April 28, 2012

Anyone know what Bev Oda actually DOES?

I'm supposed to be working, but as usual, I can't get wordy there until I get wordy here. By there I mean the new sheet I have pulled up behind this, that is as blank as Bev Oda's face whens she gets asked a really hard question. Like, "did you think they wouldn't notice you used a Sharpee to correct that contract?" or "you do know what will happen if they find out you took the bathrobe, right?". At this point, Bev is just looking at me, well, blankly, because we both know nothing will happen. She could have the little dude who delivers $16 orange juice jammed in her carry-on, and we will all just whistle and look the other way.

Sometimes I just can't catch the thread of a piece to start writing it until I declutter my brain over here.

I've been down at CHCH a bunch lately, and I've noticed a funny thing happening. If any of you watch the show, Square Off, you'll know it's mostly a romp through events of the day. It gets put together that morning, and we're usually amending and changing on the fly as things happen. The aim is to take any topic - political, cultural, personal, business - and present differing viewpoints on the subject. This should be easy, and it usually is. You have a stable of rightwingers you call on, and a stable of lefties, and off you go. The hosts generally shape the conversation, and get out of the way if the wheels start coming off. This is often quite fun.

I appear as a guest, which means yapping away and being as pointed or political as I like. I also appear as a co-host, and am expected to keep the spotlight on the guests, not my beliefs.Wait. I have a point. I'm getting to it.

It's getting harder. Not to control my leanings, but to discern what anyone's leanings even are, anymore. You pull on a think tanker funded by right money, and one funded by left, and I'll be damned if the two of them don't start agreeing on some stuff. And, I sit there with my notes on a topic, realizing that my own thinking is not complying with standard party lines - any of them. Here's a link to a poll that basically says the same thing. Politicians? We hate all of you.

I'll admit, I'm thankful that some of the circus acts we've been seeing have made it easy for many of us. Dalton is leaving holes in arguments you could drive a truck through. How any conservative can defend Bev Oda is beyond me. It's probably beyond Bev, too. I think nobody wakes up more surprised to be employed each day than Bev Oda.

Spinning and lies, contempt and chaos. That's all of them. More and more people I speak to feel lost, politically. It's a wilderness, but I have no problem saying that each and every party is woefully lacking in vision, respect for voters, transparency and leadership. The NDP is being held up as a saviour. I'm sure Mulcair is a lovely man (though I wish he'd shave), but remember all those newbies that floated into government on the Layton wave? I found that disrespectful. They woke up with a job in the House of Commons; they were as surprised as Bev Oda.

When Alberta went to the polls last week, I was reminded of another vote that had the country waiting and watching. Remember the 1980 Quebec referendum? I do.  I was 16. I watched as our country came within a hairs breadth of blowing apart. At least that's how it seemed, and how it was played, and could have played out. I thought then for the first time what being a country actually meant. We watched the same way as Alberta seemed to be heading in a direction I couldn't fathom; I just couldn't. Racist, backwards thinking was really being considered the road to the future?

I have many friends in the U.S. I cannot describe how polarized that country is politically. It's terrifying; it really is. I've also noticed a weird tendency in people over the past decade or so. We are almost making decisions, and voting, as if we are daring someone to show us how bad it could be. We are becoming careless. I'm sure it's a pushback against the fearmongering that has replaced actually running a campaign, but people are using anger and an odd sense of 'well, it could never be that bad' to make important decisions. It's like we're all playing a video game, and we know if we blow up we can start again, in a few seconds. And again. And again.

We are becoming mean. We are becoming hateful and distrusting. And our leaders seem content to keep it that way, knowing fear works.

I think what they are all forgetting is that when you no longer have anything to lose, that stops working. Keep stripping us down, and wait for the concept of the Polite Canadian to become a myth.

April 27, 2012

Square Off Friday

My last day co-hosting - join us! Square Off, CHCH TV channel 11.

Because SOMEBODY has to be the stupid one

Remember those ads for Nutella, that gross chocolate spread? It showed a lovely mother spreading it on toast for her lovely kids. A glass of milk sat close by, and the voiceover told you that Nutella was part of a healthy breakfast. Oh, how I laughed. I mean, I hate the crap, and my kids do too. I bought it once, and it sat there. It was gross. But part of a healthy breakfast, my ass. Even my cat glanced at the TV and said "healthy? For realz?". Well, she might have.

Anyway. The ad ran for years. But it's finally caught up to them, and the company has to pay out for misleading consumers.

