Thursday, January 31, 2008

need some brida things?

I spotted this while stumbling home this evening. I'm still laughing, but then again, I'm drunk (as you can probably tell from the quality photography). Perhaps the person who wrote this was also drunk. I don't know how else to explain the missing "l."

I may think this post is really lame when I'm hungover tomorrow morning. Oh well.


what is wrong with people?

In the past few days:

I'm sure there's more.

Something is really wrong with our society. Ugh.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

when does it stop being fun and start being cougar?

I meet guys at the gym all the time. This evening a hottie I've seen before talked me up. After a few minutes of conversation, I decided he wasn't just hot but also rather smart. All was going well until he dropped a piece of information indicating that he was at least 14 years my junior. Then he asked for my phone number.

I've dated younger guys before, but I've always been careful to stay within the generation gap (10 years). What should I have done here?

To any of you tempted to respond that age doesn't matter, it doesn't matter for older guys, but don't forget that double-standards abound in my world. When does one officially become a cougar?



SunnyShine note: NIKE

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

mommy, i want a boob

One of my good friends just got a bad case of mastitis. I cringed as I wrote that because I'm told it's uber painful. But I can't really feel all that badly for her. You see, my friend is still breastfeeding her child, who is now... wait for it... 18 months old.

Now, I know somebody inevitably will read this and say something like "well, my mom breastfed me until I was FOUR and I turned out OK," but, you know, that's just not normal in my world. Once your kid starts eating solid foods, the breastfeeding should slowly come to an end. Most North American doctors will tell you that all nutritional value to the child is lost after 9 months, and that after that point, breastfeeding is just a crutch for the mother to feel closer to her child. A creepy crutch, I might add.

My rule of thumb? If your kid can ask for milk in some semblance of a sentence, it's time to stop.



SunnyShine note: I'll raise you a nearly 3-year old. The sister of a friend of mine is still breastfeeding her child who turns 3 in May. He walks. He talks. He is learning to read. Make the madness stop.

apparently you can can anything

Today I was doing some work research and came across this. It's possible this is the greatest product I have ever seen. I don't think I would ever eat it, mind you, but I am amused all the same.

I'm not sure who came up with this genius idea but I would love to meet them. It's possible they could save the world from everything. I wonder what else he/she has up the sleeve?

Here's a question. Do you eat the canned cheeseburger cold? I'm assuming that if you are resorting to eating a canned cheeseburger, you don't have any way of heating up food. Also, what condiments are on this cheeseburger? Are there different options in case you want ketchup and not mustard? So many questions.


RainyBow note: Germans.

Monday, January 28, 2008

i can see my food through the smoke... check.

Last night Sunny and I went out to a nice little bistro with another friend. I said bistro, so it wasn't a crappy $5 meal. Well, before any of us had arrived there was some sort of massive kitchen incident. I'm not sure if the restaurant lacked a ventilation system or whether nobody thought to deploy it, but by the time we arrived, the smoke was heavy. Part way through the meal my eyes were dry and itchy. By the end of the meal, I couldn't wait to get back to the cold outside. Sunny actually turned down some intensely yummy-sounding desserts in her haste to leave the premises. I told the waiter we had to go because we just couldn't take it anymore, and he said, "Yeah, I don't know what happened in the kitchen, I guess something."

Everything on my body reeked. It all went straight into the laundry basket when I got home. Our friend said her hair still smelled this morning.

This evening I had a lovely dinner out with other friends. After the smoke-filled experience last night though, the crappiest of food would probably have made cordon blue status with me tonight.

It left a bad taste in my mouth that nobody offered an apology.



SunnyShine note: Ugh. Was so disgusting. The dogs had their noses suctioned to me when I got home; I'm sure they thought I had leftovers in my pocket. Next day I had a gigantic smoky-restaurant headache too. So crappy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

at the car wash

The salt from the city's winter clean-up is killing my car and I've been trying to run through a car wash. Every time I try, something goes horribly wrong.

