Canadian Politics

Hey everybody.  I’m gonna bore you today by talking about something important to me; politics.  There’s an election coming up soon here to elect our new Prime Minister and the race is really close.  And frankly that terrifies me.

Our current Prime Minister is Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper.  He is up for election again against the other two major parties, the NDP (New Democratic Party) and the Liberals, led by Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau respectively.

conservative NDP_eng_4-col Liberal_Party_of_Canada_Logo.svg

Harper has been the Prime Minister for the past eight years, winning people over after the last Liberal leader stepped down due to corruption charges.  Sounds reasonable right?  Except for some reason everyone was up in arms over the charges when the Liberal leader did it, but now Harper has been held in Contempt of Parliament twice, a very large portion of his cabinet has been charged and/or investigated for fraud and corruption, Harper himself is under investigation for complacency in a senators fraud and corruption charges, Harper was investigated for election fraud, which seems to be happening AGAIN this election (last election traditionally Liberal ridings got phone calls informing voters that their polling station was moved to a location extremely far away causing some people to end up not being able to vote because they went to the wrong place and couldn’t find the right one, and this year people in traditionally Liberal ridings are getting incorrect voter information cards in the mail telling them to go to locations that don’t even exist or hundreds of kilometers away from their home to vote) and that’s just the things that have gone to court.

On top of these problems, many of his party members have come forward anonymously stating that if they disagree with him on anything, they’ll be fired.  He sold the Canadian Wheat Board to Saudi Arabia when Canadian Farmers offered to buy it themselves.  He’s sold off rights to Canadian oil and diamond mines to American and Australian companies.  He agreed to the Trans Pacific Partnership which hurts our dairy and manufacturing industries.  He signed into law Bill C-51 which the UN has declared gives Harper more power to spy on Canadians than protect them (think the Canadian version of the Patriot Act).  He’s unprotected almost every body of water in Canada from environmental damage.  And these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head that he’s done.  There’s plenty more.

But he’s hired an election campaign manager who specializes in ‘dead cat’ strategy.  Tossing out a distraction to keep people from talking about his downsides.  Right now it’s the Niqab.  Muslim women who want to become Canadian citizens want to be able to keep their Niqab on while taking their citizenship vows.  Harper wants them to ‘not hide who they are’.  But there’s a third option.  Give them a room free of men so they can take off their Niqab without serious discomfort and everyone wins.  But instead of talking about all the problems he’s created in his tenure, he’s managed to distract everyone with a pretty goddamn trivial problem in the grand scheme of things.

He’s also talking up his plan to lower taxes, make up for the problems the TPP is causing the manufacturing industry with a billion dollar bailout, and still balance the budget.  Yet he fails to mention that how he plans to do that will probably follow his past cost saving measures like defunding Veterans Affairs, Employment Insurance (a program that was profitable until he used their surplus to fund other programs he liked better then cut half their funding, declaring it a bad investment, and leaving thousands of unemployed people with no income for MONTHS because they were now so short staffed they could no longer keep up), healthcare, tax centers, etc.  So what is he going to cut to balance the budget this time?  A feat that he hasn’t actually accomplished in any of his eight years so far I might add.  Despite cutting all these programs he has still run a deficit each year he’s been in office.  But of course, when one of the other party leaders talks about wanting to run a deficit to put funding into infrastructure and new industries to build jobs and counter the recession we’re going through, it’s obviously the worst thing in the whole world!

There are serious issues with the other parties too.  I am not blind to their faults.  The NDP have never been in power, and their plans are expensive and will likely need serious adjustment if they get power, which means voting for them based on their platform is basically useless because you can’t trust that they can get any of it done.  Not to mention their leader is kind of a dickhead.  The Liberal’s leader is young and inexperienced, and his party seems to lack faith in him.  Most of the ads they post are more about how young and attractive he looks (the first few weeks of the election there were a bunch of attack ads that basically boiled down to which leader had the better hair, and dear god do I wish that was an exaggeration) than about his actual platform.  It’s hard to have faith in someone when their party doesn’t.  Not to mention he does plan to undo some of the actually positive changes Harper made to the tax code like Income Splitting, which allows married people to split their income between each other which can drop them into lower tax brackets.  Which is very helpful to retirees and families where one parent is a stay at home parent.

