September 29, 2009


Bit of This, Bit of That

Now, this will seem cruel and ridiculous, but some days, that is who I am.

A picture of Britney Spears showed up somewhere yesterday, doing the her little ring-a-ding stage show. I looked at it, and said to Christopher,"I may be nuts, but I'm in better shape than Britney Spears." And of course, I don't do any ring-a-ding stage shows. I don't even work out, unless you count sprints to the bathroom when Ari is barfing. (Oh, by the way. He just got back from the doctor. He has Swine Flu. Christer had to take him because I've wrecked my back. Christopher asked if he got that by kissing a pig. He didn't say kissing. So I hit him, but it was feeble because I am weakened.)

But, I'm looking at Britney, and I'm sure it's the camera angle, but the girl is as stout as a fire hydrant. A sparkly fire hydrant, but a fire hydrant. Christer leaned over to look. "Well, she has had 3 kids," he explained. "No, she's had two. Same as me," I replied. "Oh, in that case, yeah, I guess you win."

I admit this is a loathsome game for a woman to play (me), but hell, if I had all that money, all those trainers, saw my kids only for photo ops and had a ring-a-ding stage show, I would be far more magnificent than a fire hydrant. It would be totally fine if Britney didn't wear sequin catsuits and odd fishnet/bikini combos on stage. It's like her trainers and her costume designers have secret meetings. In the dark. In a bar. And they all hate her.

That's the Bit of This. This is the Bit of That. A nudist park in Toronto has been given an extension, so its occupants had continue to dangle their bits for another year. At hand (so to speak) was the question of whether Glen Echo Family Nudist Park (please tell me why Chevy Chase and Co. never made a Vacation movie here) was a year round deal, or just seasonal. Have they been to Canada?

I was at my son's football game the other day, and I needed gloves. Gloves. And it's still September.

I'm aware it's a small number of the population who frequent nudist camps. I know this, because every time I write that breastfeeding is good and normal, the same guy writes to me exposing his views on nudist colonies. That they're wonderful, and acting like I'm their spokesperson or something. Breastfeeding, dude, is not strolling around casting odd shadows and sticking to chaise lounges in disturbing ways.

Come to think of it, I guess this post is pretty much about being shown more than I would like to see. At least the nudist camp doesn't perform and end of season ring-a-ding stage show.

I hope.

September 27, 2009


Looooooooooong Night

Yawn. So Ari was up barfing half the night. Which means I was up half the night standing uselessly beside him, feeling his forehead repeatedly and making him swill mouthwash after every upchuck.

The only thing worse than puking is watching someone else do it. Especially if you're still morally and legally responsible for that person, and can't pull a pillow over your head and be glad its not you. I don't barf. Seriously. Haven't since I was about 8. I black out instead, which is far tidier, but has baffled doctors and neurologists and specialists in most fields. My Mom had me checked out for everything - nope. "You just have a kid who gets migraines and can't throw up and blacks out instead and will use the computer mouse upside down one day. When they invent computer mouses."

Okay, they didn't say that last bit, but its true. I think my wiring is a little off. A lot off, to be honest. When it became evident that I would never barf again (I really haven't), everyone just kept me away from sharp edges and stairs when I got that look on my face.

Neither of my kids got that gene, so it's a barfing we will go. The upside is Ari's hair is so short (#2 buzz) that I don't have to hold it back. The downside is that it's tougher to get a Gravol into him now that he's older. With little kids, you can go through the other end. When your son can look you in the eye, I dare you to try that.

The 'flu is flying around the school, and short of dipping every kid in Purell twice a day I don't know how to stop it.

We were up intermittently from just before 3 until about 6 am. Maggie the Cat figured we were providing an after hours show, and dutifully followed us into and out of the bathroom each time. She took to sleeping on my belly or my side so she wouldn't miss a chance to run and see her brother throwing up lasagna. He almost didn't make it the last time because she was sleeping on his belly, and wouldn't move.

JoJo is sitting here now wondering why everyone is so crabby. She slept great.

I got up to find Ari on the couch. I asked how he was. "Fine," he said, like I was crazy for asking. "I'll be down to get something to eat in a minute," he reassured me.

