Friday, 30 April 2010

What happened?

Have you ever just found yourself suddenly asking the universe the ultimate burning question: How did I get here? 

What I mean is, you just wake up one day, or it just randomly occurs to you:  What friggin happened?  How did I get myself into this situation?

Hubby was asked/hired to do some repair work at a fast-food chain.  He was then asked/told to delay his work until later in the day, beyondn the busiest hours of the morning.  He was then asked/required to leave and come back to do the work OVERNIGHT due to the excessive noise that the necessary jackhammer would produce.

So, at 2 am, when he was tiling the floor of some dirty downtown food chain, and some drunk guy came out of the bathroom and stepped on the newly laid wet tiles, he must have been asking himself:  How did I get here?  What the eff is happening?  How did I get myself into this?


Or when he was hallucinating on the drive home at 5am, he had to have been thinking: I had 2 options – yes, and no.  And I somehow picked the WRONG option.  Someone must have tricked me.  Someone must have talked me into this when I wasn’t paying attention.  How did this happen?


And even when he made a boatload of money, he still swore he’d never do it again.  Not for $5000 would he ever again stay up all night jack-hammering and tiling a restaurant floor.  No amount of money was enough to make it okay.  And he’s surely still wondering: How did I let that happen?


I’m sure most of us have been in such a situation. For example, have you ever found yourself sitting at your job wishing you were somewhere (or anywhere) else?  Or arguing with your mate about making an extreme impulsive purchase, like a motorcycle or a $400 purse.  Or stooping to pick up your neighbour’s dog’s shit, even though you offered to dog-sit. 

And when in a situation such as those, you just randomly get to thinking: How the HELL did this happen?  Where am I?  Why am I here?  Am I dreaming?  This CANNOT be real – I can’t have allowed it to get to this point.


Perhaps you’ve found yourself in an Ikea line-up with $700 worth of crap (and then at home putting it all together afterward).  Or maybe you bought your kid a set of drums.  Or you’re sitting with your banker trying to dig yourself out of years of over-indulgence. 

I bet you’re saying to yourself: I chose the wrong fork-prong in this effing road.  My choices seemed limited, but were they this limited?  What am I supposed to do in this situation – there really isn’t much to work with.  How do I END this madness? 


While it may seem overwhelming, at least take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one - you are not the only person who often wonders:  What – in this godforsaken world – has frigging happened?

_

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Thank-hugh

I heard on the radio this morning that investors were trying to "develop" the land surrounding the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign on the mountain peak overlooking the Los Angeles, California neighbourhood.  [Sidebar - whenever I name that state, I can't help but hear Schwarzenegger in my head... "Cally-forn-ee-a"]  

The group raising money to save the sign needed 12.5 million big ones to buy up the space around the landmark in order to prevent expensive homes from being constructed on top of, arguably, the most recognizable mountain peak in the US. 

Sure, it'd be a shame to block the view of the horizon by adding a bunch of homes or whatever.  And, as Ellen DeGeneres pointed out on her show today, why do we have to "develop" every last remaining speck of natural habitat?  Fair points. 

But that's not why they were trying to save it.  They were just worried about the set of giant letters that are the primary physical representation associated with the most superficial and fake neighbourhood in the entire United States of America - perhaps the world. 

So, as of yesterday, the do-gooders raising money to save the damn thing were just shy of the 12.5 million dollar mark.  But last night, someone (Hugh. friggin. Hefner.) stepped in at the last minute and donated the remaining $900,000 needed.  Woopdi-do, Basil. 

Ok, great, the sign will live on.  That's fine.  I'm good with that.  What I'm wondering is why anyone donated any money to this "cause" in the first place.  Priorities, people. 


And why is Hugh Hefner the idiot who saves the day?  If you were as rich as Hugh Hefner, to whom would you choose to donate your $900,000 in pocket change?  Does he even care about anything?  I doubted it, so I Googled him.  

According to Wikipedia, Hugh has supported: a) some cinematic arts; b) that controversial autism campaign Jenny McCarthy was running; and, c) the First Amendment (ie, freedom of speech).  

