Monday, October 31, 2011
If I succeed, I will be that woman, you know, the one who scoots around the regular line, feeling the hot glares on the back of her neck from all those sweaty onlookers as they drag their bags slowly forward and she waltzes right into the security pat-down line.
You can't make a mistake, or worse, lie about anything when you fill out these forms. Because if you do, you're banned from using or getting another card for life. But the first question on the online form is so confusing I reckon I'm snookered before I even start.
It says: list your paternal name, then your maternal name, then your first name.
So...do they mean my married name i.e. last name, maiden name and first name? My married name IS my maiden name.
Or do they mean my father's last name, my mother's maiden name and my first name? What about my husband's last name, which I sometimes use socially?
Turns out they don't really know either. I called the Montreal office and Big Shocker, no one was there to pick up the phone. Quebec's motto should be "It's not my job" followed by a Gallic Shrug.So I phoned the Toronto office, finally got a human and she said "the paternal name is the last name you go by, and the maternal name is your maiden name." My maiden name IS my paternal name. I live in Quebec, so we are required by law to keep our maiden names. So do I write it down twice?
The she gave me another number in Ottawa.
This time, the woman said "the paternal name is your last name, the one you use now." (So, my maiden name.) "And the maternal name is any other name you've used."
Huh? So I told her I use my husband's last name sometimes, plus I'd been married before, like 30 years ago, and I used his last name at that time so is that what they want under "maternal name"? Yup. Are you sure? "Oh yes," she laughed. "This happens all the time. Put down any or all other names you've used."
So I go back online and it seems like I'm filling in more names than Elizabeth Taylor and then I see a teensy, tiny, 'help' button in the upper corner. Clearly they don't want you to use it, or they'd make it easier to see.
It says paternal name is your current last name and maternal name is your mother's last name.
If I can't get past the first page on the form, the likelihood is I'm going to be standing in the back of the line with the rest of the sweaty plebs, practicing my glare.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
If you love squirrels, don't read this.
Go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich and watch The X Factor. This post is to Cute Overload what Jaws is to The Little Mermaid.
So this blogger from T-dot, clearly a sensitive fellow and squirrel lover, happened upon one of the little critters after it was broadsided by a van.
The guy hopped off his bike, rushed to the scene and tried to "find a pulse" on its limp, furry body. He looked a little closer and thought "she" might have been nursing. The clues? It appeared she hadn't showered for several days, her tail was stained with spit up and her kitchen was full of dirty dishes.
Not knowing what to do, and unclear on the concept of roadkill, he called Toronto's animal services for advice.
Their response? Put it in a bag and leave it on the porch and they'll see about coming to get it in the morning. Um, that's why it's called roadkill. Also, they told him to watch the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch before he called them again.
Not exactly the "proper send off" he was hoping for.
Btw, this is how we give squirrels a proper send off in our 'hood:
It's also low fat and as free range as it gets. Some say it tastes like a cross between lamb and duck, others more like wild boar. Nowhere does it say it tastes like chicken.
Grey squirrel is even flying off the shelves in the UK according to this article THE ULTIMATE ETHICAL MEAL:A GREY SQUIRREL. Best of all, it's free. And plentiful, if my backyard is anything to go by. And since the UK is known the world over for its fine cuisine, if they're saying eat squirrel, it must be good.
So get out your
Not for the squeamish. Seriously, you have been warned.
And if you can't bring yourself to cook and eat one, there is always Roadkill Art.
I swear I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. I don't know what's more strange. The guy making art out of roadkill, or the people paying more than 50,000 pounds for it.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It will turn you around.
I guarantee it.
Go HERE to listen.
This day we write!
Monday, October 24, 2011
On the flight back, there was a sweet young mom of three sitting one seat over who was having such an attack of nerves my heart went out to her. She was flushed and shaking, fidgety and close to tears and that was before the plane had even left the hangar! When we started to move, she asked if she could hold my hand. So I reached over the outwardly calm but slightly disconcerted man in the middle seat who probably wished he'd been seated anywhere else than sandwiched between these two crazy female bookends and I held her hand, and rubbed the back of it in slow circles with my thumb. I used my soothing mama voice, the one that convinced my kids there were no more monsters hiding under the bed. I got her calmer, got her distracted by asking questions about her kids and her life. (Then the man in the middle thought he'd help too, and mentioned a guy he knew who was in a plane crash but it's okay, he survived it. Even if we do go down, we'll probably be fine! Venus to Mars, come in Mars. Stroke the hand, stroke the hand!)
