Friday, 31 October 2008


A friend sent me a post yesterday from a wonderful blogger Simply Nutmeg entitled Addiction is Ugly.  In this piece, the author is commenting on her obsession with the upcoming American election and how she cannot seem to get enough news, polls and statistics.  She is basically living and dying by the daily tracking numbers.  Well girl, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. "My name is Dawn and I am a pollaholic!!" The Husband is ready to convene an intervention for me.  I know way more than any rational person should about the +/- percentages and whether or not they fall into the statistical margins.  I am totally captivated with the variances between the polling in south-eastern Pennsylvania and western Penn.  (I nearly had a stroke yesterday when the latest Mason-Dixon poll showed McCain was only down four points in the state.)  I have found tremendous comfort in sites like and I watch the 24/7 news channels with alarming frequency and I find myself catching up on stuff missed online. (I am a regular visitor to simply because my TV provider refuses to carry the network!! Get with it Bell!) My new crack cocaine is Youtube. I am actually reading both conservative and liberal blogs in order to appropriately gauge the snowmobile wreck that is Sarah Palin. The Washington Post, New York Times and Miami Herald have become part of my daily reading routine and I have become intimately acquainted with columnists like David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Maureen Dowd, Eugene Robinson and Frank Rich.  I have a tremendous crush on John King at CNN. (The man converted to Judaism to marry fellow CNNer Dana Bash! Gotta love that!)  The way he manipulates that tote board is a huge turn-on.  Chuck Todd at NBC is doing an admirable job trying to replace the irreplaceable Tim Russert, as the political pundit in chief! OY! That I know all of this shit is truly disturbing on so many levels.  The truly crazy part in all of this mishugas is that I am a Canadian and have no voice in this process.  

I feel like an over-the-top sports fan who paints their chest at a game. (Now that would be a sight!)  I am the drinker who doesn't know when to say when.  I am the gambler who puts one more coin into the machine. HELP!!!  I need some relief and the only way out of this mess is a favourable outcome on November 4th.  So, once again and I promise for the final time, to all of my American friends-please get out and vote.  Vote for the candidate that you truly believe will push the country, and by extension the world, into the 21st century.  Vote for the future.  Vote for your children.  Just put an end to my misery.  I am Dawn Ponders and I approved this message!!

Just a quick P.S.

You all must check out  These two 80 somethings have begun blogging about the election, and they are so funny that I actually need to pee with every post.  Please have a read.  You will be glad that you did.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Watching an Obamamercial!

I have NEVER seen anything like this before. Barack (the game changer) Obama is currently on almost every US network and even a few cable channels, attempting to bring his final arguments to the voters. This is the biggest infomercial I have ever witnessed. I half expect Ron Popeil to jump out and shill the "Pocket Fisherman" or some other new-fangled gadget that you "set and forget!" The mere fact that I am sitting here watching the junior senator from Illinois attempt to sway undecideds in prime time and not my beloved Pushing Daisies, is testament to the passion that I have come to feel for this man and his campaign. This is a get-out the vote video. This is a video that is telling the real stories of real people. This is a video that is meant to show the man as presidential, successfully I might add. (I even like the shots of him sitting on his desk that are obviously meant to convey a smaller and more hamish Oval Office!) This is a man and a political campaign that has truly and with vision, learned how to appeal to the 21st century voter. This is a candidate that understands the variance and vagaries of the new media and the outreach of the information age. He shows his youth and vigour every single time he changes the way that the game of politics is played. Will it work? Will he win? Only the American voters can determine the outcome, but the world is closer to finally entering the new millennium than at any time over the past eight years. On Tuesday November 4th, please vote for the future that you see on your TV screens this evening and not the moldy past.

Monday, 27 October 2008


I have decided to come clean. I am ready to admit what, I believe, is obvious to most.  I truly and simply do not enjoy Halloween. It is probably blasphemous for many of you to even silently consider this thought, given that the small children in your midst are so totally wound up in their preparations, but I am far enough removed from the "mommy needs to be supportive" mindset that I can unequivocally state my true feelings on the subject.

It is not that I have any religious objection to the day.  Years ago, I took a course with a rabbi who was firmly set against Jewish children observing a day so obviously grounded in pagan and Christian ritual. I personally never bought into this way of thinking.  I tend to view Halloween with the same lens as Valentine's Day-obviously not from my people, but so secularized over the years, that really where's the harm?  In my very orthodox-Jewish leaning area, there are far more houses that are kept dark on Halloween than are openly inviting for the Trick or Treaters. (Given that Halloween falls on a Friday this year, I am certain that there will be even fewer houses open for the kids!) No, the non-Jewish arguments simply fall flat for me.

My issues with Halloween are far less philosophical and much more practical.

