May 31, 2010

Why Do Women Buy So Many Damned Shoes?

New letter is up in Blame it on Lorraine, link to the left. Where the little red letters say 'new'.


Mulroney's Baloney

The problem with cases that take so long to wend their way through the courts is they eventually worm their way out of our consciousness. That is a bad thing, especially when the issue at hand is whether the former Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, had his palm greased by a slimy German-Canadian arms lobbyist named Karlheinz Schreiber.

While there are many telling factors at play here (like Mulroney 'telling' a court hearing that he had 'coffee' with Schreiber, but nothing more, like Mulroney 'telling' the Canadian government he would accept $2M to settle a suit where he said they had damaged his reputation by accusing him of his Swiss holdings - which, uhm, was true. Can I have my money back?) perhaps the most telling is this one: Schreiber said he paid Mulroney $300,000. Mulroney argued that he'd only received $225,000.

There's an old saying that's applicable here, Mr. Mulroney. Once we're down to arguing about the price, we've already ascertained what you are.

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May 29, 2010

Ursula Hummel

A couple of months back, I got a letter from a reader. She'd been in a car collision three years ago, and had had her confidence trashed. It was getting worse and worse. She read my Yukon piece, and when she saw that I'd ditched the Smart Car with a logging truck coming at me, she wrote and asked if I could help her. She'd noted I said I had a bunch of advanced driver training.

A couple of weeks ago, Ursula and I spent the day at Ian Law's Advanced Driver Training School. She started out terrified; she ended the day with a huge smile. It was a great step forward, and the piece should be of interest to anyone who has experienced anything from hesitation to flat out fear getting back behind the wheel after an accident. Read the feature here; I'm really proud of Ursula.

If you've ever wondered what these sessions entail, here's a cool Youtube clip of Ursula going through the complete course at the end of the day. It was filmed by Bob & Shelley, two instructors from another school. If they email me, I'll put their school up!

Thanks to Ian and all his instructors, especially Candy Calder. And thanks to Ursula for being brave enough to grab this problem by the horns and do something about it. She's made herself a better driver.

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May 28, 2010

Danny Deckchair

This story of some guy who tied balloons to his chair and flew for 5 hours reminded me of one of my favourite movies - a little Australian one called Danny Deckchair.

I love Australian movies. The Dish, Rabbitproof Fence, Muriel's Wedding...and Danny Deckchair.

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Batten Down the Hatches

I don't have any hatches, actually. I don't think. But the Hurricane Naming Place of the World has released what they will be calling hurricanes for 2010.

Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, and Walter.

Dunno about you, but Hurricane Walter might make me giggle first. And Hurricane Earl. Not the fierce kinds of names I would be looking for, especially for winds that twirl cows around in the air. But at least they don't play that nonsense of 'oh, we'll have to meet it first to decided what we're going to name it. We don't believe in naming something before we've gotten to know his or her true being'.

I think they should just call 'em all Hurricane Lorraine and be done with it.

May 27, 2010

Getcher Fun Hats On

My sister, Roz, sends me stupid little links all the time. They're usually to weird sites where I have to go find brain bleach after I open them, but sometimes it's crazy little news pieces.

Yesterday, she sends me one about someone who covered up a BBQ too soon - it was still hot - and they burned down their house. Or something. I didn't read it. Why? I saw the headline 'BBQ covered too soon' and her comment in the subject line: Something we'll never have to worry about with you. Yeah, I never cover the BBQ. So shoot me. Little Miss Perfect does. And we share a cottage. So, I hear about not covering the BBQ.

Let's play a game: Only one of the following headlines could possibly be about me. Can you guess?

Housewife Overcome by Cleaning Fumes

Burlington Rose Garden Award Goes To Local Woman

Coveted Michelin Star Won By Canadian

Tantalizing Recipe Uses Grass Clippings

New Jogging Club to Meet at 7:00 Each Morning

"Food is More Important Than Shoes," Says Woman

Two Burlington Teens on Mother of the Year Award : "We knew she'd win; that's why we nominated her"

Downtown Woman Busted for Operating Still in Backyard

May 24, 2010

Mercedes Driving Academy...

