Good News.

So remember this woman?

She’s safe in the UK. She had some medical issues shortly after getting away from her husband, but is now back on her feet and feeling stronger.

I know it’s easy to be skeptical amidst the money scams and the anonymity of t’intertubewebs, but I feel good having been a part of helping one woman, a person I will never meet face-to-face, to find a better life.

News Fatigue.

Swine Flu! Olympics! Swine Flu! Olympics! Swine Olympics! Flu Olympics! H1N12010H1n120100

I’m so done with both of them. The whole vaccinate/don’t vaccinate/people have too much info/people don’t need to know/the government botched the vaccination/the government is trying to kill us/support the athletes/down with corporate greed/another games mascot/housing scandal.

The H1N1 paranoia is pissing me off because it’s everywhere, and it just shows how sheep-like people are. Influenza has been around, and mutating, for a long time. It will continue to be around for a long time. Wash your hands. Eat your veggies. Stay home if you’re sick. Don’t panic.

It’s also pissing me off because it’s scaring my students. I’m seeing more and more book reports linking the characters’ illnesses to H1N1. Stop scaring the kids, assholes!

And the Olympics? Stop shoving them down my throat. I can’t afford to go. I don’t want to see any events. Athletes, I am really in awe of your abilities, but government, watchdogs, and press? Shut the fuck up about the two weeks in February that will cause massive inconvenience and that taxpayers will rue for years to come.

Olympic Village will be leaky condos in a decade. I promise. You heard it here first.

I am >< this close to seceding from Canada, declaring myself a sovereign nation of one, and setting up Parliament in my closet, under a blanket.


So there’s this little guy in one of my classes. His English is pretty proficient, and he’s started augmenting his grammar lessons, to my delight.

The exercises he’s working on give him a grammatically incorrect sentence, and then there’s a line below, where he has to write the sentence correctly. It looks like this:

I want those books. Please give it to me.

He’s always sailed through getting the grammar right, but now he puts ‘Dude’ into everything:

I want those books, Dude. Please give them to me.

I can’t mark him down for his grammar, and I often encourage him by reading out his work in my best surfer-dude voice.

Hey, it’s November. I’m keeping things light over here.

Snow Tires.

You don’t really think I’m going to write about snow tires, do you? Well, I am.  A little. But then I’ll quit.

My car jockey boss has been sending me out into the hinterlands for the most far-flung vehicles, so that Dave at the garage can put snow tires on them. This makes sense for North Van cars. SFU cars, sure. They are on mountains.  But today he sent me to Lougheed. I didn’t even know we had a car there, but it gets a lot of use. Maybe we need to expand the fleet.

Anyway, I was thinking about snow tires, and I remembered my old friend Kevin from my Port Hardy gas barge days. He used to saunter up to me and say, “You’se about as purdy as a new pair a snow tires!” in this really bad Texas accent. (I may have said that to the snow tires today, but nobody heard me.)

Kevin was one of the college-boy Seine boat deckhands employed by the owner of the Joye fleet: About a dozen boats.  I called the deckhands the Joye Boyes. During term time they were in college, and then in summer they came to Hardy to fish.

A lot of the women in town resented my friendship with the Boyes, because these were some handsome young men. Kevin was one of four brothers whose ancestry was Hispanic/ Russian. His eldest brother was so astonishingly gorgeous that women sometimes walked into things, they stared at him so hard. There was also a trio of flaxen-haired Icelandic/Scottish brothers.  Hybrid vigor was the order of the day.

But even the ones without movie-star looks got a lot of (sometimes unwanted) attention from liquored-up and/or bored women in the bar. If they were fine, I left it alone, but if they looked for me and made eye contact indicating they wanted me to, I would go over do what I could to discourage the woman. These guys were from relatively sheltered, religious backgrounds, and often had little experience in fending off thirtysomething divorcees who smelled of vodka, vomit and Impulse perfume.

The Boyes reciprocated my watchdogging. Despite my most agile maneuvers, I was sometimes cornered by a drunk fisherman who believed that because I had served him as a customer, I  wanted for him to clumsily grope me and suggest we go back to his boat/hotel room/buddy’s place.  Feminist principles or none, it was very nice to be able to look around for the Boyes and have two or three guys flank me so I could say, “No, thank you. I’m here with friends.”

And when we left the bar, the Boyes and I were just a bunch of people. We lurched into one another on the road down to the docks, and I never shied away from helping out in rolling someone into a bunk.

Random Crush Monday.

Today’s crush is William Gibson. I know he is closer to my dad’s age than mine, but this is a writer crush (and a reader crush) and that’s different from a jump-his-bones crush.

If I practice very, very hard I may one day be as good a writer as he is. But I wouldn’t bet on it. His writing is beautiful and lonely and a little bit hopeful. His characters make me think about the spaces between people and how even when someone is standing right beside you, they can still be unreachable. And that sometimes someone across the whole wide world is right there in your pocket.

His books are like poems to me. I reread them and I get more and more out of them every time. The first time I read a new one, I think, “That’s not going to be my favourite.” But then I compulsively  go back, and I end up thinking, “Oh. Oh, wow. What did you just do, Mr. Gibson?” (I can’t  call him William, even in my head.)

William Gibson lives in my neighborhood. Several of my friends have had conversations with him.  He walks along Broadway, and I’ve seen him tons of times, but haven’t been able to talk to him. I wouldn’t know what to say.

E sometimes warns me if he sees William Gibson coming. And then I get all blushy and stuttery so I couldn’t possibly say anything. But when I spy him by myself, I do some kind of adrena-freeze, and my eyes go very wide. Not good for conversation either. Also, I sometimes twitch.

