Friday, October 06, 2006

This Blog is Dead!

Dearly beloved:

We are gathered here today to remember the life and times of a humble, yet complex blog that, in its own way, allowed us all to laugh and cry in the face of life's aridity. The Catalytic Corral was a sweet blog, a kind blog, a blog that aimed to improve the lives of others around it. It never faltered in its genuine altruism, or its sincere desire to help others smile. Although from time to time the Corral would go for months without a single post - or comment - it continued to stand as a testament to the absurd, the abstract and the utter bamboozelment of political satire. While the days of the Catalytic Corral are over, we all must find a way to go on; Sen Cat would have wanted it that way. So do not fret my bretheren, do not despair and do not feign a posture of normalcy. These are hard times, and it is best in such circumstances to come together, to be with those who can help us remember the good and the hard times we all shared with the Corral.

And with that, I ask you all to go in peace, and to take a moment for solemn reflection upon today, tomorrow, and next Wednesday. It's a crazy-ass world out there ladies and gents, crazy-ass as hell.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

München!

Finally I have a safe and affordable place to sit down and write. When we were in Barcelona I couldn´t access the Shaw webpage to read my e-mails or get onto Blogger from the shitty hostel at which we were staying. I could do it from an E-mail-o-matic Zone, but this was expensive and stinky. And then when we were in Rome, we couldn´t stop to do such silly things as post on blogs that nobody reads anywayz. A very similar situation developed in Ljubljana, my new home away from home.

Yes so now we are in Bavaria the world´s capitol for Weisse bier and pretzels. I will try to update this page again over the weekend and I will write a little more about Slovenia.

tschüss!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leaving Cascais

Char and I are both very sad to be leaving Portugal tonight. This is really a special place and I know that I will be coming back again some day. The people in Portugal are infinitely nicer than the people in Southern Spain that we met, who considered us a burder that they had to bare. But Cascais (pronounced Cash-Caish) is really a little Paradise on Earth. I´ve decide that I will forgoe trying to learn Spanish and instead will work on my Portugese so that when I return I will be able to converse a little with the great people of Portugal. People like Juão and Rudrigô, who drove me in to see the Barriô Alto and got me pissed in the oldest district of Lisbon, and of course, people like Debra and Antoniô, who put us up and entertained us with excellent food and wine. I will never in my life forget the Portugese sense of hospitality.

Tonight we take the night train to Madid and then catch a connector to Barcelona where we will try to find lodging on a busy Friday night. And then the trick becomes trying to get to Slovenia as soon as possible, where our allowances will be stretched further then they would in Spain, France or expensive Italy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pool Vs. Ocean

"But the beach is all sand and salt and wind and sand in my face" I said.

"No, the beach is beautiful and wonderful and the whole reason we´re here" she said.

"Alright" I said. "But it doesn´t make any sense, why would the hotel build such a nice swimming pool for us if the ocean was all you´re saying it is? I mean, don´t get me wrong the ocean IS beautiful, and the view is fantastic. But surely they´ve cleverly anticipated that in some months the ocean will be too cold for even the bravest tourists, and that on some days, even in the hot months, the wind will be too strong for a good beach session. That´s probably why they built such high walls around the swimming pool, to keep the wind out, and the rif-raff" I said.

She looked at me with a face. So we went to the beach.

But the beach was windy and sandy and salty. And the water was cold enough to scare a man´s testicles away. So we went to the pool. And it was good. And they served drinks at the pool. And we saw that this was good. And the wind: there was none.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Involuntary Philanthropy

I forgot to mention that yesterday Char and I visited the great city of Madrid. We had an eight-hour stop-off in Spain´s capitol city while we awaited the night train to Lisbon. So, we took a ride on the metro to La Plaza de Castilla and then walked a couple of blocks ´til we found a fancy little yuppy joint that served a la cart dishes with wine.

While we dined, a scruffy old man came up to peddle some cheap imitation Rolexes, and seing as how I needed a watch and wanted to help him out, I decided to haggle. We agreed on 20 Euros (which is way too much anyway - about 30 dollars Canadian) because, well, because I had 20 Euros to spare and he didn´t. He didn´t look like a drug addict or anything, he just looked like a skinny old Spanish guy with a cigarette in his mouth. Guess what though? The watch doesn´t work. It is completely useless. But I´ve moved on. It was a good day for him and that has to be worth something.

My only other complaint about Madrid is that it only has about 6 public washrooms. Five million people, six public washrooms, and I think I used everyone of them (the greasy food having really caught up to me in the last few days).

