Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My head is exploding - Wisdom teeth hell

Day 1: Surgery. I don't remember falling asleep and waking up. I can't remember any of it after getting the intraveinis in my arm. The dental surgeon told me it was a tough surgery, that my teeth were bears. I was given a pack of gauze and told to shove them to the back of my jaw and change them every few minutes.

My mouth was still numb. I was given aftercare instructions, which said that swelling was expected to increase for about three days and decrease for three days. The doctor gave me a prescription of amoxicyclene, as well as an anti-inflammatory, and Tylenol ones to be taken with Advil. I was also advised to gargle with salt water.

Day 2: I'm sore, but not too bad. Following his instructions, I'm having soup and eating a little bit. I've taken the ibuprofen, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics and I'm gargling with salt water.

Day 3: Still sore. About the same as day 2.

Day 4: I expect today's the worst of it, it will get better tomorrow. I'm in a little more pain, but that's expected.

Day 5: I was really sore today, and it got really bad at night. I started taking the Tylenol ones as well as the Advil, but not at the same time. The pain grew excruciating, radiating down my jaw and up into my ears like a bad earache.

At 3am, I called the doctor's office hoping to leave a message. I got hold of him and was told to take the T1 and advil concurrently and contact him during the day.

The solution helped ease the pain and I got to sleep, but the pain was still pretty bad in the morning.

Day 6: Pain continues to be bad. I called the doctor in the afternoon and was told to put drops of clove oil on the bottom in addition to everything else.

Day 7: The swelling increased and a lump formed overnight on the left side. I thought it might be infected, so I called my dental surgeon again. He was operating that day, so I went to visit my regular dentist instead.

My regular dentist said he doesn't think I have dry socket yet, and is hoping to stave one off by putting me on stronger antibiotics. He also replaced the T1/advil combo with Tylenol 3s/regular Tylenol mix. A description of a dry socket can be found here.

I took my first dose an hour ago and am still in a lot of pain. It has now has radiated up toward my temples instead being focused down in my jaw. I'm wondering if this is a reaction to the codeine or the drug switchover.

Day 8: I saw the surgeon this morning - consequently waking up in one of those rare few hours where the meds have kicked in and there is no pain. He didn't mention a dry socket, but I suspect I have at least two because food gets stuck there and I have to rinse excessively with warm salt water to dislodge it. He said the pain was normal, it happens sometimes especially with difficult wisdom teeth extractions. The codeine has been helping, however I feel a lot of pain as the meds die off.
He said there was some infection and to rinse with salt water a lot as well as squeeze the pus out periodically and use gauze pads to suck it up.
He gave me an even stronger pain medication, though I'm holding off buying it until I feel I really need it. I haven't pooped in four days, though I am not feeling constipated, just a bit bloated.
My cheeks are swollen like a chipmunk. I feel a little nauseous, which may be a side effect of codeine or the antibiotics.
I've been eating soft foods to keep the pain down. Fish and rice tonight. I rinsed excessively to get rid of all the rice. I noticed acidic food hurts more, although pain depends partly on the medication cycle so I might not be very accurate with that assessment.

Day 9: I had to get up early this morning and drive my wife to Ottawa. The pain was pretty bad every time the meds wore off. They seem to completely wear off after about five hours. I'm running low on the painkillers and will probably have to fill the stronger prescription my surgeon gave me yesterday.
The pain is still pretty intense. I noticed a watery yellow discharge from my nose, unlike regular snot and more like I'd just thrown up. I had my first bowel movement in about five or six days this morning and it felt like I was pushing a brick out.

Day 10: After a good nights sleep, I woke up only a little sore and without any more painkillers. I went to fill the prescription my dentist gave me. The pharmacist told me not to drive with these painkillers. By the time I'd eaten and taken the meds, I was in a lot of pain once again. It now feels like the tops are burning or have been touched with acid. The bottoms are less swollen and feel bruised, but not throbbing. The meds are kicking in now, I took them half an hour ago and am a little dizzy. The pain is slowly receding.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deficit Economics

In the current economic climate, no politician can honestly preach an upcoming budget surplus. The surpluses should have been huge for most of the last decade.

Economic growth, judging by the stock market, has mostly increased year upon year since the nineties. Stock market growth translates to income growth. More income means for governments to tax.