I just hauled out the chicken noodle soup. He probably thinks he's going to have leftover lasagna. Which I can't even look at.

September 24, 2009


Thirsty Kitty

I don't care how sick of seeing cats on the internet you think you might be.

You have to watch this. Both boys were laughing out loud before they went to school, and I'm still laughing...I really thought I'd seen every crazy thing a cat could do.

Watch it here.

September 23, 2009


Tequila & Donuts

I've linked to Deven's work before.

She blogs on Open Salon, a site I've also mentioned before for those of you who might like to muck about with other writers.

Deven writes about her Mom. Her Mom lives in a retirement home, and I do mean 'lives'. Deven has become sort of in charge of choosing and providing movies for the gang, and her blogs are hysterical. I'll link the latest here, here and here, but do go in and peruse Deven's archives. She's also a terrific photographer.

September 22, 2009


Am I Crazy?

I'm sure you'll all tell me if I am.

But, on the news the other night was the story of a lad, perhaps 11 or so, who had Guitar Heroed his way into the Guinness Book of Records for playing the video game for something like 62 hours straight. I'm too lazy to look it up. I may be wrong about the time.

For those who don't know it, Guitar Hero is this thing you plug into a gaming console, which is plugged into your TV. Your flat screen TV that should be displaying House or The Office or Jeopardy, but is instead displaying this goofy fake rock concert. A child, or a large manchild, clutches a plastic guitar and rocks out.

You get points for hitting the right little spots on the toy guitar. It's like air guitar without the air. Or real guitar without the talent. Its appeal is actually quite mysterious, except those who love it can convince themselves they have learned a skill.

That's my 'Am I Crazy?' question. This kid is being hailed as a hero - sorry, a Guitar Hero - and they ask if he can play the guitar, for real. Er, no. Not a lick. He says he tried, but it was too hard.

We have Guitar Hero. Somewhere. The kids tired of it after the first summer. Little kids play with it if they come over, but Christer has said he's like to get another real guitar soon. He had an electric guitar for awhile, now would like an acoustic.

But the kid on the news? He said he got 'so good' cough at Guitar Hero by practicing for hours and hours.

Man, am I so old I'm the only one who thinks your kid should be putting 'hours and hours' of practice into something real? A game as a diversion on the weekends is fine, but becoming a world class fake guitar player before you need to shave is a little disturbing.

Isn't it?

September 20, 2009


CTS Behind The Story

Join us on CTS at 7pm for Behind the Story. The usual round up of the weeks events, with my usual censor-baiting remarks.

September 18, 2009


Cloudy With a Chance of Firing

Did you ever have an old weird uncle who would say the most stunningly inappropriate things at Thanksgiving dinner? Or Grandma? Drunk auntie? And your Mom would get this tight little painful smile on her face as she prayed - prayed hard - that the moment would pass?

I recall some elderly visitors occasionally passing wind or burping, and my mother furiously glaring at us because we'd be laughing uncontrollably. My own Dad was good for putting his foot in his mouth, sluiced down by a few glasses wine. My poor mother must have ground her teeth to nubs trying to achieve decorum. But for kids, it was the best.party.evah if an adult messed up.

Now, thanks to Youtube, that dinner table stretches around the world. You have to click on this newscaster, Ernie Anastos from Fox (home of all things inappropriate at the best of times) and have a listen. He swears. There's your warning.

Apparently, there used to be a chicken brand that used the slogan "it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken". Anastos, here commenting after the weatherdude has said his bit, says "it takes a tough man to make a tender forecast", and then follows it up. Ah, how he follows it up.

Check out his female co-anchor's face. Says it all.

September 15, 2009


Live@5:30 Tuesday

How rude!

Join us on CHCH Live@5:30 (repeat at 11pm) as we discuss why rudeness is ramping up all around us. Kanye West, anyone?

September 14, 2009


MiPhone

That's what I call it. I bought one. Like in the ads. It's pretty cool.

My cell phone is a little piece of crap that cost ten bucks 5 years ago. It has tons of functions, like ringing when a call comes in. And, no, that's about it. When I travel it doesn't work, and I refuse to lug a laptop around anymore because they're too heavy, and I really don't know how to work them very well.

