August 29, 2010

To Hell You Ride

I've never been to Telluride.

So I'm going.

I'll be off this week roaming the outback of Colorado in Land Rovers and Range Rovers. Don't say it. I know. And Webgod? Shut up. I can hear you from here.

You guys know the drill. Fight amongst yourselves. Anything Roz says is crap. If the other sister (Gilly) weighs in, you have a better chance of getting at the truth.


Be nice to each other. I'll miss you.


August 27, 2010

A Party, She Said...

In a weak moment, I suggested Ari have a party for his 16th. It coincides with the end of summer, the beginning of school, the advent of his driving years...and so much more.

Christer's girlfriend will head off to Ottawa for school shortly, and all around me these kids are growing up. I'm sure my sepia-toned image of one last hurrah is not quite what they had in mind, but regardless, a party will commence this evening.

Apparently right around the time I usually go to bed, they will descend. The upside? Ari has to work in the morning. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I am staying home, hoping to rope a friend into coming over. Considering two of her kids will be here, I think the least she can do is join me for a glass of wine and a cup of sanity.

If I've learned one thing writing about these kids over the years, it's that you never have to make anything up. All you have to do is write it down. With that in mind, I am going to live blog the parts that are safe for human consumption, here from my computer in the middle of the kitchen. Don't worry; I'm not wrecking their fun - most of these kids have been up north over the years and consider me a minor speed bump in their celebrations.

And when I've had enough, I'll head up, after tossing all the sleeping bags and pillows we own into the rec room. There is a merriment in the air presently; we'll see how things look in the morning.

See you later...

August 23, 2010

Quicksand and Mudbaths

I like Daniel Engber, and read pretty much anything he writes. So I clicked. And then I held my breath, because I haven't thought about quicksand in years and years. But whenever I do contemplate it, I hold my breath because just the thought of it makes me not be able to breathe. At all.

I saw my first quicksand movie when I was probably 6 or so. It must have been Tarzan, because whoever was in the quicksand was a) being filmed in black and white and b) was rescued by a vine from a tree. That's a pretty safe bet it was Tarzan, though I don't recall having any pronounced affection for Tarzan movies. Probably my sister Roz made me watch it.

All I remember is sharing the pressing, suffocating feeling of whoever was waiting for Tarzan to rescue them. As the movie quicksand (no doubt oatmeal or grits or something) closed in, and the camera did those cheesy 1960s closeups of a silent scream, or just a hand reaching, reaching....well, I waited desperately right along with the victim.

As Engber's article on Slate debates the demise of quicksand as a horror movie staple, I am reminded that we've been quick to write off the effectiveness of such a creepy concept. Forget serial killers, this generation's lazy go-to fearmeister; quicksand was bloody awesome. And it could happen anywhere, unlike serial killers who only happen to women home alone who leave the back door unlatched, and who all come conveniently middle named 'Wayne'. No, quicksand is a far better all around tool.

I'd forgotten it myself until about 5 years ago. I went to a spa-type place, which is always a nice way to burn through a scad of money while wearing a bathrobe. For some reason, I found myself signed up for a mud bath. I'm sure it had some fancyass name to justify the ridiculous cost, and I'm sure my gentle, distant mood had much to do with wine and said bathrobe. Anyway. I walked into a weird marble room that resembled nothing so much as a Roman bathhouse (sans naked Romans), and beheld a large cutout in the floor filled with chocolate pudding.

I glanced at it, one eyebrow raised. The attendant, standing patiently with an arm extended to receive that bathrobe, told me step down into the mud. I considered I could probably get two facials and a massage for what this was about to cost, but sold on the health benefits of immersing myself in mud they'd imported from between the toes of small amphibians in a remote jungle, I did as I was told.

It was hot. It was pudding- like, if pudding had a low grade grit in it. But worst of all, it sucked me down like a living pudding vacuum cleaner, and I instantly couldn't breathe. "Make sure you drink lots of water," said the cheery attendant. I had no idea why I needed to be hydrated to be dead, and a silent scream filled my throat as she left me to my doom. No doubt to go sit with the other attendants outside, all laughing that stupid women from the suburbs paid for this hell.

I pictured the brochure, which promised me rosy skin free from years of accumulated abuse; I closed my eyes and tried to feel cleansed and at one with nature. I lasted five minutes before I started hollering.

Two attendants burst into the room and pulled me free from my muddy grave. I looked like a Swamp Thing as I gasped for breath. Standing under a shower, I considered my close call with death, and thanked my lucky stars there had been two vines close at hand to pull me from certain death.

Turns out I was not the only person to have this experience. They gave me a freebie facial, and I deleted the experience from my brain. Until I read Engber's article, and wondered why, indeed, quicksand isn't used as a terror device anymore.

Labels: ,

August 21, 2010

Political Primer - The Municipal Dick & Jane

Let's revisit the Rob Ford thing from a purely hypothetical standpoint. Let's not fuss over whether or not he's the guy you want to sit next to a banquet, or have show up in your driveway to drive your kid to soccer. Forget all that.

Because none of that matters. What matters is that Toronto City Council is made up of 44 councilors, and a mayor. And that mayor vote is worth exactly *one* vote. Same as the other 44.

So. Let's pretend Toronto has to handle some big problems. What has to happen is that most of the people in that chambers have to get along, agree, understand, learn, debate and come to the best possible consensus. On every nitpicking little thing. Consensus.

