Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The wrong kind of air freshener

I had classes yesterday at the sleek and shiny financial building in downtown, where the stock exchange is. I stopped in the bathroom for a quick piss and facecheck and remarked the lovely smell while I was peeing. It was so familiar and yummy that smell, ah yes Fruit Loops. The bathroom was equipped with one of those mister things that sprays a pleasant odor every couple of minutes. Pissing away, I remembered my incredible infatuation with Fruit Loops as a child, never permitted to have it since the parents decided it was too "sugary". I thought how cool it would be if they had a cologne with this scent and even more apropos if it were marketed to homos. "Bring out your inner fruit with new Fruit Loop cologne." But I lamely digress.

After class and a jumbo coffee, I again stopped into the elegant bathroom with cloth towels and wood paneling on the walls. What assaulted me as I entered is difficult to describe. That fruit loop smell was mixed with something else. Slightly nutty and pungent but not in a wholly disagreable way, well not until my brain lit upon the idea that it was shit that was the mixed in smell. Ok, this is wrong and something I hadn't anticipated. Fruit Loops is not an overpowering aroma, it is sweet yet gentle like honey. Ain't no way honey is gonna cover up no shit smell - you hear what I'm sayin'? So why are they using it, they've just ruined a perfectly good smell memory for me, and now every time I smell it, I'm going to think about the Fruit and Shit Loops smell.

Christ I'm forty and I'm still amused by bodily functions. Will I ever grow up?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Free internet

Look, ma I can blog from the library.

They are charging two bucks per 15 minutes for internet usage a mere block away from here. What idiots, it costs nothing at the library.

Kay, that was fun, gotta go back and teach now.

Technology sucks

Ok, the router shuts itself off and restarts every 90 seconds. It started to do this yesterday. What this means is that you can use the internet at our house once every 5 minutes for about a minute. It's taken me a half hour alone just to get to this screen to post something to the blog.

After calling the internet company, they blamed a) the new phone that we bought b) that maybe the phone company desyncronized us (we have DSL) c) a virus.

Ok, a ) we've had the phone for three days, but the problem just started b) the phone company desyncronized us - wouldn't we be unable to ever connect in this case? and c) our antivirus is strong and updated daily - we've scanned the 'puters and no virus found to boot.

I like the virus idea, that could be fixed on our end. And interestingly, it's the router, not the modem that is resetting itself.

Hey Fernando and Psycho, you're IT guys, what the fuck?

I'm grouchy and this is not what the intended post was for today.

Sometimes I hate technology. You know if your button falls off or your chair breaks, it's easy to repair with simple materials procured from local merchants. If you have some high tech device, try getting it repaired.

I once took my electric piano in for a problem with one of the keys. It was under warranty. Though declared "fixed" twice, the problem never fully went away. And the shop had it for over four months.

Jesus H Christ on a stick, I may have to start blogging from the library computers. (If that's possible.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Here comes Katrina

A late afternoon downpour from pinkly lit cotton candy clouds visited us briefly, the sun shining all the while near the horizon. The rainbow in the picture accompanied the shower. All the birds came out after and fluttered in the puddles and chirped wildly. Perfect, no need to water the garden.

Here comes Katrina.

I'm so excited. I watched her progress all day yesterday and this morning she is just about to roar ashore near New Orleans. Is it bad that I can't wait to see the destruction to be wrought upon landfall? Because this is the best part, the evidence of the awesome power of nature.

I don't want people to lose their lives of course. But there should be some good video from the brave ones covering Katrina's arrival. Should be good watchin on the evening news.

Alright then, little else to report. If you haven't been around on the weekend, go ahead and check out the previous posts. It seems there's much more going on in the blogosphere Mon thru Fri. Is that because most people do their blogging from work?

Must go, labor commitments loom.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

That other deer

Last evening was a great time, I got to do a few things I love that I haven't done in a long time. Drink margaritas, eat chinese food and play cards.

We dined on the rooftop patio of some friends who used to be our upstairs neighbors when we lived at the loft. The pic above is the southwest view toward downtown.

It was a delightful, warm breezy evening. The time passed quickly as we gabbed about whatnot, and noshed on the Chinese food. We played a game of Shanghai, (a progressive rummy game) and then had a delicious fruit tart for dessert. After cards, we played a bit of Celebrity Taboo, which is always good for some laughs. The best laugh of the evening came when Serge was the one guessing clues and the Celebrity to guess was Rudolf Nureyev. In trying to get Serge to guess the first part of the name, the clue given was "Blank the Red Nosed Reindeer." You'll never guess what Serge shouted out. Bambi. Yes, apparently the song in French does not contain the name Rudolf, so Serge blurted out the other famous deer. Ah how we laughed.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Journal sampler

When I started the blog, I also took to carrying around a notebook to record things that I may wish to write later, or things that come to mind, whatever. Here is a sampling from the last three months.

- The lottery is a tax on the dreams of the poor.

- Logically, spontaneity should increase over one's life, prudence being more valuable when young. But we are not wired this way.

- People frown at my smoking as they walk past while also breathing the traffic exhaust. I'll bet they have a car but don't smoke.

- What if God is the collective awareness of everything that is aware? In that case, it's my duty to love and be joyful.

- Material objects are like lead weights on the soul. Once you acquire too many, moving forward is impossible.

- Robbers in Cambodia, annoyed by the noise, shoot and kill a crying infant. I can't love these robbers, their very existence drives me hopeless.

- On the march toward your destiny (I'm guessing death), don't forget to laugh, fall down, get dirty and wonder about it all.

- In our imperfection, we seek perfection, but only an oyster can make a pearl.

- Smokers shouldn't buy air mattresses.

- What the fuck kind of burrito has zucchini, goat cheese and black beans? This is what they're peddling at the airport in Texas.

- It is a mistake to assume that others experience things the way you do. Every brain is different.

- If I have to do it your way, I don't want to do it. I couldn't care less if you do it my way.

- I count 24 metal objects dangling from pierced places about the face and ears of a man in his 20's. Sparkling and glittering, "Look at me!" and so I do.