Those are some pretty rockin philanthropic contributions.  Way to support society, Hugh.  And now you can add "Hollywood sign" to the list.  Score.   


Search for 'the peak has been saved' video clip on the Ellen web page: 
Ellen show - Save the Peak

The end of an era

Do you have a particular “this feels like home” place near where you grew up?  A familiar place.  A place, that when you lay eyes on it, you feel an inexplicable calm that warms your heart and pleases your soul?

Mine’s a gas station.

My mother has lived in her current house for about 10 years, I guess.  Since I was in high school.  One of the weirdest things about her house is that it backs onto a really busy street.  And the best view she has from her back yard (aside from her gardens) is of the local gas station.  It’s an odd view - especially when you’re standing on the deck by the pool in your bikini - but it has its advantages.

For one, my mother is always up-to-date on the gas-price trend.  She always has the inside scoop.  She knows if gas prices are on a down-spin or an up-spike, and she can always compare prices to other gas stations (even in other cities).

For another, she doesn’t have to make some big trek for gas. She can fill up on her way out, or on her way home, or, really, whenever she friggin feels like it.  Easy access. 

And finally, the one thing that’s particularly awesome about this gas station: it’s full serve – one of the few remaining full-serve gas stations left anywhere on this earth.  The last man standing.  She doesn’t even have to get out of her car.  It’s hard to come by full-serve gas stations, especially those with competitive prices and excellent customer service (and free gas raffles every week).

Well, I found out yesterday that my favourite gas station has closed.  What a shame.  A local landmark.  Ok, not a local landmark, but a familiar sight, at least.  And now my mother may end up having to search far and wide for gas.  Maybe she’ll even have to pump it herself.  Maybe she’ll have to get out of car when it’s cold, or rainy, or both.  And how will she know the best price?  And when I visit her, how will I know I’m home?

Well, perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.  Perhaps the other gas station right next door will provide all the same conveniences and happy feelings this landmark did. 

But still, it’s a damn shame, isn’t it?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A card game I am totally on board with

I effing hate Euchre. 

Ok, I guess I can't say I hate a game if I've never really played it - but I still do.

I've tried to learn how to play Euchre at least 10 times in the last 15 years - including last night - and I have to say it's a goddam lost cause.  I will never learn to play this game.  Partly because I might be too stupid, but mostly because I effing hate it.  I hate how you play on a team.  I hate how you don't use all the cards.  I hate "trump" and "going alone" and "tricks".  Tricks are for friggin kids.  I hate how everyone else knows exactly what they're doing and I am so damn lost that I feel like crying and/or kicking someone's ASS.  

I'm not even a dumb person, generally.  I should understand this, right?  It shouldn't be so freaking difficult.  But it is.  And that's why I hate it.  

I think what pisses me off the most about Euchre is that people always act like it's so strategic.  Well if it's so strategic then why does the person who is trying to teach me always end up saying: "You have to play this card" or "You have to play that card."  If it is so damn obvious what card I "have" to play, then what the hell is so strategic about it?  

I much prefer Spoons.  Spoons is a game I am totally on board with.  

In Spoons, each player (and there's no frgging 4-player limit either - the more the frigging merrier) gets 4 random cards.  The object of the game is to get 4 of a kind.  So everyone frantically passes 1 card at a time to the left (receiving a new card from the right).  The first person to get 4 a of kind dives to the centre of the table to grab a spoon.  And if you see someone else grab a spoon, you better grab one too because there is always one less spoon than there are players, and if you don't get one, YOU ARE OUT.  Kind of like Musical Spoons.  

You have never seen a more hilarious and frantic shit show than a bunch of (usually inebriated) people diving for (and often fighting over the last) spoon.  

