26 June, 2014

Look Ma, No Cavities!

Well, that was (almost) painless.

That was my first dental visit in almost seven years. I dreaded it, both the actual scraping and prodding and the truckload of guilt that, in my experience, dentists and especially oral hygienists like to shove down your throat until you choke on it. How often do you brush your teeth? (The only acceptable answer is "whenever I'm not using them to chew my fo--excuse me, I have to go brush now.")  Why have you not been to a dentist in so long? Don't you know that tooth decay causes global warming?

That's why I haven't been to a dentist in so long. I really don't need the heaping helping of judgment.

But as I said recently, I've had to balance that against my increasing self-consciousness about my teeth. Eventually I figured it was time to bite the bullet, so to speak.

We shortlisted two major dental chains. The first was Dawson Dental, and after the initial meet and greet I decided we wouldn't bother going anywhere else: the best another dentist could possibly hope to do is match this place.  The dentist was friendly, courteous and thorough. He explained what he could see (no cavities) and what he couldn't without x-rays and a proper cleaning; he made me feel very comfortable, less like a patient and more like a client. And there was absolutely no judgment about my less-than-adequate professional care. "We don't care what happened before," he told me. "We only care about the present and the future of your teeth."

So today I went in for the cleaning. The hygienist examined my teeth and took x-rays, chatting amiably all the while, and then the dentist himself came in. He poked and prodded and spoke in Martian that his assistant dutifully wrote down, then sat me up and said


"You have no cavities."
This surprised me a little bit. I sorta kinda thought my whole mouth was one big cavity.
"Your teeth are severely eroded, likely from soda; we're going to build them back up. There are some old fillings that should be replaced, and you're looking at a retainer for the bottom set of chompers there. I'll explain all this in detail to you after the cleaning is done. And congratulations, for someone who hasn't seen the dentist in a little while, your home care routine is excellent."

Wow. Last week I was feeling pretty low; I've since had a number of huge pick-me-ups said to me and written about me and this was only the latest of them. The hygienist stopped her cleaning at one point to repeat what the dentist had said. "Your brushing and flossing is very good." I couldn't quite find the breath to explain to her that I'd never flossed a day in my life.

To be perfectly honest, I've long been gauging my crooked, dented, chipped set of teeth against the perfectly even and squared teeth of Hollywood celebrities. I wasn't even really aware I was doing it, but I was. Every TV smile is like the snow on the Feast of Stephen, deep and crisp and even and Ken, don't you think it's just a tad ironic that you, of all people, are judging yourself against Hollywood "perfection"? Have you not made it your mission in life to get people to love themselves more than they do? Aren't you forever railing against people who judge others on appearance?

Well, yeah, but all that can't apply to me.
No? And why's that?
Because...because...ah, fine, you have a point.

(I often have these arguments with myself, They're the only ones I stand a chance of winning.)

It wasn't all fun and games. The cleaning--which they told me right away would have to be done in two sessions, another point in their favour--was unpleasant, occasionally very much so. That severe erosion is to blame: there are places where my enamel is woefully thin. It doesn't often affect my chewing, but the scrape and poke occasionally hit a literal nerve. Luckily, I've all but kicked the pop addiction that I used to have. There was a point--well, I hesitate to tell you my daily intake, Let's just say for a while it could be measured in litres, plural. Now I'm down to a can or glass a month, roughly...and I don't miss it all that much.

Today was just the first step (half a step, really) in a journey towards a mouth I can be proud of...I don't care if you look, that's enough to make me smile.

18 June, 2014

Better Late than Never

My thoughts on #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen.

First off, I have to try and get over my disdain for Twitter hashtags. It goes beyond my well-documented disdain for Twitter itself. A hashtag is oh-so-trendy and it supposedly raises awareness. Maybe for a day or a week or in rare cases, maybe a month, says I; there's just too much happening in the world for "awareness" not to turn into apathy. Wikipedia suggests I might be wrong in this case. I hope so.
The first thing I noticed in the wake of the Isla Vista killings that brought forth both movements: many men seemed incapable of understanding why women were so outraged. I mean, after all, he killed four men and only two women, right? Doesn't it follow that men should be twice as angry as women?

