Friday, December 25, 2009

Wrap This Up

Friday, December 25, 2009 - Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Festivus. Whether you celebrate or not, it's hard to not feel that the air is different at this time of year. People are harried, frustrated, and feeling a tad guilty about not feeling the warm giving spirit that shouldn't be reserved for merely one day a year. Yet, year after year, we let what we haven't done or that which we have not finished dictate how prepared we are to celebrate friends and family.

I propose that this year, the only things you are allowed to think about are all the things you accomplished. This list might include the thanks you gave someone for a job well done - that was deserved, timely and genuine, or the bag of chocolate balls you pulled out of a red bag for your colleagues at the end of their shift after having to work Christmas eve. That might not seem like a big deal - but those chocolates were from the heart. Those little things that are from the heart is the source of that warm spirit to which we are meant to be striving. So how come the things we remember are the cards we didn't write and mail, the gifts I didn't find/buy/fight over, and the flowers I didn't get for friends? You know that saying - don't sweat the small stuff - I think it could be re-written for this season.... don't sweat the sMALL stuff. Get out of the mall, and get in to your loved one's lives. Find out what really makes them remember the holidays. Odds are, it won't be the gifts but the time spent together. It won't be the card they didn't receive, it will be the phone call (takes more time and effort than writing your name).

This year - I did find a perfect gift for a few people that are important to me. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all related to spending time together. It is a gift that doesn't require ribbons, wrap and bows. I won't get tape stuck to everything (and it's self... geez I hate that). I won't worry about the size and I'm not concerned about the colours it comes in this season. I won't torture myself worrying that mum already has one - doesn't use one, want one or otherwise not like. My gift this year to everyone is about spending a little time together, engaged in what is going on in their lives. This is a gift I don't need to pre-order... just schedule and be present. That is a present. No stress, no muss, no fuss.

So if I could just get past the fact that I haven't mailed out my cards.....

Ok... maybe a little guilt. Merry ho ho ho to everyone, whatever your holiday might be. If the cards didn't get out this year, they just didn't get out. Pick up the phone. Trust me - they will remember it longer and with warmer thoughts than a bit of dead tree and some mashed up vegetables for colour.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wrap That Up

Thursday, December 17, 2009 - What would the holidays be without those gifts you open and ooh and ahh over publicly, while inside your brain is going a hundred miles an hour with questions. Those questions go something like this:
"What is it?"
"What were they thinking?"
"Who can I give this to?"
"How often am I going to have to put this out on display?"
"Oh crap, now I have to invite them over to see it"
"What the heck am I supposed to do with this?"
"I wonder what store it's from? Do they need receipts?"
"I hope I have a box to put this in."
Today you can go ahead and re-wrap that fabulous gift. It is Re-Gifting Day. The one day in the year where giving away the gifts you just couldn't understand. What this does mean is that it is NOT ok the rest of the year. Have you been storing those gifts for just such a day as today all year? Get out the cellophane tape and bows and get those gifts in to the hands of someone else who may not understand the gift. And if that same gift ends up in the hands of another by late tonight - that is one hell of a way to celebrate. If you are one of the lucky few who has not ever received a gift you couldn't explain, than perhaps you can help someone else celebrate the day. Go ahead and buy a special someone one of those kitchen gadgets with which Julia Child herself wouldn't know what to do. How about a sweater covered in Reindeer and decorated trees? Better yet, a blue sweater covered in Dreidels and Menorahs is the perfect gift - especially for your Muslim and Buddhist friends.

The malls are really out there to support you at this time of year. Every mall is full of Kiosk vendors selling everything from walking tripod speakers and lambskin g-strings to age defying hand creams sure to grow your nails and increase your grip strength. There has got to be a gift to re-gift available for you there. There is this kiosk in a mall near where I work. Just inside the mall there is a kiosk past the lotto centre (probably the busiest vendor in the mall) that seems to be selling that miracle hand cream of which I speak. I'm terrified to try one of their free samples. The woman who works the kiosk has black eyeliner, black eyeshadow, and very black lashes - at least I hope it's makeup - but you can see her very very black eyes from across the mall. If it is make-up, it is a shame that she hadn't re-gifted it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Covered Misery

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - Writing, it appears, is something that I have lost the desire to continue. I made a promise to keep writing, both to myself and to the four people who read this drivel, and failed. So yesterday, a colleague commented that they had read my blog. Honestly? I didn't think anyone was still reading this, and so I stopped writing. The fallout of that conversation is this post. I make no promises that this will be the first of many. I will also not promise this is my swan song. This is instead, a commitment to myself to do something I enjoy again.

I believe that is an admission that I enjoy writing. When it got to be too much it was really around the time that I was also spending large parts of my working life writing. I suspect that if this blog became a paid column, I would bet it would no longer hold interest for me. Of course, that's a little like sugar coating the obvious. When you put a price on something, the intrinsic value drops.

This festive season - Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus (for the rest of us) - is really weeks of sugar coating. We spend time with family we will only spend time with because of the holidays. We buy gifts we wouldn't normally buy. We spend money we have not yet earned (love that credit), and we spend the next few months juggling our other responsibilities to pay for it all. But, we do it for the love of the season.

