Monday, June 30, 2008

Super wire, super man.

June 30, 2008 - It's a bird. It's a plane. It's... it's... Nope - it's some French guy in tights. What? Did you think I meant Superman? Let's call him Le Grande Homme - or Charles Blondin. But to us, he shall be referred to as "The Great Blondin" (his choice). Charles Blondin was a French acrobat who had a thing for challenges (or media attention). He milked his abilities as an acrobat, and tightrope walker, in ways that would make publicists today jealous.

What really made him famous was his crossing of Niagara Falls on a tightrope on June 30, 1859.¹ He didn't just cross it once. Nope, not our man Chuck. Chucky crossed it the first time straight. Then crossed it blindfolded, then in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, and once with a man on his back (his manager). That is one client you hope doesn't drop you. The final crossing he stopped half way, sat, then cooked and ate an omelet. Guess that deadly rushing water, and all those trips across a 335 meter rope really gets a guy peckish.

Charlie pulled off these high-wire stunts all over the world, until he retired. But, like any good sports celeb, he came out of retirement in 1880, and crossed a few more wires. It is reported that Blondin died of diabetes. He should have never switched to making Crepes Susette on the Ropes. So, in honour of "The Great Blondin", today is Tight Rope Day. You may not even need to walk the rope, after all, we get our wires crossed often enough.

I think Clark Kent would be proud of Blondin. Perhaps Blondin's tights gave him the idea for the ensemble he sported as his alter ego. Thankfully, Superman had powers of flight and strength. Somehow "Traversing between buildings while flipping pancakes" doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi as leaping them in a single bound. Superman also had the ability to generate some pretty strong lung power. It could come in handy as he blows the candles out on his birthday cake today. Today is Superman's Birthday (June 30th, 1938). It's a bird. It's a plane. Nope.. it IS Superman.

1. Read more about French acrobat Charles Blondin - there is speculation he didn't die, but rather changed his name to live out his life in anonymity.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On the remote chance....

June 29, 2008 - Have you ever wondered what triggered the "Great American Spread?" Was it the explosive growth of McDonalds? The fast food menu in general? The need for 'value' and giant portions? The newfound fascination with television and all it had to offer? ColecoVision, Pong, or Nintendo? Maybe it was the super sized extra crispy double patty smörgåsbord of two-income life? All good ideas. More likely, it happened in 1964, when the newly invented remote control stapled our backsides to the sofa.

Change a channel? Just grab the remote - it's right there, stuck in the folds. Of course with all these channels, image how many times you might actually have to move to find a program? Heck, it might actually cause you to break a sweat. Sweat is for Richard Simmons, and his team of remote control addicts.

Today, we celebrate - or mourn - Remote Control Day. Maybe rather than turning on the television - and flipping from soccer to golf to tennis to the ponies, we should ban the remote for just one day and actually get up to change the channel. I realize the turmoil this could cause. What would we fight over this evening. Mission control is always good for a row.

Don't get me wrong, remotes have their place in our world. TV remotes are smart in hospitals. Remotes are also pretty nice in Northern Ontario when it is -40 and you could actually freeze to death going out to start the car. The universal remote may have it's place in society. It could be saving lives. If you have to pick up 7 different remotes to find the one to turn the volume down, your frustration could be turned up to homicidal levels. But why do we have 7 remotes in the first place?

Do we really need a remote for the stereo, the television, the DVD, the VCR, the Digital Box, the surround sound, the computer, and the blinds? And cars... now, not only do we have remotes to start them, and to lock the doors (man those door lock buttons are hard to push manually), but to open and close the doors and lift gates. I had a stereo in a car once that came with a remote. How lazy could I possibly be that I couldn't reach 7" in front of me to change the station? My current car has the controls in the steering wheel. In order to stay warm now that I don't need to break a sweat, I just need a remote to raise and lower my thermostat.

Two amazingly crazy friends (one is 84) and I are jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet today. I wonder if there is a remote for the parachute? Which raises a whole new question about the state of the batteries. Duracell, don't fail me now.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tiny bubbles

June 28, 2008 - (Sung to the tune of tiny bubbles...) Tiny ballies... soaked in cream. Tiny ballies, dropped in tea. Yup, tapioca. It's hard to imagine how the tapioca pearl came to be. Let's take a fairly inedible plant (the bitter cassava), treat it and dry it to create little starchy, basically tasteless balls. The Taiwanese put them in an iced latte like beverage called bubble tea. The English and Scots put it in a custard and call it pudding.

To really appreciate tapioca, I think you need to either be descendants of the UK or of Asia. Honestly, who else would enjoy these chewy, tasteless almost clear balls but folks who will eat eyeballs and sheep stomachs? Today is our day, for it is National Tapioca Day. Bubble tea and pudding all around.

If tapioca is terrible in your books, it is also the Festival of Terrible Pottery Day. Found in cupboards, sideboards, tourist shops and flea markets everywhere, terrible pottery comes with an odd sense of attachment. That blue mug beside the coffee pot is not very round, the lip is not very even, and the handle is a little wonky. But it's like the mutt in the pound. The other mugs are much nicer to look at, and even to sip my coffee from, but I reach for that terrible piece of pottery first. My blue pottery mug is the weak one. It needs me. And I need it. And I'm only willing to admit that for today. Tomorrow I will deny deny deny.

I wonder how tapioca pudding would taste out of that mug?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Marketing Social Change...

June 27, 2008 - Marketing is the soul of society. If we aren't hearing it on the radio, watching it on TV, seeing it in an ad or on a poster - it doesn't exist, or it has gone extinct. When you turn the idiot box off at night - do you remember the program, or that really great ad with the catchy tune? The reality is, we are so bombarded by advertising that our conscious world comes to us in 30 second spots.

In the 80's there was a massive campaign giving us the facts about AIDS. HIV infection rates were skyrocketing and most people ignored the warnings because it was a "gay disease". A so called gay disease was not to be feared - after all, it wasn't going to affect most people right? The reality of HIV was marketed to the masses (is that what they mean by mass campaign?), and the stigma of HIV and AIDS began to change.

Back to our conscious coming to is in the commercial breaks... Today, we all know the basic mechanics of HIV transmission. We know that unprotected sex of any kind, and sharing needles is a no-no. It seemed as though we got the message. By 1995 the number of new infections decreased. In 2001, the numbers were on the increase again. The commercials stopped. Scarier yet, between 2001 and 2005 the number of women who acquired HIV or AIDS from unprotected sex was up drastically. Come on people, do we really need to be told by the media to keep making smart decisions? It's a good thing there are so many toothpaste commercials or maybe our teeth would fall out. It is estimated that more than 30% of those infected with HIV do not know it. Today is the day. It is National HIV Testing Day. I doubt there will be much advertising, so without being told, we may not consider the importance of being tested.

There is a disproportionate number of blacks and hispanics in North America living with HIV and AIDS, and it is now the third leading cause of death among black women. Though there has been some very questionable reasons proposed for this, it may have more to do with economics. It is possible to change this skew in the numbers, but to make that happen, we as a nation must lose our prejudices and level the economic playing field.

What would a society look like if we take colour and background out of the equation? I bet it would look a lot like Brazil. Brazil is a racially diverse country. Mixed marriages and multiracial origins is as much a part of Brazil's history as is the arrival of the Portuguese.1. In Brazil, if you identify with being white, you are likely 68% European, 33% Amerindian, and 28% African. If you identify with being black, the mix is more likely to be 67% African, 28% European, and 5% Amerindian. There is also a 'brown' in Brazil that is more like 45% African, 55% European. Ultimately, in Brazil, if you are anything - you are Brazilian. Today, Brazilians are celebrating Mixed Race Day - a celebration of the racial diversity of an entire country.

Perhaps this should be the next mass advertising campaign... get past your colour and your ancestry and celebrate. I can see the ad headlines now.... Life is short. People are People. Mix it up!

