March 30, 2012

Square Off Friday

The tragic death of a local teen after a night of drinking with not just his parents permission, but in their presence, has set off a rollercoaster of emotions for many.

The law says you can serve underage kids alcohol in your home; they step outside that door, they're breaking the law.

Kids will be kids? Better in front of me than behind my back? My kid would never do that?

Join us for a touchy, but important, subject. CHCH 11 at 5:30.

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March 29, 2012

This is where we are headed...if we're not already there

If you read nothing else today (this week/month/year), please read this.

A piece from The Babbler via Salon on the state of not just the union, but who we are. I say 'we', as we are creeping ever more steadily to a duality with the Americans we keep thinking we are so much better than. We aren't. Read this line: " And, yes, it was the Bush administration that muzzled government scientists and declared war on organized intelligence in a hundred other ways."

Gee. Seems like just a couple of weeks ago I was reading about Stephen Harper's Government (yes, I'm going to go along with calling it that; he wants it, and I want no part of it, so I figure we're about agreed on something, at long last...) was being called out for doing the same thing. Oh wait. It was.

I've spent most of the past decade wondering if I'm incredibly stupid, or just incredibly naive. Go ahead; vote. I don't mind. I actually know I'm not really dumb. But forgive me for wondering what the hell has been taking place right in front of my eyes, and forgive me for believing I've been at some David Copperfield magic show. And yes, I hate him for having that name. Sorry, magicianman. That is and always will belong to Charles Dickens. Anyway.

Like many of you, I've watched the very things this article tackles - the co-opting of the political hemisphere, academia, the media and every other damned sector by some strange forcefield that makes no damned sense at all. None. Money? Sure. We all like money. Well, we all need it, to some degree. But the insanity that has taken place since the 1980s bewilders me. I remember watching Wall Street with a guy and being horrified. I was enraged; he was engorged. I think I realized at that moment that money makes people insane. And take this from someone who gets to say that - I have a front row seat to insane.

We are corrupt. Legally, politically, financially and morally. There are no more ways to describe this corruption porn. We are knowingly being led by dealers of this, who insist they are right (and right) and the day will be saved by yet more money being funneled into the right (and right) pockets. And like the last runt to the trough, there is nothing left. Because there was nothing there to begin with.

It's a circlejerk of men in nice ties with fancy shoes (and yes, it's still men, don't kid yourselves), prevaricating over several martinis whether I should have access to an abortion without a panel of similarly attired men deciding if I can. They will make deals with the companies selling the drugs to stop my stroke to decide if my doctor can let me know that such a drug exists, and they can then further decide if I should have access to it. They will carefully not spill on their fancy ties as they decide that your children don't need special funding to succeed in school, mostly because their children don't need that funding. And if they do, well, they can afford it. The same way they can have access to the drugs that allow them to eat meals we pay for and not have their own hearts explode.

There is the sleazy leakage of people scuttering over the line like cockroaches; let me join your club and my bank will make your deals. Just this one deal and my university will prostitute itself and call it research. Three junkets, 10% of your ad budget, and a mention on page two, and we have a deal.

We've been bought and paid for, signed, sealed and delivered, and we knew it. We knew it and we kept being told we were wrong. And like an echoing nightmare, we finally gave in and accepted quiet at any cost. We watched good men mount dark horses, and bad men spin webs. We watched trusted systems break down, and noble institutions become not just less noble, but corrupt. And we watched those trusted to tell us become more than emasculated; they became dimmed and dumbed and lined up for crumbs lest this really was the last train.

Read the link. You haven't been wrong. There is a Stockholm Syndrome taking place at a mass level: how can so many be living an inch from panic every day (and they're the lucky ones, don't you know it) while I'm still reading about Wall Street criminals deciding how many stables to put on their summer place in the Hamptons? Pull down the curtain and expose these charlatans for who they really are. All of them. Take responsibility, stop thinking someone else will do it, and stop relying on people who tell you they know what's best for you. Start trusting your gut.

And Canadians? Stop thinking this is an American problem. The best and worst of America ends up here, like something that washes up on the next tide. We get great arts, great TV, great thinkers and great innovation. We also get guns and meth and American style politics. We're not that special, and there are many people counting on us not understanding that distinction.

