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The Turning of Another Page

Well, folks, it's been a year.

Personally, it's been a busy one, as expected. Two French courses under my belt with a third to start in a couple of weeks. I have rediscovered a love for the classroom, long dormant and thought to be dead.  After a couple more of these courses I am going to join my local French association, which will get me much needed practice actually communicating. I don't want to join just yet, because I'm still a rank beginner and I have a horror of looking foolish. But I will.

The highlight of the year was of course Eva's surgery, which has so far been an unqualified success. She drank some water too quickly yesterday and bitterly regretted it...yes, even water can cause problems now...but overall I have to say she's done exceptionally well making one hell of an adjustment. I can't imagine having my diet so radically restricted, but she's done it almost without complaint. She has lost almost a quarter of her body mass, her diabetes…

Merry Christmas, One and All

I think -- I hope -- Stressember is over. This year was probably the hardest lead-up to Christmas I've had in a decade. I can't talk about the issues I have faced and (mostly) faced down. Oh, the things I'd say if I could. I am Oh-eff-eff OFF for three whole days now, although I do have to go in briefly on Friday.
It still doesn't really feel like Christmas. (I'm sorry, I can't write that without thinking of my dad's local (by which I mean 45 minutes south) radio station, which used to be called CKLP-FM. Every Christmas, amidst all the cheesy carols, you'd suddenly hear a glorious upswelling choral announcement: "IT FEEEEEEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS!"...and immediately a DJ would echo the sentiment in the kind of husky voice designed to peel clothes off women. I couldn't hear that without laughing like a loon...it became one of eleventy dozen catchphrases that have kept our marriage fed and watered over the years.

But it really doesn't. Feel l…

Fire in the Breadbin

It was a typical morning until the crackling noise.

Maybe a little more rushed than some, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Breakfast had been gulped down, Georgia-Ball had been played, and it was 7:30...just about time to go to work. Eva was going to head out on my heels and run some errands, and so, following the routine to the letter, I put the kitchen garbage can on the stove, out of reach of Mr. Tux.

Don't get ahead of me, now.

So, as I was saying, I put the plastic garbage can on the stove, the way I have done literally thousands of times before. I came out to sit with Eva for a couple of minutes--7:40 is my cut-off time if I want to get to work for 8, and every minute with Eva counts, you know? We're sitting there talking about something or other to do with the upcoming day, when we heard a riffling, ruffling crackle coming from the kitchen. It sounded like a fireplace, except fireplaces are nice soothing things. When a fire is in a place that is not a fire's pla…

Drive, He Said

According to the most recent forecasts, my area will be hit this weekend by some sort of storm. I say 'some sort' because the temperature is supposed to be somewhere right around zero, and the exact track of the storm is impossible to predict even a day out.
Aside: So many people bitch about how the weather forecasters can't ever get anything right...anyone who knows weather at all marvels at how often they nail the forecast, especially around here. The Great Lakes region is among the most difficult on the entire planet to forecast accurately. The jet stream rides right through here much of the time: one little bubble or dip causes drastically different weather. What's more, there are a myriad of microcurrents off the lakes that cause all manner of weather havoc. My father lives almost within sight of a weather radar tower that was placed where it is because his weather is decidedly crazy. Storms either split north and south of him, leaving him dry, or they actually hi…

Crying

There's a thread on Reddit right now: "Men, what have you cried about?"

I can't read that question without reading a subtext into it: and why did you cry about that, you pussy?

That probably comes from my childhood. Did anyone else ever get 'quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about'?  Yeah. I'm what you'd call a sensitive soul. Can't watch people being hurt without feeling hurt myself, to say nothing of animals. Friends of mine insist on posting horrific stories of animal abuse where I can see them, "to raise awareness". I applaud the sentiment, but I don't need my awareness raised any further, thank you.

I've cried over movies (this one reduced me to a blubbering blob for over an hour), more books than I can count (most recently at the end of The Lions of al-Rassan, which bothered me a little since it's probably my fourth or fifth time through the damn book and it gets me every time; life situations, either mi…

Facebook Friends

are real friends, at least in my case.
I met up with a former co-worker last weekend. Hadn't seen her in either 21 or 22 years, I'm not sure which.
When I worked with her, I couldn't exactly call her a friend. A friendly face, sure--her free McSmile was genuine, all-the-way-through. I didn't know much about her back then, but I sensed plenty, all of it good.

She hasn't changed. She's lived a few lifetimes in the last two decades (haven't we all?) but she still greets life with a smile that's almost unshakeable.

I would never have met up with her if it weren't for Facebook.

