April 30, 2010

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

Monday was a blast at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy at Mosport. Sorry, chickadees, but someone has to do it. I'm posting now because tomorrow is being spent at another driving control school - this time with a reader who made me realize that this job can be about more than fast cars and hot men. Well, fast cars, anyway. Look for both stories in the next couple of weeks.

Lots of other good stuff cooking along...time for this girl to push off-road and try some new stuff....I'll check in on Sunday!

April 29, 2010

Movin' To Greece

Yep. You read it here first. I'm packing as we speak, and I will not even require someone else to pay my flight and give me a car when I land.

Ya'll know Greece is in the midst of a fierce economic meltdown. Well, you should know that. In a world full of crazy crashes, after Iceland, Greece - far bigger - is the one teetering and calling everyone else for a loaner till payday. I mean, Iceland was bad (I linked that piece from Vanity Fair on Iceland last year. If you didn't read it, you must. It's totally amazing. Go ahead. We'll wait for you). A population of about 250,000 all driving LandRovers and believing in elves. Goes broke. Go figure.

Anyway. Greece. In order to get their house in order, they have to reveal how it got to be such a mess. Like asking your parents for more allowance, and having to admit why you ran out in the first place. But Greece better do up its seatbelt: these revelations are the best. I mean, seriously awesome.

In Greece, you get a bonus for showing up at work on time. You get a bonus for using a computer. I can manage that. Not the on time part, but the computer? Check. They issued monthly salaries to workers. 14 of 'em. That's right. 14 monthly salaries every year.

UNMARRIED OR DIVORCED DAUGHTERS GET THEIR DEAD PARENTS PENSIONS. Oh man, of all the sexist, ignorant, chauvinistic, paternalistic rules, this is just the best. No, really. It's the best. I'm moving there with my father's death certificate right next to my passport.

Taxis, restaurants and hairdressers are legally allowed to extort money from you in December and call it a 'Christmas present'. Legally. Wouldn't that save the hassle of gritting your teeth and wondering just how much of a tip you have to leave Happy the Bumbling Clown Waiter just because there's a spray snow covered plastic wreath around the candle on your table?

In a whirl of happymaking that means everyone gets a job (like Oprah giving away cars), they have committees. Lots and lots of committees. They have a committee for a lake. That dried up 80 years ago.

Employees of the union strangleheld airline all fly for free, anywhere they want. So do their families, because how much fun is it to spend your spare 2 months pay on your own? And from what I hear, there are tons and tons of single women on those flights, happy to stay single so they can keep collecting their dead father's pension.

I hear Greece is nice this time of year. Anyone want to join me?

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April 25, 2010

Are Male Athletes Wife Beaters?

A column in today's Star by Garth Woolsey meanders around that question, sorta.

Some Pennsylvania guy murdered his wife after his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins lost the Ottawa Senators in triple overtime the other night. Apparently, to sports fans, there is a joke in here somewhere. I'll be right back; I'm still looking for it.

This leads to the question of whether male athletes are more prone to acts of domestic violence in their private lives; some think they are over-represented, and that raises the question of how they deal with anger or rage.

I've known several pro athletes over the years. If any of them had laid a hand on his wife, I would have called the police myself. Are they somewhat spoiled? Sure. Can they be demanding? Of course. But unless there is drug or alcohol abuse involved, I don't know that they seem anymore unruly than a regular guy. And that's the point here: Mr. Penguin Lover was no athlete - he was a frustrated hockey fan. An unemployed miserable guy who banged in his wife's head with a hammer then set the house of fire to cover it up. This had as much to do with sports as it did xylophones.

There are a lot of high profile male athletes who have been arrested for domestic abuse. Why do we know? Because of that 'high profile'. For some reason, we care more about a guy who earns 9 million a year that we will never meet than we do about someone living down the street. High profile model Naomi Campbell hits people in the head with phones. I think that's pretty abusive too.

