The Rainening, plus bonus dream report

And so it begins. As I type this on Sunday morning, the heavy rain…

…has begun.

I may go out and take photos later, because that would be a silly thing to do.

In the meantime, I had a bunch of dreams last night and remember bits from at least four of them:

  • Some ancient Greek or Roman stage play where I was hosting people in togas and such, with political intrigue. Also, someone had their genitals hanging out like they were auditioning for Caligula. It was not sexy.
  • Going down the stairs in a university, and they had big art displays in the stairwells that were awkward to move around. I noted this while chatting with a girl, who then bumped into one, which may have been a giant telescope model, and it rolled down the stairs into the lobby. It didn’t seem damaged, but she took off, and then I had to also take off, because even though I had nothing to do with it, I was the next obvious suspect.
  • Visiting the grocery store near our old house in Duncan (which is actually a Shoppers Drug Mart now). I was apparently there very early, as I passed the morning meeting/scrum where most of the employees had gathered. After leaving, I realized I didn’t have my phone and recalled using it in the store, so it seemed odd that I would suddenly not have it. I thought how I couldn’t check with mom at the old house because she doesn’t live there anymore.
  • Speaking of houses, I was in some big mansion or something and being chased by villains or zombies or maybe villainous zombies. I acquired a pistol and might have had a melee weapon in my other hand. I remember shooting several of these whatever-they-were, and it had a very video game vibe to it. It wasn’t scary at all. I took it on the lam and at one point hid in the world’s largest closet as they pursued me. Seriously, the closet was bigger than some of the places I’ve lived. Maybe it was a secret room and not a closet. I hid in a pile of stuff in a corner and remember hearing them talking just on the other side.
  • There might have been a bonus fifth dream, but I no longer recall it.

Welcome to June 2024 (bring your hip waders)

From Environment Canada:

A year ago, I was noting the FIRE DANGER signs had just gone up. That won’t be happening for a while this time around1My totally scientific prediction is by the end of June, if the weather trends dry after the current soaking. The 10-day forecast does show sunny and warm temperatures returning on June 5, though, which means some will be complaining that it’s too hot by June 8.

But hey, no forest fires. Just the possibility of flash floods, which is totally something you expect with summer 19 days away. Weather2Probably climate change, actually, amirite?

Construction junction

Right now, in my neighbourhood and as close as literally next door in some cases, we have:

  • A major new bridge being built across the Fraser River (Pattullo Bridge replacement)
  • A gigantic acute care tower for Royal Columbian Hospital (nine storeys with helipad) being constructed next door
  • The lane and pedestrian path related to the above, which has been closed since last August, remains closed and under construction. The work on the path was supposed to be complete by last November (six months ago as I type this)
  • A major office/residential tower being built on Keary St. across from the existing hospital (currently a gigantic1This word will come up a lot hole in the ground)
  • Another major office/residential tower still being finished next to the one described above, with its front-facing courtyard that connects to the Sapperton SkyTrain entrance still barricaded.
  • Plans underway now to redesign and rework Sherbrooke St. and East Columbia where they parallel the hospital (Sherbrooke is the street I live on). The work will happen over the next six months.
  • A new SkyTrain maintenance yard just across from where the Brunette River trail starts
  • Probably other things I’m forgetting. Almost certainly a road or three being torn up for sewer replacement, a project that takes so long it appears to exist in perpetuity.

And yes, isn’t it nice that New Westminster (and Coquitlam) are “cities on the grow”, but you know, it’s kind of wearing me down. We’ve had this construction going on in some form for the last 10 years. It feels like it never ends. It would be nice for it to end. I want to walk the neighbourhood and just see people and buildings and trees, not cranes and open pits and excavators and the constant din of hundreds of construction workers operating machinery, hammering and making a lot of racket, which is part of their job.

It would be nice. Maybe it’ll happen eventually, for a moment in time, before the next project commences.

The allure of the olden times, Part 2: The telephone

Photo by Pixabay

Original post here: Something that really was better in the olden times

I made a note to revisit my February 13, 2024 post about nostalgia and how some things were better in the long ago days of the 1970s, in which I reflected on how life moved slower back in the olden times. I made the note in case I had any new insights to add later. Thinking about it some more, there is one thing I allude to it when I mention a smartphone without reception as a way of escaping the always-connected feeling of life today. And that is the phone, and how we communicated with it (or didn’t) back then.

