October 31, 2007

Trick or Contraction

We like Halloween around here. I mean, every house with kids under 12 is in a frenzy that is starting to rival Christmas, but my son was born on Halloween, so there's also been that to pony onto it for us.

Sixteen years ago tonight, I shelled out, ate dinner, then had a kid. All before 11pm, which meant that I missed Knots Landing for the first and only time in its entire run. That is how I can fondly gaze at my son and always know he was born on a Thursday.

When he was little, he used to think that everyone was getting dressed up and celebrating his birthday. My birthday falls on the Ukranian Christmas, but I only ever saw one person doing that squatty leg dance once (Myron in grade two), and it wasn't on my birthday, so I never made the connection. It's probably better not to have to share your birthday.

From the only place that does haunted houses really, really well, I'll link to this piece from the Guardian. How can you not read a travel piece that includes the sentence, "Murder, satanism and child sacrifice are just some of the light-hearted activities supposed to have taken place in this ramshackle building". England doesn't just have ancient haunted scary things, it's got bickering psychics and a tongueless woman. I'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not.


This week's Motherlode struck a huge chord...I've been inundated with letters, most of them sharing stories of the agonies of intrusion by these lame-arse companies that keep pestering. Early in the morning. Late at night. During meal times. You name it.

People have had a myriad of helpful suggestions, sometimes laced with colourful language, and run the gamit of what to say to them to how to avoid them.

Lisa let me know of something she's had some success with. Contact the Canadian Marketing Association. They have a link (right hand side button) to get your name taken off of lists. She said it's worked for her. I'll give it a shot. Though I have to admit, I was nervous putting my phone number on their form...

I'll get back to you on this in the 6 weeks they say it takes to start working.

Actually, I'm kind of wondering how Jeff and Arlene handle them...

October 30, 2007

This Just In...

Something you may, or may not know, is that journalists don't pick their own headlines. Oh, they can pretend they do, by sending in a piece with a big, bolded sentence on top that they are hoping will David Copperfield-like mesmerize their editor into using. But not usually. And so you open your piece and see what someone has prepared to go along with your meaty discourse. Sometimes they're brilliant; sometimes you thing someone is just messing with your head. Sometimes you are certain they just leaned back in their chair at midnight and yell into the newsroom "quick! what's the first word that comes into your head when I say 'toilet'?", and go with that.

I'm just going to play headlines today. I won't pretend to link long, long articles (though I will put it in for those playing along at home), and you don't have to pretend to read them. "Washington Spends $43.5 billion on Intelligence" says the G&M. Hmm. And that was probably just in the Oval Office, and they came up empty handed.

"Dog Shoots Man", the Guardian tells me, while reporting on a story from Iowa. Well, I guess if you're going to stake your freedom on your right to bear arms, the dog's gonna want to get in on it too.

"Sick Yobs Daub Pen on Precious" sez the British Sun. I will translate: the 'yobs' are brats, daubing is drawing grafitti, and well, click on the link for a boo at Precious. Beauty is in the eye and all that...

I kind of think of CBS News as above the fray when it comes to goofy headlines. I am mistaken. "Peppers Prevent Patients' Post-Op Pain?" is a small nod that sometimes editors just want to go home and have a beer. And sometimes they have a beer before they go home.

And this is just a stand-alone headline from Slate, no story required. Click here.

Play along if you like, if only to get away from the watch fob debate taking place under the hard drive entry. Arlene and Jeff, back to your corners...

October 29, 2007

Here Kitty Kitty

I have two cats. They are relatively young - old enough not to scratch things (much), young enough not to require replacement hips or dentures. But after watching my sister's cats last pretty much forever (one went at 22 years old, the other is 20 and truckin' along), I know the future can be hellish on pet owners.

I have a vet I like, but I don't plan on regularly visiting him. If one of the girls (Maggie or JoJo) look a little off kilter, I take them in praying for nothing exotic. They're indoor cats and live a life I aspire to. I would like to be a cat.

This article in Slate is a hoot. It's that whole vet-guilt thing. You know the one - where they make you feel like the worst person in the world if you have the audacity to inquire about tiny details regarding the care of your pet - like how much it's gonna cost to give ChiChi an MRI, or put Fluffy on anti-depressants because, well, who knows why. Fluffy can't talk.

