Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is it April 30th yet?

I'm still here and barely keeping head above water. The legs are kicking, the arms are flailing. Just when the water reaches burbling nose level and threatens to overtake horizon of lower lids, a determined scissor kick thrusts me just high enough to breathe again.

One more week until tax season is over and I can really breathe a sigh of relief.

Every year it's the same. People wait until the last two weeks to bring in their stuff and we're inundated with a seemingly never-ending deluge of paper forms, receipts and what passes for the average person's attempt at shoebox accounting.

My biggest beef is with people who have so-called "easy" returns and think they can have them done right away. Even the easiest returns take time. It's the equivalent of hundreds of people showing up at a restaurant - all at the same time, all expecting to be seated and served right away because they just want a simple hamburger and fries. Can't be done.

Meanwhile, I take deep breaths and sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in my head.

Monday, April 14, 2008

If my life were a dance - First 50 Words

If my life were a dance it would be a free-form interpretative dance; a go with the flow, make it up as you go kind of dance. It would be adaptational and look a little like Isadora Duncan meets Twyla Tharp and American Ballet Theatre.

See more from First 50 Words

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Fearless

Arms out
Balls to the wind.

Eyes wide
Into the black hole of unknowns.

Mortality hovers.


Is fearless.

Another Sunday Scribblings prompt.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

** I posted a slightly different version of this video yesterday.

For those of you who follow American Idol, you'll already know that Jason Castro, one of the contestants sang this version of Over the Rainbow on Tuesday night.

It's a version originally done by a beautiful and wonderful Hawaiian singer named Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole. He died in 1997 at the age of 38.

For those who have never heard the original version sung by Iz, please watch and listen:

. . . to remember him and because it's so beautiful.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Smile for the day

Found the following on Dancing For Beginners and just had to share:

Bathroom Sign

In the men's room at work, the Boss had placed a sign directly above the sink. It had a single word on it -- "Think!"

The next day, when he went to the men's room, he looked at the sign and right below, immediately above the soap dispenser, someone had carefully lettered another sign which read -- "Thoap!"

- author unknown

AND in the gents toilet at a small bistro:
"We aim to please you ... will you aim to please us?"

Just how old are you?

I get asked this question quite a lot. It often arises out of online conversations where the other party can't see what I look like. Not right away, of course, because that would be rude -- but usually after we've gotten to know each other in that uniquely cyberspace online disjointed read-discuss-comment sort of way. If I'm in a playful mood, I might answer, "Old enough to be your mother (or grandmother)". Most often, I'll just state my age (which is 58 years at this writing).

I've never understood the need to be coy about my age. I didn't mind turning thirty, forty or fifty; I know I won't mind turning sixty. I've harped on this before, but we are the age we are - no amount of lying or denial will change it.

Pretending we're not aging or old, only plays into the ageism already rampant in our youth-obsessed culture.

On the one hand, I am quite perplexed, if not downright annoyed, by people who won't divulge their age, but on the other hand I can understand why they won't.

It comes down to our youth-centric culture and the barrage of images telling us that everyone beautiful and worthwhile is, or looks, under thirty and that the other alternative is to be old and seen as elderly, senile, stupid and dependent. There seems to be this huge chasm between the young and vital and the old and doddering.

Youth-obsessed media wants us to believe the population looks like this:

The Young
(hip, beautiful, trendy and vital)

-----> The Invisible <-----
(most people)

The Elderly
(dependent, needy and useless)

We need to remind ourselves and others that this is not reality. We need to be happy at whatever age we're at - including not being afraid to state what that age is - and stop being invisible.

Here's something from a favourite blogger (elder or otherwise):
Ronni Bennett who was interviewed on Brian Lehrer Live - April 2, 2008.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oprah and Other Randomness

It has occurred to me that I've been doing a lot of blogs involving writing prompts, games and wordplay lately and not too many about the personal goings-on in my life. Not sure why.

I've also noticed I get great ideas –- at least they seem like great ideas at the time -- when I'm in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth. Unfortunately, by the time I get to the rinse and spit stage, my mind has caromed off into another sphere and it's hard getting back to the original idea.

With that in mind, here are some random thoughts before they disappear into the black hole that constitutes my brain:

Race-relations haven't come as far as we think
My son's friend still gets asked, "and where are you from?' while working in a local pub. And they don't not mean "what city are you from", but what "foreign country" strictly because of her skin colour.

I was asked this same question on a regular basis thirty years ago! If I answered with a nearby city, the response would be, "No, really. Where are you originally from?" as if I were somehow lying and trying to fool them. The "where" question was frequently followed by the, "but you don't have an accent" comment. My answer, if I had been witty enough, should have been, "I would have one if I lived in China".

Oprah Book Club Stickers – a rant
I received a book order from an online bookseller today. One of the books was Ken Follett's, The Pillars of the Earth.

I knew it was a title from Oprah's Book Club; knew it would have her sticker on the cover; also expected it to be removable (a result of the furor caused by her permanently imprinted logos of a few years back). I don't have a problem with Oprah endorsing books or even her stickers, if that's what is needed to get people to read good books.

However, when I buy a brand new book chosen on the basis of the author and the book's own merit – independent of her endorsement, I do not wish to have her logo emblazoned on it. Years from now, I want to be able to pick up the book or give it to a friend on its own merits and not have her logo shouting at me from the cover. I'm funny that way.

The removable stickers were a good compromise between Oprah, the publishers, and readers. I've bought other books with her stickers and they were easily removed. Not today. What I failed to realize is that those other books had glossy covers, thus making the stickers easily peelable. The Pillars of the Earth trade paperback I got has a non-glossy matte finish that would not let go. It took me the better part of twenty minutes trying to peel the sticker and remove the adhesive.

Note to self: next time you buy an Oprah pick, make sure the sticker is on a glossy cover. End of rant.

I never felt I had a home until I got married and moved into our first apartment. Prior to that, I always felt I was a guest in someone's home. I found it disconcerting to hear about people who "ran home" to parents and family when things got tough. I never felt I had a place to run home to. No easy outs - not necessarily a bad thing.

Irene, from a forum I visit, said it best:

Never invest in goldfish. Their ambivalence to life is notorious.
If only I'd known.

Everyone thinks (at least I did) that you get a goldfish, put it in a tank of water, feed it daily and everyone lives happily ever after.

Not so.

What I've learned from my son's goldfish:
You need to check water parameters (those being pH, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, hardness), you need to filter the water, you need to aerate the water, you need to clean the algae out, you need to vacuum the crap out, you need to feed the goldie with a balanced diet, you need to keep the temperature stable, you need to provide a large enough tank for the size of the fish, you need to change the water and not stress them out ("stress" being everything from water temperature, to food, to handling, to new tankmates, to you name it). If you don't look after these things, they die. Even if you do all the preceding, they still have a propensity for dying. If you go online looking for information, you will be bombarded with contradicting "expert" advice which you follow - and still, they'll die.

If only I'd known.

Hans didn't make it, but thankfully, Jurgen is still with us (knock wood).