Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This past Christmas, I sent my dear, dear friend Wendy in New Zealand a book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex (2nd edition). Knowing the effervescent Wendy, whose sensibilities tend toward prudish, I was sure she'd find it both scandalous and hilarious.

Today I got a thank you card, which reads, in part:

... it [the book] has been brought out several times when people are over for dinner; you are famous among my friends as "the one" who sent the tantric sex book!
I'm "the one"!!!

Of course, now I'm terribly curious as to what kinds of dinner parties they have in New Zealand, with this book being in attendance for so many of them! Though perhaps my curiosity regarding the Kiwi lifestyle was reinforced by this line of her letter:
Fortunately I dash to Emma the hair dresser every 6 weeks for a colour, whingeing and snorting.
Pretty matter-of-fact approach to cocaine use, don't you think? ;->

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now THAT'S relaxed

Laugh out loud funny!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More acts of kindness

From the Toronto Star:

About a year ago, I was taking my elderly mother home at about 5 p.m. from the lawyer’s office after dealing with my father's will. Understandably, we were a bit sad and I didn't notice that when I had parked the car, I had run over a small roll of hard wire that promptly got entangled in the wheel well. The grinding sound it made while I was driving scared us both, so I tried to untangle it myself. The wire was so hard and tight around the wheel that I feared that the brakes would be compromised.

My mother remembered there was a small mechanic's shop nearby (on Dundas west of Dovercourt). Although I expected it to be closed for the night, we carefully drove over to see. Thankfully, there was still someone in the office, and when I explained my problem, he promptly jacked up the car to see. Realizing the danger we were in, he used his tools to safely remove the wire.

Perhaps he saw the anxiety we were feeling, or maybe he was just an angel in disguise, but he refused payment for his services! Just asking us to come back when we "really" needed him.

In my state of mind, I forgot to get his name, but if you're reading this, know that we were grateful beyond belief. May God bless you!
Fatima Steels, Toronto

Last weekend we parked the car on Charles St E. in Toronto to see a show. Upon our return, we saw a parking enforcement officer having a rather animated conversation with the driver of the car parked behind us.

To our dismay we noticed there was something on the windshield and resigned ourselves to the fact that we had also received a parking ticket. I removed the ticket and noticed that in fact it was a receipt from a restaurant in the Halifax airport. I presumed someone was playing a prank so I got into the car and gave the receipt to my beloved.

There was a note scribbled at the back which said “your wallet is under your front tire.” I got out and saw a small package neatly away under my front tire. I then surmised that my wallet must have fallen out of my pocket when I exited the car. This person not only returned my wallet, but took the time to wrap it in a plastic bag and ensure that it was well hidden. My sincere thanks to that thoughtful Good Samaritan.
Tony Seebalack, Toronto

As a young mother, I often have to juggle a million things at once. I was getting cash out of an ATM one evening, when my cell phone rang. I answered it and inadvertently walked away without retrieving my bank card or cash. When I realized the loss hours later, I returned to the ATM, but the items were gone.

However, someone had left a note to call them. I called, and a young woman answered saying she had my card and money.

Apparently, after I had left, a homeless man had entered the ATM booth to hide from the cold. Not knowing what to do with the money and card, he handed it to the young woman who was also an ATM user. I offered the Good Samaritan a reward but she turned it down.

And now whenever I see a homeless person, I contribute a coffee or snack. That evening, two people chose honesty. And now, I choose to see people as kind and good.
Mary Jane Loven, Toronto

My husband and I went to Niagara Falls one weekend to get away.

We went to an expensive restaurant and decided we would splurge. I noticed a man on the upper level by himself staring at us. I didn't think much of it. We ordered our meal along with some wine.

A few minutes later a different waiter came to our table and told us that the older gentleman had purchased our wine because we reminded him of himself and his wife. He told the waiter not to tell us until he had left his table.

This gentleman made our night and the rest of our trip.
Maria Ricitano, Toronto

We were traveling in beautiful Nova Scotia and were impressed not only by the scenery but the wonderful friendly people there.

One Sunday, the car was a bit low on gas but we didn't worry - we'd top up at the next station. But we soon discovered that open gas stations can be few and far between on coastal roads. Eventually we ran out of gas right next to a marina.

Hoping they might sell some gas my husband walked in. Twenty minutes later he was back with gas and a fisherman. There was no gas for sale but the kind gentleman took Bruce out to his boat in a dingy and siphoned enough gas out to get us to the next town where we finally found a open gas station.