Not racing academy. We're not allowed to say that. We didn't race. We drove.

Feature is up, here. No comment on the headgear. I mean it.

May 22, 2010

Sunny Long Weekend, My Arse

I had planned on gardening things today. Really. I was going to get in one of the endless lineups to buy dirt and little plants, but instead I slept in and have now sat here watching reruns of the O.C. Don't say it; I know.

Some of you may have taken part in a little blog discussion around here a few days ago. One of the commenters, Sandy, came over a few days ago and gave me a gorgeous bleeding heart and some black eyed Susans. She took a chunk of rhubarb with her. Ari had raised an eyebrow (he does that frequently, wondering why his mother is such an idiot) and said 'what if 'she' is a Hells Angel or something?'. I told him that if a Hells Angel had some nice bleeding hearts and black eyed Susans strapped to his bike, I'd gladly give him some rhubarb. Ari believes I'll get us all killed someday.

I am cautious in regards to that stuff, actually. Webgod Jeff sent me a link a month ago from that Google Snoop thing, that scoots around taking photos of people's houses and businesses. There was a pic of my house, with Webgod's car out front. That's pretty funny, because he only comes here about twice a year. He thought it would start some great rumours. I thought it would just bring Hells Angels out of the woodwork. Though if they had clippings...

I was taping the CTS show Behind the Story yesterday (airs tomorrow at 7pm), and the producer, Tom, was joking that he could narrow down where I live from the mentions I sprinkle in my columns. Yeah, that didn't sound creepy. As the host proceeded to tell him. Heh. To get even, I said the word 'vagina' during the show, knowing that would send the control room into fits of apoplexy. It did. They're leaving it in. I explained it was a proper body part name, and I proceeded to say things I could have said instead. CTS is the religious network. Every time I show up, they start praying. You should watch it, actually. We had a lot of fun. I made fun of Greeks, Germans, Icelanders, Italians, politicians, oil companies, regulatory bodies, engineers, in-laws, some Jesuit newspaper, Conservatives, Liberals, and the drunk who drove the Exxon Valdez up onto the reef. Twenty years ago. Just another day.

My Mercedes Driving Academy piece ran in the Star today, but there's no link on the Wheels site. I dunno why. The captions on the photos were like this: 'Here's Lorraine doing her impression of a Mercedes race car driver'. 'Here's Lorraine trying to impress her race instructor'. Accompanied by the most unflattering photos of all time. You have to wear a balaclava and a helmet when you're driving. It's really an attractive look. Of course, we didn't wear them in the morning, when I looked far cuter. So my editor sent the photog for the afternoon. When I didn't.

I've been having a lot of fun following the story on Sheila Fraser, our Auditor General having politicians try to shut her down for having the audacity to demand to know how they've spent 540 million of our dollars. That's right: everyone except Gilles Doucette, of the Bloc, has refused to cooperate. Lean in a little closer, if you don't mind. Closer. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Sorry. Got a little yelly there. This is beyond appalling. For over a week, the idiots we elect and pay are refusing to 'fess up to how they spend over half a billion tax dollars. Which means exactly one thing: they're spending it all on prostitutes and tiaras. Mark my words. When this finally comes out, I will be closer than most on my prediction. Prostitutes and tiaras.

That photo isn't of Sheila Fraser. It's me,being sporty at the track. Or not. But I can't figure out how to make the pic go to the right spot, so unless Webgod wanders over and fixes it, it'll have to do.

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May 21, 2010

Birth Control Is Just a Click Away!

Bet you won't be able to look away from sh*tmykidsruined. It's even better than Awkward Family Photos. Well, maybe not. But check it out if you have kids, or want to be glad you didn't.

I Think I'm Turning Vietnamese...

....I really think so...

This is a hoot. A while back, I wrote an auto column about how to find a good mechanic. A site in Vietnam has translated the column onto their site. You can read the original here (as if you missed it - heh), but this is fun.

Driving along the Experts: Tips to find a good garage

If you have a car, this is a critical question. It fixed the car of your care. It affects the level of safety, the life of the vehicle and the amount you pay after the car journey home. Like finding a salary and health trust, that relationship can last - and protected - throughout your life.