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March 28, 2012

Fiat 500

You know how it's been ridiculously, unseasonably warm out for a couple of weeks? You know how each day, you think to yourself, "Self, you really should do something because you know this can't last, and then you'll just be complaining that you missed your sunny opportunity?"

So, to take advantage, we scheduled a video shoot with the darling little Fiat 500 you see up there. And, we got the only day in 14 that was cold.

These things take some figuring. Two videographers from the Globe (that's Amanda's leg in the pic) spend inordinate amounts of time mounting cameras, then checking them, then changing them, then remounting them. Angles are configured, lighting changes, the wind direction changes (so my hair is blowing into my mouth), then you get it all set up again and a plane takes off right behind you.

In all, we spent nearly 5 hours at the Ontario Place parking lot (I figure we paid for it; I pay a lot of taxes) to hopefully get a piece that will be 2 minutes. It was actually a blast; I was teaching videoman Adriano how to drive a stick. He was too good, actually. We had to ask him to stall it to get some footage. Then of course, once he started thinking about it, he couldn't stop stalling it.

It was cold. You don't want to film in big bulky coats and stuff, because if people see it in, say, July, it looks silly. But there was no cover out there, apart from the two cars. When numbness set in, I'd hop in a car to thaw out. But Amanda, the owner of that leg? Girl was out in the cold the entire time. Trooper.

And the Fiat? This car is beyond fun. I drove it down in New York City last year, and I knew it would be a great car for Adriano to learn on. I didn't even mind hopping on the Gardiner in it. At 5pm. In stop and stop traffic. With a stick.

March 26, 2012

I will not say who just sent me this email...

...only that I just got it, 8:45 on a Monday morning. I quote:

"Okay, so I'm watching Dog the Bounty Hunter and his strange wife, Beth (can't miss her - ginormous ***s) is dealing with a Vietnamese woman who doesn't speak English. Beth's solution - speak stilted English with a fake Vietnamese accent.

Why, dear Lord - why do I do these things to myself. Gotta go, getting good. They just used the paintball guns."

I ask you only to read that and realize I had to have explained to me who these people are.

March 25, 2012

Heart & Soul

So, does Dick Cheney actually deserve a new heart? The miserable bastard is 71. I lost my parents when they were both 70, so I've always called that young. But Cheney has been polluting the political landscape for so long, you must excuse me for thinking he's over a hundred by now.

There will be much mucking about over whether he jumped the list, and of course he did. That 1% get to do things like that, and I'm only surprised he didn't go to a high school football game and rip the still- beating heart out of a winning quarterback.

Everyone should get their licences out right now and sign the things. Give over. The waiting lists are ridiculously long, and holding on to the bits you no longer need is like people who hoard cats or fill their basements with enough laundry detergent clean a mine shaft.

I don't know that my spare parts would be of much use; if someone woke up with my eyes, they'd probably be pissed that they would now need Lasik if they actually wanted to see anything. My liver has been valiant, but years of prescription drugs have no doubt punched some holes in it. Then again, if my liver woke up in a new body it would probably start dancing.

Speaking of dancing...nobody would want to come around to find my two left feet newly attached. My training is going well, but I haven't actually started the dancing part yet. Adam Higson, my awesome trainer, is creating a silk purse out of a sow's ear. When I marvel that I'm getting little lines on my belly, he grins and agrees then reminds me even he can only do so much, because I'm old. Yes, he says that. To repay him, he tells me all the food I should be eating (and not eating) and I keep doing what I want. We've coined a term: Body by Adam; the rest is my fault.

My heart is well used, but I'm sure it would be worth plugging into a new home. I'd like it to be a nice one though, and I wonder if whomever's is thumping away in that old war-mongers chest might be having second thoughts.

I would like my parts to be adopted out like kittens: only to good homes.

On my Twitter just now, I pondered if now that Cheney had a new heart, was George W. wondering where he was on the list for a brain? Someone cast Karl Rove as the Cowardly Lion, and we were wondering if Condi would make a good Dorothy. Someone else decided Rumsfield could be the wizard: all I know for sure is that the flying monkey cast could be filled instantly.

