Mastering Procrastination

If you haven’t noticed, ol’ Mr. Charlton hasn’t exactly been posting a whole slew recently. Now, I could give you a bunch of excuses as to exactly why I haven’t been writing. You know what? Let’s try out a few excuses. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had to give an excuse, and it couldn’t hurt to flex that muscle. Just in case I ever actually have to start blaming things other than myself, like circumstances, scenarios, the weather, or other people.

  • I’ve been busy. (False. I’ve been getting caught up with season six of Game of Thrones and playing a lot of Fallout 3. )
  • I haven’t been feeling well. (False. I feel like the God/Prince I normally feel like)
  • The dog requires a lot of attention. (False. Pookie is about eighty-four in dog years, all she does is sleep and eat)
  • I’ve been learning new things. (True! Teaching myself some more programming junk, as well as a very specific program that’s used to write called “Scrivener”)

Long story short; I’ve spent a small amount of time learning some new skills, but most of my time in the last two weeks has been games and television. Some of the time, though, has been setting up a profile for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org). Time has been also spent learning Scrivener. I’ve been doing research for this novel I’m going to try and complete in a month. That’s also work, right?

Here’s what’s probably what’s going through your mind right now.

“Why the hell is Mr. Charlton telling us he’s being a lazy dickbag?”

See? I love it when you ask questions. Totally makes me feel like I’m not talking to myself. Here’s the reason. I’m making a point that procrastination sometimes tries to disguise itself as work. While I’m doing research for writing, or learning an incredibly complicated writing program, or getting setup for a writing contest, there’s one thing I’m not doing. Writing. Sure, it feels like I’m doing something, but truthfully there’s no actual work getting done, no words are being written down, no ideas from my mind brain are being chiseled onto the stone sitting on my desk. If I’m doing everything in an attempt writing

I like to write. I find it an enjoyable, and there’s a lot of people who find the hobby enjoyable as well. Musicians are the same way, there’s something incredibly satisfying about taking a song from your head and getting it onto an instrument and have it come alive. At the end of the day, though, whether your writing or making music or sculpting or whatever you’re doing creating stuff, it’s still work.

When I sit down, shit doesn’t just magically appear, I have to work to make it appear. There’s this weird idea (which is perpetuated by a number of pretentious folks) that creative endeavors just pour out of people. There might be a handful of geniuses that have absolutely had to write or paint or whatever, but for the 99.99999 percent of us regular folk, you actually have to do work. I love to write, but there is a slew of things I would rather be doing than writing. I would rather…

  • do nothing
  • eat some food
  • play a game
  • read a book
  • watch crappy television
  • go for a walk
  • put intoxicating substances, like scotch, into my body
  • touch myself inappropriately
  • touch someone else inappropriately (with their consent)
  • pretend I’m writing by mashing the keyboard

Procrastination goes even deeper. Sometimes, I’ll work on one project to avoid working on another. I lovingly refer to that as ‘Procrastinception’. It’s incredibly weird to think that sometimes you’ll do work to avoid other work. There a common theme in this ‘doing work to avoid work’ scheme. You’ll say to yourself “Hey, you know what? This place is messy, totally unorganized. I’m not going to be able to focus on the task at hand until I get this junk in order.” You’ll spend the next four hours arranging your bullshit into piles where you think it belongs, pat yourself on the back, then tell yourself that when you get some more free time, THEN, then you’ll get down to brass tacks and start working. If you’re a creative person, you’ve probably done this once or twice.

The secret is, there is no good time to start writing or painting or picking up the guitar. That’s a luxury many people can’t afford. Your home is always going to be a little messy, there’s always going to be interruptions, and there’s always something that’ll come up to pry you away from writing a book, or painting a picture, or laying down a track. In fact, try to learn to work when there’s chaos around, like when you’re at your job on your lunch break and everyone is yelling at each other.

I constantly see images online of people writing in nooks, with tea and paper. But if you’re like me, life is going on around you. You can try and fight the stream, telling yourself you’re  just  waiting for the right moment. Or you can get to work and learn to write or paint or play when

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m done binging on media for a while, maybe I’ll get some actual shit done now.

p.s.s. Seriously, if you’re into writing, check out Scrivener. Completely solid writing tool.

Clinton Vs. Trump Vs. Taxes

There was a debate recently between the two presidential incumbents. Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Donald J. Trump. I haven’t actually watched the debates. What I have done, on the other hand, is read the transcripts of the debate instead. This is not only a faster way of absorbing this clash of titans, what it also does is remove any kind of charisma and showmanship from the verbal sparring match, and leaves only the words. If you want to fell smarter and fulfill the role of smug asshole in your group of friends, there’s no better way than announcing that you only read the debates.

When asked how they prepared for the debate, Hillary responded by stating she’s studied the issues facing our nation. Trump responded by telling the press that he, along with some of his friends, sat down over burgers to prepare some solid zingers. This sums up what this entire election is about. One of these people is prepared to be commander in chief, the other is prepared to host an episode of Saturday Night Live.

