April 26, 2001

These pages, written by an American who has been living in Canada since 1992, are intended to give Americans a better idea just what goes on in the Great White North. Evidently they're therapeutic for Canadians too. Just yesterday, the Globe and Mail Review section ran an article about the difference between Canadian and American (I mean U.S. American!) identity. Well, it was actually only an intro to an article about art, but it's a good example of how Canadian articles often start, no matter what they're about. "How Canadian murder differs from American murder" "Today's Canadian traffic lighter than American traffic" Whatever. Here's point five.

5. Canadians drink milk from bags.

Yes, and it's often 1 or 2%, which refers to the amount of fat content. Canadians are extremely conscious of fat content. However, their consciousness unfortunately comes from advertising encouraging them to consume more fat content. A marketing battle ensues. The milk bags are clear plastic, tubular, of 1L volume. One needs scissors to open them, which leads many Canadians to have a pair of scissors in the kitchen (a good idea in any case). However, a bag of milk with a hole in it can't stand up on its own, and therefore all Canadians must own a cheap plastic jug, such as the ubiquitous Mistral available suspended in grocery stores above the milk aisle. The jug is made to hold the tubular milk bag, and sports a handle to facilitate pouring. I'm not sure if I've described the shape of the bag precisely, because it--unlike a real tube--has corners. It is the corner which is snipped to create the spout.

April 25, 2001

Cube. The guy opposite my cube has the best accent. I love when he talks on the phone; I can’t understand a word. You may think I sound sarcastic; I’m serious. I look forward to the guy’s phone conversations. Since I can’t understand him it doesn’t enroach on my consciousness more than music, but I often just listen and find his paroles captivating. It’s Mandarin. Let me tell you what I think of Mandarin. It reminds me of noises I used to make as a kid. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about those swallowed "R" sounds that remind me of some constipated, unformed child-speak. When people speak Mandarin, it actually sounds to me like they have trouble pronouncing. On a more conscious level, I’m convinced that Mandarinophones deliberately created a language by choosing only those sounds that people can't make. The Mandarin word for "two" is "ar." It sounds a lot like "are" in English except there’s that fascinating swallowed quality in it, like you’re eating your tongue. It’s that "R" that really gets me. When the guy opposite me speaks English, he uses it. I can hardly believe that he can have a normal conversation with an anglophone, but it must be someone who is already accustomed to his accent.

4. Canadians have their summer clothes on contant stand-by

Summer is, after all, rare; therefore a day of 20-degree weather in the midst of an icy week provokes an instant flesh-party where everyone tries to appear casually undressed and suntanning themselves in the ephemeral sun. Don't know why the sun so suddenly decides to dip closer to Canada every once in a while. Perhaps it hits turbulence. But it levels off just as fast and the winter clothes need to be back on the next day. Hence our extra closet space, and special numbness to frost necessary for those days when the winter clothes are not held at sufficient ready.
The only way to recognise your own identity is to see it from outside. Canadians generally don't go very far from Canada, and this causes them trouble when trying to establish their identity. Currently we seem to be agreed on something like "we are not Americans." ...Err, we mean U.S. Americans. Right. Well, when you spend all your vacations in Florida, most of your observations will pretty much lead to the same conclusion. Compare Europeans who spend half their lives working and vacationing in neighbouring countries, and you see why they not only know their identity, but can play it like Fabio a heroine's heart. To us our identity is made up of the most banal things we do. But these are precisely the slippery things which define our identity. Here they are:

1. Canadians use towels to dry themselves.

When our bodies are wet, either from swimming or showering, we use a rectangular piece of absorbant fabric to dry them. This fabric is made of natural fibres and is cross-stiched its entire surface in tiny loops of thread, which provide the absorbency. Without trying to get too deeply into sewing terms, suffice it to say that the towels are generally the dimensions of breadth of shoulders by anywhere from half a person's height to his full height. Each person has his/her own, which is washed every couple of weeks, at which point it may be reused by the same or someone else. Canadians get wet in pools, lakes, oceans, rivers, baths, or showers (cf. "Showers"), but in all but the most exceptional circumstances the liquid of moistening is water.

2. Canadians read from left to right.

Thankfully they also write this way. This practise is standard and poses smearing problems for left-handed Canadians, who in traditional Canadian education are not forced to switch to their right hand. When reading Canadian text, it is expected that any given letter will be followed by its successor on the right side, and that streams of these letters can be collected together into groups. When these streams are collected in a continuous manner, they may make sense; otherwise no.

3. Canadians drink water-based beverages.

Yes, this is the same liquid with which they wash themselves (cf. "Shower"), but typically these are separated into different productions. Washing water often arrives at domiciles through pipes, a complex nation-wide system of hollow tubes. This unfortunately prevents Canadians from nomadic tendencies. Beverages arrive in the domicile carried by Canadian individuals, almost always the individuals who will consume them, in flavoured varieties, very seldom in natural form. However, Canadians do retain a romantic affinity with the natural which struggles against dominating forces of artifice. Note that francophone Canadians, whom are called "French" by anglophone Canadians, use the term "breuvage" for beverage. These are but examples, but a full list is available on the web. In fact, a full list is available in every Canadian's head. The problem is that Canadians don't seem to know this, and often summarise the entirety in a single cross-check. The only way to stop the common complaint that we don't know who we are, however, is to write it all down. Left to right.