Head, meet desk.

Why does the suggestion that half the human race be treated with respect by the other half arouse such fury in the latter half?--Joyce Carol Oates

Digression: you know what bothers me? Elizabeth Renzetti alluded to this after an unrelated killing spree. Many Canadians know the name of the misogynist who slaughtered fourteen women at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 because, he said, "feminists ruined his life". How many of his victims can you name? These people died for the heinous crime of being women and they've each and every one of them been almost completely forgotten, relegated to the margins, while their killer's name lives on in infamy.


I think the #NotAllMen movement is based on the same wrongheaded idea that hey, lady, it's not that bad--men kill more men than they do women, your argument is invalid.. I mean, I'd be a proud member of that hashtag's brigade because I'm emphatically not a misogynist...but how many women can take one look at me and know that for sure? Particularly in my younger days, when I was a forlorn, forever-virginal nerd of the type creepus getthehellawayfromme?  I'd have never even DREAMT of catcalling a woman, let alone doing anything worse...but how do you know that, just looking at a guy? If I'm afraid to hug someone who seems to need a hug, and even afraid to compliment a woman in case she mistakes it for a proposition...there's a reason for that. How do you think a woman, any woman, "yes all women", feels when they interact with any, yes all men?
How many assholes are there scattered throughout the male gender? I'd suggest it's more than a passing few...I don't know a single woman who hasn't been harassed or worse, and most of them have been the subject of unwanted male attention too many times to count.  Knowing this, I'm frankly amazed the women of my acquaintance can interact with men at all.

Girls grow up knowing that it's safer to give a fake phone number than to turn a guy down.--Kate Tuttle

Imagine, if you will, that you're a manly man, just minding your own business. You walk past a random woman and she suddenly swings a baseball bat at your head. Maybe it connects, maybe it doesn't, but you're a little rattled even if not...I mean, who saw that coming? Now arm every seventh or eighth woman you see with weapons, most of them invisible, a few of them huge and threatening. Do this for every seventh or eighth woman you see for a year and tell me you won't be a little afraid of what any given woman might be about to do.

(And of course some guy yelling "hey baby, nice tits!" doesn't equate to a swing at your head with a baseball bat...don't insult my intelligence or yours by taking this overly literally, okay? Besides, there's no telling what a guy who loudly announces an opinion on a stranger's "tits" might do if he's ignored or backtalked.)

Do you think women don't know that 'not all men' mean them harm? That's never been disputed. They just can't tell us apart, and I don't blame them.

The misogyny is occasionally subtle enough to trip even me up, and I'm a gentle soul. Before I grew up, I used to lament being thrown into the fabled "friend zone" when a woman didn't return my feelings for her. Why should I lament that? A friend is a glorious thing, and God forbid a woman should feel guilty for not returning my feelings in precisely the right measure.

I don't see men making an immediate and  concerted effort to inform any chance acquaintance of their girlfriend's existence, near to the degree that women feel they MUST bring the boyfriend up as soon as possible (presumably because men respect other men more than they do women?)  When a man is beaten up by another man, nobody questions what the victim was wearing.No, what I see is men trying to belittle and delegitimize a very valid concern that, yes, all women share.