Which is the whole problem. My kids can hold their bellies and moan. I can feel their forehead and know 'fever' without a hundred dollar visit for someone else to find the number. Let's be real: for my kids, I'll mortgage my house or rob a bank to keep them healthy. For a cat, by the time we're creeping into car payment territory, my eyebrows are raised and staying that way. A vet once asked me if JoJo was lethargic. I asked how I'd know the difference. She only gets up to find a new place to sleep.

You can be at 2 grand in vet bills without even knowing if they're going to get well. I can't stand when vets stand over a 30 year old cat and ask if you'd like to consider surgery. I remember when my sister's cat was about 15, she had one tooth left in her pretty little head. Roz came home from the vet frustrated about some over-the-top treatment plan. I asked her if it was braces.

I love my kitties fiercely. But this crazy over-vetting is preying on people in a most obscene way. Nobody wants to lose a loved part of the family, but when I signed up to have a cat, I signed up to lose one. I need to handle both ends of that equation clearly, and help the kids with it when the time comes.

My mom was raised with dogs, and was told when they died that they'd gone to live in the country. She believed that for ages. We gave hamsters and fish buried all over the yard. My sister had a little white mouse that a neighbourhood cat got hold of. My folks told her it ran away, and she was cool with that. Well, until she reads this she was cool with that.

I want a new Yellow Pages listing: Guilt Free Veterinary Services.

October 28, 2007

Hard Drive Help

We just had to boost the ram in both of our desktops, and a friend just had her total hard drive wiped out recently.

Here's a link that may help you clean up your hard drive, because maintenance is far cheaper than repair. Don't forget to defrag once in while as well.

I'm still investigating off-site document storage, I know you can check out Google Documents (though I'm not all the way understanding security issues on that one), and there is a way to store your stuff off site through Mozy.com, for 5 bucks a month. Check them out, save yourself a world of pain...

October 27, 2007

Here Cat, Meerkat...

Okay, you're going to think I'm crazy (or crazier - pick your posts), but the other night I sat enthralled by a show I stumbled over. I'd read about it, but never seen it, and now, after about ten minutes, I'm addicted.

Meerkat Manor. It's a little narrated real life show that follows meerkats around with cameras. I wrote about it months ago, then promptly forgot to find it. But it was on TVO the other night, and it's fascinating. There's a nice article about the first three seasons here - and more reasons to get hooked. Here's the Animal Planet website for it. Oh wait, I just saw that you can watch episodes on line at this site! Oh, I am so happy I am telling you about this!

This is a meerkat soap opera. They are odd looking little creatures, kind of part weasel, part otter, part, well, sorta human. They have little hands, adorable faces (when they're not tearing each other apart) and little ears. But the best part? This is a soap opera. These creatures live in family groups, and love and hate on each other just like real families. There's aunts and uncles, bratty kids, mothers and daughters bitching away at each other - it's amazing. With a matriarchal family system in place, the women call the shots in most respects. And when the only dominant male in the joint - their father - refuses to let any other males in to mate, they run him off. Enthralling stuff, this.

The narrator on the episode I saw is the wonderful Bill Nighy, which also makes me very happy. I can't stand most reality TV, because it's not real. Meerkats don't take direction very well, couldn't care less if there's a writers strike, and spend very little time in makeup. It's perfect.

I'm going to watch meerkats now. Because I can.

October 26, 2007

Pilot Patrick Smith

I've written about this column from Salon before, Ask The Pilot.

Today's piece is hysterical. Smith lists some of the questions he's been asked over the years (people well and truly do 'ask the pilot') and the inclusions are a riot. The guy already writes a really informative and entertaining column (who knew I could give a rat's arse about plane stuff?), but to see some of the stuff that gets sent to him is even better.

Nuts To This

Oh, for crying out loud. This kind of stuff makes me crazy. Residents in Toronto want permission - which was denied - to cut down a huge walnut tree. Because everyone knows walnut trees are nasty and dangerous and possessed by evil walnut child-killing gods.

You do not cut down mature healthy trees. You don't. In a world where people are hacking and chopping often-40+-year-old wonders to make room for hottubs and decks, and then bitch about the loss of shade and the level of pollution, you have to scratch your head.

Enough of our canopy is dying off as it is. In the older parts of most towns, we're losing many of our mature trees to disease and age. If a tree is unsafe in storm conditions, you are obligated to prune or remove as required. I get it. But this linked piece is people whining about the walnuts that come down in the fall.

