September 29, 2006

Fight Photos Are Up!

Check out under the Pain Diaries for fight pics...

Round 3

I've got mixed emotions on this one. There are people who were really, really rooting for me to get punched right out of the boxing ring last Friday.

Here's the final installment of the Toronto's Star feature, and my own editor called and said 'well, did he hit you a little?'. I told her if he'd plowed me, I would have sailed right out of the ring. I told her I got to demonstrate all my training, and feel like an almost-real boxer for a few minutes. 'Just a few minutes, huh?'.

Oh, the letdown. So. Sorry, but I'm fine. Except for my left knuckles, which are still bruised from my boxing session 2 days ago. Yep. I'm still doing this.

Maybe this time next year, I'll let him take a shot...

September 28, 2006


I read yesterday that the only strip club in town is moving. It's been there since I can remember, and I used to live just down the road from it. The neighbours are cheering, as one would expect, as it prepares to pack up its seediness and move on.

This topic pops up often in the media. Where should these establishments exist? I can here the braying 'they should exist NOWHERE!' ruckus ringing in my ears, but really, where should they go?

We don't have a desert for places of this sort to spring up in. It's always going to end up within spitting distance of someone's house/school/work/sensibilities. When it originally set up shop, it was just in the middle of a kind of no-man's land as far as development went. There were houses (my old insurance agent's parents lived across the road - she got good mileage out of that joke), but it was mostly light industrial and fast food places. It was pretty innocuous. We all knew it was there, but like a biker clubhouse it becomes a curiousity that you peek at and are usually disappointed. The only time my father ever went was for my ex-husband's stag party. My dad had a blast. Guess things had evolved since he left the farm.

I've been in several peeler bars, mostly out of curiousity. I've had a lot of guy friends over the years, and if they wanted to go, I didn't much care. You learn a lot about men in these places. A lot of things you probably don't want to know, but educational nonetheless. Things have gotten significantly raunchier over the years, and I doubt I'll be back anytime soon.

The guys in these places kind of make me shrug, but the women break my heart. And especially, the girls. Moving these places may help the neighbours, but it sure doesn't do anything for the girls. I don't know the answer, I just know the question bothers me. A lot.

Human nature at its worst, I guess. Like they say, if you build it...

September 27, 2006

CH Live @ 5:30 Wednesday

So where to you stand on sleepovers? No, not for you, for your kids? A recent case of a young girl being molested by the host Daddy has parents scrambling for answers.

Tune in...

September 26, 2006

Love Among the Ruins

Heh. Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Rosie Dimanno does such an effective reporting on Belinda Stronach's dragging through the mud on a horse ridden by Tie Domi's soon-to-be ex-wife that's it almost anti-climactic to do it here. Except, it's way too much fun to ignore.

These Domi lads must really think they're coated in Teflon. Tie's brother Dash (I know: Not like your kids much, giving them those names?) seemed positively thrilled to come out of his computer leasing inquiry with merely the label 'idiot' plastered on his forehead. Aim high, I always say.

Now Tie's wife is exacting a little revenge of her own for being a long-suffering hockey wife. When will people quit underestimating just how quickly, and how harshly, the worm can turn? Human nature is to use whatever currency they have at their disposal to first survive, and then thrive.

Getting together is usually about money and sex. Getting apart is usually about the same things, except nothing is going in the same direction as it once was. Mrs. Domi has plastered Belinda Stronach's name all over the place by naming her as the 'other woman' in a pending divorce battle. Legally, she didn't need to name anyone. But Tie underestimated the value of Belinda as currency in this game. Not like him to forget to size up his opponent.

Mrs. Domi? Ah, tacky. It's bad enough your children have a father with so little class, and you seem to have forgotten that if you fling around poop, you get it on everyone, including yourself. Bad move. Fun for us, but horrendous for your children. Get a good lawyer, shut your trap, move on with dignity.

Tie? Well, same old crap. Your wife put up with it before, I suppose you had every reason to believe life would go on. Your children deserve better. It's crushing to go from Daddy-as-hero to Daddy-as-fool. That national stage you've milked for attention for so long is more than happy to slap you stupid now. Retired hockey players don't get nearly as much action as active ones, so I suppose that fact, coupled with a few too many cracks to the head, could have produced this. Guess you can always take up computer leasing...

