May 31, 2006

'Grunt & Grumble'

This piece from Slate magazine is great. It explains why rural guys talk, well, the way they do.

I have a few friends of this background (including my late father) and it's spot on. The part that's missing though, is that most of the people that speak and act this way are amongst the smartest people I know. Farmboys, cowboys, country boys (and a few girls) - they've all left indelible marks on my soul.

Jamie West

Tune into CHML900 today for Jamie's 12-2 show. I'll be on at 12:30, talking about, well, wherever the topic wanders, no doubt. You can call in if you want...(905) 645-3221, or email Jamie at

May 30, 2006

I'm Melting...

When Jackson, 11, had a track meet rained out a couple of weeks ago, I made appropriate 'oh, too bad!' sounds but inside jumped up and down. Unless I'm working, I go to watch my little sprinter sprint. But if there is a more taxing day for this mother than a track meet, I don't know what it is.

I've shepherded bundles of 8 year olds around the zoo, Toronto Island and Marineland. I've been to the Science Centre, the ROM and everywhere in between. The problem is that I did most of it for the first kid, and Jackson gives me that look that explains I will not be dodging any more of his events.

With one missed track meet, I knew I had only one more to go. Until he announced that today was the rescheduled one, and in two days was the second one. I have one day of grace to prepare. For the unknowing, this means coolers full of ice and water and watermelon, and a wagon to pull it across miles of hot asphalt parking lots. It means gallons of sunscreen, sweaty crabby little kids and sweatier, crabbier adults. Well, this one at least.

Wish me luck.

May 29, 2006

Cell Hell

Ah. Finally the crowd is forming, and I'm not so all alone. I have gone through cell phone hell over the past few months, and I'm not the only one. This article tells me that a lot of us are shunning idiotic cell phones that come laden with more technology than my car.

When a recent contract came up, the company I'm with sent these gadgety stupid phones. I was terrified of it, and couldn't answer it when it rang. The little book was an inch thick, and made no sense. Somehow I lost it (though a part of me thinks the thing just ran away rather than face any more indignities), and when I called to replace it, I ordered Just A Phone. It makes and received calls. Takes a message. That's it. No internet, no photos, no movies, no fancy games.

The only calls I get are when I leave the boys alone together at home. Within ten minutes, it'll ring, and one of them will say 'Mo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m, he won't let me use the computer/phone/ something'.

See? The only feature I really need isn't offered. I need a phone that will let me smuck my kids from afar.

May 27, 2006

Whose Land?

Great synopsis in today's Real Estate section of the Toronto Star regarding the native land claims problems. Read it here; it's a thumbnail that outlines the history and problems pretty succinctly - take a couple of minutes to go over it.

Flower Power

I'm waiting for the yard to dry up a bit, so I can go out and start digging in the dirt. You know how you see all those yellow bags of topsoil people have delivered to their driveways? Nice, neat bags?

We don't do that. We have a lot of gardens, so we get what Jackson (11) calls a 'lump' of dirt delivered. There is 8 yards of triple mix sitting on my front lawn. For the ungardening types, that's a mighty pile of dirt. And it's been raining. It's times like these I'm wishing I wasn't so cheap, and instead had 8 tidy bags sitting on my driveway.

Both boys have been recruited to shovel and wheelbarrow. Marc (14) glanced at the pile and shrugged. As in 'how long can that take?'. Ah, the misconceptions of youth. But at least it's a 6-foot tall youth, who believes a 4 hour job is going to take 20 minutes out of his Saturday.

I have a million flats (okay, 5) of flowers which I will poke into the ground higgledy-piggledy, because when I see perfect rows of measured plantings, my teeth twitch. I'll let the kids mix up the colours too, because random is nicer.

Chuck the rules; garden with your heart.

May 26, 2006


I finally figured it out. When I saw this picture of Clay Aiken from American Idol, I knew I'd seen this guy before.

I think if you're gonna try and hetero yourself up, you'd do better than to try and look like PeeWee Herman as The Spleen from Mystery Men.

Poor Jessica

Poor, poor Jessica Simpson. Since divorcing her husband Captain Blando (Nick Lachey), she's very sad. We know this because now all the pictures we see of her show her looking very, very sad. And lonely. It would seem all that stuff about marrying in haste and repenting in leisure is spot on. And it also seems to make you too distracted to do your shirt up.