I wrote about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the past. I’ll be honest, I was scathing towards Hillary and pretty light towards Donald. Both articles were written at a time where Bernie Sanders was still competing for the Democratic nomination. I’ve been doing a re-examination of why I was so harsh with Hillary and gave Donald a free pass. At first, I thought it was maybe some weird inherent sexism that might have been lying dormant in me, but I’m usually pretty self-aware of any kind of privilege I might be lugging around. It was definitely in part because I really wanted Bernie Sanders to win. But now that Hilary is the nominee, Bernie is backing Hil-Dog, and the first debate is over, I’m certain I know why I was so critical of Hillary and not with Donald. I fell like I can  criticize Hillary as a politician and an adult, whereas I can only criticize Donald as a faux  celebrity and an unruly teenager stuck in the body of a 67-year-old man.

About half way through the debate, Trump’s tax return came in the conversation. Trump hasn’t actually released his tax returns to the public yet. Nominees, for decades, have released their tax returns to the voters. This is to ensure the future president doesn’t have any conflicting interests between business and public service. The New York Times recently got a couple of pages of his 1995 tax return, and in that year Donald Trump took a financial hit of almost a billion dollars. This is incredibly significant because it would mean Trump could forgo paying taxes for over the next decade and a half. I’m not under the impression that Trump did anything illegal, but fact remains that he’s tight-lipped about his finances. In the upcoming weeks, that’s going to bode terribly for his campaign. Unless he reveals his tax return, he’ll jeopardize his presidential candidacy.

Looking back on the history of these two candidates reveals a lot about their character. Hillary Clinton spent decades working for various charitable events. When she was the first lady of Arkansas, she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, worked with the Children’s Defense Fund, and served on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Legal Services. Not to mention she practiced law during this entire tenure. Donald Trump, on the other hand, hasn’t spent any time doing any kind of volunteer work. He’s purportedly donated millions, but his actual time is spent being a business man. He’s a cut-throat, ruthless business mogul who specializes in real estate. That’s totally fine, but it leaves him woefully unprepared for the presidency. Because, on one hand, you have someone who’s dedicated most of their life to public service, while the other dedicated most of their life to themselves and their business ventures. .

Donald Trump, plainly put, cares about Donald Trump. That’s it. He’s not interested in public service, he’s not interested in politics, he’s interested only in what benefits Donald Trump. He’s always been that way. It’s his entire persona. I’m certain Hillary wants to be the first female president and earn a massive place in history. Her beginnings in politics were someone who championed the rights of women and children. She was someone who fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She had to fit the mold of politics in order to accomplish her goals, as all politicians do, unfortunately.

The debates were a perfect allegory of the battle for the position  of commander in chief. You have someone who’s been preparing for a long time and has put a lot of thought into what they’re doing. The other person’s trying to win by being louder and more entertaining. It’s a contest being the class nerd and the class clown. Sure, Donald isn’t part of the mainstream political crowd. He just happens to be from the old family money, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, coke-out one percent. There’s still two more debates, though. Maybe Donald can forgo a tanning session to actually prepare this time around.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m now backing Hilldog.

p.s.s. To those who think Donald is better because he’s more honest and down to Earth, he’s a billionaire who spent the better part of the 80’s doing blow and lingerie models. He’s got more in common with the Wolf of Wall Street than he does with you.

 

Mr. Charlton Goes to a Concert

In my younger days, I used to go to a lot of metal shows. This was due to the fact that my roommate, Metal Rob, was seriously into Heavy Metal music. At least once a month, a band he wanted to see came into town, and Jered (another roommate) and I would almost always go with him. Here’s a laundry list of some of the bands that I’ve seen. Bask in my metal credentials.

  • MegaDeth
  • Anthrax
  • Slayer (twice)
  • Strapping Young Lad (god knows how many times)
  • Tool
  • System of a Down (twice)
  • Dimmu Borgir
  • Nile
  • Napalm Death
  • Opeth (Three times)
  • Korpiklaani
  • DethKlok
  • Ensiferum
  • The Devin Townsend Project
  • Three Inches of Blood
  • Amon Amarth
  • Zimmers Hole
  • Wood of Ypres
  • Acid Bath
  • Children of Bodom
  • Cavalera Conspiracy
  • FinnTroll
  • Moonsorrow
  • Turisas
  • Tyr
  • Pericardium
  • Therion

And probably a bunch I’m forgetting. I also saw Roger Waters a few back (great show) and Green Day (lame show). I’m throwing the list down to let people know this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve driven to Seattle for the sole purpose of seeing Strapping Young Lad. I’ve flown to Toronto to see Ensiferum. In my early twenties, I was a complete metal head and going to shows was something I was doing all the time. Fast forward a decade. I haven’t been to a show for five years, and since 2013, the only thing I’ve listened to is new retro synthwave.

I only want to listen to music that makes me feel like I’m in a John Carpenter movie.

So it was pretty weird when I get a message from Willoughby, a guy from high school I haven’t seen in 15 years, asking me if I wanted to come see Five Finger Death Punch this last Tuesday. Tickets were free.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to go at first. I’m getting old, and I’ve seen enough live music to last me a lifetime. I was going to have to work the next day, and knew we were going to be getting into a few beers. Here’s a Life Pro Tip kids, right from Mr. Charlton himself. If you have an opportunity to go do anything, whether it’s a rock show or a knitting class, and it’s free, you goddamn go do that thing. You don’t complain about free beer, you don’t bitch about an application that you downloaded for nothing, and you certainly don’t say no to a concert because you might be a little groggy at work the next day. If it’s free, consider it a gift.