Currently, worldwide stock markets have decreased in the range of 20-40% depending on how you do your calculations. This means that instead of declaring big gains, people will be declaring income losses.

Losses means less income. Instead of a average capital gain boosting the average salary from say, $50,000 to $60,000. We're seeing the reverse, capital losses lowering average income from $50,000 to $40,000. (All figures are rough unchecked estimates)

With the average person paying income tax on 30% less income, the government generates much less from income taxes.

This spells big trouble for countries already posting big deficits. If your government was overspending during recent good times, how can it maintain that during the crunch.

The next US president is going to inherit a gutted and defunct economy. I don't envy them. Credit crunch, business stagnation, job losses, and dried up income tax revenues are on the horizon. I've blogged about the scary numbers before, and that was when the climate was sunny. Dark deficit days are here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another disgarded prologue.

This prologue, while perhaps my most exciting and best written, cannibalized one of my better chapters. It was a big no no. If the purpose was to get the book started and entice a reader, it succeeded. But I withdrew it for obvious reasons. You can't start a book in the middle just to get noticed.

Clunk!
Northern Kenya, Chalbi Desert – September 2, 2002

On a stony desert road in the desolate region of northern Kenya, broken down and sixty kilometres from nowhere was the last place I wanted to be. So when I heard a loud clunk, I knew it was fix the car or suffer consequences.
The roar of the engine dropped into the Beetle’s tat-tat-tat idling. I kicked at the limp accelerator.
“Shit!” I slammed my fist into the steering wheel as the car rolled to a stop. Shifta territory. The Somali word for bandit, the Shifta are a notorious group of armed Somalis who cross into Kenya’s northeast province to rob passing motorists.
The warning of a bearded shopkeeper came back to me from earlier that morning. “They’ll take your money, they’ll take your food, but what they want most is your shoes.” He shook his head and handed me the change. “For people who walk miles and miles every day in the rocky desert, shoes are the most precious thing. They will kill you for your shoes!”
And here I was, a hapless Canadian in a shiny blue beach buggy that just happened to break down in the middle of Shifta territory. I stepped out of the car and scanned the terrain. Ankle high patches of hay-coloured scrub brush and thorny bushes extended along the flat landscape, ending where a wall of brown desert haze melted into the blue horizon. No Shifta, I thought, crunching my feet over the road and opening the rear engine cover. My eyes settled on the steel accelerator cable, dangling like a broken piano string.
I scrambled about the car in search of a tiny O-ring clamp that I’d once used it to fix a similar problem. Forty minutes later, with my luggage spread out along the side of the road, I conceded the piece was lost and slumped back into the meagre shade of the driver's seat. The water in my bottles was warm enough for making tea. Beads of sweat dripped from my forehead and my mind raced over options. How could I bind two cables together without a clamp?
I scanned the cab of the car, moving from one object to the next before discounting it. Rubber bracelet? Useless. Speedometer or wristwatch? Don’t think so. Shoelaces, change in my pocket? Nope. The pen or the washer on the floor?
The answer didn’t come and I ran out of things to look at. I blinked the dust out of my eyes and let my mind wander, staring across the rugged plain.
My thoughts drifted back to my former nine-to-five job, sitting in an air-conditioned bank office. Certainly better than lying in a pool of blood and having a bandit walk off in my Reeboks. Then there were my mother’s words before I left. “Don’t go back. You’re going to die in Africa.” She had tears in her eyes as I boarded the plane.
Mom’s Prophecy spurred me back to my mission. The gusts of wind blowing lines of dust across the desert road made the only sounds as I took periodic swigs of hot water. Another half hour passed and the only idea I managed to come up with was to repack the car. I ambled out, packed up, and lifted my luggage back into the rear. Once finished, I scanned the terrain to the west of the road, focusing on something moving in the distance. I blinked once, then again, and again. It can’t be…
My heart began pounding like a jackhammer and I took several deep breaths. From a kilometre away, three lean figures approached at a steady pace. A bright red shirt discerned one of them from the yellowish landscape.
Think Dan, think bloody fast!
I glanced from item to item twice as fast as before. Shoes, wheels, rocks, shirt, string, zip, bolt, nut, washers, roof rack…
Wait, back up. That’s it!
I scrambled through my tool kit, glancing over my shoulder at the approaching men and spilling half of the tools in the process. With a set of Allen keys and a wrench, I went to work on one of the roof rack’s nuts and bolts. Switching to my fingers, I pursed my lips in concentration and twisted the nut the rest of the way off. With the nut, bolt and two washers in hand, I ran around to the engine.
I passed the two sides of the broken cable through the washers, trying in vain to reassure myself. Maybe they’re not Shifta. Maybe they’re just harmless, local tribesmen. A spout of dust kicked up twenty metres away, followed by a sharp crack - the report of a distant rifle.
Maybe not!
I fought the urge to run off into the desert, and certain death. With an effort, I forced my hands to stop shaking as I pulled the cables taut, passed the bolt through the washers and fiddled with the nut.
The piercing scream of a bullet passing overhead made me flinch. I nearly dropped the nut into the bowels of the engine, but caught it and fumbled to get it back in place. The wind picked up, making me squint to avoid the whipping dust.
“Gotcha!” I worked it tighter with my fingers before making the last turns with the wrench and Allen key. Finally, I slammed the engine cover shut. Less than half a kilometre away, two of the three men walked and the other stood aiming the rifle. I darted around the car and jumped into the driver’s seat.
A third bullet ricocheted off the rear rim, making an enormous clang. I gritted my teeth and took shallow, gasping breaths while starting the car. It rumbled to life and I hit the accelerator, but the cables were loose. The car slowly picked up speed and I glanced back at the three men. They began to run.
My foot was to the floor, but the car remained sluggish for more than a minute. It gradually accelerated until I was bouncing over the rough terrain as fast as I dared.
I heard another clapping report over the crunch of the tyres and rumble of the engine and gripped the steering wheel with all my might, willing the car to not break down again. My heart continued to race and I kept checking over my shoulder every few seconds until I put several kilometres between us. Thirty minutes later, I began to relax. I lifted my head and started to laugh. A roaring, victorious, I’m still alive and have my shoes kind of laugh. I shouted at the road, at the desert, “You can’t stop me! I’m the man, I’m invincible, I am the King!”
Clunk!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Failed prologue number three, good but again not quite the right theme.

