“flip flop,” said the cat.

I was just about to write a glowing review of the 4Cats Art Studio in Duncan.

Then I learned the studio is no more.

Then I learned that 4Cats is a franchise, and the parent company has seen some controversy.

Well, gee whiz. Time to change my angle — back to the mire. Home sweet home.

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Nothing can ever be good.

Here’s how I wound up here. Years ago, I was walking in Duncan when I saw a fantastic piece of colourful abstract art in the window of a shop. I went in the shop and asked how much the painting was. The woman said it wasn’t for sale, it was painted by a 5-yr old at a birthday party or something like that, and it was just on display until the paint dried and the kid came to pick it up. I was disappointed I couldn’t get my filthy meat hooks on the painting but I was glad that kids did such a creative, artistic thing for fun. What a great experience for them. So I talked to the woman for a little bit about the shop and what they do, and was really impressed. I’ve always felt that there is consistently too much emphasis on sports and not enough on art in my community (and virtually every other rural community) so this was a breath of fresh air.

Fast forward to today, when I was dropping off some donations at the Salvation Army. A woman was dropping off some donations as well, including a giant, colourful, bold abstract painting. I said, “I like the painting.” She said, “do you want it?” I said, “YES,” wide-eyed and salivating, tongue lolling about, nervously clicking my previously mentioned filthy meat hooks together. The woman explained her daughter had made it at the 4Cats Art Studio in Duncan but no longer wanted it. I shouted, “isn’t that something” over my shoulder as I scuttled back to my lair, clutching my newfound treasure. I got home and promptly hung the painting right in the middle of the living room.

I’m so pleased with the painting and the serendipity of the whole situation that I started marveling once again at how great our community’s little 4Cats studio is. I decided I wanted to give props to them here so I started looking up their info online. I was surprised to learn that 4Cats Art Studios are a franchise, and that all of the webpages specific to the Duncan studio were gone. Even the phone # I found for them wouldn’t even ring.

I did some further searching and found that in 2014, 11 franchise owners launched legal action against the head office, ‘4CE,’ over a misrepresentation of profitability of the franchises. I couldn’t find the results of those lawsuits but looking at the 4Cats website, it appears they have 44 locations throughout Canada. Surely the 4Cats franchise deal can’t be that bad if all these other studios are still operating four years later. I mean, I’m bummed to learn that 4Cats is a chain simply because I would have preferred it if it was something small and unique to Duncan, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering if the franchisee’s who had trouble with the head office were simply an unhappy minority.

Then again, 11 unhappy franchisees to 44 (assumedly) happy ones is a pretty high ratio of discontent. Maybe there is something to all of this.

So really, who knows what to think about it? The whole situation seems fraught with unanswered questions and dubious actions on both sides — are the franchisors greedy twats? Are the franchisees inept artsy types who can’t run a business effectively? When it comes to stories like this, I usually find both sides are guilty of doing some really dumb stuff. I end up thinking, “ack, you’re all fucked. You dummies deserve each other.”

Arguing couple

Not even I like watching two angry turds yell and point their fingers at each other.

And that’s how my blog post that started out about how happy I was with the 4Cats Art Studio in Duncan turned into just another slog about how shitty people are.

On that note, why doesn’t someone around here start their own version of a 4Cats studio?

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the delicate balance between relaxing and being productive, and more love for ‘space trip’

I like to accomplish stuff and get lots of things done in a day. I like it so much that most of my days off work are spent making a list of all the little jobs I want to take care of that day, and then working through them one at a time, moving each job from the ‘to do’ side of the list to the ‘done’ side. I know that sounds boring but I find it immensely satisfying. Then at night, maybe during dinner or when I’m getting ready for bed, I love to go over that list in my head and congratulate myself on all the things I took care of, all the little ways that I’m ahead of where I was 16 hrs ago.