I think of the mess left behind by this squad, as they fartarsed off into the sunset with their dance cards filled and their pockets lined. I think of the millions of Americans with blown apart lives, trying to live in bankrupted cities and states. I think of the lack of trust on all sides, now, and deservedly so. What was once a noble calling, perhaps, this public service, is now just an opportunity to turn the tide long enough to get your own boat to safe harbour, then let the rest duke it out for scraps. In my own country, I'm dismayed by the lot of them, frankly. A king with no heart presiding over a sidewalk game of three card Monte.

With the tide of woman-hating taking place south of us, and leaking up here, I watch Santorum desperately trying to reduce women's health to some medieval view of Men Know Best. I swear the only war room discussions the far right have about women is to wonder why the hell anyone let them vote in the first place.

Too bad we can't sign our organ donor cards to hand over a conscience.


March 20, 2012

If I wasn't sick before...

...I am now. Graham James, the animal who got away with assaulting god knows how many young boys over the years has been sentenced to two years in jail for his assaults on hockey players Todd Holt and Theo Fleury. This was his third conviction; he served time for assaulting Sheldon Kennedy, another hockey player. And his first conviction was all the way back in 1971.

Oh, and while I'm here: rape is rape. Sexual assault now encompasses the whole kit of sexual crimes, but let's be clear: someone touching my breast without my permission is different from someone raping me. Both are unwelcome; but they are different. Why soften the wording when the act remains just as heinous?

We don't value our kids too much, do we? This monster James has been preying on kids for decades, but the system still lets him out. Oh, actually, we do better than that: this criminal received a pardon from the Canadian government, which left him free to travel to Europe and the States to work with...more hockey players. Really? This trail of destruction and he's being sentenced to two years? Isn't this Dangerous Offender territory?

And let's not be led astray by the thought that he has had just four victims. Read this from one of his 'alleged' earliest victims. I have to put that in quotes because when you have so many charges to pick from, you finally have to settle on a couple to streamline the process. My heart goes out to you, Mr. Gilhooly. I can't imagine the demons you face down.

Who was in charge of that pardon, you might ask? Vic Toews. Guess he was busy with his crazy secret double life and let this one get away from him. Hey, Conservatives - you've voted yourselves the ability to now build a whole bunch of new prisons. How about you actually keep a criminal like James in one of them, instead of paroling him and then pardoning him?

Your tax dollars, hard at work.

*Edit: Read this statement that Todd Holt made at the sentencing. It made me cry.

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March 17, 2012

Bedtime, JoJo

I feel like crap, so I stayed in bed all morning, got up and had tea, then went back to bed. I'm back at my computer debating a second nap. The cats would approve, I'm sure. Their favourite spot to have any of us is in bed, so they can curl up and keep having night. Maggie follows me around all day wondering why we have to get up at all.

I was reading, but JoJo had other ideas. She's not the most affectionate cat, but when she decides it's time for some love, she will bite you until you agree. She was peering at me over my book (I got tired of reading on my iPad; it flips the screen when you turn it, but Apple hasn't figured out people lying on their side to read yet. It's annoying), so I patted her head for a minute. Then she licked the back of my hand because it obviously needed a bath with wet sandpaper. The second I started reading again, she started bashing my hand with her big black paws. I petted her; she licked; I read; she batted.

We did this for 15 minutes. She got bored first, which was just as well. I was going to get confused and lick instead of pat and that would have been nasty. I just read this article about people going to therapy to fix a marriage that isn't broken. It's a stupid premise, actually. Some journalist hauls her hubby into this intense therapy thing and finds out they're not all that happy after all. They just needed someone to point it out to them.

Really? When trouble shows up on my doorstep, I lock the door and pretend I'm not home. I don't send it a dinner invite. Are people really so bored or insecure they need to find out if they're doing 'content' right? In any marriage that is more than a year old, I can tell you with pretty good certainty there are things both of you don't like. But you adapt, and unless you married a serial killer, you can work around a lot of things.

If you want to truly and thoroughly know the person you are married to, you have to do only one thing to find out: divorce them.

I think instead of bridal showers and stag parties, the newly-affianced should get trundled off to a courtroom and figure out how they'd get divorced. They should fight over kids they don't have yet, decide if that inheritance (from a still living parent) belongs to both of them or just one, and who gets the good furniture and who gets the stuff in the rec room and who gets the china even though they both don't want it but think the other one does.

And people can't believe I'm not married. Well, that's not true. They can believe it.

I'm going to go pet JoJo.