In the latest attempt, I pulled up to the pump, filled up with gas and chose to pay for a car wash at the pump. When I finished filling the tank, no receipt came out with the code for the wash. I went into the kiosk.

Me: Hi, I bought a car wash at the pump and no receipt came out, so I don't have a code. Can you please give me one?

Employee: Well, it didn't give you a receipt because the car wash is broken.

Me: Oh, OK. But I paid for a car wash. You should probably disable that function.

Employee [completely disinterested]: Yeah.

Me: OK, well, can you refund me the cost of the car wash?

Employee: No, I can't, but I can give you a code. [Jots something down on a piece of paper and hands it over.]

Me: This doesn't even look like a code, and I will definitely lose it. Can I please just have a refund?

Employee: Well, you bought it on your credit card and I can't refund to your credit card.

Me: Ummm... why not?

Employee: I don't know how and there's nobody else here.

Me [laughing]: OK, well, can you just give me the amount back in cash then?

Employee: I'm not supposed to.

Me: OK, but now I'm getting no car wash and I'm not getting any money back. That seems a tad unfair. I suggest you refund my money in cash.

Employee [big sigh, counting cash laboriously]: Oh, OK.

Is it really this hard?


Thursday, January 24, 2008

more snacks

As you may have gathered from at least one previous post, I love snack food from other countries. Actually, I'm a source of much amusement, because when I get a new snack I don't just love it, I obsess over it. I keep it on my desk and admire it, then I photograph it, then, finally, I eat it. Throughout this long process, I talk about it. Endlessly.

Over the Christmas break, a friend went on some crazy central American cruise and was kind enough to indulge my little habit. Here are the two gems she brought back for me.

The white cigar-looking item is a rollito de coco, a delicious combination of coconut and sugar. Mmmmmm. The only alarming feature about this item: one of its ingredients was "vanilla raising." I'm hoping that's a bad translation of "extract."

The Pico Buzzy with the crazy face was a bit more of an experience. It looked like Jell-O crystals (which were a staple in my diet when I was like six). And it boasted a "tamarind flavor." Now, I like tamarind as much as the next person, but I've never really wanted to sample tamarind Jell-O crystals. I'm guessing that Kraft Foods' focus groups have overwhelmingly agreed.

I went all the way with the Pico Buzzy and poured a whack down my throat. It was like scarfing down a mixture of sugar and salt. And some artificial red stuff. I wonder if it's a big seller in some central American country.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

why make an informed decision?

Well, I got too caught up in PowerPoint and chili cheese fries to mark the anniversary of two major court decisions in North America this week: Roe v. Wade and R v. Morgentaler. Whatever your feelings might be on abortion (and this post is not meant to express an opinion either way), I think it's safe to say that those two decisions were monumental in the social life of North Americans.

And so, one would think that in the case of unwanted pregnancy these days, since there are options, discussion of the merits of those options would be a given. When one of my high school friends got pregnant at 17, let me tell you, there was much discussion. I would actually say much agonizing. When you're young, broke, sick, and/or alone, and facing the prospect of bringing another life into the world, the decision either way can't be easy. I feel lucky that I've never had to face it for myself.

And yet I've seen two (really popular) movies over the last few months that would lead one to believe that weighing of the available options doesn't really happen anymore. First there was Knocked Up, an amusing film, but unfortunately based on the premise that no girl in the position of the main character should even consider a shmashmortion. I think abortion was debated (if one can call it that) for about two seconds in the film. (I don't even want to get into the incredibly insulting premise that a girl should feel grateful if some guy with no job and no prospects actually steps up and tries to contribute when he gets her pregnant--when women just have to step up all the time, and nobody thinks that's a miracle.) Then there was Juno, another amusing film, this time about a teenager who considers abortion only incredibly briefly, then decides to have the baby, with her parents' full support. I don't know about you, but I don't know any parents like Juno's. The parents I know would be incredibly upset, and would make their kid think through the consequences of all possible courses of action.