1. Ethnic mix of Brazil

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Forgive me, but is that your breath?

June 26, 2008 - Teeth have a way of telling you just about everything you need to know about a person. Do they smoke? Drink coffee? Drink wine? Do they get enough calcium? Do they have good genes or at the very least good habits? Are they descendants of Trigger? Can they eat an apple through a picket fence? Do they have a good dentist? If eyes are the windows to the soul, teeth are the beacons of lifestyle.

Today is Toothbrush Day. Get out your toothbrush and shine up those pearly whites (or in the case of us caffeine addicts, those pearly beiges). The toothbrush has a long history. It is thought that the modern toothbrush was invented by the Chinese using the stiff hairs of a hog's neck attached to a bamboo stick. ¹ It wasn't until 1770 that William Addis of England created the first mass-produced toothbrush after spending some time in prison. I guess the breath of his new roommate was a little questionable. At the time, prisoners washed their teeth by rubbing them with a rag with salt. When Billy Boy got out of prison, he became a wealthy man. Turns out it wasn't just prisoners who had criminal breath. Before Bill's newly designed and marketed toothbrush, there may not have been as much emphasis on tooth care. Thus, it was likely easier to forgive the guy on the streetcar beside you for his breath. Yours might not have been much better.

Forgiveness is an interesting concept. We take time to stew and be angry about some perceived wrong, and yet, when it comes time to let it go, we often don't. We use the words "I'm sorry" with so little effort that when you mean them, they just don't seem to say enough. So when it comes to real forgiveness, what words can express it? Do we say it with flowers? (Today is National Rose Day) Can we say it with gifts? Or is the best way to say it to actually feel forgiveness. To move on with compassion? Forgiveness is a big topic. It is large enough to have several days dedicated to the notion. June 26th is Forgiveness Day. But that's not all. The first Sunday of August is International Forgiveness Day, and on August 27th is Global Forgiveness Day. Yom Kippur is all about atonement and forgiving, and the first Sunday before Lent is called Forgiveness Sunday. Wait, there's more. September 8th is Pardon Day - where instead of "I'm sorry", we can use phrases like "Pardon me" or "Excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" or to seek pardon.

Either we are a society of people with no concern for anyone else but ourselves, we are seriously in need of new ways to say "I'm sorry", or there is a lot of bad breath in this world. For that, I'm sorry.

1. History of the toothbrush

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cruisin for Catfish

June 25, 2008 - Ronald Regan made a lot of declarations - declaring all kinds of days national days of something. It is fascinating how many of these declarations have been made. In 1986, Ronnie declared June 25th the start of National Homelessness Awareness Week, and in 1987, declared June 25th National Catfish Day.

According to the proclamation, "More and more Americans are discovering a uniquely American food delicacy-farm-raised catfish." ¹ Catfish are bottom feeders. They feed on the fish scales, carrion, mucus and some species even eat wood. They are opportunists and can dwell in underwater caves, in fresh water, salt water, shallow water and deep. They will even make a creaking noise and other vocalizations when being attacked, poked or caught.² Was it prophetic that Ronnie declared a day dedicated to the great American Catfish delicacy? Was there something about attempting to catch a cave dweller that squeaks when prodded?
If Osama was a fish...

Catfish is a dish that just doesn't say America (as a whole). It does say buffet. Catfish is a dish best served with 40 feet of other dishes.
Now buffet... that says America. The great American buffet... there are buffet restaurants in malls all across the US, and Catfish is spreading from the south. Americans at the buffet restaurants in malls all across the US are spreading.

The Buffet is a little like eating for the ADD... I want chicken. Ooh look - fish. Oh... steak. Ahh, pizza, and macaroni salad, and Jello with vegetables... It is hard enough to choose what to eat off a small restaurant menu. When it is all there at your fingers (and under the sneeze gaurd), can it really be controlled? Cruise vacations are more and more popular, and this can be directly attributed to the fascination with buffets. Those who frequent the block long smorgasbord get heavy. When you get heavy, vacations become sedentary. What can be more sedentary than a cruise ship. You go from buffet, to pool chair, to buffet, to pool chair, to dinner, to a show (the seats in cruise ship theatres are quite large), to a late night buffet, and to bed. When you ask someone how they enjoyed the cruise, the first thing you hear about is the food. When you get on a ship, one of the first things you check out is the buffet.

Perhaps Ronald's proclamation all those years ago created an inkling for catfish and a new rush on buffets across the nation. So... though all Ronnie declared was that June 25th would be National Catfish Day, he almost singlehandedly created a rush on Cruising. Cruise ships today are much more than food. There are climbing walls, wave pools, mini golf, dancing, running tracks... oh... look... Ice Cream.

1. The Presidency Project - Proclamation #5672
2. Wikipedia - Catfish

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Could our other senses be alien to us?

June 24, 2008 - UFO's - Unidentified Flying in the face of all we think we know Objects. What is the fascination with UFO's? Is it the idea that we are not alone in this vast universe? Is there a need to know that life can exist in a similar (or not) form as ours, proving that 'universal' is more than just a word? ET was one of the top grossing movies of all time, and had an entire generation imagining that perhaps there was so much more to space than the stars that make cool shapes.

Centuries ago, humans believed that there was other life out there. The next Century shifted thoughts and believed more in an intelligent design to all things - including the Universe. Today, generations will just grow up with the idea that there is the possibility of life on other planets, and perhaps in generations to come, they will grow up knowing there are other beings out there in space. It may seem foreign (universeign?) to us that this could be a possibility. A few generations ago, they wouldn't have imagined life with a tiny communicator that not only fit in your pocket but could contact or be contacted by anyone. Growing up today, cell phones and computers just are. There is not disbelief or adjusting. So if I am alive to see the discovery of alternate life in the universe, I will have to adjust my point of reference. I'm fully convinced that there is indeed other lives. How life began on this planet (whatever your beliefs) can't be unique to just one tiny planet in a sea of thousands of other planets. That seems statistically impossible. But belief and knowledge are different.

On June 24th in 1947, Kenneth Arnold was out minding his own business just down across the line near Mt. Rainier, when he spotted something strange and unidentified in the skies. He described them like "saucers skipping across the water"1. and thus was born the term Flying Saucers. This was the first documented sighting of a UFO, and thus today is Flying Saucer Day or UFO Day. I wonder what Ken thought about the disc in the sky? Did he have a change in belief or was it a knowledge shift? Perhaps Kenneth experienced a sixth sense that made him question not what he was seeing, but merely how to but it to words.

As humans, we rely heavily on our vision. Of our five main senses, sight takes up a the largest portion of grey matter. The Visual Cortex is a complex system that includes not only what the eye is actually seeing, but also an ability to fill in the blanks to draw quick conclusions based on experience and mental shortcuts. Our eyes do more than tell us what we are seeing. To borrow a cliche, the eyes are the windows of our souls. If that isn't true, why do we have a hard time looking people in the eye when we converse, and especially if we are lying about something. They eyes are as much a sex organ for humans as they are a sense. They turn us on, they turn us off. And yet, if we lose our vision, the brain has the ability to increase the number of cells dedicated to the other senses. It is as though our ears, nose and touch become eyes.

Today is Celebrate Your Senses Day. To do so, we should think about the other senses. After all, we do have more than just our sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Our sense of balance (equilibrioception) keeps us upright. Our thermoception is able to sense not only heat, but the absence of heat. We have nociception which is an ability to sense physiological pain - once thought to be merely the sense of touch - new research has shown that there is indeed other sensors in the body that signal damage and near-damage to body tissue. Kinesthetic sense (proprioception) is the ability to sense where one's body is in time and space. Without the knowledge of where the body is in relation to other body parts and the world around us, we would be an entire species of klutzes. We couldn't clap, certainly couldn't dance. Ballet and gymnastics would be contact sports.

