January 31, 2010


SmartAss


Back last night. We went to a natural Hot Springs in Liard National Park in waaaaaaaay Northern B.C. You trudge in a long planked walk through the forest. It's pitch black, there is nobody there but you (we went in two Mercedes SUVs). You change in freezing little changerooms by flashlight, then you have to walk through to the stairs in flipflops. All covered in a foot of snow. The trees surround the springs, all loaded with snow and ice. And there are no lights anywhere except moonlight, reflected on all the snow. The springs are so hot in places you have to move around. Absolutely amazing. Thought I'd include a pic of some of us warming up afterwards.

What an amazing trip. I'm writing it up today, so it'll run The Star on Saturday. But I have lots of pics and lots of stories.

More later.

January 24, 2010


So Many Things You Never Needed To Know

I have been a terrible blogger lately. I know that. But it is not that I have nothing to say, it's just trying to find the time, or, knowing me, managing the time better.

I found out a couple of weeks back that I would be heading to Kelowna tomorrow. I will leave Kelowna in a SmartCar and spend 4 days driving to Whitehorse. I'm going back to the Yukon! This makes me very happy. After my trip there in July, I was desperate to get back there in winter. But as you may recall, I left in an RV. I will be going back in a SmartCar. In January.
Inuvik, but my boss will be taking the car from Whitehorse and I fly home. It'll be a crazy, tiring week, and I can't wait.

But before you can disappear for a week, planets have to be aligned. The boys (and the Poor Sod) are fine when I go - they barely notice. But I like to load in food and leave the laundry done. I keep loading in food, and they keep eating it. I have to check for dentists appointments and exam schedules and leave notes. I wrongly believe the world grinds to a halt in my absence. This is not so, but I think it is.

I usually file columns on Mondays. This means two additional columns had to be filed in advance. Which means they had to be written. This is doable. But I'm also on a committee here in Burlington that will launch on Monday - the day I leave. I'm the Communications Director, which means in a matter of weeks, we've produced a website, developed a communications plan, and organized press releases. It's an important committee - we plan to talk to as many residents of Burlington (pop: 165,000) as we can in the next few short weeks, and be able to tell politicians what we have heard.

You know what a committee is right? You've heard that joke about a camel is a horse designed by a committee? I'm working with some fabulous people, but you also know I ain't much of a team player. A final meeting yesterday saw me absolving myself of any blame for the coming week. "No internet," I lied. I don't think they'll miss me, to tell the truth.

So. Going to meetings all the time. That's new for me. Going to Mark's Warehouse and buying flannel lined jeans is also new. I finally opened the travel docs for the trip, and realized I can only take carry-on. Dunno what I was thinking - we're traveling for days in a SmartCar ferchrisakes. I purposely peeked at one while in Detroit. This will be an experience.

At Mark's, Ari saw me come out of a change room.
"You're really going to wear those?" he asked me. I hadn't even asked "does my bum look big in these?" I knew. And now it was confirmed. I also bought these puffy, warm socks. I already have a good coat from when they sent me to Sweden. In January.

I whined to my editor that I'm always on ice floes. "Oh, well, why didn't you say so?" he asked innocently. "I just turned down trips to, lemme see, Rio de Janeiro - you don't speak Spanish, Capetown, you'd get tired from the long (business class) flight, Madrid - no, you'd complain about the junky airport, Miami and Phoenix - far too dangerous for someone as sensitive as you"

CTS called and asked if I could tape a show on Friday. Oh sure, I said. What's an hour of time for a show? I forgot the hours of time to cram on current events behind the show. A national magazine contacted me this week, wanting a parenting piece. This makes me very happy, and I jumped at the chance. "When's your deadline?" I asked. It's for the April issue. "Uhm, Friday the 29th," she said. I heard her duck. I said I'd have it done before I went away. I'm working on it as we speak.

Because everyone thinks I don't really work hard, none of this is making a dent, I know. But I started getting a cold on Tuesday. I never get colds. I pictured me in the Yukon, in a SmartCar filled with Kleenex. I asked my doctor if that ColdFX stuff works. She said no. I bought it anyway. It worked.

I had to pick up new glasses. They were ready, which was great. I noticed on Thursday I was getting a sty in my eye. At least the cold was going. I freaked out and started trying to treat the sty. I now pictured being in the Yukon in a SmartCar with a patch over one eye. Wearing pants that make my ass look a mile wide.