All I’d really like to do is thank him for writing such striking analogies and such beautiful observations about what it is to be human.


Apparently there is a rainfall warning for Greater Vancouver.  80-200 mm before Monday is over.Good thing my boots are waterproof.

But right now I am curled up on the couch, warm and dry.  Homemade spaghetti sauce (homegrown tomatoes and basil, even!) is simmering on the stove. Bread is just finishing proving. All my weekend chores are done.

Life is good.


It gives me The Rage sometimes. E has learned not to freak out when I yell, “Oh, yeah? Fortify THIS!” at the TV, while giving it the finger.

If I could, I would make it a law that there would be complete clarity in advertising.  There would be no weasel phrases like “Part of this complete breakfast” (It was complete without the sugary cereal), “Scientifically proven” (Really? To do what?) or “Contains the goodness of ” (The goodness? How do they extract it? What is the good?)

Instead, ads would have to be absolutely explicit about the product. They would be obligated to say that this moisturizer is mostly made of water. That some ‘educational’ toys actually hinder children’s learning. That the real reason the pizza is so cheap is they’re using synthetic cheese.

And ads for things that are considered taboo would have to spell everything out, too. No more blue liquid! Instead, the voice-over would say, “Tampax. Change them every few hours, or you may be at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome. Don’t hate your vagina.”

The penis pumper pills would have to be really explicit, too. No more guys having bad stuff happen, but smiling because they got to have sex, or dancing and singing down the street.  No more. Guy is going to look at the camera and say, “I got wood. My penis stayed hard the whole time I had sex.  It ruled.” Or similar. Complete disclosure is the order of the day.

My biggest hate-on, however, is McDonalds. I would make it illegal for McDonalds to advertise using the Olympians (Yeah, I bet the world’s top athletes eat a lot of  McDonalds meals) or even being “The Official Restaurant” of anything. Hmm. Maybe I would only let them use people whose chronic obesity had been caused by their food. Yeah. That’s what I’d do.

Oh, and every script for every ad would be reviewed by Oxford-trained grammarians. Any grammar slip would cost the guilty company their annual profits, to be donated to the charity of my choice.

Beyond Thunderdome VS Lord Of The Flies

How did I not notice the astonishing parallels before?

I just dropped down on the couch exhausted and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is the only thing on that I want to watch. I’ve seen it several times, but I’m looking at it with fresh eyes tonight. It’s like the screenwriter was forced to study LOTF in school (as many of us were) and was  mortally offended by Golding’s interpretation of the nature of humankind.  Granted, it is pretty bleak.

In Lord of the Flies, the war breaks out. The children are evacuated to somewhere safer than Britain. The plane crashes, the pilot dies, and the boys try to create some semblance of a harmonious society, but are hampered and eventually blindsided by the fact that Jack and his hunters want to play, well, hunter games. That, and the littleuns are too small to understand or participate in keeping the order of civilization.

In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the Apocalypse happens, and surviving adults participate in the brutal society of Bartertown, whereas the evacuated children have formed a tiny and well-ordered society based on their memories of life before the apocalypse.

In Pigtown, hedonism and brute strength rule, like with Jack and his hunters. There’s nothing but ‘having fun’, and violence decides who is the leader. Tina Turner is ruthless (and still has better legs than I ever will!) in her need to keep Bartertown and its methane-needy inhabitants under her thumb. Likewise, Jack needs pigs to show that he is the most powerful hunter, able to bring much-needed protein to his tribe. Tina Turner needs the pigs’ offal to create the power that runs Bartertown.

However, in contrast to Piggy and Ralph’s shambles of an attempt to create an ordered society,  the Thunderdome children have created a primitive society with an oral history,  stable political structure (at least until Mel Gibson gets there) and the ability to sustain themselves and their way of life over time.  These children are the antithesis to Golding’s vision of humankind as barbarians without the consequences of higher authority.

Wow. That’s all I’ve got for now.

Warrior Mash-Up!

I can’t stop posting! It’s like a disease!

Now I am surfing the Net while E watches something called Warrior Mash-Up or something. They pit classic battle styles against one another. Tonight it’s Shaolin Monks vs Maoris.  I’m betting Shaolin wins.

Interesting. Apparently the Maori warriors stuck their tongues out at the enemy as a form of disrespect. When they killed them, they ate them. As the man on the TV said, “It’s the ultimate insult to turn your opponent into fecal matter.” He’s got a point.

I wonder how they got the guys to do this show. Casting call: Want to get beat up?

Yep. Shaolin wins. That’s what happens when you have the technology to produce steel.

Girl Guides

All the Girl Guide stores in the Lower Mainland are closed. You can only get Girl Guide stuff online now.  This is freaking me out.

Backstory: One of my tutoring students is joining Guides. I fully support this and am so happy for her. I got a lot out of the Guiding movement. I hope she gets to go camping at least once before she goes back to Korea, because I know she is going to love it so much.

Her investiture ceremony is tonight. I have drilled her on the promise, which is a little different from the promise I made. Here’s what she’s saying:

I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself
my God/faith and Canada:
I will help others,
And accept the Guiding Law.

Here’s what I said:

I promise, on my honour, to do my best,
To do my best, to do my duty
To  God, the Queen, and my country,

To help others at all times,
And obey the Guide Law.

Subtle, but there.

Anyhow,  Wendy’s mom forgot to order her the program book, and the Vancouver store was closed.  I thought it was weird, but I wanted to help, so I said I’d go get one from Richmond. I had ulterior motives. I wanted to go to IHOP.

Well, it turns out ALL the Guide stores are closed. I’m sorry, but I still got to go to IHOP. Win!

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