Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Homecoming, Redux

Queen's University suffered a serious blow to its reputation last week, as the otherwise peaceful and successful Homecoming Weekend was marred by a violent and destructive street party. By the end of the night, a car had been overturned and set on fire, a fire truck was pelted with beer bottles, and ambulances were blocked from reaching people in need. A long-standing and celebrated event became fodder for the evening news.

When an event of this magnitude takes place, the immediate reaction is to look for someone to blame. For many of the residents of Kingston, the blame lies with the students. In a letter to the Queen's Journal, a Kingston police officer admonished, "I hope the two girls with the deep lacerations to their faces who we rendered aid to on William east of Aberdeen are OK. I’m sure the scars they will now have for life will serve as a reminder of how good a time your traditional Aberdeen street party was." To these residents, the party on Aberdeen is considered an extension of Queen's Homecoming, and therefore the guilt and responsibility for these events must lie with those attending the school.

According to some students, however, the blame lies with the Kingston police and the authoritarian methods used during the period prior to Homecoming. As one student wrote in the Queen's Journal, "The fact that the car was destroyed in the face of such a police presence only a few feet north and south of the car seems to further illustrate the point that Homecoming was more of a protest than a party." To these students, the riot was a natural reaction to an unjustified oppression of students by the authorities.

Others blame the presence of individuals from outside of Queen's University, lured by the promise of a massive street party. As the Kingston-Whig Standard acknowledged, "Those arrested included a mix of Kingston residents and out-of-towners who came for the party." The Queen's Journal stated that approximately one-third of the students they interviewed at the party were not Queen's Students. While these people may acknowledge that students were responsible for part of the destruction, it is those not from outside of Queen's who were responsible for the worst acts of violence.

For those who thought that Homecoming could never be cancelled, they may be in for a rude awakening. Senator Hugh Segal has already called for Homecoming to be limited to students and alumni for next year. What will happen then, if the riots continue? What will happen when Kingston police are forced to resort to the use of tear gas, Tasers, and water cannons to restore order to a crowd that outnumbers them 50 to 1? How long will Queen's allow an event to go on, when the presence of its students on national media does irreparable damage to the school's reputation? When asked of the future of Homecoming, Patrick Dean (Queen's Academic Vice President) stated that, "Every aspect of our culture and traditions is going to be looked at critically to assess the role that it may play in the fostering of this kind of behaviour."

Once the dust finally settles, there will be more than enough blame to go around for everyone. Regardless of who is at fault, the time has come for students to take responsibility for Homecoming. This responsibility starts, first and foremost, by admitting that the events that took place on Saturday were in poor taste and had no place at a celebration for the students and Alumni of Queen's University. This means no longer attempting to glorify the "party" and draw parallels to other "protests against authority."

Queen's University is in Canada, and Canada is a free society. If you feel that the attention visited upon you by the Kingston police force is unwarranted, then there are a number of ways to express your concerns. Start by asking the officer for his or her name and badge number. With this information, you are then welcome to file a complaint with the police station, the local media, the Mayor's office, your Member of Provincial Parliament, and your Member of Parliament. This is the premise of a democratic and free society.

What you are not entitled to do is to pelt the officer with beer bottles, punch them, hurl racial slurs, flip over a car, or attempt to set said car on fire. This is not a protest. This is mob mentality at it's worst, and it should not be tolerated in a free society.

Students must take an active role in determining how best to return Homecoming to its rightful place as a peaceful celebration. Perhaps it is a matter of licensing and cordoning off Aberdeen street, while limiting attendance to students and Alumni. Maybe it will require an even larger concert to draw attention away from Aberdeen. Or maybe, just maybe, all that's required is for people to realize the consequences of their actions.

Homecoming is one of the events that defines Queen's as a university. The presence of Queen's Alumni from around the world signifies the strength of the bond that is shared by all Queen's students, current and former. To allow the situation to continue is more than dangerous or neglectful, it is also very disrespectful to the Alumni who travel vast distances to come to Kingston and remember what it was like to be a student, decades after they graduated.