Again, I'm not saying that abortion's for everyone, and this isn't meant to be a veiled pro-life rant. But Roe v. Wade happened 35 years ago now and it's like we're still pretending we live in a society where there are no options, or at least not ones that need to be considered. Given how high the stakes are, that seems very wrong to me.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

brain and artery death

OK, I have to give full disclosure before continuing this post. Here's what you need to know:

1. I hate despise television. I see very little merit in anything that's aired on the beast, except as a mindless diversion when you're ill. I'll admit to watching a few well-written shows on DVD: Arrested Development and Entourage come to mind. I know people who organize their entire schedule around the boob tube (including my sister, who will record one show while watching another), and it frightens me to no end. No wonder America is hurtling into recession. Read a book. Have a real conversation. Try something new. Take a walk. Seriously.

2. I hate TV celebrities, especially talk show hosts like Oprah and Rachel Ray. My friends are infinitely more interesting and they're not half as self-centred.

3. I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years. I occasionally eat seafood because I find it impossible not to in my world, but I do my best to avoid eggs and dairy. I've probably inadvertently eaten bits of meat or meat broth in something over the past 15 years, but I can't imagine really eating meat again.

Now that you've got the full facts, let's go onto the real post...

I haven't been feeling well over the last couple of days. Yesterday morning, lying on my couch, I decided to try crapola TV as a distraction from the pain of my throbbing head. I stumbled on Rachel Ray, who was talking about art. It was better than the other crap I had just flipped over, and, out of sheer laziness, I didn't change the channel.

After a commercial break, Rachel Ray came back with a cooking portion of the show. The big dish of the day was chili cheese fries. I've never had anything like it, but the dish seemed to be comprised of three layers:
- homemade fries
- chopped turkey (but I can't tell the difference between different meats so it may have been something else)
- a mixture of cheddar cheese, chicken stock, milk, and beer

She kept going on and on about how this was a great meal on its own and how much her husband loves it. She plated it and oohed and aahed over it, and the audience sure clapped a lot. I was thankful that I didn't have to watch anyone actually take a bite. I was already feeling more than a bit nauseous.

Do people really eat like this? And if this is a full meal, is it suddenly OK to replace fruits and vegetables with saturated fats? While watching this, I just kept thinking about how much money you'd have to give me so that I'd take even a bite of these chili cheese fries. I don't think I landed on an actual number, but it was a lot.



Rainy recently posted about The Congo. Here's some more perspective for you. Try to keep this in mind next time the barista gives you the wrong drink and you explode in a fit of rage. No matter how hard your life is here, it really isn't that hard.

Here are some facts to get you started in case you're too lazy to click the link:

1. 5.4M ppl have died since 1998
2. 45K ppl die each month - majority from treatable diseases like malaria (and trust me, malaria is treatable)


RainyBow note: Another quick fact: life expectancy in the Congo two years ago didn't even reach 42 years. Let's guess at the causes: diseases that could be treated if medical care and/or drugs were available/affordable, infant mortality, malnutrition/starvation, war... there's so much more. None of it will be solved quickly, and very little of it affects me. I did nothing to be so lucky.

Monday, January 21, 2008

powerpoint abuse

I just got home from an orientation night for a volunteer position that would be really cool. The night itself didn't exactly sell the opportunity though.

The first 35 minutes of the meeting (yes, I said 35 minutes) was spent listening to three different people read bullets from PowerPoint slides, word for word. The presentation was intended to bring to life what the organization does and what volunteers can do to make it better. So someone just barfed all the information on to some paper, and then three people read it all out to us. And thank goodness they read it to us, because it's not as if a room full of people could figure out how to read a bunch of information on their own.

Well, they had my attention for approximately 4 of the 35 minutes, and those 4 weren't happy moments. As you may know, I have a fetish for proper usage of the English language, and one of the speakers just couldn't get any of the bullets right. I would say she stumbled on about 1 out of every 3 words she spoke. For a few minutes, I read along with her, silently correcting every one of her mistakes, hoping that I could will her into a state of better reading. Then I tired of that too.

Why oh why?!

