Tuesday, 29 September 2009


A change in the weather, it's cooler, rained hard today and last night.

So, today, we find out that Canada has put itself into a big old medical experiment. Some unpublished Canadian research strongly suggests that being inoculated against regular 'flu, makes it more likely that you will contract the swine 'flu, or H1N1 as we are now more technically and accurately calling it. So six - I believe - Provinces have decided to not issue the regular 'flu vaccination except to people in certain specific categories.
The States is going ahead with Plan A, that is, to offer both.
I'm not sure which of us is the control group, but doesn't it make you tingle?
We live and love in interesting times.

There is something disgusting about some of the reactions to the arrest of Roman Polanski in Switzerland. He anally raped a 13-year-old girl, having first drugged her, and when he was charged, and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor, he ran away to join the foreign legion - well, not exactly, more, to live in France.
And the world said...?
'He's done his time,' Really?
'It wasn't really rape, she agreed to it,' so far as a drugged, frightened thirteen-year-old can agree to sex, she...no, she still didn't agree, but she didn't struggle enough,
'But he makse GREAT films,' uhuh, and this means he can commit a violent act against a young woman...or any woman...or any human being...or even an animal, it just won't wash.

Apparently Egypt has had all its pigs killed earlier this year, to avoid swine 'flu. So far so good?
No, I know, it sounds ridiculous by anyone's standards, but now even Egyptian Muslims are regretting it.
The country's Christians have the contract to collect organic waste, which they used to do and feed to the pigs. Nice bit of recycling.
You see where this is going?
No pigs, no waste collection, no waste collection - even more of a health threat than H1N1.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Jedi and Other Friends

Crikey, what happens to the weekend?
Must be a Jedi mind trick.
I don't know why the Jedi refer to their skill as a 'mind trick', it makes it sound cheap. Vampires at least call it glamouring.

Bozo5 sent me an article about Jedi from the Grauniad. It seems that Tesco have a policy of not allowing people to wear hoods up in the store, and asked a man to remove his hood or leave the store. Little did they know, that they were speaking to a practising Jedi, who claimed religious discrimination. Tesco's retorted with the observation that the three best known Jedi, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, were all frequently to be seen with hoods down.
I suppose the real problem here is that most societies allow people to do quite ridiculous things that flaunt the law, in the name of religious freedom. No company is allowed to reject someone for a job, or sack them, on the grounds of gender or sexual preference, but the church can, heck all of the religions can.
If you have any kind of imaginary friend, write your own rule book.

New series of Dexter. Excellent!!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Today, I had my picture taken for the local rag. It will be incredibly cheesy, since there were photos from many angles, but all of me pretending to ignore a garter snake puppet, whilst peering over my specs at the camera. In the background, empty, stacked chairs, indicating the school programmes that won't happen on account of the funding cut - but mostly because of a much longer term problem.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, I have been and will be, interviewing exceptional women to be my assistant. I hope to goodness I will be able to employ someone by Monday. Luckily, whoever she is, she will be exceptional.

Today, the weather was more bearable - not down to the promised 18, but 21 was doable. Meanwhile one colleague, huddles in an office with the door closed and an electric fire on. Oh, and wearing short sleeves - what's with that? If you are insanely cold, at least put on more clothes whilst helping to destroy the planet.

A bizarre news article here today, in which two polygamous men were not going to be prosecuted for polygamy. Their crime doesn't seem to be in any doubt, the police spent a lot of time investigating, and yet they are not going to be prosecuted for breaking the law. I can't get my head round this.
Two pervy old bollixes.

New TV continues unabated. It's like we hibernate, unable to miss anything, come home, shut the door, eat, watch TV. The opium of the people.

But before we did that this evening, I took the hound for a walk. He's getting to be quite the walker. As we rounded the corner, we saw a young man get out of a car that was parked facing one way, leaving another man in the car, and get into an expensive looking black, sleek car on the opposite side of the road, facing the other way. After a couple of minutes, he got out and got back in the first car, then the black, sleek one left.
I wonder what that was about.
Probably not the opium of the people, probably something else.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Cougar TV

Autumn! Here it is! And after tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to drop to a more autumnal setting.

