Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye for a bit

Well kids, this is it. The last day of the year and also the last post in the blog. Wait, that sounds like the blog is closing, which it isn't, it's just that spouse and I are off on our annual junket to see the family out west. This is good news as the blog's getting dull lately, and a little vaykay will surely spice things up for our return.

I'm trying not to stress about everything. Traveling always makes me jumpy as I have to go through every possible disaster scenario in my head and plan my handling of it. I think I'm being pretty calm this time around but last night something happened that might indicate otherwise. I sleeppooped. This is a first for me. I'm known to sleepwalk now and then, but sleeppooping is new, (and a harsh way to wake up let me tell you.) I woke up at four something while I was on the bowl in the middle of defecation. It was so weird. I was dreaming I was pooping and then woke up while I was doing it. Thank god I wasn't still in the bed. Anyway, these things always happen when I'm jumpy, so that must explain it. That or the fact that I didn't defecate yesterday. (TMI, I know. )

Today we've got all the last minute prep to do, the packing and whatnot, and arranging care for sara. We have an early morning flight tomorrow so I won't be involved in any midnight activities save sleeping. I hope those of you who do celebrate, do so in style and of course moderation. I'll take pics and vids of our trip and ply you with the details upon our return. Have a safe, happy and fruitful New Year everyone! See you in 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Well here we are, the penultimate day of 2007. Like most years, much has changed and much remains the same. I'd like to take stock of things and express gratitude for the experiences and personal enrichment this year provided. Most notable is of course getting rid of nude dancer from our lives, a thing which at the time was so all-consuming, and now with the march of time, seems like only a small stumble in the race of life. Time is magical that way, as you know. As I take stock of my goals for 2007, I see that I've accomplished most of the items, the glaring and odious exception being to quit smoking. That will just have to go to the top of this year's list. This really is going to be the year, no for real I'm telling you, for reals. Sara made it another year. We had both thought 2007 would be her last and I'm delighted to have our girl with us into the new year. She's still got some spunk left in her.

The biggest change has probably been getting the car. After seven years on foot and public transportation, we now have the freedom of going places on the spur of the moment, unlimited by the confines of the public transportation network. It was strange being carless landlords with car-owning tenants, but now it "looks more proper" lol. There's lots more to think about as we close out the year, and that's what I'll be doing today, taking stock, expressing gratitude and looking forward to the new year. It's going to be awesome I just know it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

7 layer dip

I made my famous 7-layer dip for the party yesterday. That thing gets gobbled up faster than anything I've found and it's remarkably easy to make. I should have taken pictures as I did it yesterday, but I was a bad blogger. Anyway, I'm sure many of you have some variation on this. It cost me $25 to make it, which seems a bit extreme for a "dip". Refried beans are not so big up here, a can of those alone will set you back $3. I always make it in a ceramic pie dish, layered as follows.

Bottom layer, spread a can of refried beans onto the bottom. Next put a very thin layer of finely chopped onions. (I used one medium sized onion.) Then spread guacamole over the onions. (you can make it or buy it pre-made) Then put a layer of sliced black olives and smush it down. Next add a layer of strong cheddar cheese and/or Monterey Jack (grated). I use the orange Old-Cheddar because the color makes it more festive. Then add a layer of sour cream (the real stuff, not the sissy light kind). Finally on top, a layer of tomatoes or strained salsa if you want some bite. I always sprinkle a few olives and grated cheese on top as well. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips. I recommend using a spoon to scoop it out as it's rather firm and tends to break the tortilla chips if you try to scoop using the chips. To recap the 7 layers:

Refried beans
Sliced black olives
Strong cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Guaranteed to be the first hors d'oeuvres consumed at the party. At least that's been my experience.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This n that

I'm getting stressed out about traveling. Actually, it's the possibility of a snowstorm on New Year's Eve/Day that has me worried. The last big storm caused havok at the airport, stranding passengers for days. I don't know why I worry so, there's nothing I can do about it, but it would suck to have our vacation shortened because of it. Serge says I worry too much about, well, everything, and he's probably right, but it's just the way I'm built. I'll be checking the weather a thousand times a day as opposed to my usual hundred.

We've got a party to go to tonight. Last year I was feeling sick and puny for this party, so I hope I make a better impression this year. (Also, I need to look at the pics from last year so I don't accidentally wear the same outfit.) It's at our friend Dan's house who was cursed by having been born nearly the same time as Jesus (allegedly). I hate parties, but I like Dan, so I'll be going and putting on my happy face.

Yesterday, we had to get out of the house as the housecleaner was coming. We didn't HAVE to leave, but we both feel ill at ease playing games on the computer while someone is toiling cleaning up our filth. How do the wealthy with servants do it? They must see class as a much larger distinction in the value of human beings than we do. Anyway, we fled the house and went to the cinema. We wanted to see a movie without a thousand kids attending, so we saw The Kite Runner. Even Serge was drawn into the story and missed his usual mid-movie nap. (Sometimes I have to jab him in the ribs with my elbow if he starts snoring.) Most of the film is subtitled and the dialogue is carried out in an Afghani dialect. The film stayed very true to the book, although I missed the narrative of the protagonist's thoughts which figures highly in understanding the reasons behind his actions and non-actions. Also it's distracting to have to read the subtitles because then you miss the emotions on the faces of the actors. Still, it's a decent film. Okay, I've blathered on enough this morning, gotta go check the weather....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing day recap

We got out of the house yesterday. At my insistence, we went down to the outdoor skating rink in the old port of Montreal. The guilt of not having gone skating on Christmas day was gnawing at both of us. I know it's ridiculous, but we were guilty with ourselves for having flaked on our own tradition. There were no kids to disappoint, but we still felt guilty. Anyway, we never ended up setting foot on the ice. Here Serge explains:

Perhaps you noticed this sign in the video. I was quite curious as to what the last symbol indicated. The other three were pretty easy. The first is to pay for tickets. This was new this year. It's always been free to skate, you only had to pay if you rented skates. But now everyone has to pay regardless. Right, and the second symbol is for skate rental, the third for the snack bar, and the fourth? What do you think it's indicating, and what is the symbol drawn ? I'll be shocked if any out of towner gets it.

We walked to the river's edge and watched the chunks of ice swirling in the eddies created by the monster flow of water that is the St Lawrence River. We kept chuckling at how old we are and how the things that oldsters like to do appeal to us more and more.

Then we went home and took down the tree (er I took it down) and stored all the Christmas stuff away until next year. Then ordered a pizza and watched the Simpson's movie (I about died laughing when the headless guy wails, "I've always wanted to play the flute.") and Shrek the 3rd. All in all, a lovely boxing day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day after bliss

Twas a lovely day yesterday. We did all the perfunctory festivities on the 24th, so yesterday we played with our new toys and never left the house. We were supposed to go ice-skating, but it was so cozy and relaxed inside that we stayed home. I spent most of the day setting up and playing with the new Ipod-Touch that spouse got me. It's such a great toy, I can surf the net and watch youtube videos, watch whole movies even with it. Oh yeah and it's a music player too.

Today is boxing day up here. Big sales, crowds etcetera. I think of it more as the taking-down-the-tree day. We're also planning to go ice skating since we skipped it yesterday. Maybe take in a movie too. Or maybe we'll end up holed up inside again, who knows. That's what real vacation is all about, playing it by ear and ditching expectations.

