November 30, 2010


So A Truck Fell on Me at 4am...

I have the weirdest dreams. Last night, I was driving along a road. Not a normal road, but a kind of yellow brick road with very high sides. Which isn't surprising; some crazy friends and I all changed our avatars on FB last night to Wizard of Oz things; I was the Tin Man, because I have no heart. But I digress.

So. Driving along this road, with other people in the car. And on the left there was another road higher up, coming in the opposite direction. And on that road was a big truck kind of thing, with those tank roller conveyor belt wheel things. They were very big, and I could tell instantly that this tank thing wasn't very steady. It's center of gravity was far too high, and it was traveling far too fast. See? Even in my dreams, I remain cognizant of such things.

Anyway, I realized suddenly that this tank was going to tip over on us. There was nothing I could do; I was trapped on the yellow brick road with nowhere to go. I braced myself and the thing fell over on us, crushing us. I woke up terrified. And crushed. And smooshed. And then relieved that I was not smooshed.

The stupid thing? The tank was made of Lego.

The world's heaviest Lego.

Sigh.


'Free Amish Fireplaces'

Page A14 of the Star has a full page ad featuring 'free' Amish fireplaces. Actually, I should put the whole thing in amused quotes.

Dig a little. They're plug in BTU heaters. You know, just like the Amish use when they plug them into their...oh wait, they don't have electricity. So, heaters. Fake Amish heaters. Made in China, I think.

The silent whisper beneath all the yelling of FREE FREE FREE is that these heaters, which are similar to any you can pick up for less than 50 bucks at Home Hardware, are free if you order the Amish mantles. They say they're made of wood, but they're butt-ugly, so there's that. Oh, and the mantles? You pay shipping and handling. They encourage you to order 2 FREE fireplaces (and ugly mantles) Approximate cost? 600 bucks from what I can find.

These have been debunked all over. Google and learn. But don't call for your FREE Amish fireplace.

November 27, 2010


One of Those Days. With Boots.


I started out today all crabbypants, which is hardly news to most of you. But the snow made me happy, believe it or not. I put the flannel sheets on my bed last night, which makes me insanely happy. So, snow is good, and I believe it's time to start channeling my mother's indomitable festive spirit. That lady owned Christmas. Note to Roz: get out the recipes.

I trundled my butt off to Ottawa Street in Hamilton late this afternoon. Ari and I spent most of the day wrestling with his essay on 1984. Which is the last time I read it. I always re-read whatever the boys are working on in class, but now I'm just reminded of how much I hate science fiction. Argh.

In Hamilton, I lucked out with parking right in front, which is good because I always buy pillows and they're huge and fumbly and it's a pain to carry them any distance. The parking was free - bonus! And then I looked up. My favourite motorcycle boot and leather shop is on Ottawa Street. Riders Solutions. Well, taking the free parking right out front as an omen, I went in. And ten minutes later, walked out. With a new pair of gorgeous Harley Davidson boots parked under my arm. I am weak. So sue me.

I'm making dinner. Marinating chicken in something, and I just opened a little bag of tiny potatoes. I have parsley. As I'm washing the potatoes, I notice I've bought a mixed bag. White, red and purple. The white and red look normal, but the purple ones look like little bruises. I wonder who invented purple potatoes. And I wonder why.

At dinner, I noted that one of the potatoes was shaped like a heart. Awwwwwww. Presuming this would be a nice moment for the Young In-Loves (Christer and Pam), I pointed it out. "Hey," said Ari. "It looks like testicles." The moment died.

Maggie is sitting here insisting that yes, yes she does like teryaki chicken. I am ignoring her, and have decided more wine is in order.

It's been one of those days.

*I added the pic to prove how sensible it was that I purchased those boots. Sensible.

November 26, 2010


Bonk, Bonk, Bonk

I love the New York Times, but sometimes they are so tone-deaf it is stunning. If you would like to feel really, really sorry for a guy who has fallen on hard times, don't read this.

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Your Weekend Horrorscopes

As promised, this is now a weekly feature here at Salon Lorraine. The originals published Friday, November 26, are here (that link will change; if you get here late, well, you shouldn't have. I can't be bothered figuring out how to make it work for those of you who just bashed into my knees trying to find your seat in the dark.) We shall be keeping these in the originating order from last Friday, which is, the order all of you asked me for them. Mine is first. I asked me first. Well, obviously.

Capricorn: If you weren't surrounded by idiot people making idiot choices and doing idiot things that get in your way, how could you ever hope to recognize greatness? This weekend, you will find joy in some small wonderful thing, mostly because so many assholish things are going on all around you, it will look good in comparison.

Scorpio: Well, it appears there is a lot of chickens and road crossing, with the which-came-first-chicken-or-the-egg analogy thrown in to really confuse the issue. This makes no sense, so I'm going to create my own horoscope for you, Scorpio: While we say that if someone doesn't make a decision, that is a decision, it's possible you're reading far too much into somebody's else inaction.

Leo: Someone in your life is being a butthead. They are wrong and you are right. Any thinking person can see this. But if they're a Leo, think: they just read that sentence and are more secure than ever in their stupid assertions. That's where this horoscope stuff backfires. Anyway. Like most major things, the truth outs itself in the long run. You soon find out who was right about how much gas was really left in the tank, if it was safe to eat that green bread, and whether red dye makes little kids squirrely. Sometimes you can't tell anyone anything. They just have to find out for themselves.

Sagittarius: Well, after a bunch of ridiculous prattling on about leprechauns and unicorns and princesses and fairies, we finally must admit that they don't exist. No magic? Bah. While I certainly roll my eyes at 'magicians' like that guy who puts himself in a box for weeks at a time (I alwaysalwaysalways worry about the peeing), here in Canada, we have Kreskin, and he is most certainly amazing. So there. Anyway. I'm here to tell you that while magic doesn't exist, for you this weekend, it is making a special guest appearance. Hear that knocking? It's Kreskin.

