Thursday, 28 October 2010

Balls and the Time Traveller's Grandma

Yes, two balls.
Now that the weather is getting somewhat more autumnal rather than Indian summerish, I am able to wear the dog-walking jacket. This is a coat of many pockets, all of them full of useful items such as scooby snacks, poopie sacks and balls.

Whisky has yet to master the art of ball catching. Well, at least, he catches it and brings it back, but never gives it up. Therefore twice the number of balls are needed, one for him to hold in his gob and one to chase after and herd along. I realised after a while, that this was not dissimilar to the pastime known as Curling. Perhaps it's in the air here. He sort of jumps and skips as the ball rolls to rest, sometimes nosing along the ground, willing it to move here or there - although whether dogs have will or not is a whole other debate, and not for here. Well, at least not for now.

There was a great post on Womanist Musings today, by a feminist Muslim woman, on gender segregation at prayer and beyond. Very interesting article.

Then there are two articles that Austen has sent me today. The first defies belief, and in fact, so does the second, but in a different way.

In Hungary, a midwife has been arrested and faces up to five years in gaol, for delivering babies, at the choice of the mother, in the mother's home. There is an interesting statistical comparison at the end. In most European countries, women have that choice, but few take up the option. In Holland however, 33% are home births.
Outrageous that a government should think it has the right to dictate this.

The other article is about a film-maker from Belfast who has discovered evidence of time travel in a Charlie Chaplin film made in 1928. I would certainly agree that the clip is fascinating. I would also agree with most of the commentators who say the man is very boring and most probably just out to publicise his films - in which endeavour he is successful, because here am I doing just that for him.
Mmmm, time travel, that would be my first thought when watching this.
Or not.

What really occurred to me was that computer programmers put Easter Eggs in Microsoft Office, so why wouldn't their muckers the digital re-masterers do likewise in films?
The woman looks remarkably like Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple, and although in 1960 there were no mobile phones either, in 2010, we have wonderful digital manipulation programmes.
So I'm opting not so much for the time travel theory and more for the digital enhancement one.
Of course, if I'm wrong, I may already have found out.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Dog's Bollocks

Another day, another dog-walker. This one spoke very little English, but he asked questions. I tried to return the favour.
'What type of dog is it?' I asked, but there was no response. I don't know why I thought this would be any easier to understand, but I then asked,
'What breed?' at which the man pulled up the dog's hindparts and showed me where his bollocks used to be. He made some attempt at 'snippy, snippy', although I think he said, 'cutty'.

I could imagine this being some kind of ancient Chinese insult, like on those HSBC TV ads, where different cultures find it insulting to see the soles of someone's feet and so forth.

Sleepy thought this could be surreal, quite my favourite of the realities, so I had a little wander there.

We were always told that those small dogs were bred as lap dogs, but I can picture the ancient Chinese, all long moustaches, pigtails and silk pyjamas, walking around with small, neutered male dogs under one arm, revealing their debollockedness as a way of saying, 'fuck you, ignorant peasant!' The practice only ceased when Communism started and 'ignorant peasant' was no longer a slight.

Yep, that's all I've got, a recycled convo from earlier ;)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Shocked and Horrified of Richmond

I was shocked and horrified today, to discover that Paul the psychic octopus had died. I'm not kidding, it didn't even make it onto our news. But worse - there is a conspiracy theory that Paul actually died three months ago, and in true sitcom style, was replaced by the aquarium keepers. Jaysus, what is the world coming to?

Superstore, my supermarket of choice - full name 'The Real Canadian Superstore' has finally discovered back bacon. It is being marketed as 'Wiltshire bacon' which is apparently made from Irish pigs. Hmmm... Kevin was shocked and horrified at the price I paid for it, but I felt I needed to show support. On the back of the packet were instructions for frying bacon.

I feel that the new series of Dexter is about to dip its toe in the waters of Lesbos. I just can't believe that they would bring in star lesbian Katherine Moennig, the L Word's Shane, just for one flirtatious scene with male impersonator Dexter's sister. I mean it has to go somewhere, otherwise I'll be shocked and horrified.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


That heat thing again.

We haven't yet had cold enough temperatures to warrant putting the heating on in the house, yet some shops are already running at ridiculous temperatures. I'm sure this must account for why the average per person energy consumption in North America is so much higher than in Europe.