I knew I had to get something, though. I have an increasing need to be able to check email and the internet for information when I'm on the road, and long plane trips have convinced me that a little music might not be a bad thing. But the problem so far has been twofold: I can't see worth a damn, and I have Gumby fingers. I watch others fiercely blackberrying away, and snort in derision. If I were to send you an email on a blackberry, it would look like this: dkgheia aeihtai ahgiewtsld. And then some swear words.

But. This iPhone thingee is better. It has big colourful squares on it. Like a preschool toy. I like that. You can turn the keyboard sideways, and while I will never be composing much beyond 'stop beating your brother and turn off the stove', at least I can accomplish that.

Oh. And it has a camera. Melissa, my Yukon buddy, used one the week we were away. She was having a serious love affair with it, and taping little videos with it. I thought this was pretty goofy, until I saw them. Very neat. Except the one she took of me dodging back into the bathroom of the hotel room as she did a little tourism video, highlighting the fab hotel in Dawson we were staying at. I was nekkid, and she was laughing so hard she nearly dropped the phone/camera. Anyway. I could very well be the next Youtube sensation. With videos I might take, silly, not that one.

It has a map thing in it. I am always, always lost. Now I shall be found. It has apps. I can say that now I know what it means - applications. The boys are rolling their eyes as they try to enlighten me. When I brought it home, Ari fell over and grabbed it. He offered to set it up, and I told him to go for it. In ten minutes, he was asking for my Visa card. I of course figured he was scamming me, and shut him down. Turns out you do have to use your Visa card so they can charge you if you get all carried away adding apps. Half of the 5000 available are free; I'm pretty sure I'll be interested in the free ones, because I'm not a 17-year-old boy.

The iPhone is lovely and non-elitist. It comes with a cord you can hook to your PC and it zips your information right over (like email lists and music downloads) and doesn't even make that face when it realizes you bought a PC instead of an Apple. Unlike those sullen little sh*ts at computer stores who preach Apple like they've been ordained instead of hired.

Anyway. It took me a long time to finally sort out my Olympus camera (but, it was worth it - check out the Yukon pics), so I'm giving myself a little time to figure out the iPhone. It rang this morning, and it took me 3 rings to a) understand that noise was my cell phone b) find the button that answered it (you do little slidey motion with your Gumby finger), and c) stop yelling into it because it wasn't necessary. All things in their time.

I call it MiPhone.

September 12, 2009


Geocaching & Healthcare

I know, I know, what's she going on about now?

I had the most fun yesterday. I was at the Kortright Centre in Woodbridge. Big Brothers Big Sisters has teamed with Standard Life in a 10 year fund-raising initiative to raise awareness and funds for matching the 10,000 kids waiting for a mentor. In the spirit of the campaign ("Be a Kid Again"), we got to scurry around the vast forested area north of Toronto armed with a list of 42 coordinates, and a GPS.

Now, I am not good with GPSs. Not at all. I can't really see the little numbers, and there was the incident last year where I kind of disappeared with a Rolls-Royce for a couple of hours when I couldn't figure out how to work it. The GPS, not the RR.

I got to team with the PR firm coordinating the event, Xposure. We were called the Xposure Xplorers. I decided I was Dora. Four of us set out and were promptly lost. There were about 15 other teams, and some of them you could tell were taking this very, very seriously. You had to figure out from the coordinates where small plastic bins with poker chips were. When you found one, you removed a chip and went to the next one. During the three hour hunt, we hadn't found any chips in the first hour. While the guys mucked with the GPS unit, Pete(another team member), and I, just dawdled along looking for Tupperware in the bushes.

We caught another team actually moving the bin after they found it. I was astounded. Why? Not only did it break the rules, it served no purpose. What's the point of trying to hobble another? We were all ending at the same time, to enjoy a lovely lunch and support a terrific cause. What would make someone so dark?

We soon figured out how to make this snipe hunt work, however. As we crossed with other teams, we were telling them where we'd found targets. We traded information. The fact we were obviously no threat (shaking a wee baggy with two chips in it past the halfway point is a dead giveaway), and a kind of camaraderie developed that was nice. It was a funny little experiment, however. As we approached an obvious 'hit' and encountered another team, there would be a hesitation. I would just flat out ask where the box was. You could see them consider for a moment, then just tell me. I would then try to tell them where the last station was that we'd found one, and any others I could remember.

