Saturday, July 17, 2010

No... we all work for a living

Quick recap: My common-law husband/live-in boyfriend/constantly present significant other had a kidney transplant on July 7. He will have to stay in Vancouver General Hospital until they are certain that he is not going to reject the new organ. Then he gets to stay in Vancouver for 2-3 months at a condo graciously provided by the Kidney Foundation of Canada for transplant and dialysis patients.

I took nearly a week off of work to be there for him during this period. This is a significant issue, since while I make a decent amount, I don't make enough to take significant periods of time off with less than a week's notice.

So when the army of nurses, doctors and social workers descended upon Mischa and I, 'voicing concerns' over the fact that he was going to be all alone in his condo during the week, I got pissed off.

"It's very important that he have someone with him."

"He needs to have someone in contact with him at all times."

"This is not an ideal situation."

Well, I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but I do not belong to a union that would authorize me to take 2-3 months off of work at 75% of my pay. I do not have tenure. I do not even have enough vacation time to cover the days I've missed thus far.

Kindly tell me how I am to pull in enough money so that we can both eat, Mischa can make it to his twice-a-week appointments and have the many little things that make living so pleasant, like shampoo, toothpaste and soap? How am I going to keep my job if my work doesn't allow me to telecommute so I can both take care of Mischa and keep earning money?

I get that it's very important that someone be with him. However, all our friends are either working for a living, have small children, are elderly or are handicapped. Amazingly enough, we don't have people who can just drop what they're doing to live in Vancouver for 3 months to run errands and monitor a kidney transplant patient.

No, this isn't an ideal situation. An ideal situation is where I'm a writer who works from home - or a coffee shop - who can pause, rearrange and schedule my time around Mischa's care for this period. I'm not a writer with that level of privilege.

I resent people telling me that my income level and work restrictions are serious drawbacks to getting proper care for someone in my life who needs help. No, I didn't plan for this when I went to work hundreds of km from VGH. I also didn't foresee the need for me to become a top-ranking doctor, lawyer, or some other high paying professional who can drop everything to care for someone.

Give your collective heads a shake.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

FGM Rant!

Clitoridectomy; Wikipedia; The Age and Islam WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS (admittedly, this is a site biased against Islam, but it shows you exactly what happens before, during and after the mutilation)

Friendly Atheist on Ayaan Hirsi Ali

How can people do this to their children? How can people come to North America and send their kids back to their countries of origin to get this done? You know, I'm all about diversity and religious tolerance, but I cannot condone or understand this kind of behaviour. I don't give two shits about why people do it or what cultural impetus is driving them. This is the worst cycle of abuse I've ever heard about.

Right now, female genital mutilation (FGM) is in the news because the American Academy of Pediatrics has approved a 'ritual nick' performed for religious or cultural reasons. They claim that it could be a compromise between preventing mutilation and not allowing the procedure and driving families back to their home countries to have the full mutilation carried out.

I think that's bullshit.

If your home life is insane enough that you value ripping your kid's labia and clitoris off their body over any trifling concerns about pain, infection and the quality of their future health, then you're not going to be satisfied with a ritual "nick". You're going to go for the whole shebang. What's worst is that this is often encouraged by females who have had it done to them, so you're not going to get a lot of support from people who have been raised to think that this is the only way for them to succeed in life.

Hell, if you're in some idiot country where people think this is a good idea, it probably is your only way to succeed. And, yeah, I said "idiot". If you want me to change my mind, stop mutilating women. But these people are in the U.S. and in the U.S., while things aren't perfect, there are plenty of opportunities for women to succeed, all of which don't involve getting parts of their body sawn off and sewed shut.

There has been incidences in Canada, enough that the Canadian Criminal Code has been amended to prohibit the practice of removal of a child under 14 to another country for the purpose of committing FGM.

I am biased, I am taking this personally and I am most certainly not cognizant of every aspect of this practice. I don't give a fuck. People who support this practice are fucked in the head and should be stopped at every opportunity with legislation that ruins their fucking lives if they try this or succeed at it. Their children should be taken away and put in homes where the people have a half-assed idea of what it is to treat people like human beings and not like objects that need to be modified to bring the best price on the open market.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How it all began

4:05:48 Nim Bravewolf "features stunning turquoise waters "

4:06:08 Bravewolf Nim especially when you plummet into them from the bridge where you decided to end it all

4:06:15 Nim Bravewolf gives me the mental image of people arriving at the beach and just standing there looking at it, dumbfounded

4:06:19 Nim Bravewolf because they're stunned :)

4:06:32 Bravewolf Nim beaches of south zombies

4:06:37 Nim Bravewolf nice, yes

4:08:39 Nim Bravewolf you what I like?

4:08:53 Bravewolf Nim No, I don't what you like.

4:08:58 Nim Bravewolf pfft liar

4:09:02 Bravewolf Nim forbidden words?

4:09:06 Bravewolf Nim invisible words

4:09:21 Nim Bravewolf what I mean in particular though, is that I can say the most absurd and non-sequitor things to you, and you just roll with it

4:09:24 Bravewolf Nim attractive hats

4:09:28 Bravewolf Nim haha

4:10:09 Bravewolf Nim we should have our own show

4:10:11 Nim Bravewolf lol

4:10:29 Nim Bravewolf we need our own "wtf blog"

4:10:31 Bravewolf Nim haha

4:10:54 Bravewolf Nim "Stupid/amazing things from around the web and our heads"

4:11:00 Nim Bravewolf yes

4:11:02 Nim Bravewolf exactly

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jesus' swollen bastards

11:02:09 Bravewolf Nim: LOL

11:02:45 Nim Bravewolf: oh I read that yesterday

11:02:54 Bravewolf Nim: the one I commented on :D

11:02:56 Nim Bravewolf: it was a big topic in my IRC atheism group

11:03:08 Bravewolf Nim: “Jesus' swollen belly looks like another swollen body part. “ LOL

11:03:16 Bravewolf Nim: I haven’t been on IRC in eons

11:03:42 Nim Bravewolf: that is actually a perfectly legitimate style of iconography though

11:03:48 Nim Bravewolf: I don't ht ink they should change it

11:04:20 Nim Bravewolf: maybe put a little line across to show his six pack

11:04:25 Bravewolf Nim: I know but I will still snicker in a juvenile manner.