So how do I find a good garage? Here are the tips of Lorraine Sommerfeld - automotive experts writing about the Toronto Star.
Ask around. See also the best way to advertise for a mechanic. Consult your friends who really believe in these different areas. If you think that your brother-in-law is a wild guy huyenh, ask someone else's answer because he certainly does not make you happy.

Interview. Please go and see how you are welcome. First call, but must come before your car is broken and ask some questions. It will not clean? If it is clean, a good mechanic is always keep your garage clean and organized his tools in a tidy. A computer system is updated regularly as important factors in the care of your vehicle. It will check the car and remind you when something unusual. It helps the work of the garage repair occurs more rapidly and also good for you when prompted at the right time.

Be realistic. You need a garage where you can change the car to be. Ideally, it's near where you live or work. Check the vehicle periodically, often will reduce the costs incurred when the car suddenly having problems, so bond with the garage you trust a certain period of time to bring the car to check. This leads to the next tip.

Development relationship. Let's compare these scenarios. You are driving on the road, it emits squeaks chattering as concrete mixers. You think who is generous to run immediately to help you? As a mechanic guy to ask you often change oil, check your car or sports guy that has any great sports on the program guide on TV car repairs?

Check the waiting room. This place needs a clean and comfortable. It need not be a luxury room with full facilities, but there should be a price for the new magazine and newspaper publishing day.

Glance where workers regularly work. I would expect several things in the car will work with their beloved. A friendly face - a face channel style can have many implications, but the vast majority of those employed are uncomfortable. I want people to work with his car a fun way.

Uniforms - the car will make working with clothes always dirty. A good garage has always provided the labor of their uniforms clean.

Training. This is a two-way street. Please do a little research on your vehicle. You should have a file containing all data collected about it. Please read the manufacturer's instructions (my guess is you retain it, in the bathroom for example), understand the maintenance of the plants (producers and agents is not consistent with each other - do not fill services not necessary), and understand that such things as tires, brakes, and belts are not permanent map. A good mechanic will explain to you how kind they should do with your car before you start. If he refused to clarify things for you, driving away.

Be fair. No one likes to hear bad news. A relationship is going well will lead to best results, because your car will need much more money to maintain over time you use it. While you are making the right questions and consider alternative measures, please pay for the services provided, including whether they are quoted you how to conduct.

Communication, training and prevention. Those are things you should remember when looking for a "doctor" good for your car.

I know it's fallen victim to the Google translater (after it's been through one translation already) but it still made me laugh. And be totally flattered that someone thought it was worth running half a world away.

May 18, 2010

Ah, Margaret.

As many of you know, when I get some letters sent to my blind email at Blame it on Lorraine (I can't trace their point of origin), I sometimes share them here when they don't really fit that category.

A nice one just came in now, from 'Margaret'. While she had the presence of mind to hide behind a veil of anonymity, her tragic lack of manners means I won't clean up her grammar or punctuation - something I regularly do for others.

Dear Lorraine (that line is standardized on the form; I'm sure Margaret would have used a different term):
not a question.
lorraine, you are, by far, the worst "columnist" i've ever had the displeasure of reading.
your stories are supposed to mirror real life, but they are obviously made up. the alarm story in the star? a cop just shrugging his shoulders and letting someone walk into a house that could potentially have a burgler in it? improbable and unlikely.
do us all a favour and stop "writing." your style is pedestrian and you have nothing relevant to say.

Ah, dear Margaret. No, I don't make stuff up. I don't have to. And yes, once the cops have pretty much determined nothing is amiss, that is exactly what they do when a person on the call list shows up. At least I guess they do, because that's what happened.

But Margaret? Contrary to your request that I stop writing, I am going to encourage you to continue. I love seeing someone spell burglar like that; it reminds me of the Hamburgler in the McDonald's ads from when I was a kid. Oh, and Margaret? Spellcheck is your friend.

May 17, 2010

Red Dead Redemption

For the first time EVER I want to play a video game. The boys just may be kicked off their Playstation or XBox...after they tell me how to turn it on.