Stephen Harper did not win the competition for the best hair

Stephen Harper did not win the competition for the best hair

Mulcair has the best beard though.  But that's at least partly because he's the only one with one

Mulcair has the best beard though. But that’s at least partly because he’s the only one with one

This is pretty much all the Facebook ads for Trudeau consist of.  No information, just his face.

This is pretty much all the Facebook ads for Trudeau consist of. No information, just his face.

But personally, the deficits in the other two parties do not at all outweigh the damage that Harper has already done.  And the fact that so many people seem to have forgotten all of the bad things he’s done for this country disturbs me greatly.  So here I am, voicing my political leanings for the internet, which is not something I ever do, because I hate fighting about bullshit like this with people.  I really do.  But I am worried, and frustrated, and the day of the election (October 19th) is going to be an incredibly stressful day for me spent watching the news, waiting and crossing my fingers.

If you’re Canadian, please vote.  If you know a Canadian, please REMIND them to vote.

Q&A: Historical Crimes

What crime from history fascinates you most?

I have no idea.  So I’ll just say Elizabeth Bathory.  A Hungarian Countess who murdered young beautiful women to bath in and drink their blood to try and stay young and beautiful herself.

Elizabeth BathoryCheck out The Llama’s answer and history buffs, feel free to post your own!

Q&A: Body Disposal

What would be the best way to get rid of a dead body?

Thanks to my upbringing, I actually know the legitimate answer to this question.  And there’s absolutely no way I am sharing that on the internet.  So I’ll tell a different story related to disposing of dead bodies instead!

A few years ago, there was a pig farmer in British Columbia.  He was a millionaire with a very successful farm and things were going great.  But at some point that no one is quite sure of, he started murdering women.  He was only officially charged with the murders of six women, but was charged in the deaths of at least twenty more, and he confessed to an undercover informant to killing forty-nine total, and that he was disappointed that he got sloppy and lost his chance to make it an even fifty.

He was charged in the deaths of so few of that number because he fed at least some of the bodies to the pigs.  Which made me so glad I lived on the other side of the country at the time, because man would I not want to have accidentally eaten pigs that had been fed human flesh… Very disturbing.  And sadly none of that is untrue or exaggerated.  Because people are psychotic.  Even in Canada.

That method is a little tricky to emulate though, since you’d need access to a pig farm.

Well this one was a dark question!  Check out The Llama’s much less depressing take on it and feel free to say in the comments how you would do it!

 

Computer + Depression

Sorry for the unplanned disappearance.  Again.  This one wasn’t anything to do with me or my situation, it was just my mom visiting and keeping me busy.

Today’s post is about something that’s been working for me lately; keeping my computer out of my bedroom.

A little history; I can’t sleep without background noise.  Haven’t been able to since I moved into an apartment building for the first time.  When I try and sleep without constant noise, my brain picks up on EVERY noise and wakes me up to investigate what it was.  When I do have noise, my brain just tunes everything out assuming everything is from the constant source.  And for a long time I didn’t have cable, so I would put DVD’s on or something.  Things that always stopped playing after a while and I would wake up and have to put it back on.  This got annoying.  I could have used music, but at the time I was being a luddite and refused to get a cell phone and couldn’t afford an MP3 player.

After a while I got cable and could just stick that on a channel that was mostly repeats so they wouldn’t keep me up wanting to watch something I’d already seen, or a channel that played shows I wasn’t angered to listen to but also wasn’t terribly interested in, like the Food Network.  When I moved though, and ended up living in a camp more often than not, I had to get a laptop since I needed a computer that was mobile, and I started to get used to using my laptop as my source of noise to sleep.  This was not a very good idea.

When I am home and not working, which is a lot lately (isn’t unemployment just the greatest?) I had my computer in my bedroom because it was my background noise.  It is also my internet and my communication with my friends, and my games… I barely ever left my bed.  Didn’t have to!  Everything was right there!  Why get up when you can be so warm and cozy right here and you have everything you need?!  Oh, just a few reasons.

First and most obvious reason is less physical movement.  When you’re sitting at a desk all day you get very little physical movement.  But when you’re lying in bed all day your heart rate barely gets above 65, and that’s really not great for your health.  Beyond that there’s also several other things.  Like making it a lot harder to convince yourself to leave your home, not just your bed.  Like being more tired because your body is in a position that tells it to sleep.  Like having a harder time motivating yourself to do things that actually do need to be done because you’re tired and comfortable right where you are, why would you bother moving?!