I was discussing this with Austen and I said that I never used to be quite so aware of people having their homes at uncomfortable temperatures back home. But it seems as though the future may not be so orange. Or indeed rosy.
Austen made the point that people are starting to get out of the mind set of having winter clothes and summer clothes, and I certainly think that is a large part of the problem here.
A lot of people think that they should be able to wear just a T-shirt or short-sleeved top indoors during the colder months.
And really, it's more fun to have to put on jumpers, hats and scarves in the winter, just as its fun to snuggle down in bed with a hottle on a cold winter's or autumnal night, and have the window open.

One of the great things about being at The Static is that, although we have heating there for when it gets really cold, so far, we have only once had to use even the small oil-filled radiator. It's the place where I can actually wear a jumper and feel completely comfortable - in fact, as we are being encouraged to do by the government. It's also where we can have the window open in the bedroom, since there are no aeroplanes.

On a non heat related note, there is an absolutely brilliant post on I Blame the Patriarchy, about the Bechdel Movie Test as applied to Toy Story three. The writing is sheer, unadulterated bliss, worth reading for its own sake, but the points made are also sound and pertinent. Most of all, I love the idea of a 'handydyke utility belt'.
Fabulous post, fabulous clip.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Horror Stories

This morning it seemed as though CBC were trying to distract us from what is going on within Canada. We saw rioting in the streets in France, we saw David Cameron's pasty face and were told of swingeing cuts in public spending, then five minutes later we saw it again. Sarko's efforts to get fuel to the consumers, then Cammo again, then....oh, here's Canada's disgrace.

A high-up Air Force officer, Colonel Russell Williams, who has been breaking and entering homes and sexually assaulting women over a number of years, culminating in the brutal murder of one woman after a protracted rape ordeal, all the while commanding CFB Trenton, the largest airbase in Canada.

CBC can't even report the horrific details as they come out in court. They had a whole segment, in between Sarko and Cammo, telling us how they had decided not to give out details. A good thing too, the family of the murdered woman has suffered and continue to suffer enough.
How does this happen?

And how does this happen? The tea party are gaining support in the States. It shows lazy thinking and that lazy habit of just thinking someone can just wave a magic wand and make it all better, without any effort from anyone.

And then, another item from Britain, pointing out that excluded pupils are falling into crime. More lazy thinking and easy blame. Those kids don't fall into crime because they're excluded, they are excluded because they are already petty criminals.
Someone do some joined up thinking, please.

To make it all better - well, not quite, but it helped - Kalinda on 'The Good Wife' did a brilliant, 'fuck you, wanna make something of it?' scene on this week's episode. She's easily the best character in an already superb show, more power to her I say.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


I'm still stuck on Zombies. I think I'm going in the wrong direction, trying to make them more interesting in themselves, maybe the point is that we have vampires for that sort of thing. And after all, I do love a good subtext. Perhaps I need to embrace the idea that when we give up our humanity there's no way back.

Ok, but I keep coming back to the 'but all we have to focus on in a zombie story is the survivors' side'.
And when I thought about it more deeply, it still seems to be oddly religiously themed.
Yeah, I know, a stretch, but this is what I mean.
If our bodies were able to keep on working after death, our brains would too, if you believe that they are mechanical. It's only if you believe there is some special aspect to mind or soul that it would be consistent for the brain to stop and not the other mechanical aspects of the body. Although, even that is self-defeating, because we don't actually BELIEVE in these beings, just tell stories about them, and really, there doesn't HAVE to be consistency within the paradigm.
Disappeared up my own backside? Maybe.

So...moving on. High fructose corn syrup. Whilst Alex has been working at a health food store, I have been learning more about healthy eating. One of the things I find most scary, is HFCS, because, like zombies, it's bloody well lurking everywhere. Earlier this year, yet another study came out, this time from U.S. university Princeton, confirmed the findings of previous studies, that this ubiquitous substance is helping to make human beings obese, more obese, and with high levels of triglycerides. The result is fifty percent more weight gain for those eating high levels of high fructose corn syrup and an adverse effect on metabolism.

It's very difficult to find foods that don't have HFCS in them. I now always look at ingredients, but I can still get caught out. I bought a salad that Kevin and I both like, from the deli counter in Fred Meyer at the weekend. You don't see the ingredients until you get your little tub with the barcode and voilà! There it was.

I'm glad to have been educated on this lurker. I'm pretty sure that we don't know half the problems it causes yet, but being at an age when my body chemistry is finding it hard to keep in balance, the last thing I want to do is overload my system with unnecessary crap.