I have two huge, huge old walnuts in the yard next to mine. They are extraordinary (it would probably take 3 adults linking hands to go around one at the base), and have been there as long as I can remember. They are probably at least 80 feet tall. The walnuts fly into my yard, and leave nasty black stains on my grass if I don't pick them up fast enough. I hear them bouncing off my shed roof. So? Those same trees provide shade, beauty and wildlife. This is the way walnut trees work, people.

When I was young, my dad used to pay us a penny a walnut to pick them up and chuck them in a bushel basket. It was a game. We'd put on old gardening gloves to protect our hands from the black guck, and race around trying not to get hit if the wind picked up. If it was a really windy day, we'd put on Dad's old hard hats. It was fun.

Are they really making kid's heads so soft these days that we need to chop down glorious trees to protect them? Get real. The tree was there first.

October 25, 2007

Jackson, Alexander & A Pig

When Jackson (now 13) was little, one of his favourite books was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It was one of mine, too. Sometimes your kid picks a truly awful book as their favourite, and you are stuck reading drivel night after night. (My sister Roz (I call her Liz in the paper, in keeping with the original fake names everyone got) used to make my father read Cinderella to her every.damned.night. She would say the words with him, and if he skipped a page, or even a word, she'd make him go back. The image of my tough guy Dad reading Cinderella over and over is one I cherish.) Jackson had exquisite taste in read-alouds, and we alternated between Alexander and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.

Judith Viorst wrote Alexander... in 1972 about her own son. She went on to write often about him. There's an article, ostensibly about her home, in the NYT today, but it reveals more about her and Alexander than her house. In reading it, I discovered that she never told her family when she was writing about them.

What a concept.

See, I tell mine. And then I endure their wrath. Or eyerolls. Or worse, depending on the subject matter. Apparently, Ms. Viorst has now written about Alexander again, except he's married with three kids, a fact his mother didn't let stand in the way of continuing on her practice of doing whatever she wants. She once wrote that her kids got lice, and they almost disowned her. They got over it (the lice and the humiliation), and it reminded me to save this article to show my kids how generous I am in my own spoutings.

While it's nice to see this little snapshot into the back story of a favourite book, it provided more than that; it was a reminder that while you can freeze frame your children with a picture or a story (or a column), they never stop changing and growing. Motherlode's only been around 4 years, and already I am amazed at the difference in my boys. I have a nice history of some events and moments, but I'm already feeling the wistful tuggings in real life that I get when I find When You Give a Pig a Pancake in the 'give away' pile of books.

October 23, 2007

Things My Cat Has Eaten...

...in the past three days.

If you're a vet, don't write. I know, I know. But she weighs 8 pounds, and is as healthy as a wee calico horse. Maggie just has some very odd tastes...

1. Mashed potatoes. With chives.
2. Ranch dressing, before I yanked it away from her.
3. Half a banana. I had the other half for breakfast.
4. Most of a cheese string.
5. Several pieces of boneless chicken BBQ'd in a really nice Greek marinade.
6. Potato with corned beef. What can I say? She has her mommy's starch attachment.
7. 3 rotini pastas. With sauce.
8. 4 toast crusts.
9. Several ounces of tea, with a little milk. Not too hot. She waits.
10. Cream cheese she licked off part of a bagel. Not sure if it was before or after the kid discovered it, and kept eating.
11. 2 raw green beans.
12. I'm pretty sure it was her that licked out somebody's frozen yogurt bowl.
13. 2 pieces of apple. Granny Smith.

And of course, the most expensive food the vet sells.

Burning Up

When the weather is marvelous - as it has been - my neighbour Jayne and I usually sit on her front lawn on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy a glass of wine. Or three.

When the kids were small, we would call this 'watching the kids'. The kids are not small. They no longer need watching. We continue drinking wine, and now call it 'tradition'.

Sunday was particularly beautiful. And so, to ensure I tossed a damper on it, I started babbling away about droughts. The southern U.S. is experiencing terrifying conditions. I started to tell her about Lake Lanier in Georgia (where residents are faced with literally no water - there is an estimated 3 month supply left, and no more in sight. It is dire) until Jayne looked at me over her rather cool new sunglasses and told me to shut up. She didn't even let me get to the part about a state of emergency being declared. The southern U.S. is burning up.