Chau

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Getting Trashy on the Train, Euro-style

This morning we leave our comfortable little flat here in Granada on a five-hour train ride to Madrid were we will have about eight hours to catch some of the sights and maybe even check out a bullfight. Then we're taking an overnight train to Lisbon, Portugal and shaking up with Char's aunt and uncle. It will be the last of her vast family that we will be visiting here in Europe.

We're only hanging out in Lisbon for a day or two and then we're going to make the long train journey all the way to Slovenia, stopping at intervals along the way.

Friday, May 19, 2006

El Alhambra

Up early this morning to get a good place in line to see the world-famous Alhambra. But despite leaving the apartment at quarter passed seven, we still managed to show up just in time to get the last place in the lineup. The Alhambra has stood for nearly 900 years and is the pride of the people of Granada. Everyday nearly 6,000 people visit the Alhambra - the red castle - which is basically on the backup roster of the Seven Wonders of the World. So, if Ankor Wat ever crumbles or if the Sphinx uses up all of its lives, then the Alhambra may be in the contest for the position. Except that when we got to the front of the line, they told us that they would only be letting in 50 more people... ever; I guess they're buildind a Wal Mart.

So what's the Alhambra like? It's a giant walled city on top of a hill. It's red-ish, and it has a lot of archeological excavation things happening in and around it. We did it cheap-skate style so we didn't have a guide or one of those fancy hedsets that provide you with interesting information, so for all intents and purposes, it was just a bunch of old buildings surrounded by even older walls. I was sure that there had to have been something that happened there over the course of the last millenium so we tried to eavesdrop on some of the guided tours but they didn't take kindly to that tactic, until we found a nice bunch of German tourists and their guide who didn't seem to care that we were following them (content that we weren't really getting the full value of the tour). I was able to decipher some history from the Germman guide's comments though: Konigen this und soldat that, und arbeiten dis und Muslim dat, etc.

Then you go into the Palacio Nazariea, which has amazing detail in the interior decor. Inside the palace chambers you can really see the confluence of Arabic and Spanish influences. If you ever go, however, you should pay for the tour because, well, I'm sure things have happened in there too. All in all, we spent 5 whole hours at the Alhambra and in the end I had to ask a group of American tourists when the place was constructed and how many people a day visit the place (two points of info I would have been at a serious loss without).

As far as castles go: one of the best. But, eighth Wonder of the World? Ich wisse nicht!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gunners Vs. Barcelona

It was all fireworks and ambulances last night here in Granada after the Barcelona team defeated Arsrenal 2-1 in what I am told is supposed to be the last important soccer - er, football - game before the opening of the World Cup in Munich on June 9. Of course, I have been told that since we got to Europe.

Riding into down town last night on the bus, some little shit Spanish kid wearing a Barcelona jersey wipped a chocolate milk carton at me throgh the window of the bus and it hit me in the face. I guess he thought I was an Arsenal fan. Funny thing: until a few weeks ago, I thought Arsenal was a Spanish team! I wasn't too pissed off, however, because the kid had a bad mullet haircut and an ugly girlfirend, and all the flying chocalate milk cartons in Spain won't change that. Ass.

When I got to the Irish bar (which usually is dominated by Irish, American, English and English-speaking Dutch people,) it was packed with screaming Barcelona fans. I found the only British people in the bar and bought them all a round of pints. To be honest, I felt kind of bad for them, but mostly I felt a kind of comraderie with them on account of the whole chocolate milk experience. I was converted into an Arsenal fan last night.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

40 Degrees!

Let me just say this: when your packing your bags for Spain, you'd be well advised to leave your sweat shirts at home. Actually, cloths are kind of frivolous baggage all together. It's bloody hotter that Haites right now and all we can do is hang out in the apartement and take cold showers every now and then.

We went to the Spanish baths today (swim suits mandatory) and had a very relaxing afternoon. Only 22 Euros for an hour of bathing and tea and a twenty minute massage; it was money well spent, except that we didn't have to pay for it cause it all gets billed to the University that Brian is consulting for. What a scam!

The University of Granada, incidentally, is the biggest in Spain. Its faculty buildings are scattered all over the city. Brian and Shawna's apartement is right opposite the Departimento Infomatico, which is an interesting building with an 'art nuveau' design but that has these huge cylindrical towers that sort of make it look like a castle. I'm looking at it right now. For those who are less impressed by buildings on their own, the Sierra Nevada mountains are situated behind the building, complementing the vista quite nicely. To be sure, the Sierra Nevada moutains are impressive in their own right too.