Aries: In a total turnaround from what he just told Sagittarius, I get to tell Aries that angels and ghosts and souls do exist. I would like some of what Mr. Cainer is smoking. Anyway. This magical underworld is good news for you, Aries. They are watching out for you, and while you usually waste your magic wishes, pay careful attention to what you wish for. I'm guessing that should mean "let me have 100 wishes" or "let me find true love" instead of "make this hangover stop".

Virgo: Something about blue birds and Judy Garland and anti-matter. Sigh. Let me try to right this boat: Though you may be a naysayer (gawd, I love that word, ergo I used it. I love 'ergo', too. And 'trundled'.) there comes a time when you just have to appreciate that you can trust in something more special than you. What, you can't imagine something more special than you? Geez, you must be a pain to live with. There are bigger things out there. Shut your negative yap and embrace them.

Taurus: Keeping with the totally ridiculous magic theme...Taurus, if you had a magic wand, you could do all kinds of cool things. He mentions Harry Potter things, though I'm not a fan, and you probably aren't either, so we'll just skip that part. Anyway. Even though you don't have a wand (though I hope if you're a woman, you at least have a tiara), you can still perform miracles. Just remember: these miracles almost always take the form of making someone else feel awesome, and almost never in your house magically cleaning itself.

Pisces: Geez, I can never spell that without checking. Anyway. Don't be a pain in the ass this weekend. You'll give yourself and everyone around you a headache. Lower your expectations, and you'll be instantly happier. Hmm. That's like buying bigger pants and saying you lost weight, no? He also says to 'consider yourself entitled', but my guess if you're like most Pisces, you don't have a problem with that particular idea. But the planets love you, blah blah blah.

Gemini: You know movies where people are yelling in each others faces and spit flies? Like a drill sergeant? Well, apparently life isn't like that. Note: has this guy never seen our parliament in session? Anyway. In real life, the crap is usually far deeper beneath the surface. Note: hasn't this guy seen Caddyshack? Poop floats. What you think is stress is actually you just not getting your own way. So, you have a choice to stomp your feet or be a grownup. I go with stomping, personally.

Cancer: Talk of a book that is really tomorrow, and how you can't see it until tomorrow is today. Yeah. Nobody can predict the future (except the Amazing Lorraine; I should start charging for readings), but if you have a brain in your head, you can detect how those around you are going to act. I think this is like all the animals running uphill before a tsunami. Since you can't stop a tsunami, follow the animals, I guess.

Aquarius
: Remember when they found Pluto, and then took away its planethood? Said it was too small? But now they're doing that thing in Switzerland that I blogged about a few times about the wee particles that they think make up this planet? Essentially, sometimes really small - eensie small - is more important than just small. Personally, I feel bad for Pluto, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss that. So Aquarius, keep your eyes open for tiny things, and let the bigger tiny things slide. Unless it's finding out what's making that smell behind the couch. Find that.

Libra: Sometimes, you just have to get out of your own way. He says you are 'undermining your own authority' (not carrying through on your threats to ground the little buggers), 'doubting your own judgment' (yeah, it really was the wrong colour paint) and 'indulging your worst weaknesses' (Cheesies. Weakness always involves Cheesies). So, this weekend, you need to praise yourself, and have self-love. Though where I'm from, that self-loving should probably be done in private.

EDIT: if you don't like your horoscope, just go read the others and pick one of them. I just make this stuff up, anyway.

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November 24, 2010


From Julie Delio...

...a friend in the U.S. who linked this on her FB today. Oh my, it's awesome. This is who I want to be at '84 and eleven months'.


No Reason. I Just Liked It



Image stolen from Jezebel, who stole it from somewhere else.


My Gene Pool

"Oh, my god, I've just discovered on-line shopping," said my sister Roz. No, not 5 years ago, this morning.
"Be careful, it's addictive," I warned her. Nobody - I mean, nobody - can get more worked up over a pair of darling boots from Zappos or Aldo then I can. Nobody.
"I was actually cheering for myself when I clicked 'add to cart'," said my moronic sister. Well, it's not like rescuing men from a mine shaft after 3 months, but it is a step in the right direction.

Roz works at home, like I do. We must carefully plan our fun. She is now going to stare out her front window waiting for the Canpar truck.

I finally made Christer get up. He's been job hunting, though not very effectively if you ask me. Anyway. I barked at him, and started heading down the stairs.
"Wait! Mom! I had an awful dream," he told me. He stood in the hallway in his shorts, eyes wide, hair on standing on end.
"No, it' wasn't a dream. You really did get a bad haircut," I told him.
"No! Wait! I was in this room, and S Club 7 was there."

Okay, S Club 7 was a British teenage group. 7 boys and girls, late teens, put out pop records and had a bad TV show the kids used to watch a decade ago. That's the only reason I knew who they were.
"So, S Club 7 was there, and they were like, having an orgy." I stared at my son. Why do kids think parents want to know these things?
"No, no, I wasn't in it. I was, like, the director." Oh, much better. My son doesn't partake in orgies, even in his dreams, he is just the director for a porno.
"Are you gonna blog about this?" he asked, blinking sleep out of his eyes.

No. Who would believe me?


Hot, Cross Buns?

I admit, I hadn't really considered this until I read a little piece buried today in the back pages. Something called the Scottish Tartan Authority is asking men to wear unders under their kilts.

At first glance, after loving the idea there is a Plaid Ruling Body, I wondered why they care. I've long known, as surely as I know the square root of 984576 (which means not at all), that men are supposed to be nekkid under their kilts. I never cared much, because as much as I looooooooooooove bagpipes (hold your judgment), when I see the guys in the parades playing them, I'm really not thinking of whether or not their bits are al fresco. I just like the music.

I read a little more. Oh. They're talking about for men renting kilts. Ewwwwww. That's like renting a toothbrush. You really have to be told? And if you're a true Scotsman, you own your own damned kilt, right? I mean, they're passed down from al fresco father to al fresco son, and family cooties are fine. Not to paint a whole nation with a stereotype, but I've known Scotsmen who's wallets literally squeak when they open them, and they own their own kilt. Even their own little purse thing that hangs in front. A sporran, I think.