11:04:36 Bravewolf Nim:

11:04:50 Bravewolf Nim: linked from the first... wow. Aren’t you an asshole.

11:05:12 Nim Bravewolf: yes, I would too

11:06:07 Bravewolf Nim: I like how this person is claiming that marriage would solve the ills of the single, poverty stricken mother, but is promoting his agenda by focusing his pejoratives on the children.

11:06:23 Nim Bravewolf: so... you're young and some guy knocks you up abortion is a sin.. and
now they don't want you to get help either?

11:06:34 Bravewolf Nim: and then he gets to his real agenda: “It's time to communicate in policy and not just in words that in America, we expect you to save sex for marriage, to have children only within the marriage relationship, and that we will no longer force American taxpayers to fund the expenses of children they did not conceive and with whom they have no relationship and for whom they have no responsibility.”

11:06:52 Nim Bravewolf: " They are certain to grow up in an environment where they do not have the daily, meaningful and essential presence of a father."

11:07:03 Nim Bravewolf: uh yeah.. because all fathers are AWESOME

11:07:09 Nim Bravewolf: and they'll make your life great?

11:07:28 Bravewolf Nim: OH. OH. So children should be your *punishment* for out-of-wedlock sex because you can’t abort them but you can’t get any help for your situation either.

11:07:34 Nim Bravewolf: yeah

11:07:37 Bravewolf Nim: What a wonderful environment to grow up in.

11:07:39 Nim Bravewolf: way to make their lives worse..

11:07:50 Nim Bravewolf: next they'll claim that we should just eat them

11:08:11 Nim Bravewolf: "This year, taxpayers will cough up $300 billion to provide welfare to single moms,"

11:08:17 Nim Bravewolf: I highly doubt this number

11:08:28 Bravewolf Nim: Not only are you a punishment for your mother, you also apparently should be labelled with the term “bastard” so that other people can cut you out of their social groups, thus ensuring that the problem of single-parent poverty is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

11:08:37 Nim Bravewolf: yeah

11:08:55 Nim Bravewolf: and I love how he says that the US is overtaxed

11:09:13 Nim Bravewolf: the US is SO not overtaxed.. they're way down the line for taxes

11:11:16 Bravewolf Nim: I am all for reforming the welfare system so that people can’t abuse it. However, if you want to effect change, you have to give these people a way out and actually empower them to make their lives better - make working more attractive than welfare because they get more opportunities and their children have good childcare options.

11:11:37 Nim Bravewolf: you can't make it so that no one can abuse the system

11:11:55 Nim Bravewolf: because then people who actually need it will get cut out on the side of caution

11:12:05 Bravewolf Nim: I just don’t see this happening... you can’t tell someone to work if they have no place to put their kids.

11:12:09 Nim Bravewolf: yup

11:12:46 Nim Bravewolf: more sperm donor dads need to be forced to pay support

11:14:27 Bravewolf Nim: I agree that women who choose to have children should be evaluating what kind of life they can give a child. However, I don’t think that single parenthood is the root of all evil. He doesn’t mention what kind of help he thinks people who have lost a spouse should have.

11:14:50 Nim Bravewolf: yeah

11:14:52 Bravewolf Nim: what if you did everything right and things just didn’t work out?

11:15:00 Nim Bravewolf: and what about women in abusive relationships?

11:15:06 Nim Bravewolf: or ppl getting divorced

11:15:12 Bravewolf Nim: oh they should stay for the sake of the money- er, children.

11:16:32 Nim Bravewolf: hah yeah

11:18:58 Bravewolf Nim: so what if you have a couple of black eyes, a broken jaw and a few busted ribs every few months? The American people - the hard working two parent families (because no single parent works for a living - they all live on yachts collecting welfare) who pay their taxes depend on you to shut your mouth (you should - all those broken teeth don’t look good on a woman) and praise God for your home.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Of Lesbians and Proms

By now most people are cognizant of the furor surrounding Constance McMillen's fight to be allowed to bring a same-sex date to her prom and wear a tuxedo at said prom. After it was ruled that not allowing her to have these things was a violation of civil rights and it was also confirmed that the school prom was going to be held, McMillen and her supporters found that only 7 people, including Constance, attended the "official" prom while her schoolmates partied at a private "prom" on the same night in a scene reminiscent of the experience of Carolyn King-Miller in 1965.

Now that their asshattery is forever enshrined in popular culture, the Itawamba Agricultural High School staff and parents have shown some signs of scrambling to explain how they really had the moral high ground. Apparently the moral high ground included excluding disabled students, groping and girl-on-girl tongue kissing (it's okay to engage in lesbian sex at IAHS if it's to turn on guys).

To IAHS, Constance McMillen was a troublemaker who just wanted attention. They seem to fail to understand that it was their going to extreme lengths to deny her the right to attend prom with her girlfriend and in a tuxedo that focused the international spotlight on them. If they had just handed her a couple of tickets, this would have been just another red-letter-day for the local limo service and nothing else.

Constance could be an all-around bitch. She could have just wanted attention. She could just be a glory-seeking whore. I'm sure that there are a metric ton of them in any small town you can dig up out of the glory of the American South - or anywhere else, for that matter. What the people involved with the IAHS hateprom scandal don't seem to realize is that Constance didn't train the spotlight on herself - THEY did.

It's the kind of ostracism and hate that only Jesus could love. Or was that the Pharisees? Or maybe they're taking this from some other part of the Bible. Anyway, all the people involved in the anti-lesbian campaign seem awfully religious... they're all good church going folk.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. Even after this has been forgotten by the majority, bits and pieces of it will still be floating around long after McMillen's classmates graduate from college. Their god forbid that any of them go for a public career like politics and acting. Every time they turn around, the "private party" of 2010 will be around to haunt them. And I hope it does.

One of the positive things, though is that other students have followed in Constance's footsteps and, amazingly, nothing bad happened.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Easter Bunny/Santa/Tooth Fairy Doesn't Exist... why are you crying?

"You broke my child's heart!" No, actually, you did that.