Yesterday we went climbing with Blob and his very very Spanish friend 'Jimmy'. I don't think Jimmy's name is really Jimmy, but that's what Brian calls him and it's really funny when he says "Y-ay, will you take picture of Brian and Y-immy?" I did one climb right away to get it over with and I swore the whole way up and the whole way down. Char did a bunch of climbs and she is quite an athlete at it. Brian and Y-immy climbed and climbed and sweated the day away. I sat in the shade drinking beer and reading my book. Suckers. It's called 'The Drifters' by James A. Michener. It's about young people going to Spain. How about that?

Ya. So that's that. Hot hot hot.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Just Another Travel Blog

Yessir, I'm converting this blog into a travel digest!

You'll find politics of the Canadian sort here no longer. I might gap a bit about interesting political developments I see here in Europe, but it's unlikely, cause we've already left the Tony Blair show, and I can't really speak the languages. So, it'll pretty much be: "..and then we saw an old man on a donkey, and then some little kids came and spanked the donkey, and then an old lady came and yeld at the little kids, and then the little kids spanked the old lady...", etc. Yep, it's going to be quite an adventure for the next couple of weeks. So sit back, relax and vicariously enjoy the sights and wonders of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, und Deutchland!

When I return to the beautiful ol' C-A-N-A-D-A, I shall return to my regular old business of neglecting my shitty blog all together, only to occasionally reapear with some un-insightful comment about the state of affairs in my home and native land.

Chau.

Michi

Monday, January 16, 2006

For Better or Worse

125 Conservative

98 Liberal

55 Bloq Quebecois

29 Nuvelle Parti Democratic

1 Other (likely an Independent, possibly a First Peoples National Party rep, plausibly a Marxist-Leninist, and maybe even hypothetically a Green.)

These numbers are a biproduct of extensive riding analysis and an unhealthy CPAC addiction which I am currently seeking help for. Well, I guess I shouldn't go so far as to say "extensive riding analysis." I mostly just pulled them out of my ass, which just so happens to be fairly well tuned to the beat of this sort of thing. Of course, it would only be fair of me to add that, although I think myself as somewhat of a knowledgeable individual when it comes to the political realm, when it comes to gauging the outcome of elections I am sort of batting 500. In the last federal election, like many others, I overestimated the the performance of the Conservatives by about 20 seats (a margin of error so profound that it could even make a novice political hack blush.) While many of my friends were more accurately predicting a Liberal minority government, my numbers had me drifting into the blue. Also, I gave Jack Layton more credit than he was probably worth at the time, plotting the NDP somewheres in and around the 34 mark if I do recall, which at least gave my buddy Dan a good laugh. I did, however, receive the dubious honor of being the only one in my geek circle to correctly predict the number of Bloq Quebecois seats at 54, something that I hope I can repeat this time (loosing just 1 more seat this time to those bastards would be something in the way of damage control, like buring a small patch of trees in order to save the greater forest.) Last time around, I also predicted an Independent AND a Green, something I now do out of optimistic habbit.

There you have it. My numbers, for better or for worse.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Beatin' Me a Dead Horse

Stephen Harper has made his position clear on the issue of same-sex marriage. He has said, time and time again, that upon becoming Prime Minister he would, "allow for a free-vote in the House of Commons on the issue." That is what he said. In my mind there's nothing ambiguous about that. Thus, his agenda is by no means hidden: he's opposed to same-sex marriages, and he would like to see them become a thing of the past.

Conversely, Prime Minister Paul Martin has, time and time again, insisted that there would be no way for Steven Harper to do this without applying the notwithstanding clause to the case of same-sex marriage. I believe that this is true. I believe that any legislation disallowing gay marriages would eventually be challenged and found to be in violation of key provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that consequently, the only way to maintain such legislation would be to apply the notwithstanding measure. If someone knows another way to uphold such legislation in the likely event that the Supreme Court strikes it down, I would like to know to what that is. Or, if there is some other proposal out there that essentially reworks the legislation in such a way that avoids judicial scruity against Charter provisions, I would also like to know what that is.

Now, I do not feel as though I have very much at stake in this whole debate. Although I am a Liberal and I happen to support the Prime Minister's position on this, I am generally not motivated by this particular issue. This is in fact the first time I have ever written (or thought) about it at any length. I am not a gay man, nor am I a married one. I don't plan to get married any time soon, but, even if I were to get married tomorrow, I don't think I would be too discouraged to know that a gay couple somewhere was doing the same thing.

I do have a couple of logistical questions though.