Also sleeping in. Look how late it is. I think this is the latest I've awoken in months. Bliss. Here's hoping everyone had a lovely holiday filled with good cheer and loved ones. Peace.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Time's up

May you and yours have a lovely holiday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In the spirit of taking

Well yesterday was a joy and a half. The tenant who occupies the apartment we last lived in and renovated called, "Richard. I got robbed. The window is broken what do I do?" I had barely finished my first cup of coffee and I sighed and told her I'd be right over. First I roused Serge from his sleep with the sparkling news. I went over to the distraught tenant's place to observe the damage. The police had already come and left. You could see the exact way they had gotten in because of the three feet of snow on the ground. There's where he (gotta be a he) jumped over the fence. (I imagine a skinny guy, bug-eyed, jonesing for his fix. Paranoid, like a human squirrel.) There's where he found a stray two-by-four to break the double paned window with. The usual things were taken, tv, stereo, computer, but also some more unusual things. Food, blankets, toiletries. They took the turkey and the freshly baked Christmas cookies. They took the milk and the cereal. They didn't notice the digital camera on the floor. The tenant had been out until 4am when she discovered it. She had had the work Christmas party that went way late. She was pretty hysterical, right on the verge of laughing and crying. Her friends kept calling and she kept telling them that the party she was supposed to have there yesterday evening - was canceled. Poor thing. Not insured either. So we got a hold of an emergency window repair place and within an hour a guy came and installed a temporary window while the correct one is special ordered. All in all, $600 unexpected dollars for us to pay. The insurance deductible is 500, so we'll just pay the darn thing since having a second robbery in the year would not bode well for renewal prices.

I feel bad for them. (It's two girls.) What a shitty thing to happen right before Christmas. It makes me think this thought that I work hard to forget - So many bad people in the world.

Friday, December 21, 2007


* The city keeps telling everyone to be patient with the snow removal. Now they're calling for rain on the weekend and if that happens, they may not be able to finish the job because it will turn the mounds of snow into mounds of ice. Oy.

* I can't watch this as it makes me cringe. Still, I'm not ashamed of being an amateur.

* Finished shopping for spouse yesterday. One of the things I got is a bathroom scale. He always oohs and ahhs as we pass them in Costco. He hates snippets so I figure I'm safe revealing it here.

* If I gave to every charity that has approached me this holiday season, I'd have had nothing to give to my loved ones.

* Does it make me weird that I avoid throwing garbage into other's trashcans? I was getting my haircut yesterday and instead of putting my wrapper in his trash, I put it in my bag and brought it home to put into my trash. I thought, "He doesn't need to be taking out my garbage." Codependent, perhaps, but I'd like to think of it as politeness..

* Gas is about $4.40 a gallon here. I know those of you down south think you pay a lot. I invite you to think again.

* Here's my proof of my best score yet on 50 is the maximum.

* I can't recall what age I stopped worrying about what others think and only concerned myself with what I think. It wasn't too long ago though.

* There has been an abundance of advertising on the television for Stool Softener lately. Just in time for those pipe clogging holidays, I suppose. I love their slogan, "It doesn't make you go, it just makes it easier to go."

* Everybody is dragging their kids up here. Up and down the street pedestrians tow their little ones on sleds. The children seem to love it, though I fail to see the allure.

* Murphy's cousin's law. The line at the cashier will always be inversely proportional to the time you've got to finish shopping. Got lots of time? Tiny little line. Pressed for time? That line's gonna be snaking around the store.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nothing much

You would think I'd have more time to write since I'm off now. True, I could write more, but not much happens when you stay holed up in the house. I've been thinking about telling another installment story, but the key words there are "thinking about", as nothing is written. Wow, I'm killing myself here in my office chair. I've got some of the cloyingest gas odors coming out of me. It must be the Sloppy Joes I made last night. Thanks to Patricia helping me out, I made them from scratch. If I had known all you had to do was doctor up some ketchup to get the sloppy joe taste, I would have been making it this way all along. Plus I love recipes like this one. Basically, the amounts are just suggestions and you mix it up to your taste. I was practically full from all the tasting-as-I-cooked by the time we sat down to eat. Serge wouldn't eat them. He has never liked sloppy joes all that much, and last night, he made a very un-pc comment. He called it, "BS food." BS is what people on welfare are called up here. He put plastic wrap on his plate, stuck it in the fridge and told me I could have it for lunch today. Yay, more cloying farts impending.

You know you can see lots of videos on youtube with (I've only seen males) guys lighting their farts on fire? Oh and the Japanese porn market includes a genre of "girls farting" videos with guys getting off on sniffing them (the farts) just as they come out. Can I get an "ew"? I'm not linking anything, if you don't take my word for it, the searching will take mere moments.

Well, I guess this is the kind of thing we can expect from the blog in upcoming weeks. Perhaps there will be tenant drama or a plumbing problem to spice things up. I'm certainly not wishing it, but if nothing happens, I can see bowel tales forthcoming. And nobody wishes that ; )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This and that

After working all day yesterday, I tackled the mountain of snow in front of our garage. This took me two hours. I started off with the snowblower that I bought last month and it lasted about an hour before a chunk of something broke the blade. The blade is plastic, much like the pivot point of a Magic Bullet. You know the Magic Bullet, the mini-food processor first sold via TV and now widely available at stores? Serge had been lured into buying one from the TV and the plastic part broke a couple weeks after. I remember thinking then as I did yesterday, "What kind of moron makes the most important part of a machine in plastic?" I probably don't need to tell you it was made in China. (No, I do not believe the Chinese are morons.) I'll see about replacing the blade or outright returning the darn thing. Anyway, I had to finish the job with my shovel and I huffed and puffed my way through the pile of snow. Neighbors passing engaged me in conversation. I was covered with snow from the snowblower and working hard. Everyone seemed to have a comment or a shared story. It was a nice way to meet neighbors, bonding over the climate and the obnoxiousness of the city.

Once done, it was dark and I went inside. I was feeling pretty smug since I had tested the clearance and took the car out and put it back into the garage. Today, I was due to teach my last class of the session out in timbuktu, for which I need the car. I checked my email and saw that I had won that little award this blog was up for - best GLBT Canadian blog. I felt gratitude for all you readers who voted, I owe it all to you. Then I got a call. It seems the class today is canceled (though I'm still remunerated) so I don't need to use the car after all. I hope the gods are laughing over their little joke. I would have been irritated too but the overwhelming knowledge that I'm done teaching for the session took over and I danced and pranced about the house, la la la laaaaa, I'm done, I'm done, I'm done. Spouse was bitter as he has three days to go before he's done done done. I'd feel bad for him, but I'm too busy gloating, as I have five glorious weeks off starting today. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I ventured outside to give you a glimpse of what it's like around here after the big storm. We have already had more than half our normal annual snowfall and it isn't technically even winter yet. Above, you see the train tracks viewed from the bridge.

The restaurant across the street.

The wind howled all day yesterday and sculpted the snow. It looks like a view of a distant planet's surface to me.

The sun is low in the sky, even at noon time.

Hard to believe, but we don't live in the mountains.

The street next to our house. The sidewalks are too treacherous, so people walk in the street.

The car is inside the garage. Notice the 6 foot pile of snow the city bulldozed in front of it (fuckers!). I've got to get it dug out before tomorrow when I need to use the car.

Finally, the view from our front door. And yes, it is as cold as it looks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday meme

The storm is over. Over a foot of new snow. At one point yesterday evening, there was comedy-o-rama outside our window. Every car that went into the little shopping center parking lot across the street got instantly stuck. There were 4 cars in a row that drove into the trap. It took them a good hour to get back out of the parking lot, me giggling at the spectacle. I'll try to get some pics of the new thicker white coat for tomorrow. For today, I've got a meme. I was tagged plus I'm lazy, so here goes. If you like it, consider yourself tagged as well.

