Archive | August 2012

Update. 25 August 2012

Good morning everyone,

So just to update people what’s going on with the blog, I’ve started to play with the idea of publishing short narratives and stories on this blog in hopes of brushing up on my creative writing skills. While there will be Off the Records and Opinions articles posted every now and then, but for this coming week in particular, I think I will try to do a few more narratives and see how they work out on this blog. If they are somewhat a success, then I will continue on with them and add them into the regular routine.

Anyways this has been an incredibly short update. Thank you all so much for reading and I’ll see you next time.

Off the Record (Narrative). 24 August 2012

Dear readers,

As I relax over a glass of French Brandy, I figure I’d bring you something different for a change. I will brush off my narrative cap and write you a short story. I hope this will make things interesting, and I certainly hope that you will enjoy this. So without further delay, “Frozen”. I will apologize in advance, as I have not written in this fashion for over two years now, and my skills might appear rusty. At any rate, this is my first attempt in a couple of years to create something fictional. Enjoy.

The wind was cold, it surrounded me like the blanket I once had as a child. Except, there was once exception, this blanket did not offer the comfort I had hoped it would, nor did it assure me that, everything was alright. No…..this blanket kept me in discomfort, as I tried to wiggle my fingers, and move my head to the left. It wasn’t moving, both of them weren’t moving. I, wasn’t moving. It’s so cold, damnit, so cold.

Am I seeing things? Is that? No, it can’t be! He died! He died a few hours ago! Is this some sort of, joke? Some sick manifestation sent to me because of my sins in life? No, it can’t be. He’s dead, he died a few hours ago I saw it! I held his lifeless hands, of which when they fell to the floor, a letter was left in mine. Damn, these death letters, this just makes my job that much harder. Good lord, why. Why me…..

Section 1: Bravado

I had arrived in this, port city weeks ago. So far, I am liking what I am seeing. The Governor had, done a good job in regards to developing the naval base and the adjacent town. All the amenities of home were present, or so it would seem. I think, the only thing missing here is, a gentlemen’s club. Yes, a gentlemen’s club.  A place for an officer such as myself to, spend his evening as so I desire. Sadly, the Governor’s wife is a puritan witch, and thus we cannot have what we desire. Pity, I would have liked to remain on this colony, but I guess vacationing will have to wait. I continued down the alley of this town and passed some rather, unsavory figures along the way. It was interesting, not long ago, they were my soldiers. It was only a few hours ago that these, fine young lads, were in rank and formation, taking every order I bellowed out. Now, they were out in town, whoring, drinking, and gambling. At least, they were not committing theft or, killing innocents with their spare time. No, these men were simply indulging in the finer things life had to offer. I shouldn’t criticise, after all it was I, who suggested that we should have a gentlemen’s club in this colony.

I continued down the alley, nodding at these, partially sober fellows and occasionally dodging the aggressive one who probably harboured some hatred towards me. However due to my rank, they could not settle this in a brawl, unlike their fellow soldiers. In a way, I was thankful for this, as they would probably draw brass knuckles on me the moment I detach my dagger from my fine leather belt. Then again, I’d probably conceal a fire arm, just to be safe. There are plenty of soldiers in this army, but only a handful of fine officers such as myself to lead them. I, am more valuable than these monkeys who are no more useful than a dock labourer.

It was passed midnight when I finally returned to the fortress, and by now my, hands were slightly cold and….strange, my hands are cold. And yet, this colony is positioned in a warmer part of the planet. Strange, very strange. Regardless, it was passed midnight, and I had returned to the fortress to bed down for the night, having finished my little adventure into town to see what the boys were up to, of which I am thankful I did not partake in such pleasures. It was uncivilized to do so, and I would tarnish my rather finely crafted reputation. I proceeded to my quarters in the upper level of the fortress. When I reached for the key in my coat pocket, a familiar sense of comfort washed over me. I pressed the key into the socket and turned, that familiar ‘click’, was there to greet me as always. I pushed the door open and proceeded inside, throwing down the key onto the small wooden table to my left and kicking the door close. I sank into my chair beside the table, and picked up the cigar I had left half-smoked on the table. I lit the cigar and drew in the smoke, held it for a few seconds, and released it into the air, slowly. The fort’s commander dislikes my habit, but fortunately for me, I out rank him, and thus I can do whatever I like and he is powerless to stop me.