March 14, 2012

Square Off Wednesday

If a British woman writes a trilogy of erotic books featuring two main characters who enjoy sex that centres around S&M amongst other things, does anyone hear it?

Hell, yeah, they hear it. Being called 'mommy porn' by some, and a dangerous attack on women by others, come find out what all the babbling is about.

Join us on Square Off on CHCH at 5:30.

March 13, 2012

Someone else's email

A friend of mine is a lawyer in the U.S. She is funny. I'll call her "Emily'. That is not her real name. (Yeah, it's totally her real name.) She sent me this email this morning:

I saw a car with the license plate WOLFCUB. I nearly pointed it out to my Dad, who was with me, then saw the " = " sticker next to it and decided it was a thing. I texted my friend Joey:

Emily: "What's a wolfcub?"
Joey: "Dunno. White Fang?"

At this point, I tell him where I saw it.

Joey: "Oh God. It's 20-35 year old guys, very hairy, lots of muscles - as opposed to bears, cubs and otters."

Emily: "I know you didn't just internet that."
Joey: "I knew. Was just hoping you meant something innocent and cuddly."

Ever since, I've had otters and polar bear cubs on the brain. Which I should. I keep reading news and thinking that I'd be happier if only I could remove my brain through an eye socket.

March 12, 2012

Burbling on a daylight savings Monday

You probably have read that Jann Arden got tossed of a VIA train for having her dog in a bag with her. Raging continues on both sides of the debate. Whatever. All it did was remind me of another form of travel that dogs have been on my radar for lately: airplanes.

Apparently, airlines started letting people bring those little yappy dogs on planes a while ago. I did not know this. I fly fairly frequently. This matters to me. I am not allergic to dogs, but I know people who are. I love my cats more than I love my kids, and don't think I haven't considered bringing my wee Maggie aboard with me on more than one occasion. She is very well behaved, and has quite a stunning traveling wardrobe. But I also have friends who upon entering my home, lunge for the Claritin. And my girls don't even shed. Much. But I get it.

But of course I have a story about this. On the way to Miami late last year, there was a dog on board that I was unaware of. It had it's own little plaid carryon, which was darling. And it was so quiet I didn't know it was there. I was too busy wondering why I can't eat a peanut on a flight because someone might have allergies. But the whole time, there was a little dog right there, across the aisle. It was one of those stringy little things with the ears. Yorkie? Maybe? Sorry. I'm not a dog connoisseur. And heading to Miami in winter, well, of course there was a Yorkie on board.

But. When I landed, at dinner that night with other journos, we got to trading stories. Apparently, on HIS flight from Edmonton, there had been a similar story. A family of four had their pup on board. Mom, Dad, two kids. But then it all went to hell. It's a long flight. And an hour in, the dog crapped it's carrier. Know how I said I had no clue that little Yorkie was on my flight? Yeah. Within ten minutes, the entire flight from Edmonton knew there was a dog on board. With Mom yelling at Dad, and the kids freaking out, and the rest of the passengers no doubt thinking 'why couldn't we have that cute little crapless Yorkie on Lorraine's flight?', Dad took the dog out of the crate, covered in crap, and walked it up the aisle to the bathroom. I can think of so many things wrong, I barely know where to start.

Your dog is peering out at you covered in poop. The rest of a planeful of people are all staring suspiciously at the person beside them, wondering if they ordered the pork. Somehow, you decide liberating your dog from it's crapwomb is a good choice. Heading down the aisle holding a crap covered dog at armslength is good for two things: people stop blaming their seatmate for ordering the pork, and your wife stops bitching at you to 'do something, damn it'.

However. Once in an airplane washroom, you will soon realize you have about zero choices. Seriously. I can barely brush my teeth in there without poking my eye out with the faucet. What I would ever do with a squirming dog covered in crap is beyond me. I was told the father finally emerged with the dog. I am not sure of the crapstatus of said dog, though I am certain nobody went in that bathroom for the rest of the flight. It must have looked like one of those paintings someone pays 18 million dollars for and you quietly say to yourself, 'really? I just don't get it.'

The rest of the flight was a flying fetid disaster. And forgive me, but I know how much a car manufacturer paid to fly me to Miami. If I had to spend the entire flight remembering the outhouse we used to have at the cottage, I'd be a little pissed.