Would a piece of Conservative legislation restricting gay-marriage be made to be retroactive? Would the 8,000 or so gay couples who've already been married in Canada be forced to get annulments or state-forced divorces? Or, would such legislation only apply to future cases? And, if it did only apply to future cases, how could the courts dismiss as precedents the existing marriages of more than 16,000 individuals? There also exists a logical paradox here. How could any law specifically designed to protect the sanctity of marriage at the same time actively promote the dissolution of marriages? To me, this question is a serious one. Laws cannot be so incongruous and paradoxical; if they are, then respect for the law is innevitably forsaken, and the law will have no force. In other words, if a law inherently violates itself, then the law will be of no consequence in the long run; if a law is irresolute and undermining of its original intent, then it will be not long for this world. Then again, I’m no lawyer, I’m just making this up as I go along.

But I think that if Steven Harper really feels that disallowing gay-marriage is more important than maintaining good optics (i.e. not utilizing the notwithstanding clause to impede the rights of a minority group) he should come out and say just that. If he believes, as Conservatives so often claim, that a national referendum would demonstrate that Canadians are opposed to same-sex marriage, then it shouldn't even be a political risk to do this. He should say something like: "Gay marriage is wrong. I believe that most Canadians believe that Gay marriage is wrong. We would consider every option available to defend the original definition of marriage, including using the notwithstanding clause to protect federal legislation banning same-sex marriage." That’s what he should say if he’s hell-bent on having his free-vote, otherwise such a vote would be an exercise in futility!

That’s what I think.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sneaking Back In

After about a three month respite from the blogging scene, I felt it was time to actually sit down and type a just a few morsels if not just to get the juices flowing again. Senator Catalyst has indeed been absent from the type pad for quite some time, however, after reviewing my cousin's newly created blog some of the old urges started to come back to me. And since we're coming up on the holidays, and since there's an election on, I figured I might as well spruce up the old weblog for the holidays and maybe make a couple of oberservations along the way and whatnot.

Since my last post, electricity has been invented, work on the Suez Canal has been finalised, and they have found a cure for polio. I've also noticed that, since I've last composed a post on this site, many of my former blogging chums, including Daveberta, have moved on to the big-big leagues where flashy gismos and revolving graphics prevail. To their credit, they have kept me in their links list, obviously in the hope that I might one day get my shit together once more. Well friends, today might very well be that day.

I have, in any event, had a brutal semester. I have no plans to learn of the nature of my grades until well into next semester. These next few weeks will most definitely serve as a cooling off period, to gather my thoughts, and maybe even through a few into the smouldering cesspit that is the boubling Canadian political blogosphere.

For now, I gotta go; my girlfriend is yelling at me.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why Do People Stop Blogging?

It's a valid question I think. Why do people stop blogging? And I don't reckon it's often asked, well, at least not so often as the question "why do people blog?" Or questions of a similar variety like "who are they who blog?" and of course "why do they blog?" (That may very well be the same as the first example but fuck it.)

Well, that is my unique charge for this evening: to analyze the phenomenon of blogumission (that is to say, the formal emancipation of oneself from blog culture or conversely the emancipation of one's blog and/or blogs from the vilainous grasps of one's own overlording philosophy and weltenshauung manifested through the physical act of typage on a daily basis.) It won't be easy, but I am armed with an unimpeachable source - myself. For I, as some of you may know, am a bonnefied blogumissionist (if you will allow me to continue with the already tired and admittedly weak, if not all together inapropriate analogy.)

Yes indeed, I am a bad blogger; been that way for 'round a month or so, maybe longer, and I ain't short of excuses neither. Predominant among em is what I consider the Occam's Razor of all excuses: that is, I am no longer employed as a summer student in an office anymore. And I can imagine I am not alone on this one. Several bloggers I've communicated with over the year (singular) have been students (like me) who work boring office jobs throughout the summer break (like me.) I haven't had the time to verify this empirically, but I'm am nevertheless satisfied by my preliminary hypothesis that indeed 23% of September blog-inactivity is directly correlated with the fact that jackassity students are returning to the class room and leaving their beloved office beta-fishes behind.

Then, there's the the whole declaration of intent to acquiesque the intellectual property of another blog/and/or meta-blog. Coupled with the fact that I then failed to carry our devious plan through to fruition. I got to admit, that hurt me on so many levels. I even considered, you know, pulling the plug on the whole operation (in the proverbial sense, you know, the big...[Delete Blog] option.) But in the end, I figured the why not hold on to the thing for a while at least until Senator Catalyst gets a grip on things.

But, should all go as planned it won't be the last of either of us.

Sincerely indeed,


Congressman Caveat