Who needs more law dramas? Not me, that's for sure, except....'The Good Wife' turns out to be stonking.
And...I wonder where it's filmed?
Oh yeah, here.

We have the first episode of Britcom, 'Beautiful People', I loved that the two lads like to do things everyone does, like pretending to be Canadian. Yes, they spoke loudly in a generic North American accent about how things are in Vancouver, on today's TV, Vancouver is the new Toronto.

On last night's opening episode of the new series of 'How I Met Your Mother', Robin was wearing a Vancouver Canucks' jumper at a hockey game.
Ah, Vancougar.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Thousand Words

Good service.
Dreary meeting.
Good afternoon.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Mork and Ellen

Oh, is it Saturday already? I suppose so.

I had a wonderful morning. I went to a meeting of the International Anglican Women's Network. We watched a film about how African women worked together to bring an end to war and the tyranny of the egregious Charles Taylor in Liberia. They literally put on their jewellery and white clothes, that they were not allowed to wear, and made themselves into an unmoveable wall. Solidarity. They had some strong leaders, Christian women who determined that as Charles Taylor was an outwardly devout Christian, they and their Muslim sisters would 'Pray the Devil back to Hell.'

It was a moving film, but the morning itself was incredible, to be with other women, unapologetic about their own feminism, and seeing it as part of their Christianity.
Inclusive language was a priority for many of the churches, because it is so fundamental.

I found a letter on the subject of inclusive language from the President of the Canadian Auto Workers dated 1997. It takes no prisoners,

"Language is powerful

Language is a uniquely human tool. When we want to express ourselves, we struggle to find the right words. Words can wound, they can soothe, they can explain, they can lie. Words can include and they can exclude. We all know that words can be powerful."

But this paragraph struck me particularly,

"Some of our collective agreements still contain language that is gender-specific. They use the pronoun "he" when referring to jobs that can be, and are, done by people regardless of gender. These agreements usually include a paragraph that says that where there is gender-specific language, that language should be understood to include both men and women. This doesn't cut it. It's a bit like saying "I know your name is Ralph, but we're not used to having Ralphs around here. Joe is easier to remember, so I'll just call you Joe. No hard feelings, eh?" "

I was happy that I hadn't used any gender-specific language in Save-On today, when the young fellow-me-lad at the checkout turned out to have a name tag that said, 'Grace'.
But then she said something that made me think it wasn't gender that was a problem, but possibly alien abduction. In a manner that put me in mind of Mork from Ork, she picked up the bag of tulip bulbs and said in halting English,
'It so wonderful, you put in ground and you get flower,' indeed.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Fringe Benefits

Something on the radio broke through my sports' filter today.
At first it was the interesting pronunciation of 'Arsenal' - Arse-earn-all, then shields went up again .... something about curry .... - Celtic... Eduardo.... and then..Portsmouth University - down shields! Some bloke from Pompey Uni has done a study about whether footballers are faking their diving and tackling, or not. Fascinating. Only the vaguest idea what it all means, but Pompey was on CBC radio, so who cares !

From far to near. It's weird seeing all the buildings and places we see in downtown Vancouver on 'Fringe' now. Reading the sign that says, 'The Irish Heather' pub back to front through the glass. And they do that big blocky sign hanging in the sky thing, so the words 'New York'....whatever..just ain't right.

Why does Facebook keep telling me I have mutual friends that I've never heard of ? Just because someone has the same surname as someone I do know, doesn't mean I know them.

And why are we still asking people whether they want the Olympics or not? Who tf cares? They're happening, it matters not who wants them to happen or not, the money's been spent, the buildings, roads and rail have been built. Just breathe in and think of ...wherever people who aren't English think of.

And the best news article of the day is that environmentalists dressed as suffragettes dumped six loads of horse manure at Jeremy Clarkson's home. Rock and roll!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


The first Amanitas of the season, well, the first ones I've seen, and I sought them out - I know where they grow.