Hell, this season really seems to be about stress, frustration, crowds and excess pressure. Parties are supposed to be fun times, but often we go to the holiday gatherings because we are expected to attend. We bring hostess gifts, and a bottle of something to dull the pain - or dull the stress. Just be glad it isn't socially acceptable to bring what people are often really feeling at this time of year. Chocolate covered loneliness is hard to put in a box. Dark Chocolate Exhaustion is especially hard to wrap. I'm fond of yogurt covered raisins, but these too are only junk food in disguise. Sugar coated fruit so to speak. Oh hell, it's in theme. Today is Chocolate Coated Everything Day.

I know this isn't the most festive of prose, but it is my right to write. Yesterday was the Bill of Rights Day which really gives us all the ok to say whatever it is we want to say - and you can say it any way you want. That being said, we also have the right to bear arms, so if I really don't like what you're saying... your right to life, liberty and freedom is not yours. I don't know how you coat that in Chocolate.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rainbow Warriors... Under Hats.

Tuesday, September 15th - Vancouver is known around the world as a livable city and a great city to visit. Of course we're also known as a city full of "Tree Huggers", "Dope Smokers", "Granola Crunchers", "Butt Munchers", and "Liberal Losers". Well, they couldn't be more right. The average Vancouver'ite loves trees, healthful cereal, a drag of dope, and liberal rights. Vancouver has a very high "Gay Quotient", and in general are incredibly very tolerant when it comes to our gay population.

Today is the Anniversary of Greenpeace. On September 15th in 1971, a group of activists set sail from Vancouver on an old fishing boat in hopes of spreading the word of a green and peaceful world. There is an old joke in Vancouver (and I mean old) that at any time in any pub or bar in Vancouver you will meet someone who will tell you they started Greenpeace. They sailed under a Rainbow Flag, and became known as Rainbow Warriors.

Today, Vancouver is famous for it's Pride Week, and the Rainbow Warriors now wear leather chaps and lipstick. The women are wearing even less. Hey... it's Make a Hat Day. That would cover up one head.

Positive Thinking? Oh Screw It!

Monday, September 14, 2009 - So yesterday was Positive Thinking Day. That doesn't have much to do with today, but it was enough to convince me yesterday that I could get on top of all the things on my to do list that continues to only grow. One of the things on that list was to open up this screen and get writing again. Well, yesterday I was feeling very positive about this. Now that I have a collection of keys with letters under my fingertips, I am reminded that that whole felling positive thing, ended at midnight.

This isn't the greatest start to my re-activated daily blog. Infact, this is so bad that I wouldn't be offended if I never wrote it again. The day that follows Positive Thinking Day is probably better named Oh Screw It Day. Maybe that is why today is actually Boss/Employee Exchange Day. Yesterday the boss was feeling pretty positive. Today... He's throwing in the towel and becoming a Pion again. I could swap out my job with my boss, but I don't know that I'd want the number of phone calls that entails. Besides, today was my first day off in a while, and yesterday I was so sure I was going to plow through that list. Turns out I answered work calls from 07:30 hrs, answered emails, and generally cleaned up a few things at work. I didn't exchange my job with the boss, but I did exchange my day off for a day of work. Does that count?

What I should have done this morning was shut the phone off, grab a coffee, a cream-filled donut, and a newspaper. Since yesterdays positive thoughts about getting to my to do list didn't pan out today... I should just say Oh Screw It and do nothing. Hey wait... now THAT would be like a Boss/Employee Exchange Day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Susie B and Amelia both hail a cab...

Thursday, June 18, 2009 - One turns to the other and says... "You first", but Sally got the ride. Hey... Lame maybe, but today is an interesting day in History. On June 17, 1873, Susan B. Anthony is fined for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election. On June 17, 1928, Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, and in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

Having grown up in a world where I really haven't had to experience any discrimination barriers, I can't imagine what a challenge these accomplishments might have been for these women. I have a friend who smashed through a few of those barriers herself in her working life - paving the way for many others to carve successful careers in banking. Without minimizing these accomplishments, I wonder what is so special about Amelia or Susie B doing what seems so straight forward - having an opinion, casting a vote, boarding a plane. What matter is it whether they were male or female? Imagine life for the generations to come... where not only does one's gender not matter, but neither does their orientation, ethnicity, religion...

In some ways, that sounds like a pretty good world. So what will be the firsts that humanity will look back on in 40-50 years that seems uncommonly common to have had a 'first'? Will there be the first human to park a Volkswagen on the moon? VW - FarFrumErde.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Juggling traffic jams with bridges.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - Vancouver is a funny city - full of mountains, beautiful views, oceanic waters, and bridges. Many many bridges. Which also then translates in to a city full of traffic jams and 24 hour Traffic channels. But alas, to alleviate some of the problems, Vancouver has a solution that will help to ease congestion... a new bridge.

Vancouver has had it's share of International attention for their bridges. There was the ill-fated construction of the Second Narrows Bridge. During it's construction, it collapsed and fell in to the Burrard Inlet killing 19 Ironworkers and injuring many more. June 17th marks the anniversary of that collapse in 1958 and today, the Second Narrows Bridge is better known as the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.

The Lion's Gate Bridge is an historical landmark. Like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, the Lion's Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge completed in 1938, one year after the Golden Gate. Both bridges were partially built at the old Dominion Bridge company in Burnaby. The Lion's Gate Bridge made the news again a few years ago, when the entire bridge deck was replaced in a true feat of engineering. It is still only a 3 lane bridge, but the lanes are wider and the view from the bike lanes, now cantilevered on the outside of the suspension wires, is fabulous.