When my little sister and I were younger, we shared a wardrobe. Two teenage girls two years apart in age do things like that. The trouble appeared though, when we both moved out of the house. It seems we hadn't really noticed that I owned all the bottoms, and she owned all the tops.

I think something similar has happened to Nick and Jessica. When they moved apart, they discovered that she had the right side of the brain, and he had the left. And now the two of them are at a loss to understand why they can no longer function. They no longer have anyone to finish their admittedly short sentences, or comprehend their even shorter thoughts.

The biggest problem for the rest of us is that neither one got custody of any singing talent.

May 25, 2006

Drive, She Sang...

I'm taking requests! Today's Power Shift column asks for your drive music favourites.

Fire away! Click on the 'comments' button under this entry, and follow the instructions for posting your recommendations. If you send them to me direct, that's fine...I'll post them here for you.

Join me and Jamie West on 900CHML today just after 1:30 for more music and drive talk...

May 24, 2006

Poop Culture

Okay, there's this woman that was on Oprah awhile back. She's hooked on plastic surgery. I guess it's easier than phonics, though certainly more expensive. She looks like a freak, in a Barbie way, not like that Wildenstein oddity who wants to look like her cats. But freak is a relative term, I'm learning.

Anyway, this Barbie plastic cheese ball turned up on some other show I flew past last night, one of those multi-hosted cotton candy attention deficit bottom feeder extravangas that carefully document our obsession with the lowest common denominator. You know the ones.

I stopped when I saw her bizarre doll head - the plastic surgery girl, not the hostess - and wondered why on earth she was back in the pseudo-news. Had she saved children from a burning bus? Invented a fuel alternative? Negotiated peace in the Middle East?

Nope. She was going ahead - and nobody could stop her - with her next level of bodywork. She carefully documented what she was going to have done - and nobody could stop her - as calmly as I select a wine to go with dinner.

I know how to stop her. Turn off the damn camera.

May 23, 2006


Web Guru got his power back...Motherlode's where it's supposed to be!


To nobody's surprise, the native blockade in Caledonia has sprung out of control. I personally thought it would take a few weeks of the dog days of summer to bring about this unrest, but I don't live there. The cover of several papers shows a native leader hurling a large block of cheese back at the crowd, and all I could hear in my head was my mother's voice - 'you're wasting a $7.50 package of cheese!'.

My web guy, Jeff, lives in Caledonia, and is without power. I'll be posting my own Motherlode column today in this space (it's the only part of the website he lets me actually do stuff with - no telling what chaos would ensue if I could actually get in the other parts and muck with code).

That's my only immediate personal involvement with this whole thing, and it's a feeble one. I hear in Saskatchewan there is similar unrest burgeoning, and no doubt other areas of the country will soon feel it.

Where are the leaders? Why do we bother electing and paying people to dodge the tough questions?

Uneasy alliances are just sleeping volcanos. Why are any of us surprised when they eventually erupt?

May 22, 2006

Stupid Is...

So, I'm sitting here freezing to death on May 22nd and wondering what has happened to my long weekend. I've had the dreaded migraine right through until this morning, and now as I come around, like a bathrobed Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz, I'm having a hard time figuring out just where I am.

The rather brisk weather has apparently sent campers and cottagers home in droves from the northern regions (we never go up to the cottage this weekend - the traffic leaves me wanting to maim someone), but not before killing some of the revellers bent on having a good time. When will people understand that SEVEN people in a little fishing boat is never a good idea?

My sympathy for the foolish is reserved for those who are grown in body but not in mind, the teens and young adults who, fate willing, will live long enough to learn the error of their careless ways. I can only retrieve my jaw from the floor when actual adults, especially those responsible for children, perform such ludicrous acts of stupidity.

Speaking of Brittany Spears - part of me wants to hug the girl and commiserate that raising a child is indeed terribly hard. The other part of me wants to smack her a little and tell her to stay home and actually do it. They don't come with instructions, darlin'...but once you're in the pool, you are obligated to start swimming.

