Interview #1: Laura’s Questions

This interview with Laura of Oddunout was conducted from July – September 2004, via email. (I meant to post it a long time ago but couldn’t find the complete question set until now. I can only offer sincere apologies for tardiness, along with many thanks to Laura for commencing this new interviews subproject on my site.)

Laura: Complete the sentence: “When I was fifteen, I…”

Gord: When I was fifteen, I was a kid in transition. I was learning to feel something different when I looked at bullies and “cool kids”; instead of fear, I was beginning to feel powerful, deepseated, and righteous contempt. Since I’d taken control of how I dressed, I passed under the radar a lot more often; when they reacted to my high grades, I could in turn react to their pitifully low grades; and I also found new worlds opening before me, worlds that extended far beyond the hallways of the high school. I began to show signs of being a scholarly type (actually researching certain essays far more extensively, out of my own interest, than any teacher expected) and I also was beginning to find a big circle of friends among kids who played music and who respected me as, well, for those days and for the town we were living in, a pretty good saxophone player.

I wasn’t quite the person I was when I was seventeen, who turned to the school’s jock-kingpin and told him to take a nap and wait his turn in line, because he was nobody special. I wasn’t the judgmental man who could, at age 24, laugh at the same jock, post-undergraduate studies, when I saw him working at the 7-11 where I bought my slush and evening snack, and when he told me he planned to play big league baseball in America. But I also wasn’t the boy who would have simply fled his presence to avoid a beating, or given him my lunch and hoped he would treat me like a human for once in exchange. By age ten I already understood that the culture my classmates were living in was far different from what I experienced at home, in ways that seemed to me not to make sense. But by age fifteen, I was beginning to understand that, in fact, a lot of the culture of those other people was actually, truly, nothing more than crap; it was dishonest, manipulative, selfish, and smallminded. And at fifteen I was beginning to feel the strain of confronting that when I had so much higher expectations of people. I was beginning to tell people when they sucked, and I was beginning to find ways to stop people who did suck from having any power over me at all. I still wasn’t sure of how to pull it off, which is (in other ways) something I am still doing and which may in fact be a whole life’s work… but in any case, that time was the beginning of that long, slow transition for me, of taking my life back from all those other kids who seemed to exert so much influence over me.

I guess that was me at age fifteen. Not such a very happy kid. But my unhappiness mainly stemmed from my own illusions about how people could be if they only tried, and how people really “ought” to be.

Laura: In ten years’ time, there’s a big bloggers meeting where you are one of the speakers. How will they introduce you and how has blogging evolved in ten years? (I know I’m cheating. That’s really two questions!)

Gord: Not to be difficult, but I really don’t think I’ll be significant enough a blogger to be one of the speakers. To be honest, I am more and more beginning to look at blogging (like some other things in my life) as a kind of distraction from more important things I should be doing; one, for example, is writing. Another would be involvement in some kind of grassroots activism. So I’m not sure if I’ll even be blogging regularly in ten years, though I imagine I will still be maintaining a blog of some kind. I can say it probably won’t be at the rate of volume I’m doing it these days, though.

But let’s say somehow, over the next ten years, I actually turn out to be significant enough a blogger to be a speaker at one of these conferences. But I hope that they will introduce me as one of those bloggers who also has a career in publishing his writing, both fiction and poems. They’ll introduce me as an expatblogger, and list of the places I’ve lived and traveled to. They’ll probably make a joke about whatever activism I’m involved in. But I want to be clear, I don’t expect to be a significant enough blogger to merit this kind of introduction: the hit counts on my page show it’s more of a community and a personal thing than it is any bid for big-time readership. I think if I wanted that, I would have to completely rethink what I am doing and focus on some topic that I enjoy more than others, the way Brad Delong focuses on economics and politics, or the way that, at Language Hat, you know (at least vaguely) what you’re going to be reading about when you go there.

I think the conference could be significantly smaller than we expect. You see, blogging is really still very new. I think, despite a lot of wonderful software and a lot of great efforts by people who are just really into the whole blogging phenomenon, that its a really interesting and vibrant thing. But over time, I find that people tend to get distracted from something as labour-intensive as blogs.

Given that, given the way that this whole “voluntary simplicity” thing is catching on (and I think it actually is…), I think that blogs will of course continue to be written, and there will always be a few good ones; but I don’t think, for now, that blogging will overtake any other kind of publishing, especially since the other forms often actually pay.