I can rhyme off any number of other people, some of whom I haven't met yet but sincerely hope to, who have enriched my life thanks to Facebook. Among them:


the woman I first 'met' in alt.horror in '91. I lost contact with her for much of the time between, but found her again a couple of years ago (and thank you, all you folks who include your maiden names in your Fa…

Why Don't Special People Realize How Special They Are?

I decided long ago--back in high school, actually--that one of my purposes in life, insofar as I could be said to have any, was to remind people how wonderful they are.

I hope I can be forgiven for focussing on women. I have what I feel are good reasons for this.

 Men have absolutely no idea what to do with that kind of information. The saddest thing is that there are more than a few men out there with no self-esteem and no confidence and if you try to nurture either, you're likely to be told off in no uncertain terms. Then there are men out there who know how wonderful they are. Most of them, contrary to whatever their inflated egos may tell them...are anything but.
And then there are the men who really are wonderful. I count a couple of them among my friends, and both of them have a kind of quiet, easygoing confidence that needs no nurturing, or at least none from me. That said, I love them. You're not supposed to say that about your male friends, for fear of free-floating g…

Hospital Daze

From Eva's Facebook timeline, posted between 3 and 4:00 this morning:

Trying to sleep in a hospital bed is rather like trying to sleep in a subway station and the heat is on full blast!

There is much more frustration behind this comment than you can probably discern. You see, it was at that time -11C (12F) in Guelph where Eva is. No wind chill. Eva's sole concession to a temperature like that, normally, is to turn one of the four fans in our bedroom from high to medium.  Oh, and she'll probably don one (1) thin blanket to go with her sheet. (In case you're wondering, if there's a temperature at which the bedroom window gets closed and the fans get turned off, we have never experienced it.)
Also, we have a Sleep Number bed, which is the most comfortable bed anyone has ever slept on by definition because you get to make it that way. In hospital beds, the number is permanently set at 666. Eva actually slept for four hours last night, which is about five hours more slee…

A Very Important Weighpoint

My wife is undergoing bariatric surgery tomorrow.

I have kept mum about this surgery to all but close family and a very few trusted friends. This has been, obviously, out of respect for my wife's privacy, especially given the very personal and sensitive nature of the surgery. Since Eva has broken  her own silence on Facebook, I have, with her permission and review, written this in hopes people will understand what's entailed here, and most of all that this procedure is not an end but a means; not a cure but a tool; not the destination but really a waypoint (a weighpoint?)  on the journey towards a prolonged healthy life for her.

I'm sure you, dear reader, are not so crass as to suggest to Eva or myself that this surgery represents anything like "the easy way out". Though you might be thinking it, which is  forgivable because bariatric surgery is not well understood and rarely discussed at any length. So perhaps I can give you some snapshots of my wife's journ…

Love of Music and Music of Love

Music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy, it made him feel so good And he sang from his heart, and he sang from his soul He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole --Harry Chapin, "Mr. Tanner"
I can thank my parents for my love of music. I grew up in a home where music was a constant. I can still remember many of the songs I used to dance around to when I was a wee lad...everything from Knock Three Times to Nightflight to Venus to Stayin' Alive...it's safe to say my Mom's musical tastes didn't stray too far from the Top 40 of the time, but 70s Top 40 was richer and more varied, it seems to me, than it has been since, and much richer than it tends to be today. There are undoubtedly gems scattered throughout today's music, but they don't tend to chart...or at least chart as high as they should. 
From my Dad I got an appreciation of music you don't normally associate with children. On one of the last d…

Harris Rosen and a Real Helping Hand

I had never heard of Harris Rosen until a few minutes ago. Thanks to Reddit, I've heard of him now...and I think everybody should hear about him. He's a self-made millionaire in the hospitality industry, and his story is inspirational on so many levels, it practically left me breathless reading it.

Here's a man raised in Hell's Kitchen in the 1940s and 1950s--an aptly named stinkhole of poverty and disease--who was launched into the hospitality industry by a chance encounter with Marilyn Monroe...and propelled after launch by his mom, who told him the ticket out of Hell's Kitchen was education.
After spending some time chafing under Disney, Inc. -- he developed the Polynesian, Contemporary, and Fort Wilderness resorts, but never felt entirely comfortable -- Rosen took all the money in his savings account and put a downpayment on a Quality Inn. From there, his empire blossomed: it now includes 3500 employees overseeing 6300 rooms, not to mention the premier hospital…

Put That In Your Pipe And...