Love him or hate him, Rob Ford is not a consensus builder. And no matter how popular the rhetoric is that flows out of him (sound bites that can be turned into chants rarely make for good political policy), if he can't provide sound, researched decision making, nobody is going to waste an iota of political capital supporting him.

Getting elected as mayor is one thing; developing a rapport with a council, who likewise have managed to get elected, is something else. It's not like in school when the teacher made you captain and you got to pick your team.

Ford, to my best reading on him the past few years, has spent all of his time shooting the people around him. Some of them deserve to be shot, politically speaking. No doubt about it. The public does dumb things inside that voting booth. But as a strategist? He's a dummy. Things that are taking place in municipalities right now were decided 10, 20 years ago. Zoning and building, infrastructure, budgeting - all that unsexy stuff that actually impacts you - has to be decided by who is sitting in that room full of cushy chairs. If you put people in those chairs who are battling each other - and embattled on every other front - you jeopardize where you live, and your children's future.

I'm on the record as having little regard for most politicians. I'm old enough to have seen the warp take place in too many, and I'm too tired to try to understand why good people vote for poor representation. I'm not cognizant of all that is going on in Toronto's 44 wards, but I do know that a good mayoral candidate will spark people to run who believe in his or her message, and want to be at that table to be part of those decisions. I don't see see that with Ford. I see a lone wolf reveling in his lone-ness. You can't run a city that way. Hell, you can't run a household that way.

A mayor is pretty much a figurehead. But a good mayor will not do his most prolific work cutting ribbons, he or she will do it behind the scenes, building consensus and being a leader. Winning the crown is nothing if all you can do is sit there wearing it, finally realizing that the crown alone bestows nothing. Nothing at all.

I live in Burlington. I've sat here watching this nonsense play out here, with a council capsizing under the weight of its own infighting and hatred. And I've watched a mayor who managed to win still manage to lose.

Ford might be better off as a voice on counsel. Things he is saying are obviously hitting a sore spot and voters are responding. But before this campaign is remarkable only for the hatred and division he can provide, maybe it's time to look for a candidate who gets the importance - the necessity - of building rather than tearing apart.

Labels: ,

August 20, 2010

Ford Lovers

Nah, not those kind of Fords. I love Ford trucks, and lots of old Fords still turn my crank.

No, I'm talking politician extraordinaire, and mayor wannabe, Rob Ford. I'm sorry, people. It's just too easy. And not because the Star hates him. The man is a veritable career-wrecking crew all by his lonesome. He doesn't need any help.

I do love this quote, however. Found to have been soliciting funds for his football activities using City of Toronto letterhead and resources (yeah, the guy who says he uses a buck fifty a year in office costs), say this: “I do not understand why it would be inappropriate to solicit funds for an arm’s-length charitable cause using my regular employment letterhead.”

Really? You don't understand? Vote this man for mayor, and cry later. It's not the fact he gets busted for drunk driving. It's not the fact that he bleats like a drunken blowhard at a Maple Leaf game, denies it, admits it, and carries on.


That is the problem. Right there. You're not a renegade, a rebel, a (dare I say it) rogue, it's that you're so blissfully unaware that you have landed on that spot because you're an idiot, not because you're a calculating, devastatingly good chess player.

It's like Sarah Palin got ugly and gained a hundred pounds or so. And it's like Toronto voters got all stupid and quit demanding they be represented by something better than this.

This is not a game. And I don't care how peeved you were by previous representation (make fun of Miller all you like; Lastman is still a drunk-uncle-at-Christmas kinda memory), Toronto is a huge city with a huge reputation. Knee jerk reactions tend to always end up being less about knees, and far more about jerks.

Labels: , ,

CHCH Live@5:30 Friday

Ah. Back to school. Commence the happy dance.

But if your kids are making you crazy with gotta have its, tune in.

CHCH Channel 11, 5:30, repeat at 11:30.

August 19, 2010

I've Never Played This Game...

...but I'm going to.

I hate all the photoshopping and retouching that goes on. It's gross.

When I had to have pictures taken for my own site, the photographer asked me if I wanted them 'shopped' before he sent them to me. I was horrified. And not because I think I'm so fab, but because I constantly tell women to love who they are and live with it. You wanna fix something, go for it. But it's easier and cheaper to love who you are, warts and all. Or sunspots. Or wrinkles. Or deep trowly wrinkles between your eyes. Yeah, that'd be me. The kids call me ferret face. Oh well.

Anyhoo. Whatever.

But here is a shot of Jennifer Aniston, who pretty much never looks bad. But this is an unretouched photo, and am I nuts, or does she look totally great? (Oh, and you fix this Webgod? I messed it up again....)




I TOLD You Leafblowers Were Evil...

Oh, Kurt Browning. I'm not gonna pile on, in spite of what you might think. I actually believe you are a pretty nice guy, and I've always rooted for you. You've withstood the flack of being a figure skater in a country where skates=sticks & missing teeth more than triple hexibobbles and dramatic arm things. I've always loved you for that. I even cringed right along with you when Toller Cranston announced that your ass should be bronzed. (I can't find a link. But he said it. I saw him. Am I crazy?)

You and your pretty wife seem so nice, so real, so happy, so Canadian. And we know she won't steal you away and go play, I mean dance, for the L.A. Ballet Company.