And Spoons, unlike Euchre, is strategic.  For example, if you can sneak your spoon without others noticing, you can sit back and watch them try to figure it out, one by one, until some loser is left dumbfounded.  You can also fake a jump for the spoons and see who falls for it.  You can also pay absolutely no attention to your cards and just watch for the first person to grab a spoon.  When they do, all you have to do is make sure you're the second person to grab a spoon and you're safe.  Come to think of it, strategy is the KEY to winning at Spoons.  

So, yeah, Euchre may seem sophisticated, but that's just a myth - it's really just boring.  And that's why I hate it.  


Spoons, on the other hand - Spoons is a game I am totally on board with.  

Check this out: Spoons on Youtube 

Friday, 23 April 2010

All Thumbs

You know how people are always saying you should slow down when you eat so you eat LESS and don't become (or remain) a fat pig?  Like you should chew each bite of your food 100 times?  Or is that brush your hair 100 times? 

Whatever - it doesn't matter - the point is, people are always saying that to be healthy you shouldn't shove so much food in your mouth so quickly; that if you could slow down for a fricking minute you wouldn't eat so damn much and then wouldn't hate yourself later.  Fair point.  

So, I have the solution for all the fat pigs (including me) who pile food into their mouths like eating is goin out of style... all those oinkers who basically need two forks (or even better, two giant spoons) - one for each hand - so they can scoop with one arm and stuff their faces with the other. 

It isn't complicated.  It's a fairly simple solution, actually. 


Chop sticks.  


Yep , you heard me. 

Chop sticks. 


I do NOT give a flying fat RAT how good you think you are with chop sticks - you aren't good enough

Unless you grew up in some freaking cool country where they actually use them - where forks and spoons are obsolete - where the culture is older than two measly centuries - where eating is not a luxury but a goddam necessity - you are NOT a chop stick guru.  


So I say: give all the biggie piggies chop sticks. 

If we had to struggle with our food at every meal our stomachs would have time to tell our brains that we were full before we ate nine times the recommended daily does of sustenance. 

And imagine all the people (all the people who really understand chop sticks - better than they understand forks) who could sit back and watch us all struggle. 


Imagine it for a second. 

Imagine that for everything you ate (including chicken alfredo, and hot dogs, and jello, and cake, and Timbits, and 2 for 4 Mama Burgers) you had to sit down at a table and try to get two long pointy sticks to guide that food into your mouth. 

And you couldn't use your hands, either, no matter how tempting.  You'd be ostracized from the community if you ate with your hands, or your face, or a shovel.  It's either sticks or starve. 

It's quite an image, eh?   

Simply put:  I think the world would be downright. better. off. if forks and spoons were outlawed. 

I just might try it.  You should try it too - you should try it for a week and see if you lose 20 pounds.  Go ahead.  I dare you. 

_

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Men and their meat

That title sounds weird.  

Rest assured, I'm just referring to meat in the truest sense - the carnivorous, North American, gotta-love-our-pigs-and-cows sense... the I-have-to-have-meat-with-every-meal sense. 

My husband loves his meat.  He loves ribs.  He loves pork loin.  He likes burgers and hot dogs and chicken wings (if they're crispy).  He likes fish now and then (if you call that meat) and he'll eat roast beef or turkey if its on his plate.  He insists on having meat with every meal - it's a staple.  He says that without meat, a meal "won't fill my left nipple".   

My husband will spend 30 minutes at the meat counter.  He'll look behind that shiny glass, admiring all his red and slimy choices, looking for the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the food he plans to shovel into his mouth.  He makes an almost daily trip to the meat counter.  He weighs the pros and cons of every choice. (Can you say OPTIONS ANALYSIS?).  He considers the price, and how much fat is on the cut, and how fresh it is, and what he'll eat with it.  He'll wander from the glass case, to the sale bin, to the meat wall, and back again, determining the absolutely perfect choice.  He'll spend even MORE time trying to find the best choice for ME, thinking that I MUST have the same affinity for meat that he does.  Guess again.  

We go through this ritual before nearly every dinner.  FIRST, we decide we want to make dinner.  (As if it's a new friggin decision every goddam day).  Then I'll ask "What do you want for dinner Dear?" (for some reason expecting him to have given it some thought.)  Nope, he has no idea.  I'll suggest things.  Usually to know avail.  Eventually, he'll come up with an excellent idea.  "I need some meat" he'll say.  

