everything is so fucked that it’s too overwhelming to do anything about it

i just read something about animal testing that made me ill. i fucking hate animal testing, but guess what — so does everyone else in the world. you’ll probably never hear anyone say, “i’m ok with animal testing. i support it.”


if it’s not ok to test on people, why is it ok to test on animals?

and yet, animal testing still happens constantly. why? because the majority of people don’t care enough to back their stance up. if people actually gave a shit about the issue, we would get informed, figure out what products and brands were tested on animals, and stop buying them en masse. then we would pressure science communities and governments to outlaw the practice.

depressingly, that’s not going to happen. we’re all too self-absorbed with school and work and kids and relaxing in front of the tv with a beer to spend 15 minutes reading up on what products we should avoid. then there’s the extra hassle of having to read labels to find stuff that doesn’t test on animals — that’s a lot to ask of people. i know, it’s not actually, but most people clearly think it is since they don’t do it.

i think that’s why animal testing still goes on today, even after decades of exposé after exposé and general (mild) public disapproval — people don’t like it but we don’t care enough to change our behaviours that are linked to it. as long as we keep buying shit that has been tested on animals, and as long as we fail to demand a change from our institutions, products will continue being tested in this manner.

and i think that’s the story behind most problems we face today. it’s common knowledge we should eat less meat, exercise more, pay more attention to politics, phase out fossil fuel use, abolish child slavery, treat animals humanely, disarm all nukes, yada yada, but none of us do much about any of that stuff. we give it lip service and that’s about it because we feel like we’re too busy with our own lives, or too bored by the topic, or too hopeless about actually affecting some change, to get involved with it. and with so much bad news on so many fronts, it’s overwhelming — it’s a mountain of broken shit and we have no idea where to start fixing stuff.

so we don’t even bother trying.

in short, we will always live in a world of shit because we’re overwhelmed by the magnitude of our various problems, and that makes us too apathetic to actually do anything about them.


nobody wants to hear what you would have done differently if you were them

years ago, i was hanging out with group of pals. one of them had just bought a car. i asked what they wound up getting, they told us, and i think i said something along the lines of, “i’ve read that the engines in those have a tendency to spin the bearings due to poor oil circulation.” one of my other pals said, “just what everyone wants to hear: you bought a lemon.”

that short exchange has stuck with me since because it really illuminated what a downer and know-it-all i can be. my friend was happy about their new car, why did i go and piss on their parade? the car was already bought so my info wasn’t useful to them. it was just irritating. what’s even worse is i know i have probably made countless similar downer comments in the past. it makes me wonder why my friends have stuck with me for so long. being negative is one thing but being a smug know-it-all is far more loathsome, in my opinion.


i did an image search for “smug” and this was at the top of the results. that look captures what i’m driving at.

i don’t want to be that kind of person so i’ve made an effort since then to be more aware of how i speak to people. now when someone is telling me about how shitty their divorce was, i try not to chime in with some stupid hot tip like, “well doug, i’ve personally found that open communication is key to a healthy relationship. maybe you should have talked with your wife more.” now, before i open my mouth, i think, “doug has had several years to mull his divorce over and he’s probably already realized the mistakes he made. i don’t need to tell him stuff he already knows. it’s probably best to just listen to him.”

of course there are times when it’s fine to offer advice, like when someone asks you for it, or if a friend is considering doing something and you want to make sure they’re aware of some risk before they do it. that’s totally different from lecturing people, beating them over the head with stuff they’ve already figured out on their own, or giving them advice after it’s too late.

here’s another anecdote to illustrate my point: i had a barn built on my property last year. jenn and i gave it lots of thought before construction and knew what we wanted. it was built, and we are very happy with it. since then, i’ve had a lot of neighbours come over and say stuff like, “looks great. is there any plumbing in it? why didn’t you make the hay loft into a suite that you could rent out? that’s what i would have done. OSB for the walls, you’re not going to drywall it? that’s what i would have done.” why would they think i care at all about what they would have done? i didn’t build it for them, i built it for me, and i like it this way. telling me what they dislike about my new barn sure doesn’t endear them to me.

if those clods had any mind at all, they would simply say, “nice garage, looks great. makes me think about building one myself.”

just like i should have said, “congrats on the new car, i’m happy for you,” many moons ago.

don’t get mad

i’m looking after my neighbour’s dog for the next four days and was given instructions on how to look after the dog yesterday. a cup of dog food in the morning, a cup at night. let him roam during the day and put him in the house at night if he wants in, or leave him outside if he prefers. pretty straightforward.

