Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Tecumseh Curse

There is a "curse" in American politics, which alleges that every American President who is elected in years ending in the digit "0" will die before they leave office. Apparently, this curse was initiated in 1811 when Tecumseh was defeated by General William Henry Harrison, who was leading US forces at the time. Since that battle, let's take a look at what has happened:

1820: Well, let's skip this year. The curse can't be perfect, and some things take a while to get rolling.

1840: Henry Harrison (yes, the same former general) was elected President. At his inauguration speech, he gave an hour and a half long speech on a windy day. Unfortunately, he caught a cold, and died of pneumonia a month later.

1860: Surely you all know what happened to Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in 1860 and shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865 while still President.

1880: James Garfield was elected, and six months later was shot & killed by Charles Guiteau.

1900: William McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz. Interestingly, he survived at first, but doctors didn't want to risk removing a bullet from his body, and although the X-ray machine had just been invented and was available in Buffalo, where he was shot, doctors decided that the new machine was too risky to use on the President. He died a week later after going into shock.

1920: Warren Harding was elected. Later in his term, he died of a heart attack in San Francisco. Many Americans allegedly thought this to be a good thing, since he was such a weak president.

1940: Roosevelt was re-elected President. Later in the same decade, he died of a brain aneurysm while still in office.

1960: John F. Kennedy was elected, and then on November 22nd, 1963, was shot (ostensibly by Lee Harvey Oswald, although many conspiracy theorists would argue against that).

1980: Ronald Reagan was elected. Here again, the curse seems to be weakening. Although there was an assassination attempt on him by John Hinkley, and he was shot, the wound was not fatal. Some superstitious people allege that he survived because his wife, Nancy, organized public prayers for him and invited many Native Americans to participate.

2000: George W. Bush was elected. On May 10th, 2005, he actually survived an assassination attempt in Georgia (the country), when Vladimir Arutinian threw a hand grenade at him and the President of Georgia. However, the grenade failed to go off.

It remains to be seen whether or not Bush will outlast the Tecumseh Curse. He has about, um, just under two years remaining in office, if the inauguration of the 2008 Presidential election winner takes place the following January. And whatever many of us think of his political abilities (or lack thereof), hopefully he will not be assassinated while in office.

While at university, I've studied a number of disciplines, including math & computer science, engineering, commerce, history, and Spanish. For the past few days, I've been cooped up at home and working on accounting, and I thought I would procrastinate for an hour before bed: hence the reason for this little post. History is so much more interesting than accounting ...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Seattle and Vancouver

I spent a few days in Seattle last week, and then a couple more in Vancouver.

On Thursday afternoon, I arrived in Seattle. Tim Carstons picked me up at the airport, and got me to a friend's place that I was staying at. Unfortunately, that friend (Robert Walker) was in New Zealand at the time, so I didn't get to see him.

On Thursday evening, I played a full show (three hours) at En, a nice Japanese bar & restaurant that has an outlet in Seattle and another location in Tokyo. I usually play in clubs that don't serve food, so it was an interesting change get a good meal while I was playing. On Friday night, Tim took me sight-seeing for a bit and I got a chance to go to the top of the Seattle Needle, which had a spectacular view. After that, we went back to En, and I played again. However, Friday night was just a short set, and two other DJ's played too, so I actually got to sit down and enjoy someone else playing for a change.

On Saturday, I flew to Vancouver, where I spent the weekend with Shawn Cole. Shawn now owns the Lab Monkey recording studio, and he also teaches a few courses at one of the sound engineering schools in the city. Shawn used to be my roommate quite a few years ago, and was a DJ at the MTA Pub and my Assistant Manager for a while. On Saturday evening, we hit the studio and had a little bit of a party. On Sunday, Shawn had to record a group (Bend Sinister) at the Mushroom Studio, so I spent the afternoon and evening at the studio with him.

I had a flight back to Toronto late Sunday night, but unfortunately, that plane got delayed coming from Mexico, so I missed my connection in Toronto. There was chaos at the Toronto airport. Air Canada had overbooked several flights, and people were getting bumped everywhere. Now I can't fault Air Canada for overbooking a flight slightly, because that's a reasonable business decision since there are usually a couple of no-shows on each flight. However, some of these flights had apparently been over-booked by several dozen people, and a lot of the people in the airport were extremely pissed. Add to that the fact that it was snowing, and the airport was also having problems de-icing enough planes, and it turned into a generally bad day for air travel. Luckily, I am the most patient traveller in the world, so I just bought a couple books and hung out in the corner.

Throughout the day, I managed to get bumped off seven different flights. The last one was a bit of a disappointment - I was actually given the very last seat on the plane, on standby, and I was a couple feet through the gate when the passenger who owned my seat showed up at the last second and I got called back. I was a little annoyed at that, since there were no flights open on Tuesday, which meant that my choices were either to spend another day and a half in the airport, or to take a flight to Saint John and hitch-hike home in the middle of the night (since the bus station would be closed by the time I arrived). I had asked for a seat on the Saint John flight earlier in the afternoon, just to be safe, and my luggage was checked for that flight. However, after I got pulled away from the seventh Moncton flight, the agent said to hold on, because there was one more flight to Moncton that I hadn't known about. When that flight finally got ready to go, once again a bunch of standby people got the first half-dozen empty seats, then my name was once again called for the very last seat. How's that for luck?

Now I just have to wait for my luggage to arrive from Saint John, although I always take my records as a carry-on so I don't have to worry about losing my music or headphones.