July 31, 2012

You have mail. Strange, strange mail

I can't help it; even when I get an email clearly marked 'spam', if it pops into my inbox and doesn't go directly to junk, I open it. I don't click on links - I'm curious but not stupid - but oh my, I love my weird emails. This one came in a few weeks ago. I will cut and paste it, verbatim:  

someone told me I was drunk. I can tell you right now that I can still drive home because I'm drunk, not with alcohol, but with love for you. I have forwarded you an eCard to let you accept how I feel. take a look at your message Here and nothing could be done, so I went around to the back to see not survive this night. God keep you, dear, and God help me! unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town-- 

  I do not know who it was from, but I think I really, really like them. And while I can totally understand someone being drunk on their love for me (shut up; I know, I know, but delusional is the new black), it is the 'houses of the old town' that are keeping me glued. I am such a fan of random. This email is like a Jackson Pollock painting, whom I adore, because it too makes no sense unless your brain is already a little addled from something - booze, love, gas fumes.

I also keep getting emails in Arabic. I think they're quite pretty, but of course I have no idea what they say. I open them, and the pretty letters are all upside down and the note is jammed over to the right hand side and starts at the bottom because everybody knows Arabic letters are like Australian drains, and go the opposite way of ours. After receiving about 6 mysterious emails, I finally dropped the content into Google translator, eager to hear if someone was drunk on their love for me, but in Arabic.  

Need a loan? Get personal advice service today to help you get exactly the loan You need the best conditions Let the experts handle your credit applications, including a wide range of financing solutions Creative and supplementary credit funding, making a tender among banks, monitoring the recruitment process and more For more information and an initial meeting at no cost click here : This email was sent to lsommerfeld@cogeco.ca

I'm going to stop translating things.

July 30, 2012

CHCH Square Off Monday

Co-hosting today...so, Kristen Stewart lapping up all the blame for those oh-so-predictable pictures of her with her oh-so-much older director? Hmmmm. A 22-year-old cheats on her boyfriend, but the MARRIED TURD OF A MAN WITH TWO KIDS flies under the radar? I don't think so. Plenty of blame to go around...though I'm still amazed anyone cares, except for a handful of people who are, you know, actually impacted by this. And, a new book revisits the Bandito biker murders outside London. Were they all really guilty? Or at least, as guilty as they were found? Join us on CHCH 11 at 5:30.

July 29, 2012

No word on what they charge egos...

I was driving around aimlessly for hours yesterday - well, you would to if someone chucked you the keys to a wonderful convertible in this weather - doing my favourite thing: getting lost in someone else's expensive car. I basically head north, and more north, then take any sideroad that catches my eye. Once I'm totally lost, I snap on the navigation system, usually realize I am still lost, but like it even more. The nav has a way of trying to push you back onto nasty roads like Highway 401. A bold orange line tries to drag your car back to the big red highways. I do not want big red highways. I want little weird roads. So when the nav lady says 'prepare to make a right turn, take a right turn now, go right, argh what the hell is wrong with you, woman' I just keep on going. You can always gets from here to there; anybody knows that. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, actually. Though yesterday I slowed all the way down for what I thought was a kitten I was going to rescue, only to have said kitten be a whole cat, and a cat with attitude at that. What I thought was a tiny lost baby mewling by the side of the road turned out to be a cat strolling down the road, totally knowing what it was doing and telling me to listen to the nav lady and get off his road and back onto the highway with all the other idiots. I will continue to slow down for kittens. I'm also checking out real estate, I realize. I'm so sick of the busy city (and yes, I'm aware I don't live in a big city), but it's still too big and noisy. I want peace and quiet. And a piece of quiet. I don't want to live on top of anyone else. If I want to go stuff one last thing into the blue box early on garbage day, I want to be able to scoot out in a tshirt and bare feet and not see anyone. I don't know exactly what I want, but I guess it will be like kittens: when it's right, it's right. And until then, I'll just keep avoiding the busy highways and hope that lost leads to found.

July 26, 2012

First, kill all the cell phones

I got a new cell phone, which I may or may not have mentioned. I totally forget what I write here, what goes in a column, or what my children are lucky enough to hear my say as I walk around the house. Sometimes I'll be on the phone to Roz (okay, all the time) and we'll be laughing away, and when I hang up I'll turn to Ari to tell him something we said and he just looks at me all deadpan and says "I know, I heard you, we all heard you" and leaves the room. Brat.

