Archive for February, 2008

Message to the Government

Hey, government… how’s it hangin’? 

For the record:  If you had asked nicely, I would have handed over a portion of my bonus without complaint.  Just to help you out.  That’s just the kind of person I am.  Say, 10 percent… no, make it 15.  You’ve been pretty good to me this past year and I know you’ll be there if my health starts failing. 

But 50%?!  Come on, government … let’s be realistic.  That’s my pat on the back.  That’s my “good job” from my employer.  That’s my thank you gift from … er… hmm… wait just a doggone minute!  Come to think of it, why should you see any of that money at all?! 

Oh.  Yes.  Yes, you’re right.  I really should think of others.  After all, I am supporting all of those people that are abusing the system.  Oh listen!… did you hear that?  It’s the cry of another baby born!  His six brothers and sisters are going to be so happy to meet him!  Let’s send them a baby gift.  I know, how about my bonus cheque?!  It’s fresh in the account, right at the top of the pile… hell, let’s send them more money every month.  For the hell of it. 

Since we’re helping others and while my that money is fresh at the top, you could fix the road in my town too.  It really is a mess.  But that’s just a suggestion… I wouldn’t dream of telling you what to do with my that money. 

I guess I should just say ‘you’re welcome’.  It really is as much a gift to you as it is to me, isn’t it?  I hope you do good things with your half of my that money.  



p.s.  You will be there for me if my health fails … right? 

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I am so busy lately I just haven’t had the time to write like I was for a while there. 

The music festival is on the horizon and, like usual, I dropped the ball for my piano students.  Not literally, of course, because they would in all likelihood forget all about the piano and take off chasing it.  I mean that, despite my adamance that I would be all over it this year, it slipped my mind again and then … suddenly … I need to pick songs, convince them that they like them, and then put in their entry forms.  All rushed and feeling like a big dope alongside the piano teachers with dozens of students that still manage to have everything under control, of course.  <Sigh>

Curling is curling as usual but being chairman of the board is adding a lot to my plate.  Planning the 50th Anniversary bonspiel, board meetings, committee meetings, bonspiels.  Sheesh! 

So I was talking to Will today … he’s a co-worker from the sane side of cubicle row who clips his nails at home and minds his own business.  We were saying how we felt like we needed a few days off because we’ve been so busy with projects and work and just life in general.  “I want to take the summer off and work on my house”, he said. 

So we started thinking… how does a person go about getting a whole summer off?  Maternity leave is an option, for me anyway… although I don’t really consider losing sight of your feet, waddling everywhere you go, and growing a human being as time off. 

No, we decided that the best way would be to just wig out some day and hope to get put on stress leave for a couple of months.  And that reminded me of this e-mail I got a few days ago:  20 ways to maintain a healthy level of insanity (although I wouldn’t consider all 20 of them blog-worthy so you’re only getting a chunk of them). 

Hmm … that seems to jive with our stress leave idea, doesn’t it? 

Let’s have a look. 

1.  At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down. 

2.  Page yourself over the intercom at work but make no effort to disguise your voice. 

3.  Every time someone asks you to do something, ask them if they want fries with that.  Make a real effort to look like this guy when you do it though. 



4.  In the memo field of all your checks, write ‘For sexual favors’

5.  Finish all your sentences with, ‘in accordance with the prophecy’

6.  As often as possible, skip rather than walk.  Hum the Smurfs theme song. 



7.  Ask people what sex they are.  Laugh hysterically after they answer

8.  Specify that your drive-through order is ‘to go’.  More than once.  Make sure they get it. 



9.  Sing along at the opera



10.  Five days in advance, tell your friends you can’t attend their party because you’re not in the mood


11.  When the money comes out of the ATM, scream ‘I won!  I won!’. 


12.  Have your coworkers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Hard

13.  Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks.  Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to Espresso. 



Any more ideas? 

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Running the Numbers

Chris Jordan’s photography is about representing quantities that might not have an effect otherwise. 

He says, “Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with an d make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper caups used every 15 minutes”. 

This series, called Running the Numbers, is about putting a picture around these dead statistics.  They are actually photographs made up of thousands of smaller photographs which also speaks to the role of the individual in society.  Some of these are massive, like the one of the building blocks at 16 x 32 feet. 

Who would have guessed that 426,000 cell phones in the US are thrown out every day?! 

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Northern Maine.  Aroostook Center Mall.  Thursday night.  Karaoke.  

Okay, so the ‘Northern Maine’ does shed a little light but there is still so much wrong with the picture, I don’t even want to get started.  Hubby saw a 17-year-old mumbler as he walked in and a well-over-70 woman singing something from the 50s on the way out. 