Belinda? Where to start? YOU ARE AN ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE CONSTANTLY FIGHTING AN UPHILL BATTLE THAT YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH TO GOVERN. While I'm sure you feel there is a certain patriotism in at least allegedly fooling around with a hockey player (no bush league CFL stuff for you), I'm wondering how long before Daddy takes away the car keys and tells you you're grounded. Grow up, woman. Forget your constituents (well, you evidently have, come to think of it) your children deserve better, too.

September 25, 2006

Political Neros, Combat Heroes

While our politicians the world over dither and argue semantics, this short essay today in Salon will force you to actually consider what war means to real people. Like the roots of a huge tree hidden beneath the ground, I think we selfishly forget what lurks behind the numbers.

I don't have any answers. I just know I shamefully turn the page a little quicker each day because I don't want to consider what we've become. One thing I know: politicians don't send their own kids into this arena.

September 24, 2006

Dad and Caterpillars

This is one of my favourite kinds of articles. From the Star's Peter Gorrie, it talks about physical signs in nature that a harsh winter is looming. Too many wasps, how thick the onion skins are, what the squirrels are doing, changes in the trees.

My father was born on a farm in Saskatchewan. He left that rural setting as a teenager to make his way to Ontario to work in the steel mills, but the farm never left my dad. Until the day he died ten years ago, he was a farmboy. Reading pieces like these is like having a conversation with Dad.

He always knew what kind of winter was coming by watching what the squirrels were doing. Of course he killed those same squirrels with a gleeful abandon that, in retrospect, probably should have disturbed me more. But they dug up his garden, and nothing was going to come between my Dad and his garden.

He knew why tent caterpillars were worse some years more than others, he knew what to grow where and when to change locations in the garden (doing his own version of crop rotations), and at the cottage he knew when to close up early.

He was never much of a social creature, to put it rather kindly. But reading how nature responds to what is going on around it, I see he was responsive at a level that most of us have insulated ourselves from. It was in his bones and his blood.

On that Survivor show, he would never have been voted off the island. They may have wanted to kill him, but they would never have voted him off.

September 23, 2006

New Archives...

...are up!

Blogging the Blogger

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about blogging. Keeping a blog (short for web log for anyone arriving late, get the door, will ya?) has raised navel gazing to it's highest level ever. Millions of people free to hop on the always-rush-hour information highway and add more congestion.

Blog writers' motives are as varied as the participants. Blog readers, well I only know my own motives for reading some of them. The guy I was speaking to said he'd yanked the computer from his home a year ago, never read any blogs, and had just frankly had enough. He said it was impossible to gain anything from them. Who was I to argue? I actually told him that for the most part, reading blogs was like watching someone take a poop. Why would you?

Reading blogs is like chosing friends. Some you click with, some you don't. If someone shares my sense of humour, I spend time with that person. Or blog. If someone has really interesting information they bring to me that I might otherwise have missed, I'm going to tune in.

I think most people who blog do it to be heard. They want to think someone is listening, an impulse that exists from the moment we are born. It's intrinsic; we want someone to pay attention. I'm lucky enough to have a platform for that a couple of times a week in a column. I use my blog as a kind of warm-up every morning, like a runner stretching before they head out.

I also use it as a catch-all for other ideas that maybe aren't quite fully formed enough for a column or story. There are many areas I'm not educated enough to comment on officially, but I can ponder them in a blog form. I often hear from others who are - a great way for me to learn.

There are always those that troll - evil little morons typing madly away in their mother's basements, hating the world as they find ever more ways to avoid going out into it - who add nothing but vitriol. I even think they're fun. Like watching a kid have a tantrum, you just ignore them. When these people do their own blogs, it's the equivalent of a written Rorschach test - they have no idea how much their virtually unreadable words reveal, but it's fun like a science experiment is fun.

What do I want in the blogs I follow? Smart, sharp, informative, funny (yeah, I like funny), well-written and honest. The same things I want in my friends.

It's not so tough.

September 22, 2006

Boxing Day

Today's blog has to merge with today's Pain Diaries - I'm too beat to do two.
Here's the Star link to the piece...I survived the bout. No new bruises, had a lot of fun. Don't ask about the other guy...more later.