A couple of other guys from Golden were going as well; Ringo and Santuchi. So not only was I going to be going to a show for the first time in half a decade, I was going to be hanging out with guys I knew from small times. I’ll be frank here for a second, it’s goddamn weird hanging out with guys you haven’t seen in a long time…

… for about five minutes. Then it stops being weird and now you’re just drinking beers with some dudes you haven’t seen for a bit. Everyone is a little fatter, a little wiser, and with new stories to tell, but everyone is pretty much the same. So we drank beer and then we went and saw a rock concert.

It was a pretty good concert. We saw three bands; Sixx AM, Papa Roach, and Five Finger Death Punch. Let me tell you all about it.

The Good

I’m not really familiar with any of the bands. The only one I’m really familiar with is Papa Roach, and that’s because they had that hit song “Last Resort”, released 16 years ago. I wasn’t expecting much, but both Papa Roach and Five Finger Death Punch put on a great show. I was pleasantly surprised by the performances, and the sound quality was good.

The Bad

I quit smoking almost two years ago, but was using a vaporizer for the longest time. Recently I gave up vaping as well. This was the first time I had drank beer since I gave up nicotine. I didn’t have any cigarettes, but I did stand outside in the smoke pit soaking up second-hand smoke.

The Weird

Sixx AM is the project of Nikki Sixx, the Bassist from Motley Crue. And I’m not going to bash the quality of their performance, because even though it was the first time I heard them, I thought they were pretty good. The only thing is, Nikki Sixx is old. Like pushing sixty old. And he’s done a lot of drugs. You could tell he was the old guy, ’cause while the rest of the band were running around, he kinda just slowly walked everywhere. The stage had this box everyone was leaping off of, except for Nikki, who would step up slowly, play for a bit, then hop back off. And it was definitely a gingerly, I-do-not-want-to-pull-anything, kind of hop. Again, I got nothing against Nikki Sixx, just a little bit of a contrast to the rest of the band.

Here’s the final question, though. Would I go to another concert? And the answer is; maybe. Slayer and Anthrax are coming to town on Willoughby’s birthday, and part of me really wants to go. The other half of me is getting old, and to be honest, I’m one of those people who thinks the record sounds better than the performance. I used to go see shows ’cause it was the thing to do. Now I’ve got other things I’m doing, and getting tinnitus isn’t one of them. If I do go to see this show, it might be the last metal concert I ever go to. But a Slayer / Anthrax combo would be a hell of a way to go out.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Not to brag, but I have gotten the least fat.

p.s.s. Alright, I’m totally bragging.

 

 

Mr. Charlton Goes Camping – Part 2

Sometimes lightning strikes twice. Sometimes the Blue Jays have two great seasons in a row. And sometimes Mr. Charlton gets his game face on and heads out to the woods two times in a summer. Yes, for whatever inexplicable reason, Mr. Charlton packed up his tent, tarp, and trail mix, loaded his cooler with ham steak and beer, and whisked himself off to the magical land of paying thirty bucks a night to sleep on the ground.

DSCF3036.JPG

For another $40, you can get a bed, a sink and a roof.

Actually, l have been planning this trip for a while now, and it was an attempt to recreate the camping trip me and my family used to go on when I was but a wee lad. Every year, for a number of childhood years growing up, my mom and dad would back up the truck, station wagon, or shaggin’ wagon (the trio of vehicles my folks drove when I was a kid), and take us camping a couple times a year. There was one campground that stood above the rest, by leaps and bounds. It was so popular you had to book months in advance. It was the Scotch Creek provincial park campground, nestled on the north side of the Shuswap lake.

It was the crème de la crème when it came to campgrounds. It had paved roads, hot showers, a huge park, awesome interactive shows at night. The campsites were big and spaced far apart. You could become a member of Ranger Jerry’s ranger squad, by completing tasks and showing up to the previously mentioned interactive shows. If you were rolling as part of Ranger Jerry’s squad when you were a kid, you were rolling deep. They were handing out stickers and awards for those who hustled for Ranger Jerry.

It wasn’t just me and the brothers that went down with my folks, it was a lot of our extended family as well. We had a big meetup of aunts and uncles and cousins, pretty much everyone on my mom’s side of the family. Combine that with the fact that most of the cousins were on the verge of transitioning from kid to teenager to adult, there was a lot of us getting into trouble. Staying up late, flirting with strangers, sneaking beers or wine from the parents, there was definitely a loss of innocence as we were all getting older. Some of my favorite times of my youth were spent hanging out with my brothers and cousins, storming around the park in a large mob.

The campground was a popular enough location that a number of attractions sprouted up around the area as well. There was a mini golf course, go-carts, bumper boats, and an arcade all situated close by, close enough that you could walk to them without any adult supervision. Tons of allowance money was blown at these little amusement locations close to the campsite. To top it off, there was a candy / ice cream store right across the entrance to the campground, where we’d go to get our sugar buzz on.

DSCF3040.JPG

This little guy blew his allowance on heroin.

