Friday, 17 June 2011

Public Disgrace

Here is an unfinished post from last week, when my city was alive and joyous due to the NHL playoffs:

My city is alive with Canucks fever! If you want to know how I got my seat on the bandwagon, read my previous post here. They set up big screens and hundreds of thousands of screaming fans flock to the streets to (hopefully) celebrate a win. Last Friday, we won game 5 on home ice. I didn’t even see the winning goal, as I was a bit far back from the screens. I still knew we scored because it suddenly got so loud! Horns and screams and people holding up their huge homemade Stanley cups. I personally had blue pom poms that I hoarded from my workplace during the Olympics. I had meant to bring some bam bams that I also hoarded, but I forgot.

I sincerely hope that my city can continue to celebrate in such an orderly fashion. I mean, it was incredibly crowded, and there were a lot of intoxicated people, and a huge police presence, but everything seemed calm and orderly. There was the odd person that felt the need to disrobe and climb something, and the police would urge them down, and it was usually slowly done and the police didn’t panic.

The Olympics really taught Vancouverites how to party. North America is one of the only places that prohibit drinking anywhere outside of a restaurant or bar. Many countries have public celebrations with beer kiosks on the streets (mind you, these countries also have a more efficient transit system that runs much later than ours). Vancouver has been labeled “No Fun City” in the past, and any celebration that drew crowds had the police in a panic, resulting in a negative atmosphere, and intoxicated people pushing the limits, fighting, littering, and eventually getting arrested.  The leeway that the police showed us during the Olympics encouraged people act civilized.

A picture stolen from The Province newspaper, taken on a night prior to the evening of the riots. Wanted to demonstrate the magnitude of the crowds, but there were many more people out on the night of Game 7.

I decided to wait to complete this entry and post it, as even at the time, I was unable to believe the words I was typing. Turns out I was right. I was afraid that the actions of my fellow Vancouverites would render me incorrect and embarrassed.  It is a good thing I waited. After game 7, on June 15th, riots broke out in downtown Vancouver, resulting in millions of dollars worth of damage, countless injuries, and a complete abandonment of civic pride.

 I am seriously sickened and upset; it’s an interesting feeling. I haven’t been this disappointed in a long time. I compare the feeling to that of being cheated on. Simply betrayed. I couldn’t tear myself from the television, watching the horrific scene unfold. Hoards of people were causing 1st degree mayhem: smashing everything in site, flipping over cars and lighting them on fire, looting form numerous stores.  At first I thought that the police were panicking when they started to unleash tear gas on the crowds and that it was a bad idea that could result in trampling. I also assumed that it would increase the anger in the crowds and that the anger would now be specifically directed at the police. After watching a bit more and talking to people who were stuck in the crowd, I changed my mind… it would have been a tough situation, as it was so crowded, and all police wanted was people to leave.

Young people have always had a bad name. As a semi-young person, I always disagreed, and would think “were not all like that”. The thing about last night is that it wasn’t just a few people acting out. There were over a hundred thousand people crammed into our little streets and it was more than a handful of people damaging property, fighting, throwing Molotov cocktails into stores, looting, blowing up cop cars, and trying to fight police… there were thousands of people protesting nothing. I think that they thought that they were going to “fight for the right to party” but really, they already had that right and will no longer after the other  night’s debacle.

My frustration grew as I  heard the newscaster state that it was not safe to get fire and ambulance crews into the downtown core to put out the numerous fires that had been started on the streets (cars, practically every garbage can, and miscellaneous bon fires),  but I think that it was less safe to have these fires burning. People were drunkenly beating each other, and several people had to be hospitalized. The ambulance should have been on site in case someone was critically injured. I broke out in goose bumps as I saw the image of an alleged Bruins fan laying on the ground after being assaulted by several men.

A quote form one of the news anchors: “people were so excited for their beloved Canucks” but this had nothing to do with hockey at all. This was the animal inside of us coming out. It was classic mob mentality; we see it at protests and during wars. This was neither of those things. The images of people running around, looting stores and breaking windows with balaclavas on their faces and t shirts over their heads reminded me of a war zone. It looked like we were under attack by some sort of shady militia. These people came out to the city (for the most part they weren’t downtown residents) and were obviously prepared for mayhem. A bus driver from Surrey was on the news stating that she overheard several conversations while driving people from surrey out to the train stations. The disaster that erupted was completely pre-meditated. Truly 1st degree. . They were armed with hammers and miscellaneous weapons. They were obviously armed with explosive liquid for Molotov cocktails ahead of time, as it would have been difficult to obtain during the riot… there were countless being thrown into building, police cars, etc. This would have happened even if we won the stupid hockey game.

