Thursday, 26 August 2010

My brain is like a frightened turtle.

My brain is refusing to cooperate.  It has absorbed enough information this week to cause an explosion, and so it is now recoiling as a defence mechanism.

I’m working on something really big at work, and to get to the bottom of one problem after another, I have to ask a lot of questions.  Every question simply leads to a less-than-adequate answer, which leads to more questions, and more answers, and more questions, and more answers, in a pathetic onion-peeling-cycle-of-hell that ultimately results in my brain having no further interest in coming up with more questions.

My brain feels tired.  It is beginning to shrivel away from any contact with other brains.  It wants to be left alone.  It wants to be free from poking and prodding and is begging me to stop jamming more and more information into the backlogs of my memory.

It doesn’t want to catalogue any more new data, and it doesn’t want me to ask it to recall random tidbits of that data at a moment’s notice.

Unfortunately, my brain is going to have to step it up - I’ve got several more months of this ahead of me.  It better shape up or ship out, cause it ain’t getting any better.  That’s for sure.

The problem is, I think it might choose the “ship out” option.  I think it might just resign and leave me high and dry with no method of recourse.  And I don’t expect the courtesy of two-weeks notice.  My brain is going to walk out in an immediate and unexpected protest at any moment while I’m left struggling to manage without it.

I’m going to have to establish a collective agreement with my brain.  I need some type of assurance that it will do its job, without complaint, at the level of productivity that I have come to expect.  And I need to have to right to take action if it does not hold up its end of the bargain.

I will, however, probably have to offer it something in return – some kind of repayment for all its efforts.  My brain can surely do without me, but I can’t do without my brain… which means that my brain is in a position of power to negotiate the terms of the contract. 

So, fine, what am I prepared to give up?  When am I prepared to turn off my brain to let it rest?

Evenings?  No, it doesn’t appear that I am.

Weekends then.  I should certainly hope so.  Maybe at least every other weekend...

While sleeping?  Definitely.  My brain should rest when I sleep.  That seems fair. 

Actually, come to think of it, my brain should be damn pleased that I’m cramming so much information in there.  It's a long-term investment.  Like a trade off.  Hard work now, big pay-off later.

So suck it up brain.  Come out of your shell and face the world.  You can do it.  I believe in you.

Monday, 23 August 2010

My new enemy

Hubby recently made the mistake of telling my mom how much he liked her garbage can. 

And... now we have one.  How thoughtful, Mom, thanks. 

It's the ultimate trash receptacle.  It has a sensor to open the lid.  It takes 4 giant batteries.  It has lights.  Like from the future.  No foot pedal necessary.  Look, Mom, no hands!  And no stupid bag falling off the edge into the can, either. 

However, I know people whose garbage cans don't even have a functioning foot pedal, and they manage quite fine.  Not Hubby.  He insists on this one, and since he is responsible for (i.e. forced to remove) the garbage each week, I don't get a say.

In theory, it's an excellent idea.  But in practice, I hate the effing thing.  It's as stupid as monkey at a grocery store - a good gimic, but likely to end with some unsuspecting sucker losing a chunk of hair in the banana aisle. 

And now, every time I want to throw something out, I have to walk over the can, stand in front of it like a damned fool, and hold my hands over the sensor until the lid pops open.  Sometimes the lid closes too soon and I end up dumping rubbish all over the top.  Sometimes I misjudge how quickly it will open, and dump too soon.  In both cases I curse my husband, and sometimes my mother too.   

The bottom line is that I simply don't like disposing of my trash on a schedule set by my effing garbage can.  I like being in control of my waste.  I hate that this damn space machine is in charge.  

And now this thing has taken over my life.  Five times in the last week I have walked into my kitchen at work to dispose of the remnents of my lunch, only to approach the big plastic bin and stand it front of it with my hands poised over the top, waiting like a friggin idiot for the lid to pop open.  

Awesome.  Friggin AWESOME.  

And how much you wanna bet that when the batteries die, we won't have replacements.  So I'll end up having to pull up the little lid with my finger nail or a butter knife each time I want to dump my garbage.

This whole thing is a bad idea.  I'm officially in protest.  I'm going to sell t-shirts with slogans that say "DAMN THE CAN!" and "I'M IN CHARGE OF MY OWN GARBAGE."  and "MY WASTE. MY RULES."

Prepare for battle, garbage can.  It's you against me.  You may have Hubby on your side, but I play dirty.  One day your life will end.  You may have won the battle, but I will win the war. 