So today, the new Golden Ears Bridge opens officially - though commuters used to bridge today to shave off anywhere from 20-60 minutes off their morning drive. Like the Lion's Gate Bridge, this will be a toll bridge. Hopefully, the toll will only last as long as it takes to pay for the bridge. Of course that assumes the Provincial Government is as honest as the Guinness Family. Seems beer keeps you honest. Once the Lion's Gate was paid for, the toll disappeared. As for this new bridge? I'm guessing that will happen when Pigs learn to juggle.

I'm sure that there are other ways to deal with the massive traffic problems of a City like Vancouver - bound by mountains and water, and a vastly spreading population. How about better transit? Better incentives to carpool? Heftier tolls? Safer bike lanes? Better transit? I'm glad it isn't my issue to fix. There is so very much to juggle... and although it is World Juggler's Day, I doubt it is a day put aside for City Planners. After all, most Planners may have very good ideas, but are lacking the 1000 pound gorilla to get them implemented.

But... if you know a City Planner, how about giving them a set of balls... to juggle. Where did you think I was going with that?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Blooming way....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - Overheard at an Outback Steakhouse "Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With blue bells, cockle shells, and one big 'blooming' onion." Ok, maybe not, but it could work. As a kid, I had a handful of modified nursery rhymes including Mary Mary here. Jack and Jill were up to no good on that hill, Humpty Dumpty made an excellent breakfast (served with toast), and Little Miss Muffett was a real bitch.

I think about Mary Mary wonder what exactly she was growing in that garden. I'm guessing that if it's vegetables... the onion might come in handy. Of course, dip that same onion in batter and fry it and you have a whole different story. Today there is a new movement underway to eat withing so many miles of home... the 100 Mile Diet says you should only eat that which is close, in season and can be gathered on your own. I am sure this leaves a much smaller carbon footprint on the planet, but if you live in North Western Ontario in January, would your diet consist of Cariboo and SnoCones?

Living in Vancouver, this diet could actually work for most of the year. We live within 100 miles of some of the best strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and corn around. Recent City By-Law changes mean that your neighbour a mere 100 feet away might have chickens (and therefore eggs and legs) in their back yard. As for vegetables... there is no limit to the varieties available at the Farmer's Markets. So now that it is the Veggie Season, Farmer's Markets have become a weekly stop and I have a fool-proof way to be celebrate Fresh Veggies Day.

Each Sunday, I hit a local market and stock up on the in-season veggies from within a 100 mile radius. I conscientiously wash them and store them ready for the week. On Monday, I put together a fabulous salad that becomes that days lunch. On Monday night, I have veggies with dinner. On Tuesday morning I forget to make lunch at all and will order in if I find time to eat. Tuesday night I stay late at work, and grab something on the way home. Wednesday - Friday look remarkably like Tuesday, and on Saturday, I clean the fridge of all the veggies I can no longer eat in order to make room for Sunday's haul from the Farmer's Market. It may not be perfect... but it's a system. Wonder if today will be the Tuesday I eat the fresh veggies? Do potatoes done in hot oil count? Can you really count a potato as a vegetable at all?

The Irish are quite fond of the potato... it works for any meal. Jimmy Joyce's Leopold Bloom probably found the potato to be the perfect I bet you'd be hard pressed to find a pub in Dublin today that isn't serving the potato, mashed, fried, chipped or in stew. Oh heck, it's Bloomsday, skip the blue bells and cockle shells, and go straight for a pint and a blue cheese and sandwich. If you really need a veggie, I recommend the Bloom'in Onion.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't let life get in the way...

Monday, June 15, 2009 - How does it happen that we make claim to a balanced life and yet the scales are heavily weighted to one side? While we're piling things on to the trays of that scale, how do we miss the fact that we've put a pea on one side, and bricks on the other? At what point do you recognize the unbalance in your life and book a tee time?

These may seem like esoteric questions to fuel a conversation but it is more a full out cry for help. At some point in your life you need someone to grab you by the back of the collar and pull you away from the day to day and force you to jump to the other side of the scale.

In the grand scheme of things, I think as humans we all crave the same thing... love, acceptance, belonging... and time to experience all those things away from the office. A balance of work and play, family and friends, asleep and awake - often allude us. Not because we don't seek them, but because we don't have time to seek them out. There is a cosmic irony to our desires and our realities. We may want the same things, but then we also want responsibility and success... which we define as having achieved that balance, but in reality means we work too much to have time to succeed.

Yesterday in Vancouver, several main streets (including Main Street) were closed to traffic to celebrate Car Free Day. Funnily enough, these events were so big, that people drove to these events to celebrate. The side streets and alleys were full of cars parked to enjoy the festivities. They'd have taken public transport but alas, the buses were re-routed because they couldn't get down these main streets either. I get that sometimes to re-balance the scales you have to swing the pendulum to the other extreme... but I sure enjoyed the irony.

And if that isn't enough, today is No More TV Day... as I saw advertised on TV this morning. Now I'm sure there were better ways to advertise this, but honestly, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the day the same. So today I spent the day looking for the ironies in life. I found the time to write about them, but ironically enough, I was too busy to notice any. Now isn't that just as clear as mud?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Got something to say? Take a drive.