Brace Yourself, I Screwed Up Again

Tuesday, June 17, 2:37 p.m.
The phone rings. The landline phone, I mean, the only phone I have.
I'd say at least 95% of the calls that come in on that line are unsolicited, and so I really shouldn't have the dimwitted Pavolvian reaction I have to a Facebook bong or beep...but I do. Kind of the way you phone zombies grab your pockets, I get up and run to the nearest extension.
By the time I get there, the ring has become one of three things: a standard ring for a local call (almost always a telemarketer or a wrong number); a syncopated ring for a long distance call (ditto); or maybe, just maybe, the Ode To Joy snippet from Beethoven's Ninth if the caller is someone we've told the phone to consider Important.)
Check the call display: we only pick up if it's a call we want to take. Telemarketers take note: if you've called our house 666 times--and all of you have, damnit--and we've never picked up, there's a reason for that.
(Why don't you just answer the phone, Ken, and tell 'em off?) Not worth the negative energy. I am vehemently against telemarketing and door-to-door sales. If you've got something worth buying, I'll come to you, don't come to me. But a very good friend of mine has done time in telemarketing hell and I myself have done market research, which isn't too far removed. I get it, it's a job, and I am not the sort of person who looks to chink someone's armour if I can at all help it. Better to just let it go.

Anyway, today the call display says : PAYNE DENTAL

...with whom I have an appointment tomorrow. They're just calling to remind me, but I might as well pick it up and confirm the time, rather than go through the rigamarole of retrieving the message they're about to leave.
"Hello?"
"Hi, is this Ken?"
Quick check to see if I am in fact someone else. Nope. "Yes".
"Hi, this is Dr. Somuch Payne's office, just calling to remind you of your appointment Wednesday at 10:20 a.m."
"Thank you, I'll see you then".

I'm not looking forward to this. It's the initial consult, the first step in what promises to be a prolonged and Payne-ful journey. But it's a journey I should have taken a long time ago for my own good.

My teeth are hideous. You know the picket fence that surrounds haunted houses? Like that. Misshapen, dented, chipped, leaning--if you ever see a full smile out of me, you're one of the few people I feel truly comfortable with.  I have done nothing to correct this, though. At first, it was because I flatly refused to sport both glasses and braces--the glasses alone got me far too much unwanted attention. Later on, the money stopped me. Very few health insurance plans cover anything more than routine cleaning when it comes to matters dental (many don't even cover that). The cost of restoring my mouth to something I'm not ashamed of is--well, we're about to find that out. I'll try not to fall over when we do. Tomorrow. 10:20 a.m. Dr. Somuch Payne, or perhaps his Asian assistant, Dr. Ban Crupt Yu.

Today

I slept pretty well last night, considering. This morning, though, the fear and guilt  and shame mixed uneasily, producing  its usual gastrointestinal festival of side effects in me. See, dentists and I have this hate-hate relationship and for the most part I have stayed away from them my whole life. There was a time early in my marriage to Eva that I was going semi-regularly for cleanings and such; that didn't last long. I went in for a cleaning and he told me I had a cavity that required attention; he quoted me a price to fill said cavity; and when I went back to have that procedure done, he went and filled two cavities and charged me more than double the quoted price because the second one, the one he didn't bother to mention, was bigger than the one he did. Unexpected charges always seem to occur when you don't have the money to cover them, and this one caused Eva--consummate budgeter that she is--to madly juggle the cash flows.
I resented that episode. In fact, I think it's fair to say it pissed me off royally. But I didn't see a point in confronting them about it. It wasn't like they were going to refund us or anything. I simply ignored the increasingly frantic calls at six month intervals to come in and get hosed again. After a while, they stopped: I'd been given up on as a Lost Cause.

Lost Cause is about to be found again.


10:05 a.m., Dr. Somuch Payne's office
"Hi, Ken Breadner, here for my initial consult. I'm early because we haven't filled out the new victim patient forms, also because I'm eager to get started.  I brought a variety of lubricants, should I bend over now?"

"Hi, Ken" She checks her computer. "Your appointment isn't until tomorrow, actually."

This flummoxes me. "But-- I got a call yesterday..."

"Yes, we give two-day and one-day reminders, we were going to call you today as well."