After her son has been non-car-seated, incorrectly car-seated, crashed out of his high chair onto his head, and nearly dropped, if he grows up a little dull it'll be a toss up whether it's nature or nurture. Oh well, at least she gets to practice on this one, in time for the next one - in five months.

My true concern? The same one I've always had whenever I see someone mistreating their child in public. I sadly wonder what they do in private.

May 21, 2006

Fat Chance

Speaking of political correctness (well, yesterday I was) you're not supposed to mention that our population is fatting up like medieval beasts before a royal feast. I read an article somewhere about 'vanity sizing', which means even though in high school I was a size 10, I am now a size 2. And I am bigger. (I'm not really a 2, but it makes for a better comparison.)

The Independent - a British paper I adore, they have sensational editorials you should check out periodically - is running this piece today about the government's attempt to wrestle obese kids into health by weighing them at 4 and 10. Ages, not o'clocks.

I have a British background. They eat some pretty wicked stuff. No house is complete without a deep fryer, or as my mom had, a chip pot. There is no food that can't be made better by popping it into a roiling cauldron of melted lard. As my sisters and I moved out, Mom tried to give us each a chip pot (and a Filter Queen, see Thursday's Power Shift), and we all politely declined.

Do I agree with publicly weighing little kids? No. Face it. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. If the parents have horrendous eating habits, the poor kids have little say in the matter. It would make more sense to publicly weigh the parents. I'd like to see the end of 'super-sizing'. I'd like to grand slam places like Denny's right in the mouth with their enormous portions of Ode to Grease.

I shop at Old Navy for cheap jeans. It's mostly for teens. It's ludicrous for stores like these to pretend what used to be a size 12 is now a size 4. And that is an actual comparison. How can we stop fooling ourselves if we won't stop fooling each other?

It's not about vanity, it's about health. People come in all shapes and sizes, and I'm actually pretty happy about that. I like differences. But I don't like the thought that health concerns that were once faced by 50-year-olds are now being faced by 15-year-olds.

Stay out of the junk food aisle; quit buying pop; learn how to cook, and teach your kids some basics; learn what 'hydrogenated' means.

And for pete's sake, throw out the chip pot.

May 20, 2006

Girls Will Be...Idiots?

If you've been around here awhile, you already know some of my pet peeves. I share gladly. Greedy war-mongers, over-consumption, warring women, weak parenting, and all things politically correct.

But nestled in it's own little corner in hell is a sofa for the ditzy debutantes that have cluttered my media radar for way too long now. Rebecca Traister has a go at them here on Salon and does a fine job of it. (If you have to get the day pass to go in, it only takes a sec, and the whole site is great.) As we keep championing and rewarding the stupid trash that calls multi-tasking shopping while sucking on a latte, our own girls are getting the distinctly wrong message: You are what you wear, who you boff, and what you don't eat.

I have a theory. Actually I have hundreds, but one at a time is all anyone can stand. Every kid is good at something. Great at it, actually. It's our job, as parent, teachers, employers, friends and neighbours to find out what that is and encourage it. Everybody has some star quality that makes them special. If they reach adulthood not knowing what that is, it's our failure, not theirs.

The media is telling our young women and girls that dumb is good. The New York Post recently coined the term 'celebutard', which is about as succinct as it gets. I remember when pretty girls used to profess they really were smart.

Now, it's just a race to the bottom of the IQ barrel.

May 19, 2006

Missing Link?

Anyone that knows me knows that I have often obsessed over finding the Missing Link. Not so obsessed that I actually became an anthropologist or scientist, but enough that I talk about it in very abstract, thematic ways. Uselessly.

They've never been able to definitely find the one eensy link between man and ape. The gene pools are similar, but something was missing. They may have found it here, and I am sitting here smacking my head in amazement that I didn't get there first. Of course! It's got nothing to do with science, or anthropology or anything you need a degree in. It's about sex!

It seems they are now pondering whether or not there was a little interspecies canoodling going on. I know, I know, put aside your sheep jokes, but this is serious. My first reaction was 'well, duh, we all know men will put the moves on almost anything', except it appears it was the females who did the nasty.

I'll confess to dating a few knuckle-draggers in my time, but this is kinda over the line even for me. I don't think I could convince myself that running my fingers through a guy's hair - and never stopping - would be cool. But then, I think they have to keep digging until they find stone age Margarita mix...