Friday, April 17, 2009 - Do you remember your first car? Do you remember that moment of freedom you felt when you knew you could just get in your car and go anywhere? Did you find yourself sitting in the driveway thinking "I can just get up and go anywhere I want"? Did you spend the day in the driveway because when it came right down to it, where the heck would you go anyway?

The enigma that is freedom is that often we are more free when we are less free. If you have a structured day, know where you go and when to go and what you will do when you get there takes away the decisions and options that eventually tie you down to stress. Stress surely takes away your feeling of freedom. Freedom is found in the simple things in life. Time in the garden away from people and places that require your attention. There is freedom in reading a book, away from the societal rules and regulations that we have to live within in order to live in peace. Remember when sex was free? Now it comes with the chains of fear of disease, fear of commitment - cause that ain't free, and fear of worse yet... offspring - cause they're not freeing (or free) either.

So what about that first car? The first car in which I sat in the driveway was a Plymouth Fury. It was easily the size of a small ocean liner and it was gun metal gray. It might have given off an air of freedom if it had been out in the middle of Lake Superior. Add a large sail of the aft end of her, and she'd of made it up the St. Lawrence Seaway. There wasn't much freeing about driving old Sherman.

It took two parking spaces and spanned across two parking meters. Parking wasn't free. It was the size of two full sized cars, and used up the equivalent in fuel. Keeping the gas tank happy wasn't free. My friends were driving small foreign cars... Hondas and Toyotas, and the teasing sure wasn't free. If I had been homeless, the two large bench seats would have provided great accommodation - so I guess a home would have been free.

But now if my first car had been a red Ford Mustang Convertible... THAT would have been freedom. The air blowing through my hair... Free! If you are driving in your Mustang today, celebrate your freedom. Today is Ford Mustang Day. Ahh the Mustang... the car with testosterone in the paint. It is possible that this is what they were driving when they said the 'freedom of the open road'?

It's also a great day to ramble off at the mouth... a little like the words on this page... Shoot me. It's Blah! Blah! Blah! Day. Go for it. Prattle on like me. Just keep talking. Talk for the sake of talking. In fact, even if you don't have a point, don't be afraid to spew at the mouth just for the sake of spewing at the mouth. Seriously, just go ahead and verbalize. Use the entire dictionary as a starting point. Heck, pull out your thesaurus. There has to be other ways to say it... find as many as you can and USE them.

So alas, there is the freedom of the open road. Just be sure to stay within the speed limits and follow the rules.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Its just not done

Monday, March 2, 2009 - I know it's not here yet, because it's not done. It will be a safe bet, the postings to come. It will be a tad late, but what else is new? One often for me waits, and for this you will too....

Friday, February 27, 2009

Polar bears - the ultimate example

Friday, February 27, 2009 - Polar bears have drawn the short straw. These spectacular animals have ruled the north for centuries, and we are slowly eating away at their kingdom. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for global warming, but I would like to be a little more selective about where we warm.

I hate to think of these majestic bears drowning in the less than frozen waters while they roam hundreds of miles in search of food. If it means ensuring the polar bears have a place to roam, and breed, and feed and carry on, I could always put on a third and fourth sweater. It is International Polar Bear Day. I don't think a day is going to do it for them. Might need to be polar bear decade, or century if we expect them to be around for generations to come.

I have a trivia question for you. What colour is a polar bear's skin? Those large, white, top of the food chain beauties of the north are only white on the outside. Their skin... black. Pretty spectacular animals, and yet, they represent so much of what we should be. They are a blend of gentle and powerful, elegant and rugged, black and white. They are the dichotomies that make them such fascinating animals. As humans, we could learn so much from the polar bear.

The colour of a polar bear on the outside says nothing of the colour under the fur. CNN re-ran the "Black in America" series this week, and I found myself trying hard to understand the separation of black people and white people. Maybe its a testament to my mother and the values she instilled in me. Maybe it's the diverse friends I've always had around me. But I don't understand how anyone can be grouped... identified by... expected to behave in... some stereotypical way that can easily identify one as black, white or other. I've always believed that people live the lives that follow the paths they've chosen. But my eyes have been opened. Seeing just how different the many shades of North Americans are often treated, I'm almost ashamed of being a white female with an education, unlimited opportunities and a family that is always there to support my efforts.

It's a no brainer that what we really need to do is step up and be accountable - everyone - for the way we treat each other. But like all no-brainers... it takes a bit of brain to see the big picture. Small giant, small fortune, big baby, butt head, dim wit, jumbo shrimp, no-brainer... the oxymoron. For in order for something to be a no brainer, you must have had the brain power to figure out the obvious. So when you think of the no brainers in your world today, remember that in it took brains to come to some obvious concusion in the first place. On No Brainer Day... take a lesson from the polar bear. Whether you are black or white, your brains are, after all, gray.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

Thursday, February 26, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a girl who lived on an island in the Atlantic. She moved to the city one day, and determined that the east coast was not what she once thought it was. Life in the city became one of lights, and sounds and opportunity... so much more than trees and trails. They say you can take the girl off of the island, but you can't take the island out of the girl.

Not a whole lot different from the author, this girl arrived in Vancouver from the East to get closer to family on the Island (this Island is in the Pacific). After a period of time, both the star of our tale and the writer needed to find new opportunities. The island just didn't have the options that the "big smoke" had, and so... she landed in Vancouver. It feels a little like history repeating itself. I headed west after university and landed on Vancouver Island. After a while, I felt the undeniable pull of the city and I haven't left since. Itchy feet strikes every now and again but here I stay.

