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Like most right thinking individuals, I am a big fan of tradition. Unfortunately, as a software professional, tradition requires me to spend New Years Eve drinking alone, playing video games and sobbing uncontrollably. While I'm as conservative as the church is true, this past New Years I decided to do something a little different: I went to Canada.
With the fair chloedancer by my side, I traveled to Victoria, British Columbia in search of a good time. I didn't find it (except when alone with the lovely chloedancer), but I hope that my story can serve to warn others about the dangers of third world vacations.
Geographically, The People's Republic of Canada is the second largest nation on earth, but its population is a scant 35 million. As 17% of the country consists of inhospitable permafrost and an astonishing 54% is untamed forest that the Canadians are too lazy to fell in the name of progress, 85% of these unfortunate, pale pink skinned savages make their living within 200 miles of the USian border. Decent health care is only available to the very rich and even they must cross the border into USia to obtain it as what little heath care infrastructure the country possessed has been destroyed by an ineffective and costly system of socialized medicine.
Of course, ill advised nationalization schemes are hardly unique to Canada. The plague of communist ideals infests most third world nations and is the chief obstacle preventing them from enjoying the standards of prosperity, literacy and health most USians take for granted. Canada, however is worse than most.
Like many an intrepid adventurer before me, I always pack my Discover Card when exploring new territory. Not only does it "pay to Discover," but the card is accepted wherever you see the Novus Network sign. Also, my Discover Card safer than carrying cash in the crime ridden ghettos of the frozen North, and it bears original artwork by the only surviving member of the Beatles, Ringo Starr. Truly, my Discover Card is the perfect form of currency.
At least it would be the perfect form of currency if the backwards and technologically deprived merchants of Canada could be persuaded to accept the blasted thing. They can't. Apparently processing my Discover Card is beyond the capabilities of their primitive electronic banking system.
So there I was in Canada, a nation that likes to think of itself as the 51st state without any form of electric currency. No problem thought I, I've got $200 USD and the delightful and intoxicating Chloedancer by my side; I'll be fine. Unfortunately, the process of turning the delightful and intoxicating Chloedancer into the delightfully intoxicated Chloedancer took half that sum and a new pair of shoes accounted for the remainder. (The third world is a great place to buy shoes as the vast quantities of cheap, illiterate and unskilled workers attract shoe manufacturers.)
I ran out of money on day 3 of my 5 day stay on scenic Vancouver Island, which had its good and bad points. The worst thing was that I had to ask the luscious Chloedancer to pick up the check for the remainder of the trip. In her wisdom, she was better prepared for the primitive environment that is Canada than I and she graciously agreed to pay for the remainder of our stay. On the plus side, I got to see Canada from the perspective of the average Canadian (solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short) rather than as a wealthy USian tourist.
To the casual observer, Victoria could pass for a USian city. The streets are wide and packed with traffic, the citizens are dressed in typical USian middle class garb and there is even a McDonald's. On closer examination however it begins to resemble a nightmare vision of USia, one that could only appeal to the white supremacists of Northern Idaho. The only black man I saw in Victoria worked in a restaurant and the Chicano community was completely non-existent. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing our neighbors to the North of out and out racism (although that is a very plausible explanation). I'm just observing that whatever means the Canadian government uses to promote ethnic diversity are clearly not adequate.
Fortunately, I'm descended from hearty bands of Danes, Swedes and Norwegians who crossed the Atlantic to join Brigham Young in the promised land, so I could blend in perfectly with the aryans that surrounded me. I simply took to mispronouncing the letter "O" and saying "eh" a lot and they accepted me as one of their own.
Posing as a vacationing lumberjack from the icy Yukon, I learned the truth about this seemingly USian city. Victoria is naught but a facade designed to project a positive image of Canada to visiting USians. A great deal of effort has gone into this charade, but, as always, the devil is in the details.
My dearest love, Chloedancer, had mentioned the strange fact that there is a computer store on nearly every street corner. This struck her as being a bit unusual on a small, sparsely populated island. It was even more unusual considering that computers are a tool of the literate and Victoria is strangely lacking in bookstores. Closer examination revealed that most of these shops were dedicated to the Apple Macintosh.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history of computing, the Apple Macintosh is a type of computer that was quite popular in the late 80's and early 90's. Eventually it was rendered obsolete by the release of Microsoft's astonishingly popular Windows95 operating system which did everything the Macintosh did but ran on much less expensive and faster hardware. While the Macintosh still hangs on in the graphic design market and is aggressively marketed by Apple, the idea that a town the size of Victoria could support 2 Macintosh retailers, still less the dozens we counted is preposterous.