Carpe high fructose corn syrup.

Monday, 18 October 2010


A little while ago, my friend Gail started writing a Zombie story. The majority of the people in the writers' group were all,
'Phew, yeah, go Zombies, we are so over Vampires.' I, on the other hand, am certainly not over vamps, but was interested in Gail's story anyway. I feel that the problem for anyone writing a zombie story is finding a new way to tell it.
On TV last night, a new zombie show was being advertised like crazy. It's starting on Hallowe'en, and it's called, not terribly originally, 'The Walking Dead'.
Poor start really.
Now, here's my theory. The reason Vampire stories are so endlessly varied and engaging, is that the vampires are characters themselves, can out-think humans and have to keep their numbers small in order to be able to feed, so there's no mad rush to complete annihilation.
Also, vampires are sexy and zombies aren't.
Vampires can also control, or be at war with, other species, such as werewolves.

When a human gets turned into either, they experience a painful transition, but with zombies, when the metamorphosis is completed, the human loses reason, whereas with vampires, they gain clarity.

On the other hand, both vampires and zombies are undead. Why couldn't there be zombies as actual characters. You get it occasionally, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels for example, Mr. Shoe, I think is the name of his zombie, and in the Canadian TV series Lexx.

This is the way forward for Zombies I feel. What motivates them? Could they organise themselves better? Is (un)death reversible? Why don't they communicate? Why must they wave their arms about so obviously?
I think we should be told.

That Cranberry's song was awfully good though, particularly when sung by Dilana. Apologies for the bad language at the end.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Empathy Pains

Kevin's flight gets in at one minute to midnight tonight. He is one stressed out camper. Some of the stresses I can empathise with, others, not so much.

The heat thing I totally get. No Mr. and Mrs. Spratt going on here. Neither of us would seek out heat, and just as the temperature gets to our most comfortable level here, he has to go somewhere hot.
The weekend I spent in San Francisco was like this for me. We'd had the first snowfall of the season here, but I was flying away from it and into uncomfortable warmth. It starts you off on the wrong foot.

Then there is the idea that you're going on some kind of jolly. This I also get. When I was taking school trips out to France and Germany, you'd always get some parents who made comments about your having a holiday during term time. That would piss me off no end because whilst I would certainly go to either place in my free time, I wouldn't take 70 kids that my staff and I were responsible for 24 hours a day. This was my work, and instead of getting to go home in the evening, I was never off duty until we handed the kids back.
Kevin, on the other hand, hasn't even gone somewhere he'd ever choose to go except for work.

I DON'T know the frustrations of trying to find information pertinent to your area of expertise from a trade show, which to some must seem like walking around looking at machines, what boy doesn't want to do that?
We would always take kids to a theme park in whichever country we were visiting, but, aside from the fact that I definitely wouldn't go to one of those on my days off, again, no fun when you're having to keep 70 odd kids out of police custody.

The other thing I can relate to is what you've left behind. Kevin's on some tight deadlines at work, and so he worries about the jobs he has left behind for various staff to do, getting done.
I was always worried about my department, because I had always left behind one member of staff who would unashamedly bully anyone and everyone, (and not in a good way) not to mention back-stabbing me. The one colleague who was most vulnerable to the bullying - I took with me.

Then there's the food. The one thing Kevin was looking forward to was some good grub. Could he find any? Not without a two-hour wait, no.
The grub was good when we took kids to France, but they hated it and would buy burgers as soon as we went anywhere, then throw them up later.
In Germany, the kids liked the food because it always took the form of some kind of breaded meat and chips, but we staff would spend our time trying to get hold of vegetables.

At the end of the day*, you do what you have to do for your job, but I'm glad it's not for any longer.

* I used to have a Head of Department who was constantly saying, 'at the end of the day...' and after a while, we would jump in with, 'it gets dark.' Now, I'd have to add, 'except in Alaska in the summer.'

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Tao of Poo

The house across the way from us has recently been re-painted. Not the violent violet or the body-fluid yellow of the others, merely, the colour of what comes out of one's backside when one is slightly off-colour, but not totally hepatic.
But....this time it's not the colour that's bothering me, but the Feng Shui. A new set of front doors has been installed. One of the other dog walkers, normally a mine of misinformation, tells me that the old doors - facing west - were really bad Feng Shui, the new ones face north.
But here's the thing. The builders haven't been seen for days, and yet general rubble and crap strews their garden and spills over onto the pavement. How's that good Feng Shui?