I kept on seeing weapons all over the room, simple, pens and spoons, I suddenly could devise a technique to utilize them in a lethal manner. Perhaps it is just me, perhaps, it is because I spent so long out in the field that I had forgotten what peace was. Perhaps, to someone else, it was a set of pens, and a spoon. I drew in another puff from my cigar and placed the item down. Slowly exhaling, I stood up and paced over to my bed. Falling onto the rather course mattress, the rest of the smoke left my mouth and I eventually dosed off. This may seem simple yet, the dream I proceeded to have, was the same. Some cold environment, ghosts from the past, and a, immobile me, trapped by frostbite and lady winter’s chains. It was strange, and yet somehow, I felt that a similar event, was soon to occur.

Morning came sooner than expected, and I was roused from my bed at the ungodly hour of five in the morning. The fortress commander had decided to, take the soldiers out for a stroll, well, a stroll is putting it lightly. He ran the poor souls like racing dogs, day in and day out. Though the results were undeniable, fit, strong, and healthy soldiers in the service of the king. I only wish I had such determination, at present, the only determination I have, is to indulge in the buffet assembled for us officers. I suppose it is appropriate, we are more valuable than these peasants who attempt to replicate our actions.

It wasn’t long before word reached my ears of a pirate raid on a small settlement on the other side of the island, and I was dragged away from my eggs Benedict, toast, and coffee. Shame there are no officers on this colony who are competent enough to deal with them. So, once again, it falls to me, to deal with these, freaks of nature and to bring the king’s justice to them, by any means necessary. Hah, any means, even if it means killing them with cannon and cutlass.

The ship’s crew appeared to be discontent with the morning’s activities. I don’t blame them, I too am discontent but unfortunately, I am an officer and must show restraint when it comes to emotions.  So we set sail on our frigate, towards the other side of the island. It wasn’t long before the pirates knew we were onto them and begun to send some of their friends to greet us. We dispatched them with little effort, and those who surrendered, well, let’s just say they received an early access to the place we call heaven. I digress, we continued along the island’s eastern shore until we reached the isolated settlement on the other side. Sadly, I knew not of what was to come in the next few hours.

Section 2: Suicide Kings

We had engaged the pirates. The men fought valiantly, some valiant enough to collect a medal from his majesty. We continued fighting for another six hours when, out of nowhere, a fog bank rolled in. The men and I dismissed it as some minor environmental event until, suddenly, the masts began to freeze. The cloth sails suddenly, froze right where they flew in the gentle morning breeze. There was a crack, and all of a sudden, the pirate’s ship sank into the depths, broken in half by some mysterious force below the waters. Was it a stroke of luck? Was it some, twisted demonic , entity that some unknown primitive sent to aid us? Or was that animal sent to sink us, and instead sank the wrong vessel? I couldn’t tell, but what I could tell, was the fear written on the men’s faces. My first mate, usually a firm and strong fellow, was suddenly cold and nervous. I couldn’t tell what had happened initially, but then I realised, my crew was freezing up into statues. Not stone, but ice. Some ghost-like entity had swept down upon us from the heavens and had begun to work its’ magic on my men.

A few hours had passed, and by now, the crew had taken shelter below decks in hopes of warming up. Poor souls, if only they were better educated, they would know that going below decks will not save them entirely. I remained at my post in hopes of navigating out of this, mist, but to no avail. My helmsmen by now had frozen to death and I was left without anyone to steer the ship. So I took it upon myself to do the job, it wasn’t hard. We all had to do our time at the helm of the ship once in our careers. I was frightened, for once, I was genuinely frightened.  We had set forth to engage some pirates, instead, we were sucked into some magical element of which after a brief period, had begun to consume my men as well.