When I was but a wee bitchy tyke, I figured out that Santa didn't exist. It was not a fun time for me. I know that there are many people who figured out the non-existence of fantasy figures without material pain or distress. Unfortunately, I was not of that personality. I started crying and it was a long time before I could be consoled. It shook my faith in my mother and aunt and all the other people who told or implied to me that Santa was real.

No doubt, many people will say, "Well it's just a bit of fun! It's an integral part of childhood! Don't take it so seriously!" Well, when you're seven, you DO take it that seriously. Your parents/guardians are your entire world and what they teach you, you live by. When you find out that your beliefs about something are nothing more than a series of lies told to you by the people you are supposed to trust the most, it makes you wonder what else they are lying about.

My mother didn't intend to hurt me. She raised me the best she could and she wanted me to have all the happinesses and "magic" that childhood was supposed to come with. She didn't think - and a lot of parents don't - how it seems to a kid who has been raised with such exhortations as "Don't lie!" and "Be honest!" to find out that their parent(s) have been lying to them all along. She also didn't realize just how much I depended on that world of fantasy and how much I believed in it.

I find it painfully amusing how some people safeguard their lies with righteous wrath should anyone happen to mention that they buy presents or make Easter baskets or provide the money for the tooth fairy. Or if someone posts something on the Internet suggesting that their constructs are not real. Suddenly, this person "ruined" Christmas or Easter or whatever holiday. The parent never takes the blame for creating a fantasy world for their child(ren) that must inevitably be shattered.

Why don't more people teach their kids the concept of "the spirit of Christmas" or "we pretend that the Easter bunny comes to bring you candy", they create a fantasy world that can be shattered with a single reference to the truth. Better, it's a lot easier to explain why some kids get a lot of presents and some kids get little or none.

No doubt there are a lot of kids who took the whole Santa/Easter Bunny thing in stride and, no doubt, for them it wasn't a big deal. But how do you know if your child will take it badly? I'm not suggesting that making a kid believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will turn them into a heartless killer. I am, however, putting it forward that to do this risks hurting a child deeply if they really, truly believe, only to be told the truth on the playground or overhearing a casual conversation. What I don't understand is why anyone would risk hurting their kid like this.

No matter how much people want to create "magic" for their children, I think a lie is still a lie. And it's just as hurtful as any other lie. Dressing it up in "magic" doesn't change it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Indoctrinating Your Offspring into Your Cult of Choice

It's a pretty well understood concept that children are intellectually moldable creatures. Challenge them to consider new ideas, and they can really surprise you with their original thoughts. My experiences with teaching children and having my own children has never ceased to amaze me when it comes to the creative ways that children can process information.

That being said, it's also amazing that when children are spoonfed fundamentalist dogma, for their formative years, how scary and rigid they can turn out. You can't help but wonder what sort of inflexible environment has to exist for a child to give up their curious nature and their sense of empathy for other types of people.

I think that when you condition children that there are concrete right and wrong beliefs to have and right and wrong types of people to BE... that you're setting your child up for a hard life. No matter what you believe to be the "right way" to live your own life, it's important for a child to question things in their environment... whether that's questioning things that parents believe in or not.

It's surprisingly easy.. some would say disturbingly so.. to find the results of damaging kinds of childhood environments all over the media; one can only hope that these kids all grow up to learn how to think for themselves.

'Racist' parents fight for children

Wal-Mart Decorates Cakes for Nazis

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bubble Wrap: Now With More Anger Displacement!

There was once a woman who had a 2 year old son who crawled through a dog door and drowned in the family pool. Undoubtedly a tragedy. Certainly a reason for this woman to dedicate her time to informing people of the dangers of pet doors. This much I can understand and even heartily sympathize with.

However, Carol Ranfone is taking it one step further. She wants the law to require pet door manufacturers to put a warning on their products that tells parents that their children could crawl through the door.

If Ken and I had ever thought the pet door would pose any danger to our children, we never would have installed it. We thought he was safely contained in our home and had no idea he could get out.

Saying that you didn't know that a child could access a dog door is basically saying, "We are incapable of understanding how the real world works." One wonders why these people are advertising their claimed inability to understand basic physics - it does not bode well for their ability to care for future children if they don't understand that HOLE IN HOUSE = ACCESS POINT.

While I appreciate that the Ranfones went through a horrible experience, I hardly think Carol Ranfone's argument says anything except that they cannot accept that they could have been so horribly careless as to leave their dog door unlocked/unblocked. The (the Ranfones' website) collection of news only serves to illustrate that there are a lot of careless ex-parents out there.

I can certainly understand how this kind of thing can happen - just because it was careless doesn't mean I think the Ranfones should serve jail time. Sometimes "they've suffered enough" is a valid reason to withhold further judgement. However, I don't think society's forbearance should mean that Carol Ranfone should be able to affect an industry in order to assuage her guilt.

Something as obvious as a dog door being accessible to human beings should not have to be noted on the packaging so Carol Ranfone can convince herself that she was not at fault for her son's death.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don't Tell My Mom!

It's funny how in some contexts we never grow up.

When I was growing up, there were all kinds of things that I didn't want my mom to know. I didn't want her to know that I smoked; which she may or may not have, I was never sure how much my excuse of "all my friends smoke, that's what you smell" worked. I never wanted my mom to know that I smoked pot; to this day, I'm sure she doesn't know. And I never wanted her to know that I got a tattoo.

When I was a teenager, way back in the olden-times land of the mid 80s, the current tattoo culture hadn't started yet, at least it hadn't started where I live. According to my mother, if you had tattoos, you were either a biker or a prostitute. I was obsessed with having a tattoo and started visiting shops when I was about 16 years old and when I hit 18 I got my first piece of permanent artwork. And spent the next year of my life wearing nothing more revealing than t-shirts around my parents so that they couldn't see the silver dollar sized mark on my skin.

They did eventually see that one, about a year later, and my mom FLIPPED OUT. And over the years, as my art collection grew, she or my dad would occasionally get a glimpse of a new bit and they'd freak out all over again.

So, fast forward to the recent past of this past Saturday and me sitting in my friendly neighbourhood tattoo parlor with my son. For his 18th birthday this week, his gift from me was his first tattoo.

