4 Aug
          I survived four days in the field, no showers, little sleep, day and night map marches, a 13 Km march, and the Obstacle Course--blistered feet and all. I'm still digging green and brown camouflage paint out of my ears. At least I hope its camouflage paint. Luckily, it's all downhill from here. Actually, it's all down the side of a big freaking cliff--we start rappelling on Tuesday. 
          I spent the last couple of days with Pen at a Latino/Caribbean Festival. Two days ago I was choking down IMP's (Individual Meal Package, although Inedible Magma Product seems more appropriate--and they still tasted better than the hot meals the Mess Hall sent out) and now here I am at Market Square listening to Salsa, Calypso, and Reggae music. Incidentally, Market square is an inner courtyard formed by a ring of two-story buildings that in days gone by teamed with saloons, opium dens, and prostitutes. Now it's upscale yuppie shops, bistros, and....prostitutes. 
          Oh, by the way, Ryan won't be reporting to St. Jean until Sept 23 now. Typical military: hurry up and wait. 

6 Aug
Rappelling is  fun. I don't care what the rest of the guys  say. Except for the part where the rappel master kept telling me, "Don't look down." 
          If you don't look down how will you know when to apply the break? What do you mean you're supposed to break before you reach the bottom?
And I'm going to an Indian sweat lodge on Thursday. The Sergeant Major tricked me when he asked if I'd like to go. I thought he said sweet lodge. Damn ears are still full of camouflage paint.

8 Aug
After weeks of go, go, go, I'm having trouble dealing with the lull. We graduated yesterday, and now there's really not much to do until the recruits arrive. Sure, there's little bits of activity here and there, the odd two or three hour course, but hardly enough to fill the 14-16 hour days I'd grown accustomed to. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I guess now that things have settled down I'm going to have to develop my routine: get back to the gym and back to my writing. And scheduled naps.

10 Aug
          Pen and I went to Butchart Gardens last night and watched a local Celtic band play. They were great, and by the time they were finished it was all I could do to stop myself from donning pistol and rapier. It's a good thing there weren't any coaches along the highway, or I'd have had all their booty. 
          Hmm...I just realised that in this day and age those words could conjure up an entirely different image than the one I intended. Instead of a masked highwayman robbing stagecoaches and relieving its patrons of their valuables a la Rob Roy, we now have some nutcase pulling over a minivan carrying the girl's soccer team and making off with the coach's girlfriend. 

11 Aug
          Microsoft has a neat little free program that you can download from their website called Microsoft Reader. It's their version of an E-book reader, but what's neat about it is that it's also an add-on to MS Word, and will convert any Word document into an E-book, automatically (including--O joy, O bliss--a novel). To get it to look just right you have to create a master document divided into subdocuments for each chapter, and then create a table of contents, but when you're finished you've got a passable imitation of a real book. You can highlight text as you read, skip immediately to any chapter, place bookmarks, add pictures (including your own cover art)--it'll even read aloud to you providing you don't mind it annunciating every comma and period.
          I know it's just a vanity thing, but there's something about seeing DARKSIDE in book format that I find encouraging. I guess it makes the dream more tangible.
          And I never thought I'd say this, but Pen wants to kill Bambi. That's right, my wife, who wouldn't hurt a fly (she gets me to kill them) wants Bambi dead. Pen has spent hours and beaucoup de bucks on her little flower garden at the front of our home. It's beautiful, and, apparently, delicious. The area where we live is teaming with tiny little deer (my old dog, Bear, was bigger than most of them) that've decided that Pen's flower garden is an all-night drive through at MacDonald's or something. I told Pen she could set the sprinkler up to scare them away, but Claymore mines were out of the question.