Let us consider products that should send alarms bells singing. Diet Bacon. Okay, that's the only one I can think of right now. My back is sore from assuring my tango teacher than I can bend over backwards, literally, like I'm a marionette and someone just chopped my strings. It is a lovely and dramatic effect, but one that is rendering me incapable of moving without wincing afterwards. The things I do for sport.

If you see something called Diet Bacon, you'd start laughing. I used to buy the kids turkey bacon because I thought I was saving them from a plate full of sludgy fat and salt. I do not like bacon, so what did I care? They called it Facon. The imposter was not a success. But if I buy real bacon, straight off the pig, I am totally aware there is no way to make that a healthy part of any breakfast. So, Nutella? How stupid are you? Call it part of a fun breakfast. Call it part of a chocolate breakfast. Call it part of a conspiracy that makes us believe we have to care what our kids will and will not eat. Miserable little bastards. Siddown and shut up, there are kids in parts of Africa eating dirt.

But mostly? How about stupid people stop making other people pay because they are stupid? Read the label, accept that you are responsible for what your kids put in their mouths, and act accordingly. People sue McDonalds for making them fat. Don't make me dig up the link, but was a couple of years back two women sued them. These women ate at McDonalds daily for years and got fat. Ya think? This is McDonalds fault. Their advertising and marketing is too good. And they aim it at kids.

Well, hell, their logo is a big old creepy clown and other odd cartoon characters, their subtle corporate colours are red and yellow, and they give out toys! Of course they're marketing to kids. And those kids have parents, who are supposed to be able to say "no, eat your broccoli" and if Junior gets all pissy, you could always package broccoli as part of a homemade Happy Meal, though I'm uncertain what kind of toy you should include. Maybe a shoelace, or a calculator.

These lawsuits are not paying out because they make bad products (even if they do), and they're not paying out because their advertising is misleading (even if it is); they're paying out because people are stupid.

I make bad food decisions on many days. Not so much lately, because the man who is giving me a new body, Adam Higson, is barking at me to cut carbs. I asked him what those were, and burst into tears when I heard him outlaw potatoes. I cried. I love peasant food. But we are drinking a lot of slurpees in this house, and I feel healthier just looking at the blender. Except for my back, of course. Without Adam, I would no doubt be doing my usual: pulling up to a combination salt lick/wine bar.

Free will. Choice. Literacy. Access to (compared to the rest of the world) cheap food. And you're gonna sue Nutella for being chocolate?

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April 26, 2012

Square Off Thursday

Co-hosting again today. Join us at 5:30 on CHCH channel 11...

April 21, 2012

'In Nothing We Trust'

Oh, a perfect scrambly brains morning. I left my bedroom window open last night, which is iffy this time of year. I know there is a chance I'll be awakened really early, usually by a bird. I used to have a bird that nested each year in the tree just outside my window. So I cut down the tree.

Realizing it was Saturday, and that it was raining, and that Christer had taken my car to work, I just lay there for awhile. Can't do yardwork, can't do groceries. The cats are cool with this; Maggie will stay in bed all day, and JoJo does not know night from day anyway.

The fact is, I feel incredibly guilty if I'm not doing something. I know my mental in- basket is always overflowing, and the coming weeks are nuts. But after a week of pinging off the walls doing writing, editing, TV, working out, tango lessons and speech writing, I needed a rainy Saturday. I always spell 'rainy' wrong, because I get called Rainey, and that requires an 'e'.

I came across an excellent piece via Salon called In Nothing We Trust by Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton in the National Journal. It's a great read for a lot of reasons, but I think it's important to go read about Johnny Whitmire if you want to better understand the state of the American consciousness. We all are tired of hearing about the mortgage debacle. We shouldn't be. For years now, we've heard of people buying houses with crazy mortgages only to find themselves under water and owing far more than those houses became worth. Human nature makes us want to find some reason why that could never be us. And it was easy.

The ever helpful media kept showing ghost towns of new surveys, stockpiled with fancypants 4 bedroom homes and double garages. Well, hell, I can't afford that, I could tell myself. Why would some idiot believe they could afford it with no money down, and balloon payments that would hit the stratosphere in a year or three? I mean, I'd never be that stupid. Interviews would be played out with people who looked more like the proverbial deer in the headlights, and we could reassure ourselves that we would have seen that coming.

I found myself becoming that person I despise: a judgmental asshole. Without exception, the most judgmental people I've ever known are the most ignorant. No exception. And here I was, veering down Stupid Alley at full tilt.

Go take a boo at Johnny Whitmire again. He bought a house for 40K. 4-0. Mortgage payments were $620 a month, and he and his wife both worked. Wow. Greedy much? Of course not. I'd be high fiving myself every time I passed a mirror if I'd worked that deal.