It was far more fun being cooperative. At the end (we got back to base 45 minutes early. I had to pee), they gave awards for last place and first. We were so sure we'd be last, but no, that went to someone else. I was a little shocked. It had been so difficult for me to even read the GPS thing, I couldn't figure out which way was north. I announced at one point that I would just stand very still, and when moss grew on one side of me, we'd have our north.

There was another Geocaching event being run simultaneously in Montreal. Between the two events, Standard Life raised $200,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is astounding. With a decade of dedication, this collaboration will change many, many children's lives.

So now I can say I've been geocaching. It's fun. But it's difficult, and it's hopeless without cooperation. While my contribution was more along the lines of comic relief than navigational wonder, it was fun to watch teams of people of various temperaments work essentially in a 3 hour multi-legged race into the unknown (with mosquitos). It was so obvious if we all worked together, everyone benefited. The whole morning was a blast; I hope I get invited back.

So, why the Healthcare in my title? I read this by Joe Conason in Salon this morning. Why Republicans are such bastards when it comes to healthcare. They won't share their GPS coordinates. They won't tell anyone where the Tupperware is. You know why? Because they already have their chips, and they don't give a crap if you get yours or not. As politicians, or as members of the Richie Riches, they are so buffered by their exceptional health coverage that they do not see the need to help out anyone else.

By this point in my rather turbulent life, I've learned at least one thing: if you are a judgmental, callous, self-centred, miserly, selfish creature, it's because not enough Bad has happened to you yet. You have been insulated from having to extend a helping hand, because you've been lucky enough to never have needed one. Conason points out several Republicans who have finally been moved to climb on board causes for the greater good when finally spurred by their own life altering circumstances.

The Greater Good. What a concept. While 'The Winner Takes it All' (sorry, ABBA) is presented as the great capitalist way, when life has kicked you in the head a few times, you finally understand that sitting in the dark clutching your bank book is unlikely to help you much. I met a wonderful young man yesterday, now grown, who had the good fortune of meeting another exceptional man 13 years ago. A 6 year-old-boy being raised in dangerous turbulence extended a hand by a man who decided he had something to offer a young boy. A man who could have saved himself untold time, effort and money by not reaching out, but did so nonetheless.

I have to tell you, that boy (called a 'Little' in Big Brothers parlance), now 21, is the kind of young man anyone would be proud to call a son, a brother, a friend. How on earth can we go through life not helping others? How long can we judge the less fortunate in an effort to convince ourselves we somehow made all the right decisions? How on earth does a 6-year-old boy extricate himself from a world of pain created by those speaking for him? And how wonderful was it to hear his 'Big' speaking as if he was the one who had been richly rewarded?

Like the politicians in Conason's piece, it shouldn't take a personal catastrophe to make people aware of the suffering of others. Canada's healthcare system is not perfect, but as a friend of mine so succinctly puts it, "when was the last time you did not take your child for medical care because you were worried about the cost?".

We succeed better, and achieve more, when we are all cared for.

We didn't lose yesterday because we told competitors where the Tupperware was. In fact, we finished further than we would have when they helped us.

September 9, 2009


Amelia, Virginia & Me

Like many people, I'm guessing, I've always had a passing understanding of Amelia Earhart and her mysterious vanishing act back in 1937. She was the stuff that an adventurous little girl's dreams are made of - flying a plane, thumbing her nose at convention, living her life on the edge, before seemingly falling off that edge.

I've never wanted my pilot's licence (though you know if the opportunity was dangled before me, I'd grab at it in a heartbeat). But many restless women have still felt a kindred spirit to Amelia, if only in her determination to live by her own rules. There's a new movie coming on next month (part of it was shot here in southern Ontario), so many books and articles will be all over the place.

Here's a great read from the New Yorker. While it delves into the theories and what-ifs that always surround a decades-old mystery, it also reveals more of the woman. I learned new things. And I was floored by this snippet she wrote to her husband on their wedding day:

"You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me. . . . In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. . . . I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all the confinements of even an attractive cage."

