How much religion is acceptable at a Remembrance Day Ceremony?

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Today,  for the first time,  I left a Cenotaph Ceremony angry.

For me,  Canada’s most solemn moment of any year is at 11am on November the 11th.

This has grown even more important with recent conflicts and tragedies affecting our nation’s military.

As has been our custom since I moved to Stratford,  my friend Gord and I attended the ceremony at the cenotaph here in town.

We served together,  and eventually both ended up working at the same hospital in our civilian lives.

One of the things that we’ve found irritating is how the minute of silence in Stratford is always early.  We’ve noted people rushing to the cenotaph to show their respect at 11am,  only to have missed that solemn moment.

This was not what caused my anger this morning.

When we arrived,  someone was being introduced,   I didn’t catch who it was,  but I heard his words,  these aren’t quotes,  but the meaning is there…

“First we must love God,  then love our country…”

I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard….

What followed was a meandering sermon discussing terrorism,  and how loving and obeying God can make things better.

I heard very little in this sermon (that’s what it was) about those who we had come to honour.  The veterans, and those that sacrificed their lives in service to this country.

I did hear that apparently,  those that died in service to Canada actually did so in service to God.   I verified this with Gord afterwards.

Towards the closing,  it was suggested that keeping God in center of family and society was essential to avoid straying from the path (or something).

The implication here is that if you don’t keep God in the center of your life,  you are somehow lesser,  or flawed.

When I heard this I wondered if the speaker  realized that many terrorists do things like shout “Allah-u akbar!”,  and that means of course “God is great!”,   and that the God they’re referring to is the same God as his.

And that these people most definitely keep their version of Him as the center of their lives.

Don’t get me wrong,  I don’t have a problem with his beliefs.  My objection is how he took the focus away from our veterans, both living and dead,  and their service and sacrifice,  and made it about religion.

That’s fine from a church pulpit,   but from in front of a cenotaph,  where Canadians of all creeds have gathered to show respect,  and thank those that preserved our freedom,  its inappropriate.

I’m hopeful that those that organize future ceremonies will be mindful of the fact that many who gather to pay their respects are not Christians,  and may find being lectured on how important it is for them to obey God offensive.   Perhaps, they could also time things so that the minute of silence starts at 11am…not sometime between 10:45 and 10:55.

Hello, My Name is David and I’m A Codeaholic.

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I’m an addict.

I realized it yesterday morning, while I was setting up at my tech start-up’s office at the Accelerator Center here in Stratford.

Work has been extremely busy,   and I’m frantically trying to get 286 Solution’s first product, BubbleFlow, ready for beta.

As I got set to get to work on the BFlow editor,  I thought about how it was a good thing that I rock at code,  because I suck at life in general.

But it doesn’t matter,  because “Code is My Drug” (thats even the name of my other blog).   I thought about all the times that code (I’m talking about programming),  became my refuge.   No matter how shitty life was at the moment,  even the all encompassing, soul crushing loneliness disappears in the beautiful logic of code.

I’m sure co-workers have noticed it.   I come into work in a snarly mood.   Then I sit down, and start coding, and a short time later,  everything is right in my world.

It was as I was thinking this,  that I recalled a conversation I had years ago with a friend who was a hardcore opiate addict.

She told me that,  aside from the physical addiction,  of what drugs did for her.

“For a few minutes,  all my problems go away,  and I know,  that no matter how hard it gets,  I can always escape.”

That sounds pretty familiar eh?

She went on to talk about how drugs destroyed her relationship with friends and family.

“It got to the point where I was either high,  thinking about getting high,  or sleeping it off.”

Uhhh…yeah….that’s pretty much my relationship with code.

Many of my friends have observed that I’m not satisfied by doing easy stuff.   The harder the task,  the happier I am.

So yes,  that means that I’m hooked on the hard code!

By hard code,  I don’t mean things like dynamic web content controlled by a PHP script.   There was a time that was hard enough to keep me happy….but now,  I’m talking asynchronous encrypted data transfer with rotating keys.