There are other senses that humans do not have, but that exist in other species. Bats and Dolphins have echolocation, some fish have the ability to detect electric fields (electroception). Birds and bees have shown to have an ability to pick up magnetic fields (magnetoreception). There is research now that shows that to a smaller degree, humans may be able to detect some magnetic fields. Some fish also have the abilityabilty to sense pressure and polarized lid. These can be used to orient themselves in the water even on cloudy days.

I wonder how many senses lifeforms from other planets have? Do they need pressure detection? Are the folks in that first UFO magnetotactic? Did they find earth because the were able to detect a strong magnetic field? Perhaps they don't have a strong reliance on vision, but instead use echolocation, and hearing. If this is the case, I'm guessing that our typical 'alien' drawings of the creatures with small bodies, large heads and massive eyes would actually look more like Alfred E. Newman. Was Mad on to something? Thoughts? I'm all ears.

1. Kenneth Arnold quote from "Celebrate Every Day"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Do computers give us more?

June 23, 2008 - Where would we be without computers? We can write, backspace, contemplate, edit, make changes and all before we commit to the save button. Ah, the save button... we can even go back in and make further changes to the original changes and re-save. Ah, the re-save. I would certainly never write daily if not for the computer. Still, we fight with networks, access, file dumps, data loss, crashes, memory leaks, blue screens of death.

Question is... would you ever think of going back to the old typewriter? That backspace? Required a mess of liquid paper or worse, a complete re-type of the page. Edits? Go through with the red pencil, give it to someone who can spell (no auto spell-check), and re-type the whole page. Change a paragraph? Re-type the whole page. If you need the backspace as much as I do... re-type everything over and over and over again.

But what about before the typewriter? Could you edit your work on a lithograph or earlier yet, the woodblock? There is much debate among typewriter enthusiasts as to the original date and inventor of the typewriter, but it appears that there is consensus on Christopher Latham Sholes who on June 23, 1868 received the first patent for the typewriter. 1. Celebrate Typewriter Day by being thankful we've come this far. It would have happened one way or the other, but today's historic patent has changed our lives forever. All those typos were getting too hard to take.

Newspaper columnists all over the world rejoice the day the word processor came in to their lives. Today, there is no longing for the 'old days', or of life without the computer. It may not be a coincidence that today is also National Columnists Day. Read a few of your favourite columns, and be glad we aren't still writing on typewriters. The computer has made it very easy for anyone to write their thoughts, the internet has made it easy to publish them to a public forum. The plethora of thoughts and forums for discussion are an amazing progression, but there was an art to writing that is now lost forever. There was an art to forming your thoughts and sentence structure before going to the page (and an ability to spell). The Erma Bombeck's and William Safire's of the world were few and far between.

I'm sure our world full of computers poses it's own challenges to the writing process. Work gets lost, thoughts spill on to the page far too easily. Columns ramble. The go on and on and on. I mean, some of these writers just keep putting words out because they can. There isn't a bottom of the page. Seriously, you can really get in to something and continue to add new lines, new thoughts, or just expound endlessly on a single thought. Today's columnists can really put their words out there. Computers make our lives easier... and our columnists more wordy. Need I go on?

1. Christopher Latham Sholes recieved the first patent for a typewriter (Wikipedia)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stupid guys, adorable bunnies

June 22, 2008 - It's Sunday morning. You had a late night, and you stumble in to the bathroom only to fall in. It's Saturday afternoon, and you want to check out the new farmers market, but it's out of the way. He won't ask for directions, so you end up lost and miss the market. Don't forget the birthday he forgot. Or how about the fascination with XBox or football - oh wait - that's a me thing.

All these SGT's (Stupid Guy Things) are really what make the males of the species so entertaining. SGT's are those little things that might drive you nuts at the time, but give you fodder for girls night. Now all those other SGT's (Silly Girl Things) are pretty ridiculous too, and I'm sure they give hours and hours of entertainment to the guys while they hang out scratching themselves in front of the big screen. A very good friend of mine has the most amazing fellow for a husband. I don't think the man has a stupid guy thing habit in his being. He is a gentleman, a fabulous cook, a good friend, and has interests in everything. Now she on the other hand... may have a few SGT habits...

So for today, we'll forego the girl talk, and turn on ESPN. Sadly, Basketball is over for the season (Yay Celtics), Football hasn't started (Go Green Bay!), Hockey is a ways down the road (Go Canucks??), and Tiger is out for the season. But, I'm sure there is a car race, or fuse ball tournament on some channel somewhere. Hell, today can be wings, beer, scratching, and leaving the seat up. We girls can say nothing about it, for it is Stupid Guy Thing Day. For today, these are perfectly acceptable behaviours.

In 1976, June 22nd was the day that Canada abolished capital punishment, and in 1870 the United States formed the US Department of Justice. There are so many issues that could be tossed around on these topics, but I would rather focus on the ideals of justice. Justice should be a deterrent to abhorrent behaviours. Treat each other as you wish to be treated. I would like to believe that this is one reason why capital punishment was abolished in Canada. Do unto others is a universal principle that can be applied to all lives in all countries and all cultures. In fact, today is also Be Kind to Stuffed Animals Day, so do unto your stuffies as you would have done to you!

Sadly, in North America, there is no crime in leaving the toilet seat up, but shouldn't there be some kind of punishment for it? Perhaps not today. But tomorrow is another story....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sometimes less is just less.

June 21, 2008 - When is less really more? When there is less chocolate? Less love? Less money? Less time? Less to do? Less respect? Less sleep? And what is it all more of? The phrase "Less is More" is often attributed to architects Buckminster Fuller or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1. to describe the modern minimalism style. In fact, it was a line in a Browning poem "Men and Women."

I suppose there are some things that indeed qualify as 'less is more'. Or rather, less is better. Today is Less is More Day, and the notion of this day is indeed to savour the days of summer with de-cluttered, simpler times. It makes perfect sense, especially in the lazy hazy days.

As a product of the day that is most often the start of summer (this year's leap year messes that up a little), there are a few other days of note. Today is also Aimless Wandering Day, Go Skateboarding Day, and National Peaches and Cream Day. Often, the days don't seem to make all that much sense, but there certainly is a theme to the day. I think the motto for today should be - Simplify, Laze, and Get Lost. Really, if half the folks in your life became less complicated, and the other half got lost... wouldn't less be more?

Of course I can't let Cuckoo Warning Day go by without a mention. If you hear a cuckoo today - it will be a wet summer. For the love of all things holy and hot... please please please stop your cuckoo clocks. We can't take any more rain. If your cuckoo clock can't be stopped, at the very least, take it out in to the woods. If a cuckoo clock cuckoos in the forest, and there isn't anyone to hear...

1. Robert Browning quotes on Wikiquote

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beach Time and Bear Feet

June 20, 2008 - The longest day of the year is upon us - and on a Friday no less! The earth's axis is officially pointing towards the sun. The start of summer is also the day that the rays of the sun begin to lengthen and head south. Summer Solstice is nonetheless, the start of summer.

In BC, summer means beaches. However, if spring has been any indication, summer may mean feet on beaches. I'm not talking about strolls in the sand, I'm talking feet in shoes... washing up on beaches from Campbell River to Richmond. So far, six feet have washed up on the beaches in BC, some wearing Brooks, some wearing Adidas, but none wearing Prada, and not a pair in the bunch.

Yesterday, the sixth foot showed up at Tyee Beach in Campbell River. It almost immediately made international news, and became one of the most popular stories on Today, another story about the sixth foot made the download big time. It wasn't human at all, but animal. There is the usual speculation that this was a prank by someone (likely from Quadra Island) who thought they were being funny. Personally, I want to know when did the bears start wearing Nike?