This is not how PowerPoint was meant to be used. And this is not how PowerPoint should ever be used. As marketing smartypants Seth Godin writes, bullets are for the NRA. Your slides, on the other hand, are your chance to reinforce what you're saying, through images or simple language. They certainly shouldn't be your big chance to alienate your audience. Most of us can do that easily, without props, all on our own.

After the 35 minutes of hell, there was some extemporaneous discussion. However, most people around me had descended into a brain activity level just above coma, so the discussion was not what I would describe as lively.

I did momentarily snap back into the real world when I heard the words "scent-free." I almost choked on my stale Oreo cookie (thanks for that crappy offering, btw, you boring PowerPoint offenders). Apparently this place too is a scent-free environment. Between this and the yoga joint, I think I'm meeting more than my fair share of scent-free crazies these days. Perhaps someone is trying to send me a sign? Hopefully it's not written in PowerPoint.


PS: yay, Sunny's back.

lies and more lies

This is a little late but I still need to put it down for the record. Recently, the US President went to Saudi Arabia to ask for a little more oil. Not surprisingly, this was his first real trip to the middle east in 8 years in office. Interesting that he has no trouble putting his citizens in the hot zone so they can get their limbs blown off or get killed but he can't spare a minute to visit. Too dangerous maybe? What can you expect of a president who had never been out of the US when he took office.

So great that he has remained friends with the Saudis through these tumultuous times. You never know when you're going to need more oil to run all of the 16 cylinder vehicles the US is so fond of. Kittens and roses.

The war on terror shows no signs of ending. We must do our best to rid the world of the terrible Afghans and Iraqis. Damn, those Iranians are pesky too. What no one seems to remember - or maybe they don't even know - is that 15 of 19 of the 911 pilots were SAUDI. Of the other 4, 1 was Egyptian, 2 were from UAE, and 1 was Lebanese. No, there's no mistake.

None were Afghan.

None were Iraqi.

None were Iranian.

They were SAUDI. Who is Bush hobnobbing with?? The Saudis. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't recall any wars being declared on Saudi Arabia in recent memory. I do recall handshakes, smiles, and dancing.

It's all about oil, people. The US doesn't care about anything or anyone unless they are sitting on oil. Can't upset the Saudis and risk not getting their oil.

Please remember this when the bombs start falling on Iran in the name of the war against terror. Ask yourself why. The lies just keep coming and the Americans just keep swallowing them.


ps....I'm back.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

i've seen a lot on the road...

... but I've never seen this one. Apparently Virginia has seen fit to ban "outsized rubber replica[s] of testicles" dangling from trailer hitches, for safety reasons.

Seriously, was this ban really necessary? Has anyone out there remarked on the epidemic of rubber testicle trailer hitches before this news? And if people really are decorating their trailer hitches with these items, where do you think they're getting them? Is some genius out there making oodles of cash with the decorative rubber testicle replica business idea?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

damn those books that make you think

This week I've been listening to the audio version of this book in my car to and from work. It's made me want to vomit in my mouth several times.

How did it get this bad? I've been resisting going completely vegan for some time now because it's so darn hard (in my family and in North America generally). When I finish this book I'm not sure I'll have a choice.


Weekend update: As the book continues, I've progressed from vomiting in my mouth to having difficulty reading from the tears in my eyes. Argh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

no bracelets, just pushed buttons

The Christ Church Unity people, otherwise known as the complaint-free people, have been pushing my buttons.

You see, I requested some complaint-free bracelets last spring. And I got all excited about them. Really, who wouldn't? It's not like any other charity sells plastic bracelets to raise awareness and funds.

Well, now it's 2008, and not only have no bracelets arrived, but now I get regular email updates from those people, rubbing it in. Seriously.

The emails are full of shiny, happy tales about people who have apparently been complaint-free for months. Can you imagine spending time with those people? I figure they're either seething with repressed anger and about to blow, or they're inexplicably accepting of mediocrity. Or maybe both. Either way, that's going to be one rousing round of drinks.