Prologue

I was thirteen years old when something happened that would change my life. My grade seven teacher, Mr. Thyne, a frowning man with a thin moustache, round glasses and a waft of black hair combed over the top of his head, told me I wasn’t smart enough to continue French classes.
I wasn’t devastated by the news. I saw French as a hopeless pursuit that, as most Canadian Anglophone adults proved, would end in an extremely limited ability to speak the language. To this day, they most Ontarians say, “Bonjour,” more like, “Bonjer.” I’d give you more examples, but that’s pretty much all they can say.
Following the initial jubilation of no longer being forced to parlér Français, I felt left behind. I, the only kid in my class, had been labelled too stupid for French. I sensed the dismissal of other students as I walked down the hall to attend special classes instead of to French.
In the final month of the school year, Mr. Thyne held me back after class to have another one of his chats. This time, he told me that if I didn’t work a lot harder, then I would be forced to repeat the year.
In previous years, the minimal effort I’d put forward had always been enough to pass. I’d never been told I was on the verge of failing. Now, I was suddenly terrified that I’d end up left behind, forgotten, a nuisance to society that had to be dealt with twice just so some basic concepts would sink though my thick skull. But with those fears came the chance of redemption.
Our last assignment of the year was a poetry assignment. Each student was handed a blue scrap book. It was due in two weeks time. For me, failing wasn’t an option! In fact, I set out to write the best damn poetry assignment any seventh grade teacher had ever seen!
Having special classes three hours a week instead of French gave me tonnes of extra time. Furthermore, I even worked on the assignment nights and weekends at home for hours on end.

