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).


Anonymous said...

I always thought I had two goldfish growing up. I found out later that, in truth, I had a long succession of goldfish, switched out in the night or when I was in school. There were always two in the tank, so what did I know?

Anonymous said...

You've convinced me that my notion of getting a tank of fish is not a runner. Thanks!

And I'm with you on those book stickers. Some covers just won't let go. But it's not just Oprah. Over here, it' Richard & Judy, or simply "Buy 2, get a 3rd free". I hate stickers on my book covers.

On "home", my parents moved house not long before I left home, and that house never felt like "home" to me, maybe because I'd never had a room of my own there. But it's still the place I go back to. I'm glad you've come to have the feeling of home for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Julie - I'm sure lots of parents did that.

I had NO idea what's necessary to keep our finny friends alive in a tank.

greenishlady - I've heard about the Richard & Judy Book Club. It sounds a lot like the Oprah one. I don't mind the stickers so much if the really are removable, unfortunately lots of them aren't.

Anonymous said...

I checked your blog every day or so with no new posts. Then all of a sudden several are here! I guess I skipped more time than I thought I did.

Good post as usual. I agree about the stickers. I've never had fish because they seemed like too much work, so now it's confirmed. Fish tanks are relaxing to watch, but I'll let others have them.