Somewhere in the city, on my travels yesterday, I spotted a new development called 'Broadmoor'. Does no-one research these things? At least some proportion of the potential customer base are British ex-pats.

Further to the bad Feng Shui, I happen to know that Sarah Palin was in Vancouver yesterday. Perhaps her visit was eclipsed by the Chilean miners being rescued - and thank God for that - but so far as I can work out, her visit has been relatively low-key, I only know because someone I know was going to see her speak, and would be allowed to ask a question. Personally, I would find it difficult to narrow it down to one, but if I had to it would be why?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Straight is the New Gay

Kev's gone to a trade show in Las Vegas.
He's not amused.
Nor am I.

This morning, I popped into church, only to find that the place was heaving. It was Homeless Connect day. At the point when I walked in, there was a Northern Irish preachery person on the stage, put me in mind of the Reverend Ian Paisley. There were people giving out second hand clothing, others cutting hair, some offering dental advice, and in general, just....people, everywhere. I even saw at least one of the politicians who claims that we have no homeless in Richmond. Whisky did some equal opportunities barking and I barked at a person of indeterminate-but-deffo-not-white background who told me he was a 'Pastor' but addressed a group of girls as 'guys'. He said he saw my point, but that they were high school students, so they understood that type of language.
'And you, my friend, are supposed to be a leader, modelling a better way, not reinforcing to those young women that they are less than men,' said I.
Probably way over his head.

Howevs, to brighten up my afternoon, which, to be fair, was technically bright, best of both worlds, sunny, but not overly warm, Sleepy sent me this YouTube clip, which I've watched over and over. It has kept me chuckling. My favourite lines were,
"I was icing cakes with thirty chicks while you fuckwits were showering together," and "They're not tough? They fuck men, that's hardly gay!"

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Harvest Thanksgiving

At the weekend we had the most supreme storm. The wind in the trees was mental enough, but then we had intense, pounding rain, fabulous, FABULOUS, there's just nothing quite like it.
The morning after, all the birds came out to play, herons were standing patiently in every inlet, eagles were riding the azure, the garden Jays were bouncing from branch to branch of the spruce, and the Juncos are back for the winter.

This business with the Chilean miners is freaking me out. Less since I found out that they're not inside the tube for an hour, but less than twenty minutes, still, just thinking about it gives me the cold panic. At the same time, I am so glad they are bringing them out at last, and weeks earlier than at first anticipated.

Wow, I can't believe Claire Rayner has died. I also can't believe she was 79. Surely people stay at the age when they were most on the telly. Mmmm? No, s'pose not. She was like everyone's real aunt, sensible and down-to-earth, and she had a really chocolately voice. Loved her.

Bad driving was very equal opps today. Firstly, taking Alex to work, I was driving in the right hand lane, and needed to move over into the middle lane. I signalled, the lane was clear, and started to change lanes. As I did so, a woman driving in the left hand lane, simply moved over without signalling and clearly without looking. She was too busy applying her lippie.
On the way to Ikea, a man came gunning it across an intersection, no matter the other traffic he was ignoring and barely missing. Of course, he had a full map open over his steering wheel and appeared to be reading it.

In some ways, I feel a bit mean blogging this little interchange, but it was cute really.
On our morning walk, Whisky met a new dog friend.
'What is your dog's name?' I asked,
'Belly,' said the owner. Strangely appropriate and yet odd, thought I.
'This is Whisky,' I said,
'Oh!' said the owner, 'both have drink names,'
'Yes, Whisky and Belly's Irish Cream,' he said.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Change in the Weather

Rain is a-coming in, a weather front is approaching, and it will be staying for the foreseeable future. Ergo, I have done a bit of outside painting in anticipation of the winter.

SO, Ed Miliband is the new Shadow Leader huh? Is he even the right Miliband we wonder? He's not Diane Abbott, that's for sure. Seems he's already upset brother David and caused Harriet Harmon to cavort bizarrely, although she never needs too much excuse. In general, the change seems to be well received - Polly Toynbee was, as usual, quite eloquent.

On the TV front, we watched a new episode of Law and Order UK - presumably a second series. This really is television at its best, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Got the Bottle

On our TV news this morning - the upmarket one that still doesn't come close to the BBC, we have the shocking news that a British study shows that pregnant women can drink moderately, although modestly would sound more à propos, without it harming their baby or its future as a reasonably behaved citizen.
CBC seemed outraged by this.
'Canadian women may interpret this study as saying that pregnant women can drink moderately without harming their babies,' they said. Well duh, only if they are actually listening, yes. They kept coming back to it, like a ferret poking its annoying head out of a hole. As though, by constantly going on about what a stupid study it is, it will go away.