In fact, I have a feeling that blogs in ten years will look pretty different. We’ll recognise the concept, of course: the personal musings and log of interesting things of one or more individuals we’ve never heard of. But I think that weblogs will look as different to us as modern web pages look compared to the stuff people were cranking out ten years ago. Now that’s something to think about.

I think something will come along to do to blogging what CMS did to web pages. CMS, content management systems, made it possible for web pages to be updated with format. Bingo: blogs become easily updatable, and therefore widely possible. I have a feeling some other system is going to emerge out of the way we handle links and manage trackbacks and commenting. I’m not sure but I bet it will be some aggregate of the livejournal friends page system, RSS feeds, trackback, and probably a few other things we haven’t thought of yet. Probably the lines dividing two separate blogs will be maintained, in one sense, but in another sense I think they’re likely to blur, and to blur very vividly and interestingly.

But it’s hard to say, of course.

Laura: What are the things you learned at home which you think have most affected how you grew up as a person?

Gord: I think there were a few things I learned, both positive and negative, that still affect and guide me even today. On the positive side, my parents raised me with a strong opposition to racism and certain forms of sexism (they were pretty progressive in that sense, for their time); this was the groundwork for a lot of my attitudes towards people. At the same time, there were a few strong intolerances I learned that I’ve not managed to shake off, and they tend to be located around central concerns of my parents’: questions of culturedness, intelligence, and pessimism of a sort.

Having two sisters, I learned how to deal with being the one strategically excluded; being the oldest, I learned to deal with more responsiblity and pressure than I might have if I’d been born later. Having seen my father searching (despite the near-futility of the endeavour) for work during a major recession–basically in the Reagan/Mulroney era–made me pessimistic about job prospects and job security. But my parents were always very supportive of creative endeavours, from my endless sketching and drawing as a young boy to writing and, later, music.

My parents always made sure that all the kids’s Xmas and birthday presents were about equal in price, to the point
of supplementing Christmas stockings with extra pens or candy for the kid with the slightly less-expensive gift. Uptightness aside, I did learn a kind of unflinching egalitarianism which doesn’t recognize the both of trying as “too much”, and now I think of it as extreme judiciousness instead of as uptightness, really. I’ve seen so many families where one kid is treated like royalty and the others are treated like crap, so now I really appreciate my parents’ egalitarianism as far as financial expenditures went. Also in terms of moral thinking, I never understood (until I was older) why humans could be considered sinful by nature or why it was so hard to be a “good person”. I later learned it was partly because the criteria I was trying to live up to were insane, but the desire for decency and the disbelief of people who claimed they tried but failed to be decent in very simple ways has never left me.

Finally, I learned that while trusting people is difficult and sometimes foolish–like when you have two sisters who have teamed up to get what they want, and you’re left alone arguing for what you want–at other times trust and alliance and even uneasy demands for negotiation are the only way to move forward through a disagreement.

Laura: When you left Canada, what were the things you thought you could never live without, but found out you can?

Gord:Well, now, I hadn’t much thought about it, to tell the truth. I kind of assumed things like cheese would exist at import shops, which they sort of do though the shops are hard to find. The things I found I was going into withdrawal over are more easy to pinpoint:

  • Decent, affordable wine: well, somehow I do live without it, but when it’s available I do like it. It’s not affordable in Korea but very very occasionally I treat myself to buying and sharing a nice bottle, just the same.
  • Cheese: I don’t mean the pizza cheese or petroleum byproduct cheese slices that are widely available here. I mean real cheese, the stuff with live bacteria in it. That’s illegal to import, or something, so it’s hard as hell to get. I did get some so-so gorgonzola a few weeks back, and you can get camembert and brie more easily now. I guess I live without it in general, though there are phases when I stock up every trip to Seoul, getting enough cheese to have a little every few days for a few weeks in a row.
  • Proper English bookshops: I had become, before leaving Canada, a used bookshop junkie. Little surprise, given that I lived just down the street from one of the best used bookshops in Montreal, The Word. I also spent time at the new bookshops, like Chapters and Indigom poring through the SF section checking out books I couldn’t afford to buy. There was a time when, every time I felt blue, I went out and got me a book… usually a used cheapie, but sometimes decent books. As you can imagine, after moving to Korea I had to find other (and, as it turns out, more constructive) ways to deal with the blues. Anyway, I thought I’d die without seeing used English bookshops on a regular basis, but now I see them only when out of country (except for a couple of tiny shops I never go to in Seoul), and that’s enough. I have plenty of books here to keep me busy until the end of 2007 or so, even if I read more earnestly than I ever have in the past. It’s nice. It sure saves me a lot of money I’d spend on books I might never get around to reading, so I suppose I live well without close proximity to used English bookshops. But as anyone who’s seen me in one knows, going to one occasionally is now an event of great joy and excitement, and I savour every moment I’m there.
  • Lebanese food, or for that matter any well-made non-Korean food: see, there are exceedingly few “foreign cuisine” restaurants in Korea. Most of them are in Seoul, and even some of those are somewhat Koreanized. There are tons of “fusion” restaurants, but that just means heavily Koreanized versions of foreign food. I’ve even seen “fusion Japanese”, which is odd to me since Japanese food isn’t that intolerably different from Korean food. Why they should need Japan’s cuisine to be Koreanized is beyond me. I missed Western food when I first arrived, and when I sought it in eateries, I discovered just how awfully bad spaghetti, pizza, and other foods actually can be. Now I have strict guidelines I follow about the kinds of non-Korean food I eat here. Most of the time, it’s made by me as I can do it better than any place I’ve gone to. Two exceptions are Thai food and pizza. You can get decent pizza at several places in Jeonju, and there’s an alright Thai place over near Jeonbuk University, as well. (EDIT: There used to be a decent Thai restaurant near Jeonbuk University, but predictably, it closed.) And I suppose I do go to Outback Steakhouse occasionally, usually on special occasions. In general, I eat Korean food when I go out, and if I want something else, I stay in. This has bred a funny habit in me, which is that when I see non-Korean foodstuffs available, and I know how to use them, I stock up because their availability is sometimes severely limited here, especially outside of Seoul.

Laura: Why Korea?

Gord: Well, I’d reached a point where I’d gotten sick of living in Canada and I wanted to see the rest of the world, or at least to live in other parts of it. Since I had no money and a frightening debt that was going to result in me paying half or more of my wage right off the bat to a bank, for the next three years, I couldn’t simply travel and staying in Canada looked to be a terrible option; but I decided that working abroad would be a good choice for me. The company I was working for was collapsing, so the timing was right by the end of the year in 2001.

My roommate at the time had just returned to Canada after a short stint of teaching English in Korea — her second — and she knew of someone who needed a teacher. I’d originally thought of going to China as I was more interested in The Middle Kingdom, but knew the money would not be that good there; likewise, I was interested in urban Japan but felt it was too expensive to live there. Korea seemed in the middle of the two, not just geographically, but economically. And there was something else to it: my friend’s stories of the place made it sound a little more like home to me. It sounded rural, awkwardly and incompletely developed, like a Rube Goldberg countryside in a high tech 3rd world nation or something. I was working out my way of thinking about the future (something very important for an SF writer) and I was quite sick of the glossy, shiny, wonderful futures in so many books. It all seemed so Japan to me. I felt more like the future of the world lay in the direction my friend’s descriptions suggested when she described to me a place where everyone had cars but there was not a decent highway to be found (as she was here before the Honam Expressway, this was literally true where she lived).

The fact that there was a pretty decent job that paid fairly and only demanded 4 hours of work per day from me, and which was offered to me very quickly by an honest foreigner (Kimberley, who later became a good friend of mine) clinched it. I accepted in November and was on my way to Korea at the end of December 2001.

Laura: What is your relationship like with your family; do you think that the distance has made things better or worse? Do you ever feel excluded?

Gord: Well, I’m not sure I feel all that excluded, because if I did, then I think I’d be in closer touch with them. As it stands, we’re not in touch a lot. Whenever I call, my mom tries to get off the phone in a hurry, regardless of whether I have cheapo phone cards from Seoul: I think it’s an instinct about long-distance calling she learned long ago. She’s basically computer-illiterate, though she was supposed to learn how to send email lately, but nothing’s come my way yet. As for my father, he had a lot of spam problems with his account and I haven’t seen any email from him in a long while.

I do sometimes correspond with my sisters, off and on. But it seems I’m mostly in touch with my family when some kind of financial problem (such as the debts I’ve left behind and only now am beginning to seriously face) comes up.

But living abroad, I finally feel I understand my parents better, in terms of their own foreigner experiences, and I also think I understand their general outlook somewhat better. We get along better in general, though it may be that we’ve all mellowed over time.

(EDIT: Since then, more time has passed and I would say I’m closer with my parents than I used to be, even despite the current incommunicado. My mom is still, one year later, “learning how to send email.” But we get along better now, and understand one another better too, I think.)