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Happy fifty-versary

I've just realized that my last entry was my 50th blog posting. 

When I started this blog, I wasn't sure I'd keep it up.  And some days I don't have anything to write about.  And some days the thought of sitting in front of a computer longer than I have to is traumatizing. 

But I do actually really like it - more than I thought I would.  And I think I'll keep it up.

So, I don't think reaching fifty postings is anything to scoff at.  And because I'm one of those people who like to celebrate pointless anniversaries and milestones, I want to take a moment to recognize this achievement.

Except I don't really know how to recognize it. 

A moment of silence is hardly appropriate.  And they don't make a "Congrats on your fiftieth blog posting" Hallmark card.  And I really don't think it's fair to expect to receive flowers or gifts from friends and family... though feel free to express yourself in that fashion should it strike your fancy to do so.

Alors, I thought I would simply consider my opinions and thoughts on the number 50.  

  • I am more than half way to age 50.
  • In the year 2050 I will be 66.  
  • Age 50 used to seem pretty old, but now I'm not so sure.  Perhaps that's a defense mechanism.  Sixty-six still seems pretty old, though.
  • Fifty bucks used to seem like a lot of money.  It still does, but there ain't much I can actually buy for a measly 50 bones.
  • Fifty earwigs in one place (such as my basement) would be disgusting.  
  • Fifty skunks in one place would be worse.  
  • I don't respect rapper 50 Cent.  
  • I like that movie 50 First Dates.
  • A 50/50 chance is not good enough, in most cases.  
  • In 1950 the world population was about 2.6 billion.  The world population for 2050 is projected to be 9.3 billion. 
  • This is my fifty-first posting.  That earthquake in the spring was a 5.1 on the scale.  
  • I ride the bus for about 50 minutes each workday, each direction, about 50 times each month.
  • Fifty is like 5'0", which is pretty much how tall I am.  And 5'0" is also apparently the cut-off for a 50% increased chance of heart disease.

My greatest friggin fear - realized

You may recall that I have a very particular significant fear.  Dirty. Rotten. Skunks. 

Since I exposed "my greatest friggin fear", I've had a few run-ins.  A few close calls. 

Once, we were pulling onto the highway and, yes, a Dirty Rotten Skunk wobbled across the on-ramp.  If I had hit that thing and released its stench into my atmosphere I might have died - from panic, or from puking, or simply from driving into the concrete wall to avoid the cursed thing.  

Then, a few weeks ago, I could smell that familiar stink in our back yard.  I was nervous, of course, but, in the spirit of facing my fears, I knew I had to go out - into the pitch black - to turn off the sprinkler.  So, I slowly crept out and very slowly walked away from the back deck, one step at a time, eyes darting around, clapping my hands.  Repeatedly.  Loud short claps over and over again.  CLAP! Step. Clap! Clap! Step. Clap! Clap! CLAP! Step.  Talking to the effer.  "Stay away! I'm bigger than you!  I have a weapon!" (which I didn't, but I thought I should bluff it.)  I eventually turned the sprinkler off and raced back into the house.  Clap! Clap! Lunge. Clap. Clap! Leap. Clap. CLAP!

But the closest I've come to death was two nights ago.  Primary cause of death: heart attack.  Secondary cause of death: Dirty Rotten SKUNK.

It was late, and very dark.  I was going to take some kitchen remains out the composter.  I was holding a big plastic cutting board piled high with pineapple and watermelon shells, on my way through the TV room to the back sliding glass doors.  When I opened the door the smell was pungent.  It was repulsive.  It was strong and thick and gag-worthy.  In other words: it was close.  I slammed the door shut.  "Ew!  Skunk!  I smell skunk!"  Hubby came into the room and opened the door.  Pungent, he agreed.  

Well, we know there was no way I was going outside.  Clapping wouldn't save me from that one.  But Hubby stood in the open door for a few moments (trying to see it, I think).

And then the real heart attack came.

I was looking into the yard through the sliding glass doors, and I saw it.  I saw it run up the deck stairs toward us!  It had a black and white pointy little face and it was coming right at me!

I screamed and Hubby slammed the door shut.  I fell to my knees, dropped the pile of fruit on the coffee table, and began to hyperventilate.

"What?!"  Hubby said.

"Tuxedo!"  I shouted.