I am now seriously living in dread of my mother finding out about this.

I know, at almost 40 you shouldn't care what your mother says about things; but anyone who has a mom who does this kind of thing knows that it's not that easy. I *know* that at 18 years of age, any teenager has the right (at least in BC) to legally acquire a tattoo without parental consent. But somehow stuff like this is always my fault.

I'm wondering how *my* decisions as a teenager weren't her fault though.

Maybe, if I hear about this from her, I'll have to bring that up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bitch Therapy: Elegant Accompaniment to the Simple Snack

Since AT Kitchn was so good as to include on their lovely food blog a whole post dedicated that exotic culinary endeavour, the peanut butter sandwich, I thought that we should showcase the ultimate accompaniment to that pinnacle of cuisine: the glass of milk.

The first thing that you'll need for this creation is some milk. Many milk connoisseur prefer whole milk, while others find this variety too rich and cloying. When you are serving this beverage for company it is often your best bet to go with a middle of the road style, 2%.

Depending on how much of this delicious beverage you want to offer to your guests, you may want to offer it in a highball glass or maybe something a little smaller if you're only offering a small nightcap.

Some afficionados prefer this exquisite beverage in a room-temperature glass but I have also seen it served in pre-chilled glasses for maximum coldness. I sometimes even put ice in mine, likely a habit that I picked up after drinking an excess of Caucasians during a viewing of The Big Lebowski.

How do you like your glass of milk served?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Doing what you know needs to be done..

You know, I think that it's safe to say that we all know what needs to be done in life. We ~should~ eat right, exercise, relax, read good literature.. listen to Enya. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get my point.

I have been meaning to get my ass off the couch and join a new gym this month. Why? Because I know that I need to start exercising more. I bought new jeans a few months before Xmas and the combination of Hallowe'en and Xmas goodies has added some extra padding to my ass and now they don't fit. So, I know what needs to be done and I have a realistic goal planned out... and have I been to check out the new gym that I think I want to go to? No.

Also along this same train of thought, I've been meaning to get back to my fabulous Paleo Diet eating. I did this eating plan (I hate the word diet) last summer and I loved it and it solved some health issues for me but do you think that I can get back on track now? NO. FFS...

So, knowing that both things will give me the results that I'd like to have... why can't I get my ass in gear and do them? The only excuse that I can think of is that it's really damn easy to be lazy.

In fact, some experts in evolutionary psychology think that laziness might actually have benefited early man. Relaxation, after all, does have a lot of benefits when you live in an environment that's likely very physical and with a lack of our modern unlimited amount of calories.

I guess that I just need to wake up and realise that I'm not an australopithecine and I need to get off my ass and force myself to the gym. The nice thing about not being an early hominid is that we all have the options of making these kind of choices for ourselves. I suppose it's just a matter of more of us actually making these choices...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Assertiveness Vs Being a Bitch

I have a very dry sense of humour. This statement comes as no shock to anyone who knows me in person. This doesn't even come as much of a shock to anyone who knows me primarily online either, unless they are a little oblivious to sarcasm.

However, some people—both in real life and online—read my straight delivery of dialogue and no-nonsense attitude when I'm doing something that I need to concentrate on as abject bitchery (closely related to abject dickery, but of the female variety).

This isn't a new problem for me, all my life the occasional person has read the intentions of my comments or facial expression (hereafter referred to as "Nim's srs face")as benchmarks of just what a big, humourless bitch I am. Now, admittedly, I can give one heck of a good "mom look" when it's required, but I'm pretty far from completely devoid of a sense of humour.

Now, don't get me wrong... sometimes when I'm in charge, my comments are basically of the "Stop fucking around and let's get this job done." variety, but I honestly don't think that this is a bitchy comment. If I wanted to be a bitch I'd tell people to stop being a useless waste of skin and get their thumb out of their ass... now that would be bitchy! (except that I couldn't say that without laughing, and that kinda ruins the whole effect I think)

My issue is, I think, with the fact that I hear men who're in charge of things make comments or requests (or what have you) to people all the time that no one thinks are "jerky" but when I'm in charge and I tell people to get on track or follow some rule, I get complaints that I'm rude or bitchy.

I was going to write some sort of eloquent and witty end to my little rant here but really, it all just comes down to the fact that if you're going to fuck around when there's a job to be done, don't act all butt-hurt when you get called out on it and asked to focus your attention on the job at hand.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wherein Nim relinquishes the Cold Crown and I take it up

Nim was horribly sick last week. Now I'm horribly sick this week. I am writing this while I'm supposed to be working out and getting ready to type another day's worth of omgrealestateisawesome. But, no. No, I am stuck in front of this computer; horribly tired, but I can't stop swallowing and a constant stream of hot water, honey and lemon is the only thing standing in the way of me trying to rip out my vocal cords with that box cutter that I'm using to break down my boyfriend's dialysis boxes so that I can make coptic-bound books out of them. Long story.

Anyway, I could be at Emergency right now, begging for antibiotics, but I'm not. A) I am not at all eager to partake of the many delights of the emergency room, including blood and guts, certifiably insane people wandering around, the victims of drug deals gone wrong and people so high that they think they're floating on the ceiling when, in fact, it's taking four nurses to get their 280-lb body onto a gurney. B) I don't need drugs.

I'm a big fan of drugs in general; some of them have helped me deal with depression, some of them keep my boyfriend of dying from a stroke, some of them do the same office for my mother and aunt, some of them take away the OHDEARDOGI'MDYINGANDI'MGOINGTOTAKEYOUWITHME pain of my menses. (Hell, thy name is dysmenorrhea!), and some of them saved my boyfriend's life when the dog chewed through his dialysis cord and sent him to the hospital with peritonitis.

So, hey, I think drugs are all right. Except in my situation right now. I have a nasty head cold, laryngitis, general malaise, whininess, snarliness and crankiness. None of these things deserve the automatic application of antibiotics or any drug beyond the Dayquil-get-you-through-the-day-so-you-can-collapse-after-work (I'm staying home today, take that, budget!). I am a reasonably healthy person with no immunodeficiency problems (these people often NEED heavier applications of antibiotics to stay alive). Even my boyfriend doesn't advocate them, and he has to put up with my random application of emotion to common everyday things:

"Hey, you want some ice cream?"