The girl in the above tale is a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Moving west has been the North American way. Unless you are A, in which case you move east, then very east, then a tad more east, and then a little less east. His next move will be a bit further east yet again. And here I am in the west. I'll have to weave a better tale around this at some point in the day, for it is Tell a Fairy Tale Day. I think in my tale the girl who moves west, and then a tad east will have wagons and horses and she'll stop along the way and make chili over an open fire. She'll meet cowboys with Colt 45's and pioneers with homesteads and will gain great insight in to the western migration of recent university grads.

For Pete's sake (it's For Pete's Sake Day), this is not the greatest fairy tale I've every told. Oh well, if nothing else, I've managed to include Chili Day and Colt 45 Day in my tale. Hey... there isn't anywhere it says the Fairy Tale you tell has to be good. If you have anything better, feel free to share.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The inconvenience of it all

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - Who markets Lent? What happened to truth in advertising? What happened to the three "R's" - Reading, Riting, and Rithmatic? Seems that the 40 days of Lent is actually 46 days - since the Sundays don't count. Go figure. Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Giving up chocolate and liquor is actually going to be a 46 day drought... not the 40 that was widely publicized. Hmph. That is just not convenient at all. Does that mean it can rain a little on Sundays?

Even religion has a little creative license in marketing. How else do you get people in today's world to fill pews on a Sunday morning? After all, you would have to inconvenience your poker buddies to move the game from Saturday to Friday night. The Birdie Gang would be a bit put out if you had to reschedule your Sunday morning tee time. As kids, Sunday mornings were an exercise in frustration. Instead of sleeping in then running around playing with your friends, you were getting up early, cleaning up and putting on your Sunday best for an hour and a half or so of sitting still with your hands in your lap struggling to stay awake. No easy task, and down right inconvenient. It isn't like you were going to be able to sleep in on Monday. There was a couple hours of sleep lost that you'd never get back.

I think perhaps those early days and the many hours of missed play opportunities play a role in the need for creative advertising these days. After all, if going to church was an inconvenience then, imagine what that must be like today. There's going to have to be a BOGO event or gift with purchase these days. I'm still reeling from the 46 days of Lent including today. That is NOT what I signed up for.

But, today is Inconvenience Yourself Day. I'm not sure what I will do to inconvenience myself, but I'm sure I'll find several opportunites to do just that. Perhaps I'll mis-locate my keys (daily occurance). Maybe I'll put my cell phone down and walk away just when a call comes in (hourly occurance). I might forget my pass card in the car and have to walk back to the far end of the parking lot in order to get in to the building at work (weekly occurance), or leave my office keys at home on a training day and have to turn back to gather them (monthly event). Yup, I'm pretty sure I will find a way to inconvenience myself today. Heck, I won't have to put in an effort. It will just be. Yes L, I'm disorganized. And to A... sure.. I'll put it right where it is meant to be... once or twice. Just not the one time I'm in a hurry. Hey. What can I tell you? At least I'm cute?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pancakes and swamp cabbage?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - Tomorrow marks the start of Lent. Christian or not, Lent is an excellent time to take stock of the excess in your life and pick one thing to live without for the next 40 days. Some of us have a real penchant for shoes. Could you give up shoes for 40 days? Would you have to go without shoes or without buying shoes? Either of those could be a real challenge. What about chocolate? Carbs? Sugar? Cake?

Forty days is a long time if you give up something you aren't sure you can live without. So today, on Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday if you like, perhaps the notion is you gorge yourself on that one thing so much so that you are unable to face it for the next 37 days, leaving you with just a few days to manage. Really, who among us couldn't live without chocolate for three days? This seems to make the most sense if what you want to give up for 40 days is flapjacks. A trip to IHOP should make the most out of today - and should help insure your inability to look at another pancake until at least April.

The easiest thing to give up might be swamp cabbage. Millions of Americans (yeah sure) will be celebrating Swamp Cabbage Day with a nice hearty bowl of stew. The recipe can be found in "White Trash Cooking". My favourite has to be Uncle Willie's Swamp Cabbage Stew. With celebrations like this, it is no wonder today marks the start of National Eating Disorders Week. A nice big bowl of swamp cabbage and I might give up eating entirely for Lent.

This year for lent I will instead give up being obnoxious. I think the only way I can manage that is if I spend today being unbearable. Perhaps it will be a little like overdosing on chocolate. Bah. Never mind. I'll just celebrate National Obnoxious Day on my own... me and several million other North Americans.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh my Dog, that was amazing

Monday, February 23, 2009 - Email is a funny thing. It's not so funny when your email box is full of funnies, that well.... aren't always so funny. Worse, they are the same recycled, recirculated, retired jokes you deleted from your inbox years ago. This is not to say that jokulation (read: circulation of email jokes) should end, but rather, should be treated as an infection.

Jokulation is somewhat like a disease. It is primarily caught at the office or after the deliver of a new home computer. It starts with a localized event... a funny joke makes it in to one mailbox. Then, like the plague, it spreads to another inbox followed by another and another until soon, it is in every inbox in the office. From there, it can only spread outward beyond the confines of the office. At near pandemic proportions, it is sent to cousin Bill in Ontario, your buddy Robert in Kentucky, and Ron in Whiterock. Soon, they spread it to another and another and another and so on. Now, just one strain of joke is running rampant. But wait. There is more. Tomorrow there is a second joke strain, and another. Soon, there is an epidemic of jokulation and not an inoculation in sight. Unfortunately, it's a little like a mild STD.