It's been my experience that people who have an outlet - a sport or a hobby - are more likely to be balanced in other areas of their life. It's more likely those who sit around slugging back beers and screaming at their wife for nagging them to get a job who get tipped into murderous motion when the only thing they're living for - a professional team of men who probably don't sit around in their underwear living their life with a remote in one hand a beer in other - disappoints them.

I don't know the facts of that case, any more than I know if Elin Woods took a wedge to her lying husband's noggin.

What I do know is that domestic violence isn't funny, regardless of whether it plays out in the headlines or under the radar.

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April 24, 2010

Here's Your Perspective For The Day...

Ran across this column in the Timesonline.

I don't usually link stuff from columnists who blather on about their own lives. Heh heh heh.

But this really is an extraordinary piece, especially if you're sitting around bitching about which kid lost their house key, and who ate all the chips.

Stop for a moment and consider how fast something like this could happen to you.

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April 22, 2010

Sex Offender Pardons

Getting a little punted around today in the Letters to the Editor for my Monday column on criminal reference checks and pardoned sex offenders.

Sorry, not going to back off this one. My mail tells me I'm not crazy, and at the very least, the rulings need to be clarified. Check out this article and this one, and then go here. The letter takes issue with me noting that pardons are handed out like tissues. Our prime minister admits that 99% of pardons requested are granted. That's not some kind of sure thing? Really?

Am I on a witchhunt? Hardly. Can people get through the screening process? Yes. And my mail after that column proves it. I heard from people were flabbergasted that they hadn't been required to provide criminal checks - of any kind - before being handed over to a class of kids in a sport that many of your kids participate in. No, not a school board extracurricular, but an independent discipline. I heard the same from two different areas of the province.

I heard a lot about the lack of checks on teachers who have been teaching for a long time - and in some cases, passed around from board to board as known abusers protected by the system. Sound familiar? I heard from victims of abuse. And yes, as the letter states, most abusers are within families. But do you really think they limit themselves to family members?

Parents should always be free to ask questions. And they should know exactly what to ask, because the optics of this law are not clear. And quite frankly, if someone like Graham James gets pardoned, I am not buying into the theory that pardons are hard to get and well deserved. He went on to coach young hockey players in Spain after admittedly abusing players here hundreds of times. This is a safe pardon system? This is a system that I'm not allowed to question?

Forget it. People who victimize children will go to any extreme to get close to kids. Sorry if I hurt your feelings by checking out who are before I hand my kid over to you to learn karate or piano.

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April 18, 2010

Breakfast Television - Monday

For any of you early risers, tune into CityTV's Breakfast Television - the morning show that runs from 6-9.

I'll be on talking cars, but in the fun, informative way I have about me. I'm just hoping I have it about me at 6:30am. Not sure what time the segment will be on, but tune in and wave. And if I look sleepy, it's because I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning.

I dunno how these early morning host-type people do it.

Behind The Story, CTS 7pm

I like doing this show, Behind the Story. It flies a little under the radar, as many faith-based networks do. But they're now in Calgary and Edmonton as well as Ontario, and I participate in a couple of current event shows they produce.

Host Richard Landau keeps things moving well; there is usually a good cross section of opinions at the table. Today's show unnerved me a little. I admit it. A fellow guest stunned me with her opinion. I've heard a lot of things over the years but her take on pedophilia, homosexuality and the RC church stopped me in my tracks. It'll be on at 7, or up on the attached link later in the week.

Still shaking my head.

April 14, 2010

CHCH Live@5:30 Wednesday

Kids and bullying...getting worse?

Join us live at 5:30, repeat at 11:30 on CHCH TV11....

Big Bag 'O Dirt

You know what kind of morning it is? I hesitated over whether or not to capitalize the 'O' in that title. Sigh.

I need to call for one of those big bags of dirt you see plopped on people's driveways. It may seem crazy or suburban to buy dirt, but I have a lot of planters and it you put new plants in old dirt, it's like having a shower and then putting your grungy clothes back on. Oh, stop frowning. You've done it. When you unexpectedly stayed over somewhere, back in your wild days, or when your luggage was lost. It's nasty, even if it's your dirt. And if you have to comb your hair with your fingers, it just gets worse.