- A spider, ladylike, crosses the table and disappears underneath, descends to the floor from invisible thread and vanishes into a crack. We're in a room on the 23rd floor with no windows. I wish her well.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Structure or not to structure

Sara and Yugi, her playmate from upstairs

So I've been toying around with the idea of starting up some theme posts, Friday pics and Monday rants sort of thing. I'm considering this because I have this habit of posting daily, and with huge work commitments looming, I'm afraid the blog may deteriorate into a constant whine/bitterness kind of thing. Which, in itself could be funny, but it's hard to be funny about misery when you are experiencing it, and much easier to find the humor upon later reflection of the misery.

Additionally, I could prepare some posts ahead of time, for those days when I must leave the house while it's still dark. Some people have the procrastination disease, but I have the opposite of which I know of no name - that is, I like getting things done ahead of time. It's an affliction much like procrastination while still being the complete opposite. For example, just yesterday I found the wedding card that I bought for my friends months ago. I bought one a couple days before the wedding too having completely forgotten that I had already purchased one. So, as you can see, a different kind of malady.

So I am asking my two and a half readers if they have any suggestions, things they like to hear me write about etc.

My original intent with the blog was to practice writing of course, but also to talk about the sky, clouds, weather phenomena and also show others how I've come to be at peace in life and perhaps help others to do so. (I don't know how, just that the desire to help others was there.) But now as I look back over the last 90 posts, I realize it's mostly a journal with no overriding theme of any kind. A scrapbook of my mind if you will. I think the scraps are going to start resembling each other after a while which is why I'm seeking a bit of structure to add to the thing.

So keep going like it is, or start some themes?

My ideas so far are: Top Ten Day, Tales from the trenches (in which waiter stories are told), Picture of the week, and a few others which might just be monthly.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's only money, right?

Is it just a given that there will be marital tussles over finances? In our household, like many, there are often disputes over how best to utilize the resources. And while we both agree that far too much is devoted to tobacco, we don't seem to be making any headway on reducing that expenditure. That's where we agree anyway.

Though we are married, we have separated our bills, each taking the responsibilty for paying certain ones. The problem is that one member of the house tends to overlook some of the due dates on the bills, and misplans the use of the weekly pay and bloats the credit cards to keep up. (Hint, it isn't me)

Is it considered codependant to get narded up about the moolah habits of dear spouse? Because I'm a little narded up today. Trying to figure out if I have a problem or if there is a problem.

I pretty much live by one axiom in this arena - can't spend more than I take in. It's a system that works for me and has enabled me to save. Surprisingly, some view me with hatred for this. (usually those who are bad with money)

Well, there's only black spewy negativity issuing forth today, so I better go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


It's no secret I love dogs. Always have, and probably always will. And I can say this with a full array of disgusting and sometimes painful experiences under my belt with them. Indeed, I've landed in the hospital twice over dog attacks. But, as with people, there are good dogs, bad dogs, aggressive dogs and passive dogs, old dogs and puppies, each an individual with a distinct personality should you choose to get to know them. Further, when you tend to a dog's needs, you earn his loyalty and this relationship can grow into an intense love unlike anything else in life. In a way, it's a kind of psychosis, albeit a debatably positive one.

One of the greatest dogs that I have had the pleasure of knowing belonged to a friend. The dog is no longer with us I'm sad to say but he lives on in our memories. He was a large dog, black with patches of white, a kind of shepherd mix who tended to slobber during physical exertion. If you threw an object in the vicinity of this dog, he would dutifully retrieve it and if you grabbed a giant log, he would attempt same. Growling and furiously tugging at objects three times the size of him, he managed to drag them several yards. He made quite a spectacle of it. And he hated the sight of a human hanging or swinging. He would jump and bite at people hanging from the branch of a tree or swinging on a swingset. I, myself had several shirts torn by his snapping jaws while taunting him by hanging from a treebranch. Insane he was. But so lovable too, loved to be pet, loved any kind of food. And he really loved me.

He would get so excited at times when I came to visit, urine escaped him. (Apparently this honor was bestowed solely on me.) And at one period, maybe half way through his life, he started a new habit during my visits. It would usually go something like this - I would arrive, greet the dog and sit down in the living room or at the kitchen table with my friend to chat. The dog would lie close to us on the floor. A little while after, we would hear a jingling sound, the sound of his tags clinking together as if he were up and about or chewing at a fleabite. Then we would look over at the dog and see him gnawing frantically at the base of his testicles. At this point there was no use doing anything as he was locked into a process that was unstoppable (believe me we tried). We would look on embarassedly to watch his pink monster emerge from its sheath and sprinkle doggie cum all over the floor in front of us. The whole thing done in under a minute. As you can imagine, I laughed helplessly during these displays. My friend, not so much, she having to clean it up and everything before he lapped it all back up (I know, vile.)

And so he holds a special place in my heart, the only dog that ever made me feel sexy. His name is the title of this post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Brain drain dilemma

We are seriously considering getting rid of the TV. There are some shows that we like, but not enough to go to the trouble of taping them should we be indisposed to watch them. Additionally, it seems to take too much space in the hours before bed. Hours that could be spent reading, or blogging.

Plus, if you stop and take a look to analyze what we watch, there is no redeeming reason for continuing the nightly habit. We watch nature shows on Discovery and PBS, and then we watch reality shows, Idol, Big Brother, Trading Spouses and we stop in now and then on Desperate Housewives and catch reruns of Sex and the City and Friends. Nothing that we couldn't live without.

Maybe we should keep the TV for movie rental watching? And just ditch the satellite. I don't know. I'd kind of like to learn to live without it and then go back to it at a future time if I feel the need.

Less is more, right?

I would go on, but I've got about 25 minutes to S, S and S. If you know what I mean.

Great day everyone!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lobbying for dirty air

I remember playing away the weekends when I was a kid growing up in Southern California. Sometimes, we would play hard, spending hours in the pool. I can remember having painful breathing at the end of some of these days. The pain was due to chemical burns on the lungs from the terrible smog we had at the time. We didn't know it then (nor did our parents), but we were developing permanent scar tissue. Since then, California has become the strictest state in America when it comes to vehicle and factory emissions. And it has worked, as the level of pollutants in the air there has declined steadily over the last thirty years.

