The worst phone call of my life (or, how I earned $50 for not caring if I got fired)

April 30, 2010

It’s time again for another one of my long and rambling annecdotes. Today’s story from my not-so-ill-spent youth: The worst phone call of my life (or, how I earned $50 for not caring if I got fired).

When I was seventeen I came back from England and got a job working for a Sprint Canada call centre while I waited for the next semester of high school to let in. For the first three months I was a telemarketer in first the residential and then the business streams, but it would be too dull for me to say that the worst phone conversation of my life was spent telemarketing. I can do much better than that, I promise.
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The Weakerthans: Sun in an Empty Room

April 27, 2010

I have already spoken at length about my admiration for The Weakerthans, but I left out a song that has really grown on me with repeated listening. Sun in an Empty Room from their Reunion Tour album is a classic example of the band’s ability to approach a story obliquely, leaving it up to the listern to decide what’s actually happening.

I can only speak to my interpretation, and it is not supported by the official music video. I hear this song, and I see a couple –once a happy couple– who took a chance and lived together, only to see their relationship fall apart. They decide to go their separate ways, and when their happy home has returned to its empty shell, this song follows, both philosphical and flippant, understanding and stubborn. The Weakerthans are a band that asks you to understand them on their own terms, and I listen to this song and beg the fates I never have to deal with this situation. Read the rest of this entry »


Meditations from the Barber’s Chair

April 26, 2010

A couple of days ago, I got a haircut. Haircuts are one of those peculiar male rituals that huge swathes of the population don’t understand without even understanding there is something deep and weighty there that has escaped their notice.

The rules of a man’s haircut are handed down from father to son and through osmosis in the presence of other men. If you have not been exposed to these influences, you are completely in the dark. As I sat in the chair I meditated on what I know, and what I think. Here’s what I cam up with:
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Update: The Blog So Far

April 26, 2010

Hello Everyone,

It’s been seven months, fifty-four posts and sixteen thousand views since I started this blog, and I’ve learned quite a bit so far. First of all, there are a surprising number of people who google ‘Guns used during the Great Depression.‘ Second, if you have a nifty stock image on one of your pages, there are people who will look at that to the exclusion of everything else you post. Third, people are much less interested in my rambling annecdotes than I am, but –as it is my blog– you can expect a lot more of those in the future.

I’ve had a number of pleasant surprises to date. Thanks to my post about one of my ancestors founding the town of Kenmore, Ontario, I got in touch with a 102-year-old fourth-cousin four-times removed who’s helping me untangle some of my family tree. My deep appreciation for the Beatles on Ukulele project has actually put me in contact with the organizers and some of the artists. Finally, people love to read about a white guy dancing.

I’ve also learned a couple of things about my own writing habits. If I don’t sit down and write whatever took my fancy in that exact moment, the post never makes it to the blog. That’s why this site has fifty-four posts and not two hundred. Also, no matter how many times I proof something, I will catch a mistake (usually a missing word or a ‘to’ instead of a ‘the’) in every single article I read. I can only beg your patience with newer posts. I discover and correct my typos in due time.

There will be a new facet coming soon to this website: I’m about to start an exciting new job, that will soon include regular travel throughout Canada. Aside from killing time in various airports and hotels with blogging, I expect I’ll start writing a bit about where I go and what I see. I can’t make any promises as to the regularity or content of those posts, but I can guarantee they will continue to be held up to my own high standards of, “Well, this is vaguely interesting or amusing to me.”

A lot of the feedback I have gotten to date has been positive. A good chunk of it may well be spammers giving generic compliments so they embed a link. I’m still figuring that out. I would like to encourage anyone –and especially repeat readers– to add a comment whenever the spirit moves you. I can tailor some of my future content towards what is well received, and I can do my best to filter out that which people find dull or tedious. This blog may be my outlet, but as it’s an outlet for your appreciation, I’ll do what I can to give value for your visits.

Anyway, that’s the update from FaceInTheBlue seven months in. It’s been fun so far. Thanks for reading!


The South African War: The First Total War of the 20th Century

April 5, 2010

I came across this old university essay the other day, and I thought it blog-worthy (after a few minor edits, corrections, and of course a healthy contribution of pictures). I already have one post about the Boer War on this blog. You can find it here.

I’m aware that anything I put up on the internet is free for someone to appropriate, so –in the interest of academic integrity– I’ve taken out the footnotes and bibliography. That’s not to say any students reading this aren’t welcome to use this essay as either a source or perhaps as a jumping off point to go to their libraries and find the monographs that support my arguments. For non-students reading this blog, I invite you to enjoy something I put a lot of time and effort into, once upon a time. My opinion wasn’t spoon fed to me in class. My thesis and the research to support it were arrived at through my own efforts. If memory serves, I got a mark in the high 80s or low 90s.

The South African War (1899-1902)

The First Total War of the Twentieth Century

The South African War was the last gasp of British Imperial Jingoism and the first whisper of the fall that was to come.

The British Empire had never been more powerful than at the outset of hostilities in 1899. Military experts expected the battle-hardened British army, tempered by a hundred years of such colonial wars, to brush aside the Boers with no more effort than any of the other malcontents of the Pax Britannia had required. By the end of the war in 1902 the days of Britain’s assured world dominance were over. The eventual victory had never been in doubt, but the duration of the war had seen the sun begin to set on the Union Jack. The Empire buried the Boers under the strategic assets of Time, Money, and Manpower –all of which Britain had and the Boers did not– but the Boers’ guerilla tactics were an effective stalemate to Britain’s resources.

It took total war on behalf of the British in the form of destroying civilian homesteads and relocating an entire population to concentration camps to bring the war to an end. Still, it was with stubborn pride that illiterate ranchers had humbled the giant before the world.
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