Monday, February 20, 2006

Very cool to watch ....

... The Canadian women's hockey team getting their Olympic gold medals. So many of them bursting into tears upon receiving their medals. Way to go, ladies!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Great sign

It's almost certainly a doctored picture, which is too bad.

Less intense?

This week, in the interest of peak dental hygiene, I bought a bottle of mouthwash. This particular flavour has been marketed as "less intense".

Less intense than what? Than someone dropping a hair dryer in your bathtub? Than a Brazilian wax? Than treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Please - inquiring minds would like to know!

Shopping soundtracks

In the past week, I’ve heard a song from the 70s by Christopher Cross in THREE different stores. I now consider myself advised that if I ever get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that I can do is to fall in love. (whatever that means) Now please play another song!!!!

Great posting on teaching

Natalia takes my breath away sometimes!

W orld's Shortest Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy "Will you marry me?"
The guy said, "NO!"
And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, dancing, camping, drank martinis, always had a clean house, never had to cook and farted whenever she wanted.


I love this one. Many thanks to my friend Aviva for passing it on. :)

The Great Plumbing Adventure

Lately I’ve noticed that my bathroom sink wasn’t draining very efficiently.

Being a proactive person, I decided I should do something about it today (even though I've been feeling slightly under the weather) rather than wait until it was completely blocked.

Also being a person who prefers to hug trees whenever possible, I decided I would try natural/environmentally-friendly solutions first.

So I looked on the Internet. First came the suggestions of pouring a lot of baking soda down the sink with a chaser of vinegar. I studied chemistry in university, so I know that there’s going to be a lot of bubbling and hydrogen gas formation, which happened. But the drain didn’t work any better. The same websites indicated that it might take a couple of tries for the soda/vinegar action to unclog the drain, so I tried it again. More baking soda, more vinegar, more bubbling and fizzing. Not much more happened except that a little bit of detritus – or “drain muck” rose from the plumbing to swirl around in the bowl of the sink. Hmmm. Sink isn’t draining very well at all now. Time to get out the plunger.

A minute or so of plunger action, and now the bottom of the sink is coated with drain muck. Who knew there was all that crap down there? Well, I guess I knew it was down there (I didn't think these clogs were the same clogs as dancing shoes, obviously), but I did not expect it to come rushing into daylight in order to defend itself and its drain-bound colony!!! And wouldn’t you know it, the sink now won’t drain at all!


I’m still a tree-hugger at this point, and the Internet is still my friend. So I look up a product I’ve seen commercials for – it’s a can of compressed gas that you just apply to the drain, release the gas into the clog, and Presto! Your clog is pressurized away. I googled the Next Great Plumbing Hope (no, not its real name) and found some glowing testimonials (to which I will not link as they involve stories about massive poops, and I'd like to think this blog has just a little more class!), then I called my local hardware store to verify that they carried this apparent miracle in a can (hereafter called NGPH).

I forced myself out into the wintry day and to the hardware store. Once there, I engaged one of the sales clerks in a debate over which product I should use. The only concern I had about the NGPH was that the tap was right over the drain, and I wasn’t sure I could get a proper seal on the drain before the gas was released into it. But since my only other apparent option was highly-corrosive chemicals, I decided to try it anyway. (Sales guy was not about to argue with me, as NGPH is twice as expensive as the chemicals.) So, after grabbing a few groceries, including a chocolate croissant to treat myself for dealing with the stupid plumbing situation, I arrived home with my purchases.

I decided I would leave my coat and scarf on while I tried out the NGPH, just in case it didn’t work and I had to go back to the store for the chemicals. By this time there is a toxic soup of water, sink muck, and vinegar in the sink. Undaunted, I pressed the NGPH to the drain and tried to figure out how to release the compressed gas. I fumbled around for a minute, and then PUHSHWOOSH!!! There was sink soup everywhere!!!! (Yup, getting a proper seal on the drain IS a real bitch!) My winter coat, my scarf (which thankfully was covering my hair), my shoes, my jeans, the mirror, the toilet seat behind me, the floor, the vanity around the sink were all covered in dirty water!


(Hmmm ... maybe massive poops and this blog have more in common than I'd like!)