The 10 Things Meme
1. When you were born, how much did you weigh?
I believe it was 7 pounds 10 ounces. Hard to believe my head weighs over twice that now.

2. What's your sugar poison?
Ice cream. That's because I love it, but don't digest it well.

3. If you had to choose between meat and cheese for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Then be specific.
Cheese. There is much more variety in cheese than meats, though I could probably live on nothing but cheese fondue and avocados. I'd miss pork products though.

4. What, in your opinion, is the worst song ever?
It's a Small World. God I hated that ride as a kid, with that stupid song blasting all the way through. I don't listen to lyrics (such a crime I know), so it really comes down to the tune, which in this case is grating and repetetive.

5. Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
Probably Mrs. Shandy in 6th grade. I remember her explaining "nocturnal emissions" to us and my hoping that that would never happen to me. I loved her though because she was not only honest, but she really made me learn and encouraged us to follow our dreams. She drove us to the library every two weeks, as the total class of 5 students fit into her car.

6. What personal activity, when performed in public, bothers you the most?
Probably farting on the subway. I hate that. You're trapped having to breathe the molecules of shit emitted from a stranger's anus.

7. Ok, there's a $50 bill lying on the ground. You pick it up. Dumbfounded by your incredible luck, what do you selfishly purchase?
I wouldn't selfishly purchase anything, I'd selfishly put it in the bank.

8. Do you have a recurring nightmare? If so, explain.
No, but I've had recurring dreams in the past that were unpleasant. Every few months I dream I step into the street in front of an oncoming bus. Usually just as I'm falling asleep.

9. Name one place on Earth you've never been, but vow to visit at least once.
Tokyo and Japan in general. I am fascinated by that culture and would like to marinate in it a bit.

10. You notice that question #9 wasn't really a question. You feel smart for catching such a small detail. What else can you do really well that reminds you how smart you are? Remember to leave a modest answer here. I didn't notice it wasn't a question, but it did command a response which is really the same thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nine days to go

I do love this time of year, despite the hecticness. That we are getting whomped by a huge snowstorm at the moment is frosting on the cake. I got all my errands done yesterday afternoon and then stowed the car in the garage where it will remain for a few days. I've got a lot of paperwork to do for my finished courses, and I'll be doing that coccooned here in my bathrobe. Maybe I'll work on another snowflake. I love that site and have made snowflakes for several years. I also made an elfmovie with Serge and Daniel. This year, you can include up to 4 elves in your song and dance. I hear there are special Charmin bathrooms set up in NYC. That's a wonderful holiday treat, to pamper the puckerhole. Even here, I've been treated to company promotions, free candy bars in the subway and the like, and Friday, some espresso machine manufacturer was giving away and demonstrating the ease with which to make espresso in the busier subway stations. "Would you like a free espresso?!" You bet I would. This coming week is really my favorite. Since most of the gifts are bought, the cards are sent and the decorations are up, it's just waiting for the big day. PLUS, spouse bought me the gift I was mooning about. The I-touch! He briefly showed it to me (but wouldn't let me touch) and then wrapped it up and put it under the tree. Nothing better than knowing exactly what you want is waiting for you on xmas morning! Yes, this is going to be a lovely holiday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Snow coming

It's below zero outside (minus 20 Celcius) and we've got a big snowstorm, possibly blizzard, due tomorrow. They're saying we're going to get another foot. This is on top of the 4 inches we got yesterday and the 18 inches we got a couple weeks ago. This is so different from last year when there was NO snow on the ground at Christmas. The streets have been so icy that I've had to learn quickly how to drive. My buddy and fellow teacher noted that when the wheels spin starting out from every stoplight, that's the sign that it's very dangerous and that black ice is everywhere. The only wise course of action is to go SLOW on the road. So that's been my motto this week, slow and steady. Turning is especially treacherous, if you do it too fast, the car just slides right into the corner and up on the sidewalk. I've seen it happen 3 times already, but thank goodness, not to me.

So the snowstorm is coming and I find myself not ambivalent, but multivalent. Like I'm giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve about it, yet loathing the shoveling and driving conditions it will provoke. Since I have no power over the weather, I'm going to focus on the giddy kid part. Today I must secure provisions as tomorrow we'll be staying home. Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2007


* A little homeless humor I saw in the park. The bottle is a nice added touch, don't you think?

* Bush vetoed the child healthcare bill again. Merry Christmas - the Prez.

* It's so cold here that the snot crystallizes around your nostrils. In case you didn't know, extreme cold makes your nose run like a beer tap.

* If humans were truly interested in peace, we would demand films free of conflict. That would be rather boring though.

* A university research team in Alberta came up with the following conclusion when studying female inmates. They found that those in solitary confinement are lonely. Sure glad they cleared that up for us.

* It is estimated that 60 distinct species disappear every minute on the earth. Most of these are due to the destruction of the South American rain forests. I wonder how many secrets are forever lost.

* Bronchite (pronounced braun-shit) is French for bronchitis. Serge's dad, a banker, tells a famous story of being in an executive meeting in Toronto. When asked how he was doing, he replied, "I've had a bad case of bronchite." What the English execs heard was, "I've had a bad case of brown shit."

* We got silicone oven mitts. This has got to be one of the finest recent inventions. I highly recommend them.

* I thought guys were vulgar. no way. I overheard five 40-something women over lunch discussing preferred angles for "things" entering their vaginas. (Blogger notes that vaginas is wrongly spelled. What is it, vaginae? Apparently yes, as blogger notes vaginae as spelled correctly.)

* If you translate word for word (never a good idea) the English expression "Allow me to introduce myself to you," into French, the meaning will be something like, "Allow me to penetrate you." Really not the same thing.

* The other day, I heard Serge mutter, "I need to change the bed sheets." Since my favorite fluffy sheets are currently on the bed, I protested, "But they don't stink!" Serge chastised me, "We don't have to wait until they stink to change them."

* I read a fascinating article at the LA Times about human evolution. I had thought that modern society prevents evolution from occurring since we heal the least fit, thus thwarting the survival of the fittest element. Apparently this is patently false. Here's an excerpt:

They found that the more the population grew, the faster human genes evolved. That's because more people created more opportunities for a beneficial mutation to arise, Hawks said.In the last 5,000 to 10,000 years, as agriculture was able to support increasingly large societies, the rate of evolutionary change rose to more than 100 times historical levels, the study concluded.
Among the fastest-evolving genes are those related to brain development, but the researchers aren't sure what made them so desirable, Hawks said.

There are other mysteries too.

"Nobody 10,000 years ago had blue eyes," Hawks said. "Why is it that blue-eyed people had a 5% advantage in reproducing compared to non-blue-eyed people? I have no idea."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Almost sleepwalking

I woke up yesterday and it was dark and the fleeting thought crossed my mind, "It's Wednesday, you have to get up early today." Without really willing it, I was out of bed putting on my robe and heading to the coffee maker. Gosh I felt tired. Ugh. Hey, it's my last evil Wednesday wake up time, at least there's that. Bless that spouse, he set up the coffeemaker already. I pushed the button to get the percolating going and shuffled into the office. There was spouse sitting in his computer chair, awake. "What are you doing up so late, it's five in the morning," I mumbled at him. I sat down, opened my email program and said, "Honey, you need to get some sleep. Go to bed so you can get a few hours." Spouse said nothing, so I looked at him and he had a ginormous grin on his face. "What?" I demanded. "Look at the clock Richard," was all he said. The clock read 12:30 but that can't be right. Wait, what? "Go back to bed now, it's not morning," he said. I was momentarily irritated that I had started the coffee, but then realized the cozy, wonderful, fabulous, sleep nurturing mattress was just waiting for me. Oh the joy I felt. I bolted and slept soundly until the alarm rang at 5am. Very bizarre, I don't think I can remember that ever happening to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12 of 12

I took all these over a 24 hour period from mon to tuesday. This is my first shot at 12 of 12.