Anyway. Dirt. I learned it's cheaper to have one of those bombs delivered, instead of trying to truck home a hundred little bags. Our grass is looking scraggly as all get out, again, so we're going to have to do something to shore that up to. Just so you know, after I put grass seed down, I'll be praying for rain when you are all begging for sun. We'll see who is more loved.

I have been sick. Big sick. After 3 months of burning myself out on writing and working on that civic committee, last week I woke up with my throat seized shut and a fever that made me think I was having my first hot flash. A hot flash that lasted 12 hours. Because my body believes in pain buddies, it sent in a migraine on Day Two, to hold hands with the strep. I rarely get sick; I never get sick enough to go to bed. I was flat out for three days. If I was living in Little House on the Prairie times, I was so sick they would have called for the minister instead of the doctor.

I could hear the fear in the boys' voices. "Do you think she's going to be okay?" one would ask, nervously. "Yes, I'm sure, don't worry," came the reply. "Do you think she's going to be okay by dinner?"

So in spite of the brilliant sunshine and the soaring temperatures, I've been all manner of crankypants. I had to go to IKEA yesterday, which caused a friend to suck in her breath in fear. "Do you have a plan?" she asked. I assured her I did, it was a strict in -and- out mission. "You know you're just gonna end up standing in line for an hour and a half holding a package of serviettes. You know that, right?" She was close.

I had to buy a new printer. I loathe buying new printers. We stood in Staples, believing the sale signs which we know are really bogus. I thought I'd be scooping up a fifty buck printer. Maybe a no-name extra ink cartridge. I try not to print much. I'm cheap. My Dad would be proud. Instead, I stood gazing adoringly at a printer, real price 170, on sale for 99, that apparently will print, fold, mutilate and do my ironing. And because printers only come with enough ink in them to get you excited but never enough to finish the job - Foreplay Cartridges - I had to fork over another 45 bucks for a cartridge - 'sorry, no store brand available for this printer' - I will no doubt put in upside down or with the little tab still attached and cuss when it doesn't work. I hate printers.

I hate TV shows where people I rarely, barely or never have heard of prance around and look like arses. Rosie DiManno, a fellow scribe at the Star, took a piece out of a little bimbarino who is prancing. Erin Andrews is a sports reporter who was viley filmed by a peeping tom while she was in hotel rooms. Terrifying and horrendous. She is now duking it out with death threats and stalkers, all because she is a young, attractive woman. I don't know if she's any good as a reporter; until the peeping thing I'd never heard of her. But now she's shaking her booty on that Dancing Show. And Rosie has called her out as having questionable judgment. And I agree with Rosie.

Various other outlets in the States have predictably called out Rosie for speaking the truth. Called her jealous and ugly. How do you get from here to there? This woman has suffered through a horrible experience she in no way deserved, yet her answer is to fling her barely clad body around a ballroom dance floor on TV to prove she is still.....a sports reporter? Get dressed, do your job, and quit playing pretend in an effort to prove you're real.

I don't watch that show. But my sister has taken to sending me links the next day because that Kate Gosselin woman is also 'dancing'. She of the billion children and little eunuchy husband who may or may not have a penis as big as my thumb, depending on who you believe. Anyway. This woman can barely walk, let alone dance. Her partner drags her around and the only thing it reminds me of is when I haul the dead Christmas tree to the curb every January. And her expression? Death. Mean death. I'm wildly awaiting Kate doing the Bitey Rumba.

While I was sick, the Poor Sod went for groceries. I was too sick to even make a list, but he shops with me a lot, so how tough can it be? This is what he brought home: milk; 4 jugs of orange juice; fish sticks (which we don't buy); 2 bags of cookies (which we also don't buy - he said that would explain why we were low on them); 2 packages of poppyseed bagels, which nobody likes; 3 packages of pastrami, because nitrites are our friend; bananas; hummus; more lettuce, because we only had 2; 4 boxes of soup for the long cold summer ahead; all these weird crackers that I won't buy. Yep. We're good for another week.

