk in together. My eyes started to water and I know I squinted. The lump in my throat was painful and I placed both hands on the examination table to make sure I kept myself upright and somewhat focused. Lori looped her arm through mine and stood like a pillar next to me. Likely fearful that I was about to have a demon surface through my mouth or just pass out.
Charts and titers and subcutaneous fluid delivery and more numbers with sub categories were flung about like multi sided die at a nerd party on a Friday night (so I hear). I remember only two things from all of this – Bart’s kidneys ammonia levels were 33 times the normal average for a dog his size and another level of kidney output was 4 x normal operating levels. Every piece of bad news that came out of the vets turned my knuckles a shade whiter as all I could do was clamp down on the table and try to listen.
Shortly after, “where’s my dog?” and “What are you saying?” ,the x rays came out. After some discussion about things I know nothing of, one of the vets pointed to a spot on the film. It was one of Bart’s kidneys and from her estimation it was 4 cm longer than the other. The lump in my throat had just gotten larger and I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. The vets were unsure if El Barto had a severe kidney infection or a large tumour on his kidney(s).
“This isn’t possible! He’s only six years old!” My outright denial would make this all go away.
Not being a vet, for obvious reasons relating to me and academia not seeing eye to eye, I chose a career that was more suited to my mental abilities and disposition. As a contractor we tend to do things differently than, well, normal people. Typically contractors will walk into a room drop some plans and notes on the table tell everyone they’re ‘f-cked’ and list the reasons why. We like to get our audiences attention and keep them listening. We will show you what is wrong and why BUT we usually follow up quickly with a proposed solution and the cost.
Vets need to learn this. Lori and I both thought we were there to put our co-pilot to sleep because of some cursed genetic anomaly or because some asshole left a pail of antifreeze out in the open. Don’t run us through the pain of thinking the situation is hopeless. Tell us there’s a problem but there is hope. By the way- I’m not paying to have your exam table sanded and painted. Take that!
Finally we got to take our Black son home with us. He had lost nearly 10 pounds from his weight in October. Bart was on a regimen of 13 pills a day. Now Bart likes what Bart likes, and if Bart no likee-Bart no likee. Bart does not like pills. We tried the ‘pill cookies’ they sell at Pet Smart-no go. I jammed pills down his mouth, held his mouth shut and rubbed his throat. That dog would sit, with dissolving pills in his mouth, wait for me to take my hand away and spit the pills out. Or my favourite- eat the pills then vomit them out because he refused to eat the low protein food the vet wanted us to feed him. That sure was my favourite.
It came down to this- feed him cookies. Wait. Give him his pills. Sit with him, pretend we were stealing his food out of his dish- at which he would walk in front of us, lay down and try to distance us from the food he didn’t want and wouldn’t eat. We got so desperate to make sure he would take his pills we coated them in cream cheese frosting. Bart really liked that. He also enjoyed being fed cookies all day. He had us trained within 3 days.
Everyday I took that meatbag to the vet where they poked and probed him. Everyday (except one day-Lori wanted the Saturday shift) I sat and held him while they jammed a needle under his skin and let fly with 900 millilitres of room temperature saline. Not one whimper or growl. The technician didn’t even bother with the muzzle after the second day. Everyday Bart was eager to leave and everyday, with 900 millilitres of saline under his skin in a mound that would make Pamela Anderson jealous he got stronger and pulled me to the door with his stupid orange ball or squeaky toy in his mouth with less and less effort.
Between moving into and painting the new house, end of season work madness and Christmas insanity all I could concern ourselves with was trying to make sure the slobbery oaf was getting better. There was not a single day I didn’t take the mutt to work with me. He slept under my desk on the dog bed we bought for him. The first week was rough but when Bart grabbed his orange ball and just sat next to my desk staring at me and wagging his tail, I finally knew he was getting better.
We still don’t know what is/was wrong with Bart. Hopefully the next set of tests will let us know he is healthy again. He is down to two servings of antibiotics per day and he is eating like a lab/mutt should and gaining weight.
There were times I asked myself when is enough. That damn pound mutt was costing us a lot of money. A few people told me they would help out and everyone pretty much never even questioned that Lori and I would keep paying the vet bills until the very end if need be. Why? He’s our co-pilot. My Black son. Fatso. El Barto. Every night when Lori and I sit on the couch and Bart’s enormous fat head blocks my view and he gets the hound dog eye thing going and won’t stop until he is invited up on the couch. I watch him as jumps up and does his multiple spins until he finds the perfect place to lie down where he can place his head on either of our laps and just look up at us. It’s this look that makes me know he’s saying thanks to Lori and to me. I hope he knows that it we’re the ones that are thankful.