It wasn't a skunk.  It was our little cat Tuxedo, running toward the open door.  And through the dark reflective glass, his little black and white reflection was coming up the deck stairs to get us. 

In hindsight, I guess a skunk, no matter how dirty nor how rotten, probably wouldn't run toward us into our house.  Fair.  But I still threw a shit fit.

So, it turns out, as I suspected all along, death by skunk-induced heart attack is fairly likely.  Fears not unfounded.  Point proven.  Greatest friggin fear officially realized.   

Monday, 9 August 2010

Vacation 103

Weeeeee'rrrre  baaaaaaccck...

And, over the last five days I've saved up some additional vacation tips for y'all.  Take them to heart. 

Vacation tip number five:  (or four, extended)...  Don't let a discovered-the-day-before-your-vacation leaky ceiling bother you during your whole trip.  Hubby'll fix 'er up good when you get home.  Not to worry.  

Vacation tip number six:  If you can manage it, try to plan you trip around the weather.  Your few days away should be totally hot and sunny, if at all possible.  If it must, it could rain on your last day, but only if you're planning on shopping indoors and enjoying a long lunch anyway.  But when you're done lunch, the sun should return so you can roam the beach during your last hour before leaving for the airport.  Then, if you are a really good vacation planner, you should be able to work it out that it will be raining the night you return home, only to be followed by a few gorgeous hot and sunny summer days for the remainder of your stay-cation.  Brilliant.  And if the city you just left endures a few days of thundershowers just after you've departed, that would really top it off.  If you can manage it, that is.  

Vacation tip number seven:  If you happen to plan a vacation to the current American president's hometown, I recommend that you plan your trip to coincide with the president's birthday - and, of course, his trip home to celebrate it.  Although you might not actually get to see him, you might get to see his entourage.  And that's just cool. 

Vacation tip number eight:  Of course, it goes without saying, that you should ask someone to care for your pets when you leave town.  And I might recommend having that friend or neighbour feed your pets a little extra.  They'll be stressed out, and they might not be getting fed the regular 3 times per day, rather only once, and therefore might need some extra food to hold them over between feedings.  I might recommend that.  If I didn't have a Patch.  My Patch is a binge eater, and I underestimated how much weight she would gain if her food increments were increased and if she had unsupervised access to my Tuxedo's food as well.  So, to summarize:  without a Patch, extra food; with a Patch, low-ball it. 

Vacation tip number nine:  If it doesn't make sense, it isn't real.  If you're in a cab and drive by a crazy accident on a bridge - if the concrete is splitting and buckling, and cars are buried in rubble - it might look bad.  You might be totally freaked out.  You might be saying "Oh my gosh! What's going on?!"  You might be thinking a bomb went off.  But if there are no sirens and no caution caution tape, and if people are sitting on the side of the road in lawn chairs watching the action, and if your cabby is smiling broadly, something doesn't add up.  They might be filming the new Transformers movie.  This one was Hubby's revelation - if it doesn't make sense, it isn't real.

(No, that's not my pic - but it's accurate!) 

Vacation tip number ten:  Go to Chicago.  Shi-cah-go, Illinois.  The Windy City.  The Second City.  Chi Town.  Chicagoland.  The Queen of the West.  The Garden City.  New Gotham.  The Chill.  The Big Onion.  Sweet Home Chicago.  You've never seen anything like this city.  Unless you have, and then I'd consider you one of the lucky ones.  This city has something for everyone.  And it's beautiful.  On the lake.  Everyone says it's all about the architecture.  Understatement.  It has to be seen to be believed.  Chicago has a rich history.  And a promising future.  Chicago has passion and heart.  Simply put:  Chicago is my new best friend.  

Check back soon for the Dos and Don'ts of a Chicago vacation - and some more pics. 

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Vacation 102

Vacation tip number four:  When you're waiting for your delayed flight, don't choose the dirty little airport bar for lunch. 

And if you do, don't order the beef dip. 

When it's between the little Tim Horton's kiosk and the dirty airport beef dip, always opt for Tim Horton's - Tim Horton's will always be the better choice.

Vacation 101

I'm currently sitting in the airport in line at the check-in desk - I'm sitting on my suitcase, blogging on Hubby's Blackberry.

Vacation tip number one:  When given the opportunity, always check-in for your flight online before you leave the house - never assume that every airline will let you sign in at the little computer kiosk.

Vacation tip number two:  Make sure that when you sign up for email alerts about any possible flight delays that you ensure that your husband will actually read is Berry messages before you leave the house so that you don't get to the airport an hour and a half too soon.

