Monday, 30 November 2009


I'm not so much a horse whisperer as a hoarse whisperer at the moment. I haven't felt ill, apart from one night of a high temperature and then a day of croakiness, but by Saturday morning the larynx had given up.

I had this happen once at Mayhem. I dreaded going in, given that many of my pupils were little short of psychopathic and as head of department I had most of the recalcitrants who did our subjects, and at that point they ALL did our subjects, trot through my classroom. So I was expecting...well, Mayhem.
But in fact, they were amazing, best ever, they all shut up and co-operated like troopers, Dunkirk spirit and all that.

I need my voice back by tomorrow. Tomorrow our new programme, 'Seasons of Mist and Sparkle' starts. Although Mother Nature being silent might give a stern message.

Ikea has come up trumps again. They are donating some of the proceeds from selling Christmas trees to the Homeless Shelter. That would be the extreme weather shelter for the homeless we don't have in Richmond you remember.
Somewhere in the team, working with us Proddies, is Sister Cecelia. I haven't met her, but I like that she called the mayor a liar. He had promised money for a women's shelter, withdrew it, and then said it had never been promised.
I wonder if Sister Cecelia could get my voice back.

Today was Saint Andrew's day - the patron saint of Scotland, unlike the Rabbi Burns, who isn't.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Geological Pace

The bit of the Anglican church that CAN be distinguished from the Taliban, has won a small legal victory this week, over the part of the Anglican church that can't.

Four church buildings that are owned by the Diocese of New Westminster - of which Vancouver is a part - were being occupied by groups of insurgents, although they would consider themselves to be 'traditionalists'. Others might call them conservatives, or, probably the most appropriate term would straightforwardly be bigots.

These bigots had decided that the Anglican church was getting too full of women and homosexuals, and in fact the women were encouraging the homosexuals. Once you let women in, gays come in through the back door so-to-speak;)
So they decided to break away from the Anglican church (the abstract entity), but not from the actual church buildings, no, they thought they'd hang on to those.

It has taken a long, long time, and has had an impact on other progress. Last year the Diocesan Synod would not move forward on blessing of same sex marriages - you know, the marriages that are allowed by law here - because this was sub jucidice. Now, the Supreme Court of BC has ruled that they had no right to those buildings and they have to give them back.

Our bishop, Michael, has issued a letter in which he emphasises inclusivity, warns against 'triumphalism' - rather British of him I thought - and then says that he will appoint new clergy to those churches.
Nicely done.

Just to hammer the point home, I thought I'd include a funny that Sleepy sent on to me this week. It pokes fun at the reasons which get given for why women shouldn't be priests.

Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not be Ordained.

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshippers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

Friday, 27 November 2009


Bloody elves. I can't remember which Gospel had the bit about the elves, but really, did it say green satin anywhere? Or maybe everywhere? Like the elves.
I saw one in the mall who rolled like a sailor. The elves are like stealth harbingers of Christmas.
Then there was the one who looked like...well who looked like...the sensible, though not boring one of your circle of friends. You know, the one who you can have a laugh with, a joke, a drink, but when you do something stupid, you ring them up. The one who has no pretensions to elfishness and yet who suddenly finds themself completely sober, yet dressed as an elf, standing in the mall next to the rolling sailor. The one who is having a Kafkaesque moment.

Leaving the Mall through the Bay, another totally normal-looking person, a woman about my own age and carrying a plastic bag from the store, set off the alarms. Just that the alarms said loudly, in a man's voice,
'We're sorry, but we must have failed to take a security tag from one of your purchases. Please return to the cashier who will be able to assist you.' She too, looked stunned. I'm no Tim Roth ('s character in 'Lie to Me'), but I would say she was genuinely shocked.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

On, Off

Further to your letter of 9th of Never, I have discovered, through someone else's blog, the results of a 2007 study - none too out of date really, considering I am still loving my Office 2007 and finding that I am continually having to save to an earlier version for many other people - which showed that when men used, were exposed to, or not challenged on, sexist humour, they developed sexist attitudes. Who'd have thought eh? But I'm not getting at the study, no ma'am, because without having the science to back it up, even though it seems a no-brainer, people will always say, 'yeah, but where's the science to back it up?'

In 1936, Gretel Bergmann set a German national record for high jump. Two weeks later, it was discovered that she hadn't in fact set a record, owing to the fact that she was Jewish. Harsh?
This is harsh. Finally, in 2009, her record has been restored. Good, but why did it take so long? Fortunately she survived the horrors that came after, and is still alive and living in New York.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

At the End of the Day....

