Monday 27 April 2015

Ugh. That is All. Ugh.

In Canada, our income tax deadline is this Thursday, April 30th. I sat down to do my return on the weekend and discovered I'm missing a receipt and a T5 slip! NOOOOOOOOO! Now I'm under the gun to obtain them both asap and get my taxes in on time. So no more time to blog for the rest of April, I'm afraid. Crunch time is here!

Friday 24 April 2015

Keep a Happy Thought!

On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Jim of Ocean Breezes inquired: "Do you see any hope for the survival of woman/mankind?"

Now, you'd expect a cheery upbeat cuss like me to say yes, wouldn't you? But no, no, I do not actually see survival as a likely long-term outcome for the human race. In my opinion and from my decades of observation, humanity appears to be hell-bent on an irreversible downward spiral of self-destruction fuelled by greed and stupidity. I fully expect that, in due course, our fate will be annihilation via nuclear catastrophe or environmental disaster.

When I was young, this thought used to get me all bent out of shape. As I enter the autumn years of my life, however, I've become much more reconciled to the idea, probably because my own personal end is not quite so far off as it once was. It just doesn't seem as upsetting to me anymore that oblivion will be both our individual and collective fates.

Still, having said this, I also believe that while we are here, we should all strive to make this world a better place than we found it, even if our best efforts cannot in the long run prevent our ultimate downfall. Because isn't this precisely the crazy paradox of human nature and existence? We are simultaneously constructive and destructive, helpful and hurtful, angels and demons.

I look forward to hearing all your many views on this topic!

Thursday 23 April 2015

Swept Away *sob*

[Photo credit: Trevor Hagan, CP]

Alas, Winnipeg's famed whiteouts could not freeze the Anaheim Ducks to the ice. The Ducks swept the series in four games and the Jets are now eliminated. But the games were always fast-paced, hard-hitting, exciting hockey. Well fought, Jets!

I am now switching my playoffs allegiance to the Calgary Flames, who are just on the verge of pounding the Vancouver Canucks into oblivion. So boys, bring that same aggression to the Ducks matchup in the second round!


Wednesday 22 April 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Yes, it's time for humans everywhere to be HYPOCRITES again!

Don't we realize that EARTH is the only home we have?

Are we just plain CRAZY or what?

Our priorities are TOTALLY upside down.

It is Earth's TRAGEDY to be populated by such destructive creatures as humans.

But WTF, who cares? So long as everything is CONVENIENT!

WE'RE the top of the food chain, goddammit! WE'RE not just another part of life on this planet!

It's all EARTH'S fault, not ours. That bitch!

Listen to those who REALLY know what's going on!

Just you wait and see who's RIGHT!

In our ARROGANCE, we fail to see the truth.

The best thing for Earth would be if WE weren't here.

SOME people are counting on being able to just fly away in spaceships to colonize another planet if we destroy the Earth. But NOT EVERYONE shares that enthusiasm . . . .

Be afraid, little planet. Be VERY afraid.

Monday 20 April 2015

Yes, I'm Posting Twice in One Day!

So you know it's gotta be important. What do you get when you combine hockey with foodie culture? THIS VIDEO!

Okay, okay, I know the Jets have lost the first two games to the Ducks in Anaheim. But game 3 is TONIGHT in Winnipeg! Every Jets fan there will wear white and make the MTS Centre look like a total whiteout, exactly like a big mean prairie blizzard. And (just to mix metaphors) this "Fifty Shades of White" will leave the Ducks hurtin' bad and begging for mercy, but there'll be no safe word for them.


Ever Have One of Those Days When . . .

You feel fat for no particular reason?

Nothing goes your way?

I mean, like absolutely nothing?

And everyone around you acts like you have cooties?

Here's how to get through it.

Friday 17 April 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 15 April 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 13 April 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 10 April 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 8 April 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 7 April 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 5 April 2015

EVERYONE'S on Facebook

Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate today!

Friday 3 April 2015

A Milestone Birthday

I'm in Manitoba right now with my Mom who is celebrating her 90th birthday today. This photo was taken during World War II when she was 19 years old, about two years before she met and married my father. My sister and I are going to bring flowers and an ice cream cake to the nursing home and we will all parTAY!

Aging is such a bittersweet process.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

April Fool's Day

Some pagans propose that April 1st with its tricks, mischief and practical jokes should be a sacred day dedicated to the Norse trickster god Loki, who has new currency at the moment because of Marvel's popular Thor and Avengers movies. Others object to honouring Loki in any way because the ancient Norse people themselves did not traditionally sacrifice to, commemorate or honour Loki in any of their religious rituals. This is because Loki is not just a fun practical joker or a sometimes-helpful agent of chaotic change but can be quite a malevolent figure, especially in the later Norse myths as the Vikings started to encounter and be influenced by the Christian concept of The Devil.

There is no doubt that Loki has The Devil's Own Charm (as does Tom Hiddleston who portrays him), so it's easy to see why Loki's new legion of fans want to honour him on April 1st. But if you do so, just remember that Loki is a two-edged sword and cannot ultimately be controlled. Not even by Thor and the other gods.