I'll never forget my dear old Dad's take on these things. He would get blistering, spitting mad - really, spitting - when at the end of each month, he'd see some guy at the beer store loading cases into a cab. "Goddamned freeloaders, waiting for their cheques each month to go buy beer and cig-rets," he'd fume. That's how he said cigarettes: cig-rets. Used to make us crazy. But this is what he saw, and that is what he presumed. He was paying for some lazy ass to take his money and buy beer and cig-rets. Was he right? Sure he was. But he was also wrong. There's a reason political advisers practically scream 'optics are everything'. If you get the right optic, you can convince people of almost anything. That was my Dad's optic. We talked about it a lot. My Dad was of a different era, but I like to think we broached common ground with the help of actual numbers, decent people more representative of whom his taxes were helping, and the understanding that optics are, in fact, not everything. Sometimes they're worse than nothing.

Bad things happen to bad people. We cling to this. We know it's not so, but we cling to it like a life-raft.There is a reason Whitmire is living in a trailer and I am not, and that reason is that I am smarter/kinder/more industrious than he is. Bull.

We head to the polls (well, some of us do; more and more of us don't) to voice our displeasure with the lying, cheating, stealing wastes we call our leaders. Funny thing, though. Check out approval ratings in any country during such a ravaging recession: we hate everyone. It's fun to watch here in Ontario. Extreme right-wing mayor Rob Ford is pretty universally summed up as a lost cause. Man can't lead, can't unite, can't keep his promises, can't follow through. People are demanding his head on a platter most days. Left-wing premier McGuinty is accused of about the same things, and people are demanding his head on a platter most days, too. And federally, our right-wing PM is called all the same things, and many want his head, too. Left, right, whatever. We don't know what the hell we want, because there is actually no offer on the table that makes any sense.

Every single political party has been complicit in adding to the pile of laws, deals, secrets, and lies that got us to here. All of them. Politicians remind me of an upper crust snotty Brit back in the 1800s pretending there wasn't a chamber pot under her bed.

When jobs get scarce, people get mean. They circle the wagons to protect what's theirs (go check out any of those websites of people preparing for the apocalypse -  be it nuclear, biblical or zombie -  and have a hoot), and eventually start shooting their own wagons if they think their brothers are wasting precious resources on beer and cig-rets.

We get cruel and punitive and patriarchal with people we decide have just earned their hard times. We vote right, we support pull-up-your-socks governments, not realizing it's kinda hard to do if you don't even have any damned socks.

And then when the thrasher catches us, we switch gears, wondering where that damned government is when we need it. All these years of self-sufficiency rewarded with a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. We forget we were wielding that stick, back when we still had a stick. And so we swing left.

The National Journal link is interesting in another way: lots of references to sociologists, which most dismiss as a soft science, if they consider it anything at all. I studied sociology in university; I'm just a few credits short of a degree, understanding in my infinite wisdom that an English degree would vault me to financial security. Anyway. I'm glad they're discussing the sociology of all of this. It matters. It goes hand in hand with history, which is the most important thing to study, period, if you ask me. But who we are, how we are, and where we're going is all sociology.

Unlike economists and financial planners, they don't tell you what to do. We agitate for action, dammit, not understanding that we also need spectators. Note- taking spectators to reflect our true selves. It's like an animal kingdom show where a hyena jumps on a bunny and eats it. You want to grab the bunny, cuddle it, take it home and punch the hyena in the nose. Well, I do. But to the person filming it, the importance is observation. Nothing else. If we only ever witness interference, we will never live more than a lie. Someone has to let the bunny get eaten, so we learn everything we can about the true nature of the hyena.

No, I have no clue if hyenas eat bunnies.

The problem is, we keep putting more stock in the number swirlers and pontificaters who tell us up is down and black is white. We see the world through our own true eyes (we are all sociologists, frankly) but we dismiss what we see to be true to grasp for something we know is not.

Assistant Sociology Professor Laura Hansen is quoted in the link saying we've lost our gods. Our faith in all our institutions, our leaders, those who might have inspired us. It's interesting to note one of the causes: we know too much about all of them. I often scratch my head at half the people noting the power of social media: Facebook and Twitter et al have the power to unite and unleash a social uprising like we've never seen. But, and stop me if I'm wrong, it's these very enterprises that have turned us into a bunch of idiots. People are posting pictures of their breakfast while governments are quietly repealing women's rights. And yes, then we get all crazy over that, but where the hell was everyone when these people came to power in the first place? I'll tell you where: they were updating their statuses, pondering 'it's complicated', and trying to be witty in 140 characters.