September 21, 2006

Live @ 5:30 Thursday

How's she holding up the night before the big fight?

Tune in to find out...CHTV Channel 11

September 20, 2006

Rock-a-bye Baby

I remember reading that a double bed is the width of two crib mattresses. My parents slept their entire marriage on a double bed. I will never know if that's why they stayed married for 40 years, or why they fought so much.

I adore beds. I adore sheets and pillows and duvets. I am an expert. I am a freak about how a bed gets made, and I am super picky about good quality beds.

I am also an insomniac.

This article discusses the science of people sleeping together, or not. How sometimes couples have been together so long they can't sleep if the other one isn't there. I don't sleep well if the kids aren't home, but I don't have a problem if Brad's away. The kids don't sleep with me, but I feel their absence. But an empty bed is fine by me. Sorry, Brad.

He says if I'm away he can't sleep at all. I think he's lying, because the man can sleep standing up. No matter what's on his mind, no matter what's going on, if the opportunity for sleep presents itself, he's off. It makes me so jealous I could kick him.

I sleep about 3 or 4 hours a night most nights, maybe 7 or 8 one night a week, and one night is always a total washout - zero sleep. It's been this way since I can remember.

I've known women who have let the kids sleep in bed with them as a barrier between them and a husband they don't like too much. That's crazy. There is something far more effective; a divorce.

The article had some interesting points about couples that, because they sleep so closely, they had saved each other's lives - heart attacks, seizures and the like, that would have gone unnoticed if the other hadn't been there.

Well, that bodes well for Brad. I'm not only there, I'm wide awake. I, however, am probably beat. Coma boy may be there, but he'd sleep right through it.

September 19, 2006

Final Countdown

Getting tapped out writing articles and wearing out my poor old body parts. Not that I'm complaining, just trying to switch gears all day long and still get dinner on the table. Sort of.

Two days of training left, then off to Toronto Friday morning, 10am. I'll be sparring with Craig Davidson at Florida Jack's Boxing Club, 782 Yonge St. at Bloor. Mark October 5 on your calendar too - that's the night of the big Pages Books'
'This is Not a Reading Series' event. The big lads will be boxing. My sweating will be over, so I can just enjoy...

(Bonus points for anyone that thought of Gob on Arrested Development when they saw the title up top...)

September 18, 2006

I AM Canadian...

...and I am worth $142,900. It says so right here.

So someone please explain to me, in light of the vast riches that are so rightfully mine, why was I once again digging through the little jar on the counter yesterday so the kids could have two bucks for a slushie? Apparently, if we were to cash in Canada, we'd each be worth this sum.

Frankly, I think they just pull that number out of their arse. I know for a fact I'm worth less than the guy who generously offered to help out the struggling single mom in the weekend paper with furniture and money, and I'm worth more than the misdirected freak who won't let anyone step on her lawn.

If nothing else, a story like this - making all human attributes disappear into cold numbers - should remind us that the gap between the haves and the have nots is becoming an unbroachable chasm. Yes, I know 'unbroachable' isn't a real word. But it should be. Who could ever convince a struggling single parent who is skipping meals or living in a shelter that somewhere, on paper, exists their share of the Canadian dream? Who could convince a kid who can't get to university? Who could convince the parents who can't access proper health care for their child?

If you have more money than I do, it does not make you a better person. But whomever said 'money talks' had it right. Most of us are now just like the Whos in Horton's little dust speck - never heard from, never acknowledged, never counted.

But if any of the national bean-counters are reading this, there are four of us living in this particular dust speck - just send the cheque over.

September 17, 2006

The Survivalist

One of my pet areas of pseudo-expertise is in viral and bacterial science.

Very much pseudo, very little expertise, but I'm still wildly interested and somewhat terrified by this awesome topic. Maybe you haven't given much thought to the threat of a bird flu pandemic; maybe you have, but then played a little que sera sera with it and knocked it off your to-do list.

This article from Slate should convince you to put it back on. This is not some recent occurence; the history of mass death from things we can't see goes back throughout recorded history. When my father was dying in the hospital, he contracted a drug-resistant microbe that the hospital had no clue how to deal with. This was 11 years ago, and very little changed until SARS showed up and started killing healthy people.

