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Showing posts from November, 2009

Don't Send Me Shopping

So with Eva out of commission, my responsibilities have increased a tad. I am Shopper Pro Tem.This is not a position to which I am eminently suited, believe me. I don't drive, so my cargo capacity is somewhat limited--unless I break down and take a cab, which is hellishly expensive. But that's not even the half of it.
Like most men I know, I'm firmly in the "get-what-you-came-for-and-then-get-the-hell-out" school. Unless I'm shopping for books, I don't linger any longer than I absolutely have to. I detest crowds, I usually hate the Muzak playing in the background...the whole shopping experience is often one big drag. And I freeze when confronted with too much choice. That's because apparently my name changes instantly to Murphy whenever I cross the threshold of a store. If there's more than one choice, I'm apt to screw it up. Sometimes even one choice is one choice too many...why'd you get that?
Yesterday morning, I sallied forth, armed with …

Iggy, this is your last chance

Mr. Ignatieff, I've been watching your nonperformance as Liberal Non-Leader for some time now. At first, I have to admit, I figured you were laying low because you had a Harp(er)oon up your sleeve somewhere, and you were only waiting for the correct 'winning conditions' (to bring back an odious Canadian political phrase) to arrive. Then the Harp(er)oon must have gone off in your face, or something, because I haven't seen hide nor hair of you for the last few months. Your party has been plummeting in the polls, and you don't even seem to care.Well, listen up, Iggy: the PM is about to try to finish you off...or so he thinks. In reality, what he's fixing to hand you is a glorious chance to resurrect your moribund political career. And all you have to do is take that chance. Harper is getting a little too cutesy for his own good, here. He's presented you with what he thinks is a dilemma: support his HST legislation, and reap a whirlwind of voter scorn and disgus…

Black Friday

I don't get it.I mean, I really don't get it. I've noticed a distinct acceleration in the Canadian retail market over the past week. While we are nowhere near the orgasmic paroxysm called 'Black Friday' in the United States, we're well on our way: several major Canadian retailers are touting early Boxing Day sales. "THE SAVINGS START....NOW!!!" I was laying in bed at 1:30 this morning (vacation-related insomnia), listening to 680 News covering the massive lineups at some mall in Atlanta, Georgia. Garmin navigation systems were on sale for $60, George Foreman grills for $9...not counting the cost of time or aggravation, of course. There were apparently traffic jams to get into parking lots. This makes no sense no matter whose perspective you take. The retailers are running huge loss-leaders to draw people in, and do you really think people stick around to buy anything that might make the store money once the stock of 90% off crap is gone? If you're a…


I was going to write something on the whole Climategate controversy today, but frankly, I'm just too tired. (h/t Catelli for getting to this first).
So instead, I'm going to take you to Peter Watts and he shall set you straight.

I will add two things. One, it's not called "global warming" anymore for several reasons (one of which is that people, particularly in Canada, tend to think that'd be a good thing and two, the globe is not uniformly, or even entirely predictably, warming). The second thing I'll add is that even if you're inclined to dismiss the findings of scientists all over the planet, replicated over and over and over again, all you have to do is head north to see climate change in action. Ask some Inuit. Their oral histories cover off quite a period, and they're seeing unprecedented things of late.
Look, we can argue amongst ourselves as to what degree we're at fault for this climate change. And we can perhaps quibble with the models,…

A Gay Old Time

I've been watching the 'Brendan Burke is gay!" story play out over the last few days. Sparked by John Buccingross's fine writeup over at, the coverage has spread far and wide. An interview aired last night on TSN.
It's not really much of a story. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Brendan Burke, 19, is the son of Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brendan's gay. That's it. Well, okay, that's not quite it. Brendan came out to his dad last Christmas. The elder Burke is the very definition of a 'man's man'--he came to Toronto boasting his new team requires 'the proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence." No nancy-boys on a Burke team, understand. . There are fathers all over the world, made more or less in the Brian Burke mold, whose reaction to a son's coming out ranges from disdain to rage, sometimes killing rage. This father said "we love you, this won't change a …

"That's Not News!"

Jim Kunstler embarks on his latest iteration of apocalypse with the following:

How infantile is American society? Last night's CBS "Business Update" (in the midst of its "60 Minutes" program) featured three items: 1.) The New Moon teen vampire movie led the weekend box-office receipts; 2.) Cadbury shares hit an all-time high; 3.) Michael Jackson's rhinestone-studded white glove sold at auction for $350,000. Some in-house CBS-News producer is responsible for this fucking nonsense. How does he or she keep her job? Is there no adult supervision at the network?