For the first time in my life, I felt extremely proud about an assignment. The hours I’d put into creating poems, and tracing artwork to go along with the verses, was meticulously laid out on each page of the scrapbook. I was sure I’d be the only student who filled out all thirty pages. The minimum requirement was eight.
My hand shook as I handed the assignment in. I already dreamed of what the result might be…
Some smart kids sat the table across. Upon receiving their homework, they would say things like, “Oh, an A-plus. I hardly even tried.”
Now it was my turn. I expected to see the A-plus, combined with praise about it being the best assignment in the class.
Each afternoon for the next ten days, I went to the class hoping to see the graded assignments ready on the corner of the teacher’s desk. Finally, on the second-to-last day of school, they were there.
The entire afternoon, I shifted in my seat, staring over at the neat pile. I’d never been so anxious in all my life. My heart threatened to jump out of my chest at the anticipation.
Five minutes before the bell, the teacher began to call out names, one at a time, as he handed the graded assignments back. Perhaps to taunt me further, my paper was one of the last in the pile. I walked up when he called my name, the classroom felt smaller, my breath became ragged and my palms sweaty. I took the scrap book and went back to my desk.
Suddenly, I didn’t want to open it. I was afraid of what I’d see. If he had really thought it was something special, and from me of all people, wouldn’t he have asked to talk to me about it? Wouldn’t he have handed me back my assignment first, or acknowledged me with a pleased smile as I collected it? My watch was set to the school’s exact time. There was one minute to the end-of-day bell. I waited, watching the seconds tick by with a lump in my throat. I’d open it with thirty seconds left.

Mr. Thyne talked to the class, but I didn’t hear him. Thirty-two, thirty-one, thirty...
It was time. I opened the book - nothing at the front. I flipped to the back. C +. There were other comments in his spidery scrawl, but all I saw was the C +. My hardest effort, my best work ever, was worth a C-plus. The room seemed to close in further and my throat constricted causing my breath to come in short gasps. Tears welled in my eyes and I glanced down at my watch, wanting to escape.
Ten seconds…
But, I’d tried so hard …
Five seconds…
I got up and walked toward the door, the welling tears on the verge of breaking. I threw the assignment, hard, into the garbage pail next to Mr. Thyne’s desk and walked out as the bell chimed. Chairs screeched across the floor behind me. I didn’t even go to my locker but ran out the school doors and straight home.
I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to be back in French class, even though I sucked at it.
#

In part due to my parent’s protests, the school agreed to put me on probation for grade eight instead of fail me. If I struggled, they’d pull me back again.
In grade eight, I attained the second highest marks in my class. Five years later, I graduated from high school, followed by a Bachelor of Business degree from University.
My one boon was being monolingual. It bothered me more and more, especially as I began to travel. I met Europeans who could flip from one language to another, sometimes speaking as many as five or six languages perfectly. I just spoke English. But that was going to change.

****Work in African adventurer rant. The learning of languages fit in with another goal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Disgarded attempt number two.

Here's another old one that never really made it off the ground. Sometimes they get worse before they get better...

Spirit of the Adventurer

It was a fragile dream, born from the African novels I’d devoured as a teenager and related romantic notions. Famous adventurers such as Livingstone, Burton, or Speke probably never said they were going off to become famous African Adventurers. They just did.

The first important trait I envisioned was multilingualism. If I could be fluent in various languages then I could integrate with locals. I’d drive into a mud-hut village, speak with the chief and be accepted with a certain status - a foreigner intimately familiar with the culture. There were other ingredients: A long and arduous road; danger and life-threatening situations; stress.
But I also needed something special because virgin territory was hard to come by. At first, I considered buying a big brown horse with a western saddle. I could canter from place to place like historic adventurers had done. But this was unrealistic, quashed by the invention of fences, borders, and worst of all land mines.
Instead of a horse, I’d buy a Beach Buggy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prologue - disgarded book introduction number one.

Here's a fairly recent failed attempt at an engaging prologue.


Hunched over his wooden cane, the prune-faced old man peered up at me from across the counter. “So you’re going to be a banker,” he said.
It was my first week on the job, and his words felt like an invisible force had crashed into me and sucked out my breath. A banker, Dan the banker, Dan the wanker…
“Er, I…” I forced myself to swallow, reaching to loosen my tie. “I uh…” My breath came in shallow gasps. “I suppose so…”

#

Years ago, on my first journey to Africa, I was collected from Cape Town airport by family friends.
“Africa is dangerous,” they told me. “Always be careful, it’s not safe even here in South Africa. Perhaps you should stay in Cape Town and keep in touch with us.”
A week later, I said a polite goodbye, jumping into a different realm of travel; backpacking. I bussed my way across the country, stopping in hostel after hostel.
Three months later that, I jumped rank again, from backpacker to intrepid traveller. I purchased a bright yellow beach buggy and drove through five countries before returning to Cape Town, selling the car, and flying home.