At any rate, the latest email update featured a super-happy person hawking the New Year/New You package. Seriously, why is she so happy? She's wearing a crapola tshirt (methinks someone over at Christ Church Unity thinks him or herself a pretty darn good graphic designer) and is holding the complaint-free book, which, although I haven't exactly sought out reviews, I'm willing to bet isn't exactly on the verge of a Nobel prize for literature. But better yet, check out the complaint-free world bumper sticker. Yup, she clearly thinks it's a good idea to put inflammatory statements on the bumper of your car, where nobody ever hits anybody.

I want my bracelets.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

if there were an award for blurting...

Today I was at my desk in my open concept office, doing my stuff. I think I was typing. I'm a fast typist and I think I'm a bit of a loud typist, but nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, colleague of the birthing video fame was at her desk and leaned over the wall. This conversation ensued:

Colleague: Wow, that's really loud. You're making my head hurt.

Me [still typing]: What? I'm not doing anything different from usual.

Colleague [giggling]: Yes, but today I'm hungover.

Me [sensing that colleague wants to share yet another story, now devoting my attention to her]: That sucks. Did you have a really good night last night?

Colleague: I just had a friend over and we had some drinks.

Me: Fun. [Turning back to computer]

Colleague: It was my ex-boyfriend, you know, the one who was my boyfriend last week. But now he's dumped me again so now he's my ex-boyfriend and I'm so heartbroken because we were together for two years and I really love him. But he keeps dumping me every like two months or something. He's got really big problems and I don't think he's ever going to get any better. He's gone for professional help and it's doing nothing for him. And I know it's bad for me and for my kids, but I don't really want to be without him. So he came over last night and we got really drunk and talked through our relationship and I just think it has to be over once and for all because really it just can't go on like this. I can't put myself through this or my kids through this anymore. Man, it's so hard. I just don't know how I'm going to get over this.

Me [hands still poised over keyboard, completely traumatized by the fact that this story was mostly told to my back because I had had no idea the "I am hungover" statement was going to turn into a desperate cry for a conversation]: Ummm... do you want to get out of here and get a coffee or something?

Colleague: Oh no, I know you're busy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

the power of 60 minutes

Last night Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes did a story on the current conditions for women in the Congo. This morning six people either emailed me or came by my desk to talk about the story and what they could do about it.

Women being raped and tortured in the Eastern Congo certainly isn't a new story. Sadly, it's an old and tragic one. The government in the Congo has done nothing. The international community, for the most part, hasn't done much either.

And yet today all I could think was that one news story has suddenly turned so many heads. I wondered what would happen if stories like this were covered with more frequency. If more people were given the facts, if more people were forced to watch the truth about violence like this--and I don't mean the stupid, gratuitous violence of North American films--would some people take action?

I've been thinking about this all day. Is it the media's fault, for not covering the story and informing the public? Or is it the public's fault for just not caring? On good days (like today) I like to believe it's the former; I like to believe that if only people knew, they'd want to help.

There are, after all, people doing amazing things. For example, there are these people, who are organizing runs to raise awareness and funds for Congolese women; there are these people, who are equipping the women in the Congo with education, job skills training, and a support system; and then there are the people at Human Rights Watch, who do so much great work.

On bad days though, I think it's the latter, that people just suck. And as much as I'm on a bit of a people-really-care-and-the-world-isn't-so-bad high today, it's quite likely that I'll have one of those bad days tomorrow. And I'll wish I were ignorant. Kind of.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

oh no

I got a note from Sunny early this morning. For any of you that may not know, she's been pretty darn ill and far away on vacation.

She's definitely on the mend now, but she still isn't able to get out of bed and do too much without getting tired quickly. So she read all the books she had and could get her hands on (that is, all of those in a language she could actually read). Today, after running out out books, she resigned herself to reading O magazine (that's what they call the Oprah mag, right?). When writing me the note, she was in the midst of an article called, "Is your handbag killing you?" A buying guide for bags.

Hell finally has frozen over.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

it's hard to understand me because...

