Why woo?

I can think of no scenario where being in a crowd of people who are shouting “Woooooooo!”, as they are want to do, would be appealing to me. The very sound of people shouting “Wooooooo!” makes me hate the crowd in question.

And yet, people shouting “Woohoo!” I could probably get behind.

History meets Explosions

Now, I consider myself to be the sort of person who doesn’t make a connection with something just because it is from the same place I am. Just because a movie or television show or book or a band is made in, or by people from, Halifax, I don’t give things any extra credit for being from here. In fact, if someone is telling me about something and they bring up its local origins before convincing me of the thing’s quality on its own merit, I’m likely to hold it against the thing, telling myself that if it’s localness ranks so high in its importance, it must not have much else going for it. Unfair? Probably, but this is how I am (That is, always looking for something to complain about).

That said, I don’t think I can separate the Halifax Explosion Heritage Moment from my being born and raised in Halifax. I have no specific memory of when I first was taught about the Explosion, but there is a good chance this was the only Heritage Moment about an event I knew about before I saw it. In fact, it is one of the few that I can say with certainty I was taught anything about in school (Though, the Underground Railroad is another of those few. If I was ever taught anything about Irish immigrants to Quebec or the struggles of women trying to learn medicine, I don’t recall it. And I know for sure that the Canadian school system doesn’t teach enough about Superman.). So, as a child, it was neat to see this one.

It’s a simple story, Vince Coleman see that the ships are gonna blow, he warns everyone he sees to get as far away as possible, then he remembers a train is coming into town and he sends a Morse code message for them to maybe not come into town, on account of the explosion that’s gonna happen.

Someone sacrificing his or her own life to save others is always the sort of thing I like in a protagonist, so I’m behind Vince. I guess, in real life, some of the facts were not quite the same as depicted here, but the message he sent (“Hold up the train. Munitions ship on fire and making for Pier 6… Goodbye boys.”) does make it sound like he knew he was going out, but he still managed to keep his cool and get the message to the trains. So he’s a good guy, even if the commercial did kinda feel the need to fluff him up.

Still, historical accuracy has never been one of my criteria for these reviews. As an entity unto itself, the commercial tells its story quite well in the minute. We get the set up, the struggle to get the message out, the success, and the tragic end all at breakneck speed. As for quotability, I could see “C’mon Vince, C’mon” being the sort of thing I’d say if I knew a Vince (which would likely annoy Vince). But “C’mon, c’mon, acknowledge.” is the real star. If I’d been asked before re-watching, I would have been sure that line played a much bigger role. Anyway, we should all use it on computers when they’re taking too long to load and stuff.

So anyway, it’s entirely possible that there was a time in my youth when I would have called this my favorite Heritage Moment (with the possible exception of the Superman one), but that was just my regionalism. But still, I do like this one even looking at my new, bitter-about-everything eyes.

PDR XXX

So, today is my thirtieth birthday. How about that?

PDR XXX

Generally I, Patrick D Ryall, do not bother celebrating my birthday, (and today is no exception apart from this post, really) because age is just a count of how many times the Earth has gone around the Sun since I got born and that isn’t terribly relevant to me. Sure, years are a useful unit of time measurement, but they really don’t mean anything about me as a person. And yet, even with that in mind, there are some things that can be inferred by my turning thirty: The primary being that I’m no longer in my Twenties. I’m now a Real Adult, instead of a New Adult. Or something. I’m in a different category than I was just days ago, is what I’m saying. I don’t know what the categories are called.

Sure, I’ll grant you that today’s society has pushed back Real Adulthood much further than thirty. People probably say things like “Fifty is the new Thirty” so I’m supposed to rejoice that I’m not old. All the thirty-year-olds in movies are likely to be overgrown young people and many in real life seem take their cue from that. People crave their youth, for whatever reason, so they’re constantly pushing the societal definition of youth higher and higher. But not ol’ PDR. I don’t care about aging, really. Some people fret about it and can’t believe that they’re getting old. And you’d think that someone who has been as concerned with his mortality since such a young age as I was would worry, but I don’t. Getting older has more than enough benefits to make PDR okay with it.

For one thing, I have never fit in with my age group. Not when I was a kid, nor a teenager, nor any other time. I never knew the popular trends of the day. I am always late learning about what shows are popular, I never know anything about music, and I have worn the same style of clothes (t-shirts, jeans) no matter what fashion does around me. Now, obviously, my age group is still my age group. They’ve all grown up with me. So my not fitting in with them will continue. But we’ve all continued aging away from the Young People of Today and they’re the real popular culture now. That’s what is so sweet. Someone in their Twenties? They’re generally still expected to be somewhat hip. But I’m in my Thirties, now, so I’m free from that! As I said above, Thirties are still considered pretty young these days, but the difference between me and some teenagers is now so insurmountable that my never speaking to one who isn’t a cashier is perfectly fine. When I hit my Forties, I’m pretty sure, is when I’m actually allowed to be wholly alienated by youths, so I’m ahead of the game there, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ve been an old man in my head since I was around fourteen, so this is just my life is finally catching up.