Suddenly, a figure appeared on the deck of the ship. It was wearing some black cloak, something, not seen in these waters for nearly six hundred years. As it raised its’ head, a lifeless face appeared. The half-rotted muscle and flesh jerked as the figure tried to smile at me, with the rest of it’s face nothing but bone. I froze, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t cry out for help.  My first mate tried to raise the alarm, but he too was frozen where he stood. Somehow, this creature, had a hold of us both. I tried to cry out for help, but my throat was blocked by something.

A hiss came from the, thing, as I like to term it. Lord knows what it was, but I knew I had to stop it from consuming the rest of the crew. I tried to reach for my blade, but my hand would not move. The creature, slanted its’ head and, with a flick of its’ hand, summoned my crew to the upper decks. The men, their faces now pale and drained of all blood, obeyed. It was as though, the moment they went below decks, they became slaves to this creature. It pointed towards us, and the crew slowly marched its’ way up the deck and towards where I stood helpless with my first mate. Suddenly, I was free, and without hesitation I drew my blade. Too late, they had already reached my first mate, and the screams that came from his mouth, echoed into my ears. I lunged forward with my cutlass, piercing one of my former crewmen in the stomach. To my surprise, he simply looked at me, and grabbed hold of the collar of my coat. Pulling me closer, he smiled, and revealed the most revolting sight of maggots and rot I have ever seen in my years with the fleet.

I kicked at the man, and was able to free myself. Sadly though, he had my blade, lodged in his stomach. I was weaponless, I had forgotten to bring my pistols, and even my spare dagger, I had left on the table back in the fortress. The sky was a dark grey with white mist rolling between the cracks, and the water was steaming, even though the ship itself was now encased in ice.

I bolted into the captain’s quarters, and pushed the frozen doors shut, locking them and bracing them as best I could. I then began to search for, some kind of weapon to defend myself, and after finding a small knife, sank to the floor at the very back of the room.

The wind was cold, it surrounded me like the blanket I once had as a child. Except, there was once exception, this blanket did not offer the comfort I had hoped it would, nor did it assure me that, everything was alright. No…..this blanket kept me in discomfort, as I tried to wiggle my fingers, and move my head to the left. It wasn’t moving, both of them weren’t moving. I wasn’t moving. It’s so cold, damnit, so cold.

Am I seeing things? Is that? No, it can’t be! He died! He died a few hours ago! Is this some sort of, joke? Some sick manifestation sent to me because of my sins in life? No, it can’t be. He’s dead, he died a few hours ago I saw it! I held his lifeless hands, of which when they fell to the floor, a letter was left in mine. Damn, these death letters, this just makes my job that much harder. Good lord, why. Why me…..

I suddenly realised that I had been sitting there for hours, and there was no sign of the cursed crew members. I was hullucinating as the fellow of whom I had collected the death letter from, had died years ago. I was simply thinking of that fateful moment when the world froze and I was left to die in that god forsaken ice cave.  I looked at my hands, they were black. They had, lost all signs of life and were now simply hanging there, clenching that knife I had collected earlier. Suddenly, footsteps appeared in front of me. I looked up, and saw that creature again. This time I could see it’s eyes. The blue spheres peered at me as I starred at it before looking back down to my hands. I noticed a dripping motion to the right and when I peered towards that direction, I saw the decapitated head of the first mate. His expression was of fear, and I suddenly realized……what was going to happen next……

Off the Record. 23 August 2012

Morning readers (it’s morning on the pacific northwest),

So here I am, relaxing under the grey sky (sadly, and now I know why my friend prefers Montreal. It’s 27 over there, whereas here it’s 17 degrees), and since I have some time to spare, I felt like doing an Off the Record just to liven up my blog. During my school days I tend to post at a somewhat scheduled and moderate pace, however since I have two weeks or so free, I will post whenever I can and when I get an idea to post (and hopefully these ideas I will not regret posting).