Today, I have my columns written. The TV show is in the can (Behind the Story, 7pm, CTS tonight). The magazine article is awaiting a final interview this morning (yes, Sunday) at 11 with a guy in Texas. There is a pile of fat pants on the bed sitting beside a tiny suitcase. I sent a kid to find my magic wand. I think I've wrestled the sty under control and the cold.

Lookout, Yukon. I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

January 19, 2010


Candy Icebergs

Wow. More gorgeous pictures today. These icebergs are spectacular, and the colours are formed by layer freezing at different points.


The Real Urban Jungle

A really fascinating sideshow of the urban decay as nature reclaims the remains of buildings in various parts of the U.S. You can probably witness similar scenes in any city - but the stages depicted here, from Slate magazine, are really arresting.

January 16, 2010


Booth Babes

While my mail has been overwhelmingly positive to today's column in the Star, the comments on the site have been a little more mixed, to put it kindly.

At the auto show in Detroit, I was dismayed to see an increase in women wearing weeny little outfits to display the cars. The flavour of the month is apparently thigh high stiletto boots and skirts that would have a hard time covering a toddler's bum.

Let me be straight: beautiful girls are wonderful to look at. But in a setting like this, which is about launching new product and bringing journalists up to date, I don't get it. Most of these girls can't even tell you what they're rubbing up against. It's a gig, but I have a tough time with a booth littered with people who don't know anything about the product I'm trying to learn about.

I'm dismayed that the ratio of female executives is probably 50/50 now. I'm dismayed that something as basic as respect seems to be swept up and away. Many of the journos themselves have daughters they would never in a million years let do this kind of thing. They know what some of these men say about these girls. And they are girls; and there is nothing remotely attractive about some old slob 3 times their age saying some of the things we overheard. Does it bug everyone? No. But it bugs me.

Here's an interesting link to a piece my colleague, Nika Rolczewski wrote awhile back. Read to the final line.


If You Only Read One Thing Today...

...read this. From Vanity Fair and A.A. Gill, who I love anyway, but this short bit on Scotland is a gem.

It'll only take you a few minutes, but I loved it.


The Gift That Keeps On....

...well, I guess it depends on your perspective. Herpes and cell phones are gifts that keep on taking. But Sarah Palin? Oh, she's right up there with Word-Of-The-Day or Jam-Of-The-Month club. Her bon mots are media gifts that keep on giving.

She even had Bill O'Reilly rolling his eyes on Fox, her new home, the other day. He asked her which of the founding fathers was her favourite. Now, here's a list to cheat from for you: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Every American kid (and most Canadian ones) can name you a bunch of them. They're sprinkled on the money and parked in nearly every damned story every told about American history.

Her answer? "Well, all of them." Wasn't that her answer when Katie Couric asked her what magazines she reads? I really need to get a go-to answer like that. Save a lot of time. And a lot of learnin'. Gail Collins' column in the NYT gets to the heart of the Republican wordsmithing here.

I've been trying to put my finger on who it is Palin reminds me of, with her dog-ate-my-homework, deer-in-the-headlight answers. Maybe I'll just call them Wild Kingdom answers. And here it is, in a link send to me from a friend this morning: Bart Simpson.

SARAH PALIN IS BART SIMPSON!

Now, that would be cool, except Bart has been with us for over 20 years, and he's never changed. He's still 10. He still makes stuff up as he goes along. But Bart is smarter than Sarah: he has someone else write his script.

January 14, 2010


Lakeshore Public School

This week's Motherlode was about my old school, Lakeshore Public.

I've had some mail into my Blame it on Lorraine contact asking where the school is.

It's in Burlington, on Lakeshore east of Brant Street. Thanks for all the great notes from people who attended in years past.

January 13, 2010


John & Elizabeth & Rielle & Truth

Ah. You don't know what you don't know. Until an book like this appears.

Everyone followed the John and Elizabeth Edwards saga(s)shocked. Well, maybe. Hard to shock most of us anymore. But the whole ridiculous personal sideshow of a one-time presidential (maybe) candidate showed off a side of him that made his 400 buck haircut look quaint. Nothing like a cancer-stricken devoted wife squaring off with a crazy-eyed pregnant mistress to distract the voters.