It is usually the sick and immuno-compromised who succumb to drug resistant microbes. But the bird flu, or H5N1, that is threatening, is different. It targets the healthiest among us. It tricks the healthiest bodies into attacking themselves.
The Slate article, which links to several other excellent pieces, gives you a heads up and some advice on what to do.

Laurie Garrett is a scientist who specializes in this field. Her PhD thesis was published as The Coming Plague, an absolutely fascinating book, hugely readable, that is as relevant today as it was 11 years ago. The woman is brilliant; the book provides a fascinating history of the origins of everything that is threatening us in this area today. She makes predictions that have proven to be spot on.

Fear may get your adrenaline running, but knowledge will carry you to the end of the race. There is a power in understanding what we face on this planet, how it came to be that way, and what we can do about it.

We've painted ourselves into the Stupid Corner by abusing antibiotics. Every time we've demanded them for a cold, every time we haven't taken an entire prescription as directed, every time we haven't done something as basic as washing our hands, we've helped viruses take a better foothold in our demise.

Garrett sums up a book that's five inches thick by basically saying that the bugs are going to win. They were here first and our cavalier attitudes and arrogant planet-destroying practices have ensured they will be here last.

I think what we're seeing all around us is that nature is being thrust out of balance. By us. Every system requires balance, and it will strain to right itself if threatened. It's not surprising it's the things we can't see that will deliver that message.

September 15, 2006

Goin' To The Moon, Alice

Why do celebrities want to go to the moon? The latest one turned down is Madonna, and while quite frankly I wouldn't have missed her, I just don't understand the compulsion.

A year or so ago it was some boy-band guy. I would have flown him there myself if it rid the planet of one more lightly-mustachioed talentless song stylist gazing into a video camera while filled with manufactured angst.

Maybe Madonna just figures there is no place that she hasn't established her fabulousness except the moon. Maybe these people really do decide that they have to go all the way to the moon to find anything special. They've done it all, seen it all, bought it all, slept with it all.

Why the moon? I have gone days without leaving my house, and I'm quite happy with that. What would you pack? Do the flight restrictions apply? Does your family have to call a 1-800 number to see if your flight has been delayed?

It just seems like so much work for someone who is basically going to be in the way when they get there. Astronauts are scientists. Madonna is not a scientist. Boy Band is not a scientist. I don't think either one even passed science, frankly. They have no business making something serious look like a photo-op.

Maybe all these Moon Doggies just missed the memo: If you need publicity, you just date Jessica Simpson.

All the cool kids are doing it.

Just Bloggish (Still Early...)

Think I was lying about the sweat? Pick up a Toronto Star today for a full report on all the boxing glory. It's online here and there's a pic of the guy who just may beat the tar out of me. But the hard copy is more fun - though I don't know any woman who craves a photo of herself in the paper with sweat dripping off her bangs.

If you see Craig on the street, warn him I'm not afraid to hit a man. In fact, tell him I'm developing a liking for it.

September 14, 2006

Dawson College

If somebody decides they want to take a gun and go shoot people, there is very little you can do to stop it.

I suppose.

I'm not sure where one gets a semi-automatic weapon these days. I'm not sure just who would require one outside the arena of war, and what loopy crazy law would justify anyone to sell them. My father was a farmboy; I get the rural uses of rifles and shotguns.

Handguns? Semi-automatic and automatic weapons? Are you kidding me? Are we not a world fixated enough on death and violence without handing out two-for-one coupons to any bastard having a bad day?

I'm trying to raise my kids in a world I just don't want to send them into. If they can't even go to school without the threat of getting killed, I'm not sure there is any point at which we can stand up and cheer for ourselves. We have accomplished nothing as a society if we can't protect our children.

I've been reading all the reports about Kimveer Gill who shot up Dawson College yesterday. He lived at home with his mother. His blog raged and raged with murderous hatred. He loved guns, and possessed them. His favourite video game was called 'Super Columbine Massacre'. I had to read that twice. What criminals market this crap? Do our capitalist ways really reach to celebrating something so heinous? Is there nobody who will stand up and decide there is no room in the marketplace for this?