As I read today about other states considering adopting the tough California vehicle emission standards, I am pleased - not only for addressing global warming issues, but also because I remember the burning lungs and wish for children to grow up without this. What is sickening to me is that the auto industry is using it's lobbying muscle to kill these proposals or severely limit their scope. And for what reason is the auto industry fighting to keep the air poisonous? (we know it's all about the profit margins, but here is how they are couching it:)

"Consumers ought to be able to make the choices of options they want on their vehicle, and not have those choices made for them," says Eron Shosteck of the
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington, D.C.-based auto industry group (it takes additional equipment on the vehicle to reduce emissions of green house gases)

See they are just trying to look out for our freedom. If consumers want to pollute the air, that should be their choice seems to be the tack here. The people who breathe the air, well we aren't concerned about them (unless they buy one of our cars of course.)

And this leads me to the most disturbing realization of political reality. Those whose sole interest is profitablility wield a huge amount of influence in our political system. This is not new, and we aren't surprised, after all, a company answers to its profit-thirsty investors. But when I see a whole industry lobbying for Dirty Air, I remember those late summer afternoons with burning lungs and am filled with sadness/outrage at our values as a society. That the auto industry's rights to profits outweigh the need for children to grow up breathing clean air.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Gay weddings have the best music

Another gay wedding celebration took place last night. Good friends we've known for years. We were invited and enjoyed the great party. Especially the music. Is there some kind of gay music gene? Because we danced for hours loving all the songs. I don't have a good picture of the happy couple from last night, so here's a picture of us after 6 hours of open bar. Yikes.

Gallons of alcohol and day after blog writing don't mix so well.

I'm gonna go lie down.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Paper pushing and pomposity

So I had an intensive class with a private student yesterday, seven hours of English instruction crammed into one day. Thank God the student is affable and somewhat interesting or I'd be drinking at lunchtime. Anyway, the class is in one of the schools that I take contracts from. It's unusual to give classes at the school, as usually we are dispatched to the workplace of the students to give the lessons. So I'm there yesterday and the head honcho at the school approaches me and says, "Torn, where are the evaluations for these three students from your group last spring?" (I had taken over the class from another teacher and taught the last five weeks of the course. Out of 12 students, I never met three of them as they didn't attend the last five weeks of class.) "Oh, when I turned in the evals, I left a note describing the reason why an evaluation for these students was missing. Namely, because I never met them, so how can I evaluate them." I said, trying not to be annoyed by bullshit beaurocracy. "Well, what you do is fill out the evaluation sheet and write N/A and mark 0 for classes attended, we need that for our records." he says, thrusting the evaluation sheets in my hand.

So I took the three sheets, wrote the three students names, wrote N/A and 0 and signed and dated the form. Took me about a minute, shorter than the time it took to have that little exchange about the missing evaluations. I think it was probably revenge for the nasty email I sent to the head honcho a couple of months ago. Here let me go look for that. Ah yes, here it is, they lock the door during the secretary's breaks and lunch hour, but the closing times vary.

I stopped by today, once again though, the time I could stop by to pick up some forms, the office was closed. You know I'm trying to figure out when the office is closed, but it seems to change. Last week, lunch was 1245-1345, but today, it's 1230-1330. What gives? Can we please have some consistency, and how is it good business practice to close the office during business hours anyway? Part of running a good business is satisfying customers and employees. Am I the only one frustrated that I can't swing by in my tight schedule, because I can never know when Secretary's morning break is and now the vague lunch hours. How hard would it be to have someone cover the desk when Secretary is out? (Additionally, students have found this strange when attending classes at the center.)
You'll have to forgive me, but really, there should be some consistency there.

Incidentally, I never received a response to this email. (I agree it was a bit bitter and whiny,) But now it seems the response was just a long time coming and in the veiled form of asking me to fill out three pieces of paper that I'm fairly sure will be filed and never looked at again.

This is also the problem with me and bosses. (I spent many years being a boss, and I excelled at it, though I loathed it in the end.) If they can comment on my performance, I have no problem commenting on theirs. (Last summer, in a hostile exchange between me and the restaurant manager, I followed her into the kitchen waving my finger at her and saying "It's bad management plain and simple, you have a successful business despite your poor management skills." I'll blog it one day.)

But bosses don't like that, now do they? (And maybe this is why I've been called a pompous asshole more than once. Hmm.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

I want what I want and I want it now

As (insert favorite nationality here), we generally feel that we are entitled to certain rights, inalienable or otherwise. These might vary somewhat based on whatever we put in the afore parentheses. Certainly, after birth we have a right to be here. A right to live. It takes food, water, air and protection from the elements to live. It seems to me that once you reach adulthood, you should contribute a bit of labor to help have those things provided. The rest is gravy, man and we should be so thrilled everyday that we don't have to go without those basic things that so many in the world struggle to acquire.

I think those basic rights should be assured for all. And in the absence of that, the feeling of entitlement should get toned down. Do we have a right to double decaf mocha lattes with nonfat milk and cinnamon not chocolate, or for that matter ski-doos? Obviously we have the right, our society is set up that way. But what happens oftentimes when people have an obstacle (ran out of nonfat milk for example) is that then they make a fuss and insist because they are "entitled" to have what they want/can pay for.

This is why I can't work in restaurants anymore. The only thing that matters is who has the dollars. I'm entitled because I have the money. And meanwhile people on the planet are dying of starvation.

God I sound like a communist don't I. Forgive me, it's early and I'm off to work.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Okay, so I had a lesson yesterday with a student I've been teaching privately for some time. The lesson went well, as usual. We conversed on a number of topics in her shiny executive office, both of us wearing professional attire. (gack) So the lesson is at noon and I stopped at Subway (in the same skyscraper) to eat a BLT beforehand. Afterward, I stopped at the bathroom and washed my hands and checked the hair, straightened the tie. Then I dried my hands and went down the corridor to her office. When I left her office, I went home as quickly as possible to strip off the "nice" clothes. I noticed a little sensation under my upper lip and so leaned close to the bedroom mirror to inspect the teeth, and this is what I saw.