Now I know that the handful of Macintosh advocates out there will be up in arms about these statements, but it's the simple truth. Over 90% of personal computers run some version of Microsoft Windows. While I'll not dispute that the Macintosh may be the finest system nobody uses, I must also point out that the Amiga, Lunix and BeOS communities make the same claim and you can't all be right.
When you consider that Apple pays good money for the placement of Macintoshes in movies like "Independence Day" and "The Net," the explanation for the shops of Victoria becomes clear. Obviously this is the result of a joint marketing campaign by Apple and the Canadians to make Canada seem technologically advanced and the Macintosh seem like a viable computing platform. Both assertions are demonstrably false.
Additionally, the lovely Chloedancer and I counted 5 adult boutiques. While there's nothing wrong with the use and enjoyment of marital aids, 5 shops in a city that cannot house more than 90,000 inhabitants seems a bit odd. It's worth noting that the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area, with 10 times the population can only support 2 adult boutiques. Once again I smelled a marketing ploy and my subtle interrogations of the locals proved my hunch.
If you're going to run a country with a degree of ethnic diversity that the Third Reich would have envied, you must be very careful to avoid charges of fascism. What better way to demonstrate a fun loving and tolerant environment than wall to wall clitoral and anal stimulators? Canada is saying "look at all these butt-plugs, surely we're not about to round up homosexuals and send them to extermination camps." Once again I'd like to note that I'm not accusing Canadians of out and out racism or homophobia, but if they had nothing to hide would they be working so hard on their image? I think not.
I'm not the only one who noticed something false and repellent about Victoria. While visiting the Crystal Gardens, a pigmy marmoset managed to tunnel out of its cage. This smallest member of the primate family immediately spotted chloedancer and me and headed toward us. I will never forget the look on its little marmoset face as it seemed to plead with us to help it escape this frozen, socialist wasteland. How it knew we were USians is a mystery to me, but I am certain that it did.
Perhaps the saddest example of the deceit and false advertising that permeates Victoria relates to the female breast. It's a matter of record that unsound and inflationary monetary policies have made the Canadian dollar worth about 70% of its USian counterpart, but I had no idea that the same was true of their women. Here in the states, the most common bra size is a 36 C, just as it is in Canada. Unfortunately, when my beloved chloedancer attempted take advantage of the exchange rates to purchase a pair, she found they just didn't fit.
It seems that a USian 36 C is actually larger than a Canadian 36 D. Are our neighbors to the North so insecure about their flat chested women that they must incorrectly identify cup sizes? It seeems incredible, but no other explanation fits the facts. I suspect that not only are USian breasts larger, but they are also firmer and more full than their Canadian counterparts. I was going to test this theory, but chloedancer objected to my feeling up the women of Canada. I protested that it was all in the name of science, but to no avail. Some women just don't appreciate the sacrifices that science demands.
Finally, something must be said about Victoria's fetish for all things British. Their list of top tourist activities is as follows:
Is Canada so devoid of character that it must import it from the British Isles? I don't see Detroit advertising itself as "Ye Olde Motore Citie." Of course this isn't just Victoria, all Canada is divided into Canadians who like to pretend they're French and Canadians who want to pretend they're British. Those who don't fit into either category define themselves as "sort of like Americans, but not really." The second largest nation on earth has nothing that even remotely resembles a national soul. The Canadians may pretend to be British (or French) all they like, but behind that is a gnawing lack of identity and behind that lies the endless expanse of the tundra.
In the final analysis, Victoria BC is a pitiful exhibition. It's a painful attempt at overcompensation by a nation that is (rightfully) ashamed of itself. Much like picked on adolescents who turn to Ayn Rand and her imago of pitiless strength to hide their own helplessness, nobody is fooled and what pity we are inclined to feel is overwhelmed by disgust. Would I recommend visiting Victoria, BC? If you can make the trip in the company of a woman as amazing as Chloedancer, absolutely. Otherwise, I'm afraid that Victoria has little to recommend itself.