"Oh". Now I'm a lot more comfortable, in my normal state of you screwed up you dumbass. But I can't help thinking as I walk out, who does that? Two day appointment reminders? No office I have ever dealt with has called me two days ahead to remind me that in two days my attendance is required. It's always and without fail been a one day thing. I play the conversation from yesterday back in my head. I'm sure I heard Wednesday.

I'm sure I heard Wednesday because that's what I expected to hear. The secretary could have said Thursday ten times and each time my brain would have simply autocorrected her. After the seventh time or so, it would have started protesting (beneath my conscious notice, of course...) You keep saying Thursday when since it's Tuesday you obviously mean Wednesday, what is wrong with you ... and several hours later when I access the memory in response to Eva's inquiry my brain will smugly conjure forth Wednesday at 10:20 a.m. She said so because I say so, so there.

This is selective hearing and it has plagued me for years. I have selective sight, too...if I'm not expecting something to be in front of me, chances are fair to good I won't notice it, whatever it is...a shoe, a bike, my wife...
But the hearing can be almost as embarrassing. It can be extremely frustrating for Eva, as well: just ask her. Let's say we're discussing plans for something. My mind will seize on those plans, or more likely one small detail of them, and when those plans inevitably change (because that's what plans do, right?) I'll have forgotten the change she has discussed with me while vividly  remembering the original plan. It can cause friction. (Compounding that: Eva's mind works so fast and on so many planes at once that she has several times admitted she isn't sure whether she's told me something out loud or simply thought she has.) It's...safer...not to play that card, though. Husbands, you know what I mean, don't you?

Paying attention. It's not my strong suit. I can run down a list of basic human skills that aren't any suit at all for me, but I won't do that here because ugh, depressing, I start wondering if I have any skills at all worth anything. So let's just stop here.

At least I have the new victim forms.

Until tomorrow, when we find out the appointment's actually for next week.




11 June, 2014

Election Eve

There is a provincial election tomorrow--if you live here, no matter how much effort you put into being politically blind, you'll know it. Lawn signs are everywhere; TV ads are everywhere; disdain and distrust is everywhere as well, at an all-time high as far as I can tell.
If you believe the polls, this election is too close to call. Then again, I've found that all but the most marked routs are "too close to call" in the week before the election...I think the media has a vested interest in saying this, for the dramatics that are in it. Landslides are boring.
Regardless, we're told this is a two-horse race between the Progressive Conservatives, led by Tim Hudak, and the Liberals led by Kathleen Wynne. Andrea Horwath's New Democrats are polling a distant third and the Green Party is barely on the radar outside Guelph, probably the most environmentally conscious city in the province, where it's running second behind the Liberals.

The None of the Above Party is also on the ballot, at least in eight ridings. More broadly, there is a movement afoot to decline your ballot on the grounds that the three choices on offer are not acceptable.

Longtime readers will know I have a problem with that philosophy. My firm belief is that if you can't find a party and leader you're willing to vote for--given the marked differences between the four major parties--you're either looking for someone whose values perfectly align with your own, in which case you should be running yourself...or you just don't know what you want. Unless you are utterly clueless and vote because you like the pretty blue or red signs--stay home, if that's true--I urge you to vote.

That's not to say that either Hudak, Wynne, or Horwath has been particularly inspiring, or indeed even all that engaging. The single televised debate did not produce a single quote geared towards changing anyone's mind; it seems that SOP these days is to preach to your respective choir, and that's one of the saddest things about politics in general. Another is that, notwithstanding what I said earlier about people being perhaps a little too picky, it's true that often you have to hold your nose and vote for the least worst candidate--if you want your vote to mean anything, that is.

In as non-partisan a fashion as I can make it, here's the situation in Ontario. We've had a Liberal government in power here since 2003, and again without being partisan at all, it shows. Old governments grow stale and are often beset by scandal. The most notable incidents of wrongdoing centre around gas plants, the  mismanagement of an electronic health record program and the province's air ambulances. Ontario has also faced the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs during the Liberals' tenure. Thanks largely to some of the highest electricity prices in North America (which have tripled under McGuinty and Wynne), companies are deserting the province in droves.  The unemployment rate is 7.4% and edging higher. And our provincial debt is, by some measures, worse than that in Greece.