Suddenly the environment just seemed less trouble than it’s worth. I’d done my part, I’d tried my hardest, and I’d just remembered that I had a half-used bottle of corrosive drain medicine in my utility closet. Woo-hoo!!!!!

Now the drain is cleared, the bathroom has been scrubbed from top to bottom, and my winter coat, scarf, and jeans are in the laundry. There must have been traces of the magic chemicals still left in the sink because when I cleaned it, the tips of my rubber gloves melted. I've opened a window to ensure that the fumes don't do the same thing to my lungs. Oh yes, and the chocolate croissant is history.

And that, my friends, is the Great Plumbing Adventure.



Sunday, February 12, 2006

Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King

If you haven't heard poet Maya Angelou's powerful eulogy for her friend Coretta Scott King, click here. It is inspiring.

The Wedding Dress

Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement -- not even her parents' nasty divorce. Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear and would be the best dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!

A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new young wife had bought the exact same dress! Jennifer asked her to exchange it, but she refused. "Absolutely not. I look like a million bucks in this dress, and I'm wearing it," she replied.

Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, "Never mind sweetheart. I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day."

A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress. When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, "Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it."

Her mother just smiled and replied, "Of course I do, dear. I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding!"


- Thanks to my fellow blogger Linda for this cute story!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Some cool video clips

Here are a couple of links to some great George Strombolopoulos/"The Hour" moments:

George on "Pope Benedict's Sex Tips"
George re. his mother's birthday
"This Hour Has 22 Minutes" makes fun of George - very funny

Okay, I confess: I've got a little crush going on here - but can you blame me????



Fire hazard

Thanks to Aviva for the chuckle.


Context for the cartoon protests

You may have caught this article in the Globe and Mail this past week. It really helped me to understand when I realized that there is more than just one cartoon (and they're all TERRIBLY offensive) that Muslims are reacting to:

Ahmed Akkari, a young Islamic scholar and Danish activist, was on a mission. Having failed to get the Prime Minister to take action over the cartoons' perceived slight to Islam, he had sought help from esteemed figures in the Muslim world, he says.

Over the next few weeks, he would hand copies of his green booklet to the grand mufti of Egypt, the chief cleric of the Sunni faith, leaders of the Arab League, the top official of the Lebanese Christian church and others.

They stared in amazement at the images in the book, he remembered during a lengthy interview yesterday, and vowed to take action to help him.

"They said to me, 'Do they really say this is the Prophet Mohammed? They must really have no respect for religion up there in Denmark.' And they said they would make it known."

Mr. Akkari now finds himself regretting the results of his brief journey, the somewhat distorted message of which flashed around the Muslim world by Internet, newspaper and text message, and caused millions of Muslims to believe that Denmark and the Nordic countries had become home to blasphemies.

While the Koran does not forbid depictions of Mohammed, the prohibition stems from concerns the Prophet expressed that even well-intentioned images could lead to idolatry or show disrespect for Islam's founder.


For his booklet contained not only the 12 depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that had appeared in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September. He also filled it with hideous, amateur images of the Prophet as a pig, a dog, a woman and a child-sodomizing madman.

Flipping through the book yesterday, he explained that these images had been items of hate mail sent to his colleagues by right-wing extremists who disapproved of their activism. These images, he insistently demonstrated, were separated from the newspaper cartoons by several pages of letters. "How could anyone mistake these for the newspaper images?" he asked. "It cannot be that anyone would make this mistake."

But protesters in Lebanon and elsewhere have cited these images in their actions. So have the organizers of a worldwide boycott campaign against Danish products, which is costing the country's economy.

Hey, I do not condone violence, and naturally those who have been violent or destructive to people/things have also damaged their own cause. BUT for those people who sputter at you that Islam is a religion of violence, here's some evidence you can dispassionately share with them to show them otherwise:

1. The Christian Crusades, where European Christians decided they would take over Palestine from the Muslims:
Some of our men cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.
2. The Holocaust

3. The Troubles
The Troubles refers to the period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland beginning with the Civil Rights marches in the late 1960s to the political resolution enshrined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. During that time more than 3,000 people were killed, most of them civilians.
4. There are at least 700 million Muslims around the world. If their religion was one of violence, don't you think we would have seen a little more damage done by the protests about the cartoons?