I told this story twice today, so why not a third time?

On a hiking trip to the Adirondacks a year and a half ago, I met a hottie from Manhattan. I have a weakness for athletes, and he was a surfer. He was also a pilot, and because he could fly in and out all the time, we ended up dating for a while. He'd fly in for a night, we'd go out and have a good time, then he'd fly out again.

(Btw, that's my idea of a fantastic relationship, but let's not get into psychoanalyzing that one today, OK?)

Because pilot boy and I always went out for an evening only, and because there was inevitably drinking involved, I don't think I ever really got to know him. He was fun. He was also pretty young. Looking back, I now think I may have overlooked a few of his not-so-bright sounding comments here and there, chalking them up to his tender age.

One night we were out and he asked me what I studied in school. I told him that coming out of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do other than that I wanted to learn to speak French fluently (go figure). So I did my post-secondary work in French at a school with a bunch of French people. (BTW, my French was pretty darn rudimentary at the time so I look back and think wow, I had balls. But I failed my first two papers, then I got smart and found myself a French boyfriend. And eventually I learned because I had to.)

But back to my night with pilot boy. The conversation went in many other directions and we were talking about someone else, when he stopped me and asked that I repeat something (can't remember what, as it wasn't memorable). As I was about to repeat it, he said, "You know, I find it hard to understand you sometimes because..."

... and in my head, I jumped to the natural ending to this sentence, which is "... you talk so quickly." I talk very quickly. I get told that a lot. But instead, that night, I got...

"... you have that French accent and all."

French accent?! Good lord. My family isn't exactly white bread, and my first language isn't English, but it sure ain't French. And I just told this guy that I went away to learn French and that it was pretty darn hard, making it clear to any other living being with a brain who may have overheard me that I didn't already speak it.

There was no avoiding the fact now: pilot boy may have been hot and fun, but he just wasn't smart.

After the French accent incident, I couldn't see him without snickering. Yes, I'm a snob; I lost any respect I may have had for him because of one thing he said. I told him I couldn't see him anymore and gave him the run-around when he wanted to know why, because I just didn't want to tell him he was dumb.

I think the frightening lesson from all of this though was that this guy flies planes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

the important and the not-so-important

In important news, the trial of former Liberian strongman and supreme asshole Charles Taylor is finally moving forward. Last year he was the first former African leader to stand trial in front of an international tribunal, but then the trial was adjourned, until this week. I can't contain my excitement at the thought that Taylor could actually be found guilty and sentenced. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but this is such a great precedent in a part of the world that's seen many elusive strongmen who've done their country and their people so much damage.

I only wish I could get better updates than the sporadic and sketchy articles I can find here and there. Everyone knows how the media doesn't bother covering Africa. I need to find a good west African blog. Suggestions, anyone?

In not-so-important news, I almost lost my mind at work today. I have complained before about the behaviour of others in our open office grid. Well, today, the woman who recently moved beside me had a loud 20-minute conversation about one of her direct reports. She made a phone call (presumably to Human Resources) to talk about her review of a member of her team. Apparently this fellow (who she actually named, several times) was giving her a hard time because of the rating she gave him, since he believed he had outperformed everyone else. She actually used phrases like, "I just think he's completely delusional and I worry that when I tell him he has no grasp on reality, he may just lose it on me."

I sat at my desk, paralyzed by disbelief in what I was hearing. I don't know the person to whom she was referring to, but someone else in the vicinity may very well have. Shouldn't it be common courtesy to take a conversation like that behind closed doors?

I thought about making a fake phone call of the same kind to she how--or even if--she would react, but I think the effort would be wasted. She's just clueless. So upsetting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

crappy news

I found out this morning that my partner in crime, Sunny, is pretty sick, far away and on her own.

It's all going to be OK in the end, but man, does it ever suck.

Monday, January 7, 2008

all that for this?

I live in a condo. I try to be environmentally conscious. A friend suggested we visit an an environmentally-friendly condo exhibit yesterday afternoon and I was excited.