Now when I give class, I'm on, which means quite a bit of smiling. Smiling, I'll have you know, exposes the teeth to observation. So what the hell was this woman thinking? There I am going on about adverb placement, the importance of it, especially in such cases as "often blown" and "blown often" har dee har har, and what can she possibly be paying attention to but the gynormous piece of lettuce festooning my teeth?

And that's not the first time something like that has happened to me.

About six years ago, I was in San Francisco for the food show sharing a hotel room with my boss, the owner of the company. This is nerve racking in itself, sharing such an intimate thing as sleeping in the same room as her, but wait til you hear what happened the last morning there. We got up and showered and prepped ourselves. I went first and when I shaved, I made a rather nasty rashy thing on my neck and patched it up with a little toilet paper to stop the bleeding. (You can see where this is going right?) Then she took her half hour in the bathroom as I watched the morning news. Once finished, we went down to the coffee shop for breakfast.
Yes, we ordered, were served, ate the food and relaxed a bit with our coffee and newspapers before we headed back up to get our bags. When we got upstairs, I glanced in the mirror to see blood stained toilet paper bits on my neck. Horrified, I whirled around and said, "How could you do this? How could you let me go down there and eat and everything like this?" I was bright red with shame, thinking about the waitress, the other customers. "I thought you wanted it like that. I'm sorry." Okay, so she thought she was respecting my quirkiness or something. But if you take anything away from this story, it's that anytime, anywhere that you see a guy with bits of bloody paper on his neck, please, please mention it to the poor guy. And ditto for the tooth festoonage,

As if this needs to be said, people.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fear and loathing in London

"The evidence clearly shows he was being restrained before being shot dead"

It was pretty horrifying a couple weeks ago when the police in London shot that Brazilian guy, but not half as horrifying as now finding out that the guy had already been tackled, and when other police arrived, they (or he) found it necessary to lodge eleven bullets in the guy's head, though three of them missed. A mistake they were calling it, but now (with the leaked investigation documents) it looks a lot more like murder. Also, I find it interesting that it will be "months" before the final report is due out. Months? There were dozens of people working on getting this one guy (not to mention the bazillion cameras surveiling London), so plenty of witnesses, what more needs to be investigated?

I'll tell you what happened, one of these guys was so blinded by rage at the "terrorists" that he didn't shoot to maim or cripple, no, blood was what he wanted pulling that trigger until the chamber clicked empty. Reminded me of post 9/11 in the states when the population turned crazed and blood thirsty. (Seems they still haven't spilled enough blood.)

It's another shining example of how hatred results in the killing of innocent people. There was but one casualty in the failed London attacks, and it was this Brazilian guy minding his own business, trying to get through his day like everyone else. If I lived in London, I would probably be more afraid of my fellow whacko countrymen, than dark-skinned backpack toters.

And the police? Well, they can't be trusted. I found that out a long time ago when I witnessed police breaking laws (ask em about it, she was there). Subsequently, I tried to "complain" about what I had witnessed, but there was no "process" by which a complaint could be filed by a civilian. Got that? They are there to "protect" us, but if they have a bad day, or want to rough somebody up for no reason, there's just no way to reprimand them.

Do you think the police officer in London who shot the Brazilian guy will reap repercussions? I guess we'll find out some months from now. But I'll tell you right now, he won't be going to jail, though what he did was murder, plain and simple.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Not so bad

I don't know why I got so narded up about going back to work, the day flew by and before I knew it I was back home. I started an intensive class with a young man who works in the government unemployment office. We sat together for 7 hours, mostly talking, and discussing grammar points and vocabulary tidbits along the way. I don't like doing anything for 7 hours, except sleeping, so I was a bit apprehensive about it. And all for naught, we got along famously and accomplished beaucoup.

I sat outside downtown for lunch and enjoyed people watching, the huge crush of noontime worker bees circulating through the streets. You can tell the people who feel they are important, the men swaggering and the women walking like men. The perpetual underlings are easily spottable too, shoulders hunched, not much spring in their step, the burden of knowing they have to go back to their cubby of slavery weighing heavily upon them. The tourists look the happiest, all agape and stupid looking, taking pictures of I don't know what, and soaking in the frenetic energy around them. I swear it's like New York at the lunch hour, everyone go, go go!

I would have to say that the most distasteful part of my day was the subway ride home. The metro is running at more leisurely summer hours still so the rush hour tends to have very packed trains. I hate this part. A bunch of stranger's body parts pressing against you while the train vibrates along the tracks. Why is it never a strapping young buck, and always A: a smelly man or B: a gum chomping teenager? Today, I got both. After work, I squeezed on the metro and somehow a dozen other people squeezed in after me. A gum chomping teenager (with music blaring in her ears) had TWO briefcase size purses, one of which was transparent with steel corners. This transparent number dug into my back, and forced me to shift around and glare with loathing at the girl. She avoided my gaze at all times. (It is customary to put your bags on the floor during rush hour and there are signs posted reminding passengers of this) I couldn't help seeing what was in her giant Zena purse since it was transparent and all, and thought how tacky it was to have your tampons on display. (Her way of saying Don't fuck with me today?) But wait, there's more, on the other side of me there was this sweaty, swarthy gentleman who was just starting to turn sour, little whiffs of it now and then escaping him. On the side of his Streisand caliber nose sprouted a gnarly mole, and I mean grape-sized, nestled in the crack between his nose and cheek. One single hair grew from the grape thing, just one, but it was a good inch long. How could he not notice this thing? Maybe it grows that much in one day? Finally, I just looked at the floor and waited for my stop, trying not to feel hateful.


As I head out this morning (And I say that bitterly, since the sun isn't even up yet) I am remembering this quote from Einstein:

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Something to chew on.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Back to school blahs

Another glorious Sunday sunset on Aylwin street.