Thanks for the heads up, cowboy.

A Face Any Mother Could Love

I know, I know...destructive little beggars.

But this one was in our front maple tree the other night, and she was posing so prettily I had to take her picture....

May 15, 2010


You know when a TV show has hit the skids? I'm sitting here with Seinfeld on. I've decided when a character gets so popular the studio audience applauds when they come on stage, the show is over. Kramer was never that great. Neither was Fonzie.

If you don't cut the pineapple and canataloupe the very day you buy them, they will sit on the counter until you throw them out.

I just weeded all day in the yard. I am fairly certain I tore out something that is actually a plant. A whole bunch of somethings. But once I start....

My arms are all bendy and jittery because I was sawing things and pruning. Does anyone know how to prune cedar trees? I'm pretty sure I don't.

If the evangelicals are truly moving into Canadian government power circles, we all need to get off our asses and stop taking for granted the rights and protections we have been doing just that - taking for granted. Anyone deciding the right to safe reproductive services for women - including legal abortion - will be going through me, and hopefully millions of other women. And hey, Lorene Harper? How about you finally start having an impact on that fool you married, and at least earn the thanks of the women in this country? Or is it true, as alleged, supposed, sneaky little birds whispered in my ear, that you're planning on leaving him?

Young women, who have never known what it means to not have options, stop lining up behind the politics of old rich men. You are in control of your body. Which includes making sure it doesn't get pregnant, while at the same time being entitled to your own sexuality. Do not let narrow-minded denial specialists spin you any other way. Your freedoms are all linked: do you really think that 40 years ago you would have had the options you have today? To go to school, to pursue any career, or no career? Do not deliver you own daughters back into the dark ages. You need more convincing? Go talk to any woman over the age of 80. If you don't know any, just ask. I'll supply them.

When I see the ad for IHOP in the States telling me that kids eat free until 10pm, I make a note to myself to never go there.

I need a new back deck.

I need a new bathtub.

Told you this was random.

May 12, 2010

Itching for Bitching

Well, in honour of this miserable day (really, May? This is what you bring me after winter totally ripped me off?), I feel a little whinging and complaining is in order. And there will be no rhyme nor reason to this, so don't look for one.

I hear Cats the musical is coming back. Lord, make it stop. I barely survived Mama Mia, and now they're disinterring that feline stupidness? Of all the talent in all the world, why on earth is this the crap that gets mounted? I hear the production of Enron that did fabulously well in London totally crashed on Broadway. While I will admit to being initially a little fuzzy on how the hell you get a Broadway show from the bowels of a corrupt story like the Enron disaster, I've since come to realize I would rather watch that than Shizzlepuss or whatever it's name is howling at a paper moon.

Helena Guergis, shut up. The only thing worse than a woman complaining that it's tough for a woman to get elected into politics is watching one complain that she's been hit with a hardball once she's on the field. With a family as supposedly politically astute as yours, you should know that your husband is going to be held accountable for his actions based on your position. Don't like it? Tell him to stop being such a dirtball. Or get out of politics and push the spotlight off yourself. Oh wait - you rather like that spotlight, doncha? Until it starts to get a little hot.

To the idiot in the minivan I saw this morning as I dropped my kid off in the rain: the law now says you can't use a cell phone. You sailed through that four-way stop with your two kids in the back. But you didn't miss that phone call, now did you? Cops have handed out 4400 hundred tickets in Toronto. While I think all cell conversations should be illegal, I do wish the cops would hang around schools in the morning during bad weather. Oh, and Idiot? Be glad the other 3 cars stopped at that intersection, or you would have using that damned phone to call for an ambulance for your kids.

A Star editorial says the Harper government has gone too far in it's zeal to make sure that sex offenders don't get pardoned. I think it's about time this topic was visited. I'd say revisited, but the fact someone like Graham James can receive a pardon for multiple sexual offences against minors leads me to believe nobody was watching it to start with. The fact is, 99% of pardons are approved. Is there a place in our society and justice system for pardons? Absolutely. I would hate to see people marked for life for mistakes made in youth, in distress or totally out of character. And if this proves to be the case - pardon away.