Hell,  I’m working on a way to send an encrypted message using a picture as the cipher key….for fun!  Most programmers would rather gouge their eyes out…but for me…its fun.   I do it to relax!  (and yes,  this is a project I’m actually working on).

Then of course,  there is how your drug of choice affects your ability to communicate.

Those under the influence of street drugs can be just plain incomprehensible,  or just so plain wound up that they try to include you in on conversations they’re having with some pink fucking bunny rabbit in their hallucinations…

Ever talk to a code-junkie when they’re high on code?   If not…here’s a taste of what you might hear:

“Holy fucking shit man,  I increased the efficiency of my XML DOM traversal logic and reduced the seek time by 12%!  And that’s not all….I thought 12ms was too fucking long to get a rowset back from the database,  so I took the whole fucking thing,  migrated it over to a NOSQL platform and benchmarked 17 different metaphone select algorithms…and then I went to the bathroom,  and when I came back,  I looked,  and couldn’t remember what I was trying to do,  so I deleted the whole fucking thing and started from scratch.

So I ended up with this awesome data migration tool that intuitively parses the data into a a database it creates on the fly…and it was awesome!   And then I remembered I was supposed to write a web page that told you what the weather was outside….so I took a picture out my window,  made it the background of the webpage,  and hit “publish”.

Yeah…that’s what talking to a coder whose high on code is like!

Of course,  unlike street drugs,  my ability with code makes me employable,  and provides a comfortable living,  and you’ll never hear me trying to get a code dealer to spot me because I’m jonsing!

But,  I guess…when I’m ready to retire,  I’ll have to find the local Codeaholic’s Anonymous chapter…

..

Author’s Note:

In writing this, it is not my intention to trivialize the ravages of addiction and the struggles of those who suffer, every day to escape.

I’ve known a few people who suffer from addiction.   I know people who have lost that battle.   I’ve known people who went from being decent people to raging little hate monsters (it took me 3 years to be able to watch Breaking Bad because I’ve seen, first hand, what Crystal Meth can do to a person (ie: raging little hate monster)).

In fact,  I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my friend Janna,  who is approaching the 60 day clean and sober mark after 20 years of addiction.   I will point out that I’ve never seen Janna turn into a raging little hate monster,  nor is she the person from 8 years ago.

Janna,   I am so proud of you!  The strength you continue to show is an inspiration,   so much so,  that if I could do it without becoming unemployed,  I would kick my code addiction! (j/k’ing…I’m not as strong as you).

And you know I mean what I said…..if you ever need a shoulder,  an ear, or a kick in the ass,  you know my number, and you can call me 24/7.

Stephen Harper wants NDP leader Mulcair to replace him as Prime Minister

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As outrageous as this sounds,  its the only thing that makes sense.

Recently, the bastion of early 20th century ideals of law and order..sorry, I mean LAW and ORDER,  The Harper Government, demonstrated exactly how much they respect the law of the land.

The leader of the Federal Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau gains popularity pretty much any time someone on the Harper Government mentions his name.

As we approach our next federal election,  Harper and his gang are showing signs that they really are worried about the Liberals.

In the past,  they’ve launched attack campaigns using media footage.  The media recently came out and said that they weren’t really fond of that,  and they wouldn’t run any campaign advertising using their footage,  without their permission. The implication was that such permission wouldn’t be forthcoming.

This would make the Conservative plan to use footage in a less than flattering light run afoul of Canada’s copyright laws.

That didn’t pose much of a problem, for the Harperites.  If the law gets in your way….change it!

Essentially,  The Harper Government saw that the laws put in place to protect intellectual property were in the way,  so they decided to give the proverbial middle finger to the media,  and changed the laws,  giving themselves permission to use (formerly) protected intellectual property.

Of course, you may ask, “Why would the media run these ads?  They could refuse, right?”

Nope,  election law states that they HAVE to run these ads.

With his plummeting popularity,  Harper is now encroaching on territory that is near and dear to his base supporters.  Law and Order.

How can someone who feels that such things are a priority trust a political leader who,  when impeded by a law, is willing to change it to further his own selfish goals?