For me, the summer ends today. Back to work I go tomorrow, back to lesson planning and test correcting, and explaining the more mystical bits of English, like why we use apostrophe ess for possesives EXCEPT when the possessive belongs to "it". In reality, English is a whole pot of exceptions strung together with some general guidelines. We seriously have the most fucked up language, and the spoken language is even worse, embracing slang and new expressions as we are wont to do. Then there are the completely unexplainable parts.

For example, say for some bizarre reason (like being a person whose native language uses such structures) you construct the following sentence in response to the question "Do you have the key?"

No, It isn't me (or I, depending on your uptight quotient) who HAS/HAVE the key.

or what if the question is "Do they have it?"

It isn't them who HAS/HAVE it.

I think most people would agree that HAS sounds better. But what is your subject? The subject is "NOT I", or "NOT THEY". I and They take "have" as the present tense. Not very clear is it?

These are the kinds of questions I'll be facing in the months to come. I've pondered this particular one a good number of times with no luck in resolving it. And while wordsmiths and linguists just love deconstructing these things, (myself included) this is scary shit for someone learning a language trying to build a reliable map in their brain about how the language works. While I prance around affably lecture on delighting in plays on words and how "wound" can be pronounced two ways and have many meanings, the students sink lower in their chairs thinking "What the fuck kind of language is this? I can't learn this!" Then I catch a whiff of their discomfort and try to do a little damage control. "Why look over here at your own language....explain this little bit of nonsense to me." (Get them thinking in their own language a bit, great English teaching method eh?)

I'm standing on the precipice between freedom and slavery (for all work is slavery, being as there are people who have found a way to make gobs of money convincing others to do all the work for them) and resignation is setting in.

I need a little cheerleading.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


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Saturday, August 13, 2005

A day well frittered

I had very little to do yesterday. Well, I had very little to do that couldn't be postponed easily. I make a list for each day, goals if you will, of what I want/need to get done. There were only three things on yesterday's list. Write Lifestyles, make lesson plans for next week. Organize teaching materials. This one has been on the list everyday for a week. (What doesn't get done one day gets moved to the next day's list) And though next week heralds my reentry into professordom, I am dragging my heels about getting my crap together. I ended up doing none of those things, and every time I looked at my list, I had the reaction as if it read: Have rectal exam, fix something under the house, and worm Sara.

I got the usual Friday afternoon call. The spouse would be going to happy hour with his alcoholic drinking work buddies. I finished playing my 212th 17th game of Scrabble, and took a shower to remove all the sweat worked up from using the mouse to place my letter tiles on the board. I hopped on the bus and headed to the village, a light summer rain falling. I arrived about 6 and the gang was already in their cups, their buzz clearly in its zenith. I had a pastis and everyone seemed to want to touch me and coo over me, pet me. It wasn't disagreeable.

The place had three lottery slot machines in the back. After stopping by the toilet, I popped in to play my usual sneaky $5. I played it and lost it and then noticed $40 sitting next to the machine. I decided to wait a little more time to make sure the owner wasn't returning and played another $5. This time I won $20 and cashed it out, picked up the $40 and went back to the gang. A little good fortune, more libations for all.

Somehow, it was 11 when we departed. We spasmodically made spectacles of ourselves walked through the village, picking up 4 hamburgers along the way, and then crammed them indelicately into our faces ate them in the taxi home. It was still raining and in the 70's. We sat outside on the deck and sniped talked about people, then I went to bed and spouse fell asleep in the chair outside in his underwear. When I woke up to pee later, I saw him and I so wanted to take a picture, but well, I've sworn that off as you know.

Today, my list reads just as it did yesterday.

Friday, August 12, 2005

This and that

Dinner out chez Toque! (The exclamation point is part of the name. Pronounced Tock-Ay)

Had the most expensive dinner out I've ever had last night. (Or rather, that I paid for.) The restaurant Toque! is known as the finest in Montreal. We invited our old neighbors to go there as a thank you for presenting a buyer for our old place that we sold in January. After all, we were able to sell the place without an agent saving us a bundle on the commission, so we thought it right to "thank" them in some way. We all took the seven course tasting menu with wine, and I shamelessly snapped pics of each course. Sure it's gauche, but what's a blogger to do? We all had a lovely time and I couldn't believe four hours had passed when we got the bill. The bill was stunning in its magnitude. I don't want to talk about it.

In other news, I received a judgement against me in the mail yesterday. You see, I was caught in a criminal act back in November. A criminal act you say? The act was smoking a cigarette in the smoking section of a restaurant. Apparently it was criminal because the cafe is located in a Metro station area. Anyway, the patrons that day were cited for smoking, all of us slack jawed as the agents issued tickets to each of us. The bitterness of this event propelled me to write to the Director of Operations for the Cafe Supreme asking why they were offering a smoking room with ash trays on all the tables if in fact, smoking isn't permitted there. I received this reply from the company (STCUM is the transit police):

Dear Tornwordo,

I apologize for any inconvience, the STCUM has made an error, we are indeed permitted to have a smoking section.
The STCUM will be tracking the tickets it has given out within 7 days, we advise you not to pay it, and the error will be corrected.
We are continuing to offer the smoking section at our Cafe in the McGill Metro, we have been assured there will be no further incident.

Best Regards,
Director of Operations
Cafe Supreme Canada Inc.
Tel. (514) 875-9803

So I followed Mr. Demers advice, and yesterday I received a judgement in the mail, $125 payable by August 24th. I'll be on the phone to the big Brian later today to discuss this. ( There is no further recourse with the court as the judgement has been rendered.) I think some free coffee is in order, don't you?