But sexual offenders and predators? Involving kids? Really? What do you say we talk to survivors of these crimes and ask what they think? And how about we send a reporter over to Spain, where Graham James went on to coach junior hockey for two years after Canada granted him his pardon? Let's go talk to those players and parents, see what his pardon unleashed on them. Dollars to donuts, the bastard was at it again. Oh wait, he couldn't have been. After all, he was pardoned.

I'm out of milk, because Christopher used the last of it for cereal last night. So I'm having my tea with The Poor Sod's weird lactose-free stuff, and I'm not happy. No, there is no difference. But I think there is. I hate being out of milk.

If you've ever been peeved at the nerve of *some* people (and yes, you say it just that way), this column is quite illuminating. There are two types of people: Askers and Guessers. Askers assume they might be turned down, so feel free to ask for anything they want. Guessers consider every side of the question, and interpret people who are Askers as Rudists. I made up the word rudist. Which no doubt indicates I am a Guesser. Neat read, though it probably doesn't make much more sense than I do.

Totally tasteless...yet I still found it amusing.

Sooooooooooooooo. What's bugging you today?

May 10, 2010

For Steve

This came into my Blame it on Lorraine email, which I use Webgod Jeff to format. If Steve had emailed my main contact, I would have replied directly, but the BIOL email is blind. But since it's just a basic question, I'll answer it here. It's about today's column:

Dear Lorraine;

Was it misprint, or did you actually get in your car and drive one half of a kilometre (500 metres) to your friends house when their alarm went off?

It's probably a little past a kilometre now that I think about it, but with two cops waiting for me at my best friend's house trying to ascertain if there has been a break-in, and two dogs going crazy from the noise, yeah, I'd totally grab my car and drive even half a kilometre.

May 9, 2010

What's In A Name?

I recently cranked on about the ridiculous things parents name their kids, and the even more ridiculous ways they spell those names.

But my snark wasn't a patch on this snark, in a column from the NYT by Paul Schmidtberger. Wonder how many ways you can spell his name?

May 2, 2010

Once More With Feeling

While it has settled down to maybe once a month, I still get emails and messages berating me for using the term 'The Poor Sod' when referring to the guy who is, at this very moment, upstairs snaking the drain in the bathroom sink.

From the time columnists have been referring to spouses/significant others/etc, they have dug deep for something they can use as shorthand without delivering up the person's actual name. See, we do this for a living; there are often others who still deserve a degree of anonymity; my kids got a say as they came of age - they too had fake names when they were younger.

So, the fact that most of the columnists I dug up for comparison were male wasn't lost on me. 'The Wife', 'The Goddess', 'She Who Must Be Obeyed', 'The Boss', and on and on. You get it. The very first time I ever referred to him as anything, it was an in an auto column. 'The Poor Sod Who Lives With Me'. Where'd it come from? Well, first off, for the legions of you who think I am unaware that the origins of the word are British, and that the origins of the word are less than complimentary, stop. My Mom was a Brit. Her pet name for my father was often Poor Sod. The cat was often called the Silly Sod. Yes, 'sod' descends from sodomites. I get it, I know. But the word has evolved to the point that the standard the Toronto Star uses for usage (Canadian Oxford Dictionary) includes current acceptability of the term. Also, anyone who has to live with me deserves at least a small, sympathetic head shake.

IT WAS A TERM OF ENDEARMENT in my home growing up. I'm sorry if your sensibilities get a little bruised by it, but I'm not sanitizing my work to paint out the crazy-natured basis of my upbringing. There is no derogatory intent at all. None. If a Brit wins a lottery, he'd be referred to as a lucky sod in more than one publication; bet on it.

I stopped answering mail on this subject about a year ago. I got tired. It's been a repeated cycle by people who a)if they read my work, would know my Mom's origins, and should twig that I understand what I'm saying and b)I write from my gut, and it is what it is, to batter a bad term to death.

What I write about my family is cleared with my family. And quite frankly, if they're cool with it, I think everyone else should be.