I think they need to keep looking. It's making my Neanderthal sisters look a little desperate.

May 18, 2006

Raine, Raine

I like what the rain does to my yard, but not my head. 33 years of migraines should make me a pro, but mostly they just make me crabby. The drugs that (sometimes) work make me feel like I'm running under water, and judging from yesterday's entry, you know that can't be a good thing.

The cats look at me like I'm some kind of science project, falling back asleep after the kids get off to school. I'm always at the computer; they don't trust all is right with their world if I break stride. Maggie is with me now, sitting on the mouse. Directly on it, so if I want to use it I have to push her bum aside, which makes her give me the malochio eye (that's evil eye to the non-initiated). It's not a good day when a seven pound ball of Calico is staring you down.

I'm going to go dig around, albeit slowly, and write a better entry later. Maybe I'll find some decent links to better words than mine. Come back if the mood strikes you...

May 17, 2006

Cardio Who?

In my dreams, I can run like the wind. In real life, not so much.

How do I know this? Because at least once every 2 weeks, I blaze out to my son's bus stop with his homework. The neighbours must be aghast to see a neurotic woman wearing an oversized T-shirt, baggy jeans, wedgie sandals (the only shoes by the door), a scrunchie in her hair, glasses and today, a piece of toast in her hand.

I beg him to pack his stuff the night before. Instead, off he trundles and I return to see his homework sitting by the computer. I do that twisty mom-hesitation thing ('the only way he'll ever learn is if you stop saving him'), and decide to teach him a different lesson another time. There is no chance I will ever run out of lesson opportunities with this kid.

By the time I get to the corner, I can see I am the same distance from him as the impending bus. It is large and yellow; I am a little smaller, and red. I can hear the Chariots of Fire theme song in my head, as Marc whips his head back and forth. He has to cross a major street to get to me, and while I don't want him dead, I do want him to get his homework. I would prefer not to be seen by any more people than I have to.

As he makes the mad dash to complete the homework relay, I nonchalantly keep my head down and pretend, while my sides heave like a racehorse, that if I can't see anyone, they can't see me. Of course they can see me. By now they probably know who I am as well.

After all, I do this every 10 days.

May 15, 2006

You May Have Already Won

If you're on too many group mailing lists, you know the hassle of scrolling through four-year-old jokes and rude pictures (thanks for yesterday's, Wish!). Remember the first time the Nigerian crown prince contacted you for help? To smuggle the family jewels out of the country? You were going to make 16 million for doing nothing, because you had been CHOSEN - yes you, to help.

PT Barnum wasn't kidding. Ever wonder who might respond to this garbage? Read this from The New Yorker - unbelievable. A top -to- tail account of a psychotherapist/minister in the States who fell for it.

I break chain letters. I do not forward to 5 people, 10 people, or 50 people to increase my chances of getting so-so, good, or great luck. I don't send cards to little imaginary kids with cancer, I know Microsoft is not going to give me money and most importantly, I can still hear my parents admonishments: You get what you pay for, if it seems too good to be true it is, and get back upstairs and brush your teeth.

Don't respond to junk email. Don't even open it. Delete it. Don't give out any information over the phone or the computer. If you feel isolated, get out of the house. If you're lonely, get a cat. If you're sad, get a shrink.

Don't become prey; just because conmen have a new way into your home doesn't mean you have to throw open the door.

New Archives...

New archives are up...get 'em while they're hot...

May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Hey! Happy Mother's Day!

If you're a guy, pass along the sentiment to an ovaried person. Or maybe you're a guy raising your kids alone, in which case you may keep the good cheer. It doesn't really matter if you've actually had a child or not; everyone knows some of the most wonderful mothers around are the ones who simply love a child.

Neighbours who let you kick a ball in their yard and don't get mad. Teachers who share their lunch, and their time, with the kid who gets neither at home. Store clerks who don't look at my growing sons as potential thieves, and waitresses who accept lousy tips from kids who, while learning independence, are still struggling with the concept of budgeting.

Thank you to the older ladies who talk to me like a daughter. I miss my mom, and you make it a little more bearable. Cheers to the young moms struggling along with their commitment when everyone else feels free to judge them sight unseen. A special hug to the moms out there battling inner demons while keeping it all together for their kids - a heroic effort that people only know about if you fail.