No one has the right to take Homecoming away from the Alumni and future students of Queen's University. Yet, if students fail to act and the street parties continue to escalate, that's exactly what's going to happen. Then, there will be no more parties, crazy Alumni parades, football games and cheering crowds, breakfasts with pancakes made with beer, or graduates of the class of 1935 dropping in to say 'Hello'. Four years later and few students, if any, will even know that there ever was a Homecoming.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I almost forgot about you today. For that, I'm sorry. I wish I could've been there with your family, down by the lake. They were so glad to see everyone last year. They were just happy that we'd remembered. I just couldn't, though. Not this year.

I hope you don't think any less of me because of it. It didn't mean that I wasn't thinking about you, or that I've stopped missing you. Weeks or months can go by without me thinking about it, but there are times when it still feels like I just found out. I can't decide which is worse, remembering you or forgeting about you.

I know that I shouldn't blame myself, but part of me still feels as though I could've done something to help you. I know that's a natural way to react, but it doesn't mean that it hurts any less.

I meant what I said, back then. If you saw what we did in your honour, I hope you approved. I never felt like I ever got the words right. I don't even think that I'm getting these words right. I still wanted to try, though.

Thank you for your wonderful friendship, and I hope you know how much you meant to those who knew you. As hard as it may be, it's still worth remembering.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


It's homecoming weekend here at Queen's University, and I have to say that I'm having a pretty damned good time so far.

Andrea and I went to Ritual yesterday afternoon. Okay, fine. Yesterday morning. Ritual opened at precisely 11:45 am, but we were there by around 10:00 am to guarantee a decent spot in line. And, let me tell you, we were almost too late by the time we got there.

Once in, I was fortunate enough to run into some old company that I hadn't seen in some time. My former housemate, Eric, is back in town doing a master's, and this was our first time to hang out since he got back into town. Andrew, the Golden Words editor from my first year at the paper, was also around, and we ended up splitting pitchers for about five or six solid hours. We were also joined by Yonek, Jake, Riz, Jason, and a host of Golden Words contributors from years past. It was pretty damned great.

I wish I could say that I managed to make it out later that evening for another kick at the proverbial cat, but I was pretty much done for by that point. I slept from about 5:45 pm until 9:45 pm, at which point we went out for dinner at Gusto's. After that, we pretty much just crashed right out.

I took a lot of photos during the afternoon in question. They'll tell the story far better than I can. I just need to be near a computer with the proper card reader, first.

I'm going to head for the football game in a few hours. First, I need to track down some form of nourishment. I'm thinking V.I.P. Chinese.

Friday, September 23, 2005


According to Google, I'm the 4th best source for information on Islay whiskey on the whole interweb. I'm also the number one source for a photo of the AC Shelby Cobra. I'm pretty proud of those distinctions, considering that I took up blogging less than a year ago. I'm just not so proud of being the primary source of information if you want to find a hooker in Tamarindo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Travel Review: Halifax

I've written up another travel article, this one on Halifax. You can find it here.

I'm going to keep it on my "articles" blog for a few days before I submit it to If anyone notices any typos or other mistakes, I'd appreciate it if you could drop me a comment.

I also appreciate further advice in countering colds. It's almost gone, but it's still hanging on with it's damned fingernails.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Home Remedies

I have a cold. Apparently, it's been going around Queen's the past couple of days. The symptoms for this particular bug are a sore throat, coughing, lots of phlegm, and generally feeling out-to-lunch.

I managed to limit the damage I could do to myself and others by staying in bed yesterday, but I needed to head out to the cottage today. I was doing fine until I went grocery shopping, where I managed to smash an entire bottle of barbeque sauce just outside the store. I embedded a few pieces of glass in my hands and feet, and managed to cover most of my left foot (and sandal) with spicy, spicy barbequeing goodness.

The owner of the store is a king among men - he not only cleaned up the mess and offered me paper towel to clean myself up, he also gave me a free bottle of sauce to replace the one I broke. Helluva guy. So, this is where I plug Glenburnie Grocery. They're a damned fine store.