I find it hard to believe that the Conservatives don’t realize this.

The only logical conclusion is that in a fit of childish rage, they’re seeking to sabotage the big meanie, Justin Trudeau,  because he knows how to connect with Canadians,  while theirs attempts to do so by holding kittens and wearing sweaters.

They’ll do this by slamming Trudeau,  and throw the occasional shot at Mulcair (for the sake of appearance).

The NDP is third in popularity, the Conservative plan must be to propel them to first.

Besides,  who wants to vote for a party that spends the majority of their time telling you why you shouldn’t vote for the other guy,  instead of focusing on why you should vote for them?

RTOD: Getting the band back together

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For the past week or so I’ve been thinking about getting the band back together.

Then, this morning,  I remembered that I’ve never been in a band.

….all that thinking for nothing!

ISIS are lying bastards…

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Seriously….its shit like this that makes me lose my faith in humanity!

First,  they say we won’t feel secure  in our bedrooms,  but hey,   when they start planning,   they talk about attacking shopping malls!

This leads me to question whether you just can’t trust a crazed jihadist to make an accurate threat,   or if they’re just so fucked up on their extremist bullshit they’ve mistaken the bedding section of Sears as an actual bedroom.

To be honest,  I was questioning their intellect right from the beginning.

History has shown us that power mad regimes that go around murdering people for not buying their particular brand of crazy are short-lived.   This is because of some human beings inability to take loads of bull shit without getting really,  really mad,  and then doing something about it.  This becomes a big problem when one of these people goes all Jean Valjean on your ass and starts an uprising.

Then there are other countries that can kick your ass.

So,  if I was a crazy fuck bound and determined to create my own state based on a wildly inaccurate version of a religion,  here’s what I WOULDN”T do…

If those other nations that could kick my ass were hmmm’ing and hah’ing over actually doing it,   I would kinda chill,  and reduce the pressure on them to come over and drop bombs on me.

If, say,  I had some stupid, fanatical British fuck make a video of himself executing a citizen of one of these countries,   and suddenly,  half the free world start shipping my enemies food, weapons and ammunition,   I might tell him not to do it again,  or I might make a video of me tying him to a chair in front a television that showed only Barney the Dinosaur re-runs 24/7,  and leaving him there.

I definitely wouldn’t let him do it again.

Seriously,  execute one hostage, and people are lining up to provide my enemies with material support.

What would I expect to happen if that guy executed another prisoner??

Seriously,  did ISIS think…well that didn’t work…lets execute another one and show the American dogs that we really mean business!

Oh yeah….definitely, absolutely,  never execute reporters.   Because you know….they write the news!

I’m not making light of the atrocities committed by ISIS.  I’m trying to demonstrate how fucking stupid they’re being.

And really….ISIS knows that they’re time is limited.

 

…why else would they wear masks?

 

Depression: It hurts to smile…

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I woke up depressed this morning.

I’m going to try and describe the thought processes,  the cycles, and the feelings that go through my head in hopes that people understand,  when someone they know is fighting depression,  a little more about how insidious the disease is.

Things have been piling up…

Everyone who knows me,  knows that mostly,  I don’t let things get to me.   I deal with life’s curve balls,   knowing that I will get past them.

Depression makes that difficult,  especially when you live alone.

This morning, the mere act of putting on socks took me almost 30 minutes.  30 minutes where that simple daily act was tantamount to climbing a mountain.

When I remembered that I had to go and buy dog food prior to going to work, I wanted to curl up into a ball and die rather than make the 20 minute trip to the 24-hr grocery store.   But,  I love my dogs, and they’re my lifeline,  so off I went.

Then…facing the day at work….ugh…honestly,  as I walked to the car to drive to work I felt like vomiting.  

I was walking down the hall to my department, and as happens often,  someone passed me, smiled and said, “Hello.”.   I smiled back and responded in kind.  Something that usually comes easily….but this morning,  it actually physically and emotionally hurt to smile.