"What the hell? Why are you crying?"

(through the medium of signs and exaggerated facial expressions, since I can't fucking TALK) "I am unhappy because I feel miserable and I can't talk. Also, the Mayan Chocolate ice cream reminded me of that one time that we got it and we were happy and I didn't have a cold and I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE I WAS DEEP-THROATING A HACKSAW!"

"Oh. So, you want some ice cream or not?"

The poor man likes to fix things for me, so he got me pasta salad, a slice of chocolate mousse cake and a tub of Haagen Daaz Mayan Chocolate ice cream. This is better than any antibiotic on the planet and don't let the helicopter moms tell you any different.

Anyway, my point is that what reasonably healthy people need when they're sick is rest, plenty of fluids and (ideally) a caring spouse who will walk the dog and do most of the recycling transport to the curb themselves. Too many antibiotics and before you know it, you've just become the vector for the German Shepherd / Lab Cross Flu.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jonathan Adler Junior PWNED by me. And Paul. And there's this stuff about eating dogs.

Little Timmy is going to need deep psychological counselling

If you think that's funny, you should look up posts on Apartment Therapy that happen to contain pictures of a hide/skin rug or wall hanging. I have seen maybe three posts that didn't have some vitriolic comment along the lines of FUR IS MURDER OKTHXBAI. And of those three posts, one hastened to assure the reader that the rug was 'rescued at the last moment from the garbage!'

Strangely enough, when leather sofas are mentioned, it's rare for there to be an actual mention of anything to do with animal cruelty. Apparently the closer to the animal in the rendering process corresponds with the amount of cruelty that the producer/seller/buyer is accused of.

I am opposed to trophy hunting or hunting solely for skins/teeth/gall bladders. However, I am not opposed to hunting for meat or to rid an area of a dangerous animal. I am also not opposed to humane meat production. As Marshall Saunders said in the book Beautiful Joe, "It's a possible thing to raise healthy stock, treat it kindly, kill it mercifully, eat it decently."

However, this brings to light some things that we North Americans often find shocking and abhorrent. I speak of using companion animals as food animals - dogs and cats. Now I am an avid dog lover. Avid? More like obsessive. Cruelty towards dogs, of all the companion animals, makes me tense up and fantasize all manner of scenarios that end with animal abusers begging me to kill them because it hurts so much and me saying, "Ha ha! Fuck you! No." The practice of eating dogs just doesn't do it for me.

But is it my right to condemn people who raise dogs for the purposes of food if I'm okay with pigs being raised for consumption? An adult pig is easily as smart and trainable as an adult dog, only less aesthetically appealing. What about cows? Sure, they don't seem as smart as the pigs, but then again, I've had dogs that weren't too brilliant in the brain department and I wouldn't have heard of dumping them because of it.

Our attitudes towards animals and what is cruelty and what is not seem really skewed when I look at them this way. I won't get over my abhorrence of dogs being eaten, but I don't think I can condemn it unless I condemn the killing and eating of other animals.

I can't wait until the AT house tour with a dog skin rug featured on the living room floor. The mogg blogg came close with the taxidermied former Fido, but not quite.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Olympics

Nim and I live on the west coast of British Columbia, so of course we're inundated with Olympics propaganda. One city, Vancouver, chose to host the Olympics, but our tax dollars have somehow been dragged into this to the tune of damn near 580 million dollars. Hell of a lot of Gummi Bears that would buy.

Now, there are a lot of people unhappy with this decision, especially since there are a lot of Olympic protest censorship attempts going on behind the scenes. There are many people who are up in arms about the cost in the midst of a serious recession, environmental damage, insults to the native peoples of the lands where the Olympics are going to be held.

In the wake of all of this opposition, there are Olympics apologists writing about the 'whiners' who aren't 'team players' and are making the rest of Vancouver/BC/Canada 'look bad'.

I'm on the side of the protesters. I resent the use of my tax money for this. I have a boyfriend with kidney failure, a mother and aunt in their 70s, friends with student loan debts, friends with mortgages, bills to be paid, people to be cared for. I could not give two shits about who can skate the fastest.

Maybe the people bemoaning the 'whiners' have never had to choose between paying the rent and eating. Maybe they haven't had to wear ratty old shoes for a year longer than they should have because they didn't have the money to replace them. Maybe the loans we needed were just paid for by indulgent parents for them. I don't know and I don't care.

When we have a system where people could get post secondary education for little or nothing, when we can afford to keep competent doctors here and pay nurses what they're worth, when we have the resources to make sure that kids in the adoption and foster care system get more one-on-one care, when battered spouses and their children and their pets can easily find shelter and when we have more money to spend educating people so that they are less likely to fall into the traps that the world can lay for them - then, maybe, I will support the Olympics.

Future benefits of the Olympics don't mean very much to me. I don't bet on the outcome of profligate spending for the sake of having the "right" skating rink and the "perfect" ski run. I look around at my friends and family and think of the relief that even a fraction of 580 million could give to them.

So I won't be buying the red mittens or those unbelievably moronic "mascots" or anything with an Olympics logo or that damn license plates (I'd have to have a car first, ha!). No snow for the Olympics - if I was a believer in such things, I'd say it was a sign.

Being Proud of Yourself

I remember being a child and hearing mothers talk about their children like they were the most amazing creatures in existence. One mother's child was in dance, and from the way that she talked about it you'd think that the girl was a prodigy on the verge of a professional contract with a ballet company. Another woman's child played a musical instrument and according to her he was just the most talented child that had ever taken a lesson.

I remember wondering how my mother talked about me to her friends when I wasn't around. I'd heard my mom tell her friends and family about things I was doing, sure. But I'd never heard my mother brag about my accomplishments like that before. It seemed to me, even then, that there was some kind of competition going on before my eyes that I couldn't understand; I wonder even now if it makes much sense.

I suppose that it's human nature to brag about your offspring to some degree. I've honestly never gotten over the fact that those totally competent almost-adults are somehow derived from my DNA.