But today we have a problem. You left your Porsche convertible outside in the rain. And because it seemed to make sense, you apparently tried to dry out the seats with a leafblower. Gaaaaaaaaah. Leafblowers. Hell's own tools of destruction against civilized society. And Hell apparently decided to flex a little, and that leafblower has destroyed your beautiful home. Burned. This is terrifying, actually, and I'm sure you will never do it again. I'm sure nobody who reads your story will. I wish we could also get them to view their existing leafblowers not just as a bad substitution for a turbo hair dryer, but also as a bad idea, period. Maybe you could lead a leafblower amnesty program, and people could turn them in - anonymously if necessary - and we could run them over with a garbage truck.

But of course all of this begs an even bigger question: you left your Porsche out in the rain with the top down?

August 16, 2010

How To Live Forever...Or Not

We've all been revering how the Japanese treat their elders forever. How with that awesomely healthy diet and love of family, they just never die, right? And the stats have proven it - the oldest people in the world, apart from the ones who are slurping yogurt and herding sheep on hillsides in Mediterranean climes are always from Japan.

Turns out not so much. Trying to prove a longevity record, officials went looking for a 135-year-old woman. Couldn't find her. Seems she wandered off. Or died. Or something. So they started investigating, and apparently, they have a whole bunch of unaccounted for old folks. So much for reverence. Seems some family members 'forget' to report a death so they can keep collecting pensions. One woman kept her mummified father for 30 years - years - to keep the dough rolling in. I already question where that weird smell is coming from just from teenage boys. I don't want to think about running a mausoleum from the spare room.

Because Canadians are such an honest bunch, it stands to reason that our oldsters only make it to Hazel-time. We dutifully report the deceased. But what if, in the wake of this economic downturn, we got all Japanese?

Depends on who was in power, of course. In Quebec, they would keep issuing cheques. They might even issue more cheques if someone claimed the 103-year-old in question had had another baby. After they paid for her in-vitro.

The Liberals would raise the alarm bell if a neighbour or three squealed on said dead person. But they would secure the families votes in the next election by sending out cheques to each surviving family member.

And our ruling Conservative government? How do you ensure nobody is ripping off the system, especially by pretending to set world records by claiming ultimate health while concealing dead bodies in the den? Why, you just cancel everyone's old age pension.

That'll learn 'em.

Frank Docherty & Little Britain

Okay, I only put the 'Little Britain' part in there to lure in the handful of fans of that awesome show. Frank wrote a letter to the ed in today's Star that cracked me up, and I wanted to share it. Here.

'If we were all cows, there would be nothing to war about'.

Thank you, Frank.

Labels: , , , ,

August 14, 2010

Christopher Takes on Mosport... an Audi TT.

He had a blast a few weeks back at the Audi Uptown track day. Instead of me doing it, I asked if he could.

It's not always a drag when Mom takes you to work.

Labels: , ,

August 12, 2010

I Would Like to Go To China...

....but I sure wouldn't want to get sick there.

Read this from today's NYT. Wow. Another look at healthcare in one of the world's predominant economies.

"Still, across much of China, the quality of care remains low. Almost half the nation’s doctors have no better than a high school degree, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Many village doctors did not make it past junior high school."

Man, I know a couple of armchair medical specialists who could be stars in China. And with the legal knowledge they also think they possess, they could be lawyers, too, no doubt!


Why We Will Never Have Decent Leaders

It's easy: because decent people would never, ever want to be politicians.

Politics at every level is a soul-sucking compromise. And because you must be all things to all people at all times, it is fundamentally impossible, like sneezing with your eyes open.

Gail Collins is awesome today in the NYT. She delves a little into how stupid things keep good people from becoming elected, while the electorate blithely looks away at some true travesties. She's funny, too. Go read.

The press is stupidly not helpful, of course. I really would love to find out who the hell cares, in this day and age, if someone smoked pot in college. We punish people for being too smart, but never for being too stupid. We allow soundbites to become platforms, and freight throwaway lines with import. All those people in Toronto cheering for that imbecile Rob Ford, who just says 'I won't waste your money', but has yet to figure exactly how he's gonna do that? Here's how: he would have constituents all living like Lord of the Flies. Yes. You can be Piggy.

Voters believe what they want to believe. They believe that who a politician sleeps with is more important than his ability to negotiate, research, know her history, know the constituents, be aware of coming demographic trends, and truly strive to represent all voters, not just the ones who voted for him or her. No, we want to know what time their kids go to bed.

My favourite barometer was the one with former U.S. president George Dubya. People voted for him because they'd most 'like to have a beer with him'. ARRRRGHGHGHGGH.
If I let the people I most like to drink beer with run a country, a province or even some little redneck town with one blinking stoplight, everything would explode in a ball of bad. These people are fun and entertaining for a reason! They do not have their fingers poised over any important switches! If you ask them for a decision about something, they're likely to ask if you're gonna blindfold them and spin them around three times first. I mean, it's a game, right?

If a politician tells the truth, he will not be elected. When he lies, he must do it artfully, so he can undo it later. It must be like one of those boat knots I can't figure out how to tie, that look like a series of loops and secure knots, but you just gently pull on edge and the whole thing unstrings. That is a politican's statement.