Needless to say, I hated camping growing up as a kid, but I loved the hell out of Scotch Creek. Mostly because I got to hang out with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. The question I wanted to answer by re-creating this trip was simple; Has Scotch Creek held up as a campground since I last went there? It has been almost two decades since I went there, how is it the same? How is it different? Will it be better, or worse?

Well…

Right off the bat, the only people who could make it were my brothers, their respective wife and girlfriend, and my mom. No big deal, we could report back to the rest of the family and let them know how the campground was. We could still go and have a good time. And I had a great time, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t seen my brothers in the flesh for over a year now, and it was great to reconnect. The campground, though…

It’s pretty much exactly the same. Almost. It’s the same, but a little worse for wear. The interactive programs? There wasn’t any. The mini golf, the go-carts, the amusement center? Gone. Fire wood used to be free, now you’re paying $7.50 a load (this isn’t exactly a bad thing, mind you. The campground used to be filled with wood smoke pretty much all the time, as people were burning wood 24 / 7. They also deliver the wood to your campsite). The little store has been replaced with a massive one. Which would be okay if the shelves weren’t completely bare. It reminded me of a bodega front. They may have been smuggling cocaine on their breaks.

The worst part by far was the beach. This was the main attraction. It was the reason people flocked to this campground, the reason it was so incredibly hard to get a spot, the reason everyone in my family was willing to put up with the overflow campgrounds in the area, the long wait times, the bullshit of trying to get a coveted spot in this park. Almost all the time we spent was at the beach. The sand was soft, the lake was warm, and the sun was almost always hot. A dock was set up not too far away, where you could congregate and dive off of. The swimming area was massive, and getting to the buoys was a challenge for adults, let alone children.

Now the beach is rocky and it’s painful to walk barefoot to the water. We used to have to get to the beach before 11:00am to get a spot, but the beach was mostly empty this time around. The lake is still warm, the sun still hot, but the dock is gone and the swimming area has been massively reduced. We ended up leaving the campground to go find a nicer beach down the road in Anglemont. Twenty years ago that would have been considered blasphemy.

dscf3039

They would not let me ride the Unicorn. Also look at the rocks.

It’s still a great campground, it’s just that before it was an amazing place that people flocked to. It was the campground that people fought over. Now, it’s just a campground with paved roads and plumbing and friendly staff. This isn’t just nostalgia talking. From what I can gather, the park just doesn’t have the same resources it once had, and it’s now suffering a little because of that.

Would I go back? Probably not. It was the beach and the family that made camping there an experience. The beach isn’t the same, and the family can vacation a little closer to the mainland next time.

Do I absolutely love camping? I want to tell people “Hell yes, camping is the goddamn best thing ever!” but to be frank, I’m a city boy at heart. I love the urban life. There’s one thing that makes camping amazing, though; Cooking on a campfire. And I’m not talking about greasy wieners on a stick. We’ll get to that next time.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Truthfully, I don’t know how the Blue Jays are doing this season. I just see a lot more hats, that’s all.

 

 

Mr. Charlton Electrocutes His Dog

You may have heard that Mr. Charlton is a proud dog owner. I wrote about it here. You have to understand, though, I’m a new dog owner, and with that comes unfamiliar territory. I ain’t used to owning a dog. I’ve had a cat, sure, but cats are a goddamn breeze to take care of. You have a cat? Here are some tips.

1) Make a spot in the house for the cat to eat, and make sure the cat gets fed.

2) Make a spot in the house for the cat to poop, and clean up its shit every now and again.

3) Occasionally the cat will want to be pet. Pet the cat in the appropriate areas.

And that’s about it. A cat pretty much takes care of itself after that. A dog, on the other hand, needs a little bit more from its owner.

1) You’ll have to feed the dog. The dog thinks it gets the same privileges as you do, so when you’re eating, the dog will want some too. You’ll have to train it not to beg.

2) You can’t really have a spot in the house for it to poop, so the mutt will have to go outside every once and a while. Rain, Sun, Sleet or Snow, the dog is going to have to poop at least once a day.

3) Now that your dog is no longer in the house, it might find things that are outside, like dead animals. Dogs have terrible fashion sense, and will try to accessorize it’s fluffy coat by rolling on top of squirrel corpses.

4) You now have a filthy dog on your hands, covered in squirrel bits. Best case scenario, you just have to bathe the dog. Worst case scenario means either a trip to the groomers, or you get out the shears yourself and give the furry idiot a hair cut.

5) Dogs need a lot of attention. You will have to play with your dog.

Through all the new learning I’ve had to do, I’ve come to discover something about dogs. Their lives exist in a hierarchy. They will challenge you every now and again, to make sure you’re not going to fuck up and get the entire pack killed. And our dickhead of a dog, Pookie, likes to challenge you during meal time.

Fluffy.jpg

This little fluffy asshole likes picking fights over drumsticks

There was a reason I put the ‘food thing’ first when taking care of a dog. Pookie will go back and forth between me and Kat when we’re eating dinner. Most of the time she’ll bugger off if we tell her enough times to beat it, or apparently in dog’s language “Git!”. For some bizarre reason, and I’m chalking this one up to Kat training her when she was a young teenager, is that Pooks will respond to the word “Get” better if you sound like an 19th century gold prospector.