My answer, which dovetails nicely with his, is: no, there isn't. But that's no surprise, since there are so few adults left in America (or indeed, anywhere else in Western society) anymore.
Kunstler goes on to say that it's far past time America re-localized and called a halt to its financial shenanigans. He's been arguing the same thing every week for a number of years, and still few peop…

There are no words

for how bad this Leafs team is. Pathetic, base, horrendous, peewee--well, peewee comes close, maybe. Wonder if they could beat a peewee team. Hell, I'm not sure they could beat the Timbits.
As of right now, you've got one forward--Phil Kessel--who knows how to play the game. For now, anyway: he's only been a Leaf for seven games. Give him time: eventually his hockey sense will desert him and he'll be able to miss an empty net on a clear-cut breakaway the way every other Leaf forward does. You've got one all-round defenseman in Ian White who plays the game hard every shift. He's the obvious choice for captain, but the Leafs' braintrust evidently does not feel his game is worthy of emulation. Or something. You have half a goalie in Jonas Gustavsson. He's great positionally and he has acrobatic reflexes but his rebound control is atrocious and he handles the puck like it's a live grenade. This team would play better coaching itself than they do under Wilso…

Finding the Humour

I'm not really a funny guy. Certainly not funny like my brother-in-law, who can make a gargoyle guffaw. Or my father, who doesn't consider his day well and truly lived until he's caused someone to shoot something out of their nose. Some people--my dad and brother-in-law among them--have a gift for transmuting stress into humour. I've seen it done often enough that I can make a passable attempt, but that's about it.
Remove the stress, though, and funny things bubble up in its place.
Like at the hospital yesterday. Yeah, I know we're in the middle of an H1N1 epidemic and I understand what this sign was trying to communicate, but the lobby of a hospital seems an odd place for a sign that says PLEASE DO NOT VISIT IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL. I chuckled at it yesterday, before Eva's surgery; now that it's over with, I'm finding that to be a real knee-slapper.
Jesus, my father, though. We're on line at the Atrium Cafeteria and perusing the lunch special…

Eva is fine

That's the gist of what this post is going to say: my wife is fine. She's being kept in hospital overnight because of her diabetes and (extremely mild) asthma. Truth be told, she probably could have been released this evening.
Everyone knows hospitals aren't fun places to be. I have to give Henderson Hospital some points for friendly, courteous doctors and volunteers. I was kept informed of where my wife was at all times; the minute the surgery was over, her doctor came out and told me she was okay, gave me a rundown on the procedure, and let me know what was happening next.
Oh, and they have this view off their cafeteria patio:
The surgery started on time and was finished about twenty minutes ahead of when we were told it would be. They did not perform the riskier omentectomy, as the laparoscopic instruments were sufficient. In addition to the hysterectomy, they found and drained a cyst on one of Eva's ovaries.
Thank you to brother Jim for serving as transport and c…

Up In Smoke

I have a few flaws. Quite a few, if you get me on days that end in -y.

One big one: I never seem to grasp anything the first time you explain it to me. My grasping mechanism is continually on the fritz: whole paragraphs can go by, literally, as they say, in one ear and out the other; and then WHAMMO! with great force, my mind will snatch one detail and fixate on it. From then on, it takes an unconscionable amount of effort to divest me of that single detail. Plans or situations change, and the changes are explained to me, and three hours or three days later all I remember is that single word in chapter 4, paragraph m, subsection why the hell can't you pay attention?My mind is most likely to seize on words I want to hear. Sometimes the words can be close to what I'm hoping to hear and my brain goes yep, that's close enough. You heard that, didn't you? I did. And now that we've heard it, we can't unhear it. Words can not express how annoying this is for my wife, wh…

Lest We Forget

No words of mine today. Instead, the words of Eric Bogle, as interpreted by the incomparable John McDermott:

...and a column from Sarah Hampson that perfectly encapsulates my thoughts on this, the holiest day of the secular calendar.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

The Storm Before the Dawn

Pardon the break. In my experience, at least, a long run between blog entries is a product of either (a) too little happening or (b) too much. This would be a (b) break. To be fair, it's not that a lot has's that a lot is about to.
My wife, Eva, is going in for some pretty major surgery a week Wednesday. The ablation she had back in May didn't take. The next step is a hysterectomy.
Now, hysterectomies in this latter age are not such of a much. Millions of women undergo them and six weeks later they're better than new. And while any surgery has attendant risks--people have died during tonsillectomies--a hysterectomy is pretty ho-hum as major surgeries go.
But there are issues.
The first is that Eva has not had children. This rules out a traditional vaginal hysterectomy. The second is her size, which may rule out a laparoscopic hysterectomy (one performed by remote control, as it were). They're going to try this first, but laparoscopic instruments are only…

Fiction that has changed my life (1)

AZTEC, by Gary Jennings

My wife read this in grade seven. She went to give a book report on it and the teacher stopped her partway through and asked her to give the presentation after school, on account of the 'adult' nature of the novel. There was, Eva says, also some doubt as to whether she had in fact read the whole thing. She had.
Jennings was the second author Eva introduced to me and my first exposure to historical fiction. He remains the standard by which I judge the genre, and so far everything I've read has come up wanting.

Jennings immerses you in his cultures to the point where you start thinking the language and dreaming the set pieces. You'll come out the other end of any Jennings novel with a deep appreciation for the sweep of human history and the human beings who have lived it. And fair warning: you'll be exposed to sex, at times perverted, and violence, often casually graphic. Those of a prurient nature will undoubtedly question the explicit sex scene…

Going Moldy....

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