This was one of many small kindnesses that came our way on that trip. Thanks so much to the kind folk of the east coast.
Sharon Quarrington, Campbellville

During my youth in Toronto, I worked as a takeout delivery driver. One particularly busy evening, I lost my money pouch. However, a note was left at a restaurant written with a little kid's handwriting indicating my pouch was found.

I went to retrieve it at a run down apartment. The girl who answered the door invited me in and returned the pouch, with all the money. I wanted to leave a reward but her parents refused. It was obvious they needed the money. When I asked them why they wouldn't accept a reward, they answered that if they ever lost money, they would hope someone would do the same.
David Stinmple, Arthur

Many years ago, I joined the workforce straight from university.

I started as a front line social worker with Toronto Childrens Aid Society. However, my first week was very taxing. My files were overwhelming, and I found the work to be draining.

After a few weeks, I typed up my resignation letter, but before handing it in, I wanted to make one last visit to a young boy who was placed with a new foster home. He was a broken soul, but always smiled.

Before leaving him, he gave me a paper frog he had made. Marvin said that frogs only moved forward. I thanked him for his gift, and scrunched up my resignation letter. He gave me the confidence to move forward as well. Recently, I retold that story at my retirement party, after 36 years as a social worker.
Jared Navid, Scarborough

Fascinating ...

Does acupuncture really work? In the summer of 2000, Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital opened an acupuncture clinic in its Wasser Pain Management Centre to treat patients suffering from chronic pain. Acupuncturist Adam Chen, who helped launch the clinic, recalls that many doctors were sceptical at first. "The treatments helped reduce the patients' use of medications, like morphine and codeine," he says. "The positive results changed quite a few doctors' minds."

Today, doctors at or affiliated with Mount Sinai routinely refer patients to the clinic for a wide variety of pain-related conditions: whiplash and other car-accident injuries, back problems, post-oper ative pain, migraine headaches, arthritic pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, neuralgia and fibromyalgia. The treatments are delivered by certified staff and senior students from the acupuncture program at Toronto's Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences, a partner in the clinic. "We treat people for pain from head to toe. Patients come to us after other modalities don't work - drugs, physical therapy and occupational therapy. About 60 to 70 percent of our patients have an effective response to acupuncture," explains acupuncturist James Fu, who teaches at Michener.

More here.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by Rob Millenaar.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Total randomness

Sunlight falling on freshly-leaved trees is delightful.

Why does a teenager in Ontario have to wait until age 19 to drink legally, but can wear cologne or aftershave without age restrictions? Because some of these kids seriously don't know how to apply the stuff in lower than noxious levels. It's seriously dangerous to innocent passers-by.

Just two or three days ago, for no apparent reason, I was thinking of friends from my university days, Doug and Loralie, now married and living in Alberta, and I was wishing that their Facebook accounts had better pictures of their three kids, just so I could see what they looked like and who they resembled. Just idle curiosity + love, ya know? And this morning, I saw that Loralie had just posted some lovely photos of her family. Coincidence or serendipity?

Will Hillary Clinton please just go away now? Just. Go. Away. I used to admire your resilience, but now you're like the incessant and charmless salesman who will not let go. John Cole (via Mahablog) says it better:

Hillary’s campaign now seems to boil down to her playing the role of Lucy, with little more than catcalls that Obama “can not close the deal.” “Sure,” she seems to say, “he has kicked my ass in every measurable metric this campaign, but why, oh why can he just not finish me off? Clearly that means you should make me the nominee.”

Regardless, Hillary’s vanity campaign will continue on, trailing in delegates, trailing in the popular vote, trailing in enthusiasm and money, but not lacking in the firm resolve that only Hillary can save us all from our selves. I can not tell you how much I am looking forward to more Clintonian triangulation and McCain worship and plans to nuke Iran over the next two weeks as we wait for the super-delegates and the voters of North Carolina and Indiana to break out the wreath of garlic and wooden stakes so we can finally be rid of this menace.

Finally, tomorrow is Friday. Hurray for weekends!!!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not Sayin' Much

Dear friends and Internet vagabonds,

I know I've been posting regularly but not actually writing a lot. Things are going well here, just busy with regular stuff (trying to get back to the gym regularly, etc.). By the time blogging time comes around each night lately, I just don't trust myself to put a coherent paragraph together. And that's not because I'm drinking Vitaly's beer, although I truly am enjoying the Heineken he left in my fridge after one of my parties. :)

I'm also studying for my next Touch for Health course the weekend after this one. I've been memorizing the pathways of the Chinese meridians, which actually isn't nearly as difficult as I'd expected it to be. I don't know if I'm just more open to it these days or something, but it seems that every day someone tells me about some form of natural medicine (naturopathy, acupuncture, special breathing techniques, homeopathy, Cowen technique, etc.) that has dramatically helped them in a way that conventional medicine failed to do. It's pretty cool ...

