Slammin’ the Shaaman

August 30, 2002 at 5:07 pm (Climbing)

Ended up to going to the gym last night, to do a bit of climbing with my friend David. Around 9, an older man walks in, say mid- to late-40s. The guy looked like he was a holdover from the summer of love, had that not occurred 32 years ago. (Which makes me wonder: if anyone is 30 to 32, do you wonder if your folks were ingesting illicit chemicals back then, and that you are the result of their alterred states?) Anyhow, the guy’s got long, scraggly hair tied up in a braid, his skin looks like the result of being subjected to years of sun and wind, tinged with a grayish palour brought on by mucho cigarettes over the years. Thin, but mostly wiry. Had this been the 1700s, I would have thought him a mariner. I remarked to David that the new guy was probably climbing in the ’70s, when pot smoking was de rigueur in order to “climb higher.”
So, the guy comes in, and just plonks himself at the base of the hardest wall in the gym. Now, normally, you go climbing with at least one other person, since you need a partner to climb — Allez-Up is definitely not a pick-up joint — and you usually try to be with someone you trust. Not Mr. Deadhead. Just sat there for about 20 minutes, warming up, massaging his arms.
I walk over at one point and ask him if he wants me to be his partner for a climb or two. The guy’s grateful and proceeds to climb. Does it with style, nothing too flashy, just straightforward. Good enough, we introduce ourselves and start shooting the shit. The fella tells me his name is Shaaman/Shamik/Sha-something. He’s Polish and an itinerant carpenter. It turns out that he spends the winter living on the beach in Thailand, and the summer in California. Finds odd jobs where he can and just gets by. Funny, he was bemoaning the fact that Thailand is become expensive, since the rent for a bungalow is now about $10/night. So David asked him what he was doing in Montreal, to which the guy replied he was getting some money together to leave again. “Okay, so where do you live?” Shaaman answers that he lives in his VW van.
As I left the gym, I took a look at said van. Now, I expected something from the ’80s, perhaps a bit run-down but still functional. This thing, however, was mind-blowing; it must have dated back to the ’60s. Full of various stickers, all the seats ripped out of the back so that there are only the two front seats remaining. The fan is overflowing with camping equipment, climbing equipment and carpentry stuff. The funkiest thing, however, was the dashboard. About as simple as can be, I don’t remember seeing either a radio or anything. Oh, and the steering column rose out of the middle of floor for about 3 feet to end at the steering wheel. And this is where Shaaman lives.
It’s strange, but after awhile, you meet a lot of people like this in campgrounds. A roadtrip, done properly, costs about $5 a day, and you’re sitting pretty. Down in Kentucky, home of Ale-8, you can camp on the field behind Miguel’s Pizzeria for $2, surrounded by bucolic splendor and, when you can no longer bear to smell yourself, you splurge and pay a buck for a hot shower. VW vans rules in these places, but regular pickups and vans work just as well, and everyone gathers around someone’s truck or van at least once a day to see what modifications the owner has made to it. Mind you, this isn’t a bunch of good ole boys talking gaz mileage and cylinders here; it’s more like, “Wow, you put in shelves and a secret floor?! Cool.” or “Dhude, excellent use of storage space. It’ll go, man.”
Honestly, I think we’re all interior designers at heart. Your job now is to count the number of non sequitars in this post.


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Waiting with bated breath

August 29, 2002 at 5:06 pm (General)

We only have to wait less than a day for baseball to go on strike. Oh please, oh please, oh please make it happen. Let the Expos leave so we can finally stop talking about them, and let us get back to the business of bitching about the Habs. Okay?

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Amerika uber alles

August 29, 2002 at 5:05 pm (General)

I’m so angry I could spit. According to the Canadian Press (I got it from the CBC, it seems that the US and Canadian governments are going to sign a treaty that allows the other’s army to cross borders, in order to “catch terrorists,” whitout needing the host country’s permission. Of course, it’s said that this will happen only under “extraordinary” circumstances. Um, since Canada doesn’t really have a problem with terrorists — unless, of course, we keep kowtowing to US pressure — it only seems logical that the American military and government are going to find any excuse possible to impose their own set of warped values on us.
Why the hell are we allowing this? We have even gone so far as to turn over Taliban soldiers to the US military, knowing full well that these soldiers will in turn be shipped off to Camp Xray and stripped of their rights under the Geneva Convention. Meanwhile, we don’t even raise a peep when our own soldiers are bombed and killed by American pilots. Since September 11, thousands of muslim and Arab Americans have been jailed, denied due process and visits from relatives. I have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that the same thing may happen here.

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Looking for Mr. Goodbar?