Lastly, I wanted to address some fallout from yesterday's story. It's true that I have always enjoyed taking inopportune photos of my friends and family. Back in the day, I had the charming habit of bursting in on someone in the bathroom, bowels in mid movement, to snap a photo. It took a few years, okay decades, to realize that this was not appreciated by people. So I have stopped. I committed to stopping after the ball event a couple of years ago. And though I have had the urge now and then since then, my sneaky picture taking fetish is gone. Let me just go on record saying that I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused anyone. (Giggle.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The ball

Some of you may remember this story. (Those of you who know me, anyway.) It was a couple of years ago during the summer when I was working in the restaurant La Moulerie here in Montreal. ( I thought it only fair to tell this story after yesterday's post.) A summer employee activity was planned at a park one Monday afternoon. It was a softball match. There was a cooler with cold beers which we poured into plastic cups (no alcohol allowed in the park) and we played softball for a couple hours. Serge came with and took pictures with the digital camera. He got some great shots including one where the boss took a spill while dashing to first base. This became a famous photo. Anyway it was a surprisingly fun afternoon (despite the fact that the idea of playing sports never really excites me) and we all bonded over beer and ball playing.

The following day I downloaded the photos and cropped them and shrunk them for sending to the employees. At the baseball game I had passed around a sheet for everyone to put their emails down to receive the pics. I know that some of them had slow dial up so I was careful to shrink the size of the photo before sending. (This is important, as you'll see.) So I prep the photos, and craft an email and enter everyone's address into the send field. I attach all the photos, which I have written on a paper to make sure I know which files to send. A final review and then I click send. Now, I have fast internet, but the bar showing the progress of the email being sent seemed to be taking a long time. A very long time. Shit, I thought, I must have attached a photo that I didn't shrink. Shit, shit, shit. So I wait until it's finished sending so I can verify whatever error I made by looking in my "sent" file of the email program.

I open the email I just sent and start scrolling down through the photos, all shrunk nicely for easy viewing on the page. Until. About three quarters of the way through the photos, there is a giant photo that you need to scroll up and down and side to side to see it. What is this photo? It's a close-up of something....(GASP) "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, noooooooo!" I keep saying this over and over and start rocking back and forth in the chair. This was bad, very very bad. The giant photo inserted into the mix had been taken two days prior. It was very hot in the morning and Serge was asleep naked on the bed with the covers off. He was on his stomach and his balls were sticking out under his butt, in a squeezed, very uncomfortable way. It was such an odd sight that I got the camera and put it just a few inches away from the extruded ball sack and took a closeup picture. Now, I was looking at that very picture of the close-up gonad (each hair gloriously distinguishable) that I had just sent to all the people where I work! This cannot be happening! Something slightly relieving began to happen as hotmail addresses were bouncing back the email for being too big. In all, five people received the picture (though everyone saw it as it was then passed around via email to everyone else).

At work the next day, the boss just kept grinning at me (she got the picture) and Alex the busboy came up to me and said, "Tornwordo, is it possible that you sent me a picture of a, a, ... testicle?" I didn't really like the idea that this might be construed as some sexual fetish on my part, some kind of scrotal obsession, so I told the truth. Poor Serge then became known as "The ball" and from then on when people asked about him or saw him, they used this endearing term. "So how is the ball?" they asked, "Oh, he's fine." Shame washing over me (and him) each and every time.

And no, I'm not going to post that picture here. I've caused him enough grief.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Marital blister

This is a bad mood day. Probably not a good idea to post. I've got a splitting headache and got little sleep for the following reasons. One, it's hot again. Terrible humid heat, causing sleep to remain shallow and fitful. Two, woke up to pee at two in the morning and discovered that the spouse still was not home. The last communication with spouse went like this:

4:45 pm call from work

Hi Bee (our nickname for each other, short for Baby)

Hi honey, you gonna go out for a beer?

Yes, just one because we all have to work tomorrow morning.

Are you gonna have dinner at home, or should I eat without you?

Oh no I'll be home for dinner, it's just a quick beer tonight.

Okay! see you later.

I finally ate at about 9:30. I tried him on his cell, but you can never hear the ring in the bars because they always have music going. At eleven, I went to bed thinking he would be home any time. So at two when I woke up to pee, I became worried. Two reasons. One, it's fairly unusual that he has to work in the morning but stays out so late - maybe something bad happened. Two, I couldn't help thinking about drunken park shenanigans. So I call on the cell a couple more times and he answers.

I'm close to the house. (the 17,000 beers consumed evident in the slur)

Are you walking? Oh of course, you have no money and the bus is done for the night.

I'm close to the house. (slightly more comprehensible this time)

Okay then, see you in a minute.

When he arrived, he immediately began teasing me for being up, being "worried" about him, and then saying this strange sentence, "Why do you call me on my cell phone, you just want to KNOW all the time and you think I was doing something bad, but well, I was in the park but I wasn't going to do anything, I haven't smoked in an hour." Then he stripped off his clothes and started frying two steaks. (After all it was hot, and dinner was skipped)

So I went back to bed and got a few more hours of sleep. Marital bliss it isn't but what would doctor Laura say? "You picked him."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Shuttle arrives safe and sound

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to stop your car Flintstone-style, with your feet? This is similar to what those astronauts are doing as I write. They've begun the entry, using only friction to slow them down. I wonder what they are feeling right now, knowing as they do what happened the last time a shuttle reentered our atmosphere. Raising their fear another notch most certainly must be the fact that the darn foam broke off again during the takeoff, the very thing that doomed the last crew. All the while, they've got to sport a calm countenance and try to replace their fear with faith that nothing will go wrong.

Something we do every day, that. Because each day presents us a whole gamut of possibilities, including the ultimate possibility - death. Most of the time we wade through our activities, aware and cautious about dangers, but assuming that nothing terrible will happen. Negative things do happen along the way, but death is usually escaped - that is until it's not. Perhaps fear let's us live longer in a way, but a case could be argued that a life spent in fear is no life at all.

They'll be landing in 17 minutes, so now is that really bad part where they can't communicate with the ground, a ball of friction fire obstructing their view. This is when they are thinking about their families and friends, God. They might be wondering if suspending their fear was such a good idea. They might be regretting unfinished business.

As the nation watches, breathless, hoping and praying for their safe return I can't help wonder why we are so interested in the lives of these nine people, while we easily bypass news stories of soldier deaths, famine deaths and the like right here on the ground. After all, they are just facing the day like all of us.