Occasionally, on that very rare instance where Pooks is sizing you up and trying to make sure you’re not a chump, she’ll piss right in front of you when you’re not sharing. If you’re mowing down on something she finds tasty, like either tuna fish or chicken, and she’s not getting anything, she’ll look you right in the eyes, squat down and front of you and take a piss. Part of me is angry, sure, but when a dog, the size of a loaf of bread, defies you in such a punk rock fashion that GG Allin gets a smile in hell, you can’t help but feel a little pride. I mean, I could totally kick this dogs ass, it’s not very big and I can pick it up, but it’ll still try to pick a fight and pissing in defiance. That’s pretty hardcore.

The other day, me and Kat are kicking it on the couch eating dinner. We’re having some tasty leftovers, which consisted of some quinoa, both broccoli and cauliflower, and chicken. Pookie, getting a nose full of chicken, darts over and starts trying to act cute. Dogs do this as a strategy in order to get food. Scientific fact right here. We tell her to take a hike. No go, the dog isn’t going everywhere. We tell her to ‘Git’. Still, the dog is making noise and being a general pain in the ass. Finally I look her right in the eyes, point my finger at the poofy dipshit and firmly say “Pookie, I’m not giving you any chicken. Bad Dog.”

Well, it seemed the words “Bad Dog” set the bitch off, because very calmly, and with stern conviction, Pookie stared right into my soul, squat and took a piss. As I’m standing to pick her up and yell at her, Pooks eyes pop out of her head, jumps a foot in the air while yelping out loud and then bolts out of the room. It took me a second to figure out what happened.

Pookie picked probably the worst spot to take a leak, because she was squatting directly over the spot where the extension cord meets the Xbox. Unfortunately for Pooks, she zapped her junk when she decided to pee in anger.

cord

A bad spot to take a piss

Now, I’m not a cruel man. I don’t find pleasure in the misery of others, but when a dog gets buzzed in the genitals by a hundred and twenty volts of alternating current, I mean, you’re going to laugh. For at least ten minutes as you unplug the cord and clean up a bunch of dog piss, while your girlfriend tries to reassure a scared puppy to come back in the living room.

Pookie’s okay. The little turd is 13, which is almost a centennial in dog years, so I’m glad she didn’t have a heart attack. But if you want to train your dog not to beg for food, electrocuting her bathing suit area is definitely a quick way of going about it.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I wanted to use ‘Hot Dog’ somewhere in there, but Pookie’s a girl dog, so it didn’t really apply.

p.s.s. Fried Taco? Buzzed Clam? Alright, I’ll see myself out the door.

 

Mr. Charlton Goes Camping

Some of the people reading this know Mr. Charlton. They’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m about. If you’re not in the know, then I’ll lay out a few things about me, things that everyone should know.

  1. I have an affinity for good food and drink. I’ve got no qualms waxing poetic when it comes to what I’m stuffing into my face hole.
  2. I come across as classy. I tend to dress well when I need to dress well, I can speak effortlessly in the company of strangers, and I tend to send handwritten thank you cards after an enjoyable engagement. Classy stuff. And I don’t use words like face hole in public.
  3. I know enough about computers that people who don’t think I’m a wizard. On the flip side, I know enough about computers to be a complete hassle to the people who actually do know a lot about computers.
  4. I hate camping.

Now, when I say I hate camping, I mean I hate it down to my very core. It’s usually the last way I’d want spend vacation time. To give you an idea about how much I detested camping,  I’ll give you a breakdown how many times I went camping in my twenties.

  1. There was the one time I went camping with two buddies at the tail end of April when I was about 27 (I think).

That’s the only time I can remember going camping. Put it this way. It’s safe to say that the number of days I went camping for a decade and a half was probably less than seven.

There are a couple of reasons I’m not a big fan of camping. Probably the biggest reason is I’m from a small town in BC, where the community is nestled in the Rocky Mountains. It’s a beautiful place to grow up. I also hated it as a kid. I was fascinated by the city. The skyscrapers, the millions of people, the hustle, and the bustle. That’s where I wanted to be when I grew up, so the second I had the chance to move to the big city, I did. A fresh faced eighteen year old me went straight to Calgary when I had the chance. And I loved living there.

I could also mention the bugs, the smoke, the dirt, the not being able to shower every day. I hate plastic plates and cutlery. Can’t stand outhouses. People tell me “It’s not like camping when you’re a kid. You can drink now.” So what? I can drink at a bar in the city, surrounded by people instead of animals that want to eat me. Which makes it really weird that I’ve planned camping trips this summer.

You see, my girlfriend Kat loves camping. She has a camping box, with a camp stove, and a bunch of camping gear. One of her favorite stores is MEC. When we first started dating, it was one of the questions she fired in my direction right off the bat. I can actually still remember it, we were talking about the hobbies that consumed us, and she snapped her head in my direction, eyes bright and full, and she joyously asked “Do you like camping”? I remember staring off into the distance for a moment, trying the best way to phrase my displeasure in a manner that wouldn’t break her heart.

“No, I fucking hate camping”.