but today, another neighbour came over to ask if i was looking after the first neighbour’s dog. i said yup. this second neighbour said he could feed the dog tonight because it always gets fed at 5:30 pm. i thought, that’s weird. the dog’s owner didn’t mention a specific time. then this neighbour asked if i was going to lock the dog on the deck at night. i said i had been told to put him in at night if he wants, or leave him out. the non-owner said it was important to lock the dog on the deck so he didn’t wander at night. again, i thought, this is really odd. why is another neighbour, who does not own this dog, telling me how to look after it, and why is he telling me something different from what the owner said? then he told me that he would basically keep the dog with him at his place during the day.

i rolled with it though since he seemed eager — anxious, even — to look after the dog, and i was in a rush to leave for work. but almost as soon as he left, i began dwelling on the interaction. i didn’t like it at all. the dog’s owner asked me to look after the dog, not the nosy second neighbour, and i spent 15 minutes with him yesterday so he could show me how to do the job. why should i now do something differently because of a weird busy body?

on the drive to work, i felt myself getting really hot under the collar. i have this second neighbour’s phone number and thought i should call him as soon as i get to work and tell him to butt out. i started getting butterflies in my stomach, i was so pissed and looking forward to letting him have it.

and i thought, why does it feel so good to let yourself get angry?

to which i replied, it doesn’t feel good to let yourself get angry. it actually feels lousy. it’s just that it’s much easier than calming yourself and dealing with the stressor in a smarter, more productive way. the ease of letting yourself blow up is very seductive but i learned a long time ago that i feel better when i take some deep breaths, put the problem out of my mind for a bit, calm down, and come back to it later with a better attitude.

i will still probably have a conversation with this jackass neighbour and say basically the same things, but i will say them in a calmer, more controlled manner which will allow me to retain control of both myself and the overall interaction. that’s definitely not as seductive as letting myself fly off the handle and stick my finger in this guy’s chest while i tell him what’s what, but it will make me happier in the long run. and i feel good about striving to be a better person…


…but i LOVE achieving the upper hand in social situations through careful self-awareness and self-control. that is the goal that seduces me.



what i like and don’t like about heating a home with a wood stove

what i like:

  • i get most of our wood for free, and free heat is awesome
  • house stays warm even when the power is out
  • can cook on wood stove when power is out too
  • creates a nice ambience
  • i love splitting wood, plus it’s good exercise

what i don’t like:

  • despite all the bullshit wood stove manufacturers spew about wood burning being “carbon neutral,” the billowing smoke doesn’t lie: it’s a huge source of pollution
  • requires constant attention to keep the fire going, and at the correct temperature
  • it’s easy to mess up and make the house way too hot, and it takes a long time to cool it back down
  • lots of work to find firewood, buck it up, split and stack it
  • need a chainsaw, and need to maintain it too
  • need space to store firewood
  • creates huge amounts of dust in house, especially when cleaning ash out of the stove

i think wood stoves are great as a backup and/or supplemental home heat source but they are not ideal as a primary source. but i’m not really convinced on any heat source so far: heat pumps are expensive to buy and install and seem to require a lot of expensive maintenance; electric baseboards are inefficient and super expensive to run; weird, obscure methods like boilers and radiators are even more inefficient than baseboards, and finding parts and repair people for those systems is becoming increasingly difficult.

at this point, i think the best setup would be using a heat pump until temps approach freezing, and then using the wood stove to supplement. still not great though. ugh.

oh, the trials and tribulations of being a full-fledged adult now.

i want to understand everyone

i have a strong inclination to understand the motivation behind the actions of everyone i know, and even some people i don’t. i’m pretty much obsessed with it. for instance, how many blog posts have i made mulling over the reason people have kids? plenty. that’s just one example, of course; i also want to know why my friends choose to get married, choose not to get married, pick nicaragua as a vacation destination, buy an SUV, go back to school, invest in ETFs, stop playing drums, live in the city, take up gardening, have a cocker spaniel, watch comedies, and so on and so forth. i’m extremely curious about a lot of stuff.

sometimes jenn has been embarrassed by me asking people pointed questions about this kind of shit. at a wedding last summer, i was asking some friends why they liked montreal so much and jenn later said she thought i came off as judgemental. i was really surprised and bummed to hear that because i hadn’t meant it like that at all. i was genuinely interested in knowing what they like about the place. montreal may not be for me but i know that doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone. i don’t care that people want different things from me, i just want to know why they want different things from me. i want to see life from their perspectives.

i’m really just fascinated by people and their choices. call me whiskers.


all the bass players in the metal bands i grew up listening to sucked


when i was 14 and first became a musician, i came at it all wrong. first off, i let my friend nick (who played guitar) convince me to learn to play bass when i didn’t know or care about bass at all back then. i loved the sound of distorted electric guitar so i should have started there but nope, i listened to nick.

second, i didn’t have any bass heroes until i had been playing bass for many years. almost all the bass players in the metal bands i was listening to sucked. they either couldn’t play worth a shit, had terrible tone, were mixed way too low on the records, or some combination of those things. shall i list some of them? i shall.