But I think that this activity sometimes turns into repulsive sort of "my kid is better than your kid" as if, by proxy, YOU are somehow better as well. My own kids have noticed this same trend going on around them with other people's moms; they told me that they were glad that I don't embarrass them that way.

Don't get my wrong, I love my kids like crazy. I think that they're some of the most awesome people that I know, in fact. But I don't use their accomplishments to pat my own back with.

Any accomplishment that a child makes is, I think, their own. By a parent taking that accomplishment as their own personal success, I think that they diminish their kids' achievements.

Your child should feel proud of themselves for their achievement not because you brag about them, not even because YOU say that you're proud of them.

In a related thought for moms.. remember that you are a person outside of whose mother you are.. or who's wife you are.. whatever titles you have. You're your own entity, so please, act it. If you use social networking, use your own picture, use a status that reflects what YOU are doing or thinking, not just your kids or your spouse.

Don't just be human tofu, picking up whatever flavours or personalities you come into contact with. Be yourself, trust me, the people around you will find you more interesting that way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best is Yet to Be.

Something that someone said to me recently got me thinking lately about what the expectations are in our society when individuals get older. I’m turning 40 this year, and other than my renewed enthusiasm for getting into better shape for this milestone occasion, I don’t really feel too much that I’m changing in a way that will result in me “acting my age” in any sort of way that world around me seems to be saying that I should.

There are so many jokes and stereotypes around about being “over the hill” that involve people stagnating in their fussy little conservative lives. I’ve found it funny that every year since I turned 30, there’s been at least one person who made the joke about how I must be 29 again this year.

Why in the world would I ever want to be 29 again? Not that 29 was a bad year by any stretch of the imagination; my husband and I were a pretty brand new item back then and life was very good. But I love the *me* that I’ve evolved into since then too.

I learned a very important lesson from my Nana that I think helps to temper my views on aging. When she retired from her career as a nurse, she returned to University and got another degree and set out on another career path. She’s 91 now and still pursuing a related career in dispensing advice to seniors in her monthly column of Senior Living magazine called Ask Goldie. When I am an old lady (which she swears that she ISN’T yet) I want to be just like her.

In the meantime, I’m just going to keep learning all the new things that I want to know how to do and doing all the neat things that I enjoy doing for hopefully the next 50 years or so.

I refuse to take up lawn bowling, listening to Kenny G, or Sunday mornings at church; my plan is to continue enjoying the things that I love now, however much of an odd mishmash of activities that they are. Besides, I love the funny looks I get when I’m in the staff room reading my firearms manual or a weight training guide and listening to Viking metal on my iPod... there’s nothing like being yourself.

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" ~ Satchel Paige

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Little Diplomacy Never Hurt Anyone

I've always been a fan of the theory that a little bit of consideration and manners never hurts, particularly when you're dealing with people that you don't know.

Case in point: A lady calls up an SEO company looking for, crazily enough, some web services that likely included search engine optimization! However, when speaking to the nice young man at the front desk who informed her that the person she wanted to speak to was on a meeting call, instead of being courteous, she was a snotty bitch. And then, when she got a cutting reply from the boss, she had an eTantrum at him.

Funny thing about people who use the interwebs for a living, they might just tell other people about how rude you are. All I can say is, Barbara Feldman Realtor, thanks for showing your true colors before anyone invested any time in helping you out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Today is Saturday, my one day a week that I have off, my one day to sleep in and laze around the house and be a total couch potato.

Instead, I got up not long after I normally get up for work, got dressed up(ish), and sans-coffee went off to the movie theatre to sit still, in a packed theatre full of little old people for four hours. Whew, am I glad to be home!

And while the waking up part of my morning was rather unpleasant, the experience itself was pretty fantastic. My husband and I met my parents at the wee hours of 9:30 am to see a production of Carmen (in HD no less) piped in from the Met. It was a rough 4 hours, admittedly; mostly due to the fact that we'd been too lazy this morning to put on coffee and so we had to do without. Also, the fact that movie theatre seats tend to be built more for cramming as many of them into a particular space than actually making them comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. Oh, and I could have done without every single little old lady there bathing in lavender eau de toilette when she got up this morning. Thankfully, I never travel without an inhaler! And then there was the two elderly ladies beside me who apparently didn't know how to turn off their cell phones and so pretended that it wasn't *them* that was the source of that stupid little ring tone for two mins straight... TWICE.

All bitching aside (and apparently more bitching than I realised was warranted) it was an amazing show; even my husband loved it, and he's not an opera fan by any stretch of the imagination. I haven't had the pleasure of attending an opera in a few years and had a very poor experience the last time I went and saw it live. There's a few reasons why I would highly recommend this "version" of an opera, actually.

The number one reason I really appreciated this type of production is that it was so easy. I didn't have to travel to the city, as is usually the case for a live opera and then secure somewhere to stay as well. The tickets to the show today were just over twice the cost of a movie but still cheaper than if you sat way up in the nose-bleed section at the Queen Elizabeth theatre and the view was exponentially better to boot.

The other reason that I'd really recommend this version of the opera to anyone is that during the breaks they did some really neat "behind the scenes" looks at the stage and scenery and talked to some of the major performers. Really a great way for anyone who's new to the opera or even just that particular production to get a better understanding of the whole thing.

All in all, Carmen was a perfect reason to get out of bed early (even if I do maybe need a nap now). The current cast for this production is utterly fantastic and I highly recommend that if you can see any production with Elīna Garanča in it, that you do. She's stunning.

Now forgive me, but I am off to go try to nap with Habanera playing in my head for the rest of the day...

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Unobtanium"? That refers to the plot, right?

*******SPOILER WARNING... KINDA*******

I'm putting a spoiler warning on this, although any adult with a functioning cerebellum could figure out in the first half of the movie what was going to happen in the last half.

The main problem with objectively viewing Avatar is the fact that the special effects blow your mind and you don’t really notice how predictable the plot is until about a third of the way through the movie. This is because the special effects are absolutely stunning and definitely worth watching on the big screen.

The plot, however, was stunning only in terms of its complete predictability.

