Thursday, June 18, 2009

Deadly Waters...

What's this human fascination with sharks and the "threat" they purportedly represent? For every show about deadly car crashes, there are 10 about sharks. For every movie about killer lions (and I can only think of one, The Ghost and the Darkness, not a bad flick actually) there are a hundred about sharks. You want a dangerous animal!? Try the hippo. The mosquito (with its hundreds, nay thousand of potential disease spreading superpowers). The box jelly-fish. The common house dog. The vending machine. Seriously. More people died in vending machine accidents in 2008 than to shark attacks. Hell, more people were struck by lightning and wayyy more people won a lottery.

You really want deadly? Human beings. We're killing not only each other, but every other species on the planet. Including the sharks.

Yes, its true, shark attack do, very rarely occur. And some of those attacks are fatal. But so what? You start flailing around in the water, to all perceptions exhibiting "wounded seal" behaviour... guess what, there is a chance you get bit. Now, if you drizzled BBQ sauce all over yourself and made a few small incisions to get the blood flowing, then ran amoung a pride of lions, we wouldn't blame the lions, would we?

Sharks are the apex predator in nearly every system they inhabit. From the depths that the Greenland Shark inhabits to the coastal waters frequented by the Bull Shark - they are the top dog. We keep killing them at the rate we are, we keep messing with the eco-system in this way, we're courting disaster. You take out such a fundamental piece of the puzzle, and the whole thing falls apart.

Are they dangerous? Some species are very dangerous. No question, no argument. I don't want to swim in waters that I know are frequent hunting grounds for Great Whites or Tiger Sharks. Doing so should not get me on the six o'clock news, it should get me an honourable mention in the latest Darwin Awards.

Come on people, give these magnificent creatures a break!

I just found out about a great new initiative - "Shark Free Marina Initiative" which basically aims at keeping the killing of sharks, the bringing in of dead sharks and the like out of such designated marinas. Sounds like a damned fine idea.

But everyone who lives on or near the water, and those that don't as well, needs to recognize the danger we represent, not only to these perfect evolutionary apex predators, but to the ecosystems to which they belong.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I am officially getting old.

Last week, I woke up with a good ole fashioned kink in my neck. Couldn't get rid of it, and just resigned myself to letting it work its way out over a couple days.

But on Thursday, whilst cycling down a very steep hill, and travelling at speeds which are both terrifying and exhilarating, I nearly had an accident. My tires went out from under the bike as I was executing a leaning curve. As this happened, I undertook a very quick risk assessment study - sliding out into traffic would very likely have resulted in death, I had too much speed to simply let the bike crash on spot... I love my wife and kids... don't want to see the brightly lit tunnel... The Assessment Sub-Committee came back with the answer "Slam your foot down and try to not die."

Well, I am typing. So it worked. But from that day on, the entire right side of my body has been protesting, and my neck has gotten progressively worse. I went for a massage on Saturday, hoping that would deal with it. It helped, but this morning its worse than ever before.

So, I bit the bullet and did something I had vowed to never do again. I called a chiropractor. I hope he's nice.

My last experience with a chiropractor was in high school. After a minor football injury pushed a vertebrae out of line, he damned near paralyzed me. Not even an exaggeration - I could not walk for three days after he "fixed" my back.

But I am reliably informed that his doctor is good, well-trained and not a sadist. The last part is the important one here.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2009

In Nomine Patris

Last week, I did something that I have been thinking about for about 10 years now. I wrote a letter. Actually, that's not accurate, I wrote the letter about a year ago, and its been sitting on my hard drive since then. Last week I mailed a letter.

Now I mail about 5 letters a day. Most go priority post, and most are to parties to a file I am working on. Thankfully, the government pays the Canada Post bill. :) This letter was different. This letter was to my biological father.

I've never met the man. He and my mother separated when I was about a year old. He's never had any contact with me, never made any effort to see me, call me or get in touch. But, having been on the flip side of that particular equation, I know just how difficult it can be, and how much pain it can cause to dig up old wounds, to talk about long buried or repressed feelings. How hard it can be to love someone without ever knowing that person.

I am not sure what I was expecting. I think I sort of assumed that my letter, which was a fairly impersonal one, asking only if he was interested in corresponding, would be received with a bit of surprise, followed up with a short letter saying either yes or no. I think I was maybe setting myself up to hear the no part... its my particular jaded worldview coming to the fore, as well as a history of bad relations with the majority of my family.

Last night, I got an email. I get lots of them. But this one was from him. In it he told me that he'd been hoping for years that I would contact him. Hoping that those wounds might one day be given a chance to heal. He told me that he'd been crying and shaking since he got my letter, and that the only reason he'd emailed me rather than calling me was because he didn't think he'd be understandable through all the tears. He wrote that there had always been a hole in his life...

Not what I was expecting.

I am so taken aback that I actually have no idea how to respond. I don't know what to think, let alone what to say or do. Here's a man, my biological father, who wants to be in my life in some way. I invited him. And now I don't know if I want to open that door or not. Of course, its too late now... the door is open. But I don't know what happens next. I don't know how to feel about this.

Part of me is excited. Since my family and I rarely talk (I haven't spoken to either brother in years, and my mom and I talk maybe once a year, though not at all in the last 12 months) I don't have much of a model for family communications. My wife's model really doesn't work with me at all... her family is so involved in each other's lives, so close, so open with each other, that its kinda like watching an alien species at times. I really have no framework to understand how they click. They are great people, and her mom and dad are two of the best people I know, but they just confuse the shit out of me at times.

I know how to deal with my family. Its easy. You just pretend they don't exist.

But now this man exists. He is interested in getting to know me. He's family in a way that I am having trouble grasping - he's part of me in a way that I can't recognize.

There really ought to be instruction manuals for human relations.