Let's talk local politics for a second. I got up close and personal with some examples of that earlier this year. Quite frankly, never again. But as times change rapidly and we're mired in archaic structures that serve no one, leaders are truly only cover-your-ass-ers. Take a boo at Mississauga. Yeah, tough crowd out there who blindly voted repeatedly, no questions asked. Where's that blindfold?

Municipal politics is gross. It's the stuff that matters most in people's direct lives: building codes, dog poop, garbage collection and noise. Yet who is happy? I'm not. Truly decent people venture out onto the stage, and risk being bashed away by preening narcissistic entitled trough hogs who have learned to speak in the soundbites we crave. We get what we deserve. And the problem I have now? I don't believe anyone in their right mind would willingly put themselves forward for such punishment.

Which means we are voting amongst the addled.

Tonia Cowan Strikes Again

If you are a woman, this will make your day.

If you're a man, I'm sure you're not like him. I'm sure of it.

Oh, and bookmark Squeakymarker while you're there. She's comes up with the best.stuff.evah.

Labels: ,

August 11, 2010


I'm due for a rant. Why doesn't matter.

With the boys home all day, I'm not writing as much as I should be. I have carved the start date for two new projects into my calender. It is always 'tomorrow'. It is never 'today'. So, the TV is on more than it should be. I snap it off in frustration (my little TV doesn't get high channels, so I can't find anything down low. If you have any ideas, let me know). It's the ads, mostly.

There's an American channel that runs commercials out of the Buffalo area. Are people from Buffalo stupid? Cuz if the ads are any indication, they're all brain dead morons. Insurance companies promising you the bare minimum coverage. Do you people get how insurance works? It's like a big pool. Smart companies try to hedge their bets - literally - in charging premiums. They're 'betting' that most people won't have claims, and charge the idiots who are likely to have claims, more. Now. These companies advertising that they will take you no matter how stupid you are? THAT MEANS ALL THEIR CUSTOMERS ARE STUPID. JUST LIKE YOU. THAT MEANS YOUR RATES ARE GOING TO BE STUPID-HIGH. Get it?

But, if you have a car, apparently, and you live in this part of New York state (it might be Georgia - I don't really listen), you're in extra super duper luck. If you need money, this other company will meet you in a dark alley and loan you money as long as you hold the pink slip to your car. Wow. That's just awesome! Instant money! Let's go get pizza and drugs! In our car that now HAS A LIEN AGAINST IT.

There's some new show on. It has Betty White in it, so I watched it. It has Valerie Bertinelli in it, who mercifully went away after that dumb show with the janitor and and her crackhead sister and her whining mother in the 80s. Anyway. After a bunch of weight loss commercials made her famous again, she got this show. She's still annoying. Sorry Betty.

I made a roast yesterday. That went well, actually. So, that little tidbit doesn't belong in this rant.

Because hydro rates have gone sky high, I'm trying desperately to clamp down on the household hydro consumption. That's kinda hard: I'm already Al Sommerfeld's daughter, which means I'm cheap as hell when it comes to this stuff. I've tried to shift doing laundry to the off hours they suggest. They think that's weekends. Bull. My off hours are during the day, so I don't have to burn my weekends doing laundry. And, I can't wait a week to do laundry, or our basement will look like an episode of Hoarders. Well, more like one.

Oh, and hydro? Bite me. Seriously. I bought the fancy front loaders. I bought the twisty bulbs. I have ceiling fans all over. I have an awning. Stone floor. We wear slippers. I replaced the freezer. And the fridge. I try to never use the oven. We turn off monitors, I unplug things, I hum to myself instead of playing music, I replaced the garage door with an insulated one and I never water the grass. And what do I get? A bill that hurtles skyward, no matter what. I hate you.

Cell phone companies? Get in line behind hydro.
Cable and internet? Yup. You too.

I need a new tub and surround. We have one bathroom. I need it done in one day. And do not suggest that stupid ripoff crap where they put a big acrylic liner over your old tub and say 'ta da!'. I got quoted 3,000 bucks for that nonsense. I may be angry; I'm not stupid.

My late, lovely mother had this carpeting glued to top of my front porch. It is terribly ugly. It is also, apparently, permanent. We've tried scraping, solvents and every other recommended procedure. Do you think I'd get in trouble for soaking it in lighter fluid and just lighting it on fire?

Oh, and even though it's common to bitch about customer service, the past few days we've had fabulous help in all kinds of places. The health card office, the Shoe Factory on Fairview Street, and my blue box/garbage guys who don't fling the containers all over. Thank you. It would be wonderful to have a federal government who was as courteous in delivering what I wanted, as opposed to cramming their agenda down my throat when they think I'm not looking, while whistling "When We Get Behind Closed Doors".

Don't clean your bathroom with a bleach spray cleaner while you're wearing your good jeans, the new cute ones from American Eagle.

Now. Someone come and make dinner for my kids. Christer has just polished off the last of that 6 pound roast. But he'll be hungry again soon.

I need my kitchen cabinets painted.

BP Brings the BS

Did you read like I did the other day that the Gulf oil spill is 'over'? That everything is fine, and the damage is far less then originally thought?

Sure you did. We were supposed to read that.

What you weren't supposed to read was this.

Yes, it's long. But here's the journalism and reporting everyone says is missing these days. Excellent piece.

Labels: , , , ,

August 10, 2010

Since We're All About the Job Quittin'...

This is awesome. Truly. Go look.

If we're finally seeing the fallout from people putting up with ludicrous amounts of crap just to hold onto jobs that are making them sick anyway, may the wall come tumbling down.