The kilt rental firms are worried it is both unhygienic and indecent. I'll go along with unhygienic, but I'll have to take indecent on a case-by-case basis. (Yes, I've seen that awful pic that's floating around. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, send me that picture again.) The problem, of course, is the optics. Every time I see a bunch of bagpipers strutting along, urging tears to my eyes (happens every time. Be quiet.), I'm only going to be wondering if their sporran is swinging in a home or away kilt.

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November 23, 2010


Bloody Idiot

Today we shall discuss the Non-apology. Because it is the only form of its well-known sibling - the Actual Apology - that we see these days, it warrants some discussion.

Some Anglican bishop over in London decided it would be appropriate to remark that the marriage of William and Kate would last 7 years, and was flim-flam, and the royal family is full of broken marriages and philanderers. He went on to call Charles and Diana, William's parents, Big Ears and the Porcelain Doll. (Okay, I secretly giggled at that.)

Wait. I'm going somewhere with this. He has apologized. Actually, he has apologized for 'engaging in the debate'. Here kids, is a perfect example of my favourite Non-apology. There was no fricking debate that this idiot was invited to. He flapped his gums cuz he wanted to, then apologized for nothing. An Apology would have been: "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. It was hurtful and unprofessional and uncalled for.". Period. That is an apology.

I'm sick of the Non-apology. People are only sorry 'that your feelings were hurt'. Or people are sorry 'that you heard that'. 'I'm sorry if I offended anyone' is my hands-down best offender Non-apology, evah. Not remotely sorry you said or did, just if anyone took offence.

Let me be blunt: there is nothing you could say or do in the course of your daily life that wouldn't offend someone, somewhere. In our politically correct, touchy-feely world of everybody is speshull, and everybody gets a trophy, it is impossible not to offend someone. We have a whole generation (or two) who have only heard how awesome they are from their well-meaning, backassed parents. Guess what? You're gonna offend them. And especially their parents. There are people who are fueled by being offended - it makes them fly like 'offensive' is high octane fuel. If you are indeed saying something that needs to be said, then say it and stand behind it.

You have a several choices, as I see it.

1. Shut up. Forever and ever, shut up. This is safe. For some of us, it is also unattainable.
2. Say what you mean, and stand by it. This requires you to consider what you're going to say before it flies out of your mouth, but that's not such a bad thing, is it?
3. Say what you mean, then offer up mealy-mouthed Non-apologies that nobody believes, but leaves everyone thinking a little less of you every time.
4. When you screw up, admit it. Deliver a sincere Apology if you're actually sorry. Not for hurting someone's feewings, but for doing something you truly wish you hadn't done, and you don't believe is in keeping with your character.

Let's get rid of the Non-apology altogether. Here is the only thing I can imagine being acceptable: "My intent was not to create offence, though I obviously knew that could be the outcome. That said, I felt it was important enough to say it anyway, and am prepared to withstand the responses that others may find equally important."

Oh, and Bishop? The fact you typed that into a website, and then apologized on Twitter, yet said you can't understand how it got out there leads me to believe you are stupid as you are mean.

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November 22, 2010


Just The Cats Now...



Sarah sent me a link from the Birmingham Cat Show, or whatever it's called.

High maintenance putters vie for trophies. Or their owners do. My two don't need a fricking show. They already know they are princesses.

But I like these pics. One for the cattitude, one for being so pretty.

(I didn't say purrdy. I didn't. That would make me a weird old woman with 127 cats that the authorities come and arrest as TLC films it. I am not her.)


Toddler &Tiaras & Decorating Mart

Oh, how I love homemade commercials. You know the ones I mean. Remember the Carvel ice cream guy when we were kids? Or Mel's obnoxious 'Noooooooooooobody' nonsense?

I'm making chili. And sipping a little wine from a perfect little tumbler that has a dragonfly on it. I love this little glass, and I wouldn't be drinking wine so early, but I needed some room in the fridge and the only - the only - thing I could do to free up space was kill off the couple of inches of wine. So, I'm actually being very efficient.

Anyway. I make good chili.

And anyway again, I have the TV on. And this ad just came for something called Decorating Mart. Now, if you're any kind of decorator (and I'm not; I just call Arlene and ask her what I like), the name alone would send you running for something else. Anything else, in fact. But like the Carvel guy, he decided to save a few bucks and make his own ad.

It's awesome. In a store that looks like an arena full of swatches and bad gilt-and-red velvet cherubs, a guy is beseeching you to come to Decorating Mart. Guy looks like an unmade bed. You'd have thunk that Mrs. Decorating Mart would have at least dressed him on this of all days - the day he makes his television debut. Nope.

TV these days seems to be a jumble of extremes. It's either ridiculous baby beauty pageants with 18-month-olds in fake eyelashes, or Mr. Decorating Mart. No in-between to rest my horrified eyes.

I'm bracing myself for the onslaught of terrible holiday advertising. The Lee Valley catalogue arrived the other day. I noticed that you can order on-line. I told everyone to flip through, and order all the lawn equipment and garlic mashers they want. It's on me.

As long as I don't find myself in Decorating Mart, succumbing to the siren song of Tacky Crap That Seemed So Right At The Moment.

Oh be quiet. You have boxes of that sh*t in the basement. We all do.

November 21, 2010


My New Favourite Site

This is just....perfect.


Will Someone Feed the Cat?

This story has been out all week, but I'm just catching up. It's how cats drink. Scientists and engineers did some very official experiments - one of them brought his cat in - to determine what I already knew: cats are elegant, and classy. Especially when compared to dogs, who just slurp and blow water all over the damned place.

Years ago I saw a slo-mo video of a cat drinking, and was awestruck that they curl their little tongues backwards to do so. It was very neat, and gave me even more ammunition to prove that my cats are indeed superior beings. In fact, just now I ran up the stairs and scared JoJo. She hopped in a half full laundry basket, because everyone knows that a laundry basket is T. (If you don't know what 'T' is, you must not have kids. 'T' means time out. When they're playing rude chasing games, anyone can all of a sudden yell 'couch is T' and indeed, everything skids to a halt as they honour the couch's magic powers to anyone sitting on it).