That's all for tonight, but if I owe you an e-mail (and goodness knows there are a multitude of you out there), please don't be offended ... you are in very good company. :)

I am so hopeful that this man will be the next President of the United States

Total class act.

Important (and inspiring) Avaaz e-mail re. Zimbabwe

Dear friends,

Trade unionists, church groups, and legal organisations across South Africa are joining to block arms shipments to Zimbabwe. Help show their leaders that the world stands with them--sign the petition now:


In ten days, 155,000 people worldwide signed an Avaaz petition urging South Africa's Thabo Mbeki to press for democracy in Zimbabwe--and then flew a massive banner over the United Nations headquarters. The flight grabbed the attention of world media, from South African radio, newspapers, and TV to CNN and the BBC... and the next day, South Africa shifted its position.

Click here to see coverage, and take the next step!

Even as the Zimbabwe crisis worsens, an extraordinary solidarity movement has taken hold across Southern Africa--sparked by a South African dock workers' union that refused to unload a Chinese shipment of Zimbabwe-bound weapons.[1]

Their refusal to facilitate Zimbabwe's crackdown has ignited a wildfire that is spreading across the continent. Now, as pressure builds, China is publicly wavering--and might decide to bring the arms home.[2] Click below to sign a petition to keep arms away from Zimbabwe. The petition will be launched at a press conference in Johannesburg before the end of this week, and used to lobby key leaders until the crisis ends. Join the call now:

Three weeks on, the results of the March 29 elections have still not been released, and Zimbabwe's crisis is getting worse. Mugabe's government has unleashed a brutal campaign to retain power. The opposition says that ten have died, and hundreds have been injured; now, a "human wave" of refugees is fleeing to South Africa and other neighbouring countries.[3]

But even as the political emergency deepens, an African-led upswell of resistance has begun to turn the tide. In the last ten days:
  • More than 150,000 Avaaz members worldwide signed the petition for democracy in Zimbabwe, including citizens of 53 of Africa's 54 countries. The goal: prod South Africa's president Mbeki to pressure Mugabe. To make sure the message got through, Avaaz hired a small plane to fly a 280 square metre (3000 sq ft) banner over the United Nations.[4] The next day, amidst pressure from other governments and worldwide media coverage of the Avaaz stunt, South Africa finally shifted its position on Zimbabwe.[5]
  • Last week, a Chinese ship carrying 77 tonnes of Zimbabwe-bound weapons and ammunition docked in Durban, South Africa--but, refusing to aid Mugabe's crackdown, the dockworkers refused to unload it. Unions, churches, and legal groups throughout Southern Africa quickly mobilized; the ship was forced to leave the harbour, and other ports in the region are vowing to block the weapons as well.[6]
  • As the grassroots outcry has grown, political officials have begun to press their case. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa urged other African leaders not to allow the weapons to reach Zimbabwe.[7] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former UNSG Kofi Annan have called for democracy. And more and more other leaders in Africa and worldwide are joining in.
The Chinese arms ship is now sailing up the Western coast of Africa. Union officials tell Avaaz that it could stop in Namibia to refuel, but is probably headed towards Angola.[8] Time is short. A strong international outcry now can help support the groups in both countries--dockworkers, NGOs, and church leaders--who are working to block the weapons and support Zimbabwean human rights.

There is more at stake here than the weapons in this ship. Together, we can build a consensus that Zimbabwe should not be sold ANY weapons in this time of crisis--and in the longer term, we can build momentum for a strong international Arms Trade Treaty[9]. Moreover, stopping the flow of weapons provides a concrete, immediate step that leaders in the region can take on Zimbabwe--paving the way for stronger actions in coming days and weeks.

Add your name to the petition, and then send this link to friends and family:

The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. But because of people power--the courage of ordinary workers and community members, standing on principle--the political currents are shifting, and hope is emerging for change. And in the global media, a new strain can be heard amidst the grinding stories of brutality and chaos.

This crisis has many layers, and raises issues that range from the legacy of colonialism to the uncontrolled international arms trade. At the heart of it is the simple idea that every human life is equally precious, and that every person has rights. The people of Zimbabwe took their stand in the voting booth. The dockworkers of South Africa took their stand at the harbour. Now, even if we can only offer a click, it is time to do our part as well.