I realize this is long and ranty. I've probably lost most of you by now anyway. I know I've lost Roz. As I sat here, JoJo was camped out on my lap. Maggie jumped on the table and glared at her. JoJo promptly got down so Maggie could sit there instead. It occurred to me that JoJo would had every right to shoot her if we had a Stand Your Ground law around here.

We don't.

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April 20, 2012

Square Off Friday

I know, I know, you all knew that was coming. Tune in to CHCH Square Off at 5:30, channel 11.

Uhm, Webgod? My blogger thingamabob is all screwed up. I am a creature of habit. I hit a button, and the same thing should happen. Like a toaster. Today, I hit my 'blogger' button and it was like coming home an hour before your kids thought you were. Nothing is where it should be, I can't find my stuff, and I'm sure I smell something burning.

I do not like this. I do not like change. Except when I've given my little ratbaggers money for dinner, and no matter what, the total comes to whatever I gave them.

I will blog for real later, if anyone cares. I'm off to CH to tape the show, then I have to go work out with Adam (Higson), who is giving me a new body against my will. I've done my tangoing for the week, though I've been given homework by Mentor (yes, that's my tango guy's name): I have to download 'our' song and practice. Whenever I practice the cats run away and Ari wonders if I'm having a convulsion. Not quite ready for prime time. But I can hear an Argentine tango in my head all the time. Quite lovely.

April 19, 2012

Square Off Thursday

Well, I told you down there I'd be on for three days...and two next week!

Today we're tackling bullying in one segment.

Tune in, CHCH channel 11 at 5:30.

April 18, 2012

Square Off Wednesday

I'm co-hosting the rest of this week. I have no clue what we're talking about. But tune in to CHCH Square Off on channel 11 at 5:30. You know I'll say something wrong...


I have made this threat over and over

I've just never had the stones to actually go through with it. A guy in Portland, Oregon stripped naked at airport security in protest of the ridiculous searching techniques they now use. I say this every time I'm in line to whomever is beside me. They stand a little farther away, but I can tell: they're dying to do it too.

If you travel by airplane, you know the drill. A long snaking zigzag line (the line for the U.S. is the absolute worst) finally funnels you to the conveyor belt. You toss down three plastic bins, and put the following in them: your carry on bag (which is the only luggage you have if you've a brain in your head and plan on having clothes on the other side - checked = lost), your computer if you have one, your shoes, your belt, loose change, phone, watch, wallet, purse, separate pre-measured bag containing tiny containers of your liquids (well, not your liquids; liquids you are carrying), hair clips and your fillings.

You stand back and watch your stuff get x-rayed. There is a certain indignity to having them pull you aside - again - and rip through your giant purse - again - only to find out that odd weapony thing is a corkscrew - again. This takes an eon. The checker who gets to sit there at the x-ray machine takes his sweetass time. Who wouldn't? You're get to look at cool stuff and make people fidget. People who are standing there in their sock feet, praying their jeans don't fall down because you have their belt. It's not their fault all the styles now are those low rise ones that threaten to fall down on their own. It's not their fault.

In order to keep you occupied, you stand obediently before a metal detector. When you're given the all clear, you hop through. If it beeps, forget it. You will be pulled aside to choose to be felt up by a person wearing blue gloves who makes ten bucks an hour, or go through a Star Trek machine that is probably irradiating your entire body with a thousand megatrons of badness. They keep saying things like "studies prove that the dose of radiation is No Big Deal, the same amount as you got when you swallowed that little round battery from your watch that time when you were holding it in your mouth as you tried to work the little mini screwdriver to get the back off". They might use different words. The point is, we now know that battery is NOT a good thing to have in you. And I don't trust studies, anyway. One glass of wine is healthy, two will kill you, no caffeine when pregnant, vitamin D, no vitamin D...as soon as one study is published, that's the cue for the next one proving the opposite to begin.

I'm not a fan of being touched all over by people who haven't at least bought me dinner. And we're not talking the house wine, here. Some airports (I'm looking at you, Miami) give you no choice about the X-ray House. Miami. Think about that. Snowbirds hop in their with their old hearts and new hips and that thing is gonna light up like a Christmas tree.

I was in Halifax one time (lovely airport) and I was standing there in a sundress. That is it. All my stuff was in the bins. No shoes, no clips, no glasses, no nothing. Sundress. They were making people go through the x-ray. I swore then and there that if I beeped, I was hauling that thing over my head and announcing that anything setting that machine off must have been implanted while I was asleep, and they were free to find it and remove it because I, too, would like to know what it was.