It all starts with a sunrise. This is out the back and I caught this as I was refilling my coffee.

Off to work, I walk down to the metro after crossing the train track bridge.

A sad but frequent sight downtown. Apparently there's no room inside for the guy sleeping.

Hard to see, but snow blowing off the roofs of downtown buildings.

I love this city, there's such magnificence in the old buildings.

Cops patrolling downtown on horseback.

Just outside Serge's work, you see the Jacques Cartier Bridge. This is one of the main arteries leading to the island of Montreal.

The up high billboards for the folks crossing the bridge.

Down in the underground city. A corridor snakes out of sight.

I give classes here at the magnificent Caisse de Depot building downtown.

Then the walk back to the subway. It's always dark when I go home now.

Finally, home sweet home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back on topic

Well here's a new one. I fell yesterday because I stepped on a dog turd. Since it was frozen solid, it was like stepping on a frozen hotdog and whoops, my foot went out from under me and I landed right on my behind. I had to laugh (once I finished cursing), what could be more fitting to happen to me. Had it been summer, I'd have squished that thing into my shoe soles. I fall every winter at least once, so I'm hoping that was it.

Poor Sara has had to cope with doing her business on the piece of patio that is cleared of snow. It's not a very big piece, but I kind of like it as it makes cleanup less of a treasure hunt. The turds usually freeze onto the wood and I have to kick them to dislodge them so I can pick them up. It's actually better than when it's warm and you've got to deal with the soft ones.

Sara did one of her vile dog acts the other day too. I took her out for a quick walk around the block and she snarfled something into her mouth. I didn't see what it was and so I did my usual, "What is that? Give me that? What do you have in your mouth?" I grabbed whatever it was with my gloved hand, wrenched it from her maw and studied it in my gloved hand. It took a good 5 seconds to understand that I was holding a frozen dog turd. Gah! Flung that thing like the sissy I am. And then the admonishment, "No kisses for a week. Bad dog!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Navigating gifting

Here it is, the last crazy week of 2007. For me, anyway. Then it's coasting until the end of January. Even Serge is getting two and a half weeks off this year. One of those weeks we'll spend out in California, but we've got all the holidays to get through first. Speaking of which, I finished almost all my xmas shopping yesterday. I shopped from my computer chair, which is the best place to shop if you ask me. The rudest shock came though when I went back to finish what I had started Saturday. See, my dad had asked me for early seasons of the show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for Christmas. On Saturday, I plopped the first-5-seasons bundle into my shopping cart at Amazon. I had other things to get at Amazon so I didn't finish putting things into my cart until yesterday. When I reviewed the contents of my cart, I saw that the $79.99 price of the 5-seasons bundle had changed. How much do you think it changed? Well I'll tell you, it was at $174.99 on Sunday. Yes, the price more than doubled overnight. Plus it didn't make sense since individual seasons were only $17 (but went up to $20 on Sunday.) I can't understand what would make the price change like that (supply and demand?) but then it's pretty much the same with gas prices here. They change those like 3 times a day around here and prices fluctuate as much as 15% each time. Serge and I still don't know what we're getting each other. I had asked him for a $300 item which he complained was too expensive. (It's the Ipod Touch. I really, like a giddy kid, want it.) But then he countered with a software program he's been wanting - at $500! (SketchUp) So I complained that that was too much. Then he went and bought it for himself anyway. Now he's poor and saying, "I'm your gift." Pfft. I'm your gift. Please. So I compromised, "Let's just get each other a small $50 thing for each other." This sounded like a good idea until neither of us could think of something we wanted for that price. Oy. We'll figure something out I'm sure.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


I got the tree put up yesterday. It almost didn't happen because I'm suffering from some kind of bug I picked up. I pushed through the sickiness to get it done. Then I tried to do some on-line shopping and had a heck of a time. See, a lot of sites only let you purchase if the billing address on your credit card is in America. I have an American credit card, but since I live here...... you get the idea. I was particularly disappointed in the M&M's site because even though they say "US and Canada" only, the form only accepts US billing addresses. I had wanted to use Patricia's idea and get some customized candies where you can have words printed on them. I thought this would be a great souvenir for our upcoming family holiday gathering. But no. Sheesh, I sure am having trouble as a customer lately. Does nobody want my money? It took me over an hour to get the Cheesecake Factory site to let me purchase two gift certificates. I almost gave up. I think I'll try to find things on Amazon, as I have been buying with them for years and never had a problem.

Yesterday, one of the tenants moved out (back to France) and we (mostly serge, me sicky) had to do some deep cleaning for the new tenant due to move in today. I love it when the Europeans leave as they leave so much behind. Our haul this time included a bicycle, ironing board, 3 big cans of maple syrup, flour, sugar, coffee, butter, and a big package of prosciutto among other things. The guy also left a bunch of shirts that I guess he didn't need. Cha ching! Like an early Christmas.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sadly, Chop Crazy

On my usual between class teaching break the other day, I was enjoying my downtime in the food court at Place Victoria under the stock exchange building in downtown Montreal. I noticed a brand new shop had just opened across from the smoothie shop. It was a place I had never seen before called Chop Crazy. From time to time, I write for the Montreal Metblog about things going on in the city, so I snapped a picture from outside and went in to check the place out, thinking it might be a topic I could do for the metblog. The place was so inviting to me, because it seemed to be some kind of salad place. One of the things I most sorely miss about living in California is the dearth of good salads up here. My heart fluttered as I went in and saw all the chopped ingredients and lettuces, could it be? A real live salad shop? Finally! I approached the counter and the young man engaged me immediately. "Are you familiar with our concept?" he asked. I told him I wasn't and he launched his spiel, everything fresh every day, you can build your own salad or choose some with pre-selected ingredients. They had a Cobb Salad on the menu, and I don't think I've seen that here before. I told the young man that this is something I really missed about living in California and he asked me what brought me here. I said, "Marriage." Then the other guy chopping lettuce piped up, "I'm from Australia and I'm here for the same reason." I asked for a menu to take with me and decided to take a picture of the counter with all the chopped ingredients displayed. This is when everything went wrong.

Suddenly, next to me, a man barked, "You can't take pictures in here." Startled, I looked up, figured the guy was the manager, and said, "Oh c'mon, it's only food." He repeated his interdiction to picture-taking. I don't take well to direct orders from strangers and so I became combative. "I'm in a public place, I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to take pictures." The man then informed me that no, I'm not allowed to take pictures, at any mall, security will stop you from taking pictures. I told him that I thought that was bullshit and why doesn't he tell me the real reason he doesn't want me taking pictures. He maintained that it was not allowed. I said, "No, you just don't want me stealing your concept." He answered, "If you know that, why are you trying to do it." I made some reference to his charming paranoia and that "maybe I'd be back." I said it in a way that meant "I will never be back."