Laura: You learned or discovered something in your trip to India, which made you change your outlook on life. How would you put the experience down in words?

Gord: It’s really difficult to put into words, to be honest.

I’ve tried time and time again, and I don’t know how. All I know is that something inside me changed. Maybe it was
the happy time I spent with Ritu and her family, followed by some alone-time and a chance to do some real writing (I
near-finished the draft of a novel I’d been putteringly working on for years before, perhaps since 1998). Maybe it was just the traveling, or seeing such a different world. Maybe it was something else altogether? I don’t know, but I came back to Korea rather changed, and everyone else could see it, I’m told.

Laura: What do you see as your greatest virtue?

Gord: Um, shucks, I don’t know. It’s not patience, or understanding. Maybe it’s the virtue of apparent-wisdom? When people come to me with their problems, I often seem to be a wise and caring listener. I’m not at all that wise, in fact, but my apparent wisdom (expressed in just listening, and in occasional effusive comments when I feel I ought to say something) often seems to help people. So until about the end of my undergrad days, a lot of people came to me with their problems, and I seemed to help them, just by listening and commenting. By the way, this briefly recurred when I came to Korea, but I’ve since cultivated a habit of hanging out with people more cheerful than that, who kind of have a handle on their problems as I now (mostly) do.

Laura: What is your worst bad habit?

Gord: I think it’s my proneness to fall into bad habits of excess. When I was depressed, back in the day, my excess was worrying about my depression and my life in general, and for a short while it was also drinking; there was a time when my main excess was posting to the mailing list where I met Marvin, Ritu, Adam, and plenty of other people you have know or have heard about. These days, my excesses are mainly to do with the internet: spending too much time reading blogs I’ve suscribed to (you can see there are over 250 in my blogroll on my main page) and spending too much time blogging. Just the other night when I was talking with Lime, I told her I wanted to limit myself to maybe two posts a day, and a half hour catching up on blogs of interest (which is a lot more catching up than you might think, since the Bloglines aggregator lets me peruse the new stuff on about thirty-to-fifty sites in that amount of time). The rest of my free time should be spent practicing the saxophone and working on my “serious” writing.

I think my other big bad habit is a tendency to make snap judgments. I really do tend to decide what I think of a person immediately. But it’s also often subject to revision, just as quickly.

Laura: Since you’ve been such a good person in your long, long life, when you finally kick the bucket you’re given an option to choose an afterlife you want. What do you choose?

Gord: That’s a good question. I’ve not really thought about it much, since I don’t really have any strong conviction that an afterlife exists. But three versions come to mind.

Two are from books: the kind of reincarnation in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt, where it’s all just reincarnation but thematic, lives linked by interests and concerns and a kind of persona. Meanwhile, I really liked the vision of the afterlife in the movie What Dreams May Come. The mixture of psychological heaven and hell with reincarnation was really interesting and well-depicted.

The third comes from my youthful imaginings of a “logical” afterlife, and is somewhat complicated. My idea was simply that what we consider souls might be particles of bigger conglomerate souls, and that souls have no reason to “incarnate” in one life at a time. In the end, of course, it was a lot of complex blathering to get to a kind of Deism in which all life was really just incarnation of the same one spirit experiencing itself in myriad forms. We are the eyes and ears and heart of all the universe, so to speak. It was a nice model, very satisfying intellectually, though I don’t think it’s true in a literal sense.

One more: if I could wander about in the afterlife described by the visionary Emmanuel Swedenborg I think it could be absolutely fascinating, in a very weird sort of way.

Laura: What’s your favourite time of the year?

Gord: Hmmm. I think in Saskatchewan it was the spring, and in Montreal and now Korea most certainly is the autumn. (At least, that’s how I feel right now.) Why? Because in each case that is the time when the most intense, punishing season of the year (winter in Saskatchewan, summer in Montreal and in Korea) comes to an end and I begin to be able to be really comfortable outdoors again, wear what I want, and so on. I’m quite pleased these days, as you can imagine, though it’s still a little too hot to wear jeans or any shirt besides a T-shirt.

Laura: What’s the most controversial thing you’ve ever done? (For your chosen definition of ‘controversial’)

Gord: Well, now, I think I’m not a very controversial person at all. I’m pretty outspokenly liberal when it comes to social policy and tolerance and all, but I’m very straight-laced, I think, in terms of my own decisions and life. Now, within my family I was always a bit more of a troublemaker, according to my parents’ view, and I suppose in that context, the most controversial thing I ever did was to leave home, take up with a woman of questionable virtue, and marry her, all before the age of 21.