Ah. Sometimes you see your own heart in someone else's words, and it pulls you up short. This has long been the dilemma of women everywhere, but if you reveal it as truthfully as Earhart did, you open yourself up to so much. I read this, and read it again. It reminded me of a bookmark I have. "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." That's Virginia Woolf, who I believe would have gotten along famously with Amelia Earhart.

What makes me smile? That bookmark was given to me by my ex. I don't know if he intended it just to hold a page, but the words represented the freedom I should have had the brains and the backbone to acknowledge I needed from the very beginning.

Earhart no doubt died in a fiery crash (insert your grassy knoll theory here), and Woolf died with her rock-lined pockets in the middle of a stream. Both exited misunderstood, but under their own steam. And both left some sage wisdom behind for those of us who share the restlessness of not fitting. And not wanting to.

September 8, 2009


The Cursing Mommy

There are some of you who may not find this funny.

I do.

Another take on a Mommy Column, from the New Yorker. If you're against gratuitous use of the eff word, give it a miss.

Though I have never, ever had a cocktail before the kiddies were all tucked in for the night, the concept of Make Your Own Goddamned Dinner Night would probably catch on in most houses I know.

September 7, 2009


Live@5:30 Monday

Ah...teaching kids about sex.

Join us on CHCH Live@5:30, repeat at 11:30.

September 4, 2009


Crabby Bitch

Grrrrrrrrr. Having one of those days. I took my minivan in for an oil change, told my WonderMechanics to please check the brakes - they were nagging and pulsing.

"Hmmm. You need new rotors," said Jim. I stared blankly at him. The stupid van has 40,000km on it. 40,000. I haven't liked the whole van more than about an inch in the whole 2 and a half years we've had it, but now I sincerely hated it.
"Are you kidding me? Rotors at 40K?" I yelped.
"Take it to the dealer. Might be warranty," he told me. The dealer is around the corner, so I came home and called them. I took it right up (which surprised me; usually there is a wait, and the reason I won't do OLFs with them is because they insist on keeping it for the whole day, and frankly, I refuse to be without my vehicle for an entire day while they perform a service that takes half an hour.)

I explained that it had been checked an hour before, and apparently the rotors were pooched. I asked about warranty, because 40,000km and needing rotors is vile. I've had some cars that didn't need brake work of any type (forget rotors) till 80,000km, but no way should I be looking at rotors this soon. Nope. No warranty. I gaped at him. He said he'd charge me 50 bucks to check what I'd just told him; I told him to write up his estimate, assuming it needed each step. And then I called Jim and said I'd be bringing it back to him.

I'm recognizing the heat of this particular fume. The last time was when I had a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo years ago, and the brakes were fried at 20,000km. Driving styles heavily dictate how long brakes will last; I'm incredibly easy on my vehicles, so I take fried brakes personally. And hands down, I do 90% of the driving of my van.

Ever notice how a foul mood settles over the rest of your day like soot? I keep seeing ads for a new romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock. I think she's okay. But in this movie, it looks like she's 20 years too old for the part. Bumbling, desperate freak in stupid outfits. Stop making this crap.

It's grocery shopping day. I hate grocery shopping. And right when I got back from the mechanics, the bank called me and said my debit card had been compromised. Which means I have to replace it. I just replaced it 3 weeks ago, when it was apparently compromised while I used it in the Yukon. I am starting to take all this compromising personally.

Ari is on the football team this year. He brought home his equipment yesterday. Not only do they not clean it from the year before, it seems this uniform was one of the ones used by the teams when I went to Central. In 1976. I made him pull it apart, and we stuffed all of it - including pads - into the washing machine. I put in too much soap, turned it to hot, and prayed the decades of dirt and smell weren't the only thing holding it together.

Christopher is playing football too. He'll be bringing home his uniform next week. Yay.

Every night, I hear a cat snickering up a hairball, somewhere in the house. Every morning, I creep around looking for the landmine, hoping to find it with my eyes and not my feet. I finally decided we need to brush the fluffy girl more often - so last night I grabbed JoJo and started to brush her. She loves this. Usually. There she was, purring away, until she grabbed my hand to help. I now have claw marks all over my right hand. And blood.