Dog lovers, hold your fire. I love pets. I mean, I stupid love them. I'm the idiot who offers to hold your crying kid on a flight. Me, who doesn't have a maternal bone in her body. I am sympathetic. I sometimes even border on kind. But even I have limits.

Oh, I have the news on. Ontario is blasting ahead with new casinos. How awesome is that? How about we find a new income stream that isn't really there? This isn't Oceans Eleven, Ontario. There are many real people who are addicts and have problems. Huge problems. Family destroying problems. There is a difference between creating tourist areas that happen to have a casino in them, and developing ideas where the pin is the casino.

Speaking of pin. You checked out that Pinterest thing yet? I read it's the fastest developing web thingmabobby, ever. It's essentially a site where people take pictures and 'pin' them up. They post things they like. I read it's 97% female. Geez. I believe this. It's an internet scrapbook. I do not scrapbook. I do not even note dates on photos of the kids. One of them will find a baby pic and say 'is this me?' and I say 'yes' and they say 'you didn't even look at it' and I look again and tell them who it was based on the sweater I was wearing.

Kids have abandoned Facebook because it was infiltrated by middle-aged women. Now Pinterest has been developed to corral middle-aged women with a camera. Hold your fire, middle-aged women. I am one of you. I just don't get this. Any of it. Forget it. Throw things at me.

March 8, 2012

Small things

I realized the other day that my morning paper wasn't here. Indignant, I sent the paper an email and said while I was willing to overlook this just this once, would they please credit me that day's paper and carry on. They instead gently told me that I owed them 75 bucks, and would I please pay it, they would be happy to keep delivering. I checked my records; I could have sworn I'd paid up till the end of March. I was wrong. Somewhere, family members are taking a screenshot of that line and saving it.

I've changed the paper I write for, so I'll be changing the paper I subscribe to, as well. And even though I give it a longer think every time before I re-up, I remember the things I miss without a paper copy. I've written before about bus-off-a-cliff stories. Those are the one inch little blurbs that editors use to fill up random spaces on a page. They are often, literally, bus plunge stories from places you didn't know existed. Apparently, someone somewhere even coined that phrase because it was so common. Now, I don't know if it's a for real truth like tons of serial killers having Wayne for a middle name, because that really is true; someone did check that out. I'm sure of it. Do not give your kid Wayne as a middle name because it will make him turn out killy. So I don't know if an editor just started *only* using bus plunge stories to fill up those little spaces and therefore created his own truth, or the other way around. But I would miss those little stories without a hard copy paper.

Yes, I actually think about these things.

Today I don't have a hard copy, but I was noodling around on newspaper sites that still upload the equivalent of bus plunge stories to their online sites. These are, generally speaking, papers that don't think their readership are ignoring the little bits and bobs of stories that the other papers deem not good enough for the web. I am thankful for these other newspaper sites, especially when it's raining and I'm waiting for my oldest son to get home from Ohio with a sackful of laundry and an empty gas tank.

In two unrelated stories, I read about wee animals running amok. I used to think that word was amuck. It's not. In Hawaii, there was a wee piglet running around a hotel lobby. I stole the picture.

Then, I got not two stories further into my reading, and found this wee pygmy goat story. So I stole this picture, too. They note that this is not the actual pygmy, but I didn't care. I have often ordered things off the internet or a menu that say 'may not be exactly as shown' and they have mostly been just fine. I think this little goat is as cute as the real one.
I often ponder where the cutoff point is for cute. We (and by that I mean 'me') often get all stupid around tiny things that are darling. Chicks before they chickens, kittens before they become cats, and puppies before they become shoe chewing balls of stupid. We think small is cute. So why don't we like bugs? Why is a mouse cute but a cockroach isn't? Caterpillars are furry and cute, right? Bumblebees look almost huggable, if you think about it. I've heard it's because humans respond only to things that have human features, as in eyes like our face. That's why fish are just meh, but meerkats are perfect. They are really; I have meerkats as the facesaver thing on my iPad. Ari just rolled his eyes.

I think about these things, too.

Ari came in after school and told me his shop teacher, the one who just ushered this crew of kids through their spectacular showing at the Robotics Championship, signed a permission form for another competition Ari will be in. He said, "he signed as my guardian, because I forgot to bring the paper home for you to sign." I promptly went upstairs and packed Ari a small suitcase, his toiletry kit and a granola bar. Mr. Arnold, I'll be dropping him off tomorrow. He's all yours.