This is the food picture to which the guy objected me taking. Pretty ridiculous eh? Hello, it's a compliment. I was pretty furious when I left. How could such a pleasant introduction to this restaurant finish so badly? And furthermore, now I won't be able to eat there even though I'm exactly the kind of customer who would want to eat there. Pissed. me. off. So I went upstairs to security and asked if there were any restrictions on picture taking in the public areas. They told me no, of course not. So I went back downstairs to find the guy with whom I'd had the altercation who was sitting down shoveling a wrap down his throat. Perfect, I'd be able to speak. "Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I checked with security and there are no restrictions on taking pictures in the public areas." He swallowed and said, "Well, those are MY restrictions." Wow, get over yourself, guy. I then told him he should probably focus more on attracting customers instead of hassling them. He said, "Don't you have some work to do somewhere." I told him that as a matter of fact I worked in the building and he could have had a twice-three time a week customer, but now - not, and that he should be careful as he never knows who he's talking to. He barked his final response, "Yeah, whatever," and went back to shoveling the wrap into his mouth.

Turns out, this guy is one of the owners of the company. (Gotta love Google.) I'm not going to mention his name because then I wouldn't be able to say, "What an asshole!" I am also not recommending that you do not patronize this place. Had it not been for the asshole, I would definitely sample their goods. Sadly, I will not be able to do that.

Friday, December 07, 2007


* The city is one big Christmas card these days, everywhere you look, you see scenes like this.

*I came home the other day and the TV was set to a music channel (one of a bunch of genre based feeds on the cable) that was so pleasant. I was enjoying the Muskrat Love and Theme from Somewhere in Time when they said, "Galaxy Easy Listening Radio." Christ, I'm a geezer.

* The first time I worked a cash register, I was so enthralled with being entrusted with money and working machinery. My enthusiasm was not meant to be interpreted as "I'd like to do this for the next 30 years."

* If you put others' needs before your own, you're either selfless or codependent. If you take care of your own needs first, you're either smart or selfish. I think of these types of conflicting messages as God's jokes.

* I resented so much having to buy snow tires and now I feel like it was the wisest money ever spent.

* Yesterday was the big annual charity drive by the media in Montreal. All the big TV and radio personalities were out ringing their bells collecting. It's fun seeing the "stars" on the streets (freezing their butts off) working for a good cause.

* It costs the city $17 million to clear away the snow after a storm in Montreal. It's 4100 km of streets to clear, and takes 5 days.

* Though 'm gay, I don't really think this is a gay blog. Being gay is just a part of my life, no more or less remarkable than being left-handed or blue-eyed. (One of which I am and the other not.)

* 18 shopping days left and I haven't even started. At least I got the cards out yesterday.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

HNT and candidature

Hey guess what? This blog has been nominated for an award! Actually, I don't know if it's an award, but it would certainly give one bragging rights. I'm in the category "Best GLBT Canadian Blog" over at this site, where, if you scroll down a ways, you'll see my category. And if you've gone that far, you could also VOTE for me. I don't need to win, but I'd hate to come in way last which is where I'm sitting now. Also, I don't know anything about the competition, so maybe I deserve to be way last, who knows. It's still great to receive recognition. Everybody loves that.

Also, since it's thursday and all, (and since I want your vote lol) and since I've neglected my half-nekkid-thursdays duties for some time, I thought I'd show you the fetching style of Hanes I'll be wearing for the next 5 months. Happy HNT!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This town's topic

It took me over an hour yesterday to dig out the snowbank from in front of the garage. This morning, I'm taking the car out to the burbs. It continued to snow all day yesterday and now we've got a good foot and a half on the ground. I'll be taking it slow and steady this morning, but it should be alright as all the major arteries have been cleared. I have to put a shovel in the car too. People keep giving me more information on winter driving preparation. Apparently, you need a shovel because if a snowplow decides to come by, there will be an impenetrable bank of snow to dig your car out of. Also, if you do get stuck, you need to have provisions inside the car in case rescue is long in coming. A blanket, candle, dry foods and water are all recommended. It reminds me of the three day earthquake kit we're all encouraged to have in California. (That was one of my get rich quick ideas way back when, to market earthquake preparedness kits, but the idea never went past the paper sketches and dreams of riches. Eventually, others put the idea into practice, and presumably got rich.) Right now, I'm writing a note and putting it on my bag so that I remember to at least put a shovel in the car this morning.

It might sound like I'm whining about the snow. In truth, I adore it. The two days of constant falling snow have created a cotton candy wonderland. The wind sculpts the snow into patterns that remind me of the topography of distant planets. Whole cars are completely covered mounds with only the side mirrors sticking out like pimples. Sidewalks have become corridors. Roofs look like gingerbread houses. Tree branches festooned in white hang low as if bowing to passersby. The people of the city are bonded by the universal experience of a Montreal winter, the snow is on everyone's lips. I even enjoy the rhythmic workout of shoveling the snow, feeling new muscles engaged and seeing the new pathways I've etched. Snow is quite simply divine. (Remind me I wrote this in March, will you?)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow day

Our house at 9am yesterday. I think it's cool that we have a stoplight at our house. Did you know that they continue to turn green then yellow and finally red, even when there are no cars waiting at the intersection? It makes me think the falling tree in the forest does make a sound even when no one is listening.

Why do the kids get a snow day but all the working adults (except teachers, but not teachers like me) don't? No need to answer that, I already know; it's because profits might be compromised. One of the things I don't like about capitalism is the lack of heart, or humanness. Everything that counts is boiled down to monetary profit or loss. A snow day would cause porfits (I'd fix that, but it made me laugh) to decline, hence no snow days. Anyway, getting around town yesterday was a fiasco. I left the car in the garage and took public transport. Getting on the bus meant wading through the hip high bank created by the snowplows. At each stop, upon braking, the bus fishtailed. The driver kept banging the bus into the curb and bouncing us back out into the street. I can not imagine having driven, though there were real human beings in cars doing it. You can call me a wuss, I don't mind. The metro was full of grim-faced adults slogging to work while the kids enjoyed the snow day at Grandma's. All the school districts closed yesterday due to the blizzard, but every class of mine was as scheduled. (fyi- I teach adults at their place of business.) Before my four o'clock class, I caught this guy getting stuck. Felt all proud I did, of my wussy decision to leave the car home.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blizzard and shame

There's a blizzard going on this morning. I was giddy about its impendingness all day yesterday. In preparation, we put the car in the garage last night for the first time. It fits! That's the good news, the bad news is that there is about an inch of clearance with the side mirrors. Serge has predicted that I will lop one of them off. It won't be today though. Today, we'll be taking public transportation although I see a huddle of people waiting at the stop across the street for the bus that never comes. It looks like we'll have a foot of snow by this afternoon, so travel will be an adventure. I'm fairly certain this year's Christmas will be white.

Yesterday afternoon, we went over the river to Dan's house for a tree trimming party. The tree is huge, like 12 feet. It looks better without the flash but then the pics come out blurry. Everything was going fine at the gathering until I spilled my beer on the carpet. Spouse was clucking his disappointment and acting all embarrassed about my clumsiness. I felt like a little kid who had soiled his pants. Shame. Dan was very nice about it, admonishing spouse as he railed against me,"It was an accident." Ah well, when you get me, you get the bull in a china shop too, it's just a package deal that way.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This n that

December really arrived brusquely. We were in the single digits (F) all day yesterday and a big snowstorm is forecast for this evening. We better get used to it, Environment Canada has issued their winter forecast and they're calling for the coldest winter in 15 years. Yesterday, I didn't leave the house but I made a lot of progress on the Christmas cards. I hope to crank out the rest of them today. Spouse has convinced me to wait until next weekend to put up a tree (he's right, it'll get too dried out if we put it up today.)

My mom is out deep sea fishing on her annual 17 day trip to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The boat she's on has some kind of uplink and (much like a blog) there are updates from the trip posted every day. I saw this shot of my mom posted there. This fish she caught weighs more than twice what she weighs. Pretty impressive, I'd say.