Firstly, I suck at anything that remotely resembles arts and crafts. (Please recall that I am a disaster with sharp objects so any sort of customization of costumes, carving of pumpkins or decorative initiatives are usually met with copious amounts of my own blood being spilled all over the kitchen counter!!) When the boys were younger, it became mandatory that their costumes had to be formulated from already constructed items that could be found around the house or purchased very cheaply.  If that didn't work, I would get down on bended knee to the Little Bro's Ying to his Yang and beg for mercy.  She is a whiz with anything visually creative and would sometimes take pity on me and my ineptitude.  I actually think that the thought of her nephews looking like refugees from Value Village horrified her and her sense of style, so she helped when she could.  As to the carving of the pumpkins, that little job became the purvey of the Husband.  He was one of the first in the neighbourhood to procure jack-o-lantern stencils and safety gear. The boys would gather with Dad in the kitchen for the ritual cutting (sort of a brit milah for gourds!) and they would all scream at Mom whenever she even so much as approached a knife. My job consisted mainly of scooping out the rancid goop and seeds, (lovely job!!) so you can see why I never really enjoyed the experience.

Secondly, Halloween is one big sugar high. With our penchant for chocolate, the last thing that this household needs is more calories.  And, the worst part is that with those mini bars, one never really feels as though the waistline is expanding. In our kid-friendly days, we had a little practice around here known as "treat days".  The only days during the week that the kids were allowed sweets and treats were Saturday and Sunday.  The weekdays were junk free.  (I know that you are thinking either that this was impossible to patrol, or that my kids were deprived by a true bitch of a mother!) It really did work as a life philosophy, but Halloween presented a whole other set of challenges.  When the boys returned home with their loot, they were permitted to choose a few items and then the rest went into storage for treat days.  The problems arose when the husband discovered the storage place.  He would surreptitiously sift through the good stuff and leave the kids with all of the "undesirable" items like raisins and stale suckers.  I never really knew if the boys discovered that their candy had been looted, because after a couple of weeks, they actually forgot that the stuff existed and by March or April, I would either toss the leftovers or put it away to give to some other poor sucker on the following Halloween.  I am convinced that there were some items that kept making their way back to my house year after dreaded year, because other parents in the neighbourhood had the same ideas that I had.

Thirdly, I hate dressing up in a costume.  I have already explained that I cannot make my own, so that leaves rentals.  Have any of you ever rented a costume?  They smell funny (probably from the previous renter's perspiration) rarely fit properly and they cost a bloody fortune.  My Little Bro and the Ying to his Yang used to have a yearly All Hallow's Eve celebration.  They would come up with these odd costume requirements and expect us all to partake.  Being the good sport that I am, I always came dressed for the occasion, but the Husband would bitch and moan every year. (He has especially miserable memories of when I dressed him up as the Jolly Green Giant with me as the Little Green Sprout! That costume came complete with tights and green face paint!! If you ask me quietly offline, I might be able to dig up a picture or two.) While some amongst us relish in the kid-like experience of dressing in costume year after year, I believe that there is a shelf-life to the costume wearing experience, and I think that mine has expired.

Finally, Halloween comes at a dark, cold and miserable time of the year.  I used to hate the idea of dressing the kids up in their costumes, only to have to cover all of the work with winter coats, hats and mittens.  Maybe if our climate was more moderate, there might have been a bit more excitement and enjoyment, but the Husband and I would actually flip a coin to see which of us losers had to make the Trick or Treat rounds.  In fairness, he lost way more often than did I.

Please don't take my indictment of this holiday as anything other than my own personal bias. Seeing tiny winged fairies and miniature SpiderMen come to the door is always a highlight, but it never seemed to be enough to balance out the stuff that didn't appeal.  I just don't like the idea of being scared out of my wits. I don't enjoy horror and slasher films and I don't like the commercialization of the whole ordeal.  This year, the Husband and I will be taking our Halloween celebrations to a concert with Buffy Sainte Marie and Richie Havens. Now that is what I call a Halloween party!!

Sunday, 26 October 2008


This is very clever, biting and very funny. Something small for your Sunday. Enjoy.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Whisky for Love!

I have done a great deal in my lifetime for love of family and Shalom Bayit. Some of it has been shared publicly (in this space, in fact) and some of it is better left to the imagination.  But, never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined that in the interest of a happy household, I would be working at a whisky trade show as an non-paid shill!  And yet, that is exactly how I will be spending my Kabbalat Shabbat this evening.  