Square Off Thursday CHCH

Well, this gives Take Your Kid to Work Day a whole new spin.

Join us on CHCH channel 11 for Square Off at 5:30 today, when we discuss the Alberta politician who has been bringing her baby into meetings. I work; I've had babies; you still might be surprised where I sit on this one.


March 7, 2012

Spring and the BMW 528i

Because I don't read weather forecasts, spring came today and I was not ready. "Ready" is a relative term; there is little I do differently from one season to the next except tell my son he is not dressed properly. We actually had that fight on the front step this morning. He tossed on his jacket (it's actually an old one of mine - it's a pretty cool long brown heavy cotton man's coat with big patch pockets on the front. Sounds hideous - it's not. The only problem is that we call it his drug dealer coat because when he wears it, he looks like a drug dealer. If drug dealers have blond brush cuts, skateboard shoes, a hoodie and wear their mother's hand-me-down decades old coats) and headed out the door. I yelled at him for not having a sweater on underneath - it's not a very warm coat. Before I could say another word, he realized it was spring and tossed the coat on the ground and took off in just a t-shirt.

It's okay. I got even. I made a dentist appointment for him today at 4:30 that he doesn't know about.

I had to go work out today, as I am deep in preparations for my dancing debut. Well, I haven't actually danced yet, but I am huffing and puffing and sweating and swearing with my boxing trainer. It is not attractive. What is attractive is the car I'm driving this week. I have a new BMW 528i. It is smooooooth. Four cylinder, great on gas, and is just a dream to drive. I actually want it. I don't say that often - I happily hand back press cars and carry on. This one I would like to keep.

Ari is in charge of all the toggles and switches when I get a new press car. He instantly figures everything out, and laughs at me because I'm scared to touch anything. In many of the new cars, I feel like I'm staring at a NASA dashboard for launching things into space. I get in, set up my phone, get the mirrors and seating straightened out, then wait until I get home for Ari to sort out the rest.

Well, I came out into this spring afternoon after working out and decided it might be nice to open the sunroof. And so I promptly squinted up at all the buttons on the roof and pushed one. Instantly, the dashboard told me that I had placed an SOS call. I pushed the button again. This does not cancel an SOS call. Neither does pressing the button 15 more times.

As I sat there dialing dials and pushing buttons (I did change the radio station), a man's voice filled the cockpit. I mean the car.

"Hello, this BMW emergency. We have detected a terrified caller and have sent out a search team, rescue dogs, alerted the military and brought all traffic to a halt. How can I help you?" He didn't actually say that middle part, but he might as well have.

"Uhm, I was trying to open the sunroof and hit this button by mistake. I'm really sorry," I told him.
"No problem ma'am. I'll cancel the call," he replied calmly. I thought about asking him if he knew how to open the sunroof, but decided that would be pushing my luck. Then I got to thinking that if I had been kidnapped, and somehow managed to punch the SOS button, all a kidnapper would have to say was, "we were trying to open the sunroof" and I would remain kidnapped. I don't think this is truly an 'SOS' service (though that is what it is called on the little button) as much as it is a 'do you know how many stupid people hit this button on the first warm day of the year?' service.

I carefully made my way home, scared to touch any more buttons. Because of that, I had to listen to Michael Buble all the way.

March 4, 2012

My brain runneth over

Because Tim Dowling is brave enough to admit he's not an alpha male, I'll link his post today. Why do I like him? Because he says things like "[I'm] someone who calls himself a house-husband because it sounds better than agoraphobic."

He also goes on about how after a radio show, on the ride home, he thought up all the things he should have said. The other night, I sat bolt upright in bed (Maggie was dismayed; bolting musses with her snuggling up to my arse) and realized why people become writers: it's because we want a chance to say all things we weren't witty or sharp or smart enough to say at the time. We simply want the chance to revise every conversation we've had and have the perfect comeback.