Anyway. I needed a new cell. My old one was a MiPhone but it was slow and old and crappy (mmm; not unlike it's owner, come to think of it) and even though Ari kept saying he could download things to make it faster, it would still be old and crappy (he didn't mention any downloads that might help me out in any of those departments). Christer came home with a new phone, called an android. I snickered. Then he showed it to me, and I went and got myownself one of these androids. It does everything MiPhone did, but takes better pics and videos. And most importantly of all, I have a kid who knows the entire phone and all it can do because when boys get a new phone, they spend the first 24 hours figuring it out, unlike me and MiPhone that I still couldn't work properly after 3 years.

I gave Christopher's girlfriend Pammy MiPhone, and she squealed, had Ari download all the new apps, figured it out and popped it into a darling pink glittery case and now uses the phone I thought was useless. And I have an android. And on day two, as noted elsewhere in these blogs, I smashed it off my tower while I was charging it and broke the glass cover. I went to the Store You Go To When You Don't Want to Tell Your Cell Phone Company You Broke Your Phone Because They Rip You Off, and found out they wanted to charge me 150 bucks for a replacement screen. "What?" I yelped. "Who do you think you are, the cell phone company?" The phone works fine, it is just badly wounded, so I've been using it ever since. Though it's hard to have much self confidence when you casually whip out your android to use, and 1) can't remember how to turn it on every time, and 2) it has a big crack and chip on the front.

The battery kept draining too fast, so as I was whining that I hated it (I tend to think in extremes) Christer grabbed it and showed me how to really turn it off, opposed to just sorta turning it off. Ohhhhhhh. Now what happens when I really turn it back on is, it gurgles and farts a bit before the screen kicks in, and lights up more like a bear coming out of hibernation than a squirrel falling off a branch. It pauses and yawns, and an indicator comes on that says 'HTC' and underneath that in cool font it says 'quietly brilliant'. That's not the font. My blog only lets me have a choice of 5 fonts, each more boring than the last. The real font is kind of messy and cool. Anyway.

The other night Christer was on his computer, and I came and got my phone. It sits on the counter or in my purse, which is why I tell people not to bother calling my cell phone because I rarely look at it. I let it gurgle back to life, and smiled again at the little message. I smucked Christer, totally ignoring that he was talking to someone on his headset. I patiently waited while he impatiently pushed his headset off.

"Look, Christopher, I love this. Quietly brilliant," I showed him. Remember, he has the same phone.
"Would you mind going being quietly brilliant someplace else?" he asked me.

We are apparently enthralled by different things.

July 24, 2012


Oh, I have been remiss. It is Tuesday, and I haven't blogged since...the last time. I took the kids up north and made it back in one piece. We had great weather, and we saw a moose.
"Hey, there's a deer! Right near the dock!" This was at dusk, and we all ran to look out the front window, even though deer are now as common as dirt all over this province. I peered out the window.
"Ari, that's a moose," I said.
"No, it's a deer," he laughed. He looked at his friends, who all laughed too. Then the thing turned it's head toward us, and its horn antler things tilted up. Then I laughed at all of them. Silly kids.

I spent my time between the dock (all day), then making dinner, then disappearing to bed by 8:00. This suits me just fine. 4 teenage boys don't need me around for anything other than food, so I take a stack of movies to my room and spend my evenings wondering when Mel Gibson went from being a ball of hawtness in The Bounty to being....Mel Gibson. I mean, seriously. Watch that movie. I'd forgotten Daniel Day Lewis was in it. and Liam Neeson. Betcha going to go watch it now, aren't you? It's actually a cool movie, though it does have a lot of boobies, in case you were going to watch it with the kids.

The only thing to follow it up with was of course, Bull Durham. So I could watch Kevin Costner and wonder when he went from being a ball of hawtness to being...Kevin Costner. Thinking I might be able to keep something going here, I popped in JFK and promptly fell asleep.'Best movie of the year' my arse. Sorry, Oliver.