I miss the preschool years now. I still have the earrings that infect my ears, and the little clay necklaces with a mom and baby teddy bear on it. Small clay pots with plastic fork flowers, and toilet paper tube vases with tissue paper roses. Handprints, corsages and paper mache (sp?) masterpieces - great presents all. But it was always the unabashed love with which they were presented that brought the tears.

I think maybe I'll just say a little thank you to the sons who made me a mom in the first place.

May 13, 2006

Insecurity Breeds Contempt

Sick of the war, real or imagined, between working and stay-at-home moms? Read this. It should be the final word.

It won't be of course, because too many people make a damned good buck out of promoting the notion that the fairer sex is continually at each other's throats. Backed by a thousand pound boulder of insecurity, nobody trusts their own choices to stand on their own. Nope, we have to disparage, question and judge what everybody else is doing. Eyes on your own paper, people.

I'm sitting here trying to think of mommies I fight with. There are none. Everyone I know actually does some combination of at-home/at-work. Depends on the ages of the kids, depends on the fields we work in, depends on who we're taking care of. Many women I know feel the pull of taking care of their parents more acutely than taking care of their kids. Of course that's the age I'm at presently, and it's different for other generations.

If you like what you do and it works for you, do it. If your present choice is making your quality of life hellish, change it. Having children doesn't qualify you for sainthood, nor should it spell the end of your life as an individual.

How about we unclench our fists and hold hands on this one?

May 12, 2006

Swine Song

Perhaps you've heard of H5N1? The Avian Flu Virus? It's a pet topic of mine, actually. Ever since my father contracted VRE (vancomycin-resistant entrococci) the year before he died, I've had a rigorous, and sometimes unhealthy, interest in microbes and virus-related science. Beginning eleven years ago, my research has led me to one conclusion: The bugs are gonna win.

The threat of a global pandemic is real. I believe this, as surely as I believe that information is power, and the more we know, the safer we can be. A paper was released in the Science journal (this is the Star's summary) recommending that old, sick people be innoculated last in case of a pandemic. The talking heads are going to have a ball with this one.

It flies in the face of our existing vaccine advisory. Currently, flu vaccines are destined for the very young, the very old, and the sick FIRST. This recommendation is a reversal.

Obviously, this is now a question for a Morals & Ethics class. Who are you going to chuck out of the boat in order for the majority to survive? Consider some facts first: The strain of avian virus currently being chased is targeted to young, healthy adults. A good immune system actually makes you a target. The virus tricks your body into attacking itself, and the stronger your 'army', the worse the attack. This is a reversal of standard flu, which feeds on compromised systems.

If a pandemic guts our country of the strongest, most productive individuals, where will we be? Actually, by the time we are assigning someone's worth on a Darwinian scale of social justice, we're all going to be at each other's throats anyway.

What do I think? The first line is easy - any person you can imagine picking up the phone to call for help (medical/fire/police/ambulance etc) gets first crack at it. The current Canadian standards recommends kids 2-18 get LAST call. I cannot for the life of me imagine me, or my elderly parents if they were alive, accepting a life-saving vaccination ahead of my children. Couldn't do it.

One thing is clear; it's time to start thinking about this, and learn some science. I think we are going to learn rapidly that life isn't about plasma TVs, Jessica Simpson and Home Depot's BBQ sale. We need to smarten up, and fast.

May 11, 2006

Dolphin-Friendly Tuna

I got some terrific mail from this week's Motherlode column about my late, juggling mother. I mentioned a friend I hadn't seen in 34 years. She emailed me within an hour.

How can you not love the Internet?

I'm one of those people who has a drift net for a memory. Everything gets caught, nothing gets thrown back. My memories are detailed and trivial. I can name most of the kids in my school photos, and all of the teachers. I remember projects I did, essays I wrote, books I read. My kids think I'm a freak. They constantly test my memory; they lose.

There are days I would far rather have a more rewarding talent. Nobody pays much to know you can recall the day the grade two teacher slammed the door and broke a window. Or the boy down the end of the street who gave me my first bloody nose for being bossy. I was six, and deserved it. I read that he died about 15 years ago. He didn't deserve that.