I've had those kind of jobs. How I wish I'd had these kinds of balls.

Yay! Yay! Yay!

It'll be everywhere by noon, if it isn't already. Steven Slater, a flight attendant for JetBlue working out of New York, finally had had enough.

A passenger ignored warnings and got up early to find his suitcase in the overhead. Slater told him to sit down. He ignored him. Slater got bonked with the suitcase. He then grabbed the mic and let loose. Called the idiot a m.............r, hit the button for the inflatable chute, grabbed a beer from the bar cart, slid out of the plane, hopped in his car and went home.

I have never been on a flight where I didn't totally expect someone to do this.

Really. People behave like idiots on airplanes, and the staff have to put up with so much crap, for hours and hours, on their feet, and they never get to call anyone a m..............r. Well, out loud at least.

I admit I am a passive airplane rider. I sit where I'm supposed to. I keep my seatbelt done up at all times. All you need is one unexpected jolt of turbulence, and you're jammed into the ceiling of the plane. Planes are like cars, no matter how big they are.

But I have seen the worst behaviour in people on planes. Entitlement; rudeness; childishness (not from the children); ignorance. My favourite are the class clowns. The idiots who are perched in business pretending they paid for it. If I'm in there, you better believe I didn't pay for it. And I'm too lousy a liar to pretend. But you see others who are pretending, making all kinds of stupid demands just cuz they can. If they could see me, I'd roll my eyes. But those seats are configured usually so you can't see anyone else.

Exiting a plane is essentially a funnel. It takes approximately 30 seconds to get your bag down from the overhead. As the people at the front - where the doors are - get their stuff, they leave. They can only do this when the doors are open. It's magic, really.

So if you decide to stand up to get your bag while the plane is still taxiing to the little shooter ramp, you win! You got your bag down first! And now I have to sit here with your arse in my face as you wait for - yes - all those other people in the earlier rows to get their bags down (30 seconds each) and funnel out.

See, when I see you jolt up and risk life and limb to get your carry on down, when I defend myself from your swinging laptop bag that is now gouging my eyes out, I think to myself, "Wow. That must be a very important person."

No, I'm kidding. Hahahahaaa. I don't think that at all. I just think you're an asshole.

Siddown. You're a menace. You won't be left behind on this plane unless you pass out in the bathroom or something. And even then, they'll find you. And you can sprint past everyone in the corridor to the airport, so you'll still win the race and get the first prize: first to join the previous line of 400 people waiting to clear customs, first cab (thought there are always dozens), first in the line at the whirly luggage thing (where I'm totally sure the luggage bangers are making sure they put your Samsonite up first. Wait. No they're not. What comes out first are always lumpy hockey bags and someone's backpack.)

I'm aware that what Steven Slater did was wrong. Totally can't blame the man - I've seen too many drunken idiots on 2 hour flights get drunk at 10am, refuse to stay in their seats, stick their bare feet in the aisle and leave garbage all over the place. People can be rude.

But I still hope that airlines start serving a new drink: The Slater.

I'd have one of those.

Labels: , ,

August 9, 2010

Oh! THAT World Wide Web!

Oy. I'm sitting on hold. Again. Ari's health card expires in a few weeks. Believe me; I'm clutching onto my old red and white card (with no expiry) like a madwoman. Anyway. I've gone through this before with Christer, last year. It's a pain in the arse.

Because Burlington is so small and remote (no, it's not) we have the choice of driving to Oakville or downtown Hamilton to get the card renewed. I seriously want to know what people who do who can't drive. It's crazy.

I choose Oakville for two reasons: the office is located in a big shopping plaza thing that's easy to park in. Hamilton? The office is right downtown. You pay for parking, if you can find it, and when I went there to renew my passport one year I made the mistake of going first thing in the morning. There is a liquor store on the ground level, with big metal barricades across it. The second the store opens, I was trampled by the alkies rushing in for their oversized cans of Steeler beer that they paid for with quarters and dimes. It was not a nice experience. It mucked with my suburban minivan driving sensibilities.

I've had the renewal notice for months now. I finally hauled it down, poked the kid awake at the crack of 1pm, and told him we were going. I glanced at the sheet. You can go on line and book an appointment. This is new. Just last year, it was still go in, take a number like at the deli, then sit around a close, hot little room ringed with chairs and pretend not to stare at people. An appointment. Wow. So I went to the website.

All that came up was goobledygook. I carefully checked each keystroke. More nonsense. Sighing, I called the 800 number, and waited. And waited. After ten minutes, I was informed you can't make an appointment for Mondays. Figuring we'd take our chances, Ari and I piled into the van anyway. I'd assembled his ID and the forms. All he needed was his card. Which he now carries in his wallet. As I swung onto the highway, I asked if he had his wallet. He widened his eyes.

Off we came at the next ramp, and headed home. Now I am crabby. The roads are full of old people in Buicks cutting me off. I'd planned on getting our number and waiting it out at a restaurant in the plaza, and I wanted that coffee.

I explained to Ari that he had to call and make the appointment. I told him to do it the second we got in; I wanted it for midday tomorrow because of traffic. He nodded firmly, came in the house, petted the cat and started making sandwiches.