In 1975, we had a phone in the house. It was mounted to the wall in the downstairs hallway and had a long coiled cord that allowed it to reach partway into the adjacent kitchen, if it was a long call, and you wanted to sit down. 1975 predates any other phone technology–you dialed numbers using an actual rotary dial (at the time you could leave off the first two digits, so you only had to dial the last five, saving some wear on your fingers. Compare to today where there are so many numbers they had to add two new area codes to BC and you now have to dial not just the seven digits number, but also the area code and 1 at the start). Voicemail did not exist in the consumer space and even answering machines weren’t adopted back then, though they did exist in nascent form. This meant that you had one way to contact a person in real time: Call them on your medieval rotary phone and hope they were home. If they weren’t, you just had to try again later, or maybe hope to run into them at the local grocer or something. As a kid, I never called much, I just walked to someone’s house or one of the usual haunts, or we’d pre-plan at school (face to face during recess, lunch or an especially boring class).

Being unable to instantly and always communicate and especially knowing someone who had a lot of 9’s in their phone number (this was a thing) resulted in a certain kind of isolation, but it was never perceived as such. You just had your own little part of the world, your friends and neighbours had theirs, and you made specific, conscious choices to have them intersect. And if you couldn’t reach someone on the phone, you’d just do something else, like read a book, or go bowling.

I’m not advocating going back to rotary phones to recapture some lost magic, they were pretty awful (push button phones were genuinely exciting when introduced), but having that level of removal from everyone else, where we existed as communities, but smaller, more intimate ones, is something I look back on fondly, not with any sense of “we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow” old-man-yelling-at-clouds bitterness, just in appreciation of the quiet it brought. I think of kids growing up today with smartphones practically embedded into their hands, and it does not appeal to 10-year-old me at all. And I was a tech nerd! Maybe that part is a little old-man-yells-at-clouds.

Something to ponder for a future post.

OK, I’m officially lodging a complaint against Mother Nature

I know, complaining about the weather (over which I have no control, at least to my knowledge) is dumb and pointless, but when I looked at the 10-day forecast this morning and saw eight days of everything from “light rain showers” to “heavy rain”, with a mere two days of “mostly sunny” in the middle (which will probably change to “light rain” in the next day or so), I felt I had to…post this.

On the plus side, this will prevent local forest fires, which we don’t really get, because the lower mainland (Metro Vancouver to outsiders) is not exactly covered in forest to begin with. It also means fewer incidents of skin cancer, since no one is going to be working on a tan, except possibly those two “mostly sunny” days (which are a lie, anyway).

On the other plus side (I’m trying to stay positive here), maybe instead of a scorching dry hot summer, it will merely be pleasant and mild and people will wake up every morning and feel refreshed and filled with joy, and return to a nice cool bedroom in the evening feeling the same.

Or you know, we could get maybe another sunny day sometime so I remember what they feel like. I’m just saying. (It’s raining steadily as I type this.)

Obligatory GIF:

It was flavour blasted and I regret everything

These:

The BLASTED part is in reference to what it will do to your tongue if you eat more than one of them. Maybe if you eat only one of them. I was checking email this morning and wondering why my tongue felt weird, and then I remembered having a few of these last night–last night–and the damage lingers on the next day, the top of my tongue does indeed feel BLASTED.

Recommended, maybe as a science experiment, but not as food.

The 44th anniversary of Mt. St. Helens blowing its top

It happened on May 18, 1980. I was 15 years old and remember being up that Sunday morning and hearing the screen door at the front of the house rattling, which struck me as odd, as there was no wind. A few minutes later, the Seattle station KOMO-TV (Channel 4) broke into whatever show was airing with a Special Report (kids, ask your parents what Special Reports were), confirming the volcano had erupted. Later that summer, we travelled through parts of eastern Washington, and I was able to scoop up a jar of roadside ash and a piece of pumice that had been ejected. I thought they were extremely neat at the time.

Sadly, I don’t know where either went. I know the rock at least made it with me to Vancouver, but that was in 1986–only six years after the eruption. I suspect it just got lost in one of my many moves (it strikes me that my parents only moved twice after hitting their 20s, compared to the million or so times I did).