Anyway, at the SiWC, we have days packed with workshops, and long nights in the bar talking writing with friends and fellow writers. Where else can you chat about Queen Elizabeth I with Anne Perry in the elevator, Diana Gabaldon about what makes a good sex scene, and Michael Slade about some guy getting his kicks from dressing dogs in panties, all in the same day? Or sit with the ethereal novelist and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, who had us in stitches describing a Passion Play gone horribly wrong. Or hear Jack Whyte not only sing his hippopotamus song but convince hundreds of people to join him in the chorus?
For me, the highlight of the conference was listening to the wise, charming, witty, soulful and very inspiring Ivan E. Coyote. When I leave one of her workshops, I not only feel like a better writer, I feel like a better person.
You know, when I attend the conference every year, there are always signals from the universe, little nudges, wee "woo woo" moments where I stop and think was that a coincidence, or do I need to pay close attention to something.
The woman I talked to in line at the airport? Her name was Elaine Bean.
Ivan said to look for "watershed" moments. I write for a magazine called Watershed.
Ivan said one of her interests is Roma caravans, because her grandmother was Roma. I've recently been researching caravans for a story (including the day before I left for the conference) and I have a fat file on them as it's always been a dream of mine to own one.
Odd, no? But not, you know, earth shattering.
While I was standing in line to board the plane in Vancouver to come back home today, I chatted with the woman walking beside me. (You see a trend here, right? Yes, I talk to strangers, only if they're receptive, but I've had many an interesting conversation.) Turns out Heidi is president and general manager of an artist management company in Montreal.
Where are you coming from, I asked.
"The Yukon," she said, where she'd just attended the Western Canadian Music Awards.
And then I did that thing that makes every Canadian roll their eyes when they're talking to someone from outside the country. "I've just heard an amazing speaker from the Yukon," I said. "Do you know Ivan E. Coyote?"
"Know her? I just stayed with Kim Beggs, a good friend of Ivan's who has performed with her." And with that, Heidi gave me a CD with some of the artists she works with, including Ivan's friend Kim.
And then Heidi asked if I'd ever considered writing music bios. See? Magic.
When I tell you there is some kind of amazing alchemy that comes out of the SiWC, you'd better believe me. And in case that's not woo woo enough for you, the man sitting beside me on the plane mentioned his son, a news anchor, is named Tyler Fleming and Heidi, sitting in front of him, twisted around and said, "Hey, that's my nephew's name."
To sum up- I'm tired, but inspired.
That's what the SiWC does every year.
Friday, October 21, 2011
If you watch Amazing Race, you'll have seen this village on the last show. The entire town floats off a little island in the south part of Thailand. There is literally no solid land on which to build, but the kids wanted to play football (soccer to us Canucks.) So watch what they did.
See if you aren't in tears by the end of this story. You might want to click it and go directly to YouTube so you can read the sub-titles.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I actually wrote to the company to say I found it offensive, on so many levels.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Tide commercial. Tide celebrates individual style, and we know kids are creative and sometimes choose to wear what they want - not always what mom suggests.
Our intention wasn’t to convey an unfavorable relationship between the mom and daughter or to express an opinion on what is or isn’t appropriate to wear. Our intention was to play up the humor of what happens when mothers and children have differing style preferences.
Interesting. "Tide celebrates individual style"? Really?
I wrote back again:
I understand that's where you were aiming with this Tide commercial, but your creative team completely missed the mark.
Of course mothers and daughters don't always agree when it comes to clothing choices. I've raised three kids, two of them daughters, so I know what kind of battles teenagers and their moms go through as one side struggles to express themselves and the other struggles to let go (and it's not just girls, btw.) I get that. But what this commercial suggests is that the mother is disappointed not only in her daughter's clothing choices, but where they might lead. It implies that the girl's rejection of pink "feminine" things and her interest in hoodies, cargo shorts and "gettin' dirty" while she plays with car garages are making her daughter kind of butch and possibly (gasp!) a lesbian, implying there is something wrong with this.
What kind of message is that? Gay and transgendered kids are being bullied and committing suicide because society and sometimes their own parents do not accept them as they are. Have you seen the "It Gets Better" campaigns on YouTube?