Sometimes you need several characters in order to do this, hence books with several characters. Have you ever read a novel and said to yourself, "Self, every character in this book is speaking the same way. Whether they're a ten- year -old boy or a 82- year- old woman, a cowboy or an accountant (though as you know, I've read far more tales about cowboys than accountants) and realized the dialogue is all the same? This is proof the author is simply revising his past conversations to witty them up. He is merely sprinkling his better answers around amongst the characters he has invented. Personally speaking, I do not like this. If I read a book and all your characters sound the same, I will not read any more of your books. I know the impact of that statement: I do not hear any presses grinding to a halt.

On another tangent (what? When have I ever stopped at one?), Ari is on his way home from Tennessee and the Robotics Championship. They came in 2nd out of 54 teams, which is awesome. But he just texted me a pic of a medallion that says 'first' on it. I have no idea if they actually came in first, or if he beat up the first place team and stole the medallion. Or had the robot do it.

I was watching some of those American political talking head shows this morning. I'm wondering why any of the Republican strategists can't just come right out and say "I saw my shadow, I'm going back in my hole until this whole thing blows over. I thought Sarah Palin was bad; I'd give my left arm for Sarah right about now. Next to this field of shellacked-out, whacked-out, twist and shout unprincipled nutbars, she's looking pretty good."

I must admit, I think it is stunning - stunning, I tell you - that with the economy doing what's it's doing, unemployment where it is, people homeless and records numbers of the population on foodstamps, the primary focus of American politics is the birth control pill. Wow. I've got news for some of these ridiculous men: the only thing worse than finding out your sexually active daughter is on the pill is finding out she isn't.

Moving right along...I've been trying to sort of clean on weekends even though my living room is unnavigable due to it being the central holding area for Operation Bathroom. There is dust everywhere, but I made a pretty concerted effort yesterday and got the kitchen and hallways cleaned up. I thought it looked rather amazing. A friend walked in and said 'Wow, this place is unreal. The mess must really be getting to you by now." The word amazing can cut both ways, it seems.

Christopher is visiting friends in Ohio. I have received a single text from him ("I made it over the border!"), then nothing. Border crossing had been a worry because his passport expired in the summer. I told him to renew it 3 weeks ago, so he didn't. He was heading over with a birth certificate and a driver's licence and a prayer. As his nerves mounted, he was asking what he should tell them. I suggested the truth, as these people are trained to notice people lying. Especially ones who are sweating and making it up as they go along, then backtracking and changing the answer. This is how Christopher lies. If he can't lie to his mother, he can't lie to a border guard. I also reminded him that a big kid in a USC hoodie who looks like he stepped off the Leave it to Beaver set driving his mother's Santa Fe is probably not going to set off many alarms.

I should either go work out or do some writing.

Sounds like a great time for a nap.


March 2, 2012

Tennessee, robot camp and the tornado.

Ari is in Knoxville, Tennessee at the robot camp championships. His aunt Roz emailed and said "where is Ari again? I know it starts with an M."

Tennessee is in the middle of tornados. I am going crazy. He could be home with no tornados. He finally texted me tonight. You ready?
Ari:"I'm in a tornado warning zone gonna legit come home in pieces."
Me: "I've been freaking out all day! Are you okay?"
Ari: "I'm in the ER."
Me: "Piss off. Are you okay? I'm worried."
Ari: "Seriously. I got a 2x4 in the femur part."
Me: "Get out your Blue Cross. Come home repaired."

What? I've been paying this crap every time they go away for years. Stop judging.

Ari: "kk"
Me: " You guys are doing great."

It has occurred to me that if this is the last conversation I will have with my son as he stares into the eye of a tornado, it should be upbeat, loving and supportive.

Ari: "4th out of 54 at the moment."
Me: "I know! It's awesome!"
Ari: "Tornado is 30 minutes away from out hotel. If we hear a siren we have to head to a padded room."
Me: "Jeesuz. You keep your fricking phone on."
Ari: "I'm not tricking this time,"

Me: "I know! I'm going crazy! Get to a damn basement! Or a bathtub! Or at least an archway. But don't turn off your phone."

Those years spent watching disaster shows have not been without reason.

Ari: "I won't."
Me: "Are you guys somewhere safe? Are you watching weather reports? Put Mr. Arnold (teacher) on. I'm going crazy.
Ari: "We are fine for now holy sh*t chill out.
Me: "I'm your mother. It's my job to not chill out."

I finally asked Twitter people who lived in the area for an update. Thanks to @troublinturntwo via @mrs70runner for their kind help.