After a summer of endless love, an autumn of mellow fruitlessness.

Back at work since Monday, what-ho! Things, however, are in a bit of a mess. The Province isn't giving us any funding, we're not doing winter programmes and maybe not even spring. Schools are pissed off. At present I have no assistant. The homepage of the website had two spelling mistakes, as did the leaflet which was changed from the one I produced. One snake has died, the other escaped.
And on, and on.

To fill the darkening evenings, TV programmes are beginning. Glee, Bones, Fringe - this last, newly moved to Vancouver to film.
And House, two hour opener. Instead of the now tired old alternative life in a coma (The superb 'Life on Mars' notwithstanding), we are going to have the doc in the loony bin.
On the downside, True Blood has finished. Poo. Double, triple poo.
Soon, there will be more TV recordings backed up than we can watch, we will become slaves to it.

I do love this whole season.

But in the wider picture, the UN has decided to set up a women's agency. Although there are currently four departments, they are all Cinderellas. The creation of a full agency gives them some clout.
I see this as hugely important. Although the countries where conditions for women are the worst are not part of the UN, it is the responsibility of the developed nations to prioritise women's issues. How can we expect others to change if we don't show how important it is to us?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Birthday Boxing Day

The hot weather has continued,so we saddled up and shipped out. We ended up at Deas Slough, where we discovered a good place to kayak, but some kind of war between canoeists and water-skiers. The accommodation reached was that 'paddle sports' were to take place before 13.30 and water-skiing after.
We arrived around 13.00. Two dragon boats came in off the water on cue, but the water-skiers were already out there.
Should we go out or not? We could hug the water margins, and there was already a kayak out there.

Some getting-on-for-senior gentleman, sitting in camping chairs by the water's edge grumbled about them.
'They pollute the water, they pollute the air, they don't have any skill and on top of all that, they play their loud music,' all of which, it must be said, was true.
'I'll help you get the kayaks into the water,' said one, settling it.

Whisky sat up on my lap at first, not happy with his life jacket, but wanting to look around. Then he snuggled down into the hull as the water got choppier, the wake from the speedboats.

We explored and we enjoyed the water and the afternoon.
Birthday Mark II

Last night's Othello didn't disappoint, and as ever, gave food for thought. Othello himself was not so much black as cup of medium strength tea coloured. The dialogue had him referring, several times, to his own black face, reminding me that the costume designer had told us that originally, Shakepeare's troupe would have performed his plays in their own clothes and without scenery and props, so the actor playing Othello would have had to keep reminding the audience that the character was black.

The backdrop to the stage was the sun setting behind the mountains, Canada geese flying across the sky, the mast of a boat crossing the water and the lights of the North Shore gradually illuminating.

Friday, 11 September 2009

11th September 2009

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Whisky and I have spent some of this beautiful day out on the balcony and now I'm off to see Othello at Bard on the Beach.
All good.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sleeping Dogs

This morning's health segment on the local news programme, concerned a study that had showed that couples get more sleep if they sleep apart.
I knew it would be, as soon as I saw the study reported, I thought, yep, that'll be Doctor Art's story in the morning, and it was.
Hardly makes a difference to us at the moment, since we have to get up during the night to take the dog out for a pee.

Alex had her graduation ceremony yesterday, I will be getting a DVD of it, which I'm looking forward to seeing. My own graduation ceremony was in December. This does seem like an unbelievable amount of time after being awarded a degree in June or July. Had I gone, Princess Anne would have handed me a pretend degree, I dunno, she wasn't trusted with the real things I suppose. I jest, it's never the real thing they hand out.
In fact, I was in labour with Laurence, so I missed it, and yet, didn't.