As I sit here on hold, something occurs to me. A pleasant little lady voice is giving me a recorded message, first in English, then in French. She is telling me go to the gobbledygook website, spelling it out 'double ewe double ewe double ewe dot service canada dot ca slash appointment' Then in French : 'duuble vey duuble vey duuble vey....'.

Can we not lose the 'www'? Please? Nine extra syllables that surely must be implied by now? Or is there a secret web I don't know about? Has Al Gore found another one?

August 8, 2010

Depends on What?

I am fully aware that our population is rapidly aging. I am fully aware that now the Baby Boomers have started to hit retirement age, their usual self-centred, self-indulgent view of the world shall be shifting to accommodate all things, er, older. Oh, stop looking at me that way. It's been the most spoiled generation in the history of history, except maybe the Henry the VIII kinda guys who ate with their feet, never bathed and made their walkways from the body parts of serfs.

So I get that advertisers and manufacturers will shift their focus accordingly. I understand why I have to keep seeing commercials for bathtubs that are actually just little cupboards you walk into. I get the companies pushing scooters and little belted chair elevators that zip up and down staircases. The boys want one of those, actually.

I'm cool with the increasing demonstrations of people who have to pee, suddenly. And you can't make Depends jokes too much anymore - cuz you never know. But I just saw an ad for Depends that kind of set off my limit light. 'Now available in patterns and colours'.

Depends lingerie.

No. Stop this. I thought those fancyass diapers for babies were ridiculous. All that dye and crap in the system to give your kid a plaid crap holder. But this latest revelation is too much. Maybe it's just my basically forthright and candid nature, but who do you think you're gonna be faking out with leopardskin Depends? By the point you know someone well enough to be comparing undies, you should know them well enough to reveal your various concerns.


Sarah Spykman

A friend of mine had her first column published today...she's out of New Hampshire (I tell her she's from New Hamster), and it's a terrific piece. Go look.

She blogs here - really awesome little slice of life pieces, nice to bookmark and catch in your peripheral vision. She's a noticer, a favourite kind of writer.

Labels: , ,

August 7, 2010

Nova Scotia, the RV, and Me

New article up from a recent trek through Nova Scotia. There will be Adventures soon....but it was amazing.

August 6, 2010

What Will You Admit To?

I'll go first, though I'm sure you'll all think far less of me for knowing the following:

I have never, ever seen Sex and the City.
Ditto Buffy, ER, Law and Order, CSI: Miami, or Hannah Montana.

I do watch The Office (both versions; I'm not all snobby about it), Arrested Development, The Big Bang Theory, and that series where they show hillbilly lottery winners. Sometimes that hoarders show comes on. I don't turn it. I am, however, waiting for the day when a hoarder wins the lottery. THAT will be Trainwreck TV.

I have never read Ulysses. Lord, I have tried.

I've never read that Eat Pray Love thing. I will not be seeing the movie. I think Shirley Valentine did it first, and better.

I've never seen Titanic (only bits and bobs of it). I haven't seen Avatar; I doubt I ever will. I haven't seen any Sex and the City movies (obviously). Nor The Notebook, Crying Game, Dumb and Dumber, any Mission Impossible, any Harry Potter, any Twilight.

I love Bob Newhart; I don't like Will Ferrell.

I'm Team Angelina all the way. Though I never understood the whole fighting over Brad Pitt thing, to be honest. He's just a spoonful of ~meh~

I don't like bacon or ice cream.

I went to a psychic once.

I could probably be a vegetarian. Until I want a steak, and then I have one.

I drink a lot of tea in the day. A lot. And then at night, I drink wine.

And then I try to read Ulysses. Again.

CHLive@5:30 - Co-Hosting!

Yep. If you think ten minutes of me is too much, get a load of the whole half hour...

Great topics, great guests.

CHCH Channel 11, Live@5:30, repeat at 11:30


We're a Queer Bunch

That's what my late mother would have said. As the grandkids got older, she changed it to 'funny bunch'. Whatever. It's the truth.

I was reading this piece from the NYT about legal worked now being outsourced to India. It's fascinating. Tons and tons of scut work in the legal profession is now being sent overseas. How so? you might ask. Easy. In every law case, there is loads of dirge work. Hours and hours that you get billed for by your attorney, but work that is actually done by baby lawyers - the juniors just starting out, trying to climb that pyramid to partnership that will give them the chance to similarly exploit the next generation.

India has a crackerjack pool of smart people desperate to work in these white collar jobs. As the cost of living a year in India is equal roughly to a day of living in New York City, let's say, legal firms are jumping at the chance to cut costs. How does it work? Lots of legal eagles - the established lawyers - are uprooting and setting up firms to train and mentor these newbies. Teach 'em the Great American Way, which if my experience with lawyers is any indication, means teaching them to charge 47 bucks for a staple, 8 bucks a page for photocopying, and apparently, 123.50 for going to the bathroom while my file is open on their desk.

Now, the 'queer bunch' part: this has been happening for decades. Now, however, NOW (that was worth yelling), people are getting up in arms. Important People. People who wear ironed shirts and shiny shoes. People who summer in the Hamptons, or whatever. Now they care.

The last big outcry was from the car sector. Your ears are probably still ringing from that. Auto workers freaked as their jobs streamed overseas to the enemy. I don't recall the lawyers getting too worked up about that. But then again, when I watched the textile industry in this country collapse in the mid 80s, I didn't hear the auto industry giving much of a rat's ass for them, either. I had a front row seat to that one: I used to have a clothing line for the company I used to own. The clothing wasn't the main sector of the business, but it was a happy little by product that I loved to to. I used to have the clothes made in Brantford, Ontario, at a couple of cut & sews. Don't bother thinking sweatshop: I used to work side by side with the sewers figuring out best assembly. Nobody did anything I didn't do myself.