Earlier this week, I began to realize how much my circle of friends has “shrunk” so to speak. I loose some due to a lack of communication, and this second group I don’t really “loose” for say, but they are not in the same city as me anymore. This is why I placed shrunk in quotations, because the second group has simply moved to another city in pursuit of education and/or employment. And thus the goodbyes, are never permanent (at least I hope!).

For me however, I have less and less close friends around to hang out with, and share experiences. It’s sort of depressing to think about, because at the university I’m studying at, no one sticks around to socialize. Because there is no residence on campus and because the clubs there are poorly organized or are part of a particular “ethnic-cultural” niche community (for example Bhangra clubs, while open to the public, generally attracts those who are already familiar to this cultural item and have an interest in participating), you seldom meet people who then go on to join that circle of close friends. It’s a shame really, but I guess not every university has a well developed student life system (if I can even term it as such).

Oh well, I’ll just go visit them where ever they may be (unless in another country, at least not as often due to travel expenses and those long hours in flight). That should solve my small dilemma, though I will miss them, all of them.

Right, I feel much better now that is out of the way, blogging is a healthy way to stay sane (or so a professor claims). Also I checked my grades a few seconds ago, and I am relieved to have passed the course with a strong mark. It isn’t a ‘A’, but I can use it as a transfer grade and I can graduate with it, good lord was that a hair-raising few seconds. I am certain those who read this, and who have experienced college or university life in regards to academic performance, will understand where I am coming from. Even tradesmen with their 80% cutoff, that’s a scary situation. Ah man, 80% cutoff, it’s literally sink, or swim. I recall a friend once told me that his 80% on this electrician’s course was the highest grade in the class, and considering that 80% if the cutoff percent, that’s pretty scary. And while it is somewhat frightening, I know that with this cutoff, the electricians who graduate from that institution, will be qualified and capable, of performing on the job.

Uhh, what else can I do on this Off the Record, oh, aggressive waitresses. Oh yes, good lord has that been eating at my side for a few days now. So there was this waitress yeah at this pub me and my friends went to a few mights ago. When I tipped, apparently, in her mind, it wasn’t the amount she wanted. So she shot me a dirty look (and not the good kind) and told me to my face, I was supposed to give a larger percentage.

My initial thought was: “Ok, that was unexpected”. Afterwards I had to ‘cool off’ mentally speaking, it was….interesting, for a lack of a better word. Honestly, lady, all you did was bring us our food and drinks, the sort of duty that you receive your regular wage for. If it was an excellent service, fine, I will give you this larger percent, but all you did was the regular task you do day in and day out. It was not like I didn’t tip at all, I did. Just, if you think, you can live off the tips you get, well then your gonna get a rather unwelcoming wake up call. Not everyone, can throw 50 dollars your way in tips, not everyone, can spare 85 dollars. If you really want to earn a much better wage, here’s a tip (pardon the pun), stop going to night clubs every single night, stop shopping for 400 dollar shoes, and start looking at programs at a college where you can study, graduate, and move out of minimum wage work. You do not look like someone who cannot afford schooling, and even then, at least in my country, there are government programs out there that help you go back to school. There you go, problem solved. Now you can put away that immature look on your face and start acting on this strategic plan.

Good, now that topic is also off my chest, funny, this Off the Record has morphed into a therapy session. Well, I guess I title it Off the Record for a reason right? Anyways, you’ve been a great audience. Thanks a lot for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

The Opinions. Section 5: Missionaries

Hello readers,

So over the week I’ve ran into some rather, “colourful” characters. To be honest, they were missionaries, of course the most common of them all, the Christian missionaries. Now up to this point, I have had little issue with these folks going around and preaching, however lately there have been some smaller sects looking to expand their sphere of influence, and thus have begun a campaign of subtle yet aggressive advertising.