5. Think about all the stupid controversy the past few years about whether there was a "war on Christmas". (I say "stupid" because there were holidays, feasts, and celebrations around this time of year long before anyone decided it would be Jesus' birthday.) Could you imagine the outcry, the protests, the way some stupid people would behave if someone went around to churches all over the southern U.S. (and Lethbridge, Alberta) with books containing cartoons of Jesus as a child-sodomizing madman?

Let's get a grip, people. What we have in common as human beings is far greater than religion.


Monday, February 06, 2006

The distributed power model

Interesting (though not very well-written) column on the benefits of a distributed/decentralized energy-generation system (vs. a centralized system like nuclear). It also mentions that Germany is decommissioning their nuclear power plants!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I’m not a big fan of sexual innuendo. I’m not a prude (far from it!). I know that sex is inherently funny, and everyone thinks of sex. Even Shakespeare used sexual innuendo in his plays (notably in the tragedies, for comic relief).

It’s just that I usually find it boring. Often, it’s lazy, it’s monotonous, it requires no effort. It relies on the shock of broaching a taboo subject rather than being genuinely witty or funny. And I hate it someone keeps injecting innuendo when you're just trying to have a simple discussion.

But sometimes – say in a professional environment like a project meeting in a room full of managers – someone might innocently say something like “The Systems Engineering Team has been getting busy with the back end,” and you have to avert your gaze from your director, who is also trying desperately not to giggle. And it’s simply silly and funny and a moment to be enjoyed.

I dream in kittens

In general, I try very hard not to talk or write about my cats. I ardently want to avoid the “cat lady” title. However, I have to share this little discovery: I dream in kittens.

My happy dreams (well, the ones I can remember, anyway) all seem to involve kittens. Finding kittens, playing with kittens, petting kittens, watching kittens, introducing a kitten to my household (which always plays out far more favourably in my dreams than it would in real life), my oh my what to do with all these kittens?

Themes of my life before turning 23 (or so) were mostly anxiety, loneliness, depression, confusion, and the wonders of living on a farm with a barnful of cats (with, from time to time, horses and dogs). Kittens being found in the bales of hay and straw, kittens being tamed, kittens providing hours and hours of entertainment, cuddles, and comfort. So it doesn’t surprise me that I still dream of them. I welcome these dreams, because they are always joyful.

Why not use the Comments to tell me and the rest of the online community about your happy dreams? (but spare me the boring sexual innuendo! lol)

Update on life and living with sleep apnea

Part I – Fallout from the First Time I Blogged About This

Sometimes being a blogger is interesting, because you never know what people will really respond to, or the type of response is not at all what you expected.

Back in September, I blogged about being diagnosed with sleep apnea, and the fact that I had found my energy levels were increasing with the use of a CPAP device. I even included a picture of myself wearing the super-sexy mask and hose. I had felt very strongly that I needed to blog about this matter because I knew of people (mostly thinking older male relatives) who almost certainly had sleep apnea and yet weren’t seeking treatment. I wanted to demystify the CPAP machine and mask in order to eliminate any hesitation that someone might feel in getting help.

I certainly expected the light teasing from some girlfriends and the Darth Vader jokes from my buddy Jim (I know you meant them in love, man!). But what I didn’t expect was that several women my age would tell me that they suspected that they also might have the same condition, and that they intended to discuss it with their doctors. Or an e-mail from a gentleman friend: “Don’t worry about your dating career. You’re still pretty darned sexy!” (Even if it was just kindness on his part, it was lovely and very much appreciated!)

It’s a balancing act between sharing and being confessional (telling your life story to everyone you meet). But sometimes allowing oneself to be vulnerable yields some positive results.

Part II – Update on the Apnea/Energy/Life Thing

Looking back, getting the CPAP device and an improved quality of sleep has yielded some significant changes in my life. Where to start?