So we head off to the local grocer - not the best priced, most appropriate grocer, but the closest grocer with the best selection of meat.  We start with the produce.  What will be the side dish to his meat?  Broccoli?  Mushrooms?  Asparagus? (Asparagus is usually for a 'fancy' night.)  Then bread - we must have garlic bread.  A meal is not a meal without garlic cheese bread.  (To be fair, I do tend to agree with that.) 

Then MEAT.  In the time he is looking at meat, I am getting apples and yogurt and milk - all the regular things we run out of.  When I've finished my collection of necessities, I walk up and down the ailes searching for him, assuming he must be getting some additional supplies.  I should know better.  He's still looking at MEAT.  (And on the rare occasion that he's not looking at meat, he's spending 20 minutes searching for the best packaged marinade.)  


By the time we make it to the cashier, we have the same flipping argument in front of the poor kid at the register.  Do we want a bag?  "No, Honey, we just carried it all to the cash, so we can carry it to the car" I'll say.  Usually the decision gets left up to the poor sucker who's ringing in our purchase. 


By the time we get home it's too late to eat anyway (not that we don't, just that we shouldn't).  When I arrived home tonight at 6:20 he asked me how I was.  "Starving!" I answered.  It is at this moment 8:56 pm.  I am writing this while waiting for my loving husband to prepare my meal - complete with BBQ RIBS.  (Back ribs AND side ribs, because the back ribs weren't big enough.) Sigh...


...They do smell good though. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Who wouldn't go to a roller derby?

Seriously. Who would opt OUT of such an event?

You’ve got a bunch of hot, rockstar punk women flying around a track on roller skates looking to ruin each other.

That’s friggin sweet.


As defined by the all-powerful Wikipedia, a Roller Derby is:


an American-invented contact sport – and historically, a form of sports entertainment – based on formation roller skating around an oval track, with points scored as certain players lap members of an opposing team.  In past decades, roller derby had been primarily a professional or paid sport for both women and men. Contemporary roller derby is international, predominantly female, typically operates on an amateur (or unpaid) circuit, and has a strong do it yourself ethic which often features both athleticism and a punk third-wave feminism aesthetic.


Holy shit.  How can I go wrong? 

I can't.  

It's settled then.  I'm going to see a Roller Derby in June.  It's gonna be awesome.  What better way to spend some serious girl-meets-power bonding time?  There is no better way.  Unless you're participating.  That might be better.  But this will be cool too. 


The term "roller derby" apparently dates at least as far back as 1922, when the Chicago Tribune used it to describe multi-day, flat-track rollerskating races. 

Why were people in 1922 holding multi-day rollerskating races?  And how did current culture manage to morph this seemingly innocent event into the amazing shit show it is now - with team names like 'the Slaughter Daughters', 'the Riot Squad', and 'the Vixens'?  I don't know, but more power to them. 


I guess I have to watch Whip It now. 




Check this out: Roller Girls on Rick Mercer

Monday, 19 April 2010

Commuting Chronicles - Judging Crazies

So, I commute to work.  I ride the bus every day – one glorious hour from door to desk.


It isn’t so bad, really.  Aside from the odd smells and occasional motion sickness, it’s a good opportunity to read, or write, or listen to music, or rest my eyes.  And anything beats a traffic jam.


One of the best parts about riding the bus is the fact that it can be considered a sociological experiment – a cultural observation.  I’m like an anthropologist.  I “people-watch”.  Well, more accurately, I discretely “crazies-judge”.