Now, we should have known things weren't going to go well when we tried to find the exhibit's opening hours and couldn't find anything anywhere--on their website, on google, written in the sky. Nada. Still, it sounded great, and we figured it would probably be open at a minimum from noon to 3pm.

We also figured it would be wrong to drive to the environmentally-friendly condo exhibit. Well, it was too far to walk, it was too yucky outside to bike, so public transit was the winner. I don't manage to take transit very often, and it turned into a comedy of errors. First, my friend's subway was delayed and I waited for a good half hour. Then we took a subway, went to get on our streetcar and discovered a track diversion. So we took one bus, then transfered to another one, which had to go out of service, then transferred to another.

It's not so much that it took us forever to get to the exhibit; I would say it's more that we had all that time to build up our expectations. The website promised practical tips and experts who would lead us on "a comprehensive tour" (not my words). By the time we got there, we were pretty darn pumped.

The exhibit's opening hours were posted on the exterior doors. Woohoo, I thought, we actually arrived at the right time. All cocky now, I went to open the door. Locked. I swear my friend almost broke out into tears. I got belligerent and actually started yelling. Random stuff. I do that sometimes. Not often.

After a bit of that, the door swung toward us, propped open by some kid from the inside. "Are you here for the condo exhibit?" he asked, incredulously. When we told him that we were, he got all excited. "You're the first people to come all weekend!" he said. Uh oh.

The "comprehensive tour" was actually us walking through the exhibit, with our friend, who was about 14, following us closely. I'm not sure if he was worried we'd rip off an environmentally-friendly appliance, or whether he was just so happy to have human contact that he'd follow anyone or thing that radiated heat, but it was a bit disconcerting. And he didn't seem to actually know anything about the exhibit. I asked a question and he responded with, "Oh, I don't know, they didn't actually give me any information or anything." Twice I mentioned, rather pointedly, that there were some issues with the exhibit--first, all the plants in the "solarium" were two weeks past any signs of life, and second, the decorative bowl in the kitchen was full of rotten mandarin oranges--and neither time did he seem to think that this kind of basic maintenance was his responsibility.

It took us about 15 minutes, maximum, to get through the exhibit. And, you know, it actually wasn't so bad. There were some pretty cool things inside. But we left with nothing in hand, because despite all the sponsors and suppliers involved in this thing, there wasn't a single brochure or piece of paper or even a board with tips or ways to get more information or take action. After visiting such a poorly organized exhibit I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that it offered no tools for visitors.

Bitter, we started our ridiculously long transit ride home. The whole afternoon was such a disappointment I actually wanted to do something incredibly environmentally unfriendly, just out of spite.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

another crummy sign

Just 'cause I love crummy signs. This one's from a trip to Niagara Falls.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

this is what disqualifies you from being a parent?

Last year I watched Jesus Camp and read The God Delusion at around the same time. They proved to be complementary, since Jesus Camp depicts the people Richard Dawkins rails against, those who turn their kid into a [insert descriptor of particular religion here] before the kid is old enough to make a conscious decision for him or herself.

Tonight, I spent a chunk of the evening debating the New Jersey news story about the couple barred from adopting a little girl. As you've probably heard, the couple indicated that the man was an atheist and the woman a pantheist, which convinced the courts that they would be unfit parents. According to the judge, "the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being."

For real?! The last time I checked, the U.S. was a secular country with a mix of people of all kinds of religions. And I would think that there are far more important and obvious criteria with which to judge whether one is fit to raise a child. I don't even think I need to list them.

I hate fighting a stupid argument with another stupid argument, but I found myself doing it over and over this evening. Why is OK for evangelical Christians in the U.S. to adopt, even though they'll influence a child because they do believe in a Supreme Being? Or am I missing a news story on that one?

Friday, January 4, 2008

free vermont?!

I just discovered the Vermont Commons people, who want to "peaceably secede from the United States Empire and govern themselves as a more sustainable independent republic once again."