We concentrate too much on the big building blocks. It's the details that make us who we are. I used to think you had to be really old to be reflective. I was wrong. The sooner we take stock of everything in the net, the sooner we can realize we need everthing in there to be special.

Don't throw anything back.

May 10, 2006

Everybody's Children

The headlines clash with the glorious sunshine out there. Cecelia's death finally explained, though no more understood. Pansies planted for Holly as these two families face the rebirth of spring by being faced, every morning, with the stillness of their homes.

There is nothing more glorious than a child. The possiblity, the potential, the awakening - nothing can compete with the optimism that wakes up every day, pulls on yesterday's jeans and just knows today will be great. Why can't we keep them safe?

Here's a small way we can try. It's a story, because that's how I relate things that matter to me. Many, many years ago, my mother was walking down a main street here in Burlington. 100 yards ahead of her was a small girl, maybe 8, who was skipping along, oblivious to much around her. As my mother watched, a car pulled up to the girl.

The driver leaned across, and opened the window. My mother, her antennas twitching, watched as he spoke to the child. The child went to open the car door, and my mother sprinted into action. My mother was not the sprinting type.

As the girl got the door open, my mother pushed herself between the child and the door. "Do you now this man?" she demanded. "Well, yeah, it's my dad," came the reply.

My mother felt like a fool. The father was beyond grateful. I'm sure the little kid was just confused.

Risk feeling like a fool.

May 9, 2006

Really Senior Prom

Okay, this is just, ewww. (Sorry, this link is half and half working - making me nuts) Schools are starting to have to put age limits on prom dates. Read through this piece, someone brought a 48-year-old as their prom date. Just, ewwww.

I've been watching from the sidelines as proms have gone nuttier and nuttier everywhere. Fancier, and more costly, than weddings. Girls gone stupid with thousand dollar dresses, helicopters, limos, weekend-long bashes, you name it.

I had a cheesy 30 dollar dress from Fairweathers, my sister did my hair and I was home by midnight. Whoopdedoo. This problem with old prom dates is freaky, though. At most schools, it always seemed there was one girl who had a boyfriend who was, like 25 or something really ancient. But that girl would usually be the one who seemed lightyears ahead of the rest of us in maturity anyway. And she was usually smart enough to ditch prom.

We don't even have grade 13 here anymore. Tell me why a bunch of twenty-somethings (or, apparently 40-somethings) would want to go to a high school prom? Isn't a 25- year -old in a room full of 17 -year- olds more like a babysitter? I'm just having nasty images of Amy Fisher and Joey Buttofuco (sorry, they've been all over TV again) dancing in my head.

Sorry. I'm just stuck on that 48-year-old. Ewwwwwww.

Avon Calling

Okay, this is a weird entry, but you have to trust me on this. My little sister just bought me these really awesome slippers. She got them from Avon, and as soon as she put them on, she called and ordered two more pairs for me and our other sister. I can't find a link in their online catalogue - but if you know an Avon rep, call her and ask. They're light blue with pink roses - I know, ugh, but seriously, they're great.

They're these blue terry velour things that feel like little hugs on my feet. Seriously. These are the most comfortable things I've ever had on. They're kind of flip floppy, but solid. They aren't too hot. I have stone floors, and we need slippers around here. Finding them is tough; I don't want to wear Spongebob Squarepants slippers, and that's about all you can find in most stores.

Jackson, 11, keeps stealing them. He doesn't care that they have roses embroidered on them - that's how comfy they are.

May 8, 2006

Not- So- Grand Mother

So Adler and Hebsy think what a woman does is her own business. Can't believe I agree with both of them, BUT...stand on your front step and give a statement to the press, and it's open season. Wanna have a kid? Go for it. Wanna have one at 63? I think you're a nutter, but it's your business. Tell the world about it? Let me get up from my armchair.

Why are we wasting medical and scientific advancement on being able to do this? This same crazy doctor (Antinori) wants to clone babies. Nobody wants to stick their head up and draw the line. Allow me. By 63, your baby-making days are behind you. If I can accept that I'm too old for mini-skirts and black lipstick, why can't post-post-post menopausal women accept that Baby Train has pulled out of Ovary Station?