But lately, I’ve noticed that when I go down the rabbit hole with knocking things off the list, I get tons of shit done but I end up sleeping terribly because I’ve been tearing around like a madman right up until bedtime — my mind is still racing, thrilled with what I did, bummed by what I didn’t get to, and making a mental list for the next day I have free. It’s a vicious cycle, and a lousy trade-off because, yeah, getting lots of stuff done is great, but sleeping poorly is super shitty.

I’ve never been great at relaxing, it’s just not my resting state. I find it boring and usually feel like I’m wasting time. But I’ve gotten better at it since I’ve been with Jenn, and can do it and enjoy it now where I never could before. So what I’ve been experimenting with this last week is basically giving myself a cutoff for doing chores and shit in a day and forcing myself to relax after that. Instead of doing stuff right up until dinner and then hitting the sack afterward, I’m stopping at 6 or 7 pm and consciously saying to myself, “I’ve done enough today. I will be content with this. Time to start slowing down now so that I can actually get to sleep tonight.”

So far it’s been working well, praise Shiva. I’m not expecting a silver bullet for bad sleeps here but if the general trend is a movement towards more consistent decent sleeps then you can bet your nuts I’ll keep it up. Hell, my friends probably won’t even recognize me soon. I’ll be so chill and relax, smoking doobies all god damn day and saying “it is what it is, bro” with a warm smile even when things go catastrophically wrong.

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“It’s all good, I’m just chilling.”

On a somewhat related note, Dana and I were talking today about some chillwave and synthwave music that I showed him recently. What I find interesting is that both of us are musicians who typically like music that we listen to actively — music that engages our brains and makes us think, music in which we notice clever little details that keeps us listening to it closely. The chillwave/synthwave stuff we’ve been listening to is a passive listen though: it’s quite sparse and atmospheric, more about mood than musical ideas that make the listener go, “that was a cool hook,” or “the drums are really nuts in this part.” It’s a totally different musical pace for both of us, and one that I’ve never been into before. It’s actually super relaxing. And it’s fascinating that music that is so minimal and un-busy which can be easily listened to in the background can still have such emotional and cerebral impacts. For instance, the chillwave/synthwave stuff I’ve enjoyed most has a real retro sci-fi/Blade Runner vibe that I find a little dark and disconcerting, yet warm, nostalgic, and comfortable. That vibe infects everything about the time that I’m listening to it, and that’s just so fucking pleasing to me. That’s a sort of mood I frequently want to be in so I’m really jazzed that I’ve found an effective way to facilitate it. Who knew it would be as easy as putting on a fucking youtube vid?

I guess that’s the whole point of ‘mood music.’ I’ve known the term forever but never understood its purpose. Well, how about that.

Of course, there’s a massive mountain of shitty chillwave and synthwave out there too. Like anything else, 95% of the genre is junk. But when you find the good stuff, wowee — it’s worth the digging.

public washroom unlocked doors

Yesterday I went to use a public washroom but when I opened the door, someone in there still had their pants down and said in a panic, “it’s in use!” I said something like, “whoah, oops,” got out, and closed the door.

I thought, who doesn’t lock the door of a public washroom when they use it? How could an adult neglect to do that? Do they want strangers to walk in on them pissing, shitting, wiping their asses?

Then I thought, maybe they actually do want that to happen. Maybe they get off on getting caught in the act, so they leave the door unlocked intentionally. Maybe they stand there with their genitals and buttocks out for minutes on end, just waiting for some poor sap to walk in and happen upon that unfortunate sight.

Then I thought, while the person I had just walked in on may or may not have such a fetish, there are undoubtedly others that do — I realized a while ago that if you can dream up a fetish, you are virtually guaranteed that at least a handful out of the 7.6 billion people on this planet actually do get off on it.

And man, that’s fucking weird. I don’t like thinking about people getting turned on by weird, stupid, and gross stuff, and I certainly hope I didn’t unwittingly play a role in some weirdo’s little fantasy yesterday.

That is all.

