Thursday, December 29, 2005

fishing, Naomi Klein, diagnostics

I know listening to other people's dreams can be sometimes tedious. With notable exceptions though, I recall explaining to someone in the bush about how I had dreamed that I was an old man in a seniors golf tournament when they looked at me without pause and said: big deal last night I dreamed I was a giant lobster-man. There's always a bigger fish or booleanly expressed: if n then n+1. With the preceding caveat then, last night I dreamed that Naomi Klein and I were wining and dining (there's a joke in there about me dining and she whining) Anyway, after a lovely romantic evening I looked her full in the eyes and meant to say something forward and romantic but what came out was: I hate your books. The dream evaporated. Those who can't resist the merry-go-round of analysis will I'm sure dizzy themselves over the interpretive possibilities. And speaking of psychology, I'm becoming convinced that I've accidentally discovered a crucial variable in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. My radiators make the most peculiar noise that sounds like people whispering and mumbling. When I have my headphones on quietly, I periodically freeze and tilt my head (you know like how cats do when they're on a mission and then suddenly stop) to listen to what sounds like someone talking in the next room, only to re-realize that its the radiator. How many lithium-pumped souls could have been saved with forced-air heating I guess we'll never know. Perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine will finally be ready to discuss my honorarium. Until then may the fog be with you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

robot ponies

Christmas Eve, 2053
Underneath every little girl's tree:
A robot pony.
Comb their soft and luscious nylon fur.
Listen close, hear their clockwork hearts whir.
Robot ponies.
They feed on plastic bags cut up like lettuce
Right out of your hand. Things get out of hand
Unless you use one of 20 pre-set functions
To make them understand, make them understand:
You know best. You know best ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wheels,reinventing. See also: shag carpet

In 1974, the basement of our house was called the rumpus room, an architectural term I have not heard since. The foundation of the rumpus room was a cobalt blue shag carpet that was so thick, that there was a plastic shag rake to smooth it out with before company came over. I remember that it had no windows in it and was always dark. On Saturday mornings I could be found engaged with lego watching the cartoon spiderman. You know the psychedelic one that prunes young synapses into attenuating for the absurd. I recall thinking that it would be nice to have daylight somehow brought into that room. I imagined how simple it would be to have some kind of mirrored tube that would carry the light into the rumpus room. Two years later fiber optic transmission was a reality and another potential patent died amongst a pile of half-chewed lego bricks. As trite as this memory is there is a lesson here. As I scan ahead over the next week at my impending decision over whether to go out for another contract, I am reminded about my lost opportunity of patenting fiber optics. It is reassuring that the most profound lost opportunities are outside the domain of our mental calculus and therefore I am beyond weighing them. And hence, I am free to consider only whether I want to go or not. The myriad of semi tangible and ephemeral considerations of the 'what if' variety can be plucked from their thistled garden and flung directly to the compost heap. The illusion that I can predict the consequences that I am weighing has turned to into a wisp of smoke that quickly exits through a crack in the sash. Rational criteria for choice is but the last desperate gasp of a consciousness drowning in its own necessity for rationality within choice. And so we construct elaborate mechanisms for making discriminations, we construct schema for differentiating. These elegant semantic obelisks pay tribute to the triumph of the rational mind and yet that rational mind is as absent as any other god. We consider all sides with our sophisticated logic and fuzzy intuition in a frantic quest for clarity and as we regurgitate this litany of variables onto the balance scales and watch one side tip down, we are no longer capable of recognizing the entire exercise as the great work of fiction that it is. It is too demanding of our humility to imagine that there is very often no rational criteria for choice. Yes we may have preferences so elaborately defined that we mistake them for truths, but truth and preference are the great trickster twins that have vexed thought since thought began. And so, what of the future? What of my future? I'll tell you tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

back from the land

Well, after spending a month doing oil and gas exploration, I can't believe that gas only costs 90 cents a litre! I'm very exhausted, 16 hour days and no days off for 24 days has left me rather heaped. Heavy deadlines, demanding production schedules mean that work is pretty much all encompassing. I'm part of a two man team that takes a line on a map from some geologists office and puts it on the ground. We survey out down to the inch where the blasting points and geophone positions will be. This involves bypassing power lines, gaslines, oil pipelines, wells, allowances for foundations and a million other details which must be sorted out on the ground. So I've been doing everything from phoning landowners and getting permission to access their land, gps places to avoid, using metal detectors to locate pipelines, using a laser transit and prism mirror to locate blasting points, producing maps of seismic lines, hacking through bush with an axe to make sight lines for survey equipment, and drinking coffee all evening sorting and producing the tonnes of red tape that our job demands. Our team is about the sixth iteration of subcontractor so everything I do has to go be recorded and sent to a million different places. Fastidious accuracy is a satan to me since if I place a blasting point next to a fiber optic trunk line and blow it to smitherenes, claiming I didn't know it was there wouldn't save me from being lible for the millions of dollars in damages. Trying to keep your wits about you on little sleep in the cold can sometimes be a challenge, as is dealing with the contractors that are impatiently waiting for me to finish the line.
But, on the plus side, it pays quite a bit of money and I did add two sights to my Extraordinary Nature Moments catalogue. I was quading through a frozen, sparsely treed black spruce bog about 30 minutes after sunset and I came up a small knoll about 6 feet above the surrounding plain. When I allowed my eyes to glance away from the trail I was following, I discovered that there was an impenetrable layer of dense fog about two feet above the ground and perfectly flat. Every twenty meters or so a 5 foot tree poked through it. A vision of Elysium with a boreal flavour perhaps but really breath taking. The other sight was a sundog that was so bright it was almost as powerfull as the sun itself. It was so bright it was as painful to look at as mean ol mister yellow face himself. It really felt like I was on Tatooine or some other planet with a binary star system. Incredibly off putting actually to have what relly seemed like two suns! It lasted with that intesity for about 2 minutes before fading into a regular faintish sundog. I must have been in some climatic super-alignment or something.
So home for the holidays for at least a week. The next contract starts at the end of december somewhere on the NWT/BC/AB border and will be at least 60 days straight. I'm not sure if I'm up for it or not but I'm going to just enjoy some rest before I consider the future. And to be honest, I won't actually consider the future, I will appear (to myself) to be weighing the facts and performing somekind of mental calculus but actually these machinations are a facade for what will likely be a snap decision.