I'm trying to buy a new freezer. I want a 10 cubic foot one. I can't find one. So I have to keep chipping the ice off the old one, which is too big, and there are puddles all over the basement floor. And I step in them.

I keep forgetting to buy relish.

As sad as it may seem, I have come to realize there is pretty much nothing better than homemade macaroni and cheese.

I had a coupon for American Eagle, so we could buy the boys' back to school clothes. I got it out yesterday. It expired last week.

The Poor Sod went out for a beer after work yesterday. He got home at 2am. He woke me up, so I punched him. That's 3 nights this week with about 3 hours sleep. Hence the title.

Growl.

September 2, 2009


When Local is Loco

Local politics is fun, fun, fun. Ask anyone. The microcosm of the Real World Machinations that probably runs your city, or one close to you (Vaughn or Aurora,anyone?), is usually the best show in town. Even here in my city, I get to watch a bunch of - for the most part - over-elected, under-accountable nimrods waste my money. My favourite part? Getting a newsletter, that I paid for, telling what they've done for me lately. Think they'd get a damn crick in their elbow reaching for their own backs all the time.

Anyway. Here in Salon is a absolute gem. The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri (why do they do that? I hate that. Kansas City has no business being in Missouri) has a whackaloon for a wife who has turned that city's governmental offices into a total joke. How whacked is she? Sits a desk outside her husband's office after they win the election she campaign chaired for him. Screams "do him real good tonight" into a staffer's phone, to his wife. Gives her 17-year-old son dancing penises as stocking stuffers. Please, you have to read this.

The guy who wrote it is a former newspaper journalist who signed on as Mayor Funkhouser's head of Communications. As such, he had an inside track to the lunacy. Of course reading this, you can't help but come to the conclusion that anyone who sat witness to this mess was aiding and abetting a nutbar, and it begs the question "and you stayed why?". But the answer is in there: this out of control woman called the writer a 'genius'. It's funny how if your ego is being stroked, you're willing to categorize 'insane' as 'sprititual' and 'balls to the wall crazy' as 'effective'.

The Mayor's wife also sent out a Christmas letter from their family. Christmas letters are eye-stabbingly irritating at the best of times, and when your wife has run her train off the track it probably isn't the best of times. She told their Christmas list about his prostate exam. Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a prostate exam. The letter was published by Harpers. Read the letter.

Ah. Local politics.


On The Line

Flip on your TV today from 2-3, on CTS. I'll be on a live show, On The Line, with host Christine Williamson.

'Women and Guilt' they told me is the subject.

Why'd they'd call me? What'd I do? Was it my fault?

September 1, 2009


Yukon Adventures...

...are up! Webgod Jeff got all snazzy...I'm just gonna sit here and relive it.


Texas & The Death Penalty - You Decide

I have a theory (yes, I can hear you. I have a theory for everything). When times get tough, people get mean. We're witnessing it all around us, especially in the U.S. where the rabid right are agitating many seniors into rallying around opposing changes to the healthcare system by gently explaining that if things are changed, they, the seniors, will no longer have coverage, because it will all be given to horrible, lazy, welfare bums, who are probably all just illegal immigrants in the first place.

This the original Fear Factor. And when people perceive they are in the midst of loss - especially economic - they circle the wagons and start shooting.

I'm waiting for another issue to rear soon: the death penalty. Though it's been proven time and again that it is not a deterrent to violent crime, and it's been proven too many times that historically innocent people have been executed (frankly, one is too many), there are still those who staunchly believe their judgment is above all else, and it's okay to kill people. As a child, I too remember thinking the death penalty made sense. Then I grew up a little, got some education, and learned it's dubious at best, criminal at worst. But, wouldn't want to overload the righteous with too much common sense. Nor deny fear based politicians a surefire vote getter when people are desperate to blame someone, anyone, for their situation.

Anyway. Enough. You have to read this excellent piece from the New Yorker. A young man sentenced to die for killing this 3 baby girls in a house fire. Overwhelming evidence, cut and dried case. Or was it? As we sit and watch show after show full of scientific 'fact', it might behoove us to occasionally look back and see how much science changes as we move forward.

If nothing else, this article should give you pause. Yes, it's long but I guarantee you won't stop reading once you start.

Edit: Good opinion piece on this from the NYT; comments are good too.