The Trilogy of Cattle

Written by Lord Lansdowne


Apparently May 15th was the deadline to fill in your Canada Census form. The volunteers came by and left the forms on my door. My immediate reaction was to leave it outside for a few days, hoping it would go away. It didn?t.

Eventually, tired of seeing it hanging off my doorknob, I took it inside.

Now, I should specify that I had every intention to fill in the blanks of the many questions Canada Census had to ask this year. However, when I was going through it and got to the ?How many tractors do you own?? on page 12, (followed by many questions about livestock, land and related), I knew this was going to be more than a five minute job.

So I set it aside on my kitchen table where it disappeared beneath heaps of shit that is on it and I promptly forgot. May 15th came and left, without me ever thinking about it twice.

The neo-fascist police of volunteers that ran the show of course did not let this go by unnoticed and began filling my voice mail with messages, which I promptly ignored. If there is one thing I am bad at, is listening to my answering machine. In fact, if someone were to call me to inform me that a member of my family had passed away, and left a message, I?d find out about it probably two months after the funeral.

Naturally, seeing the lack of results in voice mails, they began posting notes on my door. I should perhaps mention that now we?re somewhere along the end of June, a month and a half after the deadline. I open the door and find this note stating that I failed to fill in the form, and that I may be in for some trouble, like 3 months in jail, unless I comply immediately.

Picture this, arrested for not filling my census.

?What are you in for??

?Armed robbery. You??

?Aggravated assault. What about the new guy??

?Failed to fill in my census?.

I may as well just unzip my pants and bend over at that point.

I digress. Feeling rather upset for my lack of patriotism, with Jeff nagging at me for not doing my part as a good Canadian, I call the number listed in the threat notice. Neo-fascistic policewoman answers the phone and I take a moment and contemplate at how many times I?ve taken people?s ability to speak English properly, for granted. The questions are standard procedure: name, last name, where do you live, how many live in your cramped apartment. Some have to be repeated a few times, just so I can get the gist of what she?s asking.

And when I think we?re almost done, the farming questions pop up again.

"Do you own a tractor??

"No? (Yes, I use it to go to work every day)

"Do you own livestock in your premises??

"With me??


?In my bachelour apartment??


?My tiny, cramped little bachelour apartment??

?Yes! Sir, please answer the question!?

?No, I do not?.

?Okay, next question, how many acres of land...?

You can see my state of total confusion at this point. I just wish I did have the recordings of small, furry hoofed animals bleating so I could scream at the top of my lungs ?STOP CHEWING THE TELEPHONE CABLE! Sorry, you know, my goats misbehave sometimes and..?

Then again, government types are the last people on earth that have a sense of humour, and they may just take you seriously.


I had a rather annoying night. ICQ blew up on my computer and refused to work. But that?s okay because ICQ is one of those programmes that will crash in a glorious ball of flame for no apparent reason. The latest version takes 16 MB of RAM, it?s filled with the most useless shyte ever (which you?ll never use), craps all over your registry, and now it has the added bonus of advertising (unless you install the ?patch?).

We have AOL to thank for first ruining Netscrape, and now ICQ.

So I kept working, when other applications began showing the same symptoms of death and would refuse to run again. That?s one thing I love about Windows over Linux. With the former, every so many months, the machine explodes and it takes everything with it. With Linux, you set it up once, turn it on and forget about it.

So I go through the process of reinstalling everything, discovering the power supply fan meanwhile has failed, fix that, can?t get the sound card to work anymore, and when I do, the network card stops working. A night of great hilarity let me tell you, especially with deadlines to meet for work.

Eventually, I am sitting in front of a computer, with more pieces on the floor than I have originally started with, but it works. It?s one of those moments where you ask how an install on the same machine, using the same old copy of Windows95B, is never the same twice.

My ten year old Macs are more reliable than this.

After reinstalling essential programmes, I decide to install ICQ 98, but the re-registration fails, with Error #101. I try a few more times, and eventually give up. Why you need to re-register on the ICQ network after an install makes no sense to me, but I suppose it is a way to prevent you from using older ICQ installs. Thanks AOL.

The next morning I try again, and it is still not working. Unsure at what to do, I drop by the chat-channel on the ICQ pages, where you can ask for help.