With a movie of this calibre, the plot should have surprised and charmed me. There should at least have been one surprise, a twist, a play on an old plot device, a cut scene to a psychologist in a chair, saying, “Well, Jake, and when you realized that this was all a schizoid episode after your movie marathon of Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully and The Last Samurai, how did that make you feel?”

I want a movie where someone comes into a native culture and doesn’t make it better on a global scale because they are The Chosen One. I want someone who has to deal with the gritty reality of two conflicting cultures that both have people who walk the fence, who are sometimes good, sometimes bad – you know, real personalities. I don’t want Noble Savages, extremely convenient coincidences or Evil White Men.

I don’t like heavy handed attempts to emphasize that the invading culture is bad, mmmkay? The line "fight terror with terror!" line really capped it for me. Might as well start chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" and include a scene where Jake and Neytiri rescue a bunch of children from the first Na’vi residential school and burn all the pox-infected blankets.

I would like to think that by 2154, some human people might have held in their pointy little heads a notion about invasion and annexation and the fallout that we're still dealing with hundreds of years after the first conflicts between Europeans and the native peoples of the Americas.

"Hey, this situation reminds me of history class..." "Wow, this is kind of like when Great-grandad used to tell us stories about the residential school he had to go to..." "Gee, I wonder how I would feel if someone came to my world to rape it for parts..."

The fact that only a tiny, isolated group of characters on the “human side” feels compelled to actually DO something without being bonded to a genetically modified Na’vi doesn’t work for me. Apparently there is no Facebook in 2154 and no Twitter. No one seems to be getting any information like, OH HAI IZ ON PANDORA WATCHIN RDA KILLZ TEH NA'VI HOMEWRLD OMGLOLZ back to dry, dead, dull Earth. Doesn't 2154 have some kind of envirofreaks with their own cobbled-together interstellar transport with SPACEPEACE painted on it?

Avatar is well worth watching for the stunning special effects, but as a movie, it failed miserably for me. I may buy Avatar several years from now when it’s on sale in the bargain bin, but I’ll be watching it with the sound off.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I have a new cat. This is a pretty accurate representation of how he wakes me up.. ok, maybe not the last bit, but it feels like it at 6 am...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Personal Responsibility

On another blog, I am chronicling the adventures of my ne'er-do-well foster brother who is currently waiting for a trial in Brazil for drug smuggling. Seems 10 pounds of cocaine fell in his bag.

Long story short, he was desperate for money due to some very poor decisions involving working while claiming to ICBC that he was disabled and physically incapable. He would post sob stories to Craigslist, claiming to be the father of 2 young children (he doesn't have any) in order to get items that he would turn around and sell. He sold his pain pills - percocet, oxycontin - off the Internet. I'm guessing that last was what led him to 10 lbs of white powder in the bottom of his duffel.

Last August, my mother got a call from D's MIL. Brazil. Jail. It was news to us, since he had no money and had not bothered to tell us "Oh, by the way, I'm going on an all-expenses-paid trip to Peru, Brazil and Amsterdam with money I got from an undefined source for no particular reason." His story: A friend of a friend offered him and his wife a honeymoon and then he was "threatened by bad men" when he was in Peru and "had" to take the drugs to Brazil. Ah huh. Not buying that one. When you're offered a legitimate trip, you tell your friends and family. He hadn't told us anything.

Over the ensuing months, his letters got more absurd and offensive. He wanted his cell phone suspended, NOT cancelled because "he had a good plan". He had bills that needed paying. He needed money for stuff in prison. I had fucked him over by not rushing to his storage locker (2 years behind in rent) and selling his stuff (when I have a job I'd like to keep and live across a large body of water).

In a letter, he told me, "I made one mistake. Don't judge me until you know the facts." No, he had made dozens of mistakes. Hundreds. Thousands. And they started with the assumption that he "deserved" the good life. Now, D thinks that we should forgive him just because he said, "I'm sorry".

And this is where I said, "No."

I've been told that I'm too angry, too judgemental, too emotional... but when do I get to say, "Look you piece of shit; you have betrayed us, you have jeopardized us, you have lied to us, you have caused a huge drain in our finances and you think that I am not entitled to judge you? If you don't want to be judged by the people who are paying for you to have a decent existence, then feel free not to accept their money."

I don't think that people "deserve" a second chance. I think they are entitled to ask for one, but they are not entitled to receive it. No one is. Especially if they refuse to take personal responsibility for their actions.

There are way too many movies where a resource-sucking leech is presented as comic relief or as a ha-ha-every-family-has-one. You know why every family has one? Because they don't erect boundaries and then verbally, physically or emotionally kick the shit out of Relative Leech if they try to breach them. This is not out of what I think is not misguided family loyalty, but the fear of what other people will say.

I've not had anyone saying that I'm not "loyal" enough; quite the opposite, in fact. I have had people say, "Well he's not even related to you!", which I don't think is the point. Up until now, we considered him family, with all the bonds that entailed - a genetic link does not have to be present to make a family. No, what makes me less and less eager to support him is his attitude. We treated him like family and he treated us like a credit card that he could draw on when he needed extra money.

Unfortunately, I am a hypocrite enough to donate money to support him or, rather, my mother's ill-advised spending on him.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hell is other people, more specificly "customers"

I've been meaning to write a post about working in retail for a long time. I'm not sure why I haven't actually sat down and written one before now, maybe because it felt too much like bitching and moaning; whatever, I guess it is what it is.

Although I have some pretty snazzy looking fancy papers hanging on my walls, with my name calligraphed on them and fancy shiny gold seals in the corner, for the past year I've been working a retail job. Let's just say that having a fancy piece of paper doesn't get you a job in your particular chosen field by default and working in retail is much preferable to living in a damp alley behind the local pub in a mouldering cardboard box.

So, in the fall of 2008, when my EI was running out, I desperately sought a new source of income for myself so that we didn't have to sell the children off to gypsies. It wasn't the selling them off that concerned me, it was more what I would do when the gypsies came back wanting their money back when they discovered that they'd been swindled.

So, I set about to urgently find myself a new job. Luckily for me, there were jobs to be found and I rather quickly found myself the newest employee of a decently high end shoe store.

This was rather a shock to my system, having never worked in retail ever before; I'm not afraid of hard work, but all that running back and forth and climbing up ladders will just about kill you if your first exposure to the retail field is Christmas shoppers, I assure you.

