Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cabo trip 2011

Well i have officially unpacked my bags and my brain from our lightening fast vacation to cabo san lucas.

The fella went there for a conference for work.  His company was kind enough to pay for my airfare and hotel as his plus one.

The trip was a bit of a roller-coaster.  We got to have some delicious drinks in town and I got to do a ton of relaxing on the beach.

I managed to read most of Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente.  The book was totally amazing. It was like reading poetry.  The authors descriptors are so vivid it was easy to get caught up into the narrative.  The story is hard to describe but  it includes traditional slavic folklore, political commentary on the Russian revolution and a detailed discourse on war, marriage and the relationship of women in both.  Go read it seriously you will love it.

I also started Game of Thrones.  I am really impressed at how well the show was adapted from the book so far.

Things took a turn for the worse on the Tuesday.  The fella had the afternoon off and the company had organized a snorkelling outing.  I was super excited and despite the rather rough seas managed to enjoy the snorkelling a lot.

After about 30 minutes however I started to feel a little seasick and went to lounge on the beach.   Soon the called for us to get back on the boat.  By  the time I got on the boat I was ready to upchuck.   About 6-10 others were also pretty sick and our guide and a few others managed to get stung by jelly fish.

Something was not quite right with me however.  My hands started to tingle.  I assumed it was because I was dehydrated (which would have been tough as I had been drinking sooo much water).  Soon the tingling went up my arms and I noticed I was having trouble controlling my hands.  Thinking it was an allergic reaction I downed some benedryl that one of our travelling companions had.   At this point I started to get worried.

They can find no sting marks on me and can't figure out what is causing the problem.

My hands would no longer open.  They had turned into claws seized shut by whatever was in my system.  By this time the tingling and numbness had spread to my torso and started to go into my face.  Thankfully Jonathan who was a registered diver and had gone to med school was on the tour and he started to help the fella and I.  He mentioned my heart rate was like 140.  It all becomes a bit of a blur at this point.

They called for a speedboat from the marina which is 45 min away.  My mouth feels like I have been to the dentist and talking becomes difficult.  For a moment I think it would be much easier to just go to sleep.  Then the boat arrives.

The coast guards on the boat spoke no english but thankfully Jonathan and a tour guide came along with Greg and I to help translate.  I started to throw up epically and after start to feel a little better. One of the coast guards assumes I have been drinking all day and am sick from that.  Just for that I throw up in his direction a little harder.

By the time I am in the ambulance I am feeling better.  The EMTs also do not speak any english.  Jonathan pestered them the whole way to make sure what they were giving me was correct.  There is nothing more terrifying than being unable to explain what is going on to your body to someone who is trying to treat you.

The mexican hospital is spotless.  I have a very young Dr.  She speaks pretty good english and laughs at some of my jokes.  I am able to open and close my hands and the tingling is mostly gone.  I even feel some hunger pangs.

They inject me with hydrocortizone.  My body is not a fan and I throw up even more.  They stop doing that. They say they are going to keep me for observation for 2 hours.  I feel terrible for ruining both Jonathan and Greg's night off from the conference.

We have the best fucking BBQ chicken and ribs from a street vendor.  150 pesos and we cleaned him right out.  I can not hold a fork properly and spill my coleslaw everywhere.

Every inch of my body hurts.  My blood pressure is fine and after 2 hours of shooting the shit with Greg and Jonathan they allow me to go home.  The final bill was $500 bucks CND had I been local it would have been about $100.  I was really impressed with the efficiency and quality of care I received.

The marine biologist blames a Hyrdosuarios of some kind (something in the Hydrozoan family a cousin to a jellyfish).  Between translation and the shear number of things it could have been they could not give Jonathan a better name. It was likely the size of my fist and injected me with neurotoxins it also would not leave a mark till later.  They said it could take a while for it all to leave my system.

One week later I am still sore in my left leg and ankle (we think thats where it got me).   The shakes for the most part are gone ( I was already pretty shaky to begin with).  I am still very tired however.  I think I will be laying low for a few weeks.

All in all it was quite the adventure.  I feel like a much more seasoned traveller at this point.  I was very lucky to have had the help that I did get.  It was touch and go there for a bit and I really thought I could be royally fucked.   Thankfully I bounced back quickly with no long term ill affects.  Plus I have a really crazy story to tell my friends.

Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 Summer Beef Bear Bash!! August 20th

Beef Bear Bash Summer
Well after much planning and a few missteps we are finally ready to announce the Summer Beef Bear Bash!.  This promises to be our biggest event yet with things going on all weekend!