In a situation like this, people look around for someone or something to blame. It wasn’t hockey, it wasn’t the police. It was partly the thugs that insisted on gross misconduct, and it was partly the fault of the city and CBC for encouraging people to assemble on the streets and assuming that they would simply have a good time. I think that most to blame is the internet revolution. A lot of bystanders remained, causing a lot of congestion in the crowds. They were all taking video and pictures, immediately uploading them to Facebook, Youtube, etc. they didn’t want to leave because the wanted to catch the next big thing that happened on film. They wanted to be the 1st to post it. I may have done the same thing if I was there. Or not, it’s hard to say. I’d like to say that I would have been so disgusted by the scene that I would have attempted to leave. I like to think I am  smart enough to not ignore the riot act “ if you leave we will eave you alone, if you stay further action will be taken and you will be arrested” but, perhaps the journalist that dwells deep inside of me would have been compelled to stay. All I know is that if I was in any way participating, it would have been caught on camera. I would get fired from my job in an instant.

I shudder at the thought of all the suburban people that came out to cause trouble, drinking all day in the city and then getting in their cars and driving home. If you are intoxicated enough to burn police cars, then you probably shouldn’t be driving. I fight tears when I hear of critical injuries and stabbings. I am appalled by the thought of the normal families that were attending the show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre that weren’t allowed to leave and were locked inside for hours because it was not safe to leave. All of this started to happen in broad daylight! None of the participants even considered that they weren’t anonymous.

I am trying really hard to stop dwelling on the events of the other night. I try to tell myself that since I wasn’t a participant and neither were any of my friends, that I shouldn’t be embarrassed, and that I shouldn’t hate my city. The thing is, a country, a city, a province, a state, a county, is all defined by its people. Now, in front of an international audience, we have defined ourselves as uncivilized primates, with absolutely no patriotism or pride. It really is a shame, and it will certainly take a long time for us to regain our reputation as The Best Place on Earth.

This picture (stolen from Facebook) really puts it in perspective.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What I'm Reading

I am currently reading “Paradise” by Toni Morrison. This author is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Some of you may have watched the movie “Beloved”, which I recall as being complex, dramatic and peculiar. I didn’t know that Paradise was written by the same author as beloved when I picked the book off my shelf.

I rarely buy books from a bookstore at full price (unless it’s a Haruki Murakami  book, because those are seldom given away or sold for cheap). I think that I acquired this book from a huge clearance sale at a mall bookstore. I had gone to the mall to go to Cobbs Bread, and spotted tables set up in the middle of the mall. Turns out, the bookstore was clearing out all their old stock for unheard of prices. Books were being sold for as little as one to three dollars a book, brand new, and some hardcover! I went to town! I grabbed two big boxes and started filling them up with random books. I would give it a short glance to make sure it wasn’t a romance novel or self-help book, and throw it in the pile. I ended up with a couple cookbooks, some interesting non-fiction, and countless novels, including Paradise.

Now, I am not ready to fully critique the book just yet, as I am only half way through. It is taking me awhile because it is tedious. I have read some literature, a long time ago. I like to genre-hop and can basically read anything. I do, however, really like to indulge in some good spy-fiction. I like my books the way I like my meals: indulgent, savory, and satisfying. Paradise, so far, is proving to be the opposite. I wouldn’t say that it bores me, but I am definitely not excited by it. I often find myself confusing characters, or drifting off while reading poetic descriptions of how conversations are being held. I am longing for basic descriptions of the characters and setting, so I can quickly form a picture in my head to have while continuing to read. To me, it is about the character and the story, not by how well it is written.  I almost feel as if I should be taking notes while reading!

I was starting to feel inferior. Am I really that out of practice? I have read quite a few heavy books, including ones covering slavery, and the holocaust…have I really dumbed myself down that much by neglecting my bookshelf as of late? Perplexed by these questions, I did what I always do when I am in doubt: I consulted the internet. I immediately felt better after reading the 1st review (I can’t recall the site offhand; I was reading on my iphone browser while commuting). The reviewer was equally confused and irritated by the book. Then, I went on to read the rest. Most of the readers loved the book and gave it a high star rating, and all the same readers found it to be challenging and confusing at times. Many have read it over, and almost everyone said that it was a challenge worth accepting.

