Barack et al. Get It.
October 31, 2009, 5:12 pm
Filed under: overtly political

Sometimes there’s a story that makes me tear up a little bit.

HIV is not a death sentance, it’s a chronic condition communicable through bodily fluids.

Post-Africa there were only two things I believed in. The first is Trade not Aid. I don’t mean fair trade goods, I mean lobbying to lift the unduly restrictive portions of GATT and TRIPS so impoverished countries don’t have to become net importers. It’s the single most important thing wealthy countries, who hold most of the cards at the bargaining table, can do to alleviate poverty in Africa and South America.

The second one is a radical attitude change about HIV. It’s not a gay rights issue, it’s a human rights issue. It’s eerie to go to communities where a generation is missing. Stigma is a huge problem and if we’re going to tell anyone else how to get it done, wealthy countries need to stop referring to HIV/AIDS as a death sentence and allowing it to have a disproportionate presence in certain communities.

I don’t talk politics around places I’ve been much because, and this is going to sound like I’m a jerk but relates more to my inability to communicate ineffectively, I meet very few people who get it. I’m sick of the Bono mosquito net version of aid, I’m sick of people who think the UN is a positive force in the world, and I’m sick of people who think the key is more money and more foreign NGOs telling people how to get things done. Poverty is as universal as ignorance, look to how you treat peope in your back yard and see projections into international relations. Stop taking pictures of foreign slums and go look at what low income housing in your own city looks like.

Then, think about how with the resource factor of X you still get people living like Y. Look for common denominators and accept blame readily: stereotyping and xenophobia, over attribution to cultural differences, political apathy, political activity without education, self interested behavior, superfluous community structures excluding the un-likes. Political correctness won’t save you and may impede the conversation. Call a spade a spade and let the spade speak.

I probably still don’t get it. But at least I’ve sat in a lot of rooms with people who do get it. In some respects, the recession appears to have been an excellent cull of the politically and religiously mandated projects tending to crop up all over. Because converting the savages went so well the first time?


you can’t handle the truth!
October 30, 2009, 3:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today I finally figured out what I net and realized I could likely quit after March, break even, and never do this again, if I felt like it. If you’re counting, that’s right after my six month review.

This won’t happen until at least May but the marker is nice. The real question is weighing pros and cons of sticking it out until September or February, the price of airfare, and the crazy factor. Partly this depends on a lot of things expected to come to light in the next six months.

The crazy factor. Never know unless you go. Might as well jump. No regrets so far, why start now?

Here’s the thing. What percentage of the world do you think holds investment products? Why are they necessary to live and die? How many happy people do you know over the age of 50? Why are they happy? How much wealth does the average person in my country die with? What does that excess represent in effort expended?

I don’t completely understand saving so much money to be old. I’ve checked out this “being old” stuff and it’s neither expensive nor fun. Why would you ever want to fund thirty years of retirement? Why do our parents want to quit work at 55?

Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out. After a certain age you want to own the property you live in to avoid rent. If you have kids you want to be able to raise them in a less stressful household where basic needs are met without effort and to help them have options for the future. You need to have enough to be insured, or live in a free medical care country. You probably also need cash to cover some kind of pharma care if you’re planning on getting really old. You need enough for a few solid emergencies and likely a little to travel (although I think if you travel before you get old you can just revel in private memoirs).

I don’t believe everything I hear.

I’ve never owned a car. I’ve never driven a car on my own. I remember, at fifteen, many adults telling me how impossible life is without driving. False.

And remember everyone saying how crucial high school marks are to the rest of life and how they correlate with success? False.

Once there was an Oprah episode featuring a family that had gone without owning a television for a certain length of time. The audience was stunned and wondered how they could live… getting information from newspapers?! A large proportion of interesting adults I know are TV free.

For years the one sure thing was getting a mortgage instead of paying rent, as early as possible, at a good rate. Then a bunch of people lost homes or ended up living in something worth exponentially less than the debt owed on it.

Friends who had 80K jobs (plus incentives, whatever that means) and RRSPs four years ago who are going through bankruptcy proceedings. One worked a terrible job for half his twenties. Remote location, bad hours, doing things he didn’t agree with.

Don’t believe everything you hear.
Or read. Especially the above.

Lights – February Air
(I’m watching way too much MTV lately)

viva cut throat pipe finals
October 29, 2009, 1:06 am
Filed under: waves

How amped should Canada be about this?