Our Province has its own auto insurance company, wouldn't want any competition in that industry, would we? It also sets the road tests and rules and what have you. Yep.
Now it has been discovered that they sold three illegally modified grow op trucks, with everything still in place that anyone would need were they going to start growing pot. Apparently a bit of a misunderstanding with the RCMP over whose responsibility it was to remove the gear.
Whilst they have been arguing about that, I wonder if it has occurred to the police to check who might want to buy such vehicles. Probably not their responsibility though.
If the Province has the motor insurance industry all sewn up, perhaps it should also consider growing and selling the pot itself, then the police could concentrate on something else like traffic violations.

If we are still in this house when I am properly old, I am going to cut down the cedar hedge that half blocks my view of the intersection so that I can sit in a rocking chair with a half-cocked air-rifle over my arm.
Whisky and I spend a lot of time on the porch proper, from where I can see all the appalling things that happen at what should be a quiet crossroads.
Far from it.
Today I witnessed one of those things that people tell you about, but I swear I've never actually seen.
A woman stopped at the intersection and applied her mascara. Eventually, a lad came up behind her and beeped and she moved off.
But here's the thing. The VERY NEXT driver to stop there, was on his cell phone. He stopped and continued his conversation, and again, someone came up behind him, but this time, just waited.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Road Yet to be Travelled

For some reason, they don't have an Ikea catalogue at the hairdresser's, so I am forced to read their celeb mags. Well, alright, if you twisted my arm I'd have to confess I'm not forced to, since I have the two books I am reading in my bag. But I do anyway.

I haven't honestly heard of most of the celebs, although some of them I know from GoFugYourself, my guilty online reading site where I chortle, often aloud, at some of the bizarre outfits they wear. From here I know of Lady Gaga and Bai Ling, although I have no clue what their purpose in life is.

So, flicking through said mags today, I discover a couple of people I am familiar with.
Kelly Osborne - it always seemed unfair to me that neither of the Osborn children got their mother's looks, but in fact, the picture of Kelly was quite flattering, and it turns out that she does favour Sharon.

Then there was Dexter and his sister. So, Dexter, or rather, whatever the actor's name is, whom we first met on Six Feet Under, as the gayer than springtime brother. Quite clearly no acting needed there.
And Dexter's sister, whose Adam's apple we keep trying to catch a glimpse of.
Only it turns out that neither of them are gay, au contraire, although they both set our gaydar screaming, they are in fact married - to each other. What?!? I know!

Speaking of women who wear trousers - which of course we all do - Bozo wondered whether I was considering mentioning the Sudanese woman who has been sent to gaol for wearing trousers. And a very good question. I have been following this case and greatly admire the courage of this woman. She could have wriggled out of the charges because she was working for the UN, but she didn't, she resigned, she could have just paid a fine, but she wouldn't because she wanted to challenge the actual law. She could have been flogged, she risked that. She has drawn international support for the cause, which fundamentally is about human rights, but it's no picnic making the sort of stand she has done. We take for granted what our grandmothers' generation did to get us the vote - even the most weak-minded would be horrified to lose that now, but blood was shed to get us that equality, just as much blood was shed to put Obambi in the White House. It's complacency that is the most dangerous thing now.

Because it leads to, or at best masks, situations like the gender pay gap in the Financial sector in Britain. Across the board, the gender pay gap is 28%, in the financial industry, where 51% of employees are women, the gap is 47% in annual average earnings. Women get 80% less in performance related pay. Surely, you might argue, this means that women in the industry are underperforming?
Firstly, 86% of women start on a lower salary than men. Ok, ok, but get to the bonuses.
Those bonuses are earned as a result of higher status tasks and networking. The research showed that the lads culture reigns supreme, so that men are encouraged and women discouraged and thus, ultimately end up doing less prestigious tasks, which then become known as women's work and so the spiral continues downwards.
The networking often takes place in establishments on the margins of the sex industry, such as lap-dancing clubs, strip bars and hostess bars, places that in any case, are inappropriate venues for work and by their very nature, exclude women.
It's shameful, but constant shaking of the head, like constant weighing of the pig, doesn't improve matters.
When politicians like Harriet Harman attempt to even the score, they are derided and harassed.
There is a way to go yet.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Whisky's Maiden Voyage

I like this picture because it reminds me of one of those e-mail clips that go around from time to time, where you are lulled into a false sense of something or other and then a figure pops up in the foreground and goes, 'Boo!'