June 20th is a great day for summer treats. It is Ice Cream Soda Day. My favourite is root beer with chocolate ice cream, but orange soda with vanilla is a pretty close second. Since today is the longest day of the year, you'll have a couple of extra minutes to enjoy your ice cream soda. The ice cream soda is not on many menus anymore, so you may have to be strategic in your hunt for the perfect float. A&W has great root beer, but only vanilla ice cream. McDonalds has orange soda, but only ice milk. You have the whole day, and a bit of extra sunshine to find the holy grail of summer treats. When you do find it, and are going to stroll the beach with your float, watch where you put your feet.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Devil Wears Chains

June 19, 2008 - Bugs Bunny had it tough. He was expected to dress in dresses, flirt with a short bald dude with a shot gun and a hankerin' for Hasenfeffer, and keep his eye on a small devil (a Sarcophilus harrisii) named Taz. But though Bugs had it bad, Taz really had the short end of the stick.

It seems that the Looney Tunes were not in Australia, so Taz was most definitely the only Tasmanian devil on US soil. Found only in Tasmania, this devilish marsupial is an endangered species. After being hunted down on Australia's mainland for the sake of the livestock, they finally got a bit of protection as a species, and were only declared endangered last month. Recently, there is a new threat against devils. They are being wiped out by a tumour - a cancer - of the face. They weren't the prettiest of animals to start with, but with this new development, Bugs could never have set Taz up with a lady devil.

As a cartoon, Taz didn't get an easy ride either. After making his debut in the "Devil May Hare" on June 19th, 1954 - Taz fell victim to a studio exec who felt he was too obnoxious.1. There was a bit of backlash, and in 1957, he re-emerged, re-styled and ready to take on the big screen in a career comeback. After that, Taz appeared in many other shorts, had a protege, Dizzy Devil, and finally hit the big time with a series of his own on Fox called Taz-mania. In his new series, Taz's character really grew, as did his family - thus increasing the population numbers. The devil was no longer an endangered cartoon. I bet that without Bugs, Taz would never have met his she-devil and quite possibly never have come back from obscurity (read: rehab) - something so many other Hollywood celebs have failed to manage. In honour of the great Tasmanian Devil first big screen appearance, today shall be declared Taz Day. To celebrate, mumble, grumble, growl, spin around, screech... and give a few raspberries to any rabbit that gets in your way.

Taz was really just looking for acceptance and a meal. Yet he had one hell of a battle. Imagine if you will, what it must be like to be enslaved - owned - by the white folk, and merely be looking for the ability to live free. June 19th is also Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a day to commemorate the freedom of African Americans. But more than celebrating freedom of ancestors, it is also a day to put emphasis on education and African American achievements. Senator Obama has the potential to be the first African American (read: American) President of the United States with African American heritage. This is certainly an achievement. It wasn't that long ago that the emancipation of slaves was being fought. Now, what would be an even bigger achievement for ALL North Americans would be to drop the description of people based on their heritage. In Canada, there are Aboriginal Canadians, there are African Canadians, there are Asian Canadians, there are Indo-Canadians... Likewise in America...

If we really want to celebrate Juneteenth, maybe we can finally just be Americans, Canadians... Humans. We share the same earth, the same air, the same water, the same DNA, the same basic needs, and the same visions of success. Whether you are black, white, beige, we all want people to care about us, respect us for who we are, appreciate our uniqueness and our sameness. If Bugs and Taz could learn to live with each other and appreciate each other, why the heck can't intelligent individuals do the same? And when we get to that day, are we going to create a day to celebrate or finally give away the one-day holiday for a lifetime of success?

1. Looney Tunes producer Edward Selzer didn't think much of Taz and stopped Taz's appearances in any more shorts. There was backlash. Taz came back. Wikipedia
2. has more info on today's history

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hey Sailor... want to picnic?

June 18, 2008 - There are wars at home, and wars at work. Fortunately, there have not been wars on Canadian soil - well, none but one... the War of 1812. It was on June 18th that the US declared war on the UK in retaliation for taking their ships during the Napoleonic Wars. Nice trade. The Brits got a few ships (and sailors), and they tried to take Canada. It didn't start well for the Americans. In fact, right off the bat (baton?), the Brits captured Detroit, borrowed many American Indians to pad their troop numbers and burned down the White House in the "Burning of Washington".1. Ultimately, the War of 1812 united Canada. For the Americans, they managed to defend New Orleans and made Andrew Jackson a hero for it. He was elected president in 1829.

There are historians who have purported that the war was really an attempt to conquer Canada and spread some good ol' Americanism across the continent. It is also suggested that it may also have been a war meant to strengthen the US's position in negotiations with the UK over trade. They didn't succeed. History is supposed to teach us something. I realise that we may have been using cannon balls and fire bombs, but it was as technological a war as we could fight then. May history never repeat itself. Imagine a war being fought with today's technology. Imagine if another country tried to capture or harm a US war ship in modern times. Imagine if there was an effort to spread Western (US) style democracy in another's country. Imagine if there was being fought today that was being fought to improve negotiation positions for trade?

Thank god history doesn't repeat herself. Imagine the panic we might feel if we knew that nations were unhappy with other nations and willing to fight to the death. Panic. There are ought to be a bigger word for the sort of pervasive, low-grade, global panic we are feeling today. We panic about wars and fighting and 'jihads' and religious freedoms. We panic about carbon dioxide, and ozone, and pesticides, and computer viruses. But what the hell, it's Panic Day after all. Today, go ahead and panic. And if you feel some of that low-grade invasive nausea today, take two martinis, a round of brie and chocolate to the park and sit on a blanket. Today is also Picnic Day and National Splurge Day. Perhaps picnics and panic can coexist. Or maybe picknicking and splurging is an antidote for the panic.

Maybe our world leaders should splurge on a few history books. Ultimately, history appears to be a wonderful tool for understanding the future. If you seize a few ships and give the enslaved a place to run to and live free, you might just be pissing someone off. The moral of the story? If you want to borrow and not return Seamen, you had better be prepared for more than a picnic on the beach.

1. War of 1812 was more involved I'm sure... I take a bit of creative license.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are you juggling heads too?

June 17, 2008 - The French have really set the style trends for decades. Bell bottoms, high-waists, low-waists, pointy toes, round toes... if you want to know what's in... France. According to the French, apparently, it has been out of fashion to take a man's head in public since 1939. It wasn't entirely off the runway to take a man's head, but it became a private affair.

In 1939, the French held the last public guillotine execution in Versailles in the courtyard of the prison Saint-Pierre.1. The last head to hit the public bucket was Eugen Weidmann. He started out as a petty thief, but after a short stint in prison (a training school for the criminal professional), graduated to much bigger crimes including robbery, kidnapping and murder. Thanks in part to his new bar buddies, Weidmann and Co. would lure people to kill them and steal their belongings. The police eventually tracked them down. Weidmann and another received the death sentence, while two others received a 20 month sentence and one was acquitted. Eventually, the only death sentence that stood was Weidmann's. The other sentence was converted to life in prison.

On June 17th, 1939, Weidmann lost his head. It was even video taped by a resident of an adjacent apartment building.2. Turns out the spectators didn't enjoy the show. The outrage was so bad that the President banned all future public beheadings and moved them inside.3. It was 1977 before France retired the guillotine forever. I would have thought that the guillotine would have gone out of fashion with the Cloche hat.

Today is also World Jugglers Day. In today's world of multi-tasking, prioritizing, and managing many different roles, there are times when one might lose their head for trying to keep all those balls in the air. Yet, for some, myself included, we are more productive when we are juggling many balls. It seems the busier I am, I am more organized. When I have free time, I can fill all of it, with spill over into my scheduled time, with a healthy dose of nothing. It may just be a function of today that free time has become so rare that we don't know what to do with it. Is it more fashionable to be losing your head?