It has rained so hard today that animals are lining up in pairs.

My day ended with two Russian women scraping the coffee stains off my teeth and telling me I was very brave. Although actually they were Rumanian. My teeth have never felt so clean.
I have broken a tooth, so although my teeth are now stain free - at least until the morning - I still can't smile too widely. And I will obviously be seeing the Rumanians again.

Then my day ended - again - with a foray into an Indian restaurant for takeaway. Goat Curry for Ben - I couldn't bring myself to..... and then the usual suspects, korma, tikka masala, naan, pulao.

And then the day ended once more with Modern Family. Cam's clown and Jungle Tania.

Then finally the day ended with an Ibuprofen. The rain and the stop-start overheating in shops and offices has me by the throat.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pink Gloves, Marmite and Innuendo

Three degrees of separation.

This video was sent to me by a friend, whose good friend is the mother-in-law of the woman who made it. It totally rocks anyway, but this is the message that came with the e-mail.

"Emily (MacInnes) Somers, created, directed and choreographed this in Portland last week for her Medline glove division as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. This was all her idea to help promote their new pink gloves. I don't know how she got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate, but it started to really catch on and they all had a lot of fun doing it.

When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community. Please check it out. It's an easy and great way to donate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn't been touched by breast cancer?"

Yesterday evening, as I was travelling to my friend Anne's house, there was a news item on CBC radio about 18 jars of Marmite that had been stolen from a shop in Kingsthorpe in the north of England. I know. It beats me too how this made it onto a national radio newscast in Canada but there you go.
The piece was prefaced by stating that the British and New Zealanders, were the only people on the planet who liked Marmite.
If you are interested, you can find it under 'Marmite Thief' as a podcast for Monday 23rd November, here.

So, the presenter, talking to the shopkeeper, asks him if there were any theories about why the Marmite was stolen. He makes a few suggestions and then says that eventually, it descended into sexual innuendo.
'I'm sure I don't have to explain to you,' he said,
'Er, well, yes, actually,' she said, but he didn't.
Arriving at Anne's, I asked my friend, a New Zealander, if she could think of any sexual innuendo involving Marmite, and between the two of us - we couldn't.
Over to you then.

Friday, 20 November 2009


An unfortunately worded news item on the radio yesterday morning, informed us that H1N1 is now available to anyone who wants it.
I think I'll pass if that's ok.

The weather yesterday evening was...well, biblical. Thunder, lightning, sleet, flash-flooding, hail, bigger hail, intense hail that the windscreen wipers couldn't cope with, and then more thunder and lightning.
Over the past week or so, three metres of snow have fallen at Whistler.

If you haven't yet seen this video clip of a ten year-old boy in Arkansas who is refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance until it actually means something, please, please watch it. It speaks to me in many ways. Normally, I can't stand precocious children, well, and that stands, because this kid doesn't come across as precocious at all. He is just a very bright kid who can't see why the words 'liberty and justice for all' in the American pledge of allegiance, doesn't include gay people, and why there is still racism and sexism in the world.
He intends to be a lawyer - if in fact he survives the constant homophobia he is now enduring at school.
I'd like to say, I think he'll be a very fine one.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Prodigal City

The weather outside is wild, a very solid wooden chair has just gone scooting along the balcony. Kevin has taken the hanging baskets down and Whisky is going to have to cross his little puppy legs.

And the wind has blown in my youngest lad, Ben. Yep, I noticed the ridiculously low price of flights on Monday, Wednesday, he's here. He had asked me not to tell Laurence, so Ben had the pleasure of waking his brother up.
'Am I awake?' asked Laurence, 'am I dead?'

The prodigal son, Ben that is. Laurence works hard, he gets up at three every morning and goes to bake bread. He doesn't slack off and he's only sick when he's actually sick.
Alex works hard, granted she plays hard too, but she's no slacker. And neither can understand how the prodigal one breezes in, knows how loved he is and we kill the fatted calf. And I can see all of that and I can't not kill that calf.