It didn't beep. Saved a lot of people a lot of pain that day. I had one friend - on that trip, coincidentally - who'd flown in from the States. She was livid. Airport security has a special affinity for underwire bras. They'd apparently dumped her boobs out of her underwires and not put them back in. I agreed with her. You put your stuff away when you're done with it.

Here's why I'm onside with Mr. Portland: they have already taken your dignity. I have seen older people so upset, it makes me upset. There are many, many reasons why people would not want to be felt up or shaken down. It is not about bombs or terrorists or anything else. It is about basic human dignity. If I have medical issues I'd rather not share with the lineup behind me, that is my business. Perhaps I'm just shy. ::cough::. Doesn't matter. The point is, by the time you're standing around half exposed, the charade becomes almost unbearable. So to speak. It feels more like you're checking into prison than checking onto a plane. I'm supposing here.

And, I wish they'd quit taking my corkscrews.

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April 13, 2012

May 2nd, Burlington Convention Centre

Wanna come help raise money for a great cause, and have a great evening to boot?

Sure you do.

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April 12, 2012

Two thinks and a giggle

As is usually the case, I have a random bunch of stuff to throw at you today. My headache finally went away but is trying to sneak back in this morning. I am mainlining tea; I think I'm getting dehydrated, which is causing the headaches; I try to drink water through the night, but then I have to go pee, which means all the way to the basement. Maggie sleeps on top of me and is getting a little angry, and giving me a face that just says, 'can't you just hold it? I do'. So, pushing back the headache, again.

I promised two thinks. The first one, from Salon by Evelyn Nieves, is remarkable. If you watched Winter's Bone, which I hope you did because it was brilliant, or read it, which I hope you did, because it was even more brilliant, you will recall it was a bleak, harsh tale set in Appalachia, with the thread of meth running through it. Drug dealing and use has devastated this region, which admittedly didn't have far to fall. This piece deals with the explosion of abuse of prescription drugs. Read it. I guarantee it will blow you away. Factor in the math involved, and you will wonder how there is anyone left to populate North America. Our race to pharmaceutical bliss is destroying people, families, towns, and regions. And the big bad wolf at the door isn't hash or heroine or coke: it's the pills we have come to expect to help us ride out the pain. The problem now is the pain isn't having your wisdom teeth yanked or hernia surgery: it's the rot of the next generation of drug addiction that is aided and abetted by the medical profession, and fueled by profits to Big Pharma. We are sick indeed.

Okay, we can move on now to a very cool, quirky piece. In Slate, author Tom Vanderbilt goes for a walk. Literally.You know how when you walk down a crowded sidewalk, there are a series of unspoken bobs and weaves and steps you take in sync (usually) with everyone else? How crowded crosswalks seems to work? How everyone factors in their personal space, and knowing *just* when to move to avoid a collision? And, escalators. He talks about escalators. Don't get me started about the terror traps. I am terrified of escalators. BUT. This piece actually makes me understand why. It goes into how many falls take place, and how, on stairs and escalators. Your body makes automatic adjustments without you knowing it, so you don't fall down an escalator. I, however, have no sense of balance, so I bobble all over and clutch the handrail, then recoil in horror because I know that handrail never gets cleaned, and all I can imagine are the people who cough into their hands or wipe their nose on the their hand then hold that rail, then that rail becomes the only thing separating me from those churning, gnawing steps of death. So, germs or slice and dice. No wonder I'm scared.

Read the most dangerous parts of a staircase. Read why we do that jerky movement on an escalator that isn't moving. Too bad he didn't go into those conveyor things at the airport. I could do a whole post just on those. Maybe I will.

But. I promised you something funny. If you love dogs you will love this. If you hate dogs you will love this. There are some bad words in it. There's your warning, but it's hilarious.


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April 11, 2012

Square Off Wednesday

Ashley Judd, actress and wife of IndyCar racer andverygoodlookingman Dario Franchitti, came out swinging after rude remarks about her appearance.

Called out by magazines and the Internet (which is its own beast, as you know) started screaming 'plastic surgery' at the woman because her face was 'puffy'.

Well, not content to just cry and deny, Judd went after her detractors. And not in the usual 'I'm just well rested' way that so many try to get away with. Revealing prescription meds - steroids - have caused the puffiness, she took it a step further - why do we do this to women, any women, at all?

Join us on CHCH at 5:30, channel 11.

April 8, 2012

Clara Barton

Very, very good piece from the Washington Post by Melinda Henneberger on Clara Barton, the nurse who, during the Civil War repeatedly went where, literally, no man would dare to tread. She founded the Red Cross, and was all around amazing.

And suffered from depression, or, from reading this piece which quotes her own diary, probably bipolar disorder. Fascinating how she dealt with it.