This would normally be a prescription for a change in government, more than likely to the PC party. Ontario was solidly PC for most of my childhood--Bill Davis, the longtime (1971-1985) Premier, was a legendary conciliator who was almost universally respected even by people on the opposite side of the aisle, and since when does that happen anymore? Then we began flipping back and forth between Liberal and PC with one brief NDP excursion in the early nineties. (I'll never forget the Toronto SUN's headline the day after Bob Rae was elected Premier: "WELCOME TO HELL".)  In hindsight it wasn't much worse than your average global recession, although there are people today who blame Rae for all manner of ill, just as there are people who blame his successor, Mike Harris, with ruining the province when he turned it hard right.  The truth (as I see it) is that we are where we are because of many factors, some of them within political control and some well outside it.

Ar any rate, conventional wisdom says Tim Hudak should be the next Premier. Except he has run a campaign that has alienated at least as many voters as it has attracted. He pledged to cut 100,000 civil service jobs, and it wasn't until much later in the game that he clarified the cuts would be by attrition and not in the form of mass layoffs of teachers and nurses and such. He also infamously pledged to create a million jobs over eight years. Four issues here:

One, eight years is two terms, which I find just a tad arrogant: we're campaigning for one here, Tim.

Two, he meant person-years of employment, not actual jobs

Three, the definition of a "job" is no longer what you may think it is, as I recently mentioned: part time minimum wage jobs with no pensions or benefits are better than nothing, I suppose, but not by a whole hell of a lot.

And four, Conservative governments, particularly the sort of Conservative government Tim Hudak represents, have historically held very strong opinions on government creation of jobs. It seems more than a little odd to hear Hudak touting a job creation plan that on the surface at least (definitely not in the details) could have come from the NDP.

Kathleen Wynne, under attack from both sides, has held her own, again if the polls are to be believed. Her radio spots convey (to this voter, at least) just the right blend of authority and compassion and the budget that precipitated this election was the most progressive this province has seen in decades. But there's the matter of all those scandals. While Wynne is not Dalton McGuinty--if Dalton were still around, I believe the Liberals would be routed tomorrow--it's not as if she came out of nowhere. Sources differ, of course, on how much Wynne knew or did; there are a couple of matters under investigation, which in itself puts a cloud over Kathleen's campaign.

And Andrea Horwath? She forced this election by not supporting the Liberal budget (because, she said, she didn't believe Wynne would keep her promises)...and yet her party was flat out of the gate, and has been outspent by the other two. (Money isn't quite the factor in Ontario elections that it is in America, but it is a factor. The Conservatives have scads of it and the Liberals aren't far behind, while the NDP, the party of the little guy, is little-guy poor.)

The Green Party, which has never held a seat in Ontario, has been a non-factor in this campaign, to the endless chagrin of a friend of mine. Truth be told, the chicken-and-egg problem they face annoys me as well. They are never included in the televised debates on the grounds that they don't have a seat; they'll never get a seat unless and until they are included in the televised debates. They have many policies I support, including defunding the Catholic school system (which, done properly, could secure all manner of savings in education). Just one appearance would win the Greens at least a few seats, I am convinced. But alas, not this time.

There are three very different visions of this province at stake tomorrow. Which one is closest to yours?  Whatever it may be, get out there and vote. It doesn't take long, it's painless and while far from perfect, it's what we citizens have.

03 June, 2014

Dear Diary,

I've been keeping a diary since I was 15. I wonder how many guys can say that.
Between '88 and '90 it was a daily diary. I think I only missed one day in that three year span, and I hope you'll pardon the nearly instant digression because it's time for y'all to laugh at me again.