You should go and spend some quality time there, for it?s quite an amazing little place. There I met a bunch of people that whenever they have spare time, sit there and help others figure out their ICQ problems.

Now, that wouldn?t be so bad, but it seems that these folks actually live there: The frustrated MSCE that feels guilty bad-mouthing Windows. The teen-mother that at the first chance she?s got will complain at how she?s got no time to find a job because of her kid. (Two things for you: there is this amazing invention called Condoms, and if you have the time to waste here, you definitely have time to find a job). The ?I write English like a retard and say ?LOL? a lot, but I really can?t help you? kid from Australia. And it?s not like they work for ICQ, AOL or Mirabilis. They just hang out there and answer questions to troubled ICQ users. All day long.

Of course the numb-nuts that live on the channel ejaculate their cut and paste answer that Error #101 means the database is being worked on.

You?re prolly wondering where ?cattle? comes along this story. It does. Just be patient and you?ll see it in the insane amount of bullshit I had to endure.

Unsure, or mostly because I wouldn?t trust any of these idiots for anything, I e-mail support at ICQ. ICQ support, I discovered, is a lot like Network Solutions. For those that have never had to endure Network Solutions, just fire e-mail to ICQ?s tech support.

So, I write a long detailed e-mail of how I am experiencing the problem, provide logs, tests I have done, and various results. This because, after being online for nearly a decade, you sort of realize what useful feedback is all about.

The first e-mail that came back was from Omri. It thanked me for writing. It told me I should reinstall ICQ2000 and try again. It also re-directed me to the most useless ?help? page ever. I wrote back asking that my many questions be answered.

And I also e-mailed support again, in the hopes I?d get someone else.

The second e-mail was from Maya. Maya told me that she was thankful I wrote to them. That I should reinstall ICQ2000. And she pointed out that there is a webpage that has instructions to help me troubleshoot problems. The same useless page from Omri. I wrote back, and asked that my many questions, please, be answered.

Then I e-mailed support again.

Two more different people eventually wrote to me and I discovered an interesting pattern:

For any ICQ problem you may be having, even if the e-mail you send says ?ICQ NO WORK? or ?I like buggering gorillas? can be solved with the following sentence: ?Thank you for writing to us. Please reinstall ICQ2000. Please visit this page? and a link to the useless page.

The page, if you are curious, simply states the same thing, without the ?thank you? and ?check this page?.

Meanwhile I installed this thing called Miranda ICQ, which just does one thing: sends and receives messages. It doesn?t eat up 16 MB of your precious RAM and it?s not filled with the dumbest of options you?ll never use. Sure, it looks kind of funny, but at least it?s a true Alpha and you don?t have to re-register.


If you?re wondering if I have too much time on my hands, you?re pretty much correct. Since the lay off, I?ve applied to the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) for my unemployment insurance, so I?ll have something that will pay my rent and bills during the period that I?ll be searching for a job. But like any government- related department, getting things done takes a long time.

First of all, I had to go through a computerized questionnaire that wanted to know just about everything about me. Isn?t the government supposed to know all this stuff already? What boggled my mind again was the many questions related to tractors, acres of land, and livestock I own. How is this supposed to help me get my Employment Insurance (EI) cheque, I still don?t know.

And as I said, things take forever. To give you an example, I was to fill in form 42B, section A, attached to a void cheque, in order to be eligible for direct deposit. Unfortunately the bank I am currently at, despite my many complaints after the third time I have asked them to send me a stack of cheques, still hadn?t done so six months down the road.

After an hour in line, I get the cashier to print me ten cheques, and I return to the HRDC office with the form filled.

After an hour and a half in line to simply hand in the form, I am told that my form is invalid because the cheque doesn?t have my name printed on it. So it?s back in line at the bank.

This time I have to have a cashier fill in form 42B, sections B and C. The cashier starts arguing with me that the cheque is valid, while I am trying to explain that it ain?t me she needs to argue with. But she won?t desist. A gentle ?Just fill the fucking form? gets the job done and I?m back in line at the HRDC offices...

...where roughly 45 minutes later I hand in the form. But alas! To hand in the other form I was given, I have to wait till 3 o?clock (and it?s only 2 PM). At 3 I finally meet the person to whom I am to give the second form, only to be told ?You need to hand this one in at the end of August?.

Oh help me God.