It's hot here, and I miss the lake. Our cottage isn't posh, but that's the best part of it, really. You can just plunk yourself down and be comfortable. The dock is crumbling, and I wouldn't let the boys play their favourite game - throwing each other in after huge wrestling matches - because they'd get too many splinters. These lads are big now; Ben is 6'5", and with four of them running around like a bunch of Lab puppies, it's too risky. I'd be spending my evenings with a pair of tweezers picking out splinters, when we all know I'd rather be wondering what happened to lovely Mel.

One kid, Pat, had been up before. Two others were newbies. Ari and Pat were discussing Platters. The other two looked at them. Ari finally explained that each night around 10 or so, I get up and make a platter. It's really just veggies and dip, cheese and crackers and pickles, whatever I have around. One night it might be a rack of nachos; another night, stuff sliced up from dinner (though leftovers with this crews are rare) but all of it prettily arranged. I put out a few dips. I use up anything I have to, and they fall on it like locusts. But Platters have become famous. By Day Two, Ben was in the middle of the lake paddling around yelling out 'Platter!' at the top of his lungs.

Ari asked them if they really thought this happened at home. Like most people, I only put on my best face for company.

Gilly is heading up Friday, and I realized I'd left stuff in the crisper drawers. I always forget something, because once you've cleaned and packed and sorted and locked things up, there is always one more thing. Somehow, I missed the drawers.

Maybe she can make platters.

July 12, 2012

Peepee Dance

"Uh, oh," said Roz. We were yapping on the phone, and as it's the end of the workday, and I hadn't heard her call waiting go off, I was worried something had gone sideways with her kitchen renovation. She's up to her ears in crazy, and most of our phone calls contain at least one tradesguy asking her a question, or a thundering loud bang as something hits a dumpster.
"What's wrong?"
"I ignored my Sims today and they wet their pants."

My sister plays Sims. When the interactive computer game first came into being about ten years ago (I may be wrong; it's close), she played and so did my kids. You build a community, pick little people, build houses, and have them get jobs and have kids and cut the grass and go shopping and listen to music and go to parties. You have pretend people do all the things you as a real person would probably be doing if you weren't sitting on your computer pretending.

My kids were young when they first set up their Sims. Christopher was about ten, and used to build a house with an indoor pool. Because you have to 'buy' the things you use, he instantly went elsewhere on line and found the cheats necessary to have millions of dollars to get over that  stupid buying what you could afford nonsense. Around the indoor pool he's put rows of stereo systems. He'd then have a party, put everyone in the pool, then pull up all the ladders and they'd all drown. My son is evil.

Ari, then 7 or 8, used to simply make his characters drink constantly, and not let them go to the bathroom. They have little indicators that tell you that your person has to pee, or is crabby, or whatever. He'd watch the have- to- pee line going up, see them doing the peepee dance (yes, this is a real thing; you've all seen it)  and refuse to let them go. Then they'd pee their pants. My other son is also evil.

But not as bad as his Aunt Rozzy who had her Sims kids taken away from her by the Sims Children's Aid. I asked her why. Seems she'd forgotten she had them, and they'd starved, then had a house fire.

I'm sure this is exactly what the creators had in mind.

We will be mercifully computer free next week. I'm taking Ari and some of his friends to the cottage. I will spend each evening locked in my room watching old VHS movies: there are over 100 up there, and you all should be very, very glad that I can't blog about how much I love The Right Stuff, Diner, Apollo 13, Bull Durham, Say Anything, Fabulous Baker Boys, Big Night, The Big Easy, Thelma and Louise and and and....

I may play a hand or two of poker, if they ask nicely. They usually do. And yes, I'm aware they're just pretending to want me to. But everyone must humour the woman who makes dinner each night.

July 7, 2012

Fleetwood Mac, Glee and plane crashes

I woke up to thunder. Big, big thunder. Then the rain. We all know thunder only happens when it's raining, as Fleetwood Mac once told us. Glee this week did a Fleetwood Mac theme (I know, and I don't care; I watch Glee sometimes), and I couldn't believe I knew every single word. I'd never even been an intentional Fleetwood Mac fan, but it's funny, and kind of scary, how things just seep into your subconscious, and stay there. Forever. Like that pile of unmatched socks on my dresser. They've been there about as long as Fleetwood Mac lyrics have been in my brain.