Hey look, someone just got hit by a bus.

Monday, August 08, 2005


The child and Sara discovering the river.

I spent the weekend with a small girl. Yes, there were other adults and nature all about, but my attention was drawn repeatedly back to the 19 month old. I don't remember being nineteen months old, though there are hazy photographs in my head of the house we lived in in (gasp) Kansas. What was riveting to me about this child was that every moment seemed to be a moment of discovery. She would get mesmerized and trancelike staring at her own fingers and her ability to wiggle them. The dog was a constant source of interest to her as she pointed and said "Dog!" every couple of minutes. "Yes, that's a dog, her name is Sara," one of the adults would say. She learned new words all day long and then repeated them, pointing, "Chair! White!, Mama!, Spinach!, Water! Hungry! Cloud!" On and on, all weekend long.

I guess I was riveted because I yearn for this long lost feeling. Every day shining a new set of things to discover on you. The child seemed to be demonstrating the secret to life. To find everything around you wonderous and exciting, to wake up and just be so thrilled to be alive and experiencing the incredible world around you. Water is such a magical liquid I imagine to a 19 month old, and it certainly was for this child. An hour was spent slowly dipping an old plastic cup into a tub of water and then pouring it onto the ground. The water then made the dirt mud, and the child squealed with delight watching the dirt change to mud, dipping her fingers in it, brushing it off, and then starting again. Bonus sensations came along the way as she poured the water into her lap, and cooed about this new cool trick with the water.

It made me imagine that her "higher self", for lack of a better term, was so amazed and wild about being alive, like she was pinching herself to make sure this wasn't a dream of winning the Lottery. This energy was so profound that just by watching her I siphoned a bit of it off for myself. And what marvelous medicine that was, the little blue pill that helps you see this big beautiful scintillating world for what it is - magical!

And once again, I felt enormous gratitude for being able to witness and marvel at this stage of development without having to tend to the child's (many) needs 24/7 for the past 19 months. As you can imagine, the parents have been through the gauntlet of a year's worth of sleep deprivation. I can see how it's worth it, but I can also see how blessed I am to have kids in my life. And in the end, even though I went out searching for some nature, I got what I needed, a lesson in life.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On the shores of Lac Megantic

I am so attracted by some aspects of country life. Being close to nature and its marvels is very appealing, and the wide open space gives a sense of freedom to this boxed in city boy. Our friends reside in a "residential" area where the plots are thickly forested with clearings and sum five acres each. The road is not paved. The loudest sounds are generally generated by wind and birds. We roasted marshmallows around a campfire set up in their "yard". Since they live there, our friends took us to secret spots including a public beach on Lake Megantic where there was no one but us, and then this morning to a woody canyon where a river cascades down giant boulders with little pools under each chute. We swam, Sara swam, not another human around.


When I wanted to update the blog yesterday since they are connected to the internet, I quickly found a huge drawback to country life - no high speed access available. It took me over an hour to connect, check my email, access the blog and write a miniscule post.

I remember the days of slow internet, when the internet was a loathesome beast to consider using due to all the wait time for everything to appear on the screen.

I can't go back. So it looks like I'll be visiting the country until they work that thing there out.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

In the country

It`s marvelous! Stunning views of forested mountains and valleys. Little villages sprinkled about with carved out areas of pasture and the constant hum of songbirds. The skies are pollution-free blue and we swam in a crystal clear mountain lake today. I`ll have some good pics tomorrow.
Tonight we will attend a presentation at the observatory and have a good hard look at the stars.

Sara is in heaven.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Fleeing the city

We're off today to the country. Damn I hope it's cooler there. It should be since the town is named Mont Megantic and features a cone shaped mountain with an observatory perched atop. It's eighty degrees and 90 percent humidity as I wake up this morning putting the humidex (how it feels) at 95. Sleep was iffy to put it best (especially when the electricity went out and there wasn't even a fucking fan for two hours). Soon I've got to dash out and pick up the rental car, then rush around picking up things and getting our shit together to leave.

Bitterness. You look forward to something and then just as you are about to do it you are robbed of your ability to enjoy it (lack of sleep in my case.) Ah well, there's always tomorrow when we'll be taking the night tour to the observatory (I'll take pics) and viewing the stars with unfettered visibility (or so say the meteorologues). During the day we'll be a) taking a hike in the forest if the temps are bearable or b) kayaking on the cool waters of Lake Megantic.

I'll post if I can, we are staying at a friend's house equipped with a computer. Not much else going on to write about, the muse is on vacation and my head is cloudy. Peace.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Serge and I have never seriously considered having a child. Oh the topic comes up every now and then, usually after witnessing some incredible darling thing a child has done, where the conversation goes something like this:

Aww, that's so cute, makes me wish we had a kid. (This could be either of us talking)

Yeah, but that's now, lets not forget diapers, illness, injuries, money, teenage period, and that we'd be 60 by the time the kid moves out.

Oh right what was I thinking.

And other times, we'll witness some heinous behavior and cluck about how we've maintained the right decision.

God, can you believe that kid?

I know, we'd surely end up with one like that.

Thank God we didn't waver from our platform.

Oh sure it goes deeper than this sometimes, that instinctual nurturing thing inside us that we rehearse on Sara. In fact Sara is really our child, as we pay close attention to her moods and habits, her fears and most incessantly her bowel movements. (When we lived in the loft, we collected three year's worth of turds in little plastic bags as we walked her in the park three times a day.) She is eleven now and her age is showing around her muzzle, showing in the diminished spring in her step, showing in the fouler odors escaping her, and showing in that her earlier fears have grown into paranoid obsession. At every passerby on the sidewalk outside she growls. She used to just bark at the doorbell, but now any knocking or doorbell on the TV sends her into a tizzy.

Playing uncle to friends' kids and also teaching kids while raising a dog pretty much gives me all the gifts of parenthood with much less of the horrors. Oh sure I've come across a pile of vomit on the carpet more than a few times, and I've had to admonish kids and be mortified by their cruelty, but I've been spared the 24/7 adrenaline rush that lasts 18 years with your own child.