I took the bottles and cans back to the recycling depot. The Grey Goose bottle from Duty Free at Gatters stood higher than the others.
'I don't think you can give me money back on that one,' I said, 'it's from British Duty Free,'
'I don't understand,' said the assistant. I repeated what I'd said.
'I've never heard of that,' he said, 'I've heard of Duty Free in the States, that's all.'
And since he'd never heard of it, he gave me the money back on the bottle.

And here's the link to Ellen Degeneres giving her reaction to the suicide of the young man who committed suicide after his privacy was savagely violated by his roommate.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Chinese Illumination

One of the dog walkers, at great length and in very much less than fluent English, explained to me about how evil the Chinese are. He kept punctuating the explanation by,
'And I should know, I am Chinese.'
He is. Mainland Chinese. Sometimes, here, the Mainland Chinese and the Hong Kong Chinese don't get on, although both seem to agree that the Hong Kong Chinese are in some way superior.

According to my informant, the Chinese have no sense of community, no public responsibility. They use pesticides in a city where they aren't allowed, because they want perfect gardens, they care about the welfare of their own pets, but not about that of others. He told me that they see dogs as food,
'I should know, I am Chinese,' he said.

They keep their own houses clean (?), but litter outside.
It all sounds so at odds with Communism. If he's right then it makes me wonder whether Communism has some unforeseen side effects. I mean, it seems such a perfect system, apart from the someone-having-to-be-in-charge problem, which inevitably opens the door to corruption, but then through the other door is anarchy, so no getting round it.
But does it take away civic pride, and if so, why? How can it dull the spirit it is supposed to engender - mutual interest and co-operation?

Interesting to ponder, but I have also found that information gleaned from my co-dog walkers is frequently inaccurate.

Dogs, on the other hand, abounded in church on Sunday, at the service to honour Francis of Assisi. Whisky was the loudest, and the bossiest, but he calmed down eventually and out-stayed the rest. Then he pooed on the grass at the front of the church.
Food? Not likely.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


The Static this weekend has provided some minor irritations, of the human kind. I have begun to wonder whether people who simply refuse to take the simplest measures to help the environment are simply, thick, just downright lazy, or actually evil.
Alex started me thinking on this when she reminded me of the utter arrogance of a woman who came into her shop. When asked whether she needed a bag, after some initial, 'well duh yes,' response, gave the line of the morbidly stupid, 'well one bag won't make any difference.'
Actually, she's wrong, because one bag makes one bag's worth of difference either towards solving, or reinforcing the problem.

The Static next door has permanently glowing fairy lights, the old fashioned coloured ones, not the newer low energy or LED ones. Strings and bloody strings of them, and they're not on a timer, they simply use energy night and day. Mysteriously, they got disconnected.
The other day I met her for the first time ever, I have not seen her the whole time we've been there. She introduced herself, mentioning not a word about the lights.
The following morning, as I returned with Whisky from his walk, she was walking towards her trailer, with a bath towel.
'I've been to use my neighbour's shower,' said she,
'Oh no,' said I, 'what is wrong with yours?'
'Nothing,' she replied, 'it's just not worth putting the hot water on when we're only here for a couple of days.'

Crossing the border was equally disappointing. Even the NEXUS queue was stalled, as, to be fair it cam often be on a Friday night. There are signs on the side, saying, 'BC is idle-free,' and reminding you to turn off your engine. But either I am the only motorist who can read, or the only one who bloody cares. Somewhere in the lines of cars, I can hear one other ignition turning every time we move.
Seriously, what is wrong with people?

On the subject of TV, which I wasn't, but I am now, has Glee, as Alex put it, already jumped the shark? The Britney episode was so outrageously lame it was like watching paint dry, only more boring and annoying. Sue Sylvester was only on the screen for a few brief seconds, for the rest, it was utter dross.

One surprisingly good newie, and I mean surprising, I was not very motivated to even watch it, is Hawaii 5-0.

Having enthused about Momford and Sons recently (they need to consult me about some of their lyrics, but in their own time), it seems as though M&S (NOT Marks and Sparks) are the new Snow Patrol when it comes to TV series' emotion music.