On Friday August 19th: 

The great guys at Edmonton Players In Gear EPIG are throwing another naughty and fun event.   So those of your traveling in from out of town may want to come out a night early to Flash for some fun in gear.
They will have live demos put on by some of our local Leather and BDSM community, and some will be on hand to answer questions for the less experienced in the group.
They will also have hands-on experiences for people who are curious to try! Violet wand, wax, and so much more, so come on out and get ready to try a new experience or two!

On Saturday August 20th

PART 1: A BBQ at Victoria Park at 1 PM (weather permitting).See here for a map. Daren will be serving his delicious sloppy pulled pork buns.  5 dollars will get you TWO buns and a pop or water.  We will also have some condiments and other snacks. Please feel free to bring your own food some bug spray and any outdoor equipment and come party with the bears and cubs in the woods!
PART 2: A dance at Junction Bar starting at 8 PM. Come check out the renovated Boots location. Cover is 2$ at the door for non FAB card holders.  FAB card holders get in for free!  This year we bringing back our incredibly popular Jockstrap auction for charity.  Come see some sexy bears showing off for charity! It wouldn't be a bear party if there wasn't some meet involved and this year Big Daddy will be cooking up some of his delicious BBQ with proceeds going to charity.  As always we welcome all Bears, Cubs, Wolfs, Otters, and Chasers. As always there will be great company, good food from the Junction's new menu.  See here for a map.  If you would like to help or participate in the auction please email or contact me here. Volunteering can be a great way to meet new people and it is for a really good cause.
Click here for the facebook page. 
PART 3: For those of you that are looking to get wet and wild Down Under Bath House is again going to be  offering the Bear Buns after party. As always FAB card holder will be able to get room upgrades at the door.  Down Under @ 12224-Jasper Ave.  Click here to visit the Down Under site. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Edmonton Developers are Dicks

So developers are bitching about the Edmonton's  plan to encourage eco-friendly, responsible development.  The plan is very thorough and as far as I am concerned could go even further than it does to discourage sprawl and what I like to call fast food development.

Fast food development is when a developer purchases cheap unserviced land on the outskirts of the city and then decides to build a massive suburb in was otherwise land useful for other purposes.  Generally speaking this usually consists of fertile farm land.

Edmonton taxpayers have for decades been accidentally subsidizing this type of development by being forced to provide and support services to these new developments.  The further away from the core of the services of course the more expensive these services become to support on a long term basis.  The developer makes a ton of cash off of it's McMansions and Edmonton taxpayers are left stuck with the bill.

So when these subsidized profitable companies complain that this new plan with put a halt on Edmonton as whole an cause "bedlam" I say to them: Fuck you and get your hands out of my wallet!
Yes I am sure some players will exit the market permanently.  However the real question to ask is if these players could only survive by developing irresponsible, short term environmentally damaging developments are we really losing anything as a community by them leaving the market?

I would say not so much.

This plan is a great opportunity for progressive developers to take advantage of. Edmonton has long been known for it's shortsightedness when it comes to developing and the Way We Green plan is the first huuuuge step in fixing it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How I became a rodeo junkie

We spent this past weekend in Strathmore Alberta for the 2011 gay rodeo.  This was my 5th gay rodeo and by far the best.  It has taken a few days to unpack my brain (and the fella's car) from everything that happened.  

This was my first year actually participating in the rodeo and I am so glad I made the decision to get involved.  In previous years I was content to go down and party hard for four days while cheering on friends as they got dirty in the arena.  I managed to convince my buddy Daren to come to the rodeo school they set up for beginners on the friday.  

A large part of me thought this whole thing was a terrible idea.  Here i am a desk jockey who has not been around farm animals in over 15 years and who is admittedly terrified of anything larger than a husky, going to go wrestle 600 pounds of angry beef in the dirt.

The rodeo school was brilliant and really helped me feel more comfortable with being around these animals. You really get a sense of how much these people respect both the lives of the stock and the participants.  I really dug the philosophy of doing your best and going as hard as you can  but knowing when to let go before you hurt yourself.  

The sense of camaraderie and family behind the chutes was really amazing.  Competitors helping each other out, giving each other tips, calming them when they needed it.  All of this is happening even though there is some real prize money on the line.  

I also learned a lot about how much of the rodeo events are basically just skills that farmers need to be able to safely and efficiently produce all of the food we eat.  When you see a package of ready made burgers sitting in a store you really do have no idea how much blood sweat and tears went into getting that animal to market for you to consume.  It has given me a glimpse into our invisible food chain and it really blows my mind how hard these guys have to work to keep us fed and them paid.  