April 24, 2001

Toronto is the only city in the world that denies its visitors the right to its airport carts. It is lucky for us citizens of Canada to be so priviliged as to have right to swipe these carts from under the noses of Portuguese, Egyptian or even German travellers sweating under multiple tons of luggage. Bravo Toronto, for introducing the system that requires a Looney to take a cart. Thankfully, since 1996 or so, dirty foreigners have not and will never realize their temptation to cram our precious Toronto carts into their taxis and drive them to their hotel rooms where they will engage in their filthy foreign activities such as wiping their asses on the rubber wheels (Poland), or tying Canadian children to the tray and wheeling it madly back and forth (Norway and Iraq). Not to mention the extra income for the tragically overworked airport employees who return the carts to the coin-relinquishing machine. It is base that the airport staff in Paris for example have not these advantages and must deal with cheap lightweight carts scattered like blown autumn leaves all over the landscape. Nor London, Warsaw, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Reykjavik, Halifax, Rome, Milan, Marseille, Sapporo, New Jersey or New York. They could all learn a thing or two from us: install them Looney machines and we Canadians would be able to carry our rightful privilige to airport carts the world over. As the consistently top-ranked best darn country to live in in the universe, we deserve it!
A multiple-compiled file is a stream of tokens that can be interpreted by two or more compilers. The following html was produced from a file that controls a FrameMaker "batcher," yet still looks pretty good in your browser.


Title Page

Open D:\cvs-work\eng\doc\mif\titlepage.mif #
Open D:\cvs-work\eng\doc\mif\template-roman.mif

Note the clumsy pound sings at the end of two lines. They might look bad, but this is the key to the multiple-compiler. The two "Open" commands open files in FrameMaker. But the pound signs are comments. That is, when the batcher runs, everything following a pound is ignored. Therefore, to display the file in Internet Explorer, all one has to do is put the html tags after the pound signs! The code actually looks like this:

# <h2>Title Page</h2>
Open D:\cvs-work\eng\doc\mif\titlepage.mif # <br>
Open D:\cvs-work\eng\doc\mif\template-roman.mif
Now would you call this file an html file or a FrameMaker batcher file? It works in both. In fact, it works very well in both: in FrameMaker it opens the required files and formats them with the help of succeeding commands; in Internet Explorer it uses headings to highlight the sequence of commands to make it infinitely more readable. As a technical writer, I tend to think of Java files as input to the tools that will produce my printable pdf documents. I often forget that Java files actually contain source code. The fact is that they do both, but developers use javac to compile them, while writers use javadoc. Java is a language which looks closely based on C++ syntax, at least in its primitive control structures. Is it possibly then to make an ambiguous source file which both a c compiler and javac will interpret? Javadoc demonstrates that it is possible to write an infinite number of compilers for the same source code. In fact this is the principle of data storage and retrieval that defines how we use computers to store information: your entire life could be stored in a single bit if only it pointed to the right entry in a table. Boo!

April 23, 2001

I am envious of designer blogs with stylized scroll-bars. I was not aware that one could paint one's own scroll bars. I was not aware that this could be done in a simple and elegant manner which would enhance the visual appeal of the browser page rather than clutter it. How many years of school must one complete in the fine arts to understand these principles of design? How can one innately swallow these principles of design and use sunlight to expose them? Will you ever quit laughing at me with my half-bright attempts to experiment in areas which lead me on paths constantly toward the mundane? How often will you force me into a corner between my will and my action? Children are more capable than the ironic-mythical wit. Are is soft!! Whither edges? Whither compliance, attraction, consumption of result by direction, twinning of direction and result and style and function? Whither innocence, and how is it that one can be trapped between the limits of purity and the desire for language of filth??!!!! Whence this PASTULA, this TRAC, REFUSE, SWILL. AGORA AGORA DAJCIE MNIE VOIR, je suis meme aveugle posant mes yeux dans mon desir.

April 17, 2001

W Montrealu juz siedzieli w sloncu. Mimo ze Toronto jest raczej szybkie z wystawianiem stolikow i otwieraniem kawiarn na dworze, miasto francuskie zreagowalo duzo szybciej w tym wypadku. Kanadyjczycy musza byc szybcy, bo lato moze byc dosyc krotkie, nie tak jak w Paryzu gdzie kawiarni moga zostawic stoliki nadworze przez caly rok.

April 11, 2001

What happens to those of us who DONT believe in the new god? Where will atheist poets get their inspiration? A poet must know his deity, and those poets who choose the deity of Science fill their work with exhilarations of their witnessing (wrong word). But a poet still faithful to the old god... he must temper his exhilaration or be scorned for his over-enthusiasm. A poet who tempers his exhilaration? Yes, he fills his work with irony.

April 09, 2001

what rough beast scientology ( where science is knowledge and logos study ) could it be so smart of them can we take them literally ( for they who are right would take that name ) they who are right if the gyres are right ( our lives are too short to sense the apex the cone at the widest circumference ) and whether it is two cones end to end or one end to point and whether we are headed to a vortex or ( how mythical can language get when we speak of turning age ) and of course it may be the turn from irony to myth as well ( and the old beast is laid waste therefore we now must logo science ) no in fact we are not obliged but we want to its our nature

April 07, 2001

My second post is a memory of my first. As post is the word used both for public thought and barricade, like the six I knocked down so many years ago, one stands for softness, one for hardness. The latter is broken, the former cannot break. I therefore wish and hope with my weak being that I won't be knocked down, that no one will knock down my number.