Here's some stuff I know about Vermont:
1. It's one of the smallest U.S. states in total land area.
2. It's one of the least populous states. I don't think their largest city even has a population of 50,000.
3. A high percentage of its population claims to have no religious beliefs.
4. Howard Dean, skiing and gay marriage.
5. Lots of maple syrup.
6. Nobody who lives there has ever visited complainaway. (Btw, visitors from the midwest have been pitiful too. What's with that?!)

Admittedly, I would probably discover much more than this if I actually did my research. And maybe I'd even find a real reason why they need to secede and go at it on their own. But it's more fun to do it my way.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

i spit out my juice when i found this one

Why spend millions on an advertising agency, TV commercials and print ads, a PR campaign, a website, and heck, why even create packaging for your product?

Now there's Christvertising. Their website is a bit light on details, but here's an excerpt, so you can see how amazing it really is:

Christvertising is a network of communication specialists and advertising professionals which help you navigate through the maze that is the world of competitive brands. If you like your product, so do we, but more importantly, so does God. We believe that nothing is possible without the Lord's blessing and consent. Your product is no exception. May God bless your Brand.

Now, call me crazy, but I'd just like to remind you that our world is currently plagued with ethnic violence in Kenya, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a horrible situation in Darfur, guerrilla war in northern Uganda, a crisis in Zimbabwe, violence and instability in Pakistan, a war brewing in Congo, ongoing Arab-Israeli conflicts, currency crises in all kinds of countries and natural disasters occurring daily all over the world, global warming and the ozone crisis, millions of people (some estimates as high as 30 million) who starve to death every year and millions of other people (some estimates as high as 2 1/2 million) still within the bondages of slavery. I could go on and on but I'm getting a bit depressed.

Given all of this, if there happens to be a God, I'd like to suggest that perhaps he or she may be just a teensy weensy bit too busy to worry about the success of Johnny Boy's crummy widget company.

Just throwing it out there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

let's pretend these are connected thoughts

On the way home from my New Year's party early yesterday morning, I hit a police drunk driving check. Pulled to the side was a car with its back doors wide open. Two chicks (I think in this case it's OK to write 'chicks') in long dresses and heels were outside, engaged some kind of cross between boxing and wrestling. Whatever it was, it was vicious and I wanted more. Unable to pull over, for the first time in my life, I was jealous of cops working the night shift. Three of them were standing, arms folded, watching, all smiles.

And I was all smiles at a book reading by a German writer who was in town. I had never heard of him before, but his publisher had him here to read from his new novel. In his passable English, he tried to warm up the small crowd before launching into the book. He said this about one of the book's characters: "well, he's from the Middle East and he has dark hairs." I snickered. Thank goodness the Middle Eastern wasn't blond.

And while we're laughing at another's misfortune, I heard from the vacationing Sunny earlier this week. She was temporarily stranded in an airport far away that had two fantastic selling points: first, it appeared to be not non-smoking, but smoking-only; and second, it featured a troupe of rather vocal Italian youngsters kicking around a water bottle. Needless to say, she was feeling rather festive.

Finally, on the festive front, my piano playing neighbour is still trying to master 'Silent Night' on the piano. Let me tell you, the night is hardly silent. Apparently the management office of my condo building is "working with them to find a solution for the noise issue." In the meantime, I'm a bit troubled that so much practice is leading to very little progress. I wonder if this person has a live teacher or whether this is a do-it-yourself effort. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

two things i learned on new year's eve

1. when you buy wine because it's from a region of the world that made you think, "wow, I didn't know they made wine, this should be funny," you should expect to feel like Santa's elves are tearing apart all of last year's unwanted Christmas gifts in your head the next morning. Let's hope the elves are not as industrious as all the kids' tales claim.

2. when the guy who has told you for the last eight years that he just wants to be your friend drunk dials you for five years straight at 12:03am on New Year's Eve, he won't be erasing your number before 12:03am this year. Call display is your friend. Stop answering the phone.

Happy New Year!

RainyBow update: Omg, the elves were busy buggers yesterday. Ouch.