I don't even buy into the argument that there is 'too old' to raise kids. If this same woman had found a baby in the wild and raised it, she'd be a hero. I just hate the waste of research that makes this stupidness possible, regardless of who's writing the cheque. I wish science had cured my 70 year old mother of breast cancer, not made it possible for her to be impregnated.

CH Live @ 5:30

A British woman is pregnant at 63. Yeah, that's the best use of medical science. Tune in today for Live @5:30 on CHTV - I'll be on wondering if we all should wait until we retire to have kids - I mean, think of the daycare hassles we could eliminate.

May 7, 2006

Loser's Home!

Let me tell you. She is crabby. I'm the sister who took on the responsibility of watching her "material" overnite.

Anyway, she just walked in the door and she's crabby and has elected "never to attend this crap again". I look at it as a free night in a hotel away from the deviants (whom I dearly love). Anyway, I'm not a professional writer, like Loser, so I got nominated to write her blog today and thanks very much, I accepted the nomination. Still waiting for my award...

She'll be back tomorrow after she licks her wounds.

May 6, 2006

You Can Dress Her Up...

I'm such a sap. The boys are with my sister and her husband tonight while Brad and I go to the awards dinner. We've cleaned the house, stocked the fridge, left cash on the counter and made reservations at the boys' favourite restaurant.

They're allowed to have the video game thing plugged in, and plans are in place for all the funtastic stuff they can stand. The invitation says 'black tie', so I've finally settled on something to wear. Nothing says 'formal' like leather. And nothing says 'look slimmer' like sitting here eating a can of Pringles. I've packed make-up, pantyhose (ugh), heels and back up emergency fixes. Brad, of course, gets to haul his suit out of the closet and shave. Ta-da. Done.

As I look around at the fresh beds and food bounty, I'm thinking we're idiots to be leaving.

Wish me luck.

May 5, 2006

It's For You

It's not just me! It's not just me!

You know when you turn off the shower and you think you hear the phone ringing? Or you're listening to a song and you hear your cell phone going off, but it's not? It's real.
This story says so. And if I read it in the New York Times, it must be true, right? I mean just because they couldn't hear Stephen Colbert speaking doesn't mean they can't hear phantom cell phones...but I digress.

This ringing thing makes me crazy. Almost as crazy as the lady in the ad for ringing in the ears, the one that comes on during Jeopardy! where she says all her lines like she's on fire. But again, I digress.

Initially I thought it was a just a continuation of the old 'watched pot never boils' syndrome. I would be delaying taking a shower until I'd received a call I was expecting. Only the call wouldn't come until I was in the shower. It was waiting.

Same with deliveries, emails, visitors - anything. But it has gotten worse over the last few years, and now I know why. It's not a timing thing, it's some subconscious part of my brain that is internalizing notes. And apparently I can hear these notes in running water, music, trucks roaring past and kettles boiling.

I knew I had a problem with CBS (crowded brain syndrome), from PIN numbers to passwords. But now with random sounds bashing at my synapses, I know there are just too many players on the bench.

May 4, 2006


My mom always said that. She was usually right. About what, you may be wondering? I have to go to an awards banquet on Saturday, which in and of itself is quite cool. I've been nominated for an Ontario Newspaper Award for Columnist. They nominate 3, so the achievement is a nice nod.

You get to go to a lovely hotel, have a great meal and drink as much as you can imagine a ballroom full of newspaper people would drink. It's fancy. You have to wear grownup clothes. Last year I didn't win wearing a pretty new dress my friend forced me to buy.

They say you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have. That is why a few years back, I started staying in my pyjamas and eschewing mascara. I wanted to commute to my kitchen and have my productivity measured by word count rather than corporate butt-kissing.

The problem of course is that when you no longer exercise a muscle, it atrophies. My fancy clothes-wearing muscle is dead. As I was dredging through my closet last night I realized all I buy are black dresses that reach my ankles. I look like I should be crying beneath a veil and offering a tray of lasagna to a widow.

I'll just tell myself the real truth in all of this. I can't remember what anyone else was wearing last year, and I've no reason to believe I'm any more memorable.

Maybe I'll go in black pyjamas.

May 3, 2006

On Writing...