I’ve seen a whole mixture of odd sights on the bus.  Usually people just engage themselves with their handheld devices – phones, Berries, IPods, etc.  Lots of people read books or newspapers.  Or they do SoDuKu.  People LOVE SoDuKu.  People eat on the bus too.  Usually something smelly.  I’ve seen construction workers, and children, and students, and government workers.  I’ve seen people get a ticket for not paying the fare.  And I’ve seen people try to get out of a ticket for not paying the fare.  I’ve even seen people evade a ticket for not paying the fare by carefully sneaking off at the next stop.  I’ve seen people miss their stop and yell at the bus driver.  I’ve seen people argue with each other.  I’ve seen people talk to themselves.  And I’ve certainly seen people who are severely drunk and/or as high as a kite (one guy even spilled his “Gatorade” all over the seat).


But I saw something new today.  In and of itself, it wasn’t that strange, I guess.  Just new.  A new observation.


There was a lady – probably in her 50s.  She was a sort of plump lady.  She had bad hair – thin, cut short and slicked back.  She was carrying at least three bags of stuff and was squished into a seat in front of me.  She seemed like a nice enough lady (whatever little I can tell from how a person looks).  She fidgeted and fumbled around with her bags and pulled out her compact makeup.  This isn’t very weird. Some women do that.  But then she took out her mascara.  I guess it struck me as kinda odd.  Lipstick, sure; a compact, maybe; but mascara?


She proceeded to carefully apply two layers of Maybeline to her lashes.  Again, not that weird.  It's not like she continued to pull out more makeup - blush, eyeshadow, tweezers, Biore strips.  But it did get me thinking… Does she do this everyday?  Is this a commuter time-saver?  Like, some people read their mail on the bus.  Students sometimes do their homework.  Or maybe she was just especially late and threw the mascara in her bag on the way out the door.  But did she need her mascara that badly?  Maybe she just applies it as many times during the day as possible.  Maybe she had a special meeting and wanted to look particularly bold-eyed.  Maybe she had an early morning date.  Which would mean her boyfriend would have to work nights. I wonder what he does for a living.  Or MAYBE she just came from her boyfriend’s house. Kinky.  Besides all of that, it really seems like a safety hazard.  I mean, what if she poked herself in the eye?  Or what if she lost control of her little stick and painted her face with black goop?  Or what if she dropped the stick on her neighbour’s lap and covered a stranger with black goop?


It was around this point that I decided I’d better get back to my book.


Why was I so interested in this lady’s behaviour?  This is why I like to think of myself as socio-anthropologist.  I’ve immersed myself in this commuter culture to observe and learn.  The risk is, of course, that I'll inadvertently become a part of the commuter culture – like that guy who joined Hell’s Angels. 


I don’t mind commuting, but I’d hate to become a “commuter”.  I’ll have to be more careful from now on.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

My greatest friggin fear

There are, of course, many fears worth fearing - a whole range of things I should run screaming from, should have nightmares about, and should pass on to my yet unborn children.  


For instance - trains.  I have reoccurring nightmares about trains.  Getting chased by a train... a train going through my house... having to redirect train tracks before a train crashes into me... 


I am also, sadly, a pathetic woman who perpetuates a stereotype of being irrationally terrified and disgusted by bugs.  I have forced my husband to kill countless spiders while I sit at a safe distance whining and squirming.  And I can't. even. talk. about. centipedes.  


And, as most of us, I have serious fears too.  I worry that some power tool will run amok and injure Hubby.  Or that something will happen to Tuxedo or Patches.  Or that my house will burn down.  And I'm obviously not a fan of snakes or rodents.  


But I have one particular fear that haunts me; that is truly upsetting; that really stirs me to my core.  


Skunks.  


Getting sprayed by a skunk would really threaten the stability of my sanity.  


I'm not sure what actually is the worst part about that thought.  Well, sure I am.  It's the goddam smell. 