March 1, 2012

Me & Rogers

Me: "Hi, Rogers? I put a text package on my kid's phone, and it is now apparent that he will not be needing 100 texts. It seems he only needed one, to say 'I'm here, I'm turning off the roaming now' and that is that. However, my other kid is going to the States today, so can I transfer that package over to his phone, or better yet, just let them share it? It's all on the same bill. It's all the same account. I pay it."
Rogers Rep: "No."
Me: "Did you get what I just asked you? It makes sense to me. I've been a customer since 1990. My account number is something like 4. How can you not just use this package on 2 phones on the same account? An account that you have hosed me on for decades. It's like I've paid for 22 years of orthodontia on these phones."
Rogers Rep: "I heard you. No."
Me: "I'm aware you don't make the policy, but this makes no sense to me. I just want you to either move the package over, or apply it to the account rather than the phone. Please."
Rogers Rep: "No."
Me: "You got a supervisor there?"
Rogers Rep: "Yes. One moment please."
...cue stupid ads for more Rogers products, which I'm totally in the mood to buy now, obviously...
Me: (After waiting 5 minutes during which I've watched Christopher pack for his first long road trip alone by loading into the car his laptop, a backpack and a granola bar. He'll be gone for 6 days) "Stupid Rogers, I'm too busy for this...." and then I hang up. I got to suggest to Christopher that he might like to put in a jacket and some mittens.

Two minutes later, the phone rings.
Me: "Hello?"
Rogers Boss: "Ms. Sommerfeld? This is Rogers calling. You wanted to speak to a supervisor?"
Me: "Uhm, yeah. I gave up waiting. Thank you for calling me back though I'm a little creeped out now that you phoned me back on my home phone (I said the part in italics to myself)."
Rogers Boss: "My name is Can't Remember. What can I help you with?"
Me: "Well, I'm told that I can't use a text package I purchased on my account for a different phone on that same account."
Rogers Boss:"No."
Me: "But that makes no sense to me. It's one account; it's a certain number of texts, which expire, and both my kids are in the States and should be able to use them."
Rogers Boss: "No, that makes perfect sense. Once those packages are out of Rogers areas you are dealing with totally different companies and we can't just switch things out."
Me: "No. I bought this from you, on your website, under your banner. Totally different companies are your concern, not mine."
Rogers Boss: "Lorraine, I suggest you look into something like Wikipedia to understand how these things work."
Me: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DID YOU JUST TELL ME TO USE WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE FOR WHY YOU'RE RIPPING ME OFF?" I may have raised my voice a little here. "I won't even let my kids use Wikipedia as a source for homework. Have you heard of Stephen Colbert?"
Rogers Boss: "I'm just trying to make you understand why what you're asking couldn't possibly work." I got the distinct impression he hadn't heard of Stephen Colbert.
Me: "Anything can work. You're being ridiculous."
Rogers Boss: "Madam (note: I've gone from Ms. Sommerfeld to Lorraine to Madam in about 25 seconds) I'm sorry you feel that way."
Me: "You're sorry I feel that way? What you are telling me is ridiculous. You make all these commercials about happy families all sharing minutes and plans and how awesome it is, and yet the first time I ask a very straight forward thing about sharing a plan, somehow all the happy sharing families go out the window."
Rogers Boss: "I'm sorry you feel that way. You are entitled to your opinion."
Me: "I'm aware of that. You are reading off a script and handling me. Do you really use those lines and have them work, ever? You've explained nothing coherently, you've requested I take myself off to Wikipedia to have one of your policies explained to me and now you're reading lines off a How to Manage a Bitchy Customer poster?"
Rogers Boss: "You're obviously intelligent; but that is our policy."
Me: "I know I'm intelligent. I don't trust Wikipedia. But you do, and you even recommend it. That makes me nervous."
Rogers Boss: You are entitled to your opinion. That's what makes this country great."
Me: "::thud::" (Yes, those were his very words. He actually said that. I could practically hear him turning the page in the training manual)
Me: "You're a Conservative, aren't you?"

And then I hung up. And no, I didn't get what I wanted. And no, I shouldn't have said that. But Rogers, you failed today. And the only thing that saves you is that all cell companies are just as bad. I can't believe my bills keep climbing, the service keeps getting worse, and you don't even pay for my blood pressure meds.