August 27, 2002 at 5:03 pm (General)

If I’m to believe my ex, we have returned to the dating scene of the ’70s. Kim came by the appartment last night for supper and to drop off my mail — even though I’ve filled out the forms to have my mail redirected to my new place. Anyhow, Kim was tellng me about this new guy she met in the metro. He asked for her number, but she took his number instead: turns out it was his pager number. Regardless, they get in touch and feel each other out on the phone. Kim doesn’t feel comfortable about the guy, and declines his invitation for a date. “Well, okay,” says the guy. “Then how about us having sex. I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Did I miss something in the past few years? Normally, I would simply pass off this conversation as an aberration but, according to Kim, this is the second time this summer that someone has suggested simply knocking boots — the first guy even went so far as to suggest that she not spend the night — without bothering even going for coffee or anything.
I wonder if this approach is for me…

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Headline of the day

August 26, 2002 at 5:03 pm (General)

Man accused in wedgie case

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Watching the clothes go ’round, watching the clothes go ’round

August 26, 2002 at 5:01 pm (General)

Oh, Saturday night, time to do my wash again… For the first time in over five years, I had to haul my clothes to the neighbourhood laundrette. (Unfortunately, there was no young, punkish Daniel Day Lewis hanging outside.) I felt like a complete tool; stuffed about a month’s worth of dirty laundry into a duffel bag, and shuffled my way down the few blocks to the laundromat. Once there, I searched all over for the change machine, which I couldn’t find. Head next door to the Métro, buy some groceries and get a roll of quarters. Head back to the laundrette, and finally see the change machine as I walk in the door. Cram by clothes into the machines, and plop my coinage into the slots. Couldn’t figure out why there were only three slots for the $1.50 machine and, being somewhat pathetic, I had to ask a women what to do. Felt like such a parody of the newly single man who can’t even wash his own clothes.
Went home and made crêpes.

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Cheap socks and underwear

August 23, 2002 at 5:00 pm (General)

For the first time in a long while, I’m spending the weekend in Montreal. I had planned to head down to Georgeville tomorrow to see the ‘rents, but they’re having a soirée. No problem, haven’t seen them since October anyhow.
Normally, faced with a summer weekend stuck in the city would depress me but, to my amused bemusement, the St-Laurent street sale/fair/flea market is hap-hap-happening this weekend. I’ve grown indifferent to the event over the past few years, being nostalgic for the sales of 10-12 years ago and disliking the cheap glamour that it’s become now, but I’m going to keep my snobbishness in stride, since I really need to pick up stuff for the apartment. As well, it’s probably the best time to pick up those necessary tube and “wool” socks, and also the many different name-brand underwear that probably all come from the same sweatshop in China. These should get me through to the next street sale, when the cycle starts over again.
Fridge note: No, no one came by last night to fix the fridge. I’ve been keeping what little food is in the apartment in a picnic cooler. My cordon bleu abilities are waning.

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Dumb as rocks

August 23, 2002 at 5:00 pm (General)

Watching the news last night, I saw a report on George Dubya. Seems he was some place in Colorado, where there have been two forest fires in the past years. So Dubya, in his ineffable manner, states that the only way to reduce forest fires is, get this, cut down more trees! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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The fridge saga continues

August 22, 2002 at 4:59 pm (General)

Last Friday morning, I arranged with my supervisor to come in late to work, so that I could be at home when the repairman came by. The guy checks out the appliance, completely disregarding the howling noise coming out of the motor, and simply adds some freon to the reservoir (or wherever they put it). The fridge seems a bit cooler, so I head off to work, taking a $10 taxi ride for the final leg, since the business is located in butt-fuck St-Laurent.
Get back home Friday night, looking forward to finally having something to keep my beer cool. Walk in the door, and the beast in the the kitchen is screaming louder than a banshee. “Okay,” methinks, “I guess I can put up with this.” Open the fridge door and I’m blasted with a wave of heat. Not cold… heat. This time, all my food has gone bad. Smells horrible, and some of my veggies are soft and wet. Curry sauces, vegetables and, heartbreak of heartbreaks, various Belgian ale yeast strains all get thrown in the trash. Call up Elvis and give them a piece of my mind, thereby leaving myself with less brain matter. They tell me they can send someone the next morning, Saturday, but I’ve already plans to leave for the weekend. So it’s arranged to send a techie on Monday morn, so I get my upstairs’ neighbour Todd to be at my place at 9 on Monday. Needless to say, no one comes by.
More nasty phone conversations ensue, and a concession is made for Tuesday evening. I take off from work early, get home by 5, and the guy finally shows up at 6:30. He takes one look at my fridge, is shocked by the motor’s sound, and tells me that the guy from the previous Friday screwed up; I need a new motor. So, apparently, some guy is supposed to come by tonight to fix things up. I’m not exactly keeping my fingers crossed.

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August 21, 2002 at 4:58 pm (Work)

I’ve been in training since Monday, and it should continue all through next week. Coming into it, I expected the course to be extemely dry and boring, full of technical jargon about PBX switches, ports, E1 and T1 lines, etc. As it turns out, I’m finding it all rather interesting, perhaps because the technology involved is targetted for remote locations around the world. There are only two other students in the class; another tech writer and some guy entering his last year of engineering at Conned U. He’s been here for three months and I don’t think he’s learned a thing.
Perhaps Marie-Jo can explain this; why is it that, in every class, there’s always at least one person who acts completely dumb, asking the same question every 5 minutes, with only slight variations on the theme? When he’s not trying to get his synapses to connect, said student is sucking up to the prof, leading the instructor off onto wild tangents. And here I was, thinking I left brown-nosers back in high school.

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