I suppose it is because the mainstream media of today (especially the market) utilizes eye-catching and loud techniques to draw the attention of some. It is of no coincidence that these missionaries will follow suite, collecting each skill and in turn utilizing them to the fullest in hopes of drawing in some “raw recruits” as I term them.

It only gets annoying when the subtle advertising becomes subtle aggressive advertising where on public space they post all their little pamphlets and drop off all these stories that are written by Christian authors. That’s when it becomes a no no.

Last time I checked, were not in the middle east, we are a secular country, and by secular we mean no one religion has dominance over the other. If you were in Saudi Arabia, fine it isn’t Canada and thus you can make up whatever laws you desire (incidentally their laws are religious teachings and therefore only Islam is permitted to be practiced and observed while foreigners are not allowed to practice anything outside of Islam. Now conversion is welcomed, however not entirely required. You just cannot practice any other religion, other than Islam in Saudi Arabia).

Still I can understand why they would do this, secularism does not mean they cannot go about preaching, and at the end of the day devout believers will go about preaching to gather more followers to their cause. But I digress, back to the annoying missionaries.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are the ones who go about aggressively preaching to outsiders. It isn’t the Christian community’s fault at all, I have friends who hold their beliefs dear to their hearts but will not go about shoving it down people’s throats, holding up books to Sikhs and various other denominations in a way as to give off the message of: “Heathen! Convert now or perish amidst the fires of the lord!”

In all my years, no other sect has done this much aggressive advertising as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Good lord, it would seem that their goal in life is to go about, pressing the bible in people faces and making other Christians who are not at all aggressive in their beliefs, sink their heads in shame as this small group of individuals goes about smearing the name of Christianity.

Still, despite my frustrations I know full well that they will not simply go away (although you can walk away, close your door, ignore them etc). What I mean by that is the aggressive preaching tactic is not a new phenomenon. The Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic church and their many spies, and finally the missionaries, the real church appointed ones who traveled with the expeditionary forces of various European nations (yes I do place the Vatican as an ‘official’ office and thus their appointed missionaries are SOMEWHAT more legitimate). This aggressive tactic is neither new nor will it disappear anytime soon. In the end these folks require numbers to stay afloat, and numbers is what they will aim to gather. That does not mean that they will succeed, but as long as it does not become thug-like behaviour with knives and harmful liquids, they can go knocking on people’s doors all they like.

Ultimately, we can treat them as air, simply flowing past us as we walk the plains of our existence. So to summarize, my thoughts on missionaries are: I’m not much of a fan but as long as their subtle/semi-aggressive advertising remains as such (and restricted to certain TV channels as well), I’ll just look the other way. In this world, we must all decide for ourselves what we believe in when it comes to spiritual matters.

Thank you very much for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Update.18 August 2012

Dear readers,

So the exam period is over. Hopefully I will have something for you later on today but if not, then expect something later on in the week. The reason for this is because I have had little time to relax with friends due to a class schedule, and I would like to exploit this opportunity to do so before the next semester and work schedule spins up again. To this end, I will be here and there but worry not, I have not forgotten my dear readers, and will try to put out something on the weekends and weekdays to keep things lively.

This has been an update, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Update. 10 August 2012

Evening readers (10:59pm PST),

Just thought I’d give you all an update on what’s going on with the blog. So I have a final exam on the 16th, and your all thinking “pfft Vince has got this in the bag”. Well….after a couple of review sessions, my memory is in some serious need of refreshing, thus from now until the 16th of August (that’s a Thursday), I’m probably going to be taking a break from blogging to review for my final exam. Bear with me folks because at the end of the day, schooling is more important than a blog I do on my spare time. So I apologize if you were hoping for something this week, but unfortunately this is the nature of the beast.