I know it’s cold out but jeeeez


To all the people that I drove behind this morning:  Did I miss the announcement for ‘Drive 10 Under’ day?!  Or is this really an impromptu holiday saved only for those days when I’m running late? 


Grammar lesson of the day:  Think of exclamation points as punctuation for special occasions. 

Examples of improper use

I am going grocery shopping tonight!!!!  or I’m making liver and onions for supper!!!!

One exclamation point will suffice in nearly every situation (an earth-bound asteroid or a lava flow heading your way might be an exception) and this includes internet “chatting” and e-mails.  At the very least, the multiple-point move should be used sparingly… not in every sentence

Using four to tell me you’re getting your hair done or that you bought a new shirt just makes me want to smack you.  With a dictionary.  One of those really big hardcover ones that would really hurt. 

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 The winters today are much different than those when I was a kid.  That wasn’t all that long ago but I suppose the fact that I notice a difference over as little as 20 years says something

There was never a video game system at my house.  We had a computer, a Commodore 64, that had Pacman and Centipede cartridges that plugged into the back of the keyboard.  Cable television didn’t reach to our house.  Although satellite did, my parents didn’t care to spend the money on it; our four “country cable” stations were sufficient. 

So we spent a fair amount of time outside.  Days like today … just back from snowshoeing, driving along roads with snowbanks 10 feet tall, pushing aside branches encrusted in ice from the freezing rain a few days ago … all of those things and the 20-25 cm expected for tonight, make me reminisce about what kept us busy as children. 

My parents always had a large deck on the back of the house.  It seemed every year there would be a big storm that would put down a foot or two of snow that would have to be shovelled off of the deck, for fear that the weight of it would cause the deck to collapse.  This, of course, meant there were large piles of snow all around the deck.  My sister and I would climb to the top of the deck’s railing and jump into the piles.  Head first, belly flop, cannon ball … all the standard manoeuvers applied.  It kept us busy for hours. 

You don’t know exhilaration until you’ve got a few handfuls of snow down the back of your neck as the result of a double flip into a snowbank. 

There was always a big swing in our backyard.  Not one of those mickey mouse swing sets that came from Sears in a do-it-yourself kit.  No, my dad built his own using steel and a welder.  There were just two swings and that was fine; we didn’t need those extra frills that distracted the weaker-minded kids.  That swing set was rough and utilitarian and bitchin’ in its orange homemade glory. 

When there was enough snow, my sister and I would swing as high as we could and jump off into the snow.  But regular jumps just wouldn’t do.  While we jumped we yelled the slogan of a popular series of commercials from a popular car maker… “I love what you do for me…” and while we were in mid-air, “TOYOTA!”. 

Here’s a reminder if you don’t remember those ads from the 80s.  Or the 80s.  Or maybe you choose to block them out.  In any case…

Wow.  We were easy back then, weren’t we? 

Another favorite pasttime was to dig tunnels.  The snow had to be deep enough and there had to be a bit of a crust on it so you could dig out mazes of tunnels.  Great fun.  Quite dangerous though, if you think about it from an adult perspective.  Sometimes we would make these tunnels under 3 feet of snow… If there was a big enough cave-in (and there were cave-ins) a kid might be smothered.  The kids with really special parents would dig out tunnels at the end of their driveway where the snowplow could reach them.  Mmm.  I smell a Parent of the Year award! 

Of course there was also the regular sliding, skiing, skating, and whatnot that is associated with winter but these are what I think of when I think of the types of storms we used to have, the amount of snow we used to get.  Other stories of snow hijinx will follow in later posts, I’m sure, but for now I will end this post with a memory that reminds me as much about playing in the snow as a 6-foot snow bank.  

We would play outside for hours as kids and come inside, soaking wet and ravenous.  We would strip off our snow suits to the belly-warming smell of potatoes cooking in hot grease.  My father is by no means a chef but if there was ever one “dish” to call his, it would be homemade french fries. Cutting, frying, and salting those homemade french fries was his thing; they were his dish, his deal, and there was no messing with it.  Oh man, were they ever a treat!  I have not tasted a french fry like that anywhere and I suspect I never will find anything to compare. 

But then, maybe the difference is that it’s been a while since eating french fries with the sweat of a good sliding hill still on my back. 

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Hubby and I decided to not celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. 

Valentine’s Day is far too commercialized and just a big money-grab for Hallmark, Hershey, and FTD.  The pressure to get just the right something for your loved one has become so extreme it just takes all of the fun and romance right out of the holiday, doesn’t it? 