But watching the news today, it's way past even what I thought. Horrific fires burning through California are terrifying. I can't imagine being in the core of that, let alone being a firefighter charged with fighting something so unfightable. Check out the slide show from the NYT - unbelievable.

It's not going to be about oil for much longer. Welcome to the new currency on this planet - water.

October 22, 2007

Live @5:30 Monday

When divorce looks the same as...well, marriage. Couples who stay living together, but separate for the sake of the kids...does it work?

Tune in to CHCH at 5:30, or catch the 11:30 recast....

October 20, 2007

Today's Powershift

Webgod Jeff is once again boozing it up in a tent in some godforesaken national park somewhere...here's today's column.

Bugging Bugs

Many Americans still don't realize the extent of snoopism that the Homeland Security Office has in their lives. Since 9/11, and both parties sweeping endorsement of sweeping Big Brotherness, there are more cameras, computer spying devices and more governmental poking around in your underwear drawer than ever before.

And Canadians are like dolphins is the tuna net - many of us correspond and travel to the States daily - we're in this too. Yet, I still know many people who can't wrap their head around the fact that things they type into their computer are never, ever gone. Stuff they post on websites, or email to others, or even just keep to themselves on their hard drive are always there. I figure by the time we die, every one of us will well and truly have our arses bitten many times.

Anyway, I do have a point. There is speculation that the US government is building little spying insects. No, really. Read it here - very cool article from the Washington Post, also reprinted in today's Spectator. Starting way back in the 70's, scientists were mucking with implanting cameras and listening devices into dragonflies, and have continued doing creepy things like growing bugs around, well, bugs.

People have seen some very bizarre flying things, and been told "there are some dragonflies that look just like robots. Really." I've seen a pantload of dragonflies in my time, and while some are gorgeous and some are positively prehistoric looking, none of them looked like a mechanical device.

The biggest problem so far is getting the wee spies powered up. Apparently, a drop of gasoline provides more power than a battery the size of a drop of gasoline. So while they're trying to develop their tiny Trojan horses, they've bumped into a multitude of problems keeping them afloat.

I rather like the problems they've encountered that they admit they will never be able to control. Birds eat bugs. Bugs fly into spiderwebs. Bugs end up oozing through the holes in a flyswatter. If you're the US military, you can pore billions of dollars into this research. And I can stop you with a bug zapper from the Dollar Store.

If you read down, you'll hear the usual noble reasons they're giving for developing these things. To fly down into fallen buildings looking for survivors, etc.

Bull. It's bad enough they're listening to phone calls, tracing emails and search engine files, and obtaining lists of every library book and movie people have rented. The average citizen in most developed countries is caught on surveillance cameras something like 300 times a day (that's a British number, ours in probably higher, and the US is probably a billion times that).

But now it seems I have to question every dragonfly that buzzes over my dock, as it carefully records how many vodka and iced teas I consume. Oh, I know it's not my fat arse lying on a dock they're coming after.

But what a sick and twisted world we live in when even the most innocuous parts of it can be hijacked in the name of security.

October 18, 2007

Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library

I'll be speaking at the library tonight at 7:30, a humorous look at How Not to Get Published.

If you know where Stouffville is, come on out. Actually, if you know where Stouffville is, email me and let me know sometime before 5:30 tonight...

Squirrelatizer, Anyone?

For anyone keeping up, here's the next installment to the Gray Squirrel Saga. I linked to a piece in The New Yorker a few days back (scroll to October 7), which I'm sure you all read attentively. It was funny. Go back.

Today, in The Guardian, I find the forehead slapping ('why didn't I think of that?') next chapter: Gray Squirrel Wraps.

Lord Redesdale, of the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, has found a stomach churning way to recycle the gray squirrels he so passionately dispatches in order to save his beloved red squirrels. And he's found a noted hotel in Cumbria to lend the assist.

Squirrel wrap canapes taste, according to some squick-proof diners, like rabbit. Betcha thought I was going to say chicken. While chef and squirrel murderer are patting themselves on the back for taking the next logical step, apparently other chefs are joining in, testing things like roast squirrel and squirrel liver pate. Frankly, I don't care how many of the nuisances they kill. But keep the roadkill off my plate, please?

Personally, I'd like to see what Gordon Ramsey could do with a redneck roast.

October 17, 2007

Live @5:30 Wednesday

So....there's no way you could have missed Ellen Degeneres' meltdown yesterday.