1. Wikipedia's entry for Eugen Weidmann
2. Video of Eugen losing his head is available here on YouTube. Ugh.
3. Wikipedia's entry for Eugen Weidmann

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hey Leo... Put some veggies on that bun

June 16, 2008 - If vegetables are not organic what are they? They are still carbon based organisms - and since hydrocarbons define organic, all vegetables are organic. Yet to walk through the produce department, there are bananas and then there are the organic bananas. Is there a tax on people who didn't pass chemistry? The 'organic' bananas cost more. Same goes for the beef, cheese, crackers... Folks - they are all organic. Now I could buy in to this latest food craze if there was honesty in advertising. How about "pesticide free - grown in organic crap?" Whether you buy the grown in crap or the grown with the help of science, science tells us we need to eat more veggies. Today is Fresh Veggies Day, so if you are like the rest of us, and you are not getting your 5-10... pack them in today. Tomorrow, you can go back to fried and fermented. I wonder if Leopold Bloom knew what day it was when he ordered his Gorgonzola sandwich?

Alas, Mr Bloom had quite the day on June 16th. He had his sandwich and a glass of burgundy for lunch at Davy Byrne's Pub. He found the barmaids to be wonderful siren temptresses at the Ormond Hotel where he stopped in for a pint. It is curious that a novel so completely soaked in Ireland could be written by an author who decided he hated Ireland and that he would never again be found on her soil. Ulysses is a classic. If you haven't read it, today may be your day. For today is Bloomsday. Ulysses happens over the course of one day in Ireland. Leopold Bloom's day parallels that of The Odyssey - his girl is being courted by another man, and over the course of the 18 hours, navigates several tests to win her back.

The date of the book was chosen because it was the day that Joyce had his first date with his future wife. Over a century later, Bloomsday is still celebrated not just in Ireland, but all over the world. Though the biggest celebration attempts to relive Leo's day - it is really a reason to eat Irish food, drink Irish beer, and tell great tales of life, love, and fishing (aren't all fishing stories great tales?).

Well, I may not read Ulysses today, but I will settle for a bit of Gorgonzola and a pint. I don't see any vegetables in my immediate future unless they get served on my cheese sandwich or are carefully hidden in my pint of Guiness. And honestly, if there were a vegetable or two hiding in your pint, could you see through the stout to find it? After all, there is a pork chop hiding in every glass.

May the lilt of Irish laughter

lighten every load.

May the mist of Irish magic

shorten every road...

And may all your friends remember

all the favours you are owed!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Smile You Lads and Lassies...

June 15, 2008 - Experimentation makes the world go round. And around and around. I went out for drinks tonight with a fellow (gal) that lives by the notion. As a man, he is a renowned physicist. As a woman, she is a girl about town. As confusing as that might sound, (s)he is cheeky and outgoing. I'm never sure if I should be calling him/her a cheeky bitch, or a cheeky bugger. I'm guessing that is part of the experiment. As a physicist, this is a smart, engaging and challenging fellow who has had a large impact on much of the research happening in science today. As a gal, she is better dressed than I, and her shoes are fabulous.

I'm fascinated by the ability to drop who you are expected to be, and step out, well heeled (Manolo Blahniks anyone?) as someone totally different. If you could leave the house as someone else who would you be? Can you be sure there isn't a part of you that isn't that person already? I am convinced that the people we look up to are our ideals because they are already somewhat like us. Are we drawn to those we resemble or do we resemble the people to whom we are most attracted? I'm attracted to people who are able to take life in stride. Those who are laid back and always smiling. I would leave the house as one of these people. For today, tis a good fit. Today is Smile Power Day - a day to smile and pass that smile along.

It is also Father's Day. This is a strange day for me. It's the kind of day to call up your dad, dust off your golf clubs and hit the links. These days, I'm a better golfer than he is, which means I'd have to play badly to let him win. Not. One thing I'll never leave the house as is a good sport. I live for the victory. I instead will take the day to golf with friends. I promise I'll have a few good laughs, and with any luck, I'll win. If not, I'll smile anyway (and lie on the score card).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Going Down...

June 14, 2008 - Blood is thicker than wine... yet after a few wine, everyone is like family - fair game to whom you spill your heart. After a few wine, you'll get out on the dance floor in four inch heels, stay upright, and have a great time with the others on the dance floor you only met during the first two bars of Billy Idol. I will never remember all the people I've met on dance floors, but I do remember the bands and the music. I wonder how many of the folks from the dance floor drove home. Did their night of drinking and dancing and good times end in tragedy?

I watched yesterday as several ambulances tried to navigate traffic. It was Friday rush hour, and after a week of work, every car on the road seemed to be in a hurry to get to their destination. After all, where they were going on a Friday night in June was much more important. Nobody pulled over for the ambulance. What if that ambulance was transporting a family member? Heading to an accident in which a friend was involved? And still - no body moves. It was as if they didn't notice. I hope they at the very least give blood.

I don't give blood. I have been asked, kindly, not to come back. It's just more work than it's worth. My veins play hide and seek from the needle and it drives the phlebotomist mad. At the first site of my own blood gathering in that bag, I go down for the count. I pass out. Two days ago, I sat down on a sharp edge, and stabbed myself in the back of the leg. It is only a half-inch cut, but... at the site of my own blood... I hit the floor. For the sake of the person in the ambulance, I'm glad there are others out there who do indeed give blood. A friend received his gold card for having donated blood over 100 times (106 times as of next Saturday).

Today is World Blood Donor Day. For everyone that has given blood even once, have a glass of OJ and a cookie, and pat yourself on the back. For me, I'll reach for the smelling salts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's not my fault, I must have made you do it!

June 13, 2008 - There is always time to pass the blame. We blame others for our shortcomings, for our bad habits, for our failures, and for our mis-fires. We rarely blame others for our success - that we take full credit for ourselves. I'd like to believe this is a cultural thing, or a learned behavior that we could blame on someone else. But, alas, blame appears to be a deeply routed hominid behavior. Today however, go for it. Today is Blame Someone Else Day.

Remember Koko the Gorilla? Koko is part of Project Koko - an experiment that was developed to teach a gorilla sign language and to show that gorillas are intelligent beings with thoughts and logic and feelings. Koko now has a sign language repertoire of over 1000 words.1. In college we watched a number of videos on Koko and her ability to string together thoughts to form basic sentences and make herself very well understood. Once caught doing something she shouldn't have done, Koko pointed at the cat and claimed "the cat did it".

Another primate that seems to know how to pass a little blame around is George W. Bush. Once asked about the riots in Los Angeles, GW was quoted as saying:
"When I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in LA, my answer has been direct & simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame" George W. Bush.
Blame it seems, is not merely a human scape goat. Turns out that blame is more universal (and deeper routed) than that. So who can we blame for GWB? There seems to be enough blame to go around on that one. Blame the media. Blame the voting public. Blame the supreme court. Blame Ralph Nader. Blame and politics are like peanut butter and jelly on white bread - sweet, sticky, hard to swallow on the inside, nutritionally void on the outside. I'd like to think when the Wonder Bread Monkey's term is up, things will improve. I want to believe that Senator Obama will be a refreshing, honest change - but politics is politics. At least on this PB & J the bread will be whole wheat.

Blame Someone Else day always falls on the first Friday the 13th of the year. As today is the ONLY Friday the 13th of 2008 - seems like this is the day to do something naughty and pass the buck. After all, it can't POSSIBLY be your fault today. Go ahead... do something I might do.

1. Read more about Koko and the associated research at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The mother of invention... Apple?

June 12, 2008 - Inventions have created all kinds of free time. Free time has created more gadgets. So now, we fill our free time with even more gadgets. There are gadgets we play with in public. Toys we play with in a group. Games we play long distance, and gadgets we play with alone. But what did we fill time with before the Palm Pilot, cell phone, iPhone, iPod, laptop, XBox, XBox Live, Tom Tom, and iBods? We used day timers, little black books, wrote letters, met face to face, listened to live music, kept a notebook, played bored games and postal chess, got lost, used maps... There were no blogs. There was the Diary.