Anyway. In the course of a very terrible, awful, no-good year, I watch the block disappear. A whole street of shops had to close up. Why? The Pacific Rim was producing t-shirts for 45 CENTS. And all those big companies who regularly made things like t-shirts and hats part of their promotional budget? Ran in like that (snaps fingers) to load up on cheap crap. 'Made in Canada'? Hahahahahahahaha.

I stopped making clothing. Can't compete at that. But I still gave a damn about those people I had sat beside and sewed with, and couldn't in any good conscience start importing the very junk that had cost them their jobs. I don't recall any hue and cry, however, certainly not from the auto workers.

I live down the road from the Niagara region. One of the best fruit growing belts in the world. Which is why they've been plowed under for all but wine, and you are now eating fruit from China and Chile. Because we're half an hour from the best in the world. I don't recall the lawyers bitching about that.

There was an article in a recent Vanity Fair about the women who did the painstaking illustration for the films of Walt Disney back in the 1940s. Illustrating, frame-by-frame, was tedious, time consuming and absolutely necessary for the animation business. It was in its infancy. Now of course, it's a full bore industry, earning bazillions of dollars a year. But not, I'm sure, for the illustrators who toil in South Korea, let's say. Again, I must have missed the outpouring of concern from car-builders and lawyers.

I get it. It's more complicated that a rat-tail pecking order. But when the earth has fallen into the sea faster and faster, and one day you open your front door and there is no there, there, don't be surprised. We've watched a lot of other places tumble into the waves. What made us think anyone was immune?

Labels: , , , ,

August 5, 2010

Want to Feel Smart?

You need to work with me here. I must be reading this piece all wrong, because I'm still shaking my head so hard the cats are looking at me funny.

An Ohio woman discovered on Facebook that her husband was not just cheating on her, but he had actually married another woman. At Walt Disney World. He was dressed as Prince Charming, the woman was Sleeping Beauty and they had footman. First, there are so many things wrong with this. Forget the lying. Grown people get married dressed as Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty? For real? Really? Gaaaaaah. This would offend me more than a husband fooling around on me. Adultery is one thing; ludicrous bad taste is insurmountable.

But wait. It gets better. The woman had her suspicions. Lots of them. Lots of 'business trips' and stuff like that. The puke left the day she brought their kid home from the hospital. Yeah, that's the guy to have kids with. Anyway she and a friend went there. Confronted the Extra Woman. Or Other Woman. Whatever. Told her he was married, and that they had a child. Other Woman apparently shrugs (!) and says 'but we're getting married'. Produces a registry for Target to prove it. Now, Target is like Zellers. This ditz has fallen for a married guy who abandons his child, dresses like Prince Charming and shops at Target. Now, I like Target just fine. But nothing screams 'let's celebrate our spechul day' by cruising the aisles snapping up shower curtains and foot powder.

Now, Wife The First as peeved. So she hopped onto Facebook to do some sleuthing. How I love that word. Sure enough, played out for all to see (people really need to stop Facebooking; I'm embarrassed for you - truly) was the romance of these two people. She confronted him. And he promised not to go through with the wedding. Aw. Whadda peach.

Because this seemed like a reasonable footing to stay married to Prince Charming, she believed him. Then she Facebooked some more (see? it's not a good thing) and found out he had gone through with the marriage. Then she started divorce proceedings.

How big of a cluestick do you have to be smacked upside the head with? Your husband has been acting all single, and you don't divorce him until the seven dwarfs show up? Are you kidding me?

The original two were married at some Italian resort place. This guy is big on destination weddings, it appears. He claims it was not a real wedding. My sister Gilly got married somewhere that starts with a 'B' and was hot and sandy; if she's not really married, she better tell me so I can take back my gift.

Anyway, Prince Charming has actually stolen his two sons from his wife, and this is all now in the courts. Which is not funny at all.

Wife One says she can only see her sons on Facebook now. Want to know how it ends up? Well, check your updates. I'm sure it will all be there.

Is Your Cat Trying to Kill You?

You can check by going here.

My girls would never try to kill me. Right?











August 4, 2010

When You Can't Get the Vanity Plate You Wanted...

...sometimes it's best just to let it go...

Today's Hatey Commercial

Hate might be too strong a word, but I'm in a mood, so we'll go with it.

There's an ad for a toilet bowl cleaner. Dunno which one. Anyway. They convince you your toilet isn't clean by dissolving some little tablet in it that sticks to the....stuff....that the previous bleach cleaner didn't get.

All I can think of? Those little pink pills the health nurse used to give out in school on Dental Health Day. Remember? You got a toothbrush and a few of the little pink pills. You were supposed to brush your teeth, then chew the pill, then grin like a monkey to see all the places you'd missed. Everyone had pink stains; some kids, like Weird Jimmy from the apartments, had a totally pink smile because he'd never brushed his teeth before.

The pink pills were always a hit. For the perfect kids who got to prove they were indeed perfect, for the science kids who asked what the pills were made of, and for the kids like me who just had nothing better to do.