Whisky got his sealegs today, only...on a lake. We went to Deer Lake because we knew it was neither deep nor was there a current, so it was as safe as it could be.

First time out, he whined for a while, but didn't really make too much of a fuss. After about an hour and a half, we returned to shore and had some sarnies. I managed to drop mine, but caught it between my knees. This turned out to be serendipitous, because this time, Whisky didn't even whine, he just licked the mayonnaise from my legs and then went to sleep on my jumper in the hull - which is why you can't see him in the picture.

Around 16.00, the skies opened up. I was happy as a pig in muck, I covered Whisky with my rain jacket, but then there was a roll of thunder. The rental place called all their boats in and we decided to call it a day.

Sunday, 6 September 2009


Essay question : "I created your civilisation, now I will destroy it." Discuss.

Ok, I will.

Imagine your are the type of Being who could legitimately say this. Why would you? You are powerful enough to create and destroy the civilisations of lesser beings, (but who nonetheless can understand your language - because they are clever enough to have learnt it) but you have a serious case of inferiority complex, otherwise you wouldn't need to tell the lesser being of your intentions, you wouldn't need to see them suffer, because you're a superior being, sorry, Being. Most humans wouldn't need to do that, you kind of imagine a superhuman wouldn't have the personality faults of the least well-adjusted of our race.
Suffice to say, the original Stargate film was on TV and Ra, the androgynous god, was addressing Alan Shore, who coped quite well without Denny Crane.

For us, this is the long weekend, our Bank Holiday, Labour Day, is tomorrow. Kevin and I have blitzed our garage - the final frontier. We visited three different recycling places this morning. You think you have no junk, and then you go through everything with a fine-tooth comb, or more...a medium-gauge comb and you discover you were wrong, and that you really did have several of that thing you keep thinking you had none of and keep buying more of.
At least now we know what we have in there.

Last night, we watched a Swedish vampire film,'Let the Right One in'. It worked for me on many levels, snow, and lots of it, simplicity, and it was thought-provoking.
It was made in 2008, which rather non-plussed me, because the furniture, clothes and buildings made it look as though it was set in the 70s. This must be the explanation, because it cannot be that the Swedes are behind us in fashion, since they gave the world Ikea. So perhaps they are actually ahead of us and we will soon once more be dressing in long scarves and stripy, knitted tank tops.
One thing that I found irritating however, was that it was dubbed rather than subtitled. This gives one the impression that Swedish people go around having bizarrely phrased conversations in flat voices, which of course we know they don't, because of the Ikea adverts.

I am working my way through the 2010 Ikea catalogue. I nearly have it memorised.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Club Med

I am, as the young people say, 'stoked'. (See what I did there, huh? said it like an old lady:)
I have received, in my capacity of (as the vicar herself calls me) 'sous-vicar' - which I wouldn't mind being for real, apart from the whole having to be nice to people thing - a letter of vehement complaint about the use of non-inclusive language in our church. This comes on the heels of an elderly man reading a passage from the authorised Bible, rather notorious for its sexist language.
On TV at the moment, the morons are advertising their wares, in the course of which advert they refer to God as 'he' and promise to send you a King James version.

I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. Muahahahaha.....people are going to get educated to the nth degree.
The funny thing is, most of the people at church, even many of the older ones, are quite anti sexist language anyway.

The good old Mediterranean diet is in the news again. Even more studies have shown that it beats all other ways of eating for good health. It turns back the seven signs of ageing, kills 99% of all known germs and helps you relax, work and play.
And normally we do eat a fairly Mediterranean-ish diet at the Schloss, lots of veggies, olive oil, pasta, prosciutto, mozzarella, curry, no, I wasn't that good at geography, but some things I don't want to know, I have my fingers in my ears and am singing, lalalalalala!!!
Just that for the past few weeks we've been eating a North American diet as well.

