Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.11.10
Stanstead, Quebec


Reading encrypted entrails

If you remain a true and loyal citizen of Quebec's Eastern Townships, you spent much of the last few weeks dedicated to fulfilling your civic duty -- voting to make Stanstead Hockeyville 2010!

Woo-hoo! Stanstead Hockeyville! Go Stanstead! We can do it! Let's go team...

Okay, whatever, moving on...

If you have been voting, you know how the process works: you select the town you want to vote for (in case you've forgotten: 'Stanstead') and then type in a two-word encrypted message before submitting your vote. This ensures that you're not a machine programmed to submit votes over and over and over again but instead a real person programmed to submit votes over and over and over again.

The encrypted message changes every time you vote. One time it might say 'uncanny person,' the next time 'apparent curvier.' Nothing but nonsense phrases.

Or are they...?

During one of my voting marathons, I began to get the feeling that these encrypted messages were trying to tell me something. Maybe they were not so much encrypted as cryptic. While they seemed to be spewing mere nonsense, perhaps they were actually conveying some inner meaning that only a select few could decipher, just like an oracle or my Grade 10 Chemistry teacher. Surely, when you receive an encrypted message that reads, 'said memento,' it must mean... something.

I decided to test this theory by asking a series of questions to what I like to call the Encryption Oracle. Below are the actual responses.

Will I find fulfillment in my life?

"11 flambés"

The key to interpreting the Encryption Oracle is not to take the responses too literally. They are signs along the pathway to enlightenment. Normally, a priest or shaman would ingest a mild psychotropic drug before interpreting an oracle. I, however, have only caffeine to go on at this juncture.

Will I find fulfillment? "11 flambés." I don't believe I've had a single flambé in my life. I have lit food on fire but not on purpose. I do imagine that I will enjoy a flambé some day. ("Flambé Some Day"; wasn't that a Rogers and Hart song?) At this rate, though, it will take many, many years before I have 11 flambés, unless, of course, I become a huge fan of flambés ("Fan of Flambés"; now that's Gershwin!). Therefore, fulfillment is possible but it may take a very long time. And it may involve alcohol and flames.

Will my children care for me when I'm old and decrepit?

"labor payment"

This one is quite obvious. It's no secret that the only reason children care for their aged parents is guilt. And what greater guilt than putting their mother through 36 hours of labour? Me, on the other hand, all I've got going is the fact that I occasionally drive the kids to basketball. So, the answer: they'll definitely care for their mother. If I play my cards right, I might be able to glom on to some peripheral palliative care.

How can I become wealthy beyond my wildest dreams?

"or formulae"

"Or" is French for "gold." Thus, I have to devise several formulas to create gold. In French. In other words, it ain't gonna happen.

Am I as special as my mother always told me I was?

"meet siphons"

"Meet." Who do you meet? You meet people. The first people you meet are your parents and family who make you feel that you are the most amazing, unique being ever. Later on, you meet more people and soon realize that we all have similar ambitions, shortcomings, credit ratings and obsessions with celebrity gossip. This realization "siphons" off any sense that we are destined for greatness, not to mention the will to get out of bed some mornings. So, no, I'm not. Thanks a lot, Mom!

What is the meaning of life?

"Rookie badlands"

Possible interpretations: 1) Everything new becomes old and barren. 2) Life is an enigma. 3) Life is a Bruce Springsteen song.

Where did I put my glasses?

"redmond for"

Interpretation unknown. Clearly some mysteries can never be solved.