I'm not really fond of the bloodbath that is fishing, but boy do I love the smoked tuna mom makes with her catch.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cavalcade 'o Santas

I was down at the world trade center building yesterday where they've set up an exhibit of Santas throughout history. I found it interesting and perhaps you will too. You can click for larger images.

It started with Saint Nicholas, a real guy (unlike all the others here) who lived from 280-346AD. He became famous for his good deeds and miracles that he performed.

Medieval Santa, circa the 12th century. Lore has it that he walked from village to village with gifts and good cheer.

Father Ice hails from Siberia. The story goes that a young gentle girl was banished from her house to the Frozen Forest by her mean stepmother. As she began to freeze, a huge blizzard parted and Father Ice appeared. Impressed by her kind and humble nature, he showered her with diamonds. The wicked stepmother, upon learning this, sent her own daughter into the forest to reap the same benefits. But the ill-tempered, spoiled child disgusted Father Ice with her behaviour. He waved his arm and froze her for eternity.

This is Russian Santa. He carries birch sticks to dole out punishment to bad children and carries a tree to symbolize the gifts he brings to good children.

Black Peter (no, not a vibrator model) helped Saint Nicholas in the handling of naughty children. He is well known throughout central Europe. Though he's scary looking, he could turn jovial and benevolent when a disobedient child would recognize and change his or her behaviour. Then he would leave gifts instead of the dreaded lump of coal.

Bavarian Santa was thought of as a messenger. He took children's requests up to heaven and then descended to Earth using his umbrella and bearing gifts from the Angels to give to the children. So very Mary Poppins, eh?

Today's Santa lives at the North Pole and rides a flying sleigh towed by eight reindeer. His elves toil away in his workshop and Santa carries a list of all the good and bad children.

The next 21st century Santa has a cell phone to keep in touch with headquarters. A silver thermal flight suit keeps him warm for the midnight journey. He has a laptop with a computerized disc of nice children. I think of him as Disco Santa.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Work fun

It's final exam time in my classes. In order to prepare students for the final, I give them all the answers as we play the game Jeopardy! Except that they don't have to phrase the answer in the form of a question. I learned this way of reviewing in high school. The dreariest subject for me was History. Ugh, how I loathed the memorization of dates and events because I couldn't fathom how any of those things would be useful in life. (They're not, though understanding the cycle of events probably is, so we can learn (ha!) from the mistakes.) Then I got into Mr. Greco's class and History and Economics suddenly became interesting. It was in his class that we invested in the stock market while learning about economics. I still remember the stock and the appreciation realized in the 4 month semester. He also played Jeopardy in class to prepare us for the exams. What a fun way to review, with prizes and everything. So all these years later, I'm doing this with my students and they love it. Boy do people get competetive! And this leads to outbursts of wrong answers that I find hilarious. As you can imagine, the best ones come from the beginners. I always include the category "potpourri" just like on the show, with answers unrelated to the test, you know, just for fun. This week there were some funny responses from this category:

In which direction does the sun set?

On which continent can Libya be found?
"I know, I know, Egypt!"

Name a city in California.

So fun. I always put a bunch of geography questions in now because there seems to be a weakness in this area, and I delight in exposing it. Sadistic, I know. One girl couldn't tell me which direction her house was. I asked her if she drove to work every day and she said she did. Those are the moments where I realize how different people's brains are. Imagine not knowing where you were all the time. I can't begin to imagine it. Orientation is pretty much job one in my world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ugh, look at the hour. The crack of dawn (that always sounds dirty to me) is still hours away, and I've got to schlep my butt out to the burbs like every wednesday for the past months. It never really gets easier. I couldn't even stay up last night to see who won Dancing with the Stars, dad blammit. I love Marie, but did you see her in the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane getup? I was kind of embarrassed for her.

What else? I started the Christmas cards, if I just do five per day, I can have them done in a couple weeks. I love doing the cards and I hate it too, my fingers always get cramped and I ask myself why I didn't order those little return address labels like I promised myself last year. As you might imagine, Rob and Carl (see yesterday's post) have strong feelings about the cards as well. Again, Carl rules the roost. This weekend we get to put up the tree and start listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD every day until the 25th. I never get tired of that album. I used to be able to play much of it on the piano, but I've been lax and become rusty.

Well, I'm off, hope your humpday is easier than mine

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The trouble with brains

This is one of the days I should skip blogging. Unfortunately, my sense of duty (cursed thing that is, I'd do so well as Japanese) has me sitting here staring at the screen for 20 minutes before I write the first sentence. I knew I was going to have extra time this morning when my first class of the day was rescheduled. "You'll think of something to write about in the morning," I told myself. That was Rob, the lazy voice that lives in my head. He heads up the procrastination department and sits on many committees, including the "Doing things Mickey Mouse Roundtable" and the "Easy Shortcuts Way". I hate Rob this morning. I loved him yesterday when he was promising good and easy things forthcoming for the blog this morning, but now I'd like to shoot him. Rob is often at odds with my sense of duty (led by Carl, by the way) but after about the age of 25, Carl was promoted, and Rob has forever since been a subordinate.

I bet you'd like to shoot Rob too now. Or perhaps it's Carl that you'd like to see demoted. No wait, don't answer that.

All day today, Carl will be reminding me about the fact that I have to leave at 6am tomorrow, so what am I going to write about. Carl will not be helpful in the idea generating department, he'll just sit there harping and nagging me until I've roughed out an idea on paper. Sheesh, now I want to shoot Carl. Oh wait, Rob is tugging on my sleeve. What's that? He says I can skip a day if I want to. Uh-oh, Carl just sent him to his room. So have a nice day and I'll see y'all tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feeling like 25 again

Serge sabotaged the weekend. He's so sneaky that way. See last weekend he downloaded the free trial of the game 10 Talismans. It's a stupid puzzle matching game but still addictive. We exhausted our free play time and I figured that was it. Then he goes and buys the game this weekend. I don't want to tell you how many hours we frittered away on the stupid game, let's just say it's a shame number of hours. I kept moaning about the dearth of productivity happening, and Serge said, "We're having fun together." I don't know how together we are when we're both gnashy toothed and riveted to our computer screen, but since we are in the same room, I guess he's right. I went all the way through and beat the game twice, while serge struggled to win until he finally did around 7pm on Sunday. He kept accusing me of cheating. I took it as a compliment.

I insisted we do our family christmas card photo this weekend (PUT THE GAME ON PAUSE SERGE), so we (I) set it up and took a couple dozen pics, hoping for a good/unique one. I think we succeeded. Here is one of the shots that will not be used, but it's kinda cute anyway. When we get to Christmas, I'll show the pic we did choose.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Poisonous knowledge

Boy has winter slapped us in the face. It was in the teens yesterday and when I mentioned this to spouse, he said, "Shit, I have to close the basement trap at the other building." WHAT?! What do you mean close it? It's not closed? "I opened it in the spring to let the basement breathe." While I admire his generous disposition toward the respiration of the building, I couldn't help but imaginightmare (a new word I've coined, feel free to use it) the pipes bursting and flooding the basement, destabilizing the building causing it to crumble into itself. I might have been shrieking and flailing my hands a little.

"Calm down. You say the same thing every year. I shouldn't even have said anything."

More sputtering and but, but, buts from me, and then he said he'd go over and fix it. Unfortunately, the tenants weren't home all day and we need to enter the ground level apartment to access the basement. All day I had disaster thoughts. Luckily this morning the temperature has risen above freezing, so I can relax.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Boring update

Here's the view out my office window this morning. It looks like January out there. That's the big news this week. The rest of it has been work, work, work. I'm in the home stretch as all the contracts I teach conclude prior to Christmas. Then I'll have a good month to putter about before the next slew of contracts come in at the end of January.