I've since had a lot of time to get used to this job, having been there for over a year now; but I am still completely flabbergasted by the way that some customers behave in our store. The following are some good tips for shoppers in general that I'd like to share:

1) If you are a customer in a store, trust me, you are *not* always right. Do not attempt to tell the person who is helping you that you think that you, as the customer, are always right. I've overheard an amazing number of people tell MY BOSS this fact right before they ask to speak to her manager. It's really hard to keep a straight face when this happens, as my boss is likely to politely tell you to GTFO.

2) Do not ask me if these are "all the shoes you have" while waving a display shoe at me. The last time I checked, we do *not* merely sell only left size six shoes. Trust me, I have more in the back; some of them are even 'rights'.

3) Likewise, don't ask me if I have more colours in the mystical back of the store. Do you think that I'd keep the pink sparkly ones in the back if I have a particular shoe out in black, brown, red, purple, green, blue, chartreuse, and maroon? People have too poorly developed psychic powers to be able to request colours of shoes that we hide in the back, so we determined that this method didn't work well. We now keep them all out front on display. At least the left ones..

4) Don't tell me that no one told you that your shoes were a final sale if *I* sold you the shoes at closing the night before and I know that I told you ten times that they were a final sale. YOU are calling me a liar, and I really really don't like it.

5) Don't bother looking all shocked and hurt if I tell you that the shoes that you brought back in are for exchange or store credit only. Hell, some stores won't even take back shoes that were bought on sale at all, be thankful that we will give you a credit that never expires. Being a bitch to me is not going to make me change my mind, trust me.

6) In general, don't be a bitch to people who're helping you out in a store. If you treat me like crap and YOU need ME to get things for you from the back room... you can be sure that I'm going to not give you the service that you so obviously think that is your right. Trust me, it isn't. In fact, if you're a big enough bitch, I'll go stand in the back room for a few minutes and then come out and tell you that I don't have your size, even if I do. You know why? Because some people aren't worth having as customers. And do you know who told me to do that? The owner of the store.

All in all, it comes down to the fact that if you're going shopping... even if you're spending gobs of money on Italian shoes.. be considerate to the person who's helping you and think a little bit before you ask questions. A little bit of critical thinking goes a long long way.

Friday, January 8, 2010


As a resident of the current century, I am fully aware that breast cancer (among MANY other kinds) exists in the world. Hell, I'm a dragon boater.. so I get a huge double whammy of this message during boating season because so many of the teams are cancer survivors. This is great to see, btw, there are a lot of older women out there who can totally kick my ass at paddling, and it gives me a goal for when I'm an old lady too. But, I digress...

Yesterday, just about all 40 or so of the women who are my facebook friends had their status set to the colour of their bra as a statement for "breast cancer awareness". I was a little confused at first; who in this day and age is NOT aware of breast cancer? Anyone who has breasts certainly knows about it. I'm pretty sure that anyone who LIKES breasts is aware of it. Anyone who likes someone who HAS breasts probably does as well.

What this silly little meme failed to take notice of however is.. MEN get breast cancer too! Oh sure, not nearly as much as women do, but it happens. I think that holding up breast cancer as some kind of all-girls club is pretty damn insensitive to humans in general. Many of us female types would be pretty devastated to lose a man in our life to this disease too.

The other thing that seriously bothered me about this meme was that it didn't DO anything. Virtually flashing my unmentionables doesn't help anyone find a cure; at the very best it's a titillating look into someone's lingerie drawer. So, consequently I didn't post the colour of my brassiere for a hundred or so people to see. I felt like the whole thing had been set up by a horny teenaged boy to get information about girls undies; it felt icky.

Although far ickier, I couldn't help but think of all the PETA ads I've seen that have naked or sometimes merely half-naked women in exploitive situations all to protest meat consumption or animal cruelty. Sometimes I really don't see the connections that people claim to be making.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who's Fault is it Anyways?

So lately I've been staggeringly overwhelmed by the lack of personal responsibility going on around me. I have heard a lot of rumblings about this topic over the last few years about how "the kids today" just don't have any concept of this ideal, but really, I think it's a lot more than just the kids and I think that we all need to step up and fix this problem where we can in our own lives.

One of my pet topics when I was taking my teaching degree was the concept of teaching kids the whole idea of personal responsibility. Because really, if you do something wrong, even if it's an accident, you're still the person responsible for it. (my other pet topic was critical thinking.. but that's a whole other post.) However, I cannot get over how many adults that I know in my life who don't seem to have a firm grasp of this concept at all. These are all grown people with children.. old enough to "know better" you'd think.

My kids, luckily, are pretty astute about the poor behaviour of people around them. There's their father, my ex, who rarely calls them and this year neglected to send them Xmas presents. And then there's their aunt, who tells them every time that she sees them that she's going to come and visit.. or calls to make a date when she can come for tea, and then doesn't show up. Both of these people are adults, in theory; both of them should realise that just picking up the phone and explaining yourself would make a world of difference to the people that it matters to. KIDS.

I realise that my ex grew up in a household where if you ever got into trouble, his parents were there to bail him out; but my sister didn't come from that kind of environment. My parents were always sticklers for "doing the right thing" and having manners. Hell, my mother still to this day reminds me to say thank you when someone gives me a gift (much to my annoyance, I assure you).

I know a woman in our local hobby group who voluntarily took on a job months ago to plan a post-Xmas event. For some reason (and probably a very good one) she didn't get it planned. Now, when contacted by the president of this group, she didn't tell him that something in her life was going on and she couldn't do the job. She stalled. And now, because she didn't come forth and tell anyone that her life was in some sort of turmoil... there's no event. So, now we have about 50 disappointed people (more than a few who would have helped out) all because one person couldn't suck it up and say, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to plan this." before it was way too late.

I don't claim to be perfect in this regard... I've probably been a no-show when I was supposed to be somewhere (though not that I can actually remember). But I try to make good on my word when I give it and make it up to people when I fail. I guess that my only solution for my own little world is to make sure that my own kids realise how rude it is when someone disregards other people like that and to make them think about how the problem could have been solved.