I have to say, for a woman who admirably keeps it together, and creates humour out of anything and nothing, we were seeing an emotional chip in the armour. It's difficult to wear your heart on your sleeve - and she followed her heart.

Merry Christmas

I'm aware we haven't even got trick-or-treating out of the way, but this article in the G&M today slapped me all the way ahead to Christmas. It seems our retailers have no intention of handing over any bargains any time ahead of Christmas - so be prepared to overpay at the checkout, regardless of how strong our dollar is against the rest of the world.

Or, here's an idea. And it can only be floated now, well in advance of the jolly hysteria that will beseige some of you soon enough. Opt out. Before you run around a mall buying something, anything, for a list as long as your arm, quit now. Do something useful with your money. Check out this site. My son has been sponsoring a little guy from Rwanda for nearly three years now. I may not be a huge proponent of the religious angle, but the company has an admirable record of channelling your money to those you intend it for.

World Vision is doing my Xmas shopping for me this year. I would love to be able to afford to dig a well, but I can't. But for 600 bucks, I could buy a cow. I can buy a piglet for $40. I can help kids in Canada too.

I can buy my sons more of the same, and cave into demands for more computer crap that causes more fights than anything. Or, I can make a few selective purchases for Christmas morning, and let them know more kids like Vianney need us, and we can do something that will have an enduring effect.

Start easy: Tell the adults you buy for this is your decision. Show them what you've done, and they are now a part of something pretty decent. If anyone sulks, tell them to call me. They need a shot upside the head for being so selfish. Hand everyone a glass of eggnog and fire up the computer and show them the website.

Sponsor a kid, and your kids can write letters, and receive them, all year. I'll tell you how to sneak more stuff into the envelope you're allowed to send.

Beat the retailers at their own game. Refuse to play, opt out of the overindulgence, and teach your children the power of money and the meaning of generosity. We live in a big world - and it doesn't end at the mall.

Think about it - no more hockey pajama pants for your brother-in-law, no more cheesy soap gift baskets for your aunt, no more teeth-gnashing as your sister opens what you knew all along she'd hate anyway. Your parents have enough crap - they're probably trying to offload stuff on you anyway - and your children want your time, even if they don't know it.

Think about it.

October 16, 2007

CTS On The Line at 2 PM

It's channel 36 in some guides, just CTS in others. They usually run a lot of what I call bible shows, but I participate in a couple of their current events programs.

On The Line has been expanded to an hour, and it's gone live. And they called me anyway. Brave, brave producers - putting me on live.

My opinion of various topics is forming as I write this...tune in.

October 15, 2007

Odds & Sods

Got the cottage closed up this weekend. It was beautiful up there, and it's always such a drag to close it up during my favourite season. The mice were waiting impatiently by the door, tapping their feet and waiting for the last car to pull away so they could move in and find every speck of food we missed. There's some SmartFood down the couch, guys.

Read about a new product I'm am going to be lining up to buy in today's Business section of the Star. Two sisters and their mom have started a line of pre-fab Indian spices and basmati rice. I hate buying premade meals (in our house, "serves four" is some joke of a serving size), but I'm a spice moron when left to my own devices. And it looks like they've totally gone about developing this company the right way, so I can feel free to fall in love and know it'll stick around. I so hate a brilliant first date that ends with a thud. Cheers, Rachna and Mona Prasad and their mom. I'll be looking for your stuff.

Don't open any emails featuring authentic looking NFL game trackers. I mean, I would never be tempted by that, but the lads around here would. Apparently, it's a really destructive worm. In fact, I suggest you never open anything you don't recognize as friend rather than foe. E-cards are out for me now, and I wonder what I've done to receive an onslaught of penis-mail. If I had as much sex as they keep offering, I'd never get any work done.

If you haven't read The Kite Runner yet, you should. You really, really should. I don't plug many books, but this is brilliant.

Maureen Dowd has lost some of her sparkle of late (for me), but she lets Stephen Colbert take the reins here, and it's pretty funny. And for another high five to a guy I usually dismiss as too hit and miss, Bill Maher cracks one out of the park on Salon. I drove by a car yesterday (a big SUV, of course) that was plastered in ribbons denoting all the worth causes supported therein. And all I can think is that the effort to support them ended with the slapping on of the (removable) ribbon.

Okay, sorry for the run-on.

October 13, 2007


...sweet Gordie O'Donnell. I've been missing you for years.