I’m also lucky that there won’t be any “Holy Crap, I’m Thirty Now” shock for me. I’ve thought of myself as a thirty-year-old since I was twenty-eight. Why? Bad memory, I guess. But in any case, I’ve been calling myself thirty for years in my head (and occasionally out loud when people ask me my age and I don’t want to do math or remember what year it is) so I’ve already moved on to being, like, thirty-three mentally. If, at any point, I genuinely am caught off guard when my age occurs to me, it’s because I’m actually younger than I am.

Naturally, round-numbered ages are a good time to take stock of your life and see how you’re doing. And it’s times like this I notice that I am nowhere near getting married, having kids, buying a house, and winning a position of great social status and material wealth. But I wasn’t aiming for that stuff anyway. There’s some stuff in that list that I’d be down with, but for the most part these goals are just things we’re peer pressured into thinking are important. I’ve not deigned to base my life around achieving any of them. The unfortunate flip-side of this, however, is that I’m also not achieving much in the way of PDR-mandated goals. I’ve not done nearly so much travelling as I’d like, my writing output is improving but is still less than ideal, and I’ve not overthrown the currency-worshipping culture we live in. Perhaps the most alarming thing I do get out of turning thirty is when I remember that I started working my current job when I was twenty-one. I’ve wanted to quit for at least eight years, but I haven’t because I can’t think of another way to not be homeless.

But in the end, I can take that sense of failure as I turn thirty, because I had that same sense of failure when I was twenty-nine and before that. But now I can more liberally use phrases like “When you get to be my age…,” “Back when I was young…,” and “Kids these days…” I mean, sure, I used all of those already, but now it is slightly more justified. And in the end, that’s what aging is about: It’s a license to be as cantankerous and ornery as you want.

PDR’s Controversial Beliefs: Mankind is not destroying nature.

A week or two back I had someone put forth the idea to me that the world would be better off without people in it. This is something, I just can’t agree with. Here’s the way it seems to me:

When we say we want a healthy environment it isn’t really the health of the environment that we’re concerned with. It’s how well suited the environment is for keeping us alive that we’re actually concerned with. If we weren’t here the environment would not be Better Off. Nature doesn’t care about what we’re doing. Nature invented rat’s asses just so it could not give them about us. Pretty much nothing we do can harm nature. We can only harm us.

People might argue “But humanity is causing pollution which upsets the balance of nature” and I say “nope”. Nature is never actually balanced, it is just forever in the act of balancing. The makeup of the atmosphere is certainly different because of what we’ve pumped into it, but nature will, over time, get used to that. Species will adapt to the new atmosphere and thrive. Ages ago the atmosphere had much more oxygen because God wanted giant bugs around, but now we’ve got less oxygen. Nature goes on in spite of these changes and what we’re really worried about is how well nature can support us.

People may argue “But humanity’s influence has caused a ton of species to go extinct and that upsets the ecosystem” and I say again “nope”. When you think about it, far more species have gone extinct from your ice ages and your asteroid strikes and your freakin’ whatever caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event. When it comes to wiping out animal life, humanity just Can Not Compete with Mama Nature.

People may argue “But when nature causes something to happen, it’s natural, when we do it its unnatural” and I say once more times “nope”. Even though in the paragraphs proceeding this one I drew a line of distinction between humanity and nature, we really are as much a part of this planet as any other life form. Let us say that, in prehistoric times, some predator species crossed a land bridge somewhere and got into an ecosystem and wiped the floor with the competition and changed the whole scene, would you say that nature would be better off without that species or would it be cool because they’re animals and, unlike us, they don’t know any better? Well this sort of thing has happened nonstop over millions of years and nature still got us here. And if you’re saying that we’re supposed to know better, I say “why”? If nature seems to be fine with a constant change of ecosystems, why would it be Better if we defy that? Isn’t going against nature the exact thing you’re accusing us of?

My point here is that saying the environment would be Better Off without humanity is like saying a hospital would be easier to keep clean if you didn’t let patients in. You’d end up with a cleaner hospital, sure, but what would be the point of that? We should certainly be working hard to maintain an environment that keeps us alive. But not for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of humanity.

DVDs… But why?

Over this last week I have purchased seven DVDs from Blockbuster locations that are dying here in Halifax. Now, I love my DVD collection and its extensiveness, (as shown in this here not even up-to-date list) so I am quite pleased to be adding to it for the first time in quite a while.

That said, with every DVD I add to the collection I also add to my annoyance, because I know I shouldn’t have a DVD collection at all. At the place where human technological development is, there is simply no need for it. Ideally all the movies (and music and so on) would be kept in a vast repository online where we could all see the movies we want, when we want. These physical copies of the movies that I so enjoy are entirely pointless. And yet I still like them. It’s rough being a greatly self-contradictory fellow.

Of course, when DVDs are finally an obsolete technology, this collection is going to seem like a lot of wasted time and effort.

(For the record, I’ve just realized that one of my new seven DVDs is Fullscreen. I didn’t even know they still had those.)