I'll be on CH later today. I better go practice smiling.

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April 9, 2010

My Family Laughs At Me

I like to cry at TV. No, I don't sometimes find myself crying at something unexpectedly; I purposely watch stuff that makes me cry. If you want to see big waterworks, just sit down with me 'n Maggie when we watch our Meerkats, and one of them dies. Maggie passes me a tissue.

I use that ridiculous Extreme Home Makeover show for the same reason. It's a terrible show; truly. But I know it will be edited so that I will be in a flood of tears in the first five minutes, and then then in the last ten. I usually only watch those parts. Seeing Ty Pennington's craggy, lived in annoying face I can do without. And watching the 'design team' waltz around in custom, pristine work wear just makes me laugh. Oh, how that makes me laugh. All these sweaty grunty people in the background actually working, and the 'stars' of the show creating star-shaped headboards for a 6-year-old who will apparently never be growing up. Which of course is part of the whole idea: a dying kid gets the best ratings, right next to a war vet, preferably young, preferably with 8 kids (of whom 6 are adopted).

I made Ari watch with me one night. A couple with 2 kids had a crappy-but-okay house on a bunch of acres. As they poked around pointing out the bad stuff - crumbly mortar, uneven floors, leaky faucets - I just shrugged. I have all that, but without the acres. These people were living like veritable kings in my book. Ari asked what was wrong with them. "Shhhhhhhhhh," I told him. "They haven't told us yet." I waited to hear what rare disease the son had, or that the mother had a genetic disorder that would soon have her in a wheelchair. Nope. And the father had a job, the kids each had both legs, and nobody was being poisoned by asbestos in the house they lived in.

Didn't matter. "You're goin' to Disneyworld!" shouted the most annoying man on TV. Seriously. He's worse than the Shamwow guy. Anyway. Off they go (and, for the record? I consider Disneyworld a punishment. Shudder) and sure enough, their other house gets ripped down and a new Poshy McPoshville is erected instead.

When this show first started, they'd just tart the place up a bit. Then things got silly, and now everyone needs 6 burner stove, restaurant fridges and kitchens big enough to hold a square dance in. It's insane. I also have a problem with much of the stuff they do being done like crap - things like foundations have to cure.

Anyway. Right on cue with the housing market tumbling, many of these Extreme Mansions have come back to bite their 'lucky' recipients in the butt. The big surprise for many of them? Your tax bill is calculated on the value of your house. If you go from sleeping on a pullout and peeing in a bucket out back to a home theatre and a hottub that seats 12, guess what? You're doomed.

And I can tell you for real, utilities for a one bathroom-and-3 bedroom- abode are slightly less than a 5,000 square foot Sears catalogue. Just slightly.

Because of all this, the show says it's going back to more modest makeovers. They should call me. I have a ton of suggestions for them that would avoid all this bad press.

They could come to my house and just clean it. The transformation would be mind-boggling, they wouldn't have to send me anywhere, and my tears would be real.

April 5, 2010

Dumb of the Day

I'd trademark that if I could. So much dumbness to be noted, so little time.

I just read a headline that said 'Tiger's Toughest Test: The Media'. Really? I don't think so. So Tiger Woods is going to play golf again. So? So there will be a huge press conference and apparently, the toughest thing for poor Tiger will be handling the press questions.

Ferchristsakes, people. Who cares? He's a golfer! Where he puts his club matters little to me. When a guy has been boffing strippers and hostesses with abandon, I would think the only person who should really care is his wife, who thus far has shut her mouth, which makes me love her. Her silent treatment is perfect. That stupid bastard must be roasting on hot coals morning, noon and night.