 

The speeding idiot, and the idiot judge who shrugged his shoulders

Oh boy, a news article has got me riled up. There hasn’t been one of these for a while. Hot dog.

In 2015, a guy in Vancouver named Ken Chung was driving his Audi 140 km/h in a 50 km/h zone just before hitting another vehicle, killing another man named Dr. Alphonsus Hui. Seems pretty clear that Chung was being a dickhead speed freak, right?

Not according to the judge. Judge Gregory Rideout acquitted Chung on one count of dangerous driving causing death, saying “thereĀ is at least a reasonable doubt that such conduct amounted to a marked departure from the standard of a reasonably prudent driver.”

In layman’s terms, the judge is saying that your average, reasonable driver might have driven just as fast as Chung.

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t dream of driving 140 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. That’s crazy. That sort of driving shows a blatant disregard for laws, and the safety of the general public. I would argue that someone who is up for doing that is not a “reasonably prudent” driver at all — they’re a maniac who doesn’t care about anything but the rush they get from speeding. They’re more like a drug addict getting high than a reasonable prudent driver.

Judge Rideout added, “I conclude the momentariness of the accused’s conduct in excessively speeding is insufficient to meet the criminal fault component, and he must be acquitted.”

Funnily enough, Chung was just found guilty last month on another charge of excessive speeding.

So Chung drove like a fucking asshole, killed a man, clearly didn’t feel very guilty or learn anything from the nightmarish experience, and drove like a fucking asshole again and got nailed for it — but now he gets away with the killing from a few years ago because he wasn’t speeding excessively for very long that time.

The takeaway here is: according to Judge Rideout, you’re allowed to speed excessively as long as you do it in short bursts.

This is insane. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that Judge Rideout was paid off by the wealthy family of the accused. That’s the only way I can imagine someone coming to this conclusion.

I hope Rideout and Chung both speed excessively right into each other and rid the world of their entitled, disrespectful asses.

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Perhaps the most absurd detail here is Chung still works for the Audi Downtown Vancouver dealership. I just sent the dealership an email asking how they can employ someone who used their brand and product to kill someone. I look forward to their response.

please let the sun burn out

So far, we’ve had a cool, overcast June in the Cowichan Valley. And while we had a few stupid hot days and virtually zero rain in May, a lot of that month was cool too.

Thank heavens. Every year, the summer weather seems to start earlier and last for longer, the forest fires grow larger and do more damage, and droughts become more severe. I find summer to be the most frightening, depressing season because of this stuff. Every time we have another hot, sunny day, all I can think about is my escape plan in the event a forest fire forces us out of our home, and I wonder if our water is going to run out this year. For the last few years, the city has been trucking water in to fill our reservoir so if not for that, our taps already would have run dry. It’s alarming as all hell.

And yet, my co-workers all clamour for the hot weather. Just yesterday, one was moaning that it’s too cold, we need some hot sun. I thought, “are you insane? Would you really trade water in your taps and a home safe from a raging fire for a fucking tan?” I can’t understand it.

In these bleak and grim times, the prelude to mankind’s downfall, I take solace in the small victories that postpone the terror and chaos for at least one more day. If I can finish my life without having to witness that shit, I’ll die a happy camper. Let the sun worshippers battle to the death over the last drops of filthy, polluted water after I’m gone. I’ll happily take grey skies from here on out.

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Great tans, though.

i think my friends and i are getting better with age

When I was a teenager, I pretty much hated most of my friend’s choices of girlfriends and boyfriends. I didn’t understand what my friends saw in their partners. Some of them were weird, some were gross, some were stupid, some were basket cases; by and large, they sucked.

I was no exception. I attempted to bring some odd ducks into our fold, and it rarely went well. Usually the gang would tolerate my gf until we split up, then they’d tell me what they had thought of her. It wasn’t usually kind.