Say it was a father and son in the commercial, and the son was wearing pink and playing with dolls, and the father expressed disappointment that he couldn't change the way the kid dressed. Would it still be funny?
Kids struggle so hard these days, looking for their own identities while stereotypes are thrown at them from all sides, especially young girls. The fact that this aired during an episode of Teen Mom only adds to the irony.
I took time out of my day to write this because it's important. Thanks for taking time out of your day to listen.
What do you think? If you like, go HERE and tell Tide yourself.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
made by Lemony Snicket
Occupy Wall Street
from a Discreet Distance
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Oh, it's more than coffee and doughnuts, my friends. It's a mecca for caffeine-starved, carb-craving Canucks, especially in the winter when we're heading out with a carload of kids to a pre-dawn hockey practice or shuffling off to work in the morning.
We are a loyal nation. We all worship at the altar of Timmy's. Ask any Canadian what "roll up the rim to win" means and he or she can tell you. We all roll up our rims and hope for the big one. Actually, a few years ago, two local families got into a heated battle. One girl found a winning coffee cup in the garbage can at her primary school. She couldn't figure out how to roll up the rim, so she asked an older girl to help her. Turns out the prize under the rim was a car worth $32,000. The older girl's family insisted they deserved the prize. The younger girl's family said something along the lines of "Nuh uh, you don't!
Tim Hortons, like a good mom, said they were not going to get involved and that they had to work things out themselves. Then a lawyer called for a DNA test to be done on the cup. (I swear I'm not making this up. This happened in a community close to my cottage.) The lawyer claimed that his unnamed client had thrown out the cup but was the rightful owner of the prize. Seriously?
What do you think is fair? Who do you think got the car?
Like the mom who heard a lamp crash in the rec room and stomps downstairs to investigate, Tim Hortons reversed their decision to get involved and announced they would award the prize to the younger girl who first found the cup. Yay! Tim Bits for everyone!
On a long, mind-numbing drive along the 401 from Montreal to Toronto, the regular sight of a Timmy's at the end of the exit ramp can lift one's spirits to the point where you can almost hear the celestial choir's voices raised in a big old Hallelujah. And that quick stop to pick up a large double double and a box of Tim Bits will inevitably end with the raised hand of the server (no baristas here) and the benediction "have a nice day." And you will. Oh yes, you will.
Now have a listen to this guy's experience.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
If anyone in my family is reading this, Mama Ham would love to look under the Christmas tree and find the complete Upstairs/Downstairs series on DVD. Just saying.
Anyone else remember Rose? And Mr. Hudson? And Mrs. Bridges? And poor Ruby? And Sarah?
Friday, October 7, 2011
This time of year, with the dwindling sunlight and rainy days, I turn into a bit of a cave dweller. In order to feel somewhat human again, I switch on my special light box to try to wrestle my seasonal affective disorder to the ground and get it in a choke hold. I push myself to get outside more often, and take advantage of the light we have until December 22nd, the winter solstice, my turning point. And don't even get me started on carbs. Carbs are like heroin for the next 3 months. But this too shall pass. It always does. Or I could move to Australia where their summer is just beginning.
Right now I have a small black distraction in the form of a Russian cat named КНОПОЧНЫЙ. This is roughly translated to Knopa, or 'Nopa for short which means "button" in Russian. It's my son's girlfriend's kitten and while she is back home visiting family, we get her cat. She is all black save for a spot on her chest and one toe and has the face of a Siamese, narrow and all eyes. (The cat, not his girlfriend. She is blond and lovely.) She is also a holy terror, spinning in circles, on and around furniture and resident cats and dog, until exhaustion sets in, at which point she stretches out on her belly, back legs flat out behind her. (Again, I feel compelled to point out I'm describing the cat, not his girlfriend.)
And if you are holding anything remotely resembling a dairy product, she's all in your
This is her usual pose. Always ready to pounce.
I'm getting such a kick out of her it's going to hard to give her back, but my cats will be thankful. Buddy is oblivious, despite 'Nopa's enchantment with his swishy tail.
But now, I'll share something with you that gave me great joy today. It's an explanation of why the universe is jiggly. You didn't know the universe was jiggly? Top scientists say it is, so it must be true.
This is set to music using auto-tune. The universe, made up of "12 particles of matter, 4 forces of nature" is "a wonderful and significant story."
Believe me, you've never heard quantum science explained like this.
Happy Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends. Let's all go forth and eat turkey!