It was also the biggest mistake I ever made, but that’s water under the bridge, at this point.

Laura: Opportunities, people, jobs… Name the One That Got Away. Why did it happen and if you got into the same situation again, would you choose differently?

Gord: Ha, you know, I need to think about this. Maybe the high school girlfriend who wanted to sleep with me, but I said I wasn’t ready? (Even Lime laughed about that and agreed with me that that was a mistake.) Or maybe that year I spent not writing at all, when I could have written one or two novels or enough poetry to complete a whole collection? I don’t know. I tend these days to try not to have any clear regrets. They’re not worth the energy and concentration, and anyway, they always bring you forward to who you are in the present. Since my present’s pretty happy, I guess I am thankful for my lost opportunities.

Oh, but I can name one. When I was just going between middle school and high school, or maybe just after I got into high school, my father was looking for work, and was offered a few different jobs, some in Saskatchewan and some abroad. He almost took a job in Bangladesh, and it’s lucky he didn’t, as that year they had massive floods and a lot of resultant deaths. But it seemed like after he turned that job down, he stuck to jobs in Saskatchewan. I always have wondered what it might have been like if, as a family, we’d gone abroad. I think I’d have turned out very, very different, but what an adventure it might have been. Still, I’m happy my life is how it is now, so I won’t complain. I’m making up for the lack of adventure then, and then some. I just wonder what it all would have been like.

Laura: What do you think is the worst and biggest threat to the future of the planet and how would you fix it?

Gord: I think it’s the current state of the corporation.

Companies have too much power over government, and thus have far too much power over things like the quality of human life, the treatment of the environment, handling of our planet’s resources, the distribution of wealth and attendant political power, and so on.

If you’re a green, your enemy is the pollutive and destructive segment of the corporate population. If you’re antiwar, it’s the warmongering companies. If you’re for free speech, you need to fight the big media. If you’re for human rights, you need to fight companies who violate them or fund their violation abroad, and the international organizations that tolerate their violation in member countries when it suits them. If you’re anti-American, well plenty of the companies are American. If you’re pro-American, many of these companies abuse America almost as much as they do other nations’ citizens. If you hate the Republicans or the Democrats, or both, look who they’re both sharing beds with: huge corporations.

Everywhere you look, you can find companies harvesting “profits” for profits’ sake, at great cost to the rest of us, and getting away with it. We need to force corporations to be fully responsible members of an equitable world society. We need to have governments strong enough to refuse the demands of coporations when appropriate. And we can have these things by forcing corporations to be responsible for more than profit. If corporations are legally restructured, with culpability of their actions passed on to all shareholders; if all employees have a stake in the company relative to their contributions; and if funding for campaigns and other government-business conflicts of interest are brutally eliminated, then we will have significantly reduced this problem.

Laura: Modern jazz can be very intimidating to someone who understands next to nothing about music – such as myself. If you convince me that jazz is good for the soul, which albums/pieces would you choose to play as samples?

Gord: Well, it’d be different songs for different people. Some people like newer stuff, some like older stuff. For some, the avant-garde is quite suitable but for others, it’s only very traditional jazz that they like. Perhaps if you name off some of your favorite musicians outside of jazz, I might have a better idea of what you, personally, would like.

Laura: I like lots of different groups and singers with no clear favourites in any direction – the only band I’ve ever “collected” (since teenage years, which no power on earth will make me discuss openly!) is the Cure, but that’s not by far the only type of thing I’m into. Names that come to mind randomly: Moloko, Metallica, Dido, Nightwish, Marilyn Manson… also latin music, though the only “name” I can name is Shakira. Most of the time I listen to mp3 compilations or collection cds. Lately I’ve really enjoyed the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and a collection of celtic music and a collection of musicals. I’m not sure if this is actually any use. :-)

Gord: Well, I can’t think of any particular groups that connect well with the ones you’ve mentioned, so I might try recommending the following: for singers with as much angst (probably more well-deserved, though) as Robert Smith of the Cure, I’d recommend Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith; if you like Latin music, then maybe some Getz/Gilberto or even just straight-out Jobim albums. Moulin Rouge would gel well with some of that European jazz from days of yore, like Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Maybe some mid-period Miles Davis, when he was futzing around with different sax players like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, as you’ll recognize a lot of the showtunes from your broadway musicals (unless they’re all recent). And I might offer one or two free jazz albums, the really edgy ones, and see if they do for you what they did for me when I moved from metal to jazz; they’re harsh but not just from guitar distortion, and they’re somewhat dizzying, but the ethic sometimes feels like it did in metal, just sophisticated exponentially. Maybe Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album and, I don’t know, some Cecil Taylor or late Coltrane or something.