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I can't think of a title

First, that is what my sister Gilly sends to me and Rozzy every Easter. She found that on a card a billion years ago, and it has become a tradition. I have shared it with you. Happy whatever you celebrate, whether it's go to church, do laundry, rake the garden or have a nap. Happy happy.

I still have this thundering damned headache, which by my (admittedly addled) count makes it 6 days. It's the nights, actually, that kill me. Thump, thump, thump, pillow over head, other pillow over head, get up to head to kitchen to switch out ice packs, get up to remember I also had to pee and go down to the basement to do that, get back into bed and rearrange cats who have moved to the warm spot, and try all over again.

I used to get migraines all the time. Relentlessly, since I was 9, triggered by hormones, weather, barometric pressure, dehydration, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough, and wearing unmatched socks. I may have made that last one up, but it feels like it sometimes. They've let up a lot over the past few years, which is nice. I remember at about age 10 sitting in the doctor's office, as my mother and the doctor spoke over my head. "I hate all these drugs you're recommending," said my mother, from whom I got the headaches. "Well, Iris, (that was my mom), the only way they're going to let up is when she hits menopause, as you know." I recall looking at him and asking what menopause was.

I am obviously creeping up on menopause, and I've been grateful for the relief from so many headaches. I could do without the hair sprouting in odd places, but I'll deal with it.

The problem is when I get a headache now, it thunders in from the wings and shocks me. The constant, chronic pain I was so used to is sort of like labour: when it's over, you forget it. And at least with a headache, you're not stuck with a newborn at the end.

I knew I had to make dinner, and I didn't shop the past few days. The stores are keeping silly hours based on a holiday that somehow lasts for four days, except it takes Saturday off so the malls can open. I had a roast in the freezer I figured I could do something with. I hauled it out yesterday, a thunk of meat that had been in there nobody knows how long. I shrugged. They're boys, I reasoned. As if they'll notice.

I hacked it up to make a stew. There is a great deal of meat in this stew. I went to get a can of cream of something soup, and reaching to the far reaches of the lazy susan, finally found a can. I blew on the dust on the lid. Nothing happened. I rinsed it under the tap. Nothing happened. I finally scrubbed the crud off with a cloth. Ah. Best before January 2010. I paused, thinking "well, that's only a year and a bit," before realizing this was 2012 (told you it's been a bad headache) and deciding even I wouldn't risk that. I made Christopher get up and go to the drug store.

I called Roz and as we spoke, I told her of the date on the soup. She paused as well. We really are our father's daughters. She told me there was a really easy way to fix the missing soup dilemma. I told her I'd already called my neighbour, who wasn't home. Roz sighed.

I just cut up a banana into slices, and stuck a Smartie in each one. I told the boys they were Easter hors d'oeurves. Ari looked at me and asked who made them. Christopher said it must have been the not-home-non-soup-supplying neighbour.
And here I am, spoiling the little ingrates with stew made from suspect beef, and very nearly made from rusty soup.

Tim Dowling builds a shed

Tim Dowling again. I know, I know...

I end all of my Motherlode's with a single line, which, if you'd been reading all these years you would know. What do you mean you never noticed?!

I'm debating moving to a British paper (as if one would have me) just so I can write final lines like Dowling's today.

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April 7, 2012

Don't hate me because I'm annoying

Unless you live under a rock (and trust me; I sometimes wonder about some of you), you've probably read or caught wind of the aftershocks from an article written by a tone-deaf woman in The Daily Mail. Samantha Brick bemoans the fact that her spectacular beauty has been a dual edged sword, eliciting free gifts and favours showered upon her by men, but earned her the constant derision of jealous women. Uhm. Check the link. I'm still trying to decide if it was written as a laugh; there is no way to win this one, and anyone who doesn't look like a dead possum lying roadside knows this.

Anyhoo. As expected, the internet exploded with shouts, cries and volleys of 'oh my god she is so ugly'. She isn't ugly; a little delusional, maybe, but not ugly. I mean, I get why she might not have any women friends, but it's got nothing to do with her looks. If the article is for real (and subsequent follow ups reveal it really is - ugh), then she's simply had her reality bone removed. She appears to live in her own little world where the act of men leering or buying you a drink is somehow reserved for the Angelina Jolies of the world - and the Samantha Bricks.

I would like to remind Ms. Brick that while I adore men and often like the warmth of their attention - should I wash my hair and don something other than my son's hand-me-downs - there are parts of the world where men have historically been known to have relations with sheep. And cows. And chickens. Anything that moves slower than they do. This is not a judgement on those men; I do not know the conditions that might require this last ditch effort for a little lovin'. But I do know that this does not make that sheep prettier than the other sheep. And chickens are positively weird looking. Yet still, there are people who buy them a drink, apparently.