I always thought volcanoes were cool when I was a kid (along with the other usual suspects, like sharks, dinosaurs and roller coasters), but this local-ish eruption (about 300 miles away) really brought home to me how destructive they were. The images of the devastation are ones I still vividly remember, and I read everything I could find in magazines and newspapers (kids, ask your…well, you know).

I came across this stunning pair of photographs on Mastodon, one taken just before it erupted, one shortly after, from the same vantage point. The post-eruption shot really does look like a moonscape.

Before:

After:

Are moustaches coming back in style?

I kind of hope not. I’ve seen a few lately and I’m getting strong 70s vibes. This is not something I have been craving, I should note.

Also, I asked Adobe Firefly to give me “A man with a large moustache standing on a sunny sidewalk, holding a cat in his arms, laughing; horizontal orientation” and this is what it produced:

Pros:

  • There is a moustache
  • There is a cat
  • There is a sidewalk
  • It is sunny

Cons:

  • He is not really laughing
  • Is that a large moustache? I say no.
  • There is nothing horizontal about this image. Maybe I should have specified “landscape.”
  • That cat is terrifying
  • The hair is also kind of terrifying

18 again

Not to be confused with Eurythmics’ 17 Again.

There is a science fiction time travel trope/plot (yes, it’s Time Travel Week on my blog) that goes something like this:

The protagonist is sent back in time, put back in the body of their younger self, but while retaining the memories of their present-day self. Shenanigans follow.

I’ve played with a variation of this for a novel or short story where a middle-aged dude (someone probably 50+) gets sent back to the day of their 18th birthday, waking up in their 18-year-old body and then deciding on what to do to change/preserve the future. The hook would have been something like they know they have an incurable disease or some such and have a second chance to try to change the inevitable course of their demise. Something light and fun like that.

I never did write the story, but it’s been rattling around long enough that I wondered how I would handle such a scenario. This would be too personal for a blog entry, but I can give some broad strokes and raise inevitable questions about the whole thing.

Being put back into my 18-year-old body would mean waking up on the morning of September 19, 1982. I’d be in my bedroom in the family home in Duncan, City of Totems®. At this time, my main activity would be attending Malaspina College in Nanaimo in the theatre program. I did share a small apartment with a classmate there, but came back to Duncan for the weekends, because Duncan was still my home and Nanaimo would never be.

The first thought, once I’d checked out my amazing 18-year-old body (it was not that amazing, really, but it was pretty flexible), would be: Once I get out of this bed, anything I say or do or not say or do could drastically affect the rest of my new, second life. I would be a living version of the butterfly effect. That would stress me out for a bit. Maybe a long bit. I have no idea how well people compartmentalize profound, world-changing thoughts like these.

And while all of my present-day memories would be fully intact, I can tell you I remember not a single thing I said, did or thought on my 18th birthday, so I’d have to get good at acting like I totally knew what everyone was talking about really fast. But what would I actually do, once I settled in? What would be my short term plans? Long term plans? Would I just go with the flow and not plan anything different at all? Would I draw elaborate diagrams trying to plot out cause and effect? “If I do X, I will probably never meet Y”, things like that. It’s hard to say without actually magically going back into my 18-year-old body, so my best guesses would be something like these:

In the short term, I’d eat healthier, get more attractive glasses, a haircut, and start jogging regularly (the regular jogging didn’t start until I was in my mid-40s). This would make me look better, feel better and make me more confident. This could potentially change a lot, so it gets really fuzzy after this. I’d finish that first year of college out of a sense of obligation, but knowing I didn’t finish the second year, I’d have to decide whether to preemptively skip the second year or commit to it and see what happens. I’m not sure which I’d do, but lean toward acting preemptively and skipping the second year right away. But then what? Move to Vancouver in 1983 instead of 1986? Maybe!

On a more mercenary level, how could I use my advanced 2024 knowledge to benefit myself in 1982? There are obvious things, like buy Apple and Microsoft stock. I could solve all of my money issues with just a few wise early investments. That would also change a lot.