There are just some diseases that are fun to catch, and a bitch to get rid of them. Sometimes, the joke strains are new... and really really funny. It's hard to not want to forward them off to particular people you know will get a good guffaw. Those are the times when you are glad there isn't a vaccine. After all, some of those jokes are what fuel your interactions at parties. So without a vaccine, there is no cure. There is only treatment (the delete key).

Today, there was a fabulous jokulation that got in to my mail of a comedian/magician that I can only describe as "Oh My Dog" was that funny. I've passed it along. I only hope I am not patient zero for another pandemic. Unlike this day in 1954, when the first mass inoculation against polo began in Pittsburgh - Salk Vaccine Day - I'm guessing that jokulation can only be treated with a good sense of ha ha.

Oh... my dog doesn't miss out on celebrations today either. It is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. Although I doubt very much I will celebrate this one, Rex has had several biscuits from me, and I'm guessing his dog walker probably treated him to some special home made treats. Oh my dog... what a great day.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When in doubt, order a pizza.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 - What did people do before this day in 1878 if they wanted a pizza? Did they have to go out and hitch up the horses, pack a small lunch, and cart in to town to get to the local pizzeria? I mean, they couldn't exactly open the phone book and look up the number for Domino's. Until February 21, there had never been a phone book in which to look. So if you are so inclined, help celebrate Phone Book Day by looking up a number... if you have one.

The very first telephone book was issued on this day in 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut. It had a whopping 50 subscribers and was all of one page big. If only the phone book was a mere page today, I'd actually keep one around. With all due respect to those folks who work hard gathering the data, selling the ad space and enhanced listings, and to the phone companies who surely make a few extra dollars collecting advertising revenue for them, the phone books could today go back in time and be issued on a single page. The page could be a nice, flashy full colour publication with a list of a handful of search engines. It would be a far cry from the nine giant phone books that are still sitting in the lobby of this ten flat building. As long as that sheet of paper included a link to Domino's, it would still be a useful publication. Heck, they could even include a link to, or Thinking back, I think the only time I ever used a phone book was to order pizza.

I suppose what throws me even more is that the tree huggers and environmentalists haven't got up in arms about the number of phone books that are still being printed on god knows how many trees, that go from the door step to the recycling bin in under an hour. I haven't brought a phone book in to my apartment in 10 years. Judging by the books still down in the lobby, I'm not alone. That first phone book had a subscription base of 50. I bet if they went to a subscription today, they wouldn't need to print too many more than that.

Did I mention it is also Pizza Delivery Day? If I had a phone book, I could celebrate both in one simple act. And seeing it is also Single Tasking Day...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cherry Pie Does Not a Dowry Make

Friday, February 20, 2009 - Vancouver provides a few things of which the rest of Canada only dreams. It is February, and while the rest of Canada and large parts of the US seems to stay in their winter deep freeze, Vancouver has spent the last few days in sunshine and the start of spring warmth. Indeed, the trees have buds, the crocuses have bloomed and there are daffodils in my garden. I should be boasting, but I'm too busy throwing the frizbee for my dog. The news goes on about the depths of winter... and a small pang of guilt wells up in my throat for family in those 'depths'. NOT.

But, for those who are braving the cold, and there are many of you, today is for you. Yes it is Hoodie Hoo Day. It's what? Hoodie Hoo Day I said. At noon today, you are expected to head outside, wave your hands above your head and chant "Hoodie Hoo Hoodie Hoo". This is supposed to chase away winter. I figure it's also a good way to chase away the neighbours, the neighbour's dog, the mailman, the gardener.... Maybe not the gardener. You won't need him for another couple months. And you may not chase away the boys with those stylish white coats that tie up in the back.

Actually, a vacation in a white jacket, perhaps in a padded room would be another way to chase away winter. By the time you come down from the anti-psychotics it will be spring and you will have no memory of the remaining month of winter.

Hell, if that doesn't work, celebrate Cherry Pie Day instead. Settle in with a blanket, a pint of ice cream and a cherry pie. That could chase away the remaining winter blues. And when all else fails, pour yourself a wee dram of carefully selected Scotch Whiskey from the Orkney Islands. In 1472, the Orkney and Shetland Islands were left to Scotland from Norway as part of a dowry payment. Some fine scotch comes from the area so either that was one fine bride, or that was one nasty Norwegian if the only way that marriage happened was with the promise of barrels and barrels of liquor. I think the Scots got the better deal. And to that I toast... Hoodie Hoo.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

50 Days and Counting

Thursday, February 19, 2009 - We are 50 days in to the year. How are your New Year's resolutions holding up? Do you still remember what they were? Did you remember on day 9? Each year I make a resolution that rarely lasts past day 28. I occasionally get 4 weeks out of my resolve to change something.

This year, I resolved to be wrong... once in a while. Put another way, I made a resolution to admit when I'd made a mistake. After all, I don't always need to be right. Right? True to form, by the 29th, I realized I was right. Or so I thought. Yesterday, I was wrong. I had to admit that I erred and I didn't implode. So on day 49... My resolution is still alive. Wahoo. Wait. Crap. Does that mean that next year's resolution will need to be more carefully thought out? From 28 to 49 days really raises the bar for me.