I felt like that at the meeting I went to last night. I've mentioned before that my church runs the extreme weather shelter in Richmond. There are a handful of beds for men at the Salvation Army, but nowhere for women and children, or the rest of the men.
We applied this year to extend the provision, so that we would be open throughout the winter months. We couldn't do this without Provincial funding, which was turned down.
Last year's shelter was run by a teacher-consultant who works full time. She would pull night shifts, go into work, and organise all the volunteers during her breaks. The whole thing was run on the kindness of others, volunteers who gave up their nights to supervise, donations of money, clothes, food from people who care that there are people who have to sleep on the streets, and some funding from the Province.
The City of Richmond do nothing. They don't acknowledge a problem. Councillors have claimed there are no homeless in the city - more difficult after a particularly bitter winter last year, and the church sheltering those people.

The church's committee have been preparing all year for this winter. After muddling through last year, they have lined up paid staff will be more able to do the job since they won't be having to do a separate paying job, and who are to be trained in how to deal with the drug and alcohol issues and behaviours the homeless frequently exhibit.
The city promised them money.
They produced a budget and submitted it.

The city rejected it because 'they thought the shelter would run on the same budget as last year,'
'We had no budget last year,' said the committee, 'we ran on goodwill and donations because you won't give the meanest shelter to your citizens, this year we thought you were going to step up to the plate.'

Even last year, there was a strong voice within the congregation who said, 'if we do this, then the city won't.' Turns out they were right.
The committee cannot do this again, they cannot.
But I know they will. They have said they won't, but they will. They won't let those men and women and children have nowhere to go when the wind is blowing hard enough to push a hardwood chair along and the rain is horizontal.

But the city will.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Speech Therapy

Really? Really? I want to say. You're fed up with the subject, well I'm fed up with jerks and arseholes not keeping their ears clean, or being too lazy to sluice out the passages between ears and brain.

Two plus two equals four. That's not a matter of opinion, it's not even a pragmatic truth, it's a simple matter of definition. It's a tautology. Mathematical truths are necessary truths.

When you use a term that has the meaning of 'male', that is to say, a gender specific term, and you apply it to both genders, you are using sexist language. That is what sexist language is, or at least the biggest definition category. You cannot argue that that isn't sexist, you can argue that you don't care, but invisibility defines one group, the major group of sexist language.

Let me push the point home. Man. I am not a man. Kevin is. So man means a male person, it doesn't mean all people, because if it did, then this sentence would make sense,
'When I see man breastfeeding, I realise that man is a mammal,' and clearly it doesn't.
This one does though,
'When I see humans breastfeeding, I realise that humans are mammals.'
This one,
'You men should come into the labour ward to give birth,' and so on.

I am not a man.
Man doesn't mean all people. Man means a male. When you use the term to stand for all people, you make women invisible.

And as it happens, there is research that shows that when you use a term that IS gender specific, like 'postman', 'policeman', 'he' and you expect it to mean both genders, people think of the actual gender. They think of male.

When you are writing which font to use in html, you can write a list, and the first one that the browser comes to that it CAN read, it will. It seems that we do the same.
If you read 'he', you will visualise male. A man will be more likely to visualise male when he reads 'he or she', or even 'they'. A woman will be more likely to have female as well as male images. BUT, if the man reads 'she or he', then he will be more likely to picture a female.

Why is there a difference?
If you read the university lecturers' forums on inclusive language, you will come across a comment from a man who reports a conversation between two women, one black, one white. The white woman thought that what the two of them had in common was being women.
'When I look in the mirror,' she is reported as saying, 'I see a woman,'
'But when I look in a mirror,' says the black woman, 'I see a black woman.' The white woman has the privilege of not having to worry about her colour, her race, it's not an issue because it's 'the default'.
The man who was writing, said that this was a cathartic moment for him, because he realised that when he looked in the mirror, he just saw a person. That HE was the default gender. He wasn't aware of gender because he didn't have to, and at that moment, he understood what it meant to be privileged and what it meant to be invisible. The less acceptable sex.

The research paper points to the inevitability of implications for behaviour and practice.
Almost, but not quite, a simple statement of logic.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


Ah, Noggin the Nog, thank-you Di for that. I remember it well. Well...kind of, ok, maybe not that well at all, but I DO remember it.

Anyhoo, quite appropriate since we're already drinking egg nog here. I dunno, it's a Kev thing. Mince pies for me, egg nog for him, that British-Canadian Christmas-fusion. No excuse really for why we're drinking it in November, but then, there it was, provocatively showing off on the supermarket shelves.
And besides, it's our wedding anniversary. Four years today, and we've opted to stay in with our little dog.
On the other hand, Kev's cooking beats that of any restaurant I've ever been to.