My response lacked tact, certainly. But when I saw her eyes droop and she quietly muttered “Ok”, I knew that if I were to spend any time with this girl, I’d have to occasionally go camping. I’d have to sit out in the cold, in rain , with mosquitos, with no showers and no martinis and no grocery stores within a walking distance. It would have to be done.

Fast forward a year, and we have yet to go camping. I decide to plan a camping trip, to the campground of my childhood, Scotch Creek provincial park on the Shuswap lake in BC. I make it a family affair and invite my brothers, my mom, aunts, uncles, and cousins. That’s camping trip is going to be happening in a couple weeks from now. But we needed to do a dry run, test out the equipment, figure what we can pack in the car. That happened last week, and here is the report.

I had a great time!

The weather was gorgeous, we went for a little hike, had a couple of fires, there weren’t any mosquitos, and our neighbors were quiet. Here’s a whole bunch of pictures I’m going to whore out, so you can live vicariously through me.

DSCF2179.JPG

This was the second toad Kat caught.

DSCF2188.JPG

Wild strawberries!

DSCF2164.JPG

I caught a tiny bear, then decided to humiliate it by putting it on a leash.

Everything went absolutely according to plan for this camping trip. That’s kinda the problem. What happens when it starts to pour? What if the campsite is next to a slough and the mosquitos are out in full force? What happens if we get shitty neighbors that are playing shitty punk music until 5:00 in the morning?

It’s a gamble when it comes to camping. And I’m not a gambling man. Right now, the jury is still out on whether or not I’m a convert. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a camper. In two weeks we’ll be spending a week outside, so I’ll have more to report when I’m back. Until then, if I had to pick between the outdoors and a nice hotel, I’ll take the king size bed with the air conditioned room. And hopefully, there’s a good bar close by.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. To be fair, camping at Scotch Creek is hardly camping. They have hot showers and paved roads, so it’s not exactly roughing it.

The Republican Flatform

The big news this week in America was the Republican National Convention. If there’s one boon to the economy in Cleveland, strippers are raking it in, as Republicans are known to drop cash like crazy at strip clubs during the convention. So Trumps plan to stimulate the economy is already taking effect. Except for this poor girl.

I’d love to talk about what went down during the convention, as the hottest topic was the fact that Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized. We’re not entirely sure who she plagiarized her speech from, as the debate rages whether it was first Lady Michelle Obama or My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle. I couldn’t actually make that up if I tried.

Twilight Sparkle speaks out against plagiarism.

We’ve finally gotten a look at the Republican platform, and it’s pretty vague and under whelming. Their website is still hosting the platform from 2012. Right now, the platform indicates stimulating the economy, tightening security, international trade, building a wall to deal with immigration from Mexico, and a return to the good ol’ fashioned values of the 1950’s nuclear family by having the most anti-LGBTQ platform to come from Republicans. We’ll go in order.

The republican economic platform has one of the usual tropes; lower taxes. Even of this has never worked to stimulate any economy, it’s still paraded out as the base of every conservative platform. No surprises here. Except Trump has flip flopped on this issue. At first he was going to cut taxes for everyone. Then he was going to raise taxes on the rich. He was musing to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars across the nation. Then he’s going to let the states decide. The Republican platform doesn’t have a firm footing when it comes to wages and taxes.

What is something worth mentioning is the way the wave of self employed ‘gig workers’, like Uber drivers. While Hillary has mentioned that she’s completely against these so called entrepreneurs, the Republican platform has absolutely embraced them. Even though many civil servants have, from policy makers to mayors, have derided companies like Uber for being unsafe, unlicensed, and illegal, it’s really no surprise the republicans have embraced this unregulated new industry. The jury’s still our whether or not these new companies are actually good for the economy.

Now we get into one of the major points of the republican platform; security and safety. Even though violent crime has been falling for decades, the republican party still wants you to understand that you are not safe. Ever. Conservatives will decry crime is rampant in on streets, children are at risk, and that Satan himself is risen and is selling Meth for blowjobs. Even if this is statistically untrue. It’s always been one of my major concerns with most conservative platforms, the selling of fear in exchange for votes.

International Trade.

China.

Trump has made a point of wanting increased protectionism. He’s not a big fan of NAFTA or the TPP, and purportedly wants to create new trade deals. He’s been incredibly vocal about China, mentioning rampant piracy and intellectual property theft. His proposals so far are making a lot of nations nervous, as the world economy is already weak and the last thing it needs is Trump swaggering through and making an already poor situation worse.

Next up is the famous Trump wall. If you’re a contractor or civil engineer down south,  you’re probably salivating over the prospects of a massive wall that borders Mexico. The cost of this wall would be so absolutely staggering it could very well bankrupt the nation, especially one determined to lower taxes and take in less revenue. Even if Trump’s supporters are under the impression it might be an allegory for stricter border, the Donald is adamant it’s going to be a an actual, physical wall. If Trump is going to be elected, I’m suggesting that everyone buy shares in concrete and mortar suppliers, as that industry will explode.

Regarding the LGBTQ community, the Republicans have pretty much solidified their platform with these words; Fuck gay people. That pretty much sums up how they’re going about it.