Being too comfortable is a bad idea when you’re depressed.  I know that sounds stupid to anyone with depression who feels massively uncomfortable all the time and would kill to feel comfort, but honestly when your depression stems even partially from your situation, comfort is a killer.  When you’re comfortable, you don’t make changes.  Not the important ones.  You do everything you need to do to keep whatever is making you comfortable.  Even if staying comfortable means giving up a chance at being more than comfortable.  A chance at being happy means a chance you won’t be.  And if it goes THAT way, then you gave up comfort for misery.  Why would you do that?

For me, having my computer in my room was making me sleep longer than I should, it encouraged me to not get dressed, which was comfortable, but honestly terrible for self esteem.  It encouraged me to be unwilling to view my writing as work, which made it harder to write.  When I was miserable at my job, my writing was to vent.  I don’t need to vent anymore.  I still wanted to write, but I was so tired all the time.  It required too much focus.  So I had to find some other way to motivate myself to do it.  I had to get out of bed.  I had to stop being up till all hours of the night after deciding to go to bed because there was something interesting on the screen beside me, and then sleeping all day instead.

Honestly it’s not that easy to explain why it helps as much as it does.  But it’s made a significant difference.  I don’t know if it would help anyone else, but it helps me, and this section of my blog is about my fight, not just advice for other people.  But keeping your computer out of your bedroom is never a BAD idea as far as I’m concerned.  Unless your common areas are untrustworthy or your bedroom is also your living room, then it gets a little tricky…

Punching Out Your Anger

I’m sure everyone has heard about how if you’re angry, you should punch a pillow to calm down right?  And I’m sure a lot of you reading this have also heard that that’s actually a REALLY bad thing to do.  It is.  But that doesn’t mean boxing is a bad way to get out your aggression.  It’s all about how you do it.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way; if you are having a verbal fight with someone, and you immediately follow that up with punching a pillow or a wall, or whatever inanimate object you decide to punch, you are being abusive to whoever you were fighting with.  What this communicates to them is that when you’re angry, there’s a chance you could choose to punch THEM.  It is an unspoken threat and it is incredibly cruel and emotionally manipulative.  You’re showing them that you’re strong, and that you resort to violence when you’re pissed off.  There’s no way to interpret that other than ‘I could be on the receiving end of that fist if I keep pissing this person off’.  How they react to that is irrelevant, it still makes you an aggressive asshole.

But what if I only punched the *insert object here* because if I didn’t, I WOULD have punched the person?!  A particularly out of control jackass might ask.  Well, then perhaps you need counseling, not just the advice of some random dickhead on the internet.  But mainly you should try and stop the fight and explain as calmly as possible that you cannot continue this argument until you’ve taken a few minutes to calm down.  Take some deep breaths, maybe jog on the spot as fast as you can for 30 seconds (excessive physical exertion stops your brain from being able to focus on your thoughts and emotions, causing a disruption in your thought pattern allowing you to break out of it) anything BUT doing something aggressive.  Bake a cake for all I care, just don’t indulge the aggressive impulse.

When you do follow up anger at a specific person with a physically aggressive action, you’re basically wiring your brain to commit acts of violence whenever you’re angry.  It also raises your adrenaline levels which kicks in your fight or flight response and obviously you’re primed for fight, so it increases your aggression rather than decreasing it.

Okay, so I said at the start of this that there WAS a good way to use boxing to get out your anger, but so far all I’ve done is outline why it’s a terrible, terrible thing to do.  So let’s move into the good stuff!

A good time to do this kind of thing is when you’re angry about something you can’t do anything about.  Preferably some kind of perceived injustice rather than a specific person.  You’re mad at the system, man!  Like a company that won’t give you a promotion because you’re not in the smoking buddies group.  Or you’re frustrated about how all the politicians are dickheads and there’s no one worth voting for.  Something like that.  You can do this if there’s a specific person you’re mad at, but it’s not preferable, and I’ll get to that again later.  When you’re mad at something that doesn’t have a face, boxing while angry is less likely to create an association with wanting to punch PEOPLE out, and so you’re less likely to respond with violence when you’re fighting a person.