For some reason, Whisky is wrapped up in one of his blankets - a black, Ikea, six dollar jobbie. It has reminded me, that whilst I was out tilling the soil of the un-garden last weekend, ready for next spring's planting, I could see the grim reaper working across the way. It looked more like a she than a he somehow, but maybe that's because at first, I thought the garment was a burqa. But then I saw that it was someone wearing a black, hooded coat, rather like the Sand people in Star Wars, or of course, DEATH. But this grim reaper was using a rake rather than a sickle.
It still seemed rather a bizarre outfit to be doing the gardening in, but then who am I to judge? I'd love a grim reaper coat.

I am hoping that the mince pies will be M&S ones this year - although I still have a ton-and-a-half of last year's most excellent mincemeat in the freezer. I will be in the UK for the pre-Christmas insanity. I leave here on the 11th and return on the 24th.
My dance card is ready.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday the Thirteenth

Fred Barker and Ollie Beak. Random sixties TV.

Apocryphal weather. Hail, lowering skies, more, sudden, violent hail.

Last week, at the checkout in Zellers, I noticed a box with a product called 'Bumpits'. Yes, bum-pits, what the hell could it be?
Well, upon investigation, it turned out to be some kind of device for giving you bigger hair. Something to help you 'bump-it'. Yes, I know, still bizarre, but dreadful naming.
Today in the supermarket, the checkout assistant was wearing latex gloves and a face mask. Appendectomy with your granary bread?

I'm unhappy with certain parts of the US medical system today. Not that I can give too many details of my discontent, since they have legal implications.

My friend's partner has been treated appallingly by the hospital she was working at and Kev's parents nearly died when they were left by the cruise ship they were on,at a hospital on the spiral arm of the USA where they received no care and where no-one spoke English. Kev's dad was suffering from possible food poisoning and subsequent dehydration and the stress sent Kev's mum into arrhythmia.

So, maybe a reason to learn Spanish. But another one is that loud arguments in Spanish are so passionate and satisfying. By the end of a Spanish argument, no-one knows what has happened, but everyone feels they were heard.

Vivaldi. Best ever composer.
Random again, I know.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Going Global

Remembrance Day is a day of rest out here in BC. This is odd, like working a really short week, then having a really short weekend, then having another really short week. I know Christmas can work out to being midweek, but you don't sort of notice because...well, it's Christmas, and you have been kind of working up to it for a month and a half, and then it goes on for another two weeks, then it continues a bit longer and so forth.

On Sunday, at church, all the seniors wore their uniforms and medals, and it was all very emotional. Well, I was emotional, as was the vicar, everyone else seemed to be more stalwart. They sang the Canadian national anthem, which I don't feel I should join in, because it isn't my native land, but I stand of course. Also, the version we have in the hymn books is outrageously sexist, they all sing, '...true patriot love of all thy sons command.' Apparently it's been fixed, just not in the hymn books.

The Global Gender Gap Report for 2009 has just been released. Fabulously, the UK is only 15th out of 134 countries surveyed. Wouldn't it be great to be up there in the top three alongside Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Norway and Ikea? Canada, sadly, is even further behind, at number 25 - Oh, Canada:( - and the US comes in at number 31 in the charts.
The country of Ikea btw, has just appointed a Bishop who is not only a woman, but is also married to one. Being women of course, there is so much that the bigotosphere can criticise, like the fact that one partner (the bish) is 55, and the couple have a three year-old child. No-one's beeswax but their own, but just wait....

Québec! I try so hard to support you. Sometimes you make it easy by doing amazingly planet and woman - friendly things, and then you go and ruin it by being totally out of order when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit. Bunch of plonkers.

In Maine, where for some bizarre reason, the general population were allowed to vote on whether same sex couples should have the same rights as opposite gender couples to marry, a bunch of Catholics supported the same-sex rights, and yet the bigots won out. Why is this allowed to happen? There's a great post about it on the Gaytheist Gospel Hour blog.

The Online Shop Pharmacy have e-mailed me and offered 'tabs for doin' it nasty'. Tut tut, people really should learn to use adverbs when appropriate.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


My nephew, a fan of London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, tells me that Boris did something good. Not only was he cycling, but he also saw off some scum buckets who were attacking a woman.
Well done Boris, on both counts.
However, one swallow does not a summer make.
I suppose he could be given some kind of international award though, and that might encourage him to become a good person.