Here’s the crazy thing. Trump doesn’t really need a platform to contend in this race The latest polls show he’s right behind Hillary after the convention. His supporters don’t care. The problem with that is if you implemented even half of what Trump is proposing, then you’d have an economic catastrophe.

Trump isn’t a politician or a leader. He’s a weasel in a suit. He wants to make America great again, but unless the Republicans shore up some better ideas, then the only thing that’s going to be great is the next depression.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. This is going to be a crazy election year.

 

Cop Killings

By now, you’ve probably heard that several officers of the law have tragically fallen in the line of duty recently. First, there was the shooting in Dallas, where five police officers lost their lives, and then the shooting in Baton Rouge, where another three officers fell to gunfire. Since the attacks, the internet has once again begun to point the fingers of imaginary justice, trying to make sense of these senseless killings.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been targeted, with people who were posting All Lives Matter quickly changing their colors to Blue Lives Matter. It was originally thought, that because there have been a number of deaths of black men at the hands of police, that these were retaliation killings. An unprecedented amount of young black men have been killed by police in recent years, and it was originally what sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though the group is consistently making headlines, both shooters had little or no affiliation with the movement.

The numbers are staggering. Over 500 people have died in the United States at the hands of police officers this year alone. In contrast, only 63 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Looking at the statistics, the average person should be a lot more afraid of the police than the police being scared of civilians. Since 9/11, and the subsequent Iraq war, the police have been given access to a high volume of military equipment.

Being a police officer is obviously dangerous job, but how dangerous is it exactly? If we go back to look at the numbers, being a cop is dangerous, yes, but it’s certainly not the most dangerous job out there. I looked at list after list after list, and the hard truth is, being a police officer doesn’t even break the top ten. The most dangerous job in the world isn’t policing, it’s logging. Hell, even the people who pick up garbage are statistically more likely to die on the job than an officer of the law.

I’m not trying to downplay the role the police have in our society, but social media is currently flooded with police stories talking of heroics and holding dead colleagues. You don’t see posts saying ‘Everyday, I put my life on the line so that people like you can buy affordable lumber to construct your birdhouses out of’. Loved ones aren’t lining up at the door in tears every morning that a sanitation worker puts on their overalls and goes to pick up garbage cans. But if you look at how dangerous these jobs are, compared to policing, then they should be lining up at the door in tears. If we’re going to base our respect on how dangerous a job is, there should be parades for lumberjacks. There should be little kids running around, saying ‘When I grow up, I’m going to pick up trash for a living’ and we should be ecstatic at their choice.

Being a police officer isn’t hard because they’re constantly in fire fights (they’re not). It’s hard because you are having to deal with people at their worst. It’s a hard job because they have answer a call for domestic violence, and it’s the third call from this house in a month. It’s a hard job because you’re often the first on the scene to a car accident, and you see an entire family dead at the hands of a drunk driver. It’s a hard job because you’re dealing with drunks, drug users and mentally ill people, and you’re expected to maintain a calm, professional demeanor. I refer to the police as ‘having the world worst customer service gig in the world’. That’s what makes being a police officer hard.

At the same time, there’s always good in the world. In Wichita, instead of holding a protest, the Wichita Police department and Black Lives Matter had a bar-b-que. The police brought the burgers, with members of both sides bringing a mess of side dishes. I’m not going to state that everything is fine and the problems are all solved, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

People are going to have to recognize that there is a problem with the status quo with race relations in the United States, because unless there’s change, you’re going to keep seeing more of the same. I think more meetings between the Black Lives Activists and the Policing community should involve cookouts. People are a lot friendlier when they’re full.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Burgers, not Bullets.

 

Mr. Charlton – Master Procrastinator

Well, I fucked up pretty badly recently. Not a complete failure, mind you. No one died, property wasn’t damaged, and all of my appendages are still attached. But at the same time, I still made a huge, huge mistake, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to correct it, although there’s a good chance that ship has sailed.

Now, I’ve been known to procrastinate. Not a little bit, but an absolute master of putting things off until the last minute. I would finish homework on the bus to school, I would prepare for a test the night before. Once, in college when I was building a bridge out of popsicle sticks for a class in strength of materials, I was haphazardly gluing bit of wood from frozen treats the day before. I cut myself pretty badly, and the bridge ended up with a bunch of blood all over it. Needless to say, the bridge wasn’t the best in the class, but to my credit, it also wasn’t the worst.

Normally, I’m one hundred percent aware that I’m putting something off. It never sneaks up on me, I’m never caught by surprise. When a deadline is looming, I’m staring that asshole down the entire time, making sure not to break eye contact. It’s not that I want to put it off, it usually that I’m a sucker for short bursts of dopamine hits that are provided by doing anything else but the task at hand. I’ve developed some very poor habits over the years, habits that I’m trying to break.

I’ve been focusing a lot on a book I’m reading, called ‘Learning How to Learn’. It’s by Dr. Barbara Oakley, and it’s basically the study of how to focus your mind, stop procrastinating, and start getting to work. It’s an incredibly fascinating read, and I’ve been picking at it for a while now, doing the exercises, writing down my progress. It’s been a really enjoyable process.

