The Cannon; A Chilling Tale of Painting an Archaic Monstrosity (TheByteWeek Issue 17)

Date: March 25th, 2013

TheByteDaily

The Cannon; A Chilling Tale of Painting an Archaic Monstrosity (TheByteWeek Issue 17)

 

I painted a cannon on Friday.

 

Well, that’s not entirely true.

 

On Friday March 22nd, 2013, I painted Old Jeremiah, the University of Guelph’s resident cannon.

 

I stayed up all Thursday night picking my courses for the next school year’s semester – because they needed to be perfectly coordinated with the amount of sleep I hoped to achieve, in addition to the minor I hoped to declare – and decided that, since I was already waking up at 7 AM to submit my selection, I’d stay up all night. I suppose that, simply put, I stayed up late picking courses, and decided to stay up all night to round everything off. Consolation lies in the fact that I submitted my courses at precisely 7:00 AM, and had the return address pinged at 7:01 AM.

 

I got my courses in exactly when the submission forms opened. Yay me.

 

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t need pull an all-nighter for any reason whatsoever – I could have easily found placement in all of my desired courses, and I wasn’t even on the first cannon guarding shift in the first place. Instead, I decided that it would be perfectly logical to stay up all night, just for the fun of it, and I also decided to tag along the first cannon guarding shift to keep my friend company.

 

We left our respective rooms at 7:12 AM and arrived at the freshly painted cannon at 7:19 AM. First watch was from 7:30 AM until 10:30 AM, at which point my other friend would arrive and continue guarding the cannon until sunset. We were to start painting at 7:10 PM which, based on Google, was sunset.

 

Before I continue, there are some things I should mention about leaving a perfectly heated building at 7:12 in the morning, especially when it involves walking out into -5 degree weather (Celsius, for any imperialists out there). Even with a duvet, warm coat, gloves, a hooded sweater, warm pants, warm socks, and warm shoes, padding still isn’t enough to prepare you for exactly how monstrously shiver-inducing it can be.

 

We froze at 7:12 in the morning, because it was 5 degrees below freezing and felt worse with the incredibly present windchill. We froze, until I decided to remedy the situation by buying three pairs of thick socks to layer myself.

 

Interestingly enough, two or three pairs of thick athletic socks do nothing for extremely cold weather, which is why I decided to further remedy the situation by returning home to add two layers of pants. By 8:30 AM, I was wearing a toque, a hooded sweater, warm leather gloves, a long sleeved shirt, sweatpants, pajama bottoms, jeans, three pairs of thick athletic socks, and a pair of poorly chosen Adidas SuperStar II’s.

 

In retrospect, the shoes were a terrible idea.

 

The watch, which I frequently compared to the Night’s Watch, continued throughout the day, with the only solace of warmth being two classes – at 11:30 AM, and 2:30 PM – in addition to frequent trips to Raithby House, a duvet that became progressively more ruined as the day continued, and a nap from 4:30 PM to 6 PM at which point I was dutifully called back to continue my watch.

 

By 3:00 PM, I’d been awake for over 32 hours, and despite the chilling cold that continued to linger about me, the night’s wake had taken its toll.

 

Of course, there are rules to painting the cannon; rules that every student has ingrained into them by their RA’s, cluster leaders, professors, degree advisors, and friends. First: The cannon can only be painted between the hours of sunset and sunrise; the cannon cannot be painted when the sun is up. Second: The cannon must be guarded at all times; an unguarded cannon is a free and open cannon. Third: Once a cannon’s painting has concluded, the guards must remain lest the Second rule take effect.

 

The worst possible outcome for any painter is seeing the cannon they spent hours guarding disappear because they had to run to the washroom. Shifts are mandatory, even during the winter months, and it’s a common misconception that people working with deadlines will return a lost cannon. As anyone can imagine, we were working on a deadline, and we needed to have the cannon painted for Saturday the 24th, because it was being painted as part of an ad-campaign for a project due Tuesday the 26th.

 

Having a cavalcade of tours use my friends and I as perfect examples of spirited university students gleefully awaiting the chance to paint the cannon didn’t help the chilling situation. At one point, I remember toying with the idea of chucking a frigid ice-ball at the group – not hoping to hit anyone, but simply hoping that it would force the tour to move along. I’m not sure whether the tours had luck, logic, or cold-induced-frailty to thank, but nothing was lobbed in anyone’s general direction. I maintain that it would have been well within my civil rights to do so, though I do digress.

 

On any given day, I’m already a cynical enough person to spend time with. On Friday March 22nd, 2013, between the hours of 7:00 AM and 10:57 PM, I was a cruel, vengeful, malicious, and frozen force of pent up wrath. Hot chocolate and food made me less mean. A group of teenagers placing their bare genitals on the cannon as a part of some pointless, meandering scavenger hunt made me reconsider my ice-ball approach.

 

I write about my experiences for two reasons.

 

First, it expands upon my belief that circumstances are incredibly important, and bad environments do a lot to contribute to the production of bad people. I wouldn’t say that fault lies entirely in one’s environment, because latent personality is also incredibly important in determining why an individual may act in a certain way, but it’s incredibly important nonetheless. The cold made me a more aggressive and less congenial person, but it was my personality, logic, moral/ ethical code, and choice that stopped me from throwing frozen chunks of water at anyone I deemed a nuisance.

 

Second, it’s a good way to educate potential cannon painters; just because one might believe that it’s a fun way to spend time with friends, this isn’t necessarily the case. Personally, I hope I never have to see the cannon ever again – an impossibility to say the least. If one chooses to ignore my warning and one insists on painting the archaic monstrosity, choose a warm day to paint the unable-to-fire device. Wait for the school year’s warmer months, preferably September or October, or even late April, when there’s a greater chance that it won’t be -5 degrees outside.

 

Most importantly, my third reason is to warn anyone who dares to take the so-called challenge of showcasing their spirit: If you choose to paint the cannon, guard it at all times and never leave it alone.

 

We left the completed cannon at 10:07 PM.

 

The next morning, vandals – that is to say, individuals who deliberately took advantage of the fact that the cannon was unguarded – used their hands to wipe out every single word in our original message, and left nothing but the word “Violence” and our original base coat as proof of their work.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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