Sleepy sent me a link from Auntie's website, about Spirit Bears and how they have survived by being less visible to salmon, and thus more successful at catching them. There is an absolutely brilliant video attached to this article.

I really don't understand. The RCMP have arrested and charged an immigrant in Ontario, with war crimes related to the Rwandan genocide. This is an outrage, it means he must have lied on his immigration form. I specifically had to sign to say I had never been involved in a genocide. OR...maybe he didn't lie but they don't look at the forms properly until later.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Hands up anyone who's currently having to work in similar temperatures to those endured by Satan's little helpers. And that's just my office. I'm lucky enough to be able to open a window. Grieves me to have to do so, rather than turn the thermostat down, but that's all the control I have. But for most of the day I am either outside or can find some reason to be so.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are here in BC now. Victoria today, Vancouver tomorrow.
I wonder if they might pop into Ikea tomorrow for a plate of meatballs, or just to look at the cushion covers. OR....get a few tasteful Chrimbo decs for their little pile in Gloucestershire. If so, this could be my chance to persuade them to buy a nice condo here from which they can trainee rule the Dominion.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Good Job

Most times, I find the French on products, more accurate a description than the English, but some biscuits caught my eye in Save-On today. The English name - 'Ginger Kids' huh, the French, 'les petits gingembres' huh, huh.

Today the Calgary Flames hockey team have been heavily criticised for having the Swine Flu vaccine ahead of other people. And yet just over a week ago, the government were fretting over how to persuade everyone to get the jab. Indeed, I overheard Bozo arguing with another friend who thought the government should just have the right to force people to get the injection. So, it seems to me that one good way of persuading people, especially a hockey obsessed people, is to get your hockey players to be vaccinated.
Sometimes we behave like the townsfolk of Springfield.

On the radio, the manager, coach, whatever, of the German winter Olympics team was saying there was no need, it - H1N1 - would all blow over long before the competitions. What I couldn't quite catch was his name, it sounded like 'Wolfuck' or 'Wolfart'.

Luckily, we have the tour of Canada by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to distract us from H1N1. Oh no, wait. Every time we see them, a comment is always made about how they are shaking hands without gloves, a high risk activity. Prince Charles also stalwartly doesn't wear an overcoat. This impresses people. Yesterday, some little man in a small town in Newfoundland, after Charles had given a short speech, said,
'Good job'.
My toes curled.

Why do we always start eating our dinner when 'Bones' is on? They are always cutting up the MOST disgusting cadavres whilst I'm cutting up my food.

Across the road from our house, there is a house which has had red and green Christmas fairy lights up since Thanksgiving. Red and green. They are the old-fashioned energy vampire type. But then this man is barking. I mean he is literally barking. When I took Whisky for his walk the other day, the man was winding two other dogs up by standing on his lawn and barking at them, they were seriously wound up, and their owner was trying to drag them away.

This evening I went for my squishogram. Very efficient, friendly and professional service. Having been through it once now, the whole boob squishing starts much earlier here, so Canadian friends the same age as me have been being squished since they were 40 - I was far more relaxed about it. It really isn't too awful, and I had forgotten that your mind is taken off the discomfort because the technician suddenly says,
'Stop breathing now.'
By the time you've worried about it, the thing's over.

Monday, 2 November 2009

All Souls

All Souls. This reminds me of a name on those standard lists of pretend names that boys give you when you go to a new school and get to cover someone else's class. Wayne King, Mike Hunt and R. Soles.
That's about it actually, they're rarely very inspired.

Tonight we had a candlelit walk of the Labyrinth in remembrance of our dead. I love the labyrinth, of being entirely in your own space but passing people all the time who are in their own space, the same and yet utterly different.
The part of your life after your parents have passed is another phase, a discovery of them, of their experience of life, that you can only explore once they have stopped interacting with you.
It's a bizarre time of growing up, after your parents' death.

Across Canada, the H1N1 experiment is going awry. Having announced it had two doses of vaccine for every resident, they then started the three phase programme of vaccination. Low risk people like myself would be last, and would get their injection from clinics that have been set up, the third week in November.
Then they polled the people and it was found that only half of the nation would be taking up the offer thank-ye very much.
Phase one started. This didn't go very well. People from all risk groups have been lining up for up to five hours and the vaccine is running out.
Shambolic it is.
Oh well, I blame the government, me. Oh, and the twonks who don't do as they were told.