So. Cat's are tidy drinkers. Which is good, because Maggie is a piggy eater, and I'm sick of scrubbing bits of gross food off of the floor and other parts of the house. She believes she lives in Wild Kingdom or something, and surreptitiously grabs a piece of cheese or meat from my hand and runs away to devour it away from all the other feral creatures. Except of course, the only other feral creature is JoJo, who is upstairs peering out of a laundry basket.

Since I'm New York Timesing it this morning, I will pick up another section. Ah. Here is the reason that people should not be allowed to post letters on the internet. This guy writes a fairly innocuous piece about grocery shopping. It's not landmark, it's not terrible, it's not....really anything. It's just an observance of the usual crap we all face at some point or other. The section is called Complaint Box. So, you get it. But. Here's the fun part: people who have no sense of humour write in to respond. He's making an observance, folks. It's a snapshot moment of a common life. That's all. No more, no less. BUT. Read some of the notes. Oh, ferchristsakes. Why do pieces like this pull out the preachers? Why? I have this happen all the time, and I weep for those of you who live with someone who has no humour, no wit, no nuance. Then again, maybe it's been a relief for you that they have somewhere to go be all right and preachy all the time. Maybe they leave you alone. Somehow, I doubt it. Seeing their words in print usually just encourages them. Damn you, internet.

Every heard of Kryptos? The sculpture the CIA has out front? Well, good for you smartypants. I hadn't until I read this. Apparently, it was a commissioned work by the sculptor Jim Sanborn, and has messages buried in it. Not like a time capsule, like the whole thing is a series of letters and numbers and there are hidden messages. This makes me get all Encyclopedia Brown-like, and want to solve it. The first 3 have been solved, but one remains uncracked after 20 years. And Sanborn is getting pissy with people contacting him. Computer people try to crack it; normal people; crazy people. I think I might spend the rest of my Sunday cracking it. I mean, I've already done the Mega Sudoku on the Washington Post site, and if you can solve that sucker, you can do anything.

Random: totally bored with anything to do with Sarah Palin or Kanye West. Please, just shut up. The Pope has finally said male prostitutes can use condoms. Yeah. Go, Pope. I often send my sister Roz recipes from the NYT with the suggestion that she might like to make them for me. She never does, but hope springs eternal. I'm sure the Pope will come out in favour of birth control for anyone who wants it before Roz makes me a NYT recipe. But, I didn't send her this one today, because, frankly, it just looks like a bowl of poop.

I might write more later. I have to write all day, but now the cats need feeding. Again. Sigh.

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November 19, 2010


Horrorscopes

Okay, I'll paraphrase from Jonathon Cainer in the Toronto Star, since I can't find it on line. Oh wait, I just did. There's the link. For readers who have asked for my interpretation....

Capricorn (me): If everything is going your way, why are you still so damned miserable? It's true some people who are having their arse handed to them and could be full of woe are still all happyhappyhappy, but that's not you, is it whiny girl? Alcohol may let you pretend you think everything is going your way, but wine lies. Be more hopeful this weekend.

Scorpio (jmd): You know when people think back to the good old days and say they were so, well, good? Yeah, they're lying. Crap yesterday, crap today, crap tomorrow. This weekend you may be tempted to do something that reminds you of something you 'over-romanticized' (his words, not mine). Don't be doing that. You have a chance to instead to create some wonderful future. Doesn't say if this is romantic or not. Your choice, I guess.

Leo (djc): Are you capable of going against the flow and being wonderful? You must do this, apparently, to be wonderful. But not too often or you'll just piss people off. You are very good at not 'running with the crowd' (his words). Be wary this weekend, because the crowd is running "in a ridiculous direction" (his words.) So, don't be ridiculous, I guess.

Sagittarius (for Roz, who didn't ask, but will no doubt do so when she sees this): You have had your fair share of trouble for the year (and no doubt doled out tons more; ask your family). If you're expecting more angst, you probably deserve it. But make an effort to stop being such a pain, and we can change the course. Now, the creepy part: "while you were asleep, various cosmic representatives went into negotiation on your part." Ewwwww. Right while you were asleep. But they apparently had a board meeting and have absolved you of some of that angst. Get out of jail free card has been issued. For now.

Aries (nursedude): Some crap about the twins in his family fighting. Oh, here's the point: the people who have the most in common fight the most. Hmmmm. He's learned as a parent to keep them apart blah blah blah...you apparently know what he's getting at. "Your best bet is to keep out of and away from this weekend's potential row!" (his words, and his exclamation point).

Virgo (B1): There are a lot of people who are pains in the ass. Or pains in the asses. Whatever. You, of course, are perfect, so it's all you can do to not point out to these people just how imperfect they are. This weekend, however, you are totally justified in pointing and shouting. But I'd duck if I were you.

Taurus (Beep): You wanted this, and now you're bitching? Of course stress comes with success. But to paraphrase him,"if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, because it's not just the kitchen where the heat rises" (if you knew my friend Beep, you would be laughing so hard right now at that line. Nevermind.) You are allowed to complain about the rigors and demands placed upon you by forging ahead, but you are not allowed to quit. So suck it up, I guess.

Pisces (Janie): When you're uncertain, life is pissy. This can make people be total sadsacks, who walk around with a little rain cloud over their head, certain the sky is falling. Or rain. I think I screwed up that analogy. Anyway. This weekend, stop being all glass- is- half- empty, and rejoice in the possibility that life might be great. ('Rejoice' is my word. I admit, it's not very Lorraine-like. Oh well.)

Gemini
(nobody asked, but I want to go take a bath so I'm doing it anyway): For the most part, most people are decent human beings. For the most part. Apparently, someone in your world is being a total jackass (my words, not his). As much as you would like to respond in kind, don't. You need to be all peace-out and hippy patient instead. I could never do this, but I'm not a Gemini, so I don't have to.

Cancer (see Gemini): If you're waiting for a reply to an email you sent or a call you made, give it up. You've spun someone out so badly they don't know how to answer. You're probably getting all pissyface with them right this minute, but they aren't being rude; you've just tossed a wrench into their brain. Be nice.