2010 will be the start of a new decade and great care must be taken for decade resolutions. I wonder if I can go 50 days without chocolate? I've given up sugar for lent. I last until late afternoon on Ash Wednesday. It is Chocolate Mint Day today. Will that be the target? That would create a new 50 day marker. It can be done. Really.

It is also International Mother Language Day. My mother language is English. Well, Scots brogue perhaps, but underneath the rolling "R" it is still English. I watch with wonder as friends fall in and out of their mother tongue and English as though they are separate yet inherently the same. I may be able to roll in and out of a bad Scottish accent, but I'm not sure if it counts. Aye, but then ag'in, och they be a feu who canna oonderstan wee Scots. I doubt there is an ESL course for the likes, but I'm certain that would be one entertaining course. Och, ne'r ya mine, Celebrate anyway. Here's tae ye... or should I say hey is Jambo, Gesondheid, Salud, Gezuar, Prost, Topa, Nien Nien, Gan bei, Na zdrai, Skaal, Je via sano, Slainte Mhor, Cin cin, L'chaim, A la sature, Djam, Salute!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Batteries Not Included

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - So it's Hump Day. I bet you read that title and think this post is going to run on the hump theme. Nope. It's all about Wednesday. The middle of the work week that says we've past the hump and are on the downward run to the weekend. There are so many things about Wednesday that we should try to remember each and every week. Firstly, it is by far the hardest day of the week to spell. That says it all. Secondly, the morning will drag - it's the last hike to the summit. Lunch time is the top of that mountain. Plant your flag, crack open your bucket, and enjoy your sandwich at the apex of the hill. Thirdly, you have to be sure you've waxed your toboggan, or the ride to Friday will not be a smooth one. Hope that you built a good foundation of work on the way up that hill. The ride down is fast, and if you thought you would get to it later in the week.... too late. It IS later in the week, and I'm betting you are still counting on Thursday and Friday to get it done. I have news for you... it won't get done. You have passed the hump and from here.... weeeeeee!!!!!!

Ok, Wednesday isn't that interesting. There are, after all, 52 of them in a year. Nothing special there. Ah... but to make Wednesday the true apex of the week, today is also Drink Too Much Wine Day. Now we're talking. I bet we'll get to those batteries now right? Nope. Really? You have to work in the morning anyway. How much wine is too much? A glass with dinner? A bottle with appys? Maybe a case with a friend? Everyone has a limit, and I can only hope that if your limits make Thursday painful, you have missed the beauty of Wednesday. Oh well, you weren't going to get anything done tomorrow anyway.

So back to those batteries... since you aren't going to get anything done tomorrow, you may as well take a fresh pack of batteries out of the fridge and charge up your Rock Band guitar. Today is also Battery Day - use them up. After all, you always have next week to get the work done.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Spirit Your Way

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - There are some people in the world that you can sense coming in to a room. You know they are there before you actually know they are there. I could understand if it was a deep connection you have with someone and you connect in so many other ways. But I'm not talking about a lover, a soul mate, or a deeply connected sibling. I am talking about those strangers that walk in a room and not because of great beauty or stature, the whole room turns. What is it that causes you to feel their presence?

I've oft heard that my ego enters the room before I arrive. I work with a guy whose ego enters the building before his car gets through the security gate. Is it ego? I've been told I walk in to a room and I own it. My boss at work can command a theater - and not because he has a loud or boisterous personality, but because he just has that 'something' that says I'm here. So it isn't loud. It isn't obnoxiousness. It isn't ego. I think what is most amazing about all of this is those who possess this yet to be described thing aren't often aware of it at all. Perhaps that is exactly the answer. It is a spirit of humanity that says the most with the least. Like the proverbial picture that tells a thousand words - it says so much and says nothing.

Whether you have that certain 'something' or if your 'something' is a tad quieter, it matters not. Today is a day to celebrate the spirit in each and every one of us. It is World Human Spirit Day. Celebrate yours. Celebrate mine. Celebrate the spirit of the stranger in the elevator (but DON'T celebrate the strangers' smells - that is another day). Celebrate the spirit that makes us human - present and past. Among all - be proud to be part of the human spirit. Even in times of war and ignited violet passions, under it all, there is good that connects us all.

In 1958 Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi the patron saint of television. I wonder if Pope Pius had any idea what television would bring to society in the future? Do you think he knew just how much spirit the idiot box would suck right out of humanity and believed we needed a patron saint to protect us FROM the television? I have no personal experience of what life was like before television, but I can tell you that growing up with a television always there, it is part of life that I think I'd have a hard time giving up.

Friends are off to the Bahamas in a few days. They will be without television and without 24 hour unlimited access to the internet. I wonder what will be the easier withdrawal? If you had your way, and had to give up one, would you go without the idiot box? Would it be easier to give up the net? If I had my way, I'd bring my computer with me, pray for WiFi, and pick up TV feed online. If I had my way, I would not only have my net and tv too, but I'd be in the Bahamas soaking up broadband sun. Today is My Way Day. Go ahead and do whatever it is you want to do... but do it your way. You deserve it. Your part of the larger human spirit that connects the world.

Monday, February 16, 2009

If the Muppets Ruled the World

Monday, February 16, 2009 - In a perfect world, the world would be a happy place full of friendship, colourful characters, educational opportunities and song. There would be frogs and chickens and pigs that sing. Dogs would play the piano and rats would manage the band.