I can imagine it would sting my eyes and burn my nose.  And would it hurt my skin?  And what about my clothes?  What if I were wearing really nice clothes that I loved?  Or wearing my most comfortable pajamas? (The logic of this fear tells me that I would probably be wearing pajamas because skunks are nocturnal and if I were to encounter one, it would be at night - probably venturing outside to put the garbage out or something.  But that's where it gets irrational - because I don't put the garbage out.  Not that it just piles up in my house.  My husband does it.  I probably make him do it for fear of encountering a Godforsaken skunk.)  My clothes would be ruined.  And my hair.  I'd have to shave it off.  You'd never get the smell out.  It'd be like the BO beast on Seinfeld.  And I couldn't even go inside after.  Someone would have to spray me down with the hose (not that it'd help.)  I'd be laying in a post-traumatic ball in the grass yelling at the windows for someone to come rescue me.  Yep.  The smell is the worst part.  


But it's not just the smell.  It's their evil little eyes and pointy nose.  They kinda seem, if you're not thinking about it too much, like they oughta be friendly.  Like a mixture between a cat and a beaver.  But don't be fooled by the fuzzy exterior and childhood memories of their romantic Parisian kin.  They're actually more like a mixture between a ferret (yes I understand some people love ferrets - I'm not one of them) and those huge overgrown rats from The Princess Bride.  Terrifying. 



None of this, though, is even that bad compared to one fact - the skunk has ALL the power.  It knows I'm more afraid of it than it is of me.  I'm convinced that stench is not really a defense mechanism as much as it is a power trip - like the US building nuclear weapons.  And once a skunk gets me, there's nothing I can do.  And no going back.  My life will never be the same.  Once he waddles up and posies his dirty ass in my direction - POOF - I'm done for.  

My only hope is that his stench would give him away. 

But even if I could smell him, how would I know where the stink was emitting from?  The skunk is a lurker.  A sidler.  And he blends into the shadows.  It's not like I can say "Ok, Mr. Effing Skunk... Come out, come out wherever you are... tell me when I'm getting warmer."  I wouldn't have a chance.  


Yep.  It's decided.  There are lots of fears worth fearing; lots of things I should really be spending my time worrying about.  But skunks top the list.  

_

Saturday, 17 April 2010

That is to say...

Ok, so, if someone was going to start a blog, what would she write about?

Option 1: lollipops, rainbows, and unicorns
Option 2: the catastrophe that we call our 'civilization'
Option 3: whatever pickle shit comes to her sad little brain

Now... if you know anything about completing an Options Analysis, you know that one must consider the costs and benefits, risks and opportunities, of each option - the pros and cons, for you simpletons out there.

Option 1: writing about lollipops, rainbows, and unicorns.  Pro: a chance to be ironical.  Con: I'd hate myself.

Option 2: writing about the catastrophe that we call our 'civilization'.  Pro: I might seem smart.  Con: smartness of this magnitude is damn hard to fake.

Option 3: writing about whatever pickle shit comes to my sad little brain.  Pro: It suits me just fine.  Con: I might offend your precious sensibility.

Clearly, the conclusion is obvious.

Now that you know something about completing an Options Analysis, you should also know that the KEY to an Options Analysis is presenting your preferred option LAST.  This allows you to trick yourself - and others - into thinking that the most logical and appropriate option is the preferred one.  Which in this case (much like Goldilocks' case), of course it is.

i.e. Option 3 is my preferred option and therefore the most appropriate and logical - and vice versa.

Which brings me to my second point.

"ie" does NOT mean "for example".  It doesn't even mean "in example" or "in essence" as some idiots think.  It is of Latin origin and stands for "id est" which translates to "that is", or, as we might describe it, "that is to say". 

So, an example of a sentence you should NOT say is:

"I am an effing loser - ie I use 'ie' instead of 'eg'" 

You SHOULD NOT say that because the idea that you use ie instead of eg is simply an EXAMPLE of why you are an effing loser, not a reiteration of that fact.

So, stop confusing ie with eg.  And by the way, eg doesn't even mean "examples given" as some idiots think.  It is also of Latin origin and means "exempli gratia" which translates to "for the sake of example", or, as we might describe it "for example".

Now that we have that straightened out, I'll thank you for holding these rules near and dear to your heart from now on.  And I'll invite you join me again for further enlightenment in the future.  (It is addictive, isn't it?

PS - "vice versa" is also Latin.  Look it up.