Now, they're showing me a toilet, and all I can think of is my 7-year-old gap-toothed smile.

One of the Best Writers I Know

You can't read this in the New Yorker or another place that publishes awesome work, though you should be able to. This woman is extraordinary. Truly.

I'm linking a piece here, but you can read her other work on her blog.

Dare you not to fall in literary love with her.

Labels: ,

The Glades & Kate Winslet

Those two have nothing to do with each other, actually. I'd planned on writing about that new Glades show, which I find I'm really liking. It's on at 10:00 which is pushing the limit for me TV-wise, but it's funny. And in the interest of, well, general interest, the lead character guy has a great butt. I can say that with a straight face, because I'm the one who told you a couple of years ago that the girl on NCIS (the original, with Mark Harmon) who plays Ziva has a great butt. I actually had a reader check out the show and report back that I was right. So. I know great butt.

I read gossip stuff, but I rarely pass it along. Sometimes I just make up my own. But when Kate Winslet split from her husband, that director guy, I thought, "oh, that's sad, off they go". But then I found out that this is her new beau:

I don't know what his name is. Who cares. She went from hubby to hubba and even if he has a lousy butt, I don't think it matters.

But I don't think he does.

August 3, 2010


This is hilarious. And short. Short and hilarious.

Loud, Proud and....Anonymous

An article today in Salon (please, somebody save that place from the slide into the bog it is becoming) about online forums. I've written about it before; I'll no doubt write again. When you have your own little forum where you serve tea and cookies, you get to ruminate on them. The forums - not the cookies.

Matt Zoller Seitz takes a different tact. He notes that he likes the trollish waters of unmonitored forums because there is a truth to them. You get to see the pale, greasy underbelly that makes up the Great Unspoken. It rips off the political correctness we hide behind like an old bandaid, and the resulting wound is who we really are.

Meh. Maybe.

I've found that usually the trolls are prolific little buggers. One troll, labouring intensely at his/her keyboard, can do the work of a hundred other gainfully employed, happily motivated people who spend their time getting about the business of well, living. It only takes one turd in the pool to wreck the afternoon for everyone. I don't think it is really indicative of a bunch of people who are actually just dying to crap in the pool, but are withholding out of social pressure. Some people just want to swim.

Anonymity has its place. I do agree with this. Fear of repercussion for speaking out has silenced many good people. If anonymity can be protective in the quest for good, I'm all for it. If anonymity provides a cloak for cowards, well, that's a whole 'nother argument.

I don't get tons of troll mail. I get some. My Blame it on Lorraine section on my site comes into a blind email. No return address. This is so people can be honest about personal issues, ask for some help, and not reveal who they are. I set it up that way on purpose. Well, Webgod did. But who they are isn't relevant to the issue. What I like? The mail that comes into that address telling me I'm horrid, or my favourite, ugly. I'm a writer. I can be ugly. Big deal. Someone the other day called me a yummy mummy, which made me smile. Some people are too cowardly to tell me they hate me; some are too shy to tell me they like me.

Every online forum that isn't monitored has its trolls. It's easy to get your blood up when reading some of the tripe. That's the point: they're going for retaliation, for attention. They want you to get angry. But without fail, if you take a boo at when they post, you'll notice something. They post all the time, on every topic, around the clock. I wish they'd take the dog for a walk instead. Get a coffee. Fix the back deck. Get a plant. Put new laces in their shoes. Take up needlepoint. Anything.

And not for me, the reader. But for them. The trolls. The internet has produced something I think is more insidious, more dangerous. When a bunch of these trolls find each other, it's like a bunch of white supremacists setting up camp. Might makes right. When they continually see their froth in print, it reinforces that they are right. And yes, sadly, there are many, many people who believe that publishing unmonitored stuff on the internet is 'publishing'.

Trying to shut them up is like playing Whack-a-mole with Medusa. So balanced people give up, and the freaks run up the scoreboard. But as I've said repeatedly, silence is a great weapon. My favourite thing to see is commenters ignoring the turd in the pool.

Well, you know what I mean.

Labels: , , , ,

August 2, 2010

For Lord & Lady Simcoe

Just what they always wanted! A Volkswagen GTI!

Actually, I took this pic back in June at Niagara-on-the-Lake, when I was partaking of a rather fun Volkswagen press trip. This little five speed beauty was a blast - and to celebrate our surroundings, I drove it here in front of Lord and Lady Simcoe, near the house where they lived. They're the reason all you Canadians are gonna start drinking earlier today. While those wheels are more suited to performance than off-road experiences, I wanted to make sure the Simcoes got a good look. A little later, I drove it all over a couple of lawns. Sometimes, you just have to make demands of your car...

The trip was packed full of historical stuff; we also heard all about Laura Secord, who was more about war time bravery than chocolate. Unlike myself. I'm all about the chocolate, oncoming armies be damned.

If you haven't been out to Niagara-on-the-Lake, it's a fun day trip. Winery tours, horse and carriage rides, bed and breakfasts. Don't confuse it with Niagara Falls, which is freak museums. Which are fun too. Actually, NOTL has my favourite cemetery. I can happily give a miss to the cheesy tourist shops and bad restaurants (hint: don't go to most obvious), but the cemetery is amazing. I like cemeteries. More than chocolate, even.

And of course, Volkswagen is making some great rides these days. Lord and Lady Simcoe have given their approval.

Labels: , ,