My kids brought a video game here that featured pimps and crack hos. That's 'whores' if you're unfamiliar with the term. The game was here for 2 minutes, and it was removed. This is my home. My home will not contain garbage for the same reason I do not strew sewage around my living room.

You can be sure if my son brought home a semi-automatic weapon, I would know. IF IT IS HAPPENING UNDER YOUR ROOF YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO BE AWARE OF IT, AND TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

This was supposed to be far more eloquent, and far more wise. But I am so sorry for the children who were killed or wounded yesterday with bullets, and for those who have been so gravely wounded just by being there. So many headlines yell at me that 'it could have been worse', as they always do in these circumstances. But I'm not sure there is 'worse' than when your safety and trust have been so irreparably violated.

Our legacy is shameful: We are snuffing out the hope as surely as we extinguish a candle.

Place Holder

There will be pearls of wisdom (?) in this space later today. Webgod Jeff indeed got up yesterday (and growled at me for the reference), so you can click on the 'Pain Diaries' at the side and follow my merry trek through Boxingworld.

Jeff also met me at the gym and shot some pics - we'll be posting those today as well. Who am I kidding - he'll be posting them, I'll be taking credit. Gotta love this web stuff...

September 13, 2006

More pain...

The Pain Diaries, as a separate blog, will be up and running as soon as my webgod Jeff gets his arse out of bed...

September 12, 2006

The Pain Diaries

I've been typing with a stick between my teeth since last Wednesday. I've discovered muscles I'm not sure I was supposed to discover.

As today's Motherlode finally drags the covers off the newest project, I'll be keeping daily entries here for the progress of Lorraine "Virago" Sommerfeld. Boxing Madwoman.

The two lads who are taking turns killing me, Ernie Schramayr and Adam Higson can be found at All Canadian Fitness. If you're serious about getting into shape for something specific, or just for kicks, these are your guys. Unbelievable.

I will write more later - Craig's website The Fighter supplies additional information - click on 'event' and scroll down to see the letter that got this all started. Actually, the whole site is great. Spend some time.

September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

When John F. Kennedy was killed, I was in the kitchen. Well, technically, I was the business end of my mother's 7-months-along pregnancy, but I know she found out in the kitchen while she gave my sister her lunch.

Like most big moments in modern history, the Americans are the ones who do it biggest and loudest, and Canadians are like the little brothers who stand around thinking 'now you're gonna get it'. We're part of it, but we don't bear much of the brunt of it.

I watched the space shuttle Challenger blow up on live TV. I remember wondering if that was supposed to happen, the way the parts blew apart at odd angles, like the first time you see a broken leg sticking out the wrong way from under a football player.

When the World Trade Centre was struck five years ago, I'd chucked the boys out the door to school, and had set about the business of my job search. When my sister called me, there was something wrong with her voice as she told me to put on the TV. She was at work downtown Toronto, in a skyscraper, and they had no information.

As the images of that morning filled my screen, I relayed to her what I was seeing. She in turn relayed to her co-workers what was happening. They knew people in those towers, had crossed paths dozens of times with people in their industry based from that epicentre of hell.

Roz and I have always had an agreement that I, the news junkie, would let her, the usually blissfully-uninformed, know if the world ended. That morning the only thing I cared about was Workopolis and my resume. Until she called.

After an hour of stunned disbelief, she whispered to me "go get the boys, just go get them home." I did as she said, walking down to their school with tears streaming down my face. I expected to see a lot of parents ferrying their little ones out. But no, it seemed like business as usual. The secretary told me they were encouraging everyone to leave the kids were they were. I signed my sons out and took them home.

I spent all that day and most of the night trying to contact my friends in New York City. A young couple with two tiny boys, they both worked in the media and I knew they would be within dust distance of this nightmare. I emailed, I phoned, I prayed. When Tonia finally called at 10 that night, I realized the relief in my voice would never be matched by the haunting quality of hers. I wanted them home, though I knew no place was ever really going to be safe again.

I already knew who Osama bin Laden was (remember: news junkie). But like most North Americans, I figured war was somewhere else. When George Bush Sr. had started bombing Baghdad, I stayed up all night watching the light show of terror, and understood for the first time a little of what my mother must have lived through in wartime England. I also understood why she was reluctant to talk about it.