As for other people, the big one would probably be my dad. He smoked like the proverbial chimney, and it literally cost him his life, via a massive and fatal heart attack in 1991, at age 58. That untimely end would come nine years after I return to my 18-year-old body. Would I be able to convince him to stop smoking before it was too late? I don’t know, but it would probably add a level of anxiety and dread that would undercut everything else, like having a quietly ticking bomb in the background and knowing exactly when it’s going to go off.

Speaking of, at my 10th high school reunion in 1992, I asked an old friend and classmate how his younger brother (who would have been 24 or so at the time) was doing, only to find out he’d died from a brain aneurysm in January of that year. Awkward and depressing. But with this foreknowledge, could I have saved the younger brother by letting him know what was to come? Not to mention, how do you even convince someone of something like this without coming across as a total lunatic? Establish a pattern of correctly predicting the future to prove you’re the real time-travelling deal? Probably. And because I couldn’t bring any fancy 2024 tech back with me, I’d have to rely 100% on my memory. What if I misremembered a “prediction” and got some aspect of it wrong, damaging my credibility? Complications!

In a way, it wouldn’t feel exactly like reliving my past because all of my actions would be constantly altering bits of my previously known future, making them less known and different. That could be liberating, in a sense (a clean slate), but also terrifying. What if something significant didn’t happen, as I’d expected it to? What if it became clear that things were heading in a new and unknown direction, and I clearly had no control over any of it? Would I want to relive all those years (40+) again without being able to mentally prepare for what comes next? If everything comes down to generally unknowable fate, I could end up with a worse life instead of a better one, but it would be even worse than that, because I’d know about the better life I did have, then lost. There’s a classic Twilight Zone twist. All it needs is Rod Serling to come out and pontificate on what a sap I was to leave my known life on the gamble of something better. Be happy with all you have, etc. (Serling died of lung cancer because he, too, smoked like a chimney.)

Still, I’d at least be rich from all that Apple and Microsoft stock. And this time I’d keep my Amiga. And I’d dress at least a little better.

Is it weird to want to time travel back to 1977?

In 1977, I was 13 years old. Now, I don’t want to be 13 again, particularly. In fact, for this bit of time travel, I’d want to time travel back while in my 23-year-old body. Hey, if it’s my time travel fantasy, I get to make the rules. And the rules are simple:

  • Travel back to a specific year
  • Be whatever I’d consider the optimal age for when I arrive

Why would I want to be 23 in 1977? To better appreciate the peak of disco? Well…sort of. Let me explain.

I went down one of those inevitable YouTube rabbit holes and ended up watching an Andy Gibb video of him performing his song “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”, which was a huge hit in 1977 (I remember it well, the song was constantly on the radio. Kids, ask your parents what a radio is). This was a live performance from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and is actually pretty good. The fashions are, of course, extremely 70s and Gibb has that beautifully feathered mane that was the style at the time. Band members unironically wear suspenders. There are two keyboard players, one on each side of the stage, both also doing backup vocals. The one on the left is wearing very 70s shades, but the one on the right is wearing a red flannel shirt, which looks positively anachronistic. He also has that medium-length but big mound of hair (helmet hair?) that covered the ears. While this was also very 70s, it doesn’t look as dated to me. That, combined with his clothing choices, make him look a bit timeless.

And also adorable.

And that is why I’d like to be 23 in 1977. To admire his…keyboard playing. Without feeling like a dirty old man.

To answer the question in the title: Yes, it is weird. I am weird.

Here is the video (complete with incorrect, Enrgrish-style title):

Here is the keyboard player, caught from the 240p or whatever it was video. Apropos of nothing, I always liked the style of microphone shown in the still below. Very 70s, yes, but not in a bad way. It’s stylin’.

The hair also formed a protective layer for the skull.

The first ludicrous forecast of 2024 has arrived!

UPDATE, May 12, 2024:

The actual predicted high today is...22°C. I was right. I win! I don't win anything in particular, but I win!

The weather app as of the actual date, May 12th shows this:

Original post below:

From the Windows weather app:

The average high on May 12 is 19°C, so this would be a full ten degrees higher–and set a new record. I am predicting the actual temperature on this day to be:

22°C

We’ll find out in nine days!

(I am undecided on whether I’d actually want it to be 29°C. That is pretty dang hot for May, but if it’s not too humid, it really wouldn’t be that bad. Also, not like I have a weather machine to control this stuff, so I’m mainly trying to rationalize something out of my control here.)