Anyways, there was a point to all this. Any recommendations for home remedies for a cold / sore throat? I've been drinking lots of fluids, getting lots of rest, and drinking plenty of lemon tea. Can you suggest some other home remedies? If so, please leave a comment.

In the mean time, I'll be spending some quality time with my good friends couch and Dr. Phil if you need me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

In the News...

So, it appears that North Korea is backing down from its nuclear ambitions in exchange for food and security. They still need to hammer out the details, but this could be an excellent precedent for peaceful disarmament, assuming it goes through. The deal is to be phased in over several years. The U.S. confirmed that it would be airdropping 10,000 shipping crates full of Big Mac's as a gesture of good faith. When North Korea disarms completely, the U.S. will start attaching parachutes to the crates.

Things are still rough in New Orleans, though I suppose that Rome wasn't drained in a day. Vice Admiral Thad Allen has stated that major disease risks remain, while martial law and an evening curfew remain in effect. Politicians from both the Republican and Democratic party have been heard wondering, "Who the hell names their child 'Thad'?"

Palestinian security forces have re-sealed the border between Gaza and Palestine after thousands of Palestinians had crossed into Egypt illegally over the past week. The recent border chaos had allowed smugglers to bring drugs and weapons across the border into Gaza. Given the prevalence of militant groups such as Hamas in Gaza, Palestinian security forces have since determined that it would be wise to install such modern equipment as metal detectors. In other brash statements of the obvious, Palestinian security forces have announced that water is wet and gravity makes things fall down.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ryan on Music: Orishas

A couple of years ago, my housemate and I decided that we were going to throw a Cuban themed party. It's not a particularly hard theme to dress up for - you just throw on a Hawaiian shirt, and there you go. The music, however, proved to be more problematic. Basically, I wanted to have more than an endless repeat of "Guantanamera."

During this search, I came across some Cuban rap by Orishas. I decided to give it a listen, expecting it to be more of a novelty than anything. "What could they rap about?" I wondered naively, "Pimping out their cigar rolling machines?"

Oh, how little I knew about the magnificence that awaited me.

To this day, I still have no idea what their music is really about. It's all in Spanish. But, the sound is entirely unique. It's what you would get if you locked Ibrahim Ferrer and Daddy Yankee in a room together, and told them that they couldn't come out until they learned to play nicely together. If you had to give that a genre, it would be hip-hop/Latino fusion. Or, in Ryan-speak, "perfect summertime cigar-smoking, rum-drinking party music."

If this at all interests you, I highly recommend that you check out their debut album, "A Lo Cubano". You can find samples from it here.

I've also purchased "El Kilo" and, while it's quite good, I don't feel it stands up to the quality of their debut album. Still, well worth the purchase.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments. If anyone reading this has listened to their second CD, "Emigrante", I'd appreciate your feedback on it.

One Tasty Foot

So, yeah. I ended up getting a call about four minutes after I finished my blog post, informing me of when my next interview was going to be. So, retract the miffed-ness noted earlier. I need to grow some damned patience.

Also, starting in October, I'll be back in at work (same job as before) for about 2-3 days a week. Does this mean that I'm no longer unemployed? Can I be underemployed? Or do I just place a high premium on leisure.

I'm excited about having some company out to the cottage the cottage this weekend. But first, I need to clean it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tick, Tick, Tick.

I haven't heard anything regarding my primary job target in the past two weeks. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I am a little miffed that my efforts to find out more have, thus far, been unsuccessful. But I still haven't received a little envelope in the mail that says, "Hey, thanks for coming out, but no dice,*" so I remain hopeful.

*I'm paraphrasing here, but maybe they'll actually use those words.

I had my interview with Foreign Affairs on Monday, and I'd say it went quite well. Better than last year, at least. I doubt that I have the patience to make a go at it for another year, but perhaps I won't have to. But, speaking of waiting, they won't let me know anything until, oh, December or so. So, yeah. I'm not exactly holding my breath.