Today I'm going to try out our new little snow blower that I picked up yesterday. An $80 gadget (regularly $160) to save on the back stress of shoveling. I hope it works well. It's going to be tough because the snow we have was mixed with sleet and freezing rain, so it's more like "fluffy ice" than snow. We tried with the regular snow shovel and couldn't do anything with it.

The brazilians upstairs called me this week to complain about the lack of heat in the kitchen. I sent Serge up to fix it. We figured it was probably just a breaker. Nope. The problem was that the tenants didn't know what a thermostat was. "We thought it was a thermometer," is what they said. I don't suppose they needed much heat in the tropics, so this was a new thing for them. Cute, in a super lame kind of way.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This and that

I got through my first day of winter driving. It was awful outside yesterday. Even though they forecast lots of snow, there was a good deal of sleet and freezing rain as well. I learned how to scrape off a half inch of ice from the windshield. I learned that it's much easier to scrape the windshield if you warm up the car and defrost for 15 minutes first. I took it slow and easy on the road while others (young males) seemed to be playing bumper cars. In true curmudgeon fashion, I balled up my fist and shook it in the air at them.

Some of the retailers here are mimicking the black Friday sales in the US. I've got my eyes on a little snow blower (at half price!) that will make shoveling the patio less back-breaking. Add another tick to the curmudgeon column.

I finished the book Red Leaves by that traveler's check guy Thomas Cook. There I was on my morning break blubbering in the food court. And now I can't get a couple of the overriding themes out of my head: Everybody lies. Can we really, truly know a person? It was a heartbreaking ending, as you might imagine.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Warm wishes

Happy Thanksgiving to those south of the border. May your day be filled with great food, warm company and holiday cheer. Wish I could join you. Instead, I will be working all day and navigating the city for our first real winter storm. We should have about 6 inches of snow before the end of the day. I'll snap a couple pics to show tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The other day I mentioned here that I saw a deal for vacationing in Cuba. Seven days at a resort, all drinks and food included (even booze) and round trip flight and transfers to the resort for $700 including tax. Such an amazing deal. You can get the same kind of package in Mexico or the Dominican Republic for a couple hundred more, but I'm all about the deals so Cuba is really calling. When I mentioned it before, there was some sputtering about the prohibition of Americans traveling there. As I recall, Castro seized power and appropriated much of the land owned by American interests, and the subsequent embargo took effect in 1962. Before I was even born. While it's handy to blame Castro and his communistic ways for the poor undeveloped state of the country, the more accurate view is that the US helps keep it that way by preventing investment there. This is not the case with other communist regimes such as China. The ban on tourism there hasn't stopped its slow progression nonetheless. Europeans and Canadians escape to Cuba in the winter. In addition, Americans have been vacationing there for decades, albeit by detouring through neighboring Mexico or Canada. Travel isn't actually banned, it's having any sort of trade transaction there that is. I wonder if paying a Canadian company for an all-inclusive trip would count. We'll probably end up going to Mexico or not going at all, but the forbiddenness really makes it attractive.

I've always been the kind of person who is law-abiding when it makes sense. The reasoning, "because it's the law" doesn't really work with me. It's why I've done such illegal things as host a poker party and skinny dip in the ocean. How about you? Do you scoff at some laws, or do you blindly toe the line?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tis the season

It's pretty cold here. In fact, there's snow falling outside as I type. It was so chilly yesterday morning that I got out the scarf and gloves finally. I hate getting them out because it's like admitting that winter is really here. Time to face facts, it's here. Anyway, yesterday afternoon I ducked into the bathroom before one of my lessons and sidled up to the urinal. As I was running through in my head what I was going to do in the class, I let fly with the yellow. Something wasn't right. Shit! I'm not used to the scarf yet, and it was hanging down getting sprayed and ricocheting the pee all over my pants. I cleaned up as best I could, but it still looked like someone threw a water balloon at me. Winter complicates everything, sigh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tale of two video stores

After work Friday, I went to our old video store (the one near our last place of residence) because they carried a film I wanted to show this week in class. They have a deal where you can rent 4 films for a week so I perused the store to find three more that would be good to show/watch. I spent about 45 minutes in there before I went to the counter to rent them. The guy informed me that I had to pay my late fees before I could rent.

"Late fees? No, there must be some mistake."

"In May of 2006, you rented War of the Worlds and brought it back 6 days late. You owe $46."

"That's impossible, I've never seen that film. Plus I've rented since then."

"They just didn't make you pay the late fees when you rented. You only rented one time since then - last November."

"I didn't rent that film."

"You're right, Serge rented it, but it's on your account so you're responsible."

"I am not paying $46! I could buy the film twice for that price!"

"Well, $30 has to be paid today."

"You're going to lose a client like this."

"You probably didn't rent here for so long since you knew you had these late fees."

That was it, fuck these people. I stormed out of there in a major huff. (Up here, you don't have to supply a credit card in order to rent films so they can't really "get you".) I went to the car and called Serge. "Did you rent War of the Worlds and turn in the video late?" He said, "Yeah, we saw that, it was terrible remember?" (of course I don't remember) "But does it ring a bell that you brought the video back late, because they say it was 6 days late." All Serge could say was, "It's possible." (Who can remember - it's been a year and a half.)

I got in the car and went to the video store across the street from our new home and asked about the late fees I have to pay. The last set of films I rented there I forgot about and turned in late. (I always remember if I turn something in late because I get really pissed at myself for forgetting.) The girl looked at me and said, "Three films were three days late, so it's $6. But you can just use your points to pay the fees." "I have points?" I asked. It seems that I have points accumulating each time I rent films. So she erased my late fees but also informed me they didn't carry the film I wanted. (Swimming with Sharks)

I came home and looked up the film on Amazon. It's available for $11.49. I ordered it and was told there was no charge because I had gift certificates already applied to my account. (This was a surprise to me. I must have forgotten about it.) So I will have the film Wednesday. And of course I will never spend another dime at the old video store chain. They have gone onto my boycott list, along with Blockbuster (I've had video trouble before) and Harvey's.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Une belle soirée

Here we are before going out to dinner. Serge had spent the afternoon getting pampered at the spa. I'm not so sure this was a great idea, he's talking about weekly visits for massages now.

We went to an eclectic restaurant. The funniest thing is that all the employees wear underwear on their heads. (Can you imagine how this idea was fleshed out? "I know! We'll start a fine french restaurant where all the waiters wear underwear on their heads. Wait, I've got another one, how about using socks for napkins, too? What an awesome idea. Dude, roll another joint.") I was thrilled to discover that foie gras was on the menu last evening. We had some with a delicious Sauterne. Serge's mom had alerted the waiter to the fact that it was Serge's birthday. I've never seen such a unique bday presentation. Here watch.

Friday, November 16, 2007


* One of my students explained how she got her forehead scar. It seems she and her friend were playing "blind people" as kids and she ran into the corner of a table. That was the last time she played that game. (I found this hilarious.)

* My childhood scar on my face was caused by my mimicking the babysitter who had just shaved with a straight edge razor. Thankfully, I don't recollect it.

* My grandfather (RIP) had a pair of webbed toes.

* Spouse turns 41 tomorrow.

* I came home Wednesday to 22 messages on the machine, all from the same 800 number - all hang-ups. When they called again, I asked if it was necessary to call my house 23 times a day. The girl just kept repeating her opening line, "I'm calling on behalf of...." She refused to answer my question so I told her to never call me again and hung up.