I could never again watch the Santa Claus parade here in town without having a JFK flashback when the mayor went by in his convertible, waving. We make associations to give things perspective.

For September 11, 2001, there was no perspective. I brought my children home because I believed only I could protect them. I wanted my sister out of her office tower in the country's biggest city, because she wasn't safe anymore.

We are a complacent lot. Horrible, tragic things occur all over this planet everyday, both natural and manmade. We flip the page after scanning the photo for white faces, and if we don't have to make a call to ascertain a loved one's safety, we flush it from our conscience.

I guess that's why they're bringing it to us.

September 9, 2006

Osama bin Laden, Man or Gopher?

Ever seen the movie Caddyshack? While watching it for probably the 32nd time this summer, something occurred to me. The whole movie is precognitive metaphor for George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden.

Really - watch Bill Murray as the hapless groundskeeper futilely trying to capture the gopher by baiting him, stalking him, charging him and eventually just blowing up the entire golf course. And watch the gopher laugh and run away, every time. Like Bill, old W. just doesn't get it. He's dealing with what he can see - he's ignoring the fact that there is a whole other world he is too arrogant to understand while the lowly gopher uses it to run circles around him. It reminds me of that photo of the iceberg - yeah, it's a fake, but it's a cool illusion that describes what I mean.

Actually a couple of other news clips today make me think we're all going about this the wrong way. Forget the army. I nominate Susan Kuhnhausen to go get Osama. The Oregon woman recently strangled a man who broke into her home. With her bare hands. The 51-year-old emergency room nurse is 'good in a crisis', said a neighbour. You better believe it.

But I don't think Susan should have to go alone. I think she should get to take Doris Ozmun with her. She's busy tearing up an Oklahoma town where her husband just resigned as police chief after she published pictures of herself, naked, on a website. It's not her propensity for exhibitionism I think is such a valuable weapon, it's her husband's assessment of her:

"My wife is 6-foot-3 and weighs 300 pounds," said Ozmun, who became chief in January 2005. "If there is somebody that thinks they can control her, have at it. I have tried for 11 years and haven't been able to.''

Look out, Osama.

September 8, 2006

Shut up, Shut up, Shut up.

Oh, how I wish the press would stop giving an airing to stories like this one. Another mother going 'on strike'. Sit down and shut up already. This is not original, it is not new, it is still not smart or funny.

"It's so hard raising kids these days, barf, barf, barf...". It's always been hard raising kids. It's especially hard when you don't instill rules or discipline in them, and then at age 14 you are flabbergasted that they are selfish little trolls. She whines that her kids wouldn't pick up their playroom full of toys. So, tell me, why do they still have a playroom full of toys? The answer is in the question.

She cooks, she cleans, she works, she drives them (insert your own little mental image of her hand drawn dramatically across her forehead here) and still, they have no respect. Remember when they were cute little 18-month-olds playing with that little stacker toy? That's when they should have learned they have to put it away.

If your children are making your life miserable, you make theirs more miserable. It's easy. Take out the Nintendo. Make them walk. Be a parent, for crying out loud. Make rules, and stick to them. It's boring, it's repetitive, it's hard and it's the only thing that works. And if you refuse to do this, keep your kids away from mine - at my house, it's my rules. For everyone.

My biggest worry is always about the things these idiot parents aren't seeing. They bitch about a kid not making his bed when he's told. I'm more concerned about a kid doing drugs or driving drunk - I mean after all, you told him not to do that too, right?

If you started a new job, and nobody showed up to tell you what to do or how to do it, would it be your fault for not having the tools and instructions, or your boss's fault for not providing them?

I crank at my kids all the time. And the times I get the most exasperated are the times I know it's something I didn't adequately equip them to handle. The source of my frustration, more often than not, is me.

But don't tell them that.

September 7, 2006

Power Shift: Ford Ad

Here's the link through Slate to the Ford ad. Just click on the video launch when you open it. What do you think?

September 6, 2006

Telepathy or Wishful Thinking?

You have to love the English. Truly. They invented the nuttiest things, like food called Spotted Dick, Blood Pudding, Bangers and Mash and trifle. And yes, thanks to my mom, I've eaten all those things. The last two aren't bad...