But in the fallout of all of this nonsense, I'm again left wondering why anybody else cares. Tiger Woods' behaviour is not the butterfly wing flapping across the world that causes a tsunami in my world. It just isn't. And even if you love golf and idolize Tiger, does any of this even matter? Unless he stopped playing for good (golf), this is a zero impact thing. I mean, if Elin had managed to connect a little more effectively with the club she was brandishing, and Tiger was missing an arm or something, then, yeah, I can understand this being an issue.

But as far as I know, she didn't even remove the part that led him into all this. He will still play, he will still be good, he will still make lots of money, and she will hopefully relieve him of much of it. But I still won't like golf, I still won't be sleeping with Tiger Woods, and I still won't care.

The front page of my paper has Tiger above the fold. Garbage. Beneath the fold? Real stuff. Food banks running on empty, while our green bins and garbages are still heavy. Give that a think, people. The National Parole Board apparently pardoned the pig who sexually abused young hockey players, including Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury. PARDONED. And in keeping with the sex criminals theme, lots of people are fine with letting the Vatican scoot around the vexing problem of priests who believe young boys are part of their per diem, or whatever they call it in Religionworld.

Make Tiger Woods private life go away.

April 1, 2010

April Fools, Have a Penguin

I'm stealing this from Cathal Kelly at The Star. He wrote a ten best April Fool's jokes piece, and this is by far the best.

From Discover Magazine, in 1995. They claimed to have discovered a mole-like animal that bore through the ice with its head and ate penguins. Read the whole bit, with the letters that came after it. Love it. A San Francisco zoo trying to get its hands on one of the creatures, but enquiring if it can be fed something other than penguin.

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The Effects of ColdFX

Against my doctor's opinion, I have decided that that ColdFX stuff actually might work. I took it a month back, and my cold went away *fast*. The fact I never get colds has nothing to do with it. I felt that little itchy scratchy beginning of a cold, and I was about to go to Spain, and I would have swallowed glass shards if they came in a little pack that said 'take 3 twice a day, then 2 twice a day, then 1 twice a day', and came in a little blister pack that even a monkey could work.

The Poor Sod tried them. They seemed to work for him too. He gets colds. Way more than I do. I will do anything to stop his colds because he snores like a freight train even when he doesn't have a head full of snot.

Now, this fancy shmancy stuff costs a lot. Like, 15 bucks on sale for the 3 day regime. It's just vitamin stuff. But it didn't turn me orange or make my ears ring, so I figure it's okay. When it's not on sale, it's about 20 bucks. With a cold heading into the Poor Sod's head the other day, and me knowing my front hall will never be finished if he goes down sick, I figured it was time for the FX. As I stared at the shelf at Shoppers, I glanced at the Life brand FX. I buy lots of Life brand stuff. Most of it is made by the branded manufacturer anyway. I forget how I know this, but I used to do a lot of work with Procter & Gamble, so I'm sure I know it for a reason.

Anyway. I'm looking at the standard 3 day treatment pack. 12 capsules. Which probably contain gelatin, but be quiet. Then I notice a big party pack of the stuff. Hmmm. I do the math, and realize it's far cheaper to buy the party pack, and hope that the Poor Sod gets more colds before the expiry date. That sounds bad. Anyway.

I get home and stare at this ColdFX package, and get that frowny look on my face. The whole point of this thing is to take the 12 pills religiously. The party pack has 45 pills in it. I'll wait, while you do the math.

I HATE THIS. This is like the single piece of lasagna that is leftover when I make lasagna. This is the Special K dust in the bottom of the box that nobody will eat. This is the one egg, the 4 different salad dressing bottles with half an inch in each, the 5 stale Triscuits and the two freezer burned hamburger patties. This is the shampoo bottle standing on its head; the kleenex box that has been kicked around a slushy van all winter; the lime in the basket that resembles a wizened troll testicle.



We're through. Whatever idiot sat at the planning sessions and said 'ha, ha! Now we'll get 'em! They'll have to buy another box!', no. We were already buying the big box. Now, we will buy Life brand. Or nothing. Ditching a cold is less stressful than letting some stupid company manipulate people who are already standing in a drug store at 11 at night wearing pajama bottoms and Ugg boots.

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