Imagine the last election campaign (you know the lasted four years). Obama would be Fozzie Bear - forever the optimist and good natured when heckled. His jokes aren't always that funny, and his policies would always be slammed.

Bert and Ernie would be chairing the news desk at CNN. A little bit conservative, a little bit liberal - they could replace Rick Sanchez and Jack Cafferty. Statler and Waldorf would be on Fox News. No matter how well Fozzie was doing, they would be certain to find a flaw or two.

George W. would have been played by Beaker. A muppet that could rarely get real words out and when he did, they are most certainly wrong. Clinton could be played by Gonzo. Always chasing chickens and really - it's a fetish I just don't want to know about.

But what about past presidents? Could JFK be re-incarnated as Kermit the Frog? Kermit is logical, presentable, and keeping things together. And what would the world look like if Grover ran the country? I'm guessing he would want to be a part of things both near and far. He could bring people together. After all, who doesn't love Grover?

If Swedish Chef ruled the world life would be one big Smorgasbord-ee. But given I think Swedish Chef is a Republican, we would spend the rest of our lives lined up at the buffet tables and by the time the regular people got there, the meatballs would be gone and all that would be left would be overcooked macaroni.

Today is President's Day. There aren't any big traditional celebrations wrapped around President's Day, but there are the requisite sales and 24 hour news coverage.

It is also Do a Grouch a Favor Day. Are there any Oscar's in your life? Perhaps doing something nice for them would turn them around a little. It might not get them out of their can, but it could cheer them up a little. If that doesn't work, you could always sing them a song. Mahna Mahna!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wave your Canadian Condom

February 15, 2009 - In 1965, Canada adopted the red and white maple leaf design for the official Canadian flag. It replaced the old red ensign which was a modified Union flag with a red background and the official Canadian Coat of Arms. Ultimately, I think the former flag said more about Canada than does the maple leaf. But if you think about it longer, surely the maple leaf says plenty.

Canadians are colourful. The maple tree provides a marvel of nature in the fall, turning green space into a rainbow of yellows, golds, oranges, reds and rusts. Canadians respect the nature around them. The maple leaf falls from a tree. The maple leaf has three major sections - and without the bumpy bits, looks alot like a leaf of marijuana. Now THAT is Canadian. (And especially West Coast). Perhaps the flag is the closest thing we have to promoting the west.

I once went online to look for flags and graphics of flags. While my boss stood over my shoulder, I typed in only I missed the "L". I brought up all kinds of pictures alright, but there wasn't a flag wrapped around one of them. So today, I went to look up Flag Day and missed the "L" again. We'll get to what I found another day. In the mean time, Canadians will celebrate Flag Day. Well, actually, Canadians will likely not have a clue it's flag day, and they'll just go about their usual business. If they KNEW it was flag day, I bet they would have celebrated with a pint and a flag.

A few years later, sound recordings were granted a US Federal Copyright for the first time ever. Without this copyright, there would never have been need for Napster, LimeWire, or Kazaa. And just think of how much fun RockBand would be today?

It is also the day after Valentine's Day. That makes it Singles Awareness Day. It's also the kickoff to National Condom Week. Is it just me or does this make sense? Shouldn't Singles Awareness Day be the kickoff to Battery Awareness Week? Just a thought.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Have a heart?

Saturday, February 14, 2009 - There are months where flower sales merely limp along. May is always good because so many of us have absolutely no idea what to give our mothers on her day. June isn't too bad either - its a big wedding month. And, because so many of us have absolutely no idea what to give our spouses, anniversaries are good for the local flower shop. Poinsettias sell well in December, and daffodils do well in April. But other than Valentine's Day, flower sales pretty much rely on men who have done something wrong, or are about to do something wrong.

There are the "sorry I didn't call" flowers (lilies), the "I didn't mean what I said" flowers (carnations), the "I'm going to disappoint you this weekend" flowers (daisies and yellow carnations), "I'm really going to messed up" flowers (pink roses), and "I really messed up" flowers (red roses). Fortunately, men continue to mess up. Come to think of it, so do us girls. That's when you have to send the "oh crap, did I really do that" flowers (bouquet of cigars and a vase of scotch). I wonder what Claudius the Cruel sent to Saint Valentine's family back in 270 after he beheaded him? Did FTD have a "I'm sorry I took your head" arrangement?

We believe that Valentines day is a day about romance and love. If this is love...
  • February 14, 270 - Saint Valentine Loses his head
  • February 14, 1349 - 2,000 Jews are burned to death or chased out of the city of Strasbourg.
  • February 14, 1779 - James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians on the Island of Hawaii.
  • February 14, 1929 - St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Seven gangsters are murdered in Chicago
  • February 14, 1981 - Stardust Disaster: A fire in a Dublin nightclub kills 48 people
  • February 14, 1989 - Khomeini issues a fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie
  • February 14, 1990 - 92 people are killed aboard Indian Airlines Flight 605
  • February 14, 1996 - China launches a satellite rocket that crashes into a rural village.
  • February 14, 2008 - Northern Illinois University shooting: 24 casualties; 6 fatalities and 18 injured.
I'm going to guess that FTD has had to come up with much more than the "Oops" bouquet. Of course it is also Organ Donor Day. If you haven't already, sign your donor card. If you are ever in a position to donate your organs, please do. You won't need them any longer and it could make the difference to another. After all, today is all about hearts. Give yours.

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