I imagine that if I had to take pen to paper, I would never be putting my thoughts together daily like this. (See June 8th) But many people still write in a diary at the end of the day, and many more did in the past. Today is Diary Day in honour of Ann Frank's birthday. Ann Frank wrote a diary of her life during the holocaust. It was a powerful look in to the thoughts and experiences of life during a time of horror. The Diary of Ann Frank is a classic, and yet, it was written as a personal daily journey. Though at the end of the day I often have musings and reflection, I don't know that I could sit to write my thoughts.

Many of the thoughts that roll around on the gerbil wheel on my mind are such that I wouldn't want them captured in a written record. They are not deep or universal enough to keep a reader past January 4th. I wonder what will come of this blog in the future. Will it become good chat up material? Will it lead to drinks and post-drinks? Will it have fulfilled it's universal goals and fade in to the sunset? Will it become a classic - The Diary of a Mad Woman? Some Blogs are thoughtful and smart. Some are funny and challenging. This one is neither, but in the day and age of the Internet and the Blog, we are all writing our thoughts and musings.

The Internet has made us all columnists and writers, graphic artists and music thieves. The cell phone has given us all an invisible electronic leash, and all the advances in technology has given us the platform for even more technology. I've heard that Necessity is the Mother of Invention. I often thought it was laziness that was the mother of invention. After seeing all the great new gadgets and machines around us, I'm starting to think spare-time (boredom) is more accurate. On Machine Day, we should celebrate the inventions of all the machines and gadgets that have come before us, with us, and in to the future. Play with your toys. Personally, I now have t0o many gadgets, and not enough time to use them all. Someone should invent a way to slow down time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Aloha and Welcome... pull up an electric chair.

June 11, 2008 - On the west coast there is a 'lifestyle', a relaxed pace to things that make the Toronto's and New Yorks of the world seem a different universe. Often lovingly referred to "The Big Smoke," things just appear to move faster there. Here on the Pacific, we sometimes have to work at this doing things this way, but dammit, we're going to succeed at slow. It must be something in the air. It could be the salt air. It might be the giant exhilations of Hollywood's finest. It could be the smoke from the aces. Maybe it is the breathtaking views in any direction. Whatever the reason, there is something very cool about living on the west coast dude.

Surf, sand, sun and sea, we have it all. And, it seems, the farther south, and the farther west you go (ie warmer) - the more relaxed the lifestyle gets. In Hawaii, it is so laid back, it took a century for their monarchy to create a holiday. Hawaii was unified by a highly ambitious Chief Kamehameha who worked for decades to unify the islands and create a monarchy. Of course once he bought or strong-armed everyones compliance, he declared himself King. What power it must have been to take Western weapons and kill your own people all for a meaningless political title and a really big chair. You can be sure that it was the King's men who held all the power. Eventually, Hawaii declared June 11th as King Kamehameha I Day (King Kam 1 Day) by royal proclamation. People travel to Hawaii for vacation in hopes of finding time to slow down and relax. What do Hawaiians do when they get a day off? If you slow down slow, don't you just stop?

June 11th is also the anniversary of the final 'stop' of Timothy McVeigh. He was unfortunately not stopped soon enough before he took 165 lives and ruined that of countless others. McVeigh's actions were so extraordinarily heinous that he was the first person to be executed by the federal government in 36 years. I have a hard time with the actions of McVeigh, but also sadly have a hard time with the actions of the government as well. I am not sure that you have the right to pass judgment on murder if you yourself take a life. Tit for tat is a little too playground for me.

My aunt once suggested that rapists have their testicles surgically attached to their chins so the world will know at an instant that these guys are real dick heads. I don't know what would have been punishment to suit McVeigh. He hated the US government. Perhaps we could have chained him to a cubicle in a government building basement cell and force him to navigate the red tape of registering the death certificates for each person in any affected by the bombings. It would still ultimately be a death sentence, but it would have taken that burden away the people who had to do that horrible job.

I'm sure that war would change anyone, and I have no doubt that the thousands and thousands of troops in the middle east are being profoundly affected by the events of war. Let's hope that if we learned anything from McVeigh, that we learned those soldiers who have put their lives and sanity on the table for us, get served a good helping of care and support when they get home... our thanks, and maybe a vacation on an island in the Pacific. Mahalo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Can science and drinking co-exist?

June 10, 2008 - Is there a difference between 19 and 21? What happens in those two years that makes one more mature? What of the difference between 18 and 19? Between 18 and 19 years old, you finish high school and head off to your first year of Uni. Now, thinking back on my first year of college, I wouldn't say I grew in that year. I might have regressed a year (maybe more). Between 19 and 21 - the sophomore - senior years, one can regress as much as 5 years worth. While you are putting great new information in to the gray matter, one or two may also be flushing the system so to speak.

I wonder if geography makes a difference - the farther north you are, the more mature you might be. Are Canadians more mature than our US counterparts? Does the winter chill give us an advantage - or is it what drives us to seek Southern Comforts? Who decides how old you need to be to consume alcohol?

In Canada, each province has their own legal drinking age. Going West to East - 19 (BC)- 18 (AB) - 19 (SK) - 18 (MB) - 19 (ON) - 18 (PQ) - 19 (Maritimes). South of the border the legal drinking age is 21. The drinking age in Canada in the 70's was almost all 21 (except Saskatchewan, Ontario and PEI, where it was 18). When the drinking age was lowered in every other province, Saskatchewan, Ontario and PEI chose to raise theirs to 19. In 1984, the USA enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act that forced all states to raise their age to 21. The USA has the highest legal drinking age in the world, yet researchers everywhere have found that an increase in the drinking age has little to no effect on the alcohol consumption behaviors of young adults. College goers are going to drink whether they are freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors. Raising the age does not reduce consumption. 1.

Most of us drank more between 18 and 21 than we do as 'adults'. Maybe if we really want to have an impact on alcohol consumption, the answer is to lower the drinking age. Get it out of our systems before we have drivers licenses, or the income to buy trouble. Then, when we get to college, we can focus on the things we are there to learn... theories and relationships (not necessarily in that order). I don't suppose eliminating the minimum drinking age will solve all alcohol related problems in society, but hey... research suggests it couldn't hurt. Until then, we have Alcoholics Anonymous.

On June 10, 1935, AA was founded in Ohio by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith. It was the day that Dr. Bob took his last drink - and set about to help others do the same. I suppose if you are going to take drinking out of your social repertoire it would be easier if you can find others to do the same. There is power in numbers. Today, alcoholics everywhere can celebrate Alcoholics Anonymous Day. Raise a glass (of club soda) to Dr. Bob. His drinking, and his work, have provided an outlet for former drinkers to find like minded individuals to go for coffee with the world over. Now is there a Caffeineaholics Anonymous out there for me? When I'm ready to give up coffee I'll be looking for a group of people to go drinking with.


1. Legal drinking age: Science vs. Ideology

Monday, June 9, 2008

Don't move, I'll go get you a roadmap.

June 9, 2008 - When you become a verb, does that buy you fame? Infamy? A built in excuse? It's not my fault, it was Alli'd? If I were to become a verb, what would Alli'd be? I have a few thoughts. It could mean lost. (I lose things). It could mean dared and tried (I tend to find trouble without looking). I'm Alli'd could be an alternate way of saying I'm in. I never turn down an adventure. If you were verbed, what would your verb mean? I have a friend who doesn't handle talkers in movie theatres well. She chucks things at them - she starts with the small stuff - popcorn, gum wrappers, and if that isn't working, will work up to empty drink bottles to quiet the noise. This is now referred to as being torried.

Nouns being verbed is common place in today's world. Creating a file (say an Adobe Acrobat file) is described with the verb - pdf'ing. To take a sound file and create a .wav file, you can wav it. These audio files, wav files once could entertain me for hours on end. Like a cat with a ball of yarn, there was hours and hours of entertainment in this game. We would wav each other - change the standard OS sounds for wav files that were much more entertaining. Whipping sounds for an incoming message, Monty Python sounds for incoming mail... It was even more fun when done covertly. Ah the "whip_ow.wav" file.