The level of skill and athleticism shown off by the participants was very impressive.  I would say it is on par or above any sport I have played.  When you screw up in baseball or soccer there is no chance of being trampled by a huge animal.  In the rodeo that is almost a perpetual concern.  

I participated in three events. 
  1. Steer Deco: Which is a team event.  One teammate reels in a steer from the chutes using a rope and the other ties on a ribbon to the steer's tail.  I teamed up with a fellow rodeo virgin named Andrew.  It's an incredibly tough process as the steers kick and can be very hard to get control of.  Andrew was totally amazing however and managed to get up every time the steer knocked or dragged him down.  You also have to be in constant communication with your teammate as doing things in the wrong order will get you disqualified.  In our first actual attempt I had to run after the steer after Andrew got stepped on.  I thought the thing was going to drag me all over creation but I managed to hold my ground until he got to his feet.  We placed 12th on the Sunday out of 13.  Our time was 28 seconds.  About 20 teams participated but not everyone managed to get the ribbon on or the rope off.   I am also pretty certain we were the only first timers to place that day.  
  2. Chute Doggin:  This is the really scary event for me as you have to get up close and personal with a steer.  These things are massive and some of the veteran participants mentioned they were the biggest surliest stock they had ever seen at a rodeo.   Theres an element of luck involved to all of these events sometimes you get a good steer sometimes you get satan.  Our instructor at the camp actually got a hoof to the face as he was demoing the event to us.  Needless to say it did not make me want to hop in to this tightly enclosed space with an animal 3-4 times my weight.  Chute dogging is all about technique and control. It has very little to do with brute strength (tho that helps I am sure).  You basically grab the steer by it's horn and mouth and direct it out of the chute and flip it down so that all of it's legs are in the air.  You have to be in complete control of yourself as the animals can sense nervousness and fear.   You also have to be in complete control over the animal or else it will drag you across the arena.  You give it an inch and it will take you for a ride.   I managed to hurt my leg at the school because I gave the animal a chance to take control.  I had a great coach help me out on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday was by far my best attempt.  I had a good steer and was feeling really good about things.  As I was getting into position I heard my name being called into the arena and I could hear my cheering section go crazy.  When that chute opened and I walked that steer out and started to flip it I felt like I could do anything.  The steer ended up flipping the wrong way despite me fighting it for a while.  I never got all 4 feet in the air and eventually had to let go as it was getting close to being able to gore me as we wrestled around on the ground.  I was so close!  That adrenalin rush was unlike anything I have ever felt in my life.  I was vibrating.  Totally elated.  I wanted to get naked and run around.  Something had flipped from fear to incredible joy.   I was beginning to realize that rodeo is the best drug around.  Sunday I let the steer get the best of me and didn't make a time but it was a great learning experience.
  3. Wild Drag: This is another team event and requires a man a woman and a drag queen.  Last year at the rodeo I met a great steer deco team who were looking for someone to do the drag position so they could compete. After a few drinks I said yes which is what started this whole rodeo participation thing to begin with.  The concept is very similar to steer deco except you put the drag queen on top of the steer and then get it across a line.  It is very dangerous as you are basically doing steer riding in a dress of some sort. I have never really done drag before so I dived in as best I could.  I make a very ugly woman. Our steer and the other team steer ended up getting too close to each other and we had to let it go before we could get a time. 
Sunday half the Rodeo was cancelled and we were evacuated to the main hall due to a tornados in the area.  The giant flying spaghetti monster must love the gays however as the storm cells split around the rodeo grounds and all we got was some rain and wind.  The Strathmore theatre was not so lucky apparently.  

Argra the organizers behind the rodeo really worked so hard to put on a safe fun event for everyone and I think they hit it out of the park.  The people of Strathmore could not have been more welcoming and supportive (its always amazing how money trumps politics when it comes down to it.  You really get a sense that this event has managed to change some people's minds in ultra conservative small town Alberta.  It is amazing what a little visibility can do.  Of course there was one or two assholes causing trouble and stealing from the campsites.  I even had to give a statement after identifying one of them. Overall however the only protesters there were animal rights activists.  A refreshing change from the usual bible thumpers. 

I feel different now post rodeo.  My body is sore all over still but I feel personally like I can take on anything at this point.  I feel stronger somehow.  The fella said I walk differently.  I didn't even miss not partying with everyone on the camp grounds. There is something visceral about facing fears and performing a real task with real stakes.  I loved that feeling of agency in chaos.  Control when there is none.   

That rush is something I am going to have a hard time recreating.  I can not wait until next year when I take what I learned and do better than this year.  

I wanted to thank my teammates and all the other participants that have made this such a wonderful learning experience.