But you know, jazz is not for everyone. I know that now, having discovered that likewise, most rock music is not for me. Everyone has different tastes; I’ve read that this is affected by the kind of music you listen to when you are young, so maybe that has something to do with it. Anyway, I wouldn’t push jazz on anyone anymore, though if someone asked me I might offer some albums for them to listen to.

Laura: Have you ever considered making photographing as a profession, or tried to/had your photos published?

Gord: I’ve never thought about it. I have considered submitting one or two to a contest, but I really don’t know enough about those things to bother doing all the research involved. I have thought about using my own photos to accompany a collection of poems about Korea that I imagine I’ll write sometime. But for me, photography is basically just a hobby.

Laura: You know you’re more intelligent and ‘aware’ than your average person. Do you ever find yourself talking down to people or otherwise treating them as mentally inferior?

Gord: Well, now, I’ve been thinking about that lately. It’s not so much that I’m more intelligent than the average person, really. I’ve talked with some very “average” people who reason more carefully than I do, or know more about some particular area and stump me with their comments.

While I think I am “intelligent”, I don’t think I’m necessarily more intelligent than other people. I think that a lot of people just tend not to really think about the things that they choose to accept and believe: they don’t necessarily know how to question received notions of how the world is and works and ought to be, and they spend a lot of time working through how to satisfy the requirements they feel are just natural to life. I think people who don’t stop and question everything end up living this way, eventually, while those who do stop and question tend to be thought of as “more intelligent”. But I don’t think intelligence is the only factor at play.

For example, in my case, I think I just get more angry about things. Perhaps it’s French blood, I don’t know. This, mind you, is not always constructive. Getting angry can lead to purgative rants, and leave one without a driving desire to do anything, for example.

But that aside, what I’ve found recently is that I don’t so much talk down to people (I sometimes do it, mostly to foreigners) as I find myself provoking people whose views and assumptions differ from mine. Most of those political articles I post about on my blog, I also used to expostulate about loudly around the office. I think secretly in my heart I was hoping to provoke any of the probably Republicans into arguing with me, so I can demolish their arguments and show them that they’re really just selfish, stupid, shortsighted, elitist bits of sophistry suitable only in the philosophy of human garbage. This is my fantasy, of course. But it’s never actually worked: rather than causing those Rethuglicans to repent their politics, it only makes my own work life harder, so these days I just keep my rants to myself, or to those who will get my jokes.

And the other tendency I have is to criticize very viciously anything that I see that is wrong. Now, I feel that honest, and sometimes even harsh, criticism is a necessary and a good thing. But when you’re criticizing practices in another country, for example, it’s sometimes hard for people from that country to separate your criticism of some specific problem from a flat-out insult to the country; this is especially true with hot-button topics that also bug the locals as much me.

Anyway, since a few discussions I have had with Lime and some other friends recently, I’ve been watching all of these tendencies. It’s still hard for me to respectfully address someone whom I know to be a creationist, though. I mean, some belief systems are too ridiculous to respect.

And as for “common country folk” like the farmers and old country people I meet around here, I don’t blame them for their ignorance, and as long as they are reasonably accomodating of me or others as human beings, I (try and often do) respect them for who they are.

Laura: Describe yourself with ten words starting with a letters S, R and U.

Gord: Silly, but Relatively Serious. Unusual. Realistically Skeptical. Smart-ish. Reader. Underappreciated. Sleepy.

Laura: You are stranded in the Kalahari desert with nothing but a baseball bat, cranberry flavoured bubblegum, empty beer can, a Gameboy (with 3D Tetris), a topographical map of Papua, New Guinea and a tiny mysterious Tibetan monk. Explain how you’ll get back to civilization.

Gord: To be quite honest, even if I figure out that digging-the-water thing out, the thing I saw in a couple of movies set in the Kalahari, I think I’d probably simply die in this situation. I would try to get back to civilization, sure; walk, try to dig up water, try to find something to eat, try to coax the mysterious Tibetan monk to teach me how to walk at high speed without needing food, water, sleep, or protection from the elements (as I’ve heard legends of mysterious Tibetan monks doing); but I think I’d probably die out there in the desert. So I guess I’d best be careful not to get myself into this situation.

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