So it goes without saying that Rob Ford has been kicked off Eva-world. It shames me to think I was once a card-carrying member of Ford Nation, even though I've never been eligible to vote for the guy. Even after his mayoralty sprouted its own sideshow, I blogged: "I like Rob Ford and I can't say why".
I can say why now, now that the like has curdled. I liked Rob Ford not just because he imposed some much needed fiscal sanity on his city, and not just because he seemed exactly like the sort of brook-no-bullshit type I wish I was myself.  (One of my life's great balancing acts: knowing when to call bullshit and when to keep my mouth shut. Sadly, I usually find myself doing the latter, out of what I think is self-preservation. But bullshit is corrosive. It burns internally).
I also liked Rob Ford because the media hated him from day one. The Toronto Star, a paper so politically correct it squeaks, has used words describing Ford that it won't even use to describe…

His Name Was Danny

His name was Danny.
He was one of the last of a string of bullies I encountered...that far along the rope, in grade ten, I was remarkably nonchalant about being teased, taunted and trodden upon, and so I didn't know--or care to know--anything about him besides his name, face and general whereabouts at any given time so I could avoid him. I only shared two classes with him and so that latter was pretty easy.

It turned out there was a lot to know about Danny, and come February of that school year, we'd all know it.

If everyone who claims to have been there the day Danny's locker was opened and puked into had actually been there, the hallway would have been packed six deep. You'll have to trust me: I was actually there.  I was gallivanting off to the bathroom, as it happens, when I couldn't help but notice the janitor striding purposefully down the corridor. I couldn't help but notice the janitor because he was dragging Danny by the ear.

I can hear you 2013 studen…

Thank You, Eva

I just can't believe
the way I feel about you girl
We'll look back someday
At this moment that we're in
And I'll look at you and say
'--and I thought I loved you then'...
--Brad Paisley, "Then"

Thanksgiving happens to fall on our thirteenth wedding anniversary this year. This could not be more apt.
I'm thankful for everyone and everything in my life. But most of all I'm thankful for Eva, the woman I married. Some days I wonder how I ever found a womanwilling to share life with me, and every day I wonder what I ever did to deserve this woman, whose intelligence, competence, and compassion truly know no bounds.
We've done a lot of living in thirteen years. There have been no ups and downs in our relationship--it is the ever-fixed mark--but in that many years there are bound to be tears. And fears, and fears, and leers, and -- in our case -- whole careers. No jeers, though, and nary a peer has my Eva. We have truly lived Spider Robinson's maxi…

I've Noticed Something:

Hat tip to Catelli's cogent deconstruction of Rosie Dimanno that jump-started my mind.

I've noticed something. The older I get, the stupider the world seems.

It's not that I'm smarter; hell, no. I'm just as dense as anyone else, just in (usually) different ways. And people are free to remark on just how dumb I can be. My wife does so on occasion (always with love in her voice, and she's always right, damn it all). But the specific mode of stupidity I'd like to talk about here is a weird strain of exclusionary thinking that seems to permeate brains, driving out logic and reason.

I'll take a couple of hot-button issues to explain what I mean: same sex marriage and euthanasia. As I believe I've made clear in previous entries, I am unreservedly in favour of both, and for much the same reason: your life and your marriage are your own. (If they aren't, whose, exactly, are they?) I should be able to end my life whenever I choose; with certain exception…

Sex: Let's Get With the Program

ADULT CONTENT, PRUDES KEEP OUT

Kids are gonna screw.

Most of 'em, anyway.

So why do so many parents pretend this isn't so, can't be so, and force schools into teaching that it mustn't be so? I mean, everybody knows the best way to keep a teenager from doing something is to tell her not to.

Sex education is seriously deficient even in 'progressive' curriculums. For the most part, it's a glorified anatomy class. Maybe the idea is to bore kids to death with sex. Stripped -- or rather, not "stripped", that's too raunchy--detached from all its emotional and psychological cues, a teacher can turn sex into a clinical, dry lecture almost devoid of really useful content.

Parents are probably going to cringe at this. I'm suggesting that, at least by high school, sex ed should actually cover pornography. That means viewing it. In school. I'm not kidding.

By the time kids are in high school, they've looked at porn. I absolutely guarantee it. S…

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Not me, that's for sure.

I remember this topic coming up in (of all places) grade eleven English class. I might not have been the only person in the class opposed to the notion of immortality, but I was certainly the only person who dared voice opposition.
Let's define parameters here, because like the Gods we might become, the word 'immortality' is often taken as read and not examined thoroughly. Presumably 'immortality' means we have shut the aging process off, since death of old age is still death. What age do we select for? I'd bet most men would want to live forever at their physical (not to mention sexual) peak, somewhere around 18-21. Not being a woman, I can't answer for the fairer sex, but given the absurd (and obscene) value placed on youth in this society, I'd expect many of them would also choose to remain in that general age bracket unto eternity.

Unintended consequence: the incidence of rape skyrockets. Women don't hit their sexual…

Going Moldy....

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