Let’s get to the part where I fall flat on my face. I’m part of a writing group, called the Bow Bottom Writers. It’s nice to be part of a little group of writers and have the opportunity to chat with other folks about it. It’s also cool that even though we’re all writers, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. All sorts of people from different walks of life are there, and it’s refreshing to be in a room full of people who you respect but disagree with on a number of subjects. We meet once a week, on Thursday at the college. We either do a writing exercise or we have a guest speaker come in and talk about craft.

We’re not a huge group by any stretch, so there isn’t a budget to have a speaker come in and chat with us all the time, so we take turns picking a topic, making a little presentation, and giving a lecture to the rest of the group. It’s a fun exercise, and it changes things up a bit.

To anyone who knows me, you can see where this is going.

Now, last night was my turn. Apparently. I say apparently because it’s the first time I had been completely caught off guard forgetting to do something. I’ve never been that blindsided before. And I should have known! I had it on the calendar, had started on the presentation already, done some research, and was slowly putting the pieces together. Here I am, and I have to give a presentation in fifteen minutes about a subject I’m not ready to give. So I leave the room, get some water, and float some ideas around in my brain. Should I set fire to the building? Should I leave right now, head back home, pack up my things and leave town forever?

All of those ideas were actually considered, even if very briefly. In the end, I sat in front of six adults, and through a combination of information I hadn’t looked at in a week, bullshitting skills I had thought I had forgotten, and the help of the woman who organizes the writing group as she asked a bunch of questions to light the dark recesses of my brain, I managed to stumble through the presentation while only losing most of the respect of my peers.

At the end of the day, everyone walked away knowing that I’m not nearly as intelligent as I play myself off to be, and that’s what really counts.

It’s weird to think that even though I’ve been reading and studying a book that supposedly helps deal with your procrastination, I hit the worst case of it in my life. Maybe that means I should go back to doing things the old fashioned way, on the back of the bus an hour before class.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Oh my god Leslie, I am so sorry about last night. I absolutely hate Tim Hortons, but I owe you a damn coffee.

p.s.s. Seriously though, this is straight up old school Mr. Charlton right there.

United States – Still Young at 240

The United States of America. The original melting pot. One of the largest countries in the world, both by population and by shear size. Today is the fourth of July, their independence day, the day that the United States stopped being a colony of the British Empire and became their own nation. That declaration happened 240 years ago today.

It’s a strange place, any time I’ve been it’s felt like some sort of bizarro Canada, with more liquor stores, ammo depots and gambling. I’ve only had the pleasure of going a couple of times. Two trips to Seattle, which due in part to its music culture might be one of my favorite cities of all time. I’ve been to Hawaii, when I was sixteen and probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. Our family also did the Disneyland trip to California, and soaked up the Hollywood magic as well as too much sun. Beyond that, my foray into the States has been limited to day trips to Montana, Washington and Idaho. Little hops over the border, plus a short camping trip my family went on when I was maybe all of eight.

The United States is a massive country, and it’s a shame that I’ve only really experienced a fraction of it. Even though it’s still a relatively young nation, it’s a cultural power house. Their contributions to music have been stellar, with the creation of Jazz, the Blues, Hip-Hop, Rock and Roll. All of these forms of music were birthed in the United States. Rock  and Country both owe their roots to the Blues, famed for it’s Devils Note. The Blues originated in the Delta of the Mississippi, created by former slaves on the plantations.

The film industry has been largely centered around Hollywood since the creation of film. Roughly a hundred high budget movies come from the major studios, and countless other films are produced and created from independent film makers. It’s hard to think of the United States without thinking about Hollywood.

There food and drink is unreal. Even though the country is a goddamn runt when we’re talking about how long it’s been around, some of the original cuisine that hails from the States is something else. From the humble hamburger to the mighty slow roasted barbecue, the United States is home to some of the best food, period. Even though much of the food hails from other cultures, they’ve turned a lot of it into their own unique cuisine. And the beer and wine! Right now, I think some of the best beer and wine in the world is coming from the US right now. There is a ton of craft beers coming out of the States, and I’m not sure if anyone else is doing what they’re doing. Screw the Reinheitsgebot, they’re throwing in a crazy variety of stuff in their beers. Their wine is nothing to sneeze at either. Californian wines are constantly winning awards, and the entire west coast, from California to Washington is dotted with vineyards and wineries.

On the flip side, ever since the attacks on 9/11, going to the United States make me uneasy. Before the attacks, our borders were pretty open. You only needed a drivers license to get across. Now, even almost fifteen years since the attack, tensions still seem high. Border guards on both sides seem to be less friendly, more on edge. The questioning seems to take longer, more of an interrogation. Not to mention the US leads the world in mass shootings.

It’s a place that seems like home, but not really. It’s brighter, faster, louder than Canada. And for some reason, I still find myself drawn to it. I still want to go to New York and take a bite out of the Big Apple, get a slice of famous New York Za. I want to head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and stuff my face with Creole food. I want southern barbecue, I want lobster from Maine, I want to hit up jazz bars and the weird little museums that dot the landscape. I want a frank at a baseball stadium, hitting up a game of Americas favorite pastime.

Even though it makes be nervous, the United States is still a place I want to experience, the pros far outweighing the cons. And who doesn’t want a baseball frank?

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. It’s just that whole section in the middle of the US I have no interest in. It just seems really damn boring.