Instead of being yourself and doing something from the heart, you read every “Top 10 Valentine’s Day gifts” article that comes your way in the month of January, never mind that they are written by strangers that know nothing about you or your loved one. 

Instead of putting time into cooking a unique, personal meal you spend gobs of money to dress up in uncomfortable clothes and sit in a fancy restaurant with a room full of strangers.  Or you spend gobs of money on a big box of fancy, imported chocolates that she ooh-la-las over in front of you but complains about to her friends, saying, “Is he trying to make me fat?!  They’ll just go to my hips!”. 

While stuck on a closed, icy highway for two hours yesterday (that’s another story… the only reason I bring it up now is to stress that we had time on our hands), Hubby and I came up with a solution.  A new holiday! 

Celebrated on February 15th, this holiday has nothing to do with flowers. 

Chocolate and candy are not necessary but may be used to add a little special something, depending on your style and preference (and they are at a significant discount at Walmart today – bonus!). 

In many cases, events of the day will occur with someone you love and will come from the heart.  This is optional and, while it may increase the sentiment of the days activities, it is not a requirement.  Activities are usually held in pairs, but this is also a matter of style and preference. 

For safety reasons, I recommend not involving naked men with arrows named ‘cupid’.  Naked men named ‘cupid’, good… arrows, bad.  Usually. 

Clothing is optional. 

The day’s slogan is not “From the Heart” or “Be Mine” … it is “Don’t Get Hurt:  Use a Safe Word”.  Candy hearts will be available and will be customized with your safe word, not the usual ‘love you’ and ‘hugs and kisses’ sentiments of Valentine’s day. 

So without further ado (although I could go so many more places with this), I would like to wish you all a ….

Happy Freaky Lovin’ Day! 

I think it will catch on, don’t you?  


p.s.  Just try to profit off of this holiday, Walmart! 

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It’s Patrick!

I might eat something off of KFC’s menu if it were the last eating establishment on earth.  Maybe.  The potato salad is probably safe. 

But regardless of their menu, their marketing team is genius.  See the previous post for an example.  It makes me chuckle every time.  But perhaps the best example is this one.  When it first came out I scoured YouTube for it but couldn’t find it.  Today I have not only found the commercial but a super fab, long version that had me rolling on my cubicle floor. 

Another actor would not have nailed that routine like this guy does.  Frigging hilarious. 

This really good commercial (in my opinion) got Hubby and I talking about really bad commercials.  The one that we agreed on will be remembered by at least any Canadian, ages 18-40 (at least I think it aired on CBC, maybe I’m wrong).  I searched high and low for the video to this commercial but came up empty handed. 

It gives me hope … hope that the only remaining copies of it were destroyed beyond any possible recovery. 

I remember the first bit of the ad and can picture it too.  An elderly gentleman is seated in his living room, reading the paper.  His wife is in the room as well. 

The telephone rings … (Ha!  I think I heard all of Canada collectively groan)


Turns to wife:  “It’s Patrick!  He took out life insurance!  Good for you, son!  At my age it’s probably too late to take out life insurance…”

Son:  “Dad, the Millers are older than you and they just took out life insurance… “

Thank goodness an older, more forgetful me chose to push that memory aside to make room for more intelligent things.  A younger, more influential me had that ad committed to memory.  Not willingly, though… oh no. 

See, it wasn’t so much that the ad was bad.  Oh wait… yes.  Yes, it absolutely was.  The acting was frigging horrible and the script was even worse.  People still haven’t let go of the fact that we are expected to believe that Patrick not only greets his father but also tells him of his recent insurance purchase in the 0.483 seconds between when his father says, “Hello” and “It’s Patrick!”.  (This Hour Has 22 Minutes spoofed that aspect of the ad but I can’t find that video either). 

But it really had more to do with the frequency that tey played that ad!  It showed up in every bank of commercials from 1985 to 1998, sometimes twice!  Time of day?  Didn’t matter.  Saturday morning?  Didn’t matter.  3 am on a Tuesday?  Didn’t matter.  I guess they figured that at any given time of day there would be some chump sitting on the couch, munching on Doritos, and in need of life insurance badly enough that they would pick up the phone and call in response to this terrible ad. 

Okay, I exaggerate but not by as much as you think.  (Back me up here, people… )

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It really is …

 … the small things, isn’t it? 

This commercial makes me giggle every time.  It’s such simple marketing but the guy is so natural in the role that my tongue burns when I see it. 

But the funniest part?  Every time it comes on, my dogs’ heads turn and their tails wag.  Hilarious.  (Like I said… it’s the small things)


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Today is my birthday. 