With hope,

Ben, Ricken, Graziela, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, and Veronique--the team

  1. Business Day: "South Africa: Unions Bid to Halt Zimbabwe Arms Ship."
  2. New York Times: "China Says Shipment of Arms for Zimbabwe May Turn Back."
  3. New York Times: "Human Wave Flees Violence in Zimbabwe."
  4. SW Radio Africa: "Mbeki put under pressure at the UN over Zimbabwe"
  5. Globe and Mail: "South African leader forced to speak up after long keeping quiet on Mugabe."
  6. Associated Press: "Zimbabwe's neighbors unite to block arms shipment"
  7. Reuters: "Zambia asks African states to bar Chinese ship"
  8. Ibid.
  9. See

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Truly jaw-dropping video

I may never step into an elevator without my cell phone again. Here's the associated article in the New Yorker.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Japanese bicycle tower

This is pretty cool:

I've never been a big fan of the Matrix movies (I only saw the first one, years ago, and barely paid attention because I found it strangely boring for something that generated so much excitement in so many people), but there's something about this bicycle tower that makes me think of that movie.

Catching up

Friends and Internet vagabonds, it's been a really busy day doing totally mundane things, but my mental outlook is SOOOO much better for it! I really wish my mental health were not so tightly conjoined with the cleanliness of my apartment and the fullness of my freezer, but ...

Now I am utterly pooped. More tomorrow, I promise. Hopefully something less boring to anyone else but me. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You might find this interesting

If you follow American politics at all ... This Catholic priest sure did a great job dealing with this piss-ant reporter:

Discovery Channel: I Love the World

Friday, April 18, 2008

Awesome ...

Especially if you have a dry sense of humour like I do!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A mystery

First, friends and Internet vagabonds, let me thank you so much for your words of support, commiseration, and empathy in response to last night's post. SO much appreciated, very truly.

Tonight, a mystery of the universe to share with you:

The frizzy comb-over, held in place by one's glasses. Picture the nastiest, frizziest, most unkempt hair, gray, not quite shoulder length, combed from a spot not far above the left ear all the way over to the right side of the head. Then imagine this person putting on his glasses, with the arm of his glasses securing this frizz in its unnatural place. I kid you not, there is someone in my neighbourhood who goes out in public like this. If I ever get over my numb-struck horror when I see him, I will try to whip out my camera-phone for a photo. Until then, you must take my word for it, and explain to me ... how is showing a bald spot worse than THIS????

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ouch that hurts

Do you ever feel there have been some days/weeks/months when you are continuously off balance, not quite able to catch your breath, never quite (or even remotely) able to get on top of things? This week in particular feels like that for me. I realize it's only Tuesday, but I feel my a$$ has already been handed to me on a plate. I have a HUGE list of things to do, and it seems to be inevitable that I'll be disappointing someone, especially myself. I HATE this feeling.

Nothing to do but tough things out and prioritize. And #1 thing now is to get enough sleep.

Good night, friends and Internet vagabonds. I'm sure tomorrow (or the day after, or at least after the next task-oriented weekend) will seem much better. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

I laughed tonight when I read this story at Too cute. (And her brother's name is Ranger??? And he was born before Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum was published???? Just thinking of that Ranger makes me feel warm and tingly ...)

Ahem. Back to the innocent story about children making mistakes with language. It reminds me of one of my favourite stories about my brother. We were really young (maybe 4 and 3 or something), and we all (my parents, my brother, and me) were riding in the family car somewhere. I was whining about wanting to see my cousins who lived in Wyoming. Joe, not to be outdone, began to whine, "When can we go to MY oming?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wistful for kittens

... that's what this video makes me feel. Soooooooo cute!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008


I got the results of some food allergy testing yesterday, and the results indicate that I'm highly allergic to flax seed (flax seed????) and cane sugar, which I suppose covers white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and every other permutation of sugar cane.

This totally sucks, as flax is quite prevalent today in many healthy foods, and sugar is EVERYWHERE, but (in the instance of the cane sugar) could be totally good for me in many other ways to eliminate it from my diet. I'm not actually aware of any reaction, but then again I have no idea how good I could possibly feel without cane sugar ...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Possibly the most important thing I learned today ...

I was in another First Aid course today. And our instructor started talking about what to do if you're alone and you start to choke (e.g., full airway obstruction).

As society changes, it seems that more and more of us live alone. To be honest, I don't have the wherewithal tonight to get into THAT discussion, but Bridget Jones' fears of dying alone and being eaten by Alsatians seems to me to be both hilarious and archetypical.