So the internet exploded in a spew of bad manners calling her ugly and horrid and egotistical and delusional. Which I call fair, if mean. You put it out there, you deal with the fallout. I winced a little at some of it - if she's happy, so be it - but the internet is the wrong place to chum the waters. It's just too easy. And of course the piece had tons of pics, so we could check her out from every angle. And come away whelmed. Not over, not under, just whelmed.

I remember an old ad from when I was a kid, where an 'actress' came on the TV and said 'I'm Ruuuuuuula Lenska'. She made a dramatic pause so everyone watching in their living rooms could look at each other and say 'who the hell is Rula Lenska?' You probably remember it; her name was Rula Lenska. Yeah the famous Rula, who beat out Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monro for all those parts. Wait. Maybe not. My mother knew who she was, but my mother knew a lot of strange British actresses we'd never heard of. I remember tracking down all the Deanna Durbin movies when she still alive. See? Another one you've never heard of.

If there'd been an internet back then, Rula would have had the piss taken out of her. You can't really declare yourself famous. Or smart. Or charming. Or beautiful. Most people learn this by grade 2 when you're sitting on your own at every recess because nobody likes you. Sniff.

Kelly LeBrock had an ad where she said 'don't hate me because I'm beautiful'. She was beautiful. But the problem with this was the big bag of annoying that sits on top of that statement like a turd. Me using that shampoo isn't going to make me look like Kelly Lebrock. Not even with my dress over my head, like in that movie she did with Gene Wilder. I think. Man, his eyes still scare me.

Anyway. I have a point. Because it's so easy to slag this Brick woman, and easy is just so...easy, I rolled when I read this. My secret boyfriend, Tim Dowling, penned this column. I know, I keep linking his columns from The Guardian all the time. I can't help it. They're great. And now he's following me on Twitter, I can die happy.

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April 6, 2012

Pains and needles

I'm sitting here delaying finishing up my taxes. The crazy part is done - the part where I spread every piece of paper that has entered this house in the past year all over the table, chairs, floor and one sleeping cat. Then I start to compile the piles (?) until I can get to categories. From categories I can get to claimable/non claimable. From that I can get to stuffing non claimable into folders and stuffing those folders into the file cabinet. This usually frees up the cat.

Then I get out my stapler and my little post it notes. I try to iron out gas receipts with the stapler. This doesn't work. When I finally corral all the little receipts that are claimable and put them into their category, I staple the crap out of them and put a post it on it with a total. I use the same calculator I've used since 1981. It's a little cheapy solar one that came with the Time magazine subscription that was offered to all university students at a great price. My Dad renewed that sucker for so many years, Time must believe I am the densest student to ever go on to higher learning.

Before you say it: I do everything on my computer but this. I'm changing now. Stop saying it. I know. Anyway. I'm pretty much done, just have to write up the final sheet that my accountant gets.

The problem is, when I'm in accounting mode, I lose my mind. I did all the PITA stuff on Sunday. Ari came into the room, took one look at me surrounded by paper (and the cat peeking out) and said 'I'm gone, no problem' and ran away. 5 hours later, he came back, saw dozens of little balled up pieces of paper everywhere (I throw them in the same general direction, but the cats think it's playtime) and just ran without speaking. Smart kid.

The problem with working intensely is that I forget things like shopping and dinner. Christer and Pammy have taken to doing the groceries most of the time, but it makes for an interesting selection. Christopher buys the juice I expressly tell him we can't afford. But Pam puts in fruit and veggies, a section Christopher doesn't know exists. Seriously. He goes into the No Frills and to his right is just a big blurry spot.

I ran into the store yesterday because, who knew it was going to be closed today?, not me, until 6pm. I forget though, and realize I didn't get anything for dinner tonight. As I sit here, I realize I want to be more European. I want to just wander through a cobblestone market each day, and select what looks wonderful and have that for dinner. I want to say 'shall we have a nice piece of fish today?' or 'I fancy the arugula', though I don't like arugula enough to buy it, cobblestones or no. But I would like that option. I would also be as big as a house, because, let's be honest: the only thing I would fancy day after day would be loaves of bread and knobs of cheese as big as my head.

Oh! JoJo has turned into a lap cat this week. Seriously. This week. As of Monday, as if she had a calendar in her head, she has decided she likes sitting on laps. She has never done this before, mostly because she's a bigger girl who is a little self-conscious of her weight. Even if we put her on our lap, she would jump away, as if we would actually tease her or something, or call attention to the weird little swingy belly she has. Maggie is relentless of course, pointing her paw and laughing at JoJo as Maggie effortlessly leaps from lap to couch to counter, and JoJo looks on enviously.