I try to keep these reviews in mind as I trudge through the book. I try to enjoy the language and view it as poetic instead of condescending. I try to choose to read it over napping on my evening commute. I hope that in the end, my effort it worth it. After this, I think I may have to pick a Robert Ludlum off my shelf!

Have any of you read this book, or this author? Or had a similar experience with literature? Please share!


Friday, 3 June 2011

Inspired, but Forgetful.

Yesterday I had an awesome idea for a blog post. I was laying on my loveseat and it came to me. I remember lounging there and brainstorming it for a bit. It was such a great idea that I knew that it would resonate with me until I got to my PC. I considered sending myself a text on my phone, but the idea was so inspiring that I didn’t deem it to be necessary. I was excited about it and couldn’t wait to write about it. It wasn’t a product push (for a change) but it was exactly the type of thing that I was planning on writing about when I decided to start blogging. Now, it is that time of day. Mid afternoon, I have been fed and caffeinated. It is sunny, it is Friday and I am energetic and in good spirits. I pull up Microsoft Word. I forgot my idea.

Have you ever tried to recall something from your memory, only to discover that it is possible to achieve a complete blankness of the mind? That is what happened to me today. It is similar to trying to figure out what movie a certain actor was in, or the name of a forgotten acquaintance. The more I tried to recall the idea, the less coherent thoughts I had at all. It could possibly be the most frustrating thing ever! It’s almost as if I could feel the proverbial wheels turning in my cranium, trying to ignite some sort of useful spark to light up the ol’ memory. Nothing. So, here I am, blogging about my inability to remember the good idea I had for my blog.

Going forward, I will make sure I document my ideas as they come. This has happened before, and I should have learned from those experiences, but I wasn’t as excited about those ideas. I always dismissed it as a fleeting inspiration that must have not been that important to me after all, since I had forgotten it. I do often text message myself ideas as they come, (and yes, sometimes I get excited thinking someone is texting me even though the vibration comes in tandem with a “message sent” notification) but haven’t revisited any of those ideas yet, as I am seldom at a loss for what to write about.  Today would have been a great day for that, but I was so inspired by my inability to remember my initial inspiration that I felt compelled to write about that instead.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or are you all more proactive in documenting your ideas? What method do you use to prevent good ideas from slipping away?

Hope you all have a great weekend! Cheers!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

My Head Hurts!

My head hurts.  Like, all the time. Sometimes I experience sensitivity to light, sometimes to sound. I constantly experience sensitivity to the people around me. Having a headache makes it impossible to tolerate anything. I try to suffer through it until medication is absolutely necessary. I know that all the OTC pain medications can have negative effects my organs and that I will (and have) develop a tolerance to them from continued usage. I usually save the pill-taking for extra-curricular activities, and try to just grin and bear it through my workday. This doesn’t always provide a positive experience for my clients and colleagues, but to me my health is #1. Even when I take pills, sometimes I don’t experience any relief.  Occasionally, I am forced to take a prescription muscle relaxant and just go to sleep.

I know that I am not the only person that endures impairment from headaches. It is one of the most common complaints in the workplace. They occur for many different reasons: stress, hunger, menstruation, nutrient deficiency, exposure to chemicals, loud noises… It’s different for all sufferers. Mine are due to extensive soft tissue damage in my back and neck from several car accidents. I try to go to massage therapy as often as possible, stretch daily, use a heating pad, and exercise to strengthen the back and neck area. I get a bit of relief sometimes, but nothing permanent.

Being somewhat concerned about the effects of unnatural substances, I always seek a natural alternative. I have discovered an aromatherapy product that seems to help somewhat.  If you scroll down to almost the bottom of the page on that link, you will see the headache blend. I use it when I feel a headache starting, and I swear, some days it keeps me from reaching that melting point. I rub a small about on the back of my neck, behind my ears and sometimes on my temples. I always put a bit under my nose so that I can reap the benefits of it every time I inhale. I have tried other blends from other aromatherapy companies, but they do not seem to give me any effects. This is why I think that it may not be simply the placebo effect when I apply this product. I know it seems like I have been pushing a lot of products lately but I strongly believe in natural alternatives, and I want to share anything that I find that is effective!

Do any of you suffer from headaches? If so, what kind? Have you found any solutions? Please share!