Back in Canada, after taking a job at the bank, I began to feel as though I’d missed something. To be an intrepid traveller wasn’t enough. There was another echelon, a mysterious and dangerous and extraordinary realm of travel which in every way contradicted the concept of my current stability as a quiet, hardworking banker.

#

The old man’s hand shook as he placed his cheque on the counter. “Being a banker is a respectable position in society you know.”
I nodded politely, knowing I wasn’t going to be, and couldn’t possibly be, a respectable banker for the rest of my life. One day, I’d leave Canada and become an African Adventurer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Muskoka Cabin







An uneven wooden bridge runs from the mainland to the small island that my grandmother bought almost 70 years ago. The deep, dark waters of Lake Oxbow surround the island and extend up along the long, narrow lake named for its oxbow-like shape. In Autumn, the surrounding hills are thick with brilliant orange, red and yellow leaves. Entering the forests is like walking through a cornucopia of thanksgiving colour with the sun shimmering off every leaf. They were in their peak while we visited the old family cabin on Ginny's Island last week.

My grandmother was 22 when she bought the Island from her employer, Limberlost Lodge. She used her entire inheritance to do so and was terrified to tell her father how she'd blown the money.

Eventually she did tell him, and he loved it so much he built two other log cabins for his other two children.

Out of my entire family, my grandmother is the most like me, and vice versa. Just as she was in young adulthood when she made a wild decision, I was 23 when I travelled to Africa for the first time. Like her, I went on to blow a significant chunk of my inheritance. I however did it on various adventures throughout Africa and the Middle East. It was my age of rebellion, sixty years after hers, which bond us together. It goes deeper than merely rebelling from mainstream Canadian life and pursuing a dream. She, and the cabin influenced me throughout my childhood.

The cottage is a step back in time for me. The smell ranges from musty moth balls for sheets, to cedar, birch and pine for the wood that we burn in the fireplace. The smell itself takes me back to what life was like for early settlers and pioneers in Canada.

A rumour passed around the family claims that the cabin was built by a family trying to escape the WWI draft.

The inside has had electricity for over fifty years now, however the hallmarks of a time before are everywhere: An old oil lamp hangs behind the cast-iron wood stove. The wood stove was the main source of heat in its day and still quickly warms the cabin on a cold day; A now derelict outhouse stands in the middle of the island, it has been replaced by a composting toilet inside; Old knicknacks sit on the mantle above the fireplace: a guest book that starts in 1940; an old metal box that says rifle on it; old clay mugs we use for pens; faded oil lamps; and a clay pot for matches.

The old logs of the cottage are decaying and it needs a lot of work. The roof leaks in numerous places. The floor never was straight. Each winter, expanding ice causes the cabin to shift in places. Mice can get in everywhere. The steep, chalet-style roof is covered with tar paper instead of shingles.

The Island's highlight is a screened-in sleeping porch built right over the shallow shore of the island. The call of the loons echoes through the summer nights. When it rains, raindrops batter the lake and stream off the roof.

My great grandfather fed porridge to my mother and her cousins on a wooden bench in front of the big stone fireplace. I think he built that bench himself.

The family cabin on Ginny's Island, named after my grandmother herself, is a big part of my inspiration.
It's where I was introduced to witty poetry, with my grandmothers funny poems sprawled around the cottage, particularly in the outhouse to give guidelines on its use. My grandmother was also well travelled. In her youth, she freighter-hopped around the world.

When I was nine, the "real" Africa was introduced to me on an old black and white television with bunny-ear reception. The movie had a tribe of African warriors who went into battle barefoot. In the film, being barefoot show toughness and fearlessness. For years after that, I ran around the island and the mainland without anything on my feet. My souls became blackened by the dirt paths.

It's also where I picked up my first Wilbur Smith African Adventure novel and became a fan, reading his other twenty-something novels over the years.

The island was where I learned ingenuity, fixing things as they needed fixing. It's gradually fallen into neglect since my grandmother's death in 2003. This is evidenced by the leaking roof, broken plumbing and decaying walls. It's been passed around the family, and I regret that I was financially and geographically (in Africa) incapable of taking over ownership when it was offered to me. It's since gone to a close cousin who, after having a baby last week, hopes to restore it in the coming summer.

This was the first autumn I've spent up there since I was young. I chopped firewood, swept pine needles from the roof, cooked on the wooden stove and collected water with buckets from the lake. The experience returned to a time when life was, in many ways, simpler and more routine. Today, we pay increasing amounts for heating and electricity. Back then, it was about chopping enough firewood for the winter and keeping enough lamp oil on hand to provide light during the long winter nights.

