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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