Well, the first thing I noticed was that I had more energy. I started working out more. It’s taken time and hard work, but I’m definitely more fit than I was before (not fit, exactly, but more fit). I’ve lost 8 – 10 problem pounds (which is a lot for a frame like mine, also considering the problem weight was in a very specific area, and also that I have more muscle today). I will likely have to go on a wardrobe overhaul shopping spree in the next month or so. Assisted by the fact that I’ve significantly reduced the amount of cheese I’ve been eating, my cholesterol has decreased by 50% (my doctor gaped at me when she saw the results - “How did you do that???”).

Increased energy levels and life events conspired together to make me stop and think about my goals and priorities in life. This took several months and a lot of reading. Finally, just in time for New Year’s, I had seven goals for 2006 covering my health, my finances, my work, my social life, my approach to life, my involvement in my community, and, overall, my commitment to be disciplined and to pursue the other six goals. I tried to make the goals specific, measurable, etc., and thought about how I would meet them. They’re pretty ambitious, particularly altogether, but at least I have things to aim for. Sometimes some of the goals have to take a backseat to one of the other ones (e.g., work or finance), but I think over time I’ll be able to strike the best balance I can humanly achieve.

Believe it or not, I generally don’t like talking about myself or my thoughts about my world. (That’s what blogging is for!) But over the last few months, my thoughts have had a distinct inward direction (navel-gazing?), so you may not have heard a lot of from me lately. Fortunately, this phase is wrapping up. Thank goodness!

Believe it or not, I am apparently also an inch taller than I was before! (According to my last physical, anyway.) What can I say? I’m working out, I have more energy, my job and my relationships continue to give me more confidence. Maybe the doctor’s measurements are wrong (but I made her check it twice! And wouldn’t other people have told her if the ruler was mounted on the wall improperly?), maybe I am holding myself differently these days. Who knows?

I still have days in which I’m dog-tired. But I’m doing more, achieving more, and starting to live more. And I never sleep without my CPAP!

Thoughts on the Crow/Armstrong breakup

Today when I read that rocker Sheryl Crow and cyclist Lance Armstrong have broken off their engagement, I was saddened but not so very surprised.

I read Armstrong’s first book, Its Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life, a few months ago (I highly recommend it!), and I have to say the thought occurred to me a few times that he would be a very difficult person to live with. He’s a great guy with integrity (and one of the most gorgeous men I have ever seen!!!), but I came to the conclusion that he’s fueled by anger, and is pretty stubborn to boot. Good qualities for racing the Tour de France, or battling cancer. Perhaps not so good when he’s retired from competition and your fiancĂ©. Hey, just my perception – and I’m still a fan. This photo has been on my desktop for months:

But Crow and Armstrong had seemed to be very happy together, and in particular I’d been very happy for her. Crow has had her share of disappointments romantically, but she seemed to have found someone who inspired her and made her happy. I watched an interview with the two of them shortly after announcing their engagement, and I remember saying something to the effect that she had always hoped to be in a relationship that was “elevating and supportive” and that she had finally found it. I could relate to her in terms of what she had been looking for, and was really happy for her (after all, someone who has produced some really great albums* and provided a soundtrack for significant sections of one’s life deserves to be happy!).

Ah well, both of them are survivors - I know they'll both be all right.

* Great albums include Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions, and, to a lesser degree, Wildflower. C’mon C’mon was the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard; Crow's voice had a particularly grating whining tone - surely they could have mixed the sound better?

More on Ontario's energy choices

The Ontario Government has just announced extended consultations on the province's electricity options. They are in 12 different cities on Feb. 13th, 15th, and 17th. Check out the schedule here and if you have the time/ability, be sure to show up to show your interest and voice your concerns. This affects ALL of us!!!

Life is what you make of it

One man's inspiring story - click here for the video.

Modern advancements

Fellow blogger Linda forwarded me this e-mail (written by some unknown guy about my age), and it made me laugh. So I'm sharing:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... uphill BOTH ways .. yadda, yadda, yadda...

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email! We had to actually write somebody a letter ... with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were no MP3's or Napsters! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

And talk of about hardship? You couldn't just download porn! You had to steal it from your brother or bribe some homeless dude to buy you a copy of "Hustler" at the 7-11! Those were your options!

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! ! ;We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "asteroids" and the graphics sucked ass! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! .. Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed!

Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up . we had to use the stove or go build a frigging fire ... imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006