All of these factors had a dramatic effect on me. I sought them out in life, sought out a historical look on what the world was really like in earlier times. Influenced by my grandmother's spirit, the historic cabin, and the life it showed me, not to mention a smattering of timely African movies and Wilbur Smith novels, Africa somehow became mingled with my destiny.

People have asked me, "Why Africa?" The above is as good an answer as any I can provide.

This blog has morphed from my memories of the cottage, to my motivation for travelling to Africa, and now I take it to my love for writing. They are all linked, I know this like a man knows how pieces of his past effect what he is today. I hadn't put them together so neatly until just now.

There are other factors, but these are the biggest ones I can think of.

It brings me to a new blog theme. I've been struggling with the beginning of my book. The rest is fine, it's just getting the ever important first chapter bang on in order to draw potential readers and agents. This blog gives me another idea on an angle for the beginning.

I'll post a variety of different beginnings for my book, "Beach Buggy Safari" just to show how much damn work I've put into this. If people are actually reading my blog, which according to the fifty visits per week, they must be, I'd love to hear feedback on which beginning, if any, is decent.

I'll get started tomorrow. Time for bed now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Political Races.

I've said it before, and the Liberals finally caught onto the idea. Hit Harper where it hurts and link him to Bush every chance you get. The problem is, they're not doing it enough. They needed to link him to Bush in the debate a dozen times more.

Take the gloves off damn it!

The debate is your chance to give Harper a black eye. Call him STEVIE, and when he grimaces, apologize and say, "Sorry, I guess that names reserved for your pal George Bush."

Make it a staged attack. The Liberals and the Greens can at least get together with a little dialogue to really embarrass Harper.

Elizibeth May: Good Bushenomics there Stevie.

Dion: Please Elizibeth, that names reserved for his close friend and mentor.

Layton: Can using the word Stevie in any way be considered plagiarism?

May: No, you'd have to practically copy an entire speech to do that.


The Canadian electorate is in a conundrum. The worst possible outcome is a Conservative Majority. The only right wing party there is.

The NDP, Liberals and Greens are battling for the left vote. I sometimes wish they could get together and merge parties. They split the vote, which threatens to hand the conservatives an outright majority.

Worst case scenario - a Quebec riding:

Liberals - 20%
Bloc - 20%
Green - 19%
NDP - 20%
Conservatives - 21%

Seat goes to the conservatives.

But that's the first past the post system. Despite the fact that 79% of the people vote against Stephen Harper, he can still win the riding.

It's a Political taboo to say so, but I urge people to vote strategically anti-Harper.
Vote for the left leaning party most popular in your riding simply to help get the seat to anyone but Harper.
If you are an NDP or Green supporter in a riding that is really between the Liberals and the Conservatives, please vote Liberal.
Same goes for Liberal supporters in a riding where the Green party, or the NDP, or even the Bloc have the best chance of winning. Face it, the Bloc will never get elected to lead, so a seat for them is a safe vote against Harper.

Moving to the US, where the vice presidential debate is on for tonight. Sarah Palin reminds me of a girl I knew in University. Like Palin, this girl was also involved in politics. She was running for some University chair position. I had the unfortunate experience of having her as a teammate in a marketing research group.

You don't know someone is an idiot until you see them in action. How this girl got to a third year University course was beyond me. She was in two of my classes, and I fortunately saw her doing a different group presentation before I had to present a project with her.

She was discussing the business strategy for a clothing company. The following, as I remember it, is the dialogue she presented.

"By not focusing on smaller markets such as Toronto and Montreal, and in turn focusing on major Markets Paris, Los Angeles and New York, the company can increase their profits and revenues by 2000 percent."

The teacher was gob smacked. He had a look of disgust on his face. All things considered, he was the biggest hothead prof in the school and had shouted down students for being too stupid to be in University. I was surprised when he kept his cool. He was role playing the CEO of the company, the other students not presenting were role-playing board members, and the girl was part of a hired marketing team.

"I don't understand," the prof said. "How can decreasing the cities where we sell, thereby shrinking our market exposure, increase our profits and revenues by 2000 percent. Just a second here, our current profits are two million dollars. How much money can we actually make with this strategy? Two thousand percent of two million is a bit difficult for me to calculate. Can you give me some hard figures? What will our profits be?"