October 11, 2007

Listen to the Kids

After wading through all the election onslaught, I have crystalized in my wee mind two thoughts. The first was some sentence I gleaned somewhere that it was business as usual regarding the Liberals and PCs duking it out for Win and Place, and the NDP running their usual distant Show. And the Greens, rapidly becoming the Moped party (everyone wants one, nobody wants to admit it) is tossed to the side like a bothersome little brother.

The second thing that jumped out at me, however, was the Student Vote. I don't know if that gets caps or not, but it does in my head. The schools held their own mock vote for all kids in elementary and high school. I knew about this of course; my eldest paid rapt attention at the candidates debate at his school, and we spent many hours discussing all of it. He's into politics. I'm glad. But I hope the actual grown up parties pay just as much attention as my son does.

The Student Vote handed the Liberals an overwhelming majority, but they put the Green Party into opposition. Not only are the PCs not their fathers' party, they're not even their grandfathers' party anymore. Dead last.

Here's the thing: The Green Party had an excellent message (or several) that appealled to these kids. And some of these kids will be voting in a couple of years, or sooner. And before you start saying that it's easy to turn on a bunch of kids, let me assure nothing could be further from the truth. If you engage a child, you had better be at the top of your game for answering direct, honest questions. They see through stuff; they don't get the dance of politics, the selling out and the spin.

Nor do kids automatically vote as their parents do. I don't, my kid announced that he didn't. Good for him. My job is not to tell him what to think, but point him in the direction to get decent information to form his own opinions. Admittedly hard to do in our world of biased media, but doable. We discussed the nobility of having great platforms, but also having to have concrete ways to pay for them. But we also discussed that some things need to be done to secure the future at the cost of short-term gains. This is where the kids come in - it's their planet, and their future. They give a damn and their vested interest is in a livable planet, not a seductive tax cut.

If representatives from every single political party had a brain in their collective heads, they would be in those schools year in and year out engaging these kids. Listen to them. Don't give speeches, ask questions.

For the record, my own riding in Burlington screwed it up last night, again. Not by as much, but screwed it up. Too many people must not have spent any time in our local hospital, well-unserved by the PCs who have been delivered this area on a silver platter for too many decades. Guess what, folks? We're not that special. We get sick too, and if you believe that party you've rewarded all this time has taken good care of you, I suggest if you're at the hospital for any kind of care, you get your head examined while you're down there.

October 9, 2007

Today's Spectator...

The Spec ran this today - a Land Rover on the cover of the Go section. Surely that has to be a first...

October 7, 2007

Squirrel Nation

Because we did turkey yesterday, I have the luxury of time to read the weekend New York Times this morning. Which means I have the nerve to give you a six page link about squirrels.

Actually, all I could think of was my Dad. My father hated squirrels with a passion usually reserved for post-surgery pain or in-laws. He used to set (illegal) traps in the yard, because the squirrels dug up his garden. An old farmer, he brought the laws of rural Saskatchewan to somewhat less rural Burlington, and applied at will. I have the fattest squirrels in the world in my yard, because I feed the little devils he used to dispatch. Well, it's not entirely me. My neighbour Jan feeds them too - but he puts up special feeders. I just fling out old bread.

Gray squirrels didn't exist in England until some numbskull rich folks decided to bring them over from America as caged pets. Until that time, the UK was dominated by red squirrels, which are cuter and more cuddly. Beatrix Potter made a big to-do about them with Squirrel Nutkin, and you know how those Brits are with things they belove. All would have been fine, except gray squirrels drive out red squirrels. And so agencies have been formed to get rid of the gray squirrels. I had lingering echoes of the word 'genocide' dinging through my brain as I read this piece, and I'm sure the parallels are pretty clear, but I'm too lazy to go there today.

The link is mainly about these two guys who sound like they're out of a Monty Python sketch. Read it. It's a hoot. They go around killing gray squirrels (sorry, Jan), by bashing their heads in. They refuse to call it anything else. They may be many things, but spin doctors they aren't. In trying to ramp up participation in their society, as opposed to another government funded one (yes, they get funding), the following conversation ensues:

Redesdale clarified: "There are two organizations. They promote red squirrels; we kill grays. We just kill grays."
"We just kill grays, that's all," Parker [his partner] echoed.
The woman, who looked to be in her 60s, gave the "Candid Camera" look.