I usually wrote up my day just before going to bed. One hot day in July--a Friday--my day went long. , I walked up  to McDonald's for a 4-8 shift. Sometime in the course of that shift I was asked if I could stay until midnight. I was already scheduled to bop--that's McD's slang for 'breakfast-open' the next morning at six. Ken at 42 would never even consider it: by the time I get home and get to sleep, given my wind-down period, it's gonna be 1:30 minimum and I'd have to be up by 5:15 to get to work for nope no way in hell.  Ken at 16 didn't bat an eye.
Ken at 16 was every bit as absentminded as the antique version is today. On this day he forgot his keys...and somehow didn't notice this until he was dropped off at about twenty after midnight.  (McDonald's policy back then was that anyone closing would get a ride home courtesy the manager on duty).
Anyway, so here I am bounding up my walk, reaching into my pocket for keys that don't exist.

Now here's the interesting part: my parents are home, asleep. Their bedroom looks out over our townhouse's little postage stamp of a back yard. It's July, and hotter than the hubs of hell: they've got an industrial-sized fan in their bedroom window, on full blast, and it effortlessly drowns out the door knocks, the doorbell, the catcalls from the yard, and the stones I throw at the window as a last resort. There's no point finding a phone to call them, either...chances are very good to excellent they wouldn't hear the phone. I try anyway, from a phone booth a block away. Nada.

What would you do? I'd spent probably 45 minutes trying to rouse them with no luck. Time to try the stick.

We had a mail slot in our front door. If I poked it open just so and peered at just the right angle I could see my keys, hanging on the wall straight ahead, maybe five feet away.

Find LONG, thin stick. Thread it through mail slot. Ever so carefully, inch it towards hook where keys are winking at me. Against all odds, actually manage to hook the keys on only the seventeenth try. Pull stick back, with keys on it--
--stick bends--
--and keys drop to the floor where I can't even see them any more.
A word I was not allowed to say at my age was said. Several times.

I have two choices now: go back to work and see if I can attract the attention of the close-open guy cleaning the pickles off the ceiling in the lobby (I'll be a close-open guy myself in a few years in a city an hour east of me and pickles on the ceiling will be commonplace...university students, the leaders of tomorrow)...or  I could try to sleep outside.

I was every bit the weather geek at 16 than I am today, and I knew the forecast was good for outdoor sleeping. Probably don't want to sleep on the ground, though, on account of the dew and the dirt and the fact that I'm going to have to bop my way through another shift in this uniform.

That left the picnic table.

Have you ever tried to sleep  on a picnic table?  Don't.

At dawn's first ominous crack I wriggled and writhed myself off the table and staggered to work. I actually got there about 45 minutes early and caught the close-open guy sweeping the lot. He let me in and I promptly fell asleep on a standard McD's bench seat in the crew room. After the agony I'd endured, that bench was like a feather bed.

So that's why I missed a day. Also why if I'm sufficiently awake I'm paranoid about my keys. But that adventure aside, I kept that diary every day for three years. In university, it became a sometimes thing, whenever I felt like writing, and whatever I felt like writing about....at first it was a giant WordPerfect document, then it went back to a couple of notebooks. I don't have the document and I've lost all but the last of the notebooks, which is a real shame because some of the best poetry I've ever written is gone forever. But eventually my diary migrated online into this very Breadbin.

Anybody can read this, anybody in the world, and there's not a great deal I've censored over the years. I've spent a lot of time looking at my numerous weaknesses and foibles and I've invited anyone who reads this to get in a good hearty guffaw at the ridiculous stuff that happens in my general vicinity on an almost daily basis.

This mindset towards my "private" scribblings is not new.

I let Eva read anything she wanted to read of my old diaries, before things got really serious between us. Without hesitation. The thought was, if she looked unflinchingly at what was (and is, let's face it) an unflattering portrait of the man she was proposing to marry...well, it's only fair to let someone know what they're in for, isn't it? She looked and still married me and here we are fifteen years later. happily insane. She gets editorial control over any Breadbin entry about her--again, only fair--but otherwise she lets me type to my heart's content. And for some reason I've never really understood, the most revealing posts about me, the ones that tend towards either embarrassment or bewilderment, are the posts she likes the most.