Vacation tip number three:  Don't make the mistake of looking up at your living room ceiling the night before your trip because you might see a giant water stain that appears to be coming from the bathroom above.  If you make this mistake, however, just be sure to have married a handy hubby so he can immediately bring out his giant rubber mallet and drywall knife to quickly cut a hole in your bedroom wall. (It doesn't matter that he'll have to cut another hole in the closet to get to the other bathroom because the leak does not appear to be coming from the first hole - it's the thought that counts, right?)

That's it for now - I'm sure to have more tips in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Island Living: the stand-out event

As mentioned previously, Hubby and I returned to The Island yesterday.  

Island living is really something special.  Every trip is filled with fun and funny activities and happenings.

Ultimately, though, there was one particular island-life event that really stood out.  Island living, as it turned out, had really rubbed off on Hubby. 

We were all seated on the dock enjoying island-style "cocktail hour" (i.e., cheese and crackers).  I looked up at one point, and what did I see?  Hubby, at the edge of the dock, climbing onto a giant tube with a white plastic lawn chair in one hand and fishing rod in the other.  He proceeded to paddle himself out to the raft - apparently, to catch himself a marlin. 

And then, to make it the matter that much worse (or better, depending) he somehow coaxed the children into delivering him a bucket of minnows and a hook and bobber for some serious live bait fishin'.  Oh, and of course, a beer.  

The children were furiously collecting all the necessities for the mission.  They decided to send only one representative out on the tube.  The youngest little darling  was the obvious choice, (perhaps, I can only assume, due to her small size and therefore aerodynamic efficiency across the water, as well as her least-likeliness to drink the beer).  

The little one wiggled onto the tube - bucket and beer in hand.  The only problem with the plan turned out to be that her little feet didn't reach the water, so kicking her way out to the raft was a no-go.  Head Master Mike decided to jump in to rescue her - that is, to rescue the mission.

He successfully delivered the obligatory fishin' paraphernalia, but decided that island life does not include getting to the raft without getting wet.  And, so, Mike removed the plug from the giant tube.  It deflated almost instantaneously and Hubby was left adrift.


Hubby stayed out there for a while, big-time sports fisherman.  

He began offering various children money to bring him back into shore via canoe, but eventually got over himself (or got sick of showing off his fishing skills, I don't know which) and jumped in the water fully clothed - complete with fishing rod, bucket, plastic lawn chair, and beer bottle in hand - and swam back to the dock.  

It just goes to show ya - there is truly no life like island life.  It's spectacular, and it's contagious. 

Island Living, part deux

Hubby and I returned to The Island yesterday.

It was a perfect trip.  Nothing beats a lovely summer day on The Island, with the most friendly and fun group of people one could ever spend a day with. 

(And the company had increased in volume since last weekend - from a few adults and 2 children, to a few adults and 15 children - no, I'm not exaggerating.  It was basically a make-shift summer camp.)

As you know, there are so many glamourus sides of island life. 

I mentioned the waving (the fact that islanders and those like them will always wave).  Hubby and I tested our theory on two unsuspecting wanderers on the side of the highway. 

We were shocked and disturbed when our experiment failed.  But we were relieved when we realized a few metres down the road that these two particular guinea pigs were just bikers who had wandered away from their motorcycles.  They weren't islanders!  They were just passing through.  

Once at The Island, we observed the most spectacular island view.  We saw the most amazing rainbow.  It was, and I'm not lyling, wrapped entirely around the sun in a perfect circle:

The Island is also the perfect place for games.  Hubby built one for our island friends:  Giant Jenga.  I think it was a hit. 

It's true, though, that the not-so-glamourus sides of island life, eventually, tend to make themselves known.

At one point, for example, Hubby was marching back and forth from the main house to the lakeside filling buckets, trying to flush the toilet.  Island life 101: "it just needs a few minutes to settle". 

Dinner was also very island-style.  The oven was broken and so the pork roast was cooked on the bbq.  So delicious.  Head Master Mike insisted that the 15 camp kids wait until at least everyone was served before mowing down.  In the end, with 20 people at the table, it was more feasible for the kids to simply wait until all their co-campers were seated - a more realistic expectation for island dinners, I think.

Ultimately, though, there was one particular island-life event that really stood out.  Island living, as it turned out, had really rubbed off on Hubby. 

Check out the next entry for the full story...