Now as for how the blog is doing, were sliding by alright. On August the 6th our views count has peaked at 17, which is nice. Honestly I’m not expecting droves of people all swarming my blog to read what I’ve got to say. Everyone has their own cup of tea, but for those who have stuck with me thus far, thank you. I’m glad your enjoying what I write and I hope that you will stick around for more awesome content to come.

Aside from that …..there really isn’t much else to say. But once again thanks a lot for coming along on this journey and I hope to have something ready for you all when I’m done with my exam.

Thanks a lot, and we’ll see you next time.

 

Off the Record. 06 August 2012

Evening readers,

So just to update you before I proceed, there will be no Opinions topic today as I have an assignment to complete for a class of mine (ironically the time used for this topic would have been better allocated towards the assignment). Nevertheless, I will produce something for the readers.

Lately I’ve had a lack of ideas (and motivation) to write. I suppose the excitement of publishing articles on a blog and having some ideas float out there has warn off and I am now seeing it as more of a chore than anything. This is also because at the moment I see myself at a dead-end corner (not permanently but currently it seems that way), and I question myself every day why do I not look for a more practical program of study that is still within the legal system’s borders of which I hope to find a career someday (and subsequently serve my country).

To answer my dead-end corner “thing” if you can call it that, it feels like a dead end because there is no guarantee of anything. Could it be me living in self-doubt? I’m not certain, but what I do know is all the theories taught in class, feels empty. Like a politician’s promise, just empty and meaningless. I just wish there was something out there that is similar yet has courses teaching practical skills injected amongst the curriculum. I’m sorry but I have little interest in living out my days doing research for think-tanks, plain and simple. If I wanted that, I would have gone to a University with a solid background in research and development, not to some “newblood” institution where they have not even had a good publication from the departments that are involved in research.

Now to answer the question most have in mind, the program at the Justice Institute, isn’t as helpful as one would like it to be. For starters none of the classes (except for 4) are transferable. That means that if you want to leave after a year and go to a different college or University, you will be starting from scratch. Frustrating I know, and sadly due to economic constraints, I cannot simply look for a program out of province. Many would point to student loans but understand that mounting debt is never a good idea, and that the government can be fairly aggressive when collecting the loans you took out years ago, just bear that in mind.

So I will have to grudgingly continue onwards, but graduation is close seeing as now I have plans to shorten my program. Afterwards, we’ll see what happens next. Shame there wasn’t more options in terms of “academy” settings (such as the Royal Military Academy Sanhurst, where it is NOT a university, but rather a training institute where Officers are made, and where NCOs who have risen from the ranks can become Officers (which also adds to the point that a degree (piece of paper) does not guarantee that you will make a good leader especially in situations where stress is high)).

Now as I continue to think about my assignment, I’m quite surprised at the level of procrastination I seem to be showing. I would take a guess as to this might be linked to the level of dissatisfaction with my program, thus the motivation to get it done fast and first has all but disappeared. Maybe I’ll find something in the future that will spark my interest, but I am cynical at the moment. If I stuck my head up in the clouds, I would be living in a dreamworld, and that is something I despise (especially those sheltered children who think the world is peaches and cream. This is also where the Kony 2012 group collects their “recruits” from.). I find it funny when a friend of mine says: “Oh have hope, you’ll find it one day. You’ll be walking around and suddenly it will all fall into your lap”.

Maybe for you, not only because you come from a wealthy background, but also because your an artist (normally the artistic types I encounter (including painters and performing arts specialists as I term them) have a rather ‘over the top’ level of enthusiasm). I suppose it is because they choose to ignore such problems as financial stability etc and instead throw it all in a very risky (and sometimes rewarding) gamble.

Ultimately, we all have different outlooks on life, so I should not be complaining. We all have our “right to choose, yes” (sarcasm).

Anyways, this has been an Off the Record. Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you next time.