I wish I could say that unemployment is horrible and that I can't wait to get back to work, but then I would be lying. I certainly wouldn't turn down a good job, but I'm prepared to wait as long as it takes until a decent job comes around before I take on something that is less than ideal.

The part time work that I do have has been pretty decent so far, and it looks as though I may be able to get back in for a few days each month to do the same work as I was doing before. The pay won't exactly be lavish, but I'll have enough to make ends meet until December rolls around. December marks my self-imposed deadline to decide between graduate school and my other options.

In the mean time, I've been enjoying the down time. Today, I put on some Red Hot Chilli Peppers, made myself a big mug of tea, smoked a freshly packed pipe, and stared at the lake. I think it'll take a few weeks before I get tired of that.

I want to start writing again. Seriously writing. The kind of writing I did in high school, when I could dash out ten to fifteen pages of fiction in an evening, stopping only when I realized that I was looking at less than six hours of sleep before school started. I miss those nights. I had more premises for short stories and novels than I had time to dash them down.

Since those glorious nights, I think almost all of my work has been spurned by some external factor. Deadlines. Bosses. Courses. My problem, writing-wise, is motivation. When I can learn to motivate myself again - that is, when I learn to love writing for writing's sake - that'll be when those nights return.

Friday, September 09, 2005

You So Funny

I'm sick of talking about myself. Today, I'm going to talk about you. That is, the bloggers on my side bar. So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take a quick glance at each of your blogs and pull my favorite quote from it.

"The only thing miraculous about birth is that something that large comes out of something that small. Also, to all the ladies in the crowd: GET THE EPIDURAL. PLEASE." - Cameron

"I don't think anyone should ever walk in the city without a funny looking animal leading the way. Everyone smiles at you and cars tend to stop at intersections to let you pass. It's like a baby, but without the 18-year commitment thing. In conclusion, dogs!" - Susan

"Speaking of dad, how come he chose one of the years I'm in Japan to take all the kids to Cuba? Oh well, I'm hoping to go get my fill of second/third world country with cheap everything in May by going to Thailand. My friend Meghna is going to go with me more than likely. She'll be going to represent Scarborough in the international "ass-end of an otherwise quite nice city" track meet." - Seth

"And then all of the sudden, you hear this one noise that's just really fully unmistakably two people having sex in the next room, and you're like "Whoa, okay, got it!" And then you go back into your room and turn the music way up, kind of like you're hiding, right? And then you realize that you just spent like two or three full minutes listening to a couple of people having sex in the next room, and you feel really weird and bad about yourself? You know that feeling?" - Matt

"Today, Chris becomes the first of my cohort to take the final bold step towards his thirties. As always, he is a forward looking man, unafraid of his future and confidently striding wherever fate takes him. As always, the rest of us cower behind him and make sure that if God’s waiting around the corner with a big hammer, we’ve got enough of a lead to make a decent run for it in the opposite direction." - Mike

"When you make a career out of leering at the fine young asses of female interns, be sure to purchase pants one size larger than is required so as to not blatantly showcase your icky and bizarrely-angled penis during inevitable erections." - Sofi

"I was going to do a lot of work today, but then I found this shoddily made, but very funny, Harry Potter dating sim flash game. You don’t actually play as Harry Potter, but you can invite him to the dance. His responses are pretty funny. On my first play through I almost got with Ginny, but Snape and Dumbledore liked me too. I will not rest until I take Hermione to the dance! Edit (15:22): Stupid Hermione is such an ice queen." - Tavis

"Someone found this page by searching on Yahoo for the words "japanese beaver". I somehow doubt they got what they were looking for from my blog." - Jason

"In addition, I'm pretty sure that your house (given that the layout is mirror image of my house) comes fully equipped with indoor plumbing, so I'd appreciate if you would not pee on my house, thank you. " - Erin

"E: 'You smell like eyeliner.'
Lang: 'What does that smell like? Clowns?'
E: 'It smells like fear.'" - Lang