"Two trillion dollars," she replied.

Then the prof got mad. "Two trillion! That's more than the value of General Motors! Our profits are going to be double the GDP of Canada? That's amazing! Get out of my classroom!"

Clearly the girl picked numbers off the top of her head, and in that moment, I cringed to think she was in another group of mine. I went on to find out she was lazy and stupid, and even though I tried my best to not allow her to present anything related to numbers, she managed to sneak something in, completely botch it, and force me to apologize to the class (imaginary board members) and correct the mistake.

Here's where I draw the parallel. Her out-of-nowhere answers remind me of Sarah Palin. Palin looks like a right dolt in interviews, and for someone who's job it may be to understand foreign affairs and economic policy, she comes across as much less informed than I do.

I babble, I'm not actually that informed. I used to read the economist magazine and have my finger on the pulse of most major stories. I wish I still had time to read it, but instead, I mostly scour online papers and read a few select articles every day.

It will be interesting to see how the VP debate goes tonight. If I was Biden, I'd try to steer the debate in the direction of complicated policy and use the big words to really throw Palin off. It's third year university all over again, and like watching a train wreck about to occur, I'm disgusted, but can't help watch the coming carnage.

Market Turmoil

The US economy is screwed. The banks are in serious trouble. The government approved an $800 billion bail out package.

To update my numbers, that's about $2500 per American, man, woman and child.

But it doesn't really affect the poorest Americans. Specifically the ones who bought houses they couldn't afford, then walked away from them. The ones who are the root cause of the financial breakdown. I don't blame them though, for it was the banks who foolishly loaned them a lot of money, and beyond that, the government whose idiotic deregulation led to out of control lending in the first place.

The people on the tax hook are the ones with good paying jobs, which are roughly half of the American people. The other half are only the root cause of the problem but don't make enough to pay big taxes and therefore won't be effected much.


So where are the taxes going to come from when capital gains tax revenues take a major hit.

They could tax fuel, but any politician who did that wouldn't get elected.

They could introduce a national sales tax, like almost every other first world country. Something needs to be done to deal with the gluttonous debt.


I predict the US debt is near a spiralling out of control stage. The stage where the interest is too much to pay off. To balance the budget, the average tax grab per American is a thousand dollars a year just for the interest. That's at a modest interest rate of 3%.

Something that really irks me however is, why is Canada even worse off than the US? The US economy is faltering thanks to the meltdown of the banking system ala the mortgage market. The Canadian economy hasn't felt the same problems. Commodities have fallen from their highs, but are still mostly strong. Our banking system is considered rock solid. So WHY THE HELL is the Toronto Stock exchange down 30% when the NYSE is only down about 20%?

Why is the Canadian dollar weakening?

It doesn't make any sense to me!

If I was a hedge fund manager and I'd bet the Canadian markets would outperform the US markets, I would have lost my shirt!


I look at the factors of the US economy, and it tells me, SCREWED, SCREWED, SCREWED!

I look at factors of the Canadian economy, and it tells me, TOUGH TIMES AHEAD, BUT WE'LL GET THROUGH!

Now for the leadership debates.

Completiong my book, so close, yet so damn far away...

I'm in a race to finish my book. I'm so close I can envision the acceptance letter. Well, maybe not. I envision an agent rejecting me before she reads through the first sentence that I tried so hard to perfect. I see them, used to reading so much crap, that they think, "Hrmm, his first sentence doesn't enthrall me, onto the slush pile."

I was rewriting my first chapter this morning. Actually it was a prologue. I've decided for the hundredth time to write a prologue, after having rejected the idea an equal number of times.

I was just getting warmed up, the ideas flowing faster than I could type. Good stuff was appearing onto the page, this was gold, this was....

"DANNY!"

The moment was gone. The creative juices dried up with the call of the wife. Something, always something to destroy the creative flow. Such as my mother just walking into my office and asking about a DVD player, or the phone ringing, or my dad calling my celphone just to see if his was working.

The problem is, with each interruption, my work becomes worse. A different train of thought takes over and clashes with the first train of thought, resulting in a writing train wreck.

A constant barrage of distractions fucking over my creative ability.

This particular prologue is about me discovering the Beach Buggy concept and how it formulated in my brain.