Then there was the Donald Duck wav... oh oh.... slow down... I think Walt might have blushed if he had heard this one. Mr. Disney introduced Donald and his little known twin sister Della on this day in 1934 in "The Wise Little Hen". I'm willing to bet that Walt had no idea his sweet innocent duck would be wav'd in such a way. But alas, on Donald Duck Day, all I can think about is the darker side of the Duck. Sorry Walt.

In 1909, Alice Huyler Ramsey, and three girlfriends, got in a car, hit the highway, and became the original Thelma and Luise (and two others). Alice was a 22-year-old housewife, who got itchy feet, hopped in her Maxwell automobile, and hit the road. For 49 days, she drove from Manhattan to San Francisco (the girlfriends couldn't drive). Call it adventure, call it irresponsible, call it wild and unpredictable, but on June 9th, Alice became the first woman to drive across the US. In honour of Alice, I will declare today Alice Hit the Road Day. There must be something about Ali's.

About being verbed... to alli might mean to do something wild, unpredictable, adventurous, disorganized. Works for me.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Write Your Own Date...

June 8, 2008 - In these days of email, good penmanship is nothing more than the ability to pick out a really great pen. I believe there is an art to writing a letter that may be almost entirely lost. Letters will be appearing in museums near you. After all, a Montblanc just doesn't have a backspace key. And how can you write a letter without the CTRL+V and CTRL+P commands? Heck, I can't write one paragraph without using one of them. A simple sentence can't happen without the backspace key.

I liken writing a letter to a first date. It's something that no matter how great we think it went, you wish you could cut a sentence here, move a paragraph, delete several thoughts... If only you could run the date through, post it as a draft, go back and fix the errors and mis-speaks and mis-spellings, and then post it later as a finished product. After the edits, I think I could turn a few of these 'first dates' into fabulous hair washing sessions or dog walks. Then there are those first dates that are great. You take in a ball game, hit the links, drink way too much sangria and laugh until your sides hurt. Much more readable. Alas, the sad thing about writing is, that no matter how great the subject matter, no matter how much you have it drafted in your head, it just isn't possible to put pen to paper and write a great letter anymore.

Today is Write to Your Father Day. I imagine this is the day to get that letter written so there is still time to get in this post before Father's Day. I'm sure this day will also go extinct in time. After all, those who can still pen a letter are likely old enough that their fathers are no longer with us. In today's terms, an email can be sent and received in mere seconds. So, next year, delivery time dictates that perhaps we can combine Write to Your Father and Father's Days. Save on some ink.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton finally dropped out of the nomination race. That means we have a democratic candidate for the upcoming US elections. Today is both Race Unity Day and Multicultural Child Awareness Day. This is a day to bring together everyone from all races. In Mr. Barack Obama's case, he can celebrate both. He is his own unity. Half black, half white, he may be the best thing to come along in US politics since JFK. I hope as well, that Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Clinton can together, bring some unity back to what could be a dangerously divided Democratic party. If something as basic as writing a letter can go extinct, maybe racial divide can as well. We should all write about that.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Big Brown... Big Banana.

June 7, 2008 - There is a long time between the rainy season and summer heat. In the rains, we can't wait for the sun. There are many who, in the heat of summer, yearn for rain (and I'm not talking ducks). Summer rains, when it's hot, and the air is steamy are perfect for late night walks and jazz. But the rain lifts, and the ground water evaporates, and the air smells fresh - flowery - alluring.

Those are the days where I get to the evening craving - no, jones'ing - for an ice cream cone. Not any cone, a Dairy Queen cone - dipped in chocolate. I hope that I will finish it before it completely melts. I never do. There used to be these ice cream bars we would get at the store that were white ice cream, on a stick that had a distinct flavour. I can't remember what they were called, but that was what summer tasted like as a kid.

I always wanted to order a banana split. Every time I was told I would never finish it. I think I ordered a split four times in my life, and mom was right. I never finished one. It is Banana Split Day today, and though I'm sure I won't be able to finish it, I'm going to order one and try again today after 15 years. Maybe this is my year. Maybe I'll recruit help. Today is also National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Now I'm confused. I've never seen a split made with anything else but vanilla ice cream and three toppings (strawberry, chocolate, and pineapple). I'm willing to live on the wild side, but I don't know if I can handle chocolate ice cream with my banana. How do you make a banana split? Scare it away with chocolate ice-cream? Why did the young banana get teased? He pee-led his pants. Why are bananas so popular? They have a lot of appeal.

Look, I'll never win a joke writing contest. Fortunate for you, I won't try. But Big Brown - now he should be trying. Today is the running of the Belmont Stakes - the third race of the triple crown. Big Brown has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and is the 2-5 favourite to win Belmont and take the Triple Crown. If he wins, I recommend the hay and carrot sauce banana split.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hungry for More Than a Hole.

June 6, 2008 - If you can't perceive something is it there? Philosopher George Berkeley was an Idealist (and Kantian) who believed that objects only exist if they are perceived. And even then, they only exist as perceptions.1. That is a pretty powerful philosophy to live by. Of course the challenge there is that you can't control the perceptions of others, but only your own. So does this mean life really is what you make it? Things are as you see them?

Since perception is the real world, and the real world is merely your perceptions, how did Tim Horton's manage to convince an entire country to buy donut holes? If it is a hole, is it really there? It's like one mass idealism campaign. Only in North America would we market holes and sell them by the buckets. Timbits, Munchkins, Dew Drops, Robin's Eggs, D-Pops, Doughnut Holes... Call them what you want, we buy them. And today, I think you should eat your fill of holes. It is Doughnut Day. So hit your Tim Hortons, Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Creme or Robin's.

While you are munching on your doughnuts, think about those who don't have enough to eat, never mind deep fried doughy treats. June 6 has been National Hunger Awareness Day. 2. The problem of hunger in North America and beyond is much bigger than just one day. In 2008, the entire month of September will be declared National Hunger Awareness Month. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go to school hungry. Though we didn't always have lots, I always had breakfast. There was always lunch and supper, and late night snacks.

I think I took my childhood for granted, and often worked guilt in to my daily M.O. when I wanted something extra. There was always extras. I was indeed fortunate. There were two sisters that lived across the street from us when I was very young. They would come to school with lard sandwiches for lunch. I'm not sure what it was, the reason or the sandwich itself (I'm pretty sure even Subway couldn't market that one), but for weeks I used to tell my family how hungry I was at lunch so I could get a bigger lunch to share. There are thousands of Trish's and Cheyanne's in every town and city, for whom hunger is a daily event. It takes more than perception to alleviate hunger. Can you fill up eating holes? No you Kant.

1. George Berkeley, idealist philosopher
2. National Hunger Awareness Day - America's Second Harvest Food Bank Network.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Concrete Jungle is a Forest Too.

June 5, 2008 - Log it. Burn it. Pave it. Put up a Starbucks. Make sure there is loads of parking. In fact, while you're at it, add a shoe store and a spa, and you just described my idea of utopia. Don't get me wrong, I love to see trees - on the mountains, in the distance, or on a canvas. But deep down inside, I am a city girl. I love concrete and glass, cafes, wine bars, movie theaters and the constant noise of traffic. I feel at home surrounded by the sights and sounds of urban life.

I went camping once. Well, twice actually. The first round - we stayed within cell range, and could order pizza if we wanted. We didn't, but I was less uncomfortable knowing it could be ordered and delivered. Smog is like a security blanket. I survived one night. The second attempt took me farther out of the city. It meant packing the things we would use (no stores in sight), sleeping amongst the trees, and crickets, and silence. It is so very silent.

Though for me the forest would probably make a great location for a mall, we are so very fortunate to have this diverse planet. In 1972, the United Nations declared June 5th would be World Environment Day. The purpose was to "stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and public action." 1. The host for World Environment Day in 2008 is New Zealand with the slogan "CO2, Kick the Habit!". In attempting to achieve carbon neutrality, we are being asked to make a pledge to do our part.