Aquarius (see Gemini): You may have noticed that if someone is watching, you act differently. It's like Paris Hilton posing on the red carpet with her head all twisty. Nobody actually looks like that in real life. This weekend, consider if you are watching somebody so closely they're acting all weird, and metaphorically twisting their head around for the camera.


Friday Round Up

Ah. Waking up to totally splendid news. Potatoes may hold the key to weight loss. Yes. Scientists have discovered something-or-other just beneath the skin of a potato that when extracted and whirly-gigged in a lab and added to other stuff makes them healthier and weight lossier. An appetite suppressant, a natural one. The only catch is that you'd have to eat 3 or 4 potatoes to get the value of this suppressant. Fortunately, as my family will attest, I consider this small potatoes, if you will. All I am today is because of potatoes. I would eat potatoes 3 times a day. I often do. Maggie and I eat left over garlic mashed for breakfast, if we're lucky enough to have leftovers. If they built a potato church, I would worship there. I am made of good peasant stock, as my friend Arlene would say.

It was in this warm fuzzy mood that I moved along to the next section of my paper, to see Donald Trump's churlish mouth and swirlish hair staring at me. He is announcing he would consider running for President. Oh, goody. We were in danger of not having a loud-mouth, nonsensical narcissist running. If you don't count Sarah Palin, of course. The Donald warns us not to underestimate Mrs. Palin. Is that possible?

Moving right along to the Food Section, one of my favourite features, The Dish. Basically, you can write in and ask them to delve into the nasty details of your favourite dish. Personally, I think the only reason you should do this is if you never want to eat it again. Every single restaurant meal they rip apart is a heart attack on a plate, even the ones with lettuce in them. Lettuce is a decoy. You know that.

Anyway, today it's some poutine monstrosity that a reader cherishes more than kittens and long walks on the beach. Poutine is gross; truly. Ari decided to make some the other day. He took McCain frozen fries, an envelope of gravy we just happened to have in the cupboard (don't judge), and cubed up some mozzarella cheese. He assembed this mess. He ate this mess. I assumed this would cure him of the poutine routine for good. No, he just asked if when I went shopping I could buy cheese curds. I said yes. I didn't do it. The Dish declared this reader's indulgence to contain more than a day's fat, sodium and calories. I'd say the fact it looks like something somebody already ate and threw up should be warning enough.

I don't usually spend a lot of time in Entertainment, but I am pleased to know that Avril Lavigne's divorce is final. Actually, I thought she was 16, and not even aware she was married. Kids today. Those weird Quaids are in Canada. Who is Randy Quaid? The ugly brother. Some uptight place is debating pardoning Jim Morrison for flashing his willie on stage a thousand years ago. They should just let somebody like my late mother handle this kind of thing. I can just hear her saying, "Oh forgawdsakes, put that thing away, you're gonna scare the kids.". And that would be that. Maybe my Mom is in heaven with Jim Morrison.

Finally, The Star has new horoscope guy. He essentially writes these looooooooong pieces that guarantee you will find something in there to make you happy. I mean, isn't that the problem with short scopes? One word of bad, and you stay home all day eating chocolate and watching soaps. Nope, this guy offers up a buffet for every sign. Except today, he tells me to quit drinking wine, it's just making me kid myself. Arsehole. It's all fun and games until you realize the horoscope guy is crouched in your cupboard.

Go check yours.

Ask in the comments for a summary of yours.

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November 18, 2010


Care to Laugh Until You Pee?

Hyperbole and a half.

If you don't crack a smile, keep it to yourself. There's something wrong with you.

Or, something very wrong with me. And I'd rather go with the former.


Better Than Caffeine


It's Thursday, and I have a ton of work to do. I must write about ATVs and motorcycles. This is fine with me; I can do this. Really. One more pot of tea, oh wait, I'll just go scoop the litter boxes and toss in a load of laundry. Yeah, I will get to the work in just a few minutes.

Oh, a little article on Leo Fuchs. He took some glorious pictures back in the day, of Hollywood icons. What's this? His son has assembled a book? Oh, I'll just read this first. Won't take but a minute.

Oh. Oh, this will really help my Thursday. Looking at this pic of Paul Newman, the only things I can think about are ATVs and motorcycles. The only things. Sigh. I think this was his Hud days. I tell ya, keep all your little vampire actors.

November 16, 2010


There Goes the Neighbourhood...Texas-style

My day has been relatively crappish, until I read this.

I love Ashley Walker, aka Writer to the Stars. I've linked her before, but man, she's one of my favourites. Come on - I've been offering you up some great stuff! Go read.

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Does Your Cat Text You?

I live a very structured life. I get up at the same every day, ostensibly to get Ari and/or Christopher up and to get working. Ari has to be up by 7:30, so I trundle around getting tea and feeding the cats and tossing a bagel in the toaster for him. He is spoiled; what can I say.

Today, there was no doing it. I was beat. I went in and poked where I believed his head to be and said "get up, get me up at 8, make your own bagel". There was a snorty sound from the pile of pillows. I went back to bed. The cats stood expectantly in the hallway, as this is the usual cue to head down for food. I went back to bed. Maggie came with me. JoJo looked down the hallway forlornly, wondering if a cat had ever, ever gone more than 8 hours without food.

The next time I opened my eyes, it was 8:30. Maggie was sleeping blissfully on my tummy. I'm not sure how she does this, but she does. JoJo, obviously finding an acceptable answer to her question, was piled back in her corner under the heat register snoozing away. She probably thought it was tomorrow.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it's my blog and I don't really need a reason. You read, I write. Anyway, I've finally figured out why I'm getting such lousy sleep. The problem is that my phone texts me now. The kids and even a few business people use texts to send me information. This is fine. It's short and sweet. But my phone makes this little weird sound when a text comes in, and I get just few enough for it to surprise me every time. The sound is turned down low, which is fine. If a text comes in and I'm near my phone, I can just see it. Which is also fine.

No, the problem is that when Maggie sleeps, she makes a similar sound. She's a noisy little 6 pounder, and she makes these little wheezy sounds when she snores. They have a little rhythm, like the noise when a text comes in.