Anyway, getting back to the class ... our instructor discussed how unlikely throwing yourself against a chair or a countertop - or even performing abdominal thrusts to yourself with your own hands - is to work, considering they all require you to override your body's innate mechanisms of protecting itself (which makes sense, right?). So what did she suggest instead?

First, you have to assume that you have no more than 30 seconds before you will pass out, so you have to act fast. So:

1) Call 911 from your phone. Cell phones and VOIP phones, alas, don't count, as they don't currently provide details about your location. And if your airway if fully obstructed, you will not be able to even make a choking sound. But if you have a land line, by all means dial 911, then leave the phone off the hook so they will dispatch someone to help you. (If you don't have a land line, don't waste your precious time, I guess.)

2) Make it your priority to get out of your house or apartment ASAP. You know you may go unconscious due to a lack of oxygen, so pick a place where you are likely to be seen. As my instructor said, hopefully your neighbours aren't used to seeing you passed out in front of your place. :) An awesome suggestion she had for condo- and apartment-dwellers was to PULL THE FIRE ALARM in the hallway. Genius.

3) On your way out, grab an object like a water bottle, TV remote, whatever that, once outside, you can try to thrust into your diaphragm to free whatever is lodged in your throat.

Straightforward and logical, right? And yet none of these occurred to me before. And I'd be very suprised if I were the only one.

You know, the last time I took a First Aid course was only a year ago (this time it's employer-sponsored), but I've learned so much today. I would encourage EVERYONE to take one of these courses - so much priceless, valuable information.

Okay, that's my PSA for today. Feel free to send along to all your family and friends - you never know if you might save a life!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Song descriptions

On the weekend I went to a type of choirfest. Several traditional folk songs were performed. I found these entries in the program rather amusing:

Blaue Fensterl, greani Gater (Blue windows and green fences)
That's where the pretty girl lives that the young hunter has an eye on. He is mighty proud of his gun and powder and of his hunting hat.

Ei du mei liabe Schwoagrin (My dear alpine maiden)
Another song about a hunter who is wooing an alpine dairy maid. He boasts he has shot a chamois but he is really a little scared of the trip up the mountain to see her. She in turn sings a carefree yodler.

Monday, April 07, 2008

And now for something completely different ...

This photo totally cracked me up!

Polar bears!!!

Soooooo cute! I want to cuddle with them too. Too bad mama'd probably not be so nice to me, no matter how hung over she was from hibernation ... :)

Spring thaw

This is the cutest. The round little belly, the stubby paws waving in the air, the constant faint purr throughout ... I've melted into a puddle here.

The only thing I don't like about this video is the person not only allows but encourages the kitten to bite. This might seem harmless when the kitten's the size of a flea, but as it gets older it's a bad habit and the bites effing hurt.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Shut up and sing

Tonight I collapsed in a heap and finally watched Shut Up and Sing, a documentary about the Dixie Chicks after they were boycotted for saying something anti-Bush at a concert in the U.K. It kind of flips around from one time period to another, but otherwise it's very good. It was inspiring to me to see these smart, independent women believing in themselves and each other and going their own way. They're not perfect, but they don't need to be. They are tough cookies. Two thumbs up.


Ugh, ugh, ugh!!!! A sacrilege.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

News bloopers

I especially like the last one ...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Confession #1

I have never seen Good Will Hunting. (Gasp! I know.) I don't know why I haven't. There are just lots of movies that I've never seen. But I've rented it this weekend, so I might even watch it tonight.

Your turn ...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Watch this one

Give it several seconds ...

Excess soju or a not-so-secret desire to star in a drag show? You decide.

This is totally for Zen

Political satire based on my favourite video EVER??? Genius. But not for you, Mom. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recent Conversations

I was having an IM exchange that somehow morphed into him telling me all the weird ways you could die in Australia (spiders, snakes, etc.), then ...

Eclecta: Well, it was a penal colony ... [my point, not well made, was that it was never a picnic]
Him: heh heh
Eclecta: You seriously have the mind of a 12 year old.
Him: What? It's funny!


Him: In [blahblahblah weeks/months because I really don't care] Grand Theft Auto [whatever version] will be released and we'll be able to beat up hookers in high definition!!!!


Eclecta: Surreal moment of the day? When I was washing my hands just now, I realized that my sweater exactly matches the colour of the vein on the inside of my wrist!
Innocent co-worker: Wow. That's carrying colour coordination a little far.

In the morning

It was super-windy here last night, but this morning there was a robin outside my building singing his very own version of "I Will Survive". Hardy birds, robins. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scenes from the forest

Scenes from the forest
Originally uploaded by Rob Millenaar.

Beautiful. I wish I'd been the one to make this photo.