The thing that worries me though is this: what kind of grief will I experience when Sara dies? Just the mere thought of it crushes me, and so I'm worried about what will erupt within me when it really happens. At least with real children of your own, it is quite possible that you will die before your offspring does.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dildocox and Nippleclitz

Before devouring bbq chicken pizza in Vegas.

Dirty sex. Apparently this is what it takes to grab the attention of net surfers. I'm not sure if this is a sad commentary on our society, or just un unveiling of what vulgar, animalistic creatures we really are. I'm sure this has happened to you. You have something you want to find more information about on the net, so you go to your favorite search engine to plug in your search terms. Want to find out about the show "Nip and Tuck", or try to find a recipe for "Melon Milk Pie", and what you get are millions of porn sites grappling for your attention. And then if you actually click on one of the sites, you know, just to end up with some porn virus that reconfigures your computer and renders it unable to function. I don't even use the search engines any more, Wikipedia is my search area of choice now.

Lately, it was noted over at Just Babble that one can increase their blog readership exponentially by using any terms for body parts commonly thought of as sexual. Over at Popfizz, he notes that he will read any blog that contains pictures of tits. So I guess if you are looking for readership, sex is the way to go. Just look over here at Sex near the City, a rather popular blog from a woman who basically complains about her sex life and it's (ill written, but we forgive her - English being her second language) regularly in the top ten over at TopBlogs. (You can see where I am on the popularity list if you look at the little brown Vote box to the left on this page.)

Em was ranting yesterday about the whole blog phenomenon and how people are getting fired for what they have put in their blog, and also how friends and family members are often horrified at the information revealed in their loved ones' blogs. I've experienced it myself, "I don't know how you can reveal such personal information. Private things should be kept private." And all I can come up with is "Why?" What is everyone so afraid of? If we all put our deepest darkest secrets out for the world to see, I think we'll all just find that we have the same base and dirty thoughts and opinions as everyone else. Instead, society seems to want us to pretend to be normal, and keep any of the "abnormal" stuff behind the curtain. But then it's also the age thing.

True story with little embellishment: A blogger's parents recently bemoaned reading the blog, saying that sometimes the sexual parts, well, it's too much information, that private things should sometimes remain private. This struck the blogger as quite hypocritical since when the blogger was an 11 year old kid, the blogger discovered (not very well hidden, accidentally stumbled on) naked sex pictures of the parents. A few years later, the father's comic books were discovered wherein was depicted large membered males fucking the eye sockets of dead female corpses. Now that those parents are of grandparent age, suddenly it's shocking to read bloggers shamelessly talking about their own little secret fetishes. I believe that revealing these things might just help take away the shame of it all, what turns you on, what you like to look at, what part of the human klaidescope you fit into. We're all just people. (Well, ok, except for baby man.)

And to any further objections to the contents, or even the phenomenon of blogs, I say "Dildocox and Nippleclitz!"*

* malarkey, balderdash, patooey, nonsense, "you're high"

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This is how it works

You put out some (repetetive, turret's like) intention, some deep desire and then start looking for signs. The signs could be anywhere, on a scrap of paper on the sidewalk, in an internet article, in a conversation being had by fellow cafe patrons. The signs will be there, but you have to be paying attention. And you have to be patient. It's not about "wanting" it so much, as imagining what it would be like to have it, to believe that you have it already within your reach, just that you don't see it yet. Are you following me?

Here's an example. The past few years I've been exploring different ways to exercise the spiritual muscle, which has led down a reddish road. For the past year I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for a place to do a sweat, a native practice that is very cleansing, though difficult. I did one last year in California and this year when I went to New Mexico two weeks ago. Since I came back, my interest was renewed again, it should be easy, there are native reservations near my own city. So yesterday, I am playing Literati (Yahoo's version of Scrabble) and a girl joins my room and we play a game together. I notice that her moniker is Mohawkrezgrl, and so I think what the hell, and ask a personal question.

So do they do any sweatlodge things where you are?

In the longhouse, lots of red hot rocks.

Wow, I have been looking for a place to do it around where I live.

Too hot for me. But very cleansing.

I'm in Montreal.

I'm an hour away from you. (I've never knowingly played anyone so close to me geographically and I've played thousands of games)

Well, how would I find out more about participating in one?

Then she gave me directions to a place to go down and poke around, where the people could tell me the time and place of such things. It just so happens that we have a car reserved for next week as we are going camping on the weekend. We have the car for a whole week though and so I have a few days next week with a car, but no use of the car planned for those days. Hmm.

The bread crumbs are all in place, and now it's up to me to follow them.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Watched it

People have been telling me to see it for a while. You know, the movie What the #&%*% Do We Know. I can see why now, one of the main themes being about focusing on the mystery and magic of this world. Did you notice in the film how some of the things were repeated, not in the reality TV (this is the only good bit we got so we're going to pummel you with it) way, but in the native way: the most important things are repeated so that you remember them.

That on a quantum level, there is no here or there, only possible heres or theres. That we are chemically addicted to our emotions. That how we think and feel can actually affect things both inside (on a cellular level) and outside of us, that we create our own reality in a way, even though we think that we are objective observers in an immutable reality.

And I don't know about you, but I have experienced so many coincidences that seem to coincide with my thought patterns of the day that I was thinking it was premonitions, and now after seeing that movie, it opens my mind to the possiblity that I'm making it happen. (Quiet down now, dear ego) How we view ourselves as independent creatures when actually we are all part of the same "reality" fluid - drop an emotional bomb inside you, and the ripples extend much further than the confines of your body.

I thought the movie was a little bit dumbed down, and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the math/physics parts explained. However, it gave me just the boost I was looking for (of course), to seek the magic and mystery of the world, to view each moment as a dance between me and all that is around me, to get lost in the moment until "me" dissolves and there is only the magic of being lost in a thought, a kind of cohesive energy rippling through the substance of reality.

I'm hungry, and the bagels are crying out "eat me, eat me!" It's true, I can hear them.