"A couple weeks ago I was riding my bike to work, and when I got to the stoplight at Timmy's my gaze wandered to the minivan next to me. Specifically, it was the wheels I glanced at. They were ridin' spinnaz. Bright, shining, unceasing spinnaz. The fucking minivan, with the kids in the back and the quietly-aging mother behind the wheel with the bumper stickers proclaiming that teachers do it in the classroom, that minivan was letting them keep spinnin'. Word, homes. Word. " - Eve

"I went to the gym this morning and found that I hadn't properly locked my basket and someone had stolen a few items: 1). A pair of very old smelly shoes, 2). My bar of soap.
I don't understand why anyone would take these but I guess they were really desperate for athletes foot or something. Enjoy, chump!" - Riz

"Reason Hilary Duff Probably Digs Me #5: Check out this goddamn handstand. Hup! [flawless handstand]" - Jay

"In the winter, when it's -40° outside, there's no way in hell I'm leaving my apartment for any reason short of Armageddon or being out of Diet Coke." - Nee

"Neil: 'Oh, that's a good choice, the Philly Cheesesteak. Marinated Triple A Prime Rib in that one. '
Customer: 'Yeah, no mad cow in it though, right? Ha ha ha.'
Tyler: (cutting sandwich and wrapping it up) 'Lady, the only mad cows are the ones who didn't get cut up and put into this delicious sandwich.'" -Neil

No slight intended if I didn't pull a quote from you - general rule of thumb was to use quotes from blogs that are updated every few days or so. Failing that, if I couldn't pull a quote (after about 5 minutes worth of effort) that wasn't hee-haw-larious, then I didn't post it. Sorry.

If people would like to contribute, they can pull their favorite quotes from any blog and post them in comments. You can even post from your own blog, if you want.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Halifax and Cottage

Busy couple of days. Erin and Riz came out to the cottage for a couple of days and, boy, is my liver tired. Actually, it wasn't that bad - but it was definitely the typical cottage visit, with way too much food and a lot of sitting around, and doing nothing. Score.

The trip to Halifax last weekend went really well. We hit the ground running, then proceeded to spend most of the weekend eating lobster and drinking Keith's. Okay, I drank Keith's.

We also went on a tour of the Keith's brewery. This was a lot of fun - they take their tours pretty seriously, and pretend that it's the late 1800's. It even had an audience participation portion.

Tour Guide: "Does anyone know the final, most important ingredient to Alexander Keith's fine India pale ale?"

[23 seconds of silence]

Me: "Love?"

The real ingredient is "time." Andrea started a nigh-incurable case of the giggles, as she, um, took that to be the physical component of love. To see why this is so amusing, look at this picture of Alexander Keith.

Keith's is coming out with a honey-brown and a red variety, which I had the opportunity to sample. By sample, I mean "drink 3 medium-sized glasses very, very quickly before we move onto the next part of the tour." I thought they were good, but not as good as the classic Keith's.

That's about it for now. I'm cleaning the cottage and preparing for my interview today. My brother-in-law is now back from New Orleans, so they're going to take a few days to unwind up here this weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Big Easy

It appears that the aftermath of hurricane Katrina will be even worse than the massive damage inflicted during the hurricane itself. They believe thousands to be dead, with little relief in sight for those still trying to deal with the hurricane's destruction. What's worse, those who are still in New Orleans are those most vulnerable to its effects - the poor, elderly, and the infirm.

And now, whatever hasn't been blown away is being looted. Police have been forced to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and concentrate on halting looting and violence. Armed gangs roam the streets, assaulting police officers, firing on military aircraft, and looting everything from jewelry stores to hospitals.

My question for you, dear reader, is this. What is the underlying cause of this mayhem? Was there inadequate evacuation for the poor and infirm? Is chaos inevitable in any kind of serious disaster? Does racial tension in the southern U.S. play a role? Is enough being done now, or is the problem still being handled too lightly?

All insights, regardless of length, are appreciated.