But you know what? They were right. Most of my gf’s were wack. And I was right when I didn’t like their partners either. Because when we were young, we were dumb, naive, inexperienced. We were easily infatuated, we weren’t critical of the people we dated. If there was even a hint of mutual attraction, that was usually enough. Sometimes one-sided attraction was enough, if we were desperately insecure and just seeking the approval of someone, anyone. Yep, we just had terribly low standards back then, and most of our partners sucked.

I actually believed it would always be like that. I thought the partners of my friends would always be intolerable wedges driven between us, gremlins trying to sabotage the fine machinery of our friendships.

bugs-gremlin

I loved that gremlin guy when I was a kid. I still think he’s cute.

Thank heavens, I was wrong. Once we hit our 20’s, most of us became a bit more discerning in our choice of partners. Slowly but surely, I began to genuinely like more and more of may pals’ significant others. It was quite a welcomed change. It’s even reached a point now where my friend’s partners are so good that their pals are worth knowing. That opens up entirely new friend circles and social scenes.

I find it all pretty amazing. It makes me proud of how my friends and I have grown as people, and happy that a byproduct of that is meeting even more good people. There are many aspects of aging that suck but becoming smarter, more confident people who attract other smart, confident people isn’t one of them.

dear mother, dear father – part II – aka, ‘it is what it is (jk, sort of)’

Heads up, this is a long, boring one.

I’ve already written about how many pleasant nostalgic connections I have between my mom and a bunch of various things, from mini-golf to music by The Police to public skating. Even though I don’t have a super close relationship with her now, my mom sure managed to make a good impression on me as a kid that still echoes through my adulthood.

But then there’s my dad.

He wasn’t (and still isn’t) a bad guy. I really think that for being a single dad raising two boys, he did fine. He fed us, clothed us, gave us a home, gave us a weekly allowance in exchange for doing chores. He gave us quite a bit of freedom, which I think is invaluable. I have nothing to complain about in those regards.

But for some reason, whereas I like most of the things from my childhood that I associate with mom, I hate most of the things from it that I associate with my dad. Things like people making an ‘h’ sound at the start of words like ‘white.’ Plates and bowls with typical English designs on them. Unfinished projects that languish for years. Sailboat culture. Mowing lawns. All manners of clutter. Whenever I think about or come across any of these things, I’m instantly annoyed, and I only realized recently that the common thread between those things is that they all remind me of growing up with my dad.

I’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks or maybe months now, trying to figure out why those things and/or my childhood with my dad bug me so much, and I’m still not sure. I definitely think my mom did a better job of spending quality time with us, doing fun things and interacting with us more than my dad did, and I think that’s part of it. While my dad provided the necessities for my brother and I, he didn’t do much beyond that. He didn’t play ball or anything else with us, didn’t take us to the beach, didn’t take us on any hikes. The only things I remember him taking us to were super boring things that he was interested in — the Abbotsford Air Show, some old plane museum in Sidney, boat shows. All things that I utterly detested, and still do.

Wait, I’m lying. I liked the road trip he took us on to Drumheller and the Tyrell Museum, and he took us to Disneyland when I was 10 or so. Those were both a lot of fun.

But that’s it. I just remembered he took us to Hawaii and Australia for three weeks when I was 12, and you think those places would have been a lot of fun for a kid that age. But they weren’t, because all we did there was take tours of various factories (no joke), go to the homes of old people who dad knew through sailboat connections (also not a joke), and drive for countless hours each day. I remember precisely one day of beach fun in Hawaii, and zero days spent on any beaches in Australia. I even remember going to a small, beautiful, tropical island in Australia — but nope, dad didn’t want to swim there. Instead, we trudged through the heat and blistering sun until we had walked around the whole island. What fun. But hey, he took us to see the Sidney opera house. That was a real hoot for a 12-yr old. Good grief, it’s just occurring me now how inconsiderate my dad was when it came to ‘quality time’ with the family. With the exception of Disneyland and Drumheller, he just did stuff he wanted to, and dragged us along with him. 95% of the time, he really didn’t care what anyone else wanted to do.

