Friday, April 17, 2015

My First Paying Job

On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Diane of Always Crave Cute inquired: "What was your first paying job?"

I got my first job in high school when I was fifteen. The local dentist hired me to be his part-time dental assistant after school every day and on Saturday mornings. He trained me to do everything his full-time dental assistant did. When her workday ended at 5:00 p.m., my 2-hour shift began. I changed out of my school clothes in the medical centre's public washroom and got into my blue polyester healthcare uniform. So cute, LOL!

I assisted the dentist while he did fillings, extractions, root canals, dentures, crowns, etc. I poured and cut plaster impressions of teeth. I learned how to sterilize instruments in the autoclave and develop x-rays. I answered the phone and booked appointments. I did it all, man! However, since I had no professional accreditation I was not allowed to work directly on patients while unsupervised (i.e. clean teeth).

Now that I was earning wages, my $20 per month allowance from my parents stopped. I paid for all my own clothes, books, records and entertainment. I gave a certain amount of my wages to my Mom every month as a contribution to household expenses. The rest I saved to help fund my dream of going to university. In the three years I worked for the dentist, I managed to save $1,500. Doesn't sound like much now, but it was a tidy little sum in the mid-70s.

I learned two very important things from that job. First, I learned the ropes of how to work for a living. On my first day, the dentist said: "I don't ever want to see you just standing around doing nothing. There's always something to do, so find it and do it. Don't wait for me to tell you." If I did something incorrectly, he made me stay late to do it over until I learned how to do it right. It was a demanding job, but he trained me well.

Secondly, I learned enough about dentistry so that I can always tell when a dentist is recommending unnecessary work just to charge more fees. I've had a couple of dentists over the past 40 years who've tried to pull that stunt on me. I just immediately leave them and take my business elsewhere. But largely I've been fortunate to have had some really good and trustworthy dentists, both in Winnipeg and here in Edmonton.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gimme a Double-Double!

It's odd for Canadians to have so much of our national identity tied up in a coffee-and-donuts place that isn't even Canadian-owned anymore, but that's just how we do things in the Great White North, eh? Like all Canuckians, I too worship at the shrine of Tim Horton's. In fact, I once blogged about visiting Tim's Holy of Holies -- if you want to read that post, click here.

We take our coffee seriously in Canada. There's a whole slang vocabulary built around it, like "double-double." That's a Tim Horton's coffee with two creams and two sugars, in case you don't know.

Speaking of taking things seriously, why aren't the cops investigating this?

Well, they are -- in their own way, I suppose.

We do feel very strongly about our Timmy Ho's up here, though.

In closing, I present for your viewing pleasure the most Canadian gif that has ever existed. See, even moose aren't immune to our icy winter roads, ouch! But the really risky thing is driving with your double-double on the dashboard -- OMG it could spill, you fool! THEN you'd be SOL, buddy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Look Who's Back It's Peg City

HOORAY! Five of Canada's seven NHL hockey teams will be in the playoffs this year -- the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks! But it distresses me to say that the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are in the toilet again, as usual. *shakes head sadly*

As a former Winnipegger, I MUST of course cheer for the Jets. The last time Winnipeg was in the playoffs was 1996, the same year the Jets franchise folded and the team was shipped off to become the Phoenix Coyotes. *sob* Thus began the winter of Winnipeg's discontent lasting 15 interminable years until 'twas made glorious summer by the team's return in 2011. (Yes, only Shakespeare can do justice to the tragedy of Winnipeg losing the Jets).

Now, of course, the whole city of Winnipeg is in SEVENTH HEAVEN over making the playoffs. Local musicians have recorded this super rap "Playoff Anthem" to cheer on the Jets. The lyrics even manage to rhyme players' names like Scheifele, Pavelec and Perreault. I notice they didn't attempt Byfuglien though.

Give it a listen -- it's very funny! The video has subtitles so you won't miss a single word. But just FYI -- the screen is dark until :09 seconds in and then the visuals begin.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Frozen (Not the Disney Movie)

On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Martha of Plowing Through Life inquired: "What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?"

Like everyone, I've had a number of scary things happen during my life, some quite scary indeed. On two occasions, however, I was so afraid that I experienced the phenomenon of being "frozen with fear" -- I literally could not move, run, speak or make any sound despite desperately wanting to. Both of those incidents happened during my childhood. I'm going to tell you about the first incident, which actually was not objectively scary but was only subjectively frightening to a small child. It is one of my earliest memories, however, probably because my extreme emotion seared it into my brain forever.

When I was four, my father was in a terrible car accident. He was a passenger in some drinking buddy's car (we were too poor to own a car ourselves). I'm not sure what happened -- whether the car rolled, hit another car, got wrapped around a telephone pole or what. But my father broke several vertebrae in his neck and back, among other injuries. He was damn lucky to ever walk again. He was in a full body cast in hospital for quite awhile. All this I know because of what people have told me. But here is my own personal memory --

I remember the day they brought him home from the hospital. He was still encased in a white plaster cast on the upper part of his body. The hospital guys carried him into our house on a board and put him on my parent's bed. All I could comprehend was that a huge white scary thing was being brought into our house and I was absolutely frozen with fear. (Believe me, if you've never felt that way, it is the weirdest sensation). My mother told me not to be scared because it was my father but (always the sceptic, even then) I did not believe her.

I did not believe the scary thing was my father until he spoke to me from the bed. As soon as I heard his voice, I unfroze and was no longer afraid. He asked me to come and sit beside him on the bed and tell him a story. I remember this so well. I told him my favourite story -- which, of course, then became forever associated in my mind with that incident.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

King Richard III (Part the Second)

Late last month, Richard's remains were reinterred at Leicester Cathedral in central England. However controversial or chequered Richard's history had been, the dignified ceremony befitted a king. The Poet Laureate of EnglandCarol Ann Duffy, wrote a beautiful, haunting poem for the event.

by Carol Ann Duffy

My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time -- an unknown, unfelt loss --
unless the Resurrection of the Dead . . .

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

The poem was read at the ceremony by Benedict Cumberbatch, himself a distant many-times-removed cousin of Richard's who will soon portray him in the BBC's Hollow Crown production of Shakespeare's Richard III (pictured above). And I can hardly wait -- it is my most favourite Shakespearean play!

Here is video of the poem being read:

So, King Richard, rest in peace while the battle continues on about your place in history. At least no one is driving over top of your grave and dripping oil on it anymore.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

King Richard III (Part the First)

As a nerdy teenager, I was absolutely crazy nuts about English history. One of my favourite areas of interest was the Wars of the Roses, the medieval power struggle for the throne of England between the Houses of Lancaster and York. In Grade 9, I actually participated in a school debate about whether Richard III was in fact the evil child-murdering hunchback that Shakespeare and history later portrayed him to be. I argued the "no" side in defence of King Richard.

So for the past three years I have avidly followed all the news reports about the 2012 discovery of Richard III's body which had been hastily dumped in an unmarked grave following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. As the centuries passed, the location of his forgotten grave became a parking lot in our modern times.

It was fascinating how archaeologists verified the skeleton's identity, not just by the severe scoliosis of the spine, but by a DNA sample taken from a distant Canadian nephew descendant, Michael Ibsen (pictured below). I thought it was very touching that Michael, a carpenter by trade, personally handcrafted the wooden oak and yew coffin in which King Richard was recently reburied.

Tomorrow: King Richard III (Part the Second)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

EVERYONE'S on Facebook

Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate today!