This draws a line in the sand.  Just on top of that line, the words “365 days until you’re 30” are written.  In bold.  And italics.  And in that wierd Jokerman font.  It’s laughing at me.  I hate that font. 

Naaah… the thought of 30 really doesn’t bother me much.  Maybe I’ll feel differently as the year progresses but right now I expect it to be just like any other year.  I hope to be healthier and happier than I have ever been before so why dread that? 

On that train of thought… here are a couple of updates. 

Some of you will remember Operation Cuba Bound, formerly known as the less successful Operation Muffin Top. 



Can someone pleeeease tell me when wearing your pants three sizes too small became fashionable?  Better yet, can you tell me who made it fashionable?  Who are they all copycatting?  Who finds that attractive?  I can guarantee that girl is not bending over and even if she does manage it … well, I’m sure we have all seen our fair share of butt crack since this fad began so I don’t need to come up with clever words to make you conjure up an image. 

Sorry, I digress.

I have purposefully avoided updating until my first Operation Cuba Bound goal was reached.  The goal, set one month ago, was to lose 10 pounds by my birthday and I’m happy to say that I made it!  I’ve lost 11 pounds in fact! 

Yay for me!  I feel leaner and slimmer.  This morning I cinched my belt not one, but two notches extra.  I’ve been following an exercise routine that is making me feel stronger every day.  Hell, I’m starting to see muscles!  

Aside:  I know, I know … a few of you will think, “well good for you” in a bite-my-ass sort of way.  I get it.  I do.  But it’s my birthday so… well, too bad.  (Seriously though, I’ll write more about my recent weight loss/maintenance epiphany later in the week.  You, especially, are going to love this.  Trust me on this.)

My ‘Through the Haze’ update:  this past Sunday night at about 10:30 pm (that’s 9:30 pm EST, for my American friends) marked 3 months without a cigarette.  Sans nicotine. 


Thank you, thank you.  I would like to thank Hubby, the makers of Champix, Lifesavers, Sweet Tarts, and most of all the baby Jesus …er… sorry, got a little carried away there! 

And on a funny note… remember me saying that I was not a fan of public speaking?  That event was postponed so I can breath easy for another month or so.  But just a few nights ago I had a dream that I was at that particular event.  The MC introduced me and I walked into a room of people before realizing … wait for it … that I was topless!  I looked at the MC and, without any urgency or surprise or embarassment, said, “Well gee, I should probably go put a top on before doing this”. 

And so I did. 

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me …

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The Symphony


I have the best husband. 

I know, I know … almost everyone says that about their husband. 

But they would be wrong. 

For my birthday, Brian picked me up after work on Tuesday and whisked me off to Fredericton.  We ate dinner at The Palate, a lovely restaurant on Queen street.  A quick scan of their website will assure you that nothing on the menu begins with “Mc”.  We do have a little class, after all. 

You can read about our menu choices at my food blog, here. 

After dinner and a little wine, we headed to the Fredericton Playhouse to see the New Brunswick Symphony perform An Evening With Beethoven.  Heaven!  The NB symphony is mostly strings and wind instruments, with a few horns tucked in the back.  They performed three of Beethoven’s earlier works, ones that most people wouldn’t recognize, and a piece by Canadian composer Mark Miller. 

The highlight of the show for me was the concerto with piano soloist Anne-Marie Dubois.  I have always thought that it would be incredible to play with an orchestra, accompanied by that big sound and watching this performance did not change that.  I watched her and could imagine myself on stage, playing in her place… only nowhere near as well.  She played with technical brilliance and with emotion that showed itself in every motion and facial expression.  I probably would have pulled something. 

This is my second time to a show of this type; the first was the Montreal Orchestra a few years ago while I was in the city on training.  I nearly didn’t go because I was in the city by myself but I bought a ticket last minute and ended up in the front row.  They performed Vivaldi and the soloist was a violinist and I was so blown away, it moved me to tears. 

I commented to Hubby afterward that I must be amusing to look at from the stage, wide-eyed and mouth agape.  It’s like watching a tennis match, eyes moving from the violins to the violas to the bassoon.  I smile and laugh at the exaggerated movements of the conductor.  I imagine I look like a big kid but I really can’t help it. 

Music moves me, especially when it’s thirty strings a few feet away.  I watch the musicians, working together and feeling the music and that to be a part of something so beautiful, so professional and to create something that sounds so big … to be able to move so many people by just doing your job… it must feel amazing.  A dozen violins coming together to create one voice… that voice being joined by several other voices, all of them intertwining and harmonizing and playing off of each other… all coming together to create one “conversation” … well, I think that must be what perfection sounds like. 


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