Not anymore. JoJo has embraced her issues, and now likes to snuggle. This has its upsides: she's warm. Well, one upside. The downsides are a little trickier. She drools when she's happy. She's now happier. And when she spreads out (I put my feet up on my tower), my legs go numb. Maggie smirks and says 'I never made your legs go numb.' The other problem is that if JoJo thinks she's falling, she hangs on for dear life. She has claws like a bobcat.

Speaking of drawing blood, I had my physical yesterday. My doctor handed me a blood req and said 'fast first'. I sighed. I have a lab near the house, but I never get there. It's a pain. And I forget. I know my doctor does bloodwork in her office, so I suggested she just do it there. 'Have you eaten today?'. 'I had a smoothee,' I told her. 'So, just one banana a handful of raspberries and some milk,' I looked at her hopefully. My trainer has me drinking these things, and now I hear the blender going all the time - day, night - as the boys experiment with blending things.

Doc sighed, and said 'this is the best I'm going to get from you, isn't it?'. I nodded. They took my smoothee contaminated blood.

April 5, 2012

Free Parking

Well, that was fun.

I had an early morning physical. I totally forgot about it until they called last night to confirm, but a little deadline skooshing here and there and, hey, no problem.

I had a 9:15 appointment, which means for a change, when I got to the doctor's office, the parking lot was nearly empty. Usually, you have to monkey around for a spot. The fact my column today is about parking makes the coming tale even more fun.

This is a small doctor's office. She has about four spots right outside her office - it's a one level building. The rest of the building is the usual medical-type offices. There was a car in the third spot when I pulled in, but the rest were empty. That car was a medical kind of car - the little zip around ones that bring reports or pick up samples or something. I dunno. I'm making this up as I go. It was logo-d with medical type things. I parked to the left of this car, which meant the spot to my left was open.

So far, so good.

And then I came out. There was a square of paper tucked under my windshield wiper. Odd. I pulled it out, and found this note:

I sat for a moment, and considered my detective skills. A quick recap to anyone who might feel lost: I'd parked to the left of a small car. Nobody else around. Okay, carrying on. There were now cars on either side of me. We were all parked perfectly fine. Hmmm. I hadn't noticed anyone in the doctor's office who struck me as the type who would throw around the word 'douchebag' with any sort of frequency. I admit, you never know, but still. I wonder if Nancy Drew ever had this happen to her.

I think this is a guy. Not sure why, but the female in me knows we mostly just get mad and get going because we're busy. We don't bother writing notes. And we don't want to lean across cars and risk getting dirt and birdcrap on our clothes. My car is covered in birdcrap; it sits under a huge maple tree, and this time of year, it's pretty gross.

I looked at the style of writing. That mix of writing and printing has a European thing about it. German/Hungarian/Polish. I recognize it from birthday and Christmas cards over the years from that part of my family with those roots. Black ballpoint pen; the cheapest kind. Piece of scrap paper just big enough for the note - my Dad would do that. Wouldn't waste anything. If I were to leave a note calling someone a douchebag, I would use a black finetip Sharpie and a whole piece of paper. I'm extravagant that way. It would also be illegible because I type everything and my writing has gone to hell. So, I'm guessing this person still writes a lot.

I've settled on an older, possibly Slavic, dude. With a temper. Why older? Younger would be more elaborate, and call me a douchenozzle or something like that. Kids today like to make it their own, to quote Randy on American Idol. The thing is, to call a stranger a douchebag is pretty harsh. Except. EXCEPT: THIS IS HOW MY CAR WAS WHEN I CAME OUT:
I do not know what transpired in that parking lot while my doctor was spelunking in my nether regions. I admit, I wasn't giving it much thought; I had other things on my mind. But you know, to get ragey enough to bother writing a note like that takes some level of anger that just can't be good for a person. I mean, you're already at the doctor's. You think maybe when she asks you 'any changes in your health, changed any prescriptions, doing any street drugs, how much do you drink' and you say 'no', you might want to add, "however, I do get indescribably crazy nutzoid when someone parks beside me so I leave them fairly filthy notes to call attention to their unacceptable behavior."

The doctor might say to you, "well, Crazy Nutzoid, how can you be sure the person you're blaming is actually the culprit?" But Crazy Nutzoid won't pause to consider that, because I have a feeling this person is ALWAYS right and if their family is reading this, they're nodding and groaning. You know who this is. Or someone just like him.

And for the record? That's Ms. Douchebag to you.

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