Anyone who’s caught a Pete Devries video has known how long he’s been ripping and generally proving that despite harsh weather and slop summers, Canadians can surf.

As a sidenote… writing about the ASP is boring because everyone does it but this year is awesome. It is hilarious to see everyone rate the JBay event as such good waves, writing things like “as good as JBay gets.” Uhh… the talk amongst those who actually surf there more than a few days per year was one of constant doubt and regular disappointment at how long the sets were taking to come through. JBay when it’s as good as JBay gets is double overhead and clean sets that don’t stop. There’s a reason it’s the mecca. Oh, right, the tour. I hope Parko wins.

The Billabong crew has amazing style. QS finds good competitors but I’ve never felt the same watching Kelly surf as I do Andy, and I’ll never feel the same way about Dane as I do about Parko. In the end, I’m still massively a layperson in a field of seasoned journeymen and rocket scientists, but if you’re reading this you just have to deal with it.

awake on my airplane
October 27, 2009, 3:05 am
Filed under: voyageur

[agitation concluded]

Tomorrow morning I am getting the drivers license process started. We had a comparative licensing discussion over beer this summer and it appears my country is one of the easiest, least expensive and most transferrable. Unfortunately it will be end of July before it goes full.

I’m back to hypothetical travel plans in my head.

On the way out of this place I’d like to go Van -> Oregon -> Cali -> Baja. There’s a significant amount of Amtrak potential. Then comes a potential strike through Aus/NZ/Indo. On the way back, more Africa and a brief check of the UK, variable countries. A three year project, two being mobile, one working here earning.

Ideally, like this: one year from now, having some kind of Australia plan sorted (i.e. funding or employment options), quitting and heading down the West Coast on the way to a flight. Making it to Australia by February, 2011. One year there, potential side trips to NZ and eventually a season in Indo. Stop in SA in 2012 and cover both Namibia and Mozam, about a six to nine month window. Two weeks in the UK or France, seaside. Either go home or go where most felt like home along the way.

The problem is I could easily spend three years in Africa alone instead. My mind wanders back all the time, when I was there it didn’t work in the inverse. A friend from New York signs up for grad school in Cape Town because he can’t get it out of his system. L.G. and I talk about the endless weekends at the summer house, sitting by the fire while listening to the ocean. Things are just different somehow and the love affair isn’t over yet.

Sidenote: I’m checking Byki as a language learning tool and it’s surprisingly decent… passable Spanish phrases, here I come.

October 25, 2009, 1:40 am
Filed under: unrelated thoughts | Tags:

Today has mostly been hanging hard after a sponsored ‘arts’ benefit last night. There were a lot of important people there, I have no idea who any of them are or what makes them important. There was a lot of wine and nice food. After we went to an open house at a graphic design studio, then to the a pub where I dared someone to get another girl’s dress and she came out of the bathroom wearing it. It was skin tight pleather. No one ever does what I dare them to do; refereshing.

Whenever I’m having a relationship issue I have the urge to get in touch with… generally, just guys I’ve had brief involvements with, where the memories are good and maybe a little unfinished, for reasons of time and space usually. Today one of them broke up with his girlfriend and sent me a message. It’s weirdly refreshing to know my creeping is reciprocal.

Madonna – Celebration

October 23, 2009, 12:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Love is getting the new issue of a surf magazine and not unwrapping it until you can give it to some girl in Canada in a month.

Happiness Always Scared Me Half to Death
October 22, 2009, 4:18 am
Filed under: unrelated thoughts

Letter from a long lost friend, mid-afternoon, answers a lot of questions.

Long call from my parents, complex. My dad asks what I do after work, I say nothing. He suggests activities. I guess what I mean to say is I cook things, sometimes, get fresh bread from the local store I like, usually engage with three or four people I know well in real life who are currently somewhere else, read books, try to maintain some level of fitness while watching terrible programming, read surf magazines, work on various master plans.

Sometimes I just go to the library and sit in the reading room looking through magazines I would never buy, seeing the kinds of people who wind up in a reading room downtown on weeknights alongside the people who come in for warmth and the security guards/defacto community mental health workers managing the whole thing. At my favorite one I feel a sense of comradery with everyone around me; when someone comes in the room if the guard knows them he’ll ask something about their day or the last conversation they had.