13 Aug
          We went back to Butchart Gardens on Sunday night to listen to Odyssey, a String Quartet. It was interesting because they didn't play in the band shell, but down in a field in the Sunken Gardens. Garden staff handed out plastic ground sheets and chequered cloths for patrons to sit on. It was all I could do to stop myself from stringing my ground sheet up between two trees to build an improvised shelter, and set up booby traps. Too much time spent in the field, I guess.
          Odyssey played pieces by the classical masters like Bach, Chopin, and Mozart, as well as more contemporary numbers by Gershwin and Joplin. I had to smile as an elderly woman behind us sang along in her Snow White soprano, until I realised that she was probably just reminiscing the songs of her youth. I can just imagine myself as an old timer, catching the oldies band at the biodome and warbling along to Rock Lobster while the young whippersnappers smirk and nod knowingly at the "crazy old coot". Ha! See if I tell them where the trip wires are.

15 Aug
          Pen and I just got back from renting a movie from Blockbuster. They had MAD MAX on sale in the "Original Australian." Gee, I hope it has subtitles. :-)

16 Aug
          We had to go out and buy new envelopes for mailing manuscripts today. I had originally bought 100. I figure what with the ones I wasted or used for other purposes, I've probably mailed away at least 60 manuscripts or query letters, so I did a quick tally: $15 for large envelopes; $15 for SASE sized envelopes; Average cost of mailing queries or manuscripts--$180 at $3 a piece; $160 for return postage on SASE's; $80 for printer ink; $30 for paper. That comes to a grand total of about $480. So far I've made 3 sales for a grand total of about $60 Canadian, and all three sales were made to webzines were I emailed the freaking submission in. Go figure.

22 Aug
          We went to Vancouver yesterday. Big city. Nowhere near as nice as Victoria. It cost $10 to park the car, $37 for the ferry ride, $40 for the bus ride from the ferry terminal to downtown and back, and about $12 in taxis. Pen bought some lip-gloss from Holt Renfrew, a pair of shoes, and some body bath/gel/wash/scrub/perfume guck from H2O. I'm sure everything was on sale, so it must have been a bargain. I got...um...nothing. Boy, did I save money there.

23 Aug
          First off, I'd like to thank my wife for clearing up my spelling of Holtz and 02. Hey, if you're going to make fun of someone, you should at least get the spelling right.
          And I'd like to thank Amber for turning me on to Buddha.net. Now I'm more confused than ever. Okay, I admit maybe all life is suffering, but I don't think the point is to achieve Nirvana, which is basically the point where you cease to exist. I might be wrong about that, but I think I'm in the ballpark. If you ask me that's still a rather selfish goal. Wouldn't it be better to try to create a Heaven here on Earth, where everyone could live in peace, harmony, love, and all that crap? It seems a nobler goal. 
          Then again, if God (if there is a God) wanted that for us, he didn't set a very good example. I read it in a Robert Sawyer book once (and he told me he got it from someone else) that very few of God's creatures die peacefully in their sleep. Most die an agonizing, painful death. Which brings us back to all life is suffering, and I just don't think that's the way it's supposed to be. 
          Then again, what do I know? I thought of all this crap after my run, while I was meditating. You know, where you're supposed to clear your mind of all extraneous thoughts. Yeah, that worked out really well.

25 Aug
          It's Ryan's birthday today.

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   R Y A N  !!!!

My son is 18 today. And I thought the one having the birthday was supposed to feel old.

27 Aug
          We were walking past one of Pen's favourite little flower shops in the mall the other day when she asked, "I wonder if I'll get flowers for the first day of my new job?" Well, she will now. Subtlety is not Pen's middle name. 
          She got kind of uppity when I mentioned that until I threatened to spank her, to which she replied, "Oh, yeah? You and what army?" That's when I reminded her that I actually do have my own little army now. 20 soldiers who will do practically anything I tell them without question. 60, when I'm instructing the entire platoon. Ha! Take that, wench.

28 Aug
          We went on the Ghostly Walks tour of Victoria last night, given by local historian John Adams. It's a two-hour walk through the Victoria waterfront area, which is, apparently, the most haunted place in Canada. That's right, I moved from Trenton, which had the highest concentration of walking deadbeats, to Victoria, which has the highest concentration of walking dead. It's like a theme thing. 
Tonight we're headed out the Starlight Cinema 2002. It's an outdoor cinema where they're showing Look Who's Coming to Dinner. Am I a classy guy or what?