Another example of him being inconsiderate: I was always very tidy, even as a child. I remember cleaning up my room and having a few small bags of clothing that I didn’t need anymore. I asked dad what to do with them and he said just to hang on to them for now, that he would drop them off at the Salvation Army the next time he was in Mill Bay (which was 10 minutes away and which he went to every other day). Weeks passed. I asked him again about taking the bags. He tore a strip off me, told me he’d get to it. Months passed. I asked again, had another strip torn off. I hated those fucking bags. Finally he was away one day so I threw the bags in the burn barrel outside and lit them on fire. Problem solved.

Oh, I just remembered what a hypocrite he was about being prompt and on-time. I remember him picking me up from friend’s houses, and if I wasn’t waiting with my shoes on when he arrived, he tore a strip off of me. But conversely, if he picked me up and decided to have a half hour BS session with my friend’s parents while I sat listlessly in the car, he tore a strip off me if I asked him if we could go. “We’ll go when I’m ready to go,” he’d say.

Funnily enough, he has also always been the most comically late person I’ve ever known. One time, he was supposed to pick my brother and I up from the Mill Bay ferry terminal, but he never showed up. So we sat there, two boys under age 10, in the middle of nowhere, wondering where our dad was. Eventually, we just started walking and eventually got to a corner store in the Mill Bay village — over 5 km away (you can imagine how long it took our little legs to walk that far) — where we went inside and looked at some arcade games. My dad eventually showed up at the store and tore a strip off of us for leaving the ferry terminal, and for going into the store and making it harder for him to find us — as if we should have sat at that empty ferry terminal for hours and hours on end, and as if we were bad, stupid kids for not doing that.

You know, I thought this post was going to help me get to the bottom of why I’m annoyed by everything that reminds me of my dad, but it’s just turned into me bitching about specific things he did. I can’t tell if this has been really self-indulgent and unproductive, or if the point of this is that I am actually quite bitter about my childhood with him. Is it possible that my sense of bitterness colours everything I associate with him? That’s what I’m leaning towards at this point.

And if that’s it, then now what? The options are to keep my mouth shut and continue to have a minimal relationship with the man, or to tell him everything I’ve talked about here and get it off my chest. Both those options are junk. There’s no guarantee talking about this shit with him will improve anything. I actually think it would make things worse since he would probably feel very defensive and possibly guilty about things that can’t be undone, and it’s not like all my resentment will disappear the second he says “I’m sorry.” I will always have these memories and the unpleasant associations that go along with them, so why bother dredging all this shit up with him?

No, I feel like it’s good to investigate my feelings about my dad and acknowledge my bitterness towards him, but our relationship is what it is due to years of history, and I think it would be naive to believe I could change 38 years of history and the resulting feelings with just a conversation. Maybe we could spend the rest of our lives doing family counseling if we felt like wasting all our time on it, but I think I simply need to accept our relationship for what it is: I feel like he really fucked up some stuff when I was a kid, and that has made it difficult for us to have a good relationship as adults. That’s all there is to it.

You know, I feel like a lot of people in this world could learn from what I’ve been figuring out while writing this. I think too many people indulge their desires to hash out old grudges under the guise of trying to improve a relationship. I think that if people really thought about it, a lot of them would realize they’re not doing it for the sake of the relationship — they’re doing it for the sake of pride, because they want to stick their finger in someone’s chest and tell that person how they hurt them or pissed them off all those years ago. Of course there are exceptions to this, big deals that people should be held accountable for, but should I go and bitch at my dad because our trip to Austalia back in 1992 was awful? That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. “You didn’t hug me after my big soccer game, and that still hurts 30 years later.” That kind of thing. That’s crybaby shit. Sometimes, there’s just no point in revisiting negative feelings. Sometimes you just have to accept the relationships, or lack thereof, you have with people.

You might say, “it is what it is.”

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lol

Well, this has been enlightening and annoying.