Even though his foundation is called the Red Squirrel Protection Project. I guess the Gray Squirrel Killing Squad lacked a little something.

Remember when you were a kid, and watching Mutual of Ohama's Wild Kingdom on TV every Sunday? One week you're watching a bird eating a bug they've forced you to care about and hating the bird. The next week, something is gnawing (off-camera) on the bird, and, last week's bug forgotten, you cry for the bird. This squirrel thing is like that. The grays kill off the reds; we would get to the cottage, where there are seldom any gray squirrels, and my father would start chasing off the red squirrels.

The reds chase out the chipmunks, which he liked even more.

October 4, 2007

They're Up!

Click on the link at the left...the Argentina Diaries are up!

Coke, Coke Everywhere...

There were really three things I was going to choose from to write about today. I was going to have a go at Britney Spears ('why can't we look away?' Uhm, I can. Totally), this creepy/freaky museum I went to in Salta, Argentina to look at long dead mummified children offered to the Incan gods 5 centuries ago, and a couple of stories about people with a disorder that makes them want to have their limbs amputated. You have to admit, that is a vertiable smorgasbord of topics.

But first, a blogger needs a cup of tea. As I opened the cupboard to get a mug, a little bowl I LOVE hopped out at me. It was perched precariously on a high shelf (yes, by me. I would so love to blame the kids, but they don't put anything away, let alone putting it away wrong). It kind of jumped out, which would have been bad enough. I had that slow motion moment where I knew it was going to break, and I couldn't stop it. I have terra cotta floors, and there are no second chances with terra cotta floors.

But the beloved little piece of crockery made a pit stop on the counter. It bounced against a full, soggy paper cup of Coke, a leftover from the drive-thru nastiness that was dinner last night. This too was my fault. I don't even drink pop, but when you order a dinner, you get the pop. Even if you don't ask for it. I told the girl once not to give me the pop, and she wandered away from her post for five minutes to find out if this was even legal. A manager finally came over the little speaker and begged me just to take the pop...setting precedents like this at Wendy's is harmful, apparently.

I figured someone would drink the pop. All food in this house just gets sucked into a vortex, some black hole where one moment the fridge is full, and the next moment there's only enough stuff to make celery. So I left it on the counter. Silly me.

As the bowl hit the cup, the cup sagged and popped its lid. Coke went everywhere. A new magazine was sitting on the counter. With its whisper thin pages now Coked together, the only thing that survived were a dozen of those cardboard subscription cards. Those cards are the cockroaches of the literary world. They will outlast everything.

A medium Coke is much larger if you spread it all out very thinly. The cats sat watching me. As I sopped up the mess (and threw out the pieces of my perfect bowl), I couldn't yell at anyone. This was my fault from start to finish. Three towels later, and I still have to wash the floor later. Maggie, the wee delicate cat, as I write this is walking across the floor, doing the sticky paw dance. And glaring at me.

So much for Britney and volunteer amputees.

October 3, 2007

Soon, soon, soon...

I'm putting together the Argentina Diaries, with some terrific pictures. Check back in a day or two (do you hear that webgod Jeff?)

What do you mean, enough already? Forget that...it'll be worth it. In the mean time, other journalists are filing their take on the trip...here's a Brit, and an Irish guy worth a look. It's always fun to see how someone else experiences the same things you have. They weren't along with me, but Holly Reich was, and is now blogging at Edmunds. Holly took wonderful care of me through my altitude headaches, in spite of her own. She's my new New York mom, as she declared.

October 1, 2007

Rocket Attack

Argh. The Hallowe'en candy has hit the stores, and I have hit the Rockets. The only candy that dents my sugarfree armour, I mindlessly open row after row as I work, scarfing back their sugary, pilly goodness without thought.

I like that they've stayed the same for decades. You will never see 'new and improved' splashed across a Rocket wrapper. They don't even change the logo. And while they are often imitated, they are never matched. And unlike the chocolate companies that keep trying to pass off whatever it is they call chocolate these days, the lowly Rocket aims low and never misses.

I used to just claim them out of the kids' trick or treat bags. But now those fabulous days of stealing their candy after they go to bed is over, I must buy my own stash. I noticed with alarm my stocks were dwindling, and resigned myself to less mindless eating. Until I found each kid grabbing a handful of them every morning, and realized they were now stealing them from me.

Turn about is fair play.