It's a grand idea. And I sure hope everyone does their part. Plant more trees, ride your bike, buy local, buy green, reduce, reuse, recycle... If you do your part, I can continue to live in my Utopia. I drive, I inhale fumes and caffeine, my favourite colour is Starbucks green, and a grande dark roast in a venti cup, topped with steamed non-fat just tastes better in a paper cup. Urban is an environment, and the concrete jungle is my forest. I'll go camping here anytime. Hilton anyone?

1. World Environment Day - quote from Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Captain George, No Not THAT One...

June 4, 2008 - I live in Hollywood North, the Wet Coast, Granola Town, Honkouver, Sushi Central, Cascadia North... And honestly, they all fit. Hollywood North? Well, more movies are filmed here in Vancouver than anywhere else in Canada, largely because of the timezone, the available crews and the short flight from LA. The Wet Coast - well, speaks for itself really. It rains. It rains often. It rains hard. The forests are Temperate Rain Forest. The lawns are green year round. Granola Town? Yup. We have more organic folk in Vancouver than pretty much anywhere. It gives us the distinction of being the healthiest city in Canada, the longest living city in Canada, and the most Vegetarian friendly city in North America 1. HongKouver - well, we have a large population of Asian Canadians who are from Hong Kong. This means we also have the best Chinese food, and an unlimited selection of Dim Sum and Hot Pot. Did I mention the 'all you can eat sushi'? Mmm Sushi.

This is reflected in the Sister Cities of Vancouver. Hollywood North? Sister city to Los Angeles. Wet Coast? Sister city to Edinburgh. Hongkouver? Sister city to Guangzhou. Sushi Central? Sister city to Yokohama. We are also a sister city to Odessa. This one puzzles me a little. You can't find a good Russian restaurant anywhere in town, and there just isn't a huge fascination with ballet.

The city that Vancouver is probably closest to, both in lifestyle and in geography is Seattle. Just a few minutes down the road, Seattle is in so many ways Vancouver South. Other than the football and baseball... wait we have that. Ok, if not for the tower with the spinning restaurant on top... No, we have three of those. Ok, if not for the spectacular waterfront markets and seasides... nope, got that too. If only we were part of the same country. Well, in reality, that too may not be much of a difference. On June 4, in 1792, Captain George Vancouver claimed the Puget Sound for Great Britain. 2. So in fact, both Seattle and Vancouver were found by Captain George. We got George Vancouver's name, they got George Bush.

So today, the Wet Coast will celebrate Vancouver-Puget Sound Day by taking in the best of the Pacific North West and the many beautiful things about living in Cascadia. Bring on the Sushi, the Hot Pot and Dim Sum, and waterfront markets.
Today is also National Tailor Day. So when you're dropping off your suits to let them out after all that Dim Sum, don't forget to appreciate your tailor. Tell a joke that will leave them in stitches.

Ouch. That was just plain PUNishment. Sorry.

1. Vegetarian Friendly Rankings
2. Captain George Vancouver had many escapades while mapping the world along side Captain Cook.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If Only Casey Was Juicing...

June 3, 2008 - One of the best things about summer... tight pants. The 'Boys of Summer' ... nine innings of tight pants. The boys of the field... 4 quarters of tight pants. The boys of the court... really baggy shorts (but I have a fabulous imagination). Living in Canada, there is a lot about the baseball that we are missing. Sure, it isn't as fast as hockey. You don't often see the players throw their glove on the field and fight. There is no ice. But baseball is more than a game of statistics and Cubans, it is an experience. A game is about the sunshine, the peanuts, (the sushi if you live here on the West Coast), the beer, and the crowds. It's a little like a sports bar with a really really big screen TV.

Baseball has always been about the crowds. On this day in 1888, Casey at the Bat 1. was published for the first time in the San Francisco Examiner. Poet Ernest Thayer encapsulated not only the nuances of baseball, but the excitement and heartbreak of the fans that makes baseball America's game. Casey of course struck out. Now if Casey was juicing... I bet the Mudville Nines would have won that game. In 1888 the players hadn't likely heard about steroids yet. I wonder if Casey had been juicing if he would have denied it too? Either way, today is Casey at the Bat Day. Go out and throw a ball around today. Take in a ball game, or hit your local sports pub and watch on a much smaller screen.

Today also saw the completion of the CP Railway from coast to coast in Canada in 1889. Finally, the West is connected to the East by rail. Not that it improved the ability of the West to ship goods to the East - there was still enormous expense in shipping across the Rockies. The only train travel I've ever done is Vancouver Island from Courtney to Victoria on a scenic tour. I think the attraction of this was lost on me. Scenic one damn tree, you've scenic'd them all.

I don't suppose with the busy Baseball schedule of today the teams could ever travel via rail. The Boys of Summer would also be the Boys of Spring and the Boys of Fall. You think the season is long now?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hey Bubba, Punch Out Early

June 2, 2008 - There is a bubba in every crowd. If there isn't one in your crowd, you might be it. Don't worry, today, being Bubba or being a Bubba is a good thing. The 2nd of June is National Bubba Day. A day to honour anyone named Bubba (formally or informally). Now in my crowd, my dog is Bubba. He answers to Bubba. He looks like a Bubba, and if he were human, he would certainly be a Bubba. Rex is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He has a fabulously enormous cranium and a stripy paint job that gives him real homeboy appeal. Rex - a.k.a. Bubba - is a guy's guy. If he were human, he'd be driving a Chevy.

I've had a few dogs in my life, and each one was so very different. There was an apricot Poodle named Sandy. If Sandy were human, he'd be one of those sweet, swishy boys on Davie Street, who was never really sure of himself. He'd fall madly in love each and every weekend with the first good looking guy to buy him a daiquiri, have his heart broken by Tuesday, and be back out on Friday. Then there was Tinker. Tinker was a red Poodle. Laid back and overly relaxed, Tinker will most certainly be reincarnated as a Rasta poet on the beaches of MoBay. Tink was a dreadlocked, laid back, lover of a dog. As a dog, he made a living as a stud. As a human, he will make his living as a err... poet. And of course there is Yoyo. Yo is a Chihuahua who would be selling flowers and picking pockets at the Mexican border. He is sly, fast, fierce, and ready for a fight.

Now there is Bubba (Rex)... He's about rollin' down the windows down, ball caps, beer and beach. Call it insanity, call it creativity, or call it anthropomorphism if you like. Dogs have taken a very different place in our lives largely with thanks to the billions dollar pet industry. They are cheaper than children, and are a much shorter commitment. If you convert dog years to human years, it's about 7:1. Time moves fast enough, thank goodness we don't live as fast as a dog does.

Today is also Leave the Office Early Day. This should be an easy one to celebrate. In fact, count your day in dog hours and head home at 10:20 am. See you at the beach!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dare You to Move...

June 1, 2008 - So June has arrived. I dare you to slow down time. Could it be that gravity is making the earth smaller and smaller - speeding up the spin - speeding up time? Or maybe it is just age. Call it what you want, today is Dare Day.

Yesterday was No Tobacco Day. Still smoking? I dare you to quit. And for those of us who have quit, today is also Cancer Survivors Day. This is a day to honour not only the survivors of cancer, but the family, friends and professionals that helped along the way. We are often overloaded with cancer charities fund raising efforts most of the time, and yet, how is it that we haven't found a cure? Maybe one day this won't be a day at all. Until then, we can thank those support networks for all they do.

The first Sunday in June is also Canadian Forces Day. The men and women of the Canadian Forces are out there daring themselves to be more brave on a daily basis. As the tours of duty repeat, and their time away from their support networks increases, we should be grateful there are Canadians stepping up to the plate. Though you may not now or ever be in the forces, maybe today is the day you dare yourself to do something you've been afraid to try. To borrow from Switchfoot 1. "Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence". Now get out there and live outside of your cage.

1. Visit Switchfoot's website...

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