A new study out of the land-that-real-science-forgot has a British scientist studying the phenomenon of the phone ringing - and you know just who it is! The whole (scant) article is linked here.

In my family, we've always had this. My sister and I barely have to bother using the phone. My mother was the same way, and we just thought it was normal. If we lost our keys or something, we'd call my mom (she knew it was us) and tell her. She'd sleep on it, and call in the morning (we knew it was her) and tell us where to look. Worked every time.

This scientist, in an effort to secure further funding to sit in his office all day and play spider solitaire, has also extended this bold initiative into the cyber world. He says the same thing happens with emails, and maybe even text messaging.
Text messaging, as far as I've noticed, is usually done by 14-year-olds, and usually done so obsessively that they can't help but cross wires with the only two people they text.

I read an article recently that offered yet another scientific explanation for deja vu - something explaining that you while you had experienced that sensation or sight, it was actually a split second before you had your deja vu - not another day or year or lifetime. Sucked a little of the romance out of the whole idea.

I've only had the crossed email thing with one other person, and it was a little spooky because I don't send out all that many emails. It would even be date-stamped the same minute. Maybe this scientist is onto something.

Or maybe we can see anything we want to in clouds.

September 5, 2006

Life of Bugs

I was going to leave this one alone. It's almost too easy. But I can't. Praying mantis girls eat praying mantis boys after they have their way with them. In the NYT, you can read this article today.

Scientists the world over have apparently been arguing for ages over the dynamics, and biology behind this behaviour. They all agree it happens, but when it comes to understanding why, they all sound like a bunch of men trying to understand, well, women.

They're not sure if the female mates and then eats in some biological process, or if she mates because she's hungry. Kind of like putting out after getting him to buy dinner, I guess. Some scientists also accuse the females of emitting a fake sex pheromone to attract dumb guys into her trap because she just wants a meal. The insect equivalent of a push-up bra, I'm thinking.

Listening to the arguments put forth by some of the white lab coat set, I'm wondering if some of them aren't projecting a little. Maybe they're thinking of all the meals they've bought and not seen a decent return on.

I'd say any male, of any species, that starts mating and then willingly leaps on the fangs of his partner in order to die pretty much deserves it.

One thing I'll say for these bug ladies: They have set the bar to the highest level. There is a whole operatic life-and-death struggle going on here, just to get a little nookie. Maybe I should rethink my own demands.

I mean, lunch would be nice.

September 4, 2006

Vanity Plate Redux

A couple of weeks back I wrote a Power Shift about vanity plates. I mused about how much fun it must be to be one of the people that had to figure out what nasty verbal assaults the general public tried to get emblazoned in metal to hang from their cars.

On The Smoking Gun, there is a trove of letters received by just such a bureau. They're New York plates, but fun all the same. It's also interesting to note that I'm not the only one who stresses over just what some people are trying to say, though I must admit one thing.

I'm not nearly crafty enough to figure some of this stuff out. It appears the official languages of a million nations are incorporated into some of these plates, and for such dubious reasons. I mean, it's nice that you can speak Russian, but why would you use this skill to write 'penis' on your license plate?

In the opening blurb, they list several plates that you can basically make out. All except one, that is. I was stumped. The answer is on page 8, that you click at the bottom.

I now know all those years of Jeopardy and crossword puzzles were for naught.

September 3, 2006

Hut One, Hut Two...

I wouldn't want to suggest that our children are growing at mutant rates, but can someone explain why what used to be odd is now the norm? I've heard the argument about steroids fed to chickens being responsible, and all the chemical additives in everything, and yeah, I buy it. I mean, I buy the stuff, and I also buy the reasoning.

I have spent all day driving around looking for size 15 football cleats. No, not for me, but thanks for thinking that. My son is 14. His feet hang over the edge of his queen size bed. People walk in our front door and ask who wears the clown shoes. Every time he announces he wants to play a sport, I throw myself face down on the bed and start sobbing.