And now, we discover that many items in the Med range are poisonous to dogs, grapes, avocados, onions, garlic, tomatoes, wine, funghi and some nuts. Well, bollocks to that I hear you say, dogs eat meat, oh yes they do, it's just something else to worry about.

Whisky, meanwhile, is making friends and influencing people.
Kev asked me to take Whisky for a walk midday. He's not a fan of the lead. Whisky that is, not Kev.
And, it turns out, he doesn't particularly have to be. We got as far as the grass verge round the corner, and girls on bikes stopped to cluster round and admire him.

He's going to be a big help next year with the veggie garden mark II. He is keenly digging a hole in the patch of earth in front of the house. Excavation is going well, from his point of view.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Of Pets and Other Animals

Whisky now has a life jacket. The label on it says, 'Outward Hound'. Har-di-har. I was channelling Sleepy, I know I was; I know what her inner Muzac is and it was playing in my head. Then I had a choice of colours and I was compelled to choose orange. See, that proves it.

A life jacket saved a small girl yesterday, when she was pulled off the dock where she was helping her dad, by a harbour seal. One of the commentators on the news article online suggested that the seals were rising up and getting their revenge for the clubbing.

Talking of clubbing, in Superstore, where Sleepy's personal Muzac was still playing in my head, I now of course, have to visit the pet aisle. I noticed that cat owners may purchase their moggies 'Frisky's party mix' just in case your cat needs to put out snacks when their friends come round presumably. On the packet was a picture of a cat who looked as though it had taken some kind of hallucinogen, surrounded by party streamers and such like.

This week has seen a number of delivery people coming to the house, bringing small items, and in one case, the essential piece of our vacuum cleaner that was recalled in May, ours went on the 5th May to be precise.
The actual postie came twice. He was enchanted by Whisky both times.
The Fed-Ex man said I was the first person he'd found at home. This struck me as being not too odd, since his job was to deliver parcels at a time when the majority of people are at work or school.
'That's good,' I said, 'must mean we're coming out of recession,' but I might as well have said something in French.
The Purolator man noticed I was English, and so regaled me with a list of places where he has relatives in England. Some pretty nice areas too.
When we were on Mayne Island in the summer, a man we met did that thing to Austen where you get asked if you know some specific person in the UK.

Last night we had an incredible storm. Thunder, lightning, pounding rain, it was fabulous. Today was a perfect day, warm enough, with skies that promised more excitement and indeed, once or twice it delivered. The soil stayed wet all day.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Old Friends

'Oh me, oh my, small fry.'

Not entirely random.
The way that I deal with unemployment on a personal level, is to make daily lists and work my way through them, this is also how I coped with post-natal depression and how I hope to cope with pre-mortem retirement.

But this morning's list has not being going well. A fair number of them involved the computer and another group involved ringing people. The computer kept locking up every few minutes - which I now firmly believe ... or..maybe weakly believe, had something to do with Facebook chat. And everyone I needed to phone didn't open until later, all except the lady in the States I had to call, fortuitously, wherever she works is a few hours ahead of us.

The friend I was attempting to chat to on Facebook, British Karen, I have known since before I was Holly's age, and I (really this time) do firmly believe that there is some kind of psychic connection involved in strong friendships. Karen told me that she was recently thinking about someone I haven't been in contact with for over thirty years, my French exchange partner and penfriend from when I was at Grammar school, and she contacted me through Facebook this week.
I was just stunned, both at getting in contact with Marie, and at the co-incidence.

On Saturday we did a lot of driving around, we rented kayaks from Jericho beach, saw our friend Christine, widow of Bruce who died this time last year, and who was launching the kayak that she and her daughter finished building, a project he started with that same daughter the year before he died.
Then over to Surrey to pick up Whisky.

And it seemed that the world and her love interest were having garage sales out on the pavement.
Like the opposite of spring cleaning, only the same in essence.
Clearing out the old, the unwanted, making room for the autumn, for when the doors close and we have to enjoy our indoor space before we fill it up again with the fruits of Christmas overspending.