Most of my co-workers are very attuned to my moods.  When I need it,  I get the space I need.   There is never any judgement or reproach.   

Its the end of the work day now (literally).   I survived.   I got some stuff done.   I’m feeling a bit better…

After reading this…some of you might want to call me weak.   If you do, come say it to my face and show me how strong and brave you are.  No…seriously….do that,  I could use the laugh.

I’ll sign off by reassuring everyone that I’m ok.  I’m not suicidal (I simply don’t have time right now).

 

 

 

Depression Hurts…and sometimes Kills

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A little bit ago I posted this about when I’m manic.

The tragic passing of Robin Williams prompts me to write about depression.

Its much harder to write about depression.   I haven’t because I don’t want to alarm people.   I especially don’t want to hurt those that love me by talking about times I didn’t reach out for help.   I’ll explain that in a bit.

I’m all too familiar with the black hell of Depression,  as well as Suicidal Impulses.   I’ve stood on the brink more than once.

In the aftermath of Robin’s death I’ve seen many talking about “asking for help”.   Many people say that they’ve been there, and they sought help.   Good for them.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that,  in addition to depressing mood,  impedes one’s ability to reason,  and robs them of perspective.

“I’m alone” quickly becomes “No One Loves Me!”

When your brain starts frantically listing all the people you can call and ask for help,  a big glaring sign pops in your head, “If they say no, it will make it worse!”,   or “I’m not worth their time.”

And yes,  even me,  who firmly believes that I’m one of the most Awesome People on the Planet has moments like that.

So….if things get this bad for me,  how is it that I’m still here?

There have been three moments in my life….I won’t go into details because that’s too fucking hard to type…even now I’m tearing up thinking about them…

Here are the things that saved me:

A Canadian Fisheries research ship…..I was in Massett, BC and in the year or so I lived there I had NEVER seen anything tied up at the end of the government wharf…until that night.   I mean, seriously…..WTF!!….all that time spent working up the nerve and they park a boat at the end of the pier.  Stupid government…

My friend, Ireland….my very perceptive friend, who just wouldn’t shut up…  “You cannot deny us, the people who love you the opportunity to help you.”    (She appealed to my selflessness and turned it around on me).

My dog, Colorado.   My queen of spazmania…she was being clingy.  I was depressed and wanted to be left alone.   After hours of sitting in the dark, in my livingroom,  my mood hit bottom.   I heard an alarmed bark  just before being tackled.  Colorado is a 60lb Husky/Shephard/Collie X.    She leapt from the love seat to the couch…pushed me over and started licking my face,  keeping me pinned to the couch.   I couldn’t push her away,  and she didn’t stop until I started laughing.    When she finally let me up,  I went and bought her a steak,  and then called a friend.

When I adopted her,  I heard  “dog with problems”,  “crazy”,  “unadoptable”.     People tell me I saved her life,  so she returned the favour.     I now pay close attention to her behaviour as she warns me well in advance of problems.

I have another dog now too….Kharma.   Kharma is a very calm,  Great Dane.    She’s also very cuddly….

Windows Photo Viewer Wallpaper

The point I’m making here that if someone you know suffers from depression,   if you’re worried….say something,   do something….buy a boat….or tackle them and lick their face until they start laughing  (you too might get a steak out of the deal).

Don’t tell them to “snap out of it”,   or “everyone gets sad”.     Don’t minimize,  or trivialize their fears.   Assure them that they are not alone,  and most of all….just listen.

Also…never be afraid to ask,  “Are you thinking of harming yourself?”.   It won’t put the idea in their head.

If they are contemplating self-harm,  and won’t accept help,   you have a duty (both legal, and moral) to call 911 and get them help.

Edited to add:

I once heard a police officer comment that “Depression was just an excuse for being weak.”   (proof that police need more training in dealing with mental health issues).

Living with depression hurts…a lot.   Suicide is about wanting to stop that pain.

Getting past that,  moving on to get up each morning, and function in society takes strength.

So…don’t pity those of us who suffer from Depression…..admire our strength and understand that sometimes,  we need help.

 

 

 

 

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