Last Christmas, I spent weeks looking for skates. I've spent equal amounts of time hunting down roller blades. Runners are hard enough, let along skate shoes. When he was going to a grad dance, the race was on for dress shoes. My biggest stink is in the spring when both boys run track. They wear these shoes for 5 weeks (I've counted) and then toss them in the cupboard. And that is that.

As he jams his feet into a size 14 I found and winces in pain, I have not very Mom-like thoughts bouncing around my head. I have pictures of how I deadhead plants and trim hedges. Told you it wasn't very nice.

We're heading out again shortly to a store called Promised Land Sports, or something like that. Cross your fingers, and yeah, I already know how long football season is. But thanks for wondering if you should tell me.

September 2, 2006

Kids & College

Though my sons aren't off to university just yet (though it's getting scarily close), this article today left me feeling more than a little disturbed. It's dealing with how universities and colleges handle kids who aren't coping well - running the gamut from committing suicide, to needing some counselling on more minor issues.

How quickly adults forget the pressures of trying to grow up, trying to adapt to huge changes, trying to forge a way in a world that is increasingly unstable and unwelcoming. My kids watch me get frantic about everything from income to terrorism to health concerns, and I wonder why they want no part of getting to the magical world of adulthood?

For kids going away to school, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some huge tremors. Different kids handle things different ways. My concern upon reading this article, which points out that some schools are just evicting kids that need help, is that a huge problem is being shuffled around like a bunch of people playing hot potato.

Here in Ontario we got rid of grade 13 a few years back. This means ever-younger kids are being sent out into the academic world. This is also happening at a time when too many parents have been making all their kids decisions for them. Ill-tested, ill-equipped and unready. And we wonder why some have a hard time coping.

Depression is real; fear is real; anger is real. And so is adult responsiblity in helping kids cope with all of these things. While I fight desperately hard every day to create an environment where I hope my kids can talk to me, I also give them alternate avenues to go down. Other people, other resources, anything that could help them out of a situation that seems insurmountable - to them.

It seems to me that if a college is trying to keep their hands clean of troublesome students, sending them back to the very place the child obviously doesn't feel safe to go to in the first place is not the answer.

One teacher, one counsellor, one friend, one connection somewhere can save your life. If anything, we need our kids to know there is more help for their very real concerns, not less.

All clouds eventually clear.

September 1, 2006

Warning: Read at Your Own Risk

And from the Washington Post, today's dose of random craziness. The linked article discusses the warning labels that have become so prolific on every single product around us. So common I don't even see them anymore, to be honest.

In an effort to combat lawsuits, manufacturers are playing CYA (cover your arse) as fast as they can get their junk onto store shelves. Everyone remembers where it started in earnest - the woman who burned her legs on hot coffee from McDonalds, prompting them to lose a huge lawsuit and subsequently have to label their cups - "Caution: Hot coffee is hot".

And lawyers are greedy and people are stupid and the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

I remember moaning to a lawyer about that lawsuit, and he replied that actually, the burns were severe and she required skin grafts etc. Am I nuts, or does the fact that she got the coffee in a drive thru, put it between her legs and opened it, and THEN her son drove off and it spilled not scream some sort of personal responsiblity here?

The article lists lots of useless warnings (sleeping aids that may cause drowsiness), but I cry for the future of the human race if we don't instinctively know that we shouldn't catch falling knives, or that a toilet brush shouldn't be used for personal hygiene. Though that last one does beg the question: Where?

Here's a thought: Sometimes, it IS your fault. That's all. You screwed up. You made a bad call, so suck it up and take responsibility. Admit your mistakes, fix them, and move on. We have become the biggest bunch of whiners, ever. I know one woman who has gone from cradle to 50 (and counting) blaming someone else for every single miscue in her entire life. Get real.

No wonder our kids keep looking for the lazy way out - parents blame teachers for a lousy work ethic and bad grades, they coddle their kids into a catatonic state of inability to even wipe their own butts, and then they wonder why they have adults living at home unable to leave the nest.

Self control, self reliance, self discipline, self restraint. All part of responsibility. If you pour too many drugs or dangerous substances down your throat, it is not the manufacturer's fault. Their fault may be established in supplying a faulty product, but not the misuse of that product.

I don't care if you're the President of the United States, or my kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Own up, take your lumps, and don't do it again. You shouldn't need a warning label to do the obvious.