Deep in my subconscious, I take all the input from my day and try to make sense of it all. I worry about what I haven't got time to do, I worry about things that are happening and things I can't make happen. And somewhere in the swimming jumble of sleep, I hear a weird little noise.

I spend all night trying to answer the cat.

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November 15, 2010


I Don't Have to Dis Sarah Palin

It's done way more effectively by Hadley Freeman from The Guardian, right here.

She watches the Alaska/Palin mash-up so we don't have to. It's hilarious. The commercials were too much for me.

I've been to Alaska. It's awesome. That's all.


So, I'm reading about the decline of men...

...because I am in a stabby mood.

I have no clue if the author interviewed in this piece is correct, or even if his hypothesis has merit. I don't care; I'm in a stabby mood. Why you ask? Because I am going through new computer hell. I hate new computers. My old one was stumbling around like a drunken pirate, but, well, it was my drunken pirate. I never knew which way it was going to pitch, but I knew it would do it sooner or later.

This new one? Bah. The email has been horrendous. Choking and shutting down and freezing up. It needs Tonic Lax. Hell, I need Tonic Lax. That's an insider cat joke for you cat people.

But I wandered off site to read about how men are just so much less...manly these days. Physically, because they've gone from trading furs to trading stocks they are more squooshy and slow. You don't have to run to catch dinner, you can just pick it up on the way home. The author makes some rather unsupported remarks about how fast and furious our ancestors used to be; I wasn't aware they had stopwatches back then, but whatever.

There are a lot of papers/stories/features about the decline of the male of our species. That we reward wussy behaviour and punish the more typically masculine traits. That women are taking over and creating a subset of boy children who are just girl children in darker colours.

Yeah, I don't think so. I don't know a single woman who isn't happy and impressed with a guy who can do guy things. I mean, I just changed the filter on my humidifier. I did it because I can, not because I wanted to. I opened the top, and promptly dumped the tray of water all over the floor. This raced to the litter boxes, because my basement floor is as level as the Titanic apres iceberg. I sighed as I watched the impending poo stew, and started to remove the old filter. The little arm water-measurer thing popped off, and I was promptly sprayed with a stream of water from the little water shooty doodad. I reached up and turned off the little bar that controls this, by following the length of hose as it noodled around the pipes above my head.

I was then standing with a puddle of litter and water at my feet. My sleeve was soaked. I was holding a disgusting, crusty tray, and wondering how this could get worse. As I glanced around for something to clean all of this up, the old filter slid off the sprog and clattered to my feet, coming apart like a two-bit Ferris wheel. Maggie was watching me. She looked amused.

I scrubbed everything up, carefully reassembled everything, and got it all spinning around again. I was pleased. And I would also have been more than happy to not have done it. Boys can do this. I appreciate when boys do this. I am not making a single feminist statement. I hate useless guys who can't do this stuff, but I also hate when women can't do it.

I can cut grass and shovel snow. I also know that Christopher, at 6'3" and 200lb, can lift more and push more, more effortlessly than I can. I'm sure if he had been raised to run away from sabre toothed tigers, he would be more fleet of foot, but conflating modern man's physical abilities with the rise of so-called Momma's Boys is crazy. The article does make an important point about the more modern use of birth control: women can play with the He-man Masters of the Universe, without necessarily bearing fruit. Maybe we are breeding out the Viking terrors that he talks about. But I don't know how that would mean those same women are rushing to mate with interior designers.

Teach all of your kids how to clean a toilet, and how to turn off a water main. Teach them how to do laundry and how to use a miter-board. Anyone can cook, or rake or scrub a fridge. If our bodies are psychically changing with evolution, then so should our expectations.

And maybe it's just the lizard part of my brain kicking in, but a toolbelt is still sexier than a briefcase. But don't ask me to clean the cave.

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November 13, 2010


My House is Clean

This will mean nothing if you don't know me well. Nobody around here likes to clean. It sucks. My mom used to sneak clean whenever she came over; mom died a decade ago, and you can tell.

My usual drill is to go into a room, peruse the flotsam and jetsam, and cry. And do nothing about it in the mistaken belief that it will somehow get better, not worse. Yeah. I'm too burned out to clean. The boys have their chores, and I'm sure I should assign them more, but I hate cleaning too. I just can't get it clean enough to have someone come in to clean.

I peered under my bed today, and something just finally snapped. I didn't have dust bunnies; I had dust rhinos. It's a king sized bed and I can't reach under there. I went off to find the vacuum, hoping it would have enough extension thingees to reach. The cats had done a little cacking under there, so I knew I'd be sprawled on my belly scrubbing. When Maggie was a kitten, she had a fruit fixation. She loved nectarines. She would somehow haul them out of the fruit bowl on the table, haul them up the stairs and eat them under the bed. She weighed about a pound and a half. I still have no idea how she did it, but one day I finally looked under my bed and counted 7 nectarines.

I have worn out sewing machines; I have worn out clutches; I have worn out leather boots; I have never worn out a vacuum. I felt I should be clear about that.

I stared at the pile of unmatched socks on my dresser. And I threw them all out. I haven't felt that free since I went cliff jumping at the cottage. I bundled up a stereo I haven't used in two years and told the kids to find a home for it. I pulled out CDs still in cellophane, untouched for 15 years. Damn you to hell, Columbia Record Club.

I wiped down wooden blinds, I dusted Shakespeare's face, and I put on my winter duvet.

Christer wandered into the kitchen, sniffing the air like an airport drug dog. "It smells...clean," he said. "It is clean," I replied. "Want me to help with anything?" he lied. "Tomorrow, you cut and clean up the yard for winter," I told him. He nodded. Just like that. Ari pulled laundry up and down, just like that.

My mom always used to tell me it was easier to keep things neat if you just cleaned up as you went along. Then again, my mother also told me it was as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one. Mom had an immaculate house, so she was right about one thing.

It's not that I thrive in clutter, it's that I kinda don't notice it. I work and work and work in the middle of it, and while there was a point in time my shrink would have had a field day with the disorder in my life, it really has come down to time. "I live large," I used to tell people. And I do. But I really do need to live tidier.