They'd rolled the family tragedy thing into a tight ball of tear-provoking pieces in every form of media you can name. A killed oldest son, a terminal cancer diagnosis for a woman who has stood by her man and children while building her own career and only looking haggard after chemo, well, hell. You can't write this stuff.

Of course the revelation that John the Shmuck had fathered a kid on the side, with a woman who he had glued to his side for months and months ("If you have a secret, hide it right out in the open!" errr, maybe not)only added to the star power and dignity of Saint Elizabeth.

With the release of this book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime), lots of nasty stuff tumbling out of the laundry. And yes, it's salacious as hell. Whaddya expect?

I've long said you know nothing about a marriage unless you are one of the people within it. And I mean one of the two people. And even then, well, you don't know everything. Why is so surprising when those we've pictured wearing halos end up having feet of clay?

Terrific read I've linked from an excerpt in New York Magazine. It'll take you fifteen minutes or so, but it's great.

January 12, 2010


Detroit City

Of course, truly Motor City this time every year. Got back from the auto show late last night. Which yes, means I bailed early. But in just three years, this show has shrunk incredibly. And deking early doesn't seem such a crime.

Nika
and I drove down in a Mazda Tribute she managed to mooch for us (thanks, Mazda!), with snow tires. Last year, I drove down with my editor in a Mercedes in a raging snow storm - no snow. He made me drive; he let us nearly run out of gas. Oh forget it. Read the link.

This year, two crazy women hit the road for the near 4 hour drive. It flew by - what can I say, women yak.

We stay in Windsor, and have to boot it through the tunnel at 7 in the frigid morning. I sleep like crap in hotels, and by the time the wake up call came at 6 I reckon I'd had a solid half hour of sleep. And it showed.

Another colleague, Brian Early (Bright 'n Early) had a 2010 Camaro, so he drove us over. The border guard asked so many questions about the car I swear I could have been Osama bin Laden peering out of the back seat screaming 'Canadian' and he would have let us through.

The show is always cool, though the freebies have gone the way of the dodo. We were each responsible for coming up with a Top Ten list - and before we could even start to fight about topics, Richardson said 'and no lists of what you miss'. Sigh. No massages, no shoe shines, no sushi bars, no booze bars opening at 10am, no spectacular Dodge boozeups....had a decent cappuccino or three, but rest assured, your tax dollars are no longer going to the journos.

I'm tired, and filing stuff like crazy, so this is it for now. But if you have a favourite new car you want to see, ask and I'll see if I have a pic. I took a bunch...

January 6, 2010


Prorogue the Columnist w/edit

I think it is only right that I tell my readers - both of you - that I'm taking some time off. I'm not quitting; I still expect to be paid, but I will be hiding out until, let's say, March 3rd.

That's the safety margin to get the Olympics out of the way. We all know how hard it is to work when you have to set your alarm for odd times to catch the Kazakhstan/Namibia men's hockey game. Or to stay up late to catch the snowboard finals featuring kids who get kicked out of malls the rest of the year.

And it's hard to concentrate with the McDonald's commercials that blast the whole time the games are on. And yes, damn it, I do want an egg mcmuffin every time they hold one up. Of course I can't work under those circumstances. You have an egg mcmuffin, a couple of those little hash brown things and you're ready to climb back into bed.

The cool part, of course, is that I'll just sneak into your houses at night and nick a fiver out of your purses and wallets. I mean, I still need to get paid, and there's no reason it shouldn't come from your pockets. But don't worry; I'll sneak it and you won't notice.

A few deadlines may come and go during this two month period, but that can't be helped. Valentine's Day will just have to occur without a sobby column from me about being dumped. While it's true that atrocities in the war on my heart are worth noting and reporting on, sometimes there are more important things to consider. Like why they still let Don Cherry on national TV.

The beauty of this decision really lies in its execution. I can just declare it; like a big ol' declarer. Save your wailing and complaining. You don't have a say in this kind of thing. When I signed up for this job, I knew I had it for life, and nobody could tell me how to do it. Nobody. And if I want to take a mighty break, say, prorogue my career as it were, for two months for no damned good reason, then there's nothing you can do about it.

Right?

Oops. I'm getting mail that people think I'm buggering off for two months. I'm just poking fun at our ridiculous Canadian government led by the fearless - and brainless - Stephen Harper proroguing parliament. Sorry folks - I ain't going anywhere!