Back in the mists of time, when I was keeping that daily diary, it took the form of a faux-leather-fronted little book with a lock, and pages for each day of the year. The first thing I'd do on Christmas Day, when next year's incarnation of the diary arrived, was break that lock. The trifling (but again, revealing) reason was that I didn't want to have to fiddle-faddle with a lock just to write some stuff down: way too lazy for that.  The more pressing reason, though, was that if I could break that lock, anyone who really wanted to could certainly do it too, which made it pointless as far as I was concerned.

"Anyone who really wanted to", in those days, was limited to my mom and stepdad.I'm an only child, and while I did have friends by, well, shortly after I started that daily journal, well, males don't keep diaries, right? Nor are they interested in anyone else's. But my parents-- I'm not sure if they ever did read any of it. I suspected at one point, but couldn't be certain. In the end, though, I wouldn't have blamed them if they had taken a look every now and again. I was an odd kid and an odd teenager...not budding serial killer odd but a bit odd nonetheless. Also, by dint of living in my parents' house, I had absolutely no expectation of privacy.

Which is not to say there was no propriety in my house; indeed, if anything there was a surfeit. I'm sure this will come as a shock to anyone who hears my off-colour jokes today, but I was Mister Priss growing up My 'talk' came in this form:


Helpful book--I've never forgotten that 'vagina' rhymes with 'North Carolina'--but it's almost frighteningly sanitary. It's also beyond sexist. People have sex, we're told, because "the man wants to get as close to the woman as he can." Interesting. Does the woman want this?  Doesn't say. The man obviously enjoys the act, but nothing is said about the woman enjoying it.  The person who wrote this book is named Peter Mayle. No kidding. Somebody really needs to update this book for this century.

Off pursuing the men on the beach again. Damn tan gents.

Anyway, as I think I was saying, I had propriety. I had privacy too, but I didn't expect it. It was made pretty clear to me that while my room was my room, it existed in my parents' house, which really made it their room. This is not a popular attitude nowadays, but I agree with it. If we'd had kids, they would have seen it in action. Here's a for instance: even with two kids, until high school at a minimum, the computer(s) would be right here in the living room where Eva and I could keep an eye on it or them. I wouldn't presume to censor where my kids went on the Net--no point, for one thing--but I'd be ready to talk to them about anything they might find lurking in its dark corners. Privacy? Not in my house you don't.
(And while I've come around reluctantly on cellphones, if only because without one my child would have no "social" life -- and you're damned right "social"'s in quotes--until my kid is paying for her own cellphone and all that goes with it,  I'd get free and unfettered access to anything on it...or she wouldn't. Simple like that.)

I had privacy...on my parents' terms. That seems odd to kids today, who insist on privacy even as they share every last bowel movement on whatever the latest app-du-jour is. What they mean by privacy, of course, is privacy from one's parental units...that's why kids are abandoning Facebook in hordes and droves, because Mom and Dad and even Grandma are all on there now. Well, you know what? Sooner or later the stuff you do in private is probably going to wind up public and you're going to have to explain it to dear old Mom and Dad and maybe even Grandma. This was so patently obvious to me growing up that I couldn't have even tried to dispute it. But nowadays it boggles my mind how, nearly every time we have a , the parents are oblivious. I mean, how does that happen? It wouldn't have happened in my family, let me tell you.

My cousin says there's no such thing as privacy any more. He's echoing the former chair of Sun Microsystems, Scot McNealy, who said "you have zero privacy. Get over it" back in 1991. This is the world we made, folks...a world I daresay I was well prepared for. For now, the only privacy we retain is in our heads. (Someday I'll explain to you why this is not necessarily a Good Thing.) For now, Dear Diary...and dear readers of this diary...I bid you adieu.