When I started officially writing - about 2 and a half years ago - I discovered something. Actually, I discovered a lot of things, but some were surprising. There was nothing I could imagine would be more rewarding and exciting than actually being a 'writer', so I was amazed at the people who did just that - and complained about it.

I also discovered there are many, many forms of writing, and very few of us actually get to devote ourselves to the specific form that makes our heart beat wildly. I've discovered novelists masquerading as tech writers, poets writing ad jingles, and columnists writing the news. It's the way it goes, and I don't see much point in whining about it.

Garrison Keillor smacks it about here today and sums it up really well. Of course, he's one of the one's who writes whatever he wants and gets paid for it, so perspective is everything.

I actually went into this with a mid-life wisdom of sorts; one of my heroes, Erma Bombeck, once wrote that writing is work. You set the alarm, you get up, get dressed and sit down at your desk and do the work. Waiting for the muses is not an option. Every successful writer I know realizes this. Very little glamour, usually no glory, but the opportunity to do the only thing that really works. I've had many, many different jobs, and this is the only one that hasn't had me stressed and quitting, or stressed and getting fired, or stressed and dreading Mondays.

I do some tech writing that's about as far from my column stuff as you can get. But the process is the same - get up, get dressed, do the work. I usually average about 12 hours a day at the computer...something I could never do for any other discipline.

I actually believe that everyone does have a book in them, which is the first thing people say when talking to a writer.

The hard part is getting it out.

May 2, 2006

MIT Geeks

After reading this morning's wall to wall depressing news in the papers, I remembered an article I read last year in Discover magazine that had me talking for ages. Really, the people around me were getting fed up, especially when I couldn't find the piece to share. Well, I finally found it online, here.

It's stories like this that make me feel a little better about the future. It relates that the future brain trusts are using their mega-intelligence for good, rather than evil. More and more, the nerdiest of nerds at places like MIT are refusing the big bucks dangled by military concerns and instead thinking globally and filtering out the noise of concerns who seek only to conquer and control.

It's worth a read.

May 1, 2006

Tragic Magic

Oh, ferchristsakes. I flipped on the TV and got to see the no-longer nubile Amy Fisher squaring off against possibly the ugliest man with a mullet, Joey Buttafucco. Before I could switch the channel, they ran a blurb about David Blaine (I may have spelled that wrong, and he ain't worth looking it up for).

I hate these shows, and after Entertainment Tonight sponsored the wedding of child rapist Mary Kay Letourneau last year, I knew even the almost-above board ones had hit the skids. Anyway, back to wonderboy Blaine. He is apparently going to submerge himself in a tank of water for a week. Wahoo. He's a stunt magician, or something like that. So why do I care?

This is the line I just heard. Butthead Blaine is going to try to hold his breath for nine minutes or something. Fine. But the announcer calls him an American Hero for this feat.

American Hero? How 'bout someone tells the kids in Iraq, and the increasingly older reservists being called up for sacrifice, that a nutball millionaire magician with a nose for publicity and a hankering for attention that this is the definition of 'hero'?

In a country (and now Canada too, with Harper rushing to lick Bush's boots), increasingly torn between showing support for their troops while wrestling with the notion that we want them home, I find it difficult to have major media outlets defining some idiot illusionist as a hero.

It's this ridiculous flinging about of accolades that has lessened the meaning of any of them.

G'day Mate...

Because spring is finally here, Jackson was doing his homework late last night. Way late. This is my kid who usually has things done ahead of time, but the call of the mild is too strong.

I asked what he had to do. A project on Australia. I asked what part. He told me 'all of it'. Nicely narrows it down. As he struggled to sum up the climate, economy, geography and history of an entire country in two sentences, I asked if he shouldn't talk a little about the oceans that surround the entire continent.

He disappeared back down to the computer. After ten minutes he was back, project in hand all finished. The first page held a few terse paragraphs ('I used a really big font so it looks like more') and the second page displayed two pictures of a guy who'd been eaten by a shark. Jackson was most impressed that you could see gaping bite marks.

His friend Emily showed up to collect him for school this morning. She had a large bristolboard under her arm. I asked her what it was. Yup. Her Australia project. Something tells me she's going to get a much better mark, even without the shark bite photos.