  • cliff burton (metallica) – he’s actually awesome, of course, but the only time you can hear him on a record is when he has a solo — which is twice on three records.
  • jason newsted (metallica) – sucks, bad tone, mixed low.
  • dave ellefson (megadeth) – sucks, bad tone, mixed low.
  • frank bello (anthrax) – sucks, TERRIBLE tone.
  • rex (pantera) – stupid scooped mid tone that lacks any body, mixed low.
  • nikki six (motley crue) – sucks, bad tone.
  • billy gould (faith no more) – sucks, bland tone.
  • david vincent (morbid angel) – sucks, mixed low.
  • paulo jr (sepultura) – sucks super bad, bad tone, mixed low.
  • tom araya (slayer) – perhaps the worst bass player ever, mixed completely out.

i’m sure there are others i’m forgetting too. i suppose i didn’t mind greg christian from testament and DD verni from overkill but they also didn’t exactly get me hard, either. about the only bass player that stood out to me as really mattering to a band was type o negative’s peter steele. you could hear him, his bass sounded cool, and he played neat things.


plus he looked fucking awesome.

as a full blown adult now, i’ve managed to find a few other bass players that really inspire me. jeroen paul thesseling (pestilence, obscura) is ridiculously talented and creates some frightening, unsettling sounds on his fretless. eric langlois (cryptopsy) always had super heavy tone, and mixed in some slap playing too. i think tony choy (pestilence, atheist) is probably the single biggest influence on my bass interests now though. he has a nice, well-rounded tone, plays a lot of slap (tastefully, mind you — it doesn’t sound out of place like a funk bassist in a metal band), and does great job of making the bass just as important and interesting as the other instruments. he’s fun to listen to, fun to play along with.

if only i knew about these guys when i was 14. because, i mean, i was a horrible bass player myself — shit in, shit out, right? i didn’t realize that bass could be cool, and that led to me mostly giving up on bass and focusing primarily on guitar up until the last few years. now that i love playing bass and realize how cool it can be, i wonder where i would be if i only had this knowledge 20-odd years ago.

whatever, i was a bonehead then anyway. i probably would have squandered my talents and written some stupid generic metal bass lines regardless. i’ll just be grateful i don’t suck at bass anymore and continue searching for an outlet for my bass love before i become a mouldering corpse.

i don’t like the suggestion that art should avoid any particular topic

i watched a film called irreversible a while ago. it’s a french flick that is infamous for a brutal rape scene in it. a friend told me about the film and said it was really good, but pointed out the rape scene was tough to watch because it was so convincing. he said it was quite long, like 10 minutes or so, and done in a single, non-stop shot. my pal found it hard to stomach but felt that there was a purpose to both the scene and how it was done. he felt that such a horrific event shouldn’t be edited or stylized, that it should be shown unflinchingly to try to communicate just how ugly and awful it truly is. i thought that was really interesting.

then i was chatting with another friend (a film studies graduate) about the same film, and mentioned all of this to him. this friend seemed to disagree with what my first friend had said, suggesting instead that no acting, directing, or anything else could come close to communicating the real horror of rape, and it was offensive to attempt to simulate it for the sake of film.

i can understand both arguments and think either position is reasonable, but i think the rationale for the second one is kind of flimsy and over-generalized. you could use the same argument and posit that any art about any sensitive issue trivializes it, and is offensive to those who have actually experienced it. i think war films are a great example of this: anyone who has been in ground-level combat will likely tell you that war is hell, so by my second friend’s logic, wouldn’t it be offensive to veterans to see a bunch of artists dancing around on a staged set, trying to imitate something horrible that they have not experienced and couldn’t possibly understand on a visceral level? sure, i think so.


i love the deer hunter but i bet that if i had survived being a POW in vietnam, i’d probably find its depictions of war cheap and inaccurate.

that wouldn’t make the offended veteran’s opinion the ‘right’ opinion though. there would probably be just as many veterans who felt the opposite way. my point is there’s no consensus on what’s offensive so i don’t think it’s fair to say any subject matter should be taboo due to its sensitive nature.

i think that, like most things in life, this is not something you can make a blanket statement about (even though those are my favourite kind of statement to make). i think each case must be judged on an individual basis: was that art exploitative? did it do justice to whatever it was trying to recreate or communicate? was it being respectful to the subject matter? each viewer should be critical and think about these kinds of questions, come up with their own answers, feel what they personally feel about a piece of art, and accept that other people may feel differently.

to each their own, for fuck’s sake.