There are women who will tell you then knew they were about to go into labour because they started a cleaning frenzy. I've actually witnessed this. Never experienced it, mind you, but I've seen it often. It's a nesting thing. They like clean nests. When Christopher was born, my only statement after the hour of labour he put me through was that I'd missed Knots Landing. It was okay; I'm sure my mother had probably cleaned my kitchen floor the second I left the house anyway. One time she dropped a jar of beets in my kitchen. She did this fake gasp, and proceeded to rip the entire kitchen apart to clean it. "There is beet juice everywhere," she lied. I swear she did it on purpose.

Still and all, there is no labour taking place around here. But there is definitely a need for renewal. My renewal is pine scented. With a little Mr. Clean thrown in.


Squeakymarker

I've linked Tonia's stuff before, but you really need to go back and give it another poke around. I've watched her do these. The detail is exquisite. And this is the way her mind words. It's like a ball of yarn, then all of a sudden she just kind of alakazams it and this art appears.

Girl is genius. And one of my best friends. Gawd, I'm such a good friend-picker.

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November 12, 2010


Argh! Somebody Help!

I've switched computers this week, and I'm having a hard time getting my email aligned right.

I've lost an email from the woman's Probus group here in Burlington. I don't have a record of the woman who wrote to me - I spoke at a men's Probus meeting last year, and they were terrific.

If you were the one who contacted me, please fire me another email! I'm sorry!

(If I don't hear, I'll start a chain of phone calls until I locate her. But I'm hoping this will be faster. What can I say. I'm lazy, and I've had a bad week.)


Cheap Crap

Did you just glance at your printer? Your kid's sweatshirt that shrunk faster than Ron Jeremy diving into the Arctic Ocean? The blow dryer that you stare dumbly at as your thumb moves the little switch up, down, up, down, and nothing happens?

Here's an article that matches my mood about such things. How we've all been seduced with the 'of course you can all have everything' mentality when it comes to consumer goods. i was hoping it would flinch a little and discuss our ridiculous 'want' versus 'need' confusion, but apparently that horse has disappeared in a cloud of dust.

Remember when you could pay more, and get more? Remember Braun applicances? Household stuff - blenders, blow dryers, food processors, etc - they had a 3 year warranty. I worked at Consumers Distributing for most of a decade (I know, I know. The stories I could tell...), and I got to see first hand the true test of You Get What You Pay For. You buy cheap crap, you get cheap crap. Invest a little up front, your grandkids will be fighting over who gets it.

But things have changed. I don't go looking for the cheapest TV or computer. I want the best, for a fair price. But the band has become not just narrow, but opaque. Several brands made by one manufacturer masquerading as 'different'. Goods that explode one day before the warranty expires, or more often, one day after.

My current teeth gnashing feud is going on with Cogeco. I have a modem. It is a piece of crap. I should rename if Piece of Crap with that trademark circle thingee after it. It should never be referred to as anything other than Piece of Crap. It is my second piece of crap.

Here's how it (doesn't) work: My internet keeps pooping out. It takes the phone with it, because it's all connected by Wall Magic, or whatever makes the things in my house operate. We keep resetting the modem. And resetting and resetting. I call for tech support, because even my wee fuzzy brain knows that paying 200 bucks a month should mean I don't have to keep resetting the modem. They send out a tech. I am not home, so Superchild #1 gets up. Tech informs him that the signal is fine, it's the garbage modems that don't work. Tells him to just keep resetting it. Superchild #1, believing this to be a fair and reasonable answer for 200 bucks a month (that obviously aren't his), let's him go. Opens the trap and lets the tech go. Superchild #1 now has two places to poop from.

I call back. Some squirrelly phone rep informs me there is no possible way their modems could be inferior. Just no way. He doesn't know what the tech was talking about. Let me tell you something: I will take a guy in a tool belt who knows his way around a pair of wire snips over a doofus sitting at a desk sipping a Snapple while he tells me I'm an idiot.

I demand another tech, which is like a demanding a recount even though you know you won and shouldn't have to prove it. Tech #2 shows up, and laments that the modems are crap. In a court of law, I would call this a smoking gun. I could convince a jury of my internet-deprived peers that Cogeco is shilling shoddy modems. I know I could. Tech #2 replaces Modem #1 anyway, but with the same piece of crap. They must have gotten a hell of a deal on them, because it's all they have. If you have Cogeco, look down. We have the same modem. I bet they bought all of them that were ever produced. I bet there was a huge garage sale in China, and Cogeco got up early and went over in their station wagon and said "we'll give you a hundred bucks for all of 'em. Take it or leave it." And I believe China yelled 'deal!' as they started loading 3 million crappy modems into the Woody.

Tech #2 had been gone a day. Modem crapped out. Having no energy to fight this fight again, I sighed. Then I discovered yesterday that my phone had been out for over a day. I didn't notice; I don't like phones. But people started calling on my cell phone, wondering if I'd finally made good on my oft-made promise to sell the house and leave no forwarding address. I called Cogeco to fix the phone. Snappleman got it going, all the while telling me it wasn't their fault. Sure it isn't. That's why when you flicked something on your motherboard behind the big curtain, it started working again. "Are you calling me on your cellphone?" asked Snappleman. No, my not-working home phone, genius. I told him to look up sarcasm. I made an offhand comment about the crappy modems. "Oh, no, our modems are fine," he assured me. "No, they are not. But I'm too tired to have that talk with you. Drink your Snapple," I told him.

Here's the thing: I keep threatening to go back to Bell or Sympatico, but they all suck. And they all know they suck. And I have this piece of crap modem parked on my computer that I know is crap, and they know is crap, and they know I know is crap. We accept lousy stuff because we are tired. I am too defeated to chase that bear up the mountain every damned day. I am reduced to living for moments when people agree that stuff is lousy. I will willingly and enthusiastically buy good quality merchandise when someone can prove to me it is truly better. I despise shopping; I prefer to buy things *once*. I hate waiting for Snapple-drinking deniers to schedule in techs who show up sometime between 8 and 6. The techs don't deserve the abuse that gets heaped on them, and companies have an obligation to provide decent, reliable products and service when they're charging top buck.