Tip two is to never do it immediately after a fight or long winded rant about what made you angry.  See above for why not to do it after a fight, and when you’ve just ranted and your blood pressure is up, your adrenaline is spiking and you encounter similar issues.  Take a few minutes and some deep breaths before going to the punching bag.

Third tip is don’t just punch once or twice and be done.  Go to exhaustion.  If you can still talk properly while you’re boxing, you are not working hard enough.  I mentioned earlier than heavy physical exertion disrupts thoughts, that’s one of the two goals here.  Rather than focusing on your anger while you’re doing this, you’re actually stopping it.  You can’t focus on it anymore.  The other thing this accomplishes is that once you hit exhaustion, the adrenaline is gone and the endorphin’s kick in.  You don’t feel angry anymore because you stopped the thoughts and the flight or fight response, and your brain is rewarding you with pleasure chemicals.  You’re also too tired to maintain any more aggression.  If you can still stand up when you’re done, you didn’t go hard enough.  If you can still breath normally, you didn’t go hard enough.  If you take less than 5 minutes to fully recover, go again.

Lastly, DO NOT PRETEND WHAT YOU’RE HITTING IS A PERSON.  It is a punching bag and nothing more!  Unless it IS a person, in which case you’re a monster.  Or you’re like me and you don’t have a punching bag, so you have your dad hold some kickboxing target pads… in which case, focus on the targets, not the person holding them.  This is the same as I’ve said multiple times through this.  The only healthy way to work through aggression this way is to not associate that aggression with hurting someone.  Odds are good you’re looking to do this so you DON’T hurt someone, so don’t train your brain that hurting someone gives you satisfaction.

I’m sure some people might wonder what the benefit is if you don’t get to simulate punching someone you hate right in their smug jackass face.  The benefit is all the same benefits of working out plus for people with strong anger, punching things is just extremely viscerally satisfying.  Even when you’re not pretending it’s the person you hate most in the world, no matter how much they actually do deserve to be punched.

Seasick

It’s short story writing prompt time!  Normally when I post one of these I post the prompt that it came from before the story itself, but this time the prompt includes a spoiler, so it’ll be at the end.

—————-

A tall woman with light brown hair sat on the floor of her cramped bathroom, resting her head on the toilet. Her eyes were heavy as she stared at the wall, hoping the nausea she felt would subside long enough to allow her to get something that might wash away the horrible taste in her mouth.

‘Go on a cruise, Laurie; it’ll be so relaxing!’ She thought bitterly. ‘You need to get away and pamper yourself!’

It had been fun at first. She’d gone to see some of the shows, and had enjoyed tanning on the deck. Her room was small and cramped, but she hadn’t planned to spend much time in it anyway, so that hadn’t bothered her. At least not until the storm, which had forced everyone inside. She’d been in her room ever since, regretting the cocktails she’d had with lunch.

After a while, she pulled herself up off the floor and steadied herself. She stayed still for a few moments, making sure the rocking of the boat had stopped and that her stomach was going to let her move without rebelling. When she felt comfortable that both of those were the case, she left the bathroom.

She still had a few bottles of water left over from the stash she’d collected from the dining hall on her first day on the ship, so she grabbed one of them and chugged it. She sat on her bed and thanked God that the water didn’t come right back up, then took a few sips of a second bottle and laid down, setting the rest of the bottle on her nightstand before falling asleep.

A few hours later, she woke up and finished the bottle of water. She still felt terrible, and now her head was pounding on top of everything else, so she decided to go see if there was anywhere on the ship that still had some anti-nausea medication available.

‘Did the power go out?’ she wondered, as she wandered the dark halls. ‘The ship doesn’t feel like it’s tossing and turning anymore, so the storm can’t still be going… What happens to a cruise ship when the power goes out? CAN the power go out?’ She looked around, hoping to bump into a crew member so she could ask what was going on.

She eventually made her way to the dining hall, where she found a few people sitting at tables with candles lit before them. She went up to an old couple sitting at the table closest to the door and asked, “Excuse me, do you know what’s going on? Why are there no lights on?”

The couple looked at her quizzically. “The power’s been out for hours. Did no one knock on your door to let you know? We’re waiting for search and rescue to come collect everyone,” the woman answered.

