The 25 major components of the four-stroke engine

September 26, 2011

1. valve rocker
2. valve spring cap
3. valve spring
4. valve guide
5. piston head
6. piston rings
7. crank face
8. shaft buckle
9. wankle wrap
10. pinwheel
11. carrying case
12. shackleford
13. flying buttress
14. stimpmeter
15. neutrino drive
16. septic shock
17. bailiwick
18. sneeze guard
19. apostolic successor
20. pitching wedge
21. winger
22. horizontal hold
23. Fremantle
24. small rod
25. large rod


The rapture is nigh

May 21, 2011

Or not.

The one thing that I find compelling about all this rapture talk is that it represents one of those rare occasions where some subset of fanatical religious types make concrete statements about something that’s actually quantifiable.

Seems like a dangerous activity, though. It must wear on the credibility of a religious leader when such concrete predictions based on “credible information provided in the bible”. And they must know that they’re putting their credibility on the line, which makes me think they must really believe it.

Scary.


File under “sexy”

January 5, 2011

I’m confused.

I haven’t been on this blog in donkey’s years.  Figured I’d stop by to reacquaint myself with the place (and the purpose of the place as well).  So, how come our “Categories” box currently consists of permutations of either “slam poetry,” “sex,” or “erotica?”

Care to explain… Rusty?

Oh, I forgot “uncategorized.”  Seems pretty much everything should go there – apart from the poetry and the smut – and the smutty poetry…

5

P.S.  More to come, honest.  I really, really, really mean it this time.

Really.


Boys and guns

January 4, 2011

I am the trainer for my son’s minor hockey team. Being a trainer is very much like being a flight attendant. You’re there just in case something bad happens, and the meanwhile you serve drinks (in my case it’s just water). I guess that the main difference is that I also tape sticks and occasionally tie a pair of skates or two.

On Sunday, my son’s team was playing a fun sort-of-inter-squad game with their billet team from Finland. It was nice to see them just have fun without the pressure of having to win. They were playful and silly. It was a lot of fun. I had to leave the bench briefly during the game. While I was away, one of the parents came up to me to express a concern. Apparently, one of our boys was using his stick like a gun. He was pointing it at the coaches and making “bang” motions. This parent asked me to speak with him.

Now… If you give an eleven year old boy a pen, he’ll pretend it’s a gun. He’ll pick up a twig and use it to cut down all of this friends in a frenzy of imagined violence. Is this good? Probably not. But I’m not at all convinced that it’s bad. Yes, bad things happen. I’m reminded of terrible gun violence that happens in schools, post offices, and other places. That’s bad. But I’m not convinced that an eleven year old pretending his hockey stick is a gun necessarily leads to extreme violence later in life. I’m no psychology expert, but I don’t think that stopping an eleven year old from pretending to shoot a gun is going to stop gun violence. In fact, I wonder if extreme sensitivity is the worse of the evils. Isolation, humiliation, beratement, and the like at the hands of peers and elders probably does more harm. But what do I know?

I continually wrestle with these issues. My brother and I used to play “war” growing up. My Dad bought me a pellet gun when I was young. I still have it. I don’t let my boys play war-related video games in the house, but fantasy games like “Force Unleashed” (in which you slash down thousands of poor clones) is apparently okay. My kids have a respectable arsenal of Nerf guns, but I won’t let them get one of those new-fangled “Airsoft” guns. I take them to play laser tag and infrequently let them play paintball.

The line is grey. Guns are apparently fun. But guns are serious business as well.

Being a parent is hard.


We want to change the world.

November 21, 2010

Any ideas? We’ve already tried leading by example and thinking globally while acting locally.


Michael Potvin was my Friend

September 10, 2010

I’ve waited far too long to express this.

On August 4/2010, I attended the memorial service for Michael Potvin. Michael, an RCMP officer, drowned at the age of 26 in the Stewart River near Mayo, about 400 kilometres north of Whitehorse. August 4th would have been his 27th birthday. He is survived by his mother, father, brother, wife, and son who he never had a chance to meet. His son was born just a few days ago.

I have been struggling to define my relationship with Mike. I first met him when he was ten years old. He was delivered to my Karate club by his mother. Patty was concerned that Mike, who was a bit of a pudgy kid, was getting picked on at school; she hoped that Karate would toughen him up. Mike and I got along very well from the start. While I’m not one to pick favourites, it was hard not to favour Mike. He trained hard all the time. He asked good questions. He was a gifted and talented martial artist. As he rose through the ranks, I learned that I could count on Mike to do a fantastic job working with other students. He was an able and articulate teacher.

Mike and I attended seminars, tournaments, and other Karate-related functions together. His mother trusted me to take care of him. And I did. I recall one seminar we attended in Toronto. We had to stay one night in a hotel and three of us had to share a room (we were cheap). Mike asked which bed was his; Dan (another instructor at my Karate club) and I replied, in unison, “the floor” (in retrospect, this was probably a little mean; we should have tried harder to get one of those roll-away beds). Mike didn’t complain.

For years, we were pretty-much inseparable; at least on Karate nights. Back then, that was every night of the week (it was a lot easier to be dedicated to Karate in the years before I had children of my own).

Mike’s own father told me that I was “like a second father to him”. I’ve known Mike’s father for a long time; he was pretty good at the job. To be grouped into his company is an honour. I’m not sure, however, that such an honour was deserved. I know that I learned quite a lot about being a father hanging out with Mike, but I only ever had to deal with the cool stuff. We did fun Karate together. I never had to make him clean up his room, or take out the trash. We only ever did stuff he liked to do. It was easy to be “like a second father” to Mike.

At times, Mike was like a little brother to me. I honestly never really thought of the relationship in this way, but in retrospect, it probably was something like this. In many ways, he was like the little brother who tries to emulate the older brother. Sadly, I think that this may account–at least partially–for Mike’s sense of humour. Mike has a fantastic younger brother, Sean, who was far better in this role than I ever could hope to be. But, again, I am honoured to have shared in this role.

The one thing that I can say with certainty is that I was in no quantifiable way a mother to Mike. Patty had that role sealed up. Logic would suggest that a child doted on as much as Mike was should grow up spoiled; but he didn’t. Mike was a caring and thoughtful person who gave freely of himself without reservation. Patty, Mark, and Sean should be proud of how he turned out. I know that I am.

I guess “instructor/student” is an obvious characterization of our relationship. But that just doesn’t go far enough for me. Besides, I’ve considered him my martial arts peer for some time. Our instructor/student relationship grew quickly to one of mutual study; we observed, learned, trained together. I count the opportunity to award Mike his Black Belt as one of my favourite memories (as part of the ceremony, I actually got to put it on for him and tie it). Mike received his Black Belt ten years ago. In the time since, he remained very much a member of our club. Over time, we saw less of him than we would have liked. School, work, and other real-life distractions took up much of his time. But he still found time to drop in when he could.

Mike himself used to call me his “mentor”. But in the end, I guess that I have to settle for “friend”. Mike Potvin was my friend. And I miss him.


Fail

August 8, 2010

My Facebook remains open. It’s a valuable communication tool for getting in touch with real humans. It’s also a horrible, horrible thing. I’m approaching it with a lot more formality now.