I've actually started to like these modems. It's the only time my sons emerge from their rooms. I don't call them to dinner anymore. I just disconnect the modem. In tandem, I hear two chairs wheel back, and large feet come thundering down the stairs. Cogeco has brought my family closer together, by removing reliable internet access from us.

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November 11, 2010


Reliving Those Fabulous High School Years...

For someone who was pretty much a dweeb in high school, I opened this note from one of my favourite readers, R.L. Parker, with interest.

How Cool Were You In High School? it asks.

Well, I totally had to take this quiz. I'm over it. I can live with hearing the truth. I'm a big girl.

Bet you send this to a dozen people;)

November 10, 2010


The World's Laziest Blogger

That would be me.

I have a meeting, so go read Scott again. I love this.

Mostly, I just love a guy who so totally understands the mysteries of women. And leaves it alone, for fear of his life.

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November 9, 2010


Me & My Furnace & Reliance

My furnace started going wonky last week. The thermostat is set to drop to 65 degrees at 9am, because that's when we would all be cleared out for work and school.

So. I started working from home 7 years ago, which means that now every day at 9am I go to the thermostat and turn it back up. Don't tell me to reset the thermostat. I have a routine, and if I didn't turn it back up I wouldn't know it was time to put the kettle on again for my second pot of tea of the day. There is a method, you see.

Anyway, last week, I noticed something funny. Usually when I nudge the temperature up, the fan kicks in and I'm rewarded with the reassuring woosh of things working as they should. No woosh. I scowled, and made my way downstairs. The behemoth in the corner seemed okay. I touched the pipe thing, and it was hot. I gave it a couple of bangs for good measure. I glanced at the litter boxes and reminded myself to scoop them. Little pigs.

Back upstairs, it took all morning for the temperature to creep back up. I knew this was wrong, but after having spent most of the last two weeks jousting with Cogeco over a shoddy modem they have no intention of making better, and Rogers over an iPhone that has a mind of its own, I was hardly in the mood to start all over with yet another faceless 800 number established solely to make me cry.

I then got to envisioning Little House on the Prairie vignettes. I pictured waking in the night to no heat. None. And no Pa to start a fire in the woodstove I don't have. I pictured the boys huddled around a candle for warmth as they ate cold beans. I pictured chipping ice from the bowl in the washstand to rinse my face with frigid water. What can I say. I read too much as a kid.

I called Reliance Home Comfort. After much burrowing in my pile of To Be Filed, I found an invoice that seemed to indicate I had a program for just such a calamity. I called. They said they'd come out. I tentatively asked how much this would cost me. She assured me I was covered because I had A Plan. I didn't believe her, but told them to come anyway.

The furnace is 15 years old. Mom put it in just before they sold me the house. I figured the Reliance guy would show up, shake his head and tell me I needed a new one. That is the way my life goes, for the most part. Nope. Chris Basutti trundled in with his tool belt, sprawled in front of the furnace and pretended the litter boxes weren't a few feet from his nose, and pulled apart the furnace. He replaced the fan motor. He cleaned it all out. He did some other stuff. My furnace is like new. He showed me the invoice - 1,053 bucks. My charge? Nada. Yay!

November 8, 2010


Sign We Are At End of Times

I was watching Dr. Phil today.

No, that's not the sign. That's just cruising around the dial waiting for the printer to print and stumbling on a trainwreck. Don't blame me; blame Hewlett Packard.

No, the sign is that the teenage girl he had on who sat there, with her little ferret faced boyfriend, explaining why a couple of 16 year olds (or whatever) were totally, totally able to take care of a baby. Their baby. Kids today.

And no, a knocked up cherubic teenager isn't the end of times. Hell, in some religions, that's the beginning of times. No, the end of times? What they named the unfortunate little sprout.

Miley.

They named their kid Miley.

Make it stop.

November 6, 2010


Yoo Hoo, Anybody Home?

I'd vaguely heard of Foursquare, some app that tells the world where you physically are. By announcing on things like your Facebook page that you are *now* in some coffee shop or bordello or what have you. Like all update ideas, I mostly cringe. But this one is worse, of course.

I was flipping through Salon just now, something I do less and less, and stumbled through the Broadstreet section, something I do even less than that. Anyhoo. They're talking about this app, and the fact it hasn't taken off quite as its inventors anticipated.

Ya think??

Using your phone to announce where you are is effectively doing two things: inviting people you don't know to come find you, and telling anyone else where you aren't - at home. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

I just returned from a loop to North Bay. I do stuff for the Tourism bureau. As I left, I mentioned to a colleague that I had to gas up. He glanced at my gas tank, and said I had lots of fuel.
"No, not enough to get home," I told him.
"But you have a few hours before you have to fill up," he said.
"I will not pull into anywhere after dark," I explained. He looked at me strangely.
I finally made him understand that women traveling alone do not take stupid chances. Pulling into a rest stop after dark to fuel up is one of them. It opens you up to unknown surroundings with unknown people. And it effectively announces to anyone and everyone that you are traveling alone. No thanks. I fill the car's tank and empty my own before dark.

A few months back, I was made aware that on cell phones, unless you turned it off, taking and posting pictures would also post a notation that said precisely where that pic had been taken. It's not obvious; it's behind the picture. Webgod Jeff can explain better than I can. But tons of people were still blithely taking and posting pictures. Of their homes. Of their kid's schools. I find that rather stupid, myself.

Ari is reading George Orwell's 1984 right now, which means I'm re-reading it too. We talked about the concept of Big Brother, and how this is where the term originated. I told him he is captured on camera hundreds of times a day. He seemed surprised. But I told him as he walks down the main street in our city at lunch time every day, his image is captured nearly every step of the way. The fact we forget doesn't mean it's not happening.

For use by law enforcement, this is a good thing. If you get jumped at a cash machine, chances are good we'll be watching a clip of it on the evening news.

But announcing your moves all day to an unknown audience? Are you kidding me? You want to put a chip in your ear so you can be tagged like a border collie, go right ahead.

But you're a fool.

November 3, 2010


Scott Shpak Makes Me Laugh

Ah, this is funny. Go at least look at the pics. But stay for the story. Thanks, Scott.

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