“I got seasick during the storm and fell asleep. I guess I missed them knocking. So we’re just waiting here to be rescued? Have they said why it’s taking so long?”

“Well, the last I heard, the storm was heading to shore, so they must be having a hard time getting to us,” she said with a shrug. She didn’t seem too concerned, which made Laurie feel a little better.

“Okay, well, thank you for the update. I’m going to go see if I can track down some anti-nausea meds.”

“Good luck!”

She grabbed another bottle of water before heading out of the dining hall, then headed off to the area she remembered seeing the doctors in the day before. As she walked, she saw a few more people wandering the halls, a lot of whom had clearly spent at least some of the last few hours at the bars. The thought of alcohol made the nausea churn in her stomach again.

She finally found the doctor’s office, but didn’t see any sign of any of the doctors, so she looked around a bit to see if she could find any Gravol.

“What are you doing?!” A voice behind her shouted. She jumped and spun around to see a doctor standing in the doorway.

“Sorry, I’ve just been massively seasick since the storm, and I wanted to get some nausea meds. No one was in here, though, so I just looked around…”

“They’re right here,” he said, grabbing a box off the shelf and tossing it to her. “Now go back to your room and stay there.”

She looked at him, confused. He looked pale and scared.

“Is something wrong?”

“No, everything’s fine, it’s just that the storm is still going and you’re better off staying in your room.”

“Oh, I thought it had ended. The ship doesn’t seem to be rocking much anymore.”

“The waves aren’t as big, but it’s still storming pretty badly out there. Stay in the dining hall or your room.”

“I guess that means the rescue boats are going to be a while getting here.”

“Rescue boats? Oh, yes. They’ll take a while to get here. Yeah.” He looked at her with sympathy, and she looked back at him, still confused. “Just head to your room. The Gravol will help you sleep.”

“Okay…” She gave him one last confused look before heading out.

On the way back to her room, she noticed the stairs to the main deck on the other side of the hall and felt an intense curiosity rise up inside her. She figured the storm must be really bad to make the doctor seem so concerned, and she just had to know what was really going on. She looked around to make sure no one was nearby, before darting up the stairs to the deck.

When she took hold of the door, she braced herself for the wind to grab it. She took one last look around for anyone passing by, then pushed open the door and closed her eyes, prepared for a face full of rain…but nothing came. She opened her eyes just in time to see a fish swam by her face. Her eyes went wide as she walked out onto the deck.

Panic set in as she looked around, they were on the ocean floor.

The ship looked completely different from the outside; she could see the evidence of what had happened. Some of the lifeboats were missing, it looked like at least some of them had broken off the side. There were busted windows, so why wasn’t there any water inside the ship? Why didn’t she remember the ship sinking? Surely she would have noticed… Surely someone else inside the ship would have noticed even if she hadn’t.

She walked further out onto the deck. She couldn’t feel the water, she wasn’t struggling to breath. She kicked at something that looked stuck to the floor, it didn’t come off. She looked closer, was that a barnacle? How long had the ship been underwater? She turned around and saw the doctor standing on the deck behind her, looking at her sadly.

“What’s going on? Why can I breathe?” She asked. He just looked down at the floor. Her eyes widened as she finally realized what was happening.

She sank to her knees on the deck and cried.

————–

A sick woman learns something disturbing on a ghost ship.

Q&A: Willpower

What is the strongest willpower you’ve ever displayed?

As I’ve said many times, I had anger issues most of my life, and I also managed to keep from telling people to shove their opinions up their asses all the time.  So the strongest willpower I’ve ever displayed is the fact that I’m not in jail for assault or harassment despite that for a good ten years I wanted nothing more than to be able to punch most people I had to deal with right in the goddamn throat.

Cheery one today!  To counter that imagery I will debase myself by pointing out that if you put food in front of me that I really want to eat, any attempts I make to not eat it tend to look like that of a small child desperately waiting for mommy and daddy to look the other way so they can sneak a cookie.  I would have been one of those kids that technically passed the marshmallow test, but still stuck it in my mouth and then just spat it back out so I could eat it without technically eating it.

Check out The Llama’s answer and give your own in the comments.  Do you have strong willpower?  Or do you have impulse control problems?