But there is a difference between things you can't help knowing whether you want to or not, and things you will crawl over broken glass to get to. For me, it's the writer William Langewiesche. Vanity Fair has made him their international correspondent, and he wrote for the Atlantic for years. If I could read only one magazine writer from here on in, it would be Bill. Sorry, that last name is killing me. He's brilliant. I've linked his work before - he's amazing at plane crash stuff, war stuff, and boat stuff. When you have a few minutes, read this. It's from 2004 about one of the worst maritime disasters in European history: 850 died on the Estonia, a luxury ferry in the Baltic Sea.

Now you're back. Wasn't that amazing? If so, go read this now. I linked it when it ran in 2009, but it's still jaw dropping. Two planes collide midair above the Amazon - and not little scoobie-do Cessnas; jets.  Bill was a professional pilot before he turned into a writer, and it doesn't seem right that someone this great at writing, at explaining things, should be so good at so many things. Oh, and look like this.

Okay. I gave you some long stuff for a thundery Saturday morning. Like me, you might get buried in his backlist (The Atlantic has a ton of his work, as does Vanity Fair), and if you like adventure/danger stuff, this is your guy. Bookmark it. I just flip through and read pieces once in a while; I always learn something.

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July 3, 2012

Not so permanent record

I still have my old report cards somewhere down in the basement. My mom kept them all for us, and I barely have to open them to know what they say: 'Lorraine needs to stop being so social'. I yakked. A lot. Mostly I was a 'delight' to have in the classroom (sometimes I was a 'pleasure'), mostly because I always offered to help clean up after class so I wouldn't have to be chased home by Vicki P. What can I say; she was mean.

Over on Slate, Paul Lukas has been doing a very cool series on a bunch of old records he found. Today's entry is amazing; read the work report he found on Doris Abravaya. I could feel the sad leaking through the page. But keep reading. If you ever need to be reminded that we are not a snapshot in our history, this is it.

I meet people who believe that age is not on their side, or their job, their relationships, or their education. They think there is some magic button they've been unable to find that will make them happy or fulfilled. Nope. The only thing you can do is change the stuff about yourself you don't like, and hope it doesn't piss off too many people you care about. But this Slate piece also reminded me to be careful with the words we tell our kids...too often we become what we're told we are, instead of who we were truly meant to be.

Thanks for the reminder, Doris.

July 1, 2012

Roz goes hypermiling

I love this. I just spoke to my sister. She announced that on her trip to our cottage yesterday, she decided to put some of my newfound hypermiling tricks to the test. The result?

"I've never made it to the cottage and back on one tank of gas. I did. And I was waaay calmer. It's weird."

My final piece doesn't run until Friday in the Globe & Mail, but I call this form of driving a mix of math, physics and psychology. Roz found out why, before the piece was even published. I think this is cool; I know my sister. Like me, she's never going to be at the head of a long string of frustrated traffic. She's a great driver, and very road aware. If she can run this experiment (WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR ASKING ME IN ADVANCE FOR MY ADVICE)  and find a big difference, it gets more interesting, to me at least. She did this the same way a reader might, just from the stuff I've published in the ongoing blog I posted.

Those blogs were written from the road on an iPad, with uneven wifi and very late at night. We were hitting the road at 6am (sometimes 5) and frequently not landing until 10 or 11pm. It was tough. Readers were getting on me about some errors (yes, I mixed up Medicine Hat with Winnipeg; that's kinda a big goof), and leaving out some information. The thing is, this whole experiment has to be taken as a whole, and I was relaying what I was living, as each day went by. By the end of the two weeks, things were different. The blogs were a true reflection of what happened, as it happened.

We were not the crazymaking hypermilers who usually make the news. John and Helen Taylor do this all over the world, and not just to make headlines. They work with manufacturers, governments and businesses to cut costs and create safer drivers. I'd say that was a lovely mythic line, expect, it's true. They can do this, and have. As we speak, they're doing an Australian trek with a Jaguar. Doesn't matter what they're driving; this skill set can be transferred to anything.

Even Roz's RAV 4.

I have to tell the Taylor's about their newest convert. They'll be so proud.

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