* How did "casualty" come to mean "death"?

* The college and university students are on strike here. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? They're striking because the tuition fees have been raised (by $50). Welcome to the real world guys, prices go up. Anyway, they're only hurting themselves, I'm sure the profs are loving it.

* Merguez sausage always tempts me. But when I honor the temptation, I always think the same thing, "Tastes like there's butt in here."

* This site rated my blog "elementary school level" reading. (Cuz of the poop talk?) This will probably disappoint the francophones that read, since they often have trouble with my turns of phrase.

* When people (mis) use the phrase, "I could care less," I always think, "Who's stopping you?" It's couldn't, not could. Duh.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I've been doing a new listening exercise in class. I do this each session with a song. I find a song where the words are reasonably clear when sung. Then I type up the lyrics and blank out certain words for the students to try to catch. I have to record the song onto a cassette which I play/pause/play/pause in class. This is one of the bigger hits in my exercise repertoire, I guess since everybody loves music. I also try to choose songs that are well-known. The last two sessions I did Hotel California (original version) and Cry Me a River (Diana Krall version). This session, I chose What a Fool Believes (Carol Welsman version). I didn't use the original Doobie Brothers' version because, honestly, it's too hard to catch the words with their falsetto shrieking. I had heard a new cover of the song on jazz radio and the words were very clear so I decided to use that version. I looked up the song on Itunes, where over 20 versions exist. I found and purchased it, recorded it onto cassette, typed up the lyrics and brought it to work. It's been a total flop.

Apparently, this was never a hit up here. Only a couple of students have had a vague sense of familiarity with the song. I checked with a musician friend who plays weddings around town and she told me she had also learned this. It seems that when they'd play the tune at weddings, everyone would sit down. People like to dance to tunes they know. Anyway.

Yesterday, I did the exercise with my class of twenty-somethings. Something struck them as very funny as I started the song. They worked themselves into a fit of laughter (trying so hard to stifle it, unsuccessfully) all of them with tears streaming down their face and having trouble catching their breath. I wanted to laugh along too and even did a little (contagious as laughter is) as I kept trying to get them to tell me what was so damn funny.

Do you know why they were laughing? Because, according to them, this is "old man music." It made me have pouty lips. And then I admonished them, "It's not nice to mock others' musical taste." They still couldn't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The mirror's tall tale

I thought I had mentioned somewhere that the reflection you see of yourself in the mirror is NOT the image that everyone else sees when they look at you. I looked for the post where I mentioned it but couldn't find it. This blog is getting a bit unwieldy and I fear repeating myself, which I surely do. Anyway, I remember that there were a couple comments not believing that what I purported above is true. So I thought I'd clear it up with a little experiment. First I'll explain. If you hold up your arm and put your finger under the right eye, when you look at the mirror, your finger is under the eye on the right side of the face in the mirror. However, when someone looks at you as you hold your finger to your right eye, from the observer's point of view your finger is pointing at the left eye. Don't believe me? Here I took a picture of me with the camera directly and in the mirror. I am holding a number up. Look what happens to the number.

That's right, the number is backwards. I can't turn the paper to achieve this effect, it's impossible. (Try it!) In the mirror you are seeing yourself backwards. This probably explains why so many of us find fault with pictures of ourselves. We're not used to seeing that viewpoint! In fact, the only way to see what others see is in pictures. If you give more emphasis to one side of your appearance (such as the parting of your hair) due to what you see in the mirror, this is a bit folly. The only true way to see which "looks" better is to take pictures of it in the two ways and look at them. Mirrors are liars, as are their many reflective cousins.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I got all red-faced yesterday. It hasn't happened like this in a while, so I guess I should be happy. Just as I was being let out of the secured area by one of my students, she said to me, "Richard, all the women who work here find you very handsome." I looked right at her and said, "Gee, thanks for embarrassing me." She laughed and said something else, but I was too off balance to pay attention.

It's not that I can't take a compliment. I'm very good at saying thank you for compliments, but why say thank you for something you had no hand in? I have a similar reaction when someone compliments my eyes, since I had no doing in the fabrication of them. If you compliment my clothing (which I selected) or my work (which I did) or my friendliness (which I strive for) then I'm honored and grateful for the compliment. Otherwise, it just embarrasses me.

At least I'm not like spouse. Every time I tell him he's cute or handsome, he invariably replies, "I know."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sucker segue

Well the tire purchasing went off well. Only $520! And I say only because I was prepared for $650. It was killing me to see the comments yesterday from those who live in snowy climates having never purchased winter tires. But here's the thing as I have been informed of up here: it's not the snow, it's the cold temperatures that makes one need "grippy" tires. Apparently at temps below 0 degrees F, one needs winter tires because even the salt and gravel on the streets don't really melt at such extremes. And it gets below 0 F a great deal up here. At least that's the story I'm going to believe, otherwise, I'm a sucker. And I really hate being a sucker.

Did you know there's a town in Oklahoma where every year "Sucker Day" is celebrated? Yes, the tradition began many years ago when a traveling salesman came to town to announce that the circus would be passing through, posting bills to that effect and talking up the event to the townspeople. Since folks from all over would be coming to see the circus, the town merchants would benefit from having advertising in the circus program. The salesman sold all of the advertising in the programs and left for a week to print the programs so that they would be ready for the circus dates. The next week on circus day, thousands of people from all around the neighboring villages descended on Wetumka to watch the circus come to town. The school band was there, the mayor beamed proudly. There were hot dog vendors and giddy children. They waited and waited. The circus wasn't coming. The mayor, realizing they'd been had, declared the day "Sucker day" and announced that all hotdogs and drinks were free. (Way to make lemonade from lemons, eh?) And now each year, the town hosts the Sucker Day festival which they honor with a parade and carnival like activities.

There are so many expressions that define a sucker. Duped, fooled, had, boondoggled, taken in, bamboozled, tricked, scammed, hornswoggled, conned and deceived. I loathe when any of those adjectives apply to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Forced expenditures

The car we have has All-Season tires on it. I was under the impression that four season tires would be adequate during winter since winter counts as one of the four seasons. Our friend Dan informed me that no, we will be needing winter tires. I did not want to believe this because were I to, I'd have to go spend $650. I spent all week grilling people about the necessity of winter tires. I couldn't believe that even though the marketplace is rife with various models of all-season radials, that they are basically useless here in the winter. Why would they be selling them if this were true?

I was like the giant pharmaceutical company telling the labs to run the tests as long as they arrived at the result specified.

Person after person shot me down. "Yeah, I thought like you until I had that terrible accident." "Oh yeah, those four season tires, that's what made me do a 360 on the Papineau bridge." "Those tires turn your car into a death trap. You must get winter tires."

Finally forced to face facts, I spent a couple days hunting for the best deal on new tires. I looked at private party ads and big box store prices. I priced out shipping them from the states, which would be a hundred cheaper, but customs delays cannot be ruled out. And snow is imminent at this time of year.

I found a deal to go to Cuba during my research (I got waylaid a bit) One week, plane, hotel on the beach, all inclusive meals and booze for $699 tax included. Hmmm, a set of tires or a week on the beach in Cuba? If I were younger, I'd opt for Cuba. Being the responsible adult, sigh, I will be getting the tires (this morning at 8 o'clock). Luckily I have spouse though, so maybe we can do both.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Visiting starlings

It amazes me that a flock of starlings gathers here on a busy street. I was transfixed for several minutes by their activities. If I were a kid, I'd find this vid incredibly boring. It's just a bunch of stupid birds! Nowadays, I find it magical.