I have shared with you all on many occasions of The Husband's and Twin Son's venture into the strange and cultish world that is the whisky industry.  While policy wonks in various governmental and regulatory bureaucracies have attempted to stall their progress, the two tenacious lads (very Scottish, no?) are still plugging away with their life's mission to bring untasted and better tasting whisky and spirits to the unsophisticated North American palates that are pretty much sated with rotgut!! As we enter into year 4 of this business, the guys have taken their passion to the next level with the launch of their online store. Please visit and shop until you drop. The holidays are coming and there might be an aficionado on your list that might be served well.  Mama has a need to eat and my children's education is still not fully paid!! If you are interested in the other end of their business, check them out at

As part of their ongoing attempts to educate the whisky-drinking public, the guys will be prominently featured at the Whisky Live show this evening in heart of downtown TO.  Since they are a start-up bootlegging (oops, sorry for the slip)-I mean-legitimate whisky importing operation, they don't have any money to hire shleppers and grunts to help them out with the heavy work.  As such, they have co-opted family members on many occasions to package, bottle, label and shlep.  Both of the progeny have done time in the warehouse, (literally and figuratively!) as have the offspring of Twin Son and his Better Half. But, it is at the trade shows, where the spouses are put out front as if we were hot babes at a car show! (OK! Maybe we aren't in the same league as the long and lascivious, but we don't don't embarrass the cause either.) I am so far out of my league at this events, it is beyond the comical. As a true teetotaler who is far more schooled in the differences between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, I find myself answering questions about the "nose" and "finish" of particular drams.  I sound a bit like Sarah Palin answering questions on the role of the Vice President!! Bullshit is a kind word for the crap that I have slung.  The Better Half is far more suited for this role of shill then am I.  She can speak with authority on everything from the variances of the highland or lowland distilleries, to the floral qualities versus the fruity qualities. (This is in reference to the Scotch and not the attendees of the shows who, in my humble and totally biased opinion, can on occasion tend to border on the pretentious.  Either that, or they are total boors who guzzle everything in sight!) It is a lovely break in our sentences-I mean time at the show-when a true whisky lover approaches and speaks with understanding and authority on the subject. It is at that point that the guys take over the conversation, but as I stated earlier, this is a family business and I need to do all that I can to aid in the cause. So, I am heading down later this afternoon to act as a combination waitress/hostess/cash girl. (I can only hope!) If any of you in the GTA find yourselves with nothing to do this evening and would like to spend your Shabbas tanked, head on down to the convention centre.  If you cannot or are outside of safe travelling distance,  please check out the aforementioned websites. Tell your high-spirited friends and family! (pun absolutely intended!) In a bad economy, what better place to spend your dwindling assets then on booze!!  And they tell me, that this is the GOOD STUFF!!!

Conservatives for Change

I found this video absolutely gripping.  You can read about it here.  The basic idea was to show why so many mainstream conservative Republicans have switched their votes to Obama this year. These are real people in their own words and they represent a fairly equitable cross-section of the population.  

You can see more of this work at

Shabbat Shalom all!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

First They Came...

I have resisted writing this particular post for quite a while now, mostly because I am truly hesitant to get mixed up in the highly flammable combination of religion and politics. Yet, it seems to me that this election season in the United States has dragged all of us around the world kicking and screaming into its vortex and so, with much trepidation,  I cautiously wade into the fray.

I am a Canadian Reform Jew.  While many of my landsman might question my observance and devotion to my faith, I have no such qualms.  I have found a comfortable place in which to reside that allows me to follow the modern order of my religion, while not sacrificing basic tenets of observance, law and tikkun olam. (repairing the world) It is a fully egalitarian, inclusive, non-discriminatory and wholly monotheistic observance that allows me to participate fully in all aspects of religious law and it has been built on a tremendous foundation of social justice.  To me, this is the essence of Judaism and it is what we as Jews have always strived and fought so hard for.  

I am also a frequent visitor to the wonderful world that is South Florida.  The husband and I have owned property there for a number of years, and we have come to think of the area as a second home.  We have spent our time amongst many of the Jewish retirees that have made the area their homes. (We do spend time with people our own age too!! I am not yet ready for the Early Bird Specials!)  We have attended synagogue and social programs and we have shared laughs and tears.  Some of these wonderful people are survivors of the Holocaust, some are early baby boomers and some are just tired of the cold and have relocated to the balminess of the Gold Coast.  They wear their Jewishness proudly on their sleeves and they all know that the comfort that they feel was not always the case.  Every one of them can recount stories of anti-semitism from their lives.  Every one of them remembers a time when it was customary to bar Jews from country clubs, beaches, unions and colleges.  Every one of them can remember being tagged by some scurrilous racial epithet.  Many can recall the horrors of Nazi Germany and striving for a place of equality in their chosen country.  So, it is to these people that I must ask "How can we as Jews subject any person to the racism and hatred that we have fought so long and hard to eradicate?"  If the answer is that we cannot, then as Jews I am begging you to take a hard look at the campaign of fear, xenophobia and out and out racism that is being waged by the McCain camp against Barack Obama.

It is true that Mr. Obama has a difficult name for Jews to digest, but it was hard for the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers to accept the Bloombergs, Liebermans and Brandeises and that has seemed to work out okay.  It is also true that he is an African American.  So?  As a community, we have a history of fighting for the equality of all people.  Did not Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel march arm in arm with Dr. King at the civil rights march on Selma?  Wasn't it the Jewish community that was shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP in the voter registration drives of the 1960s.  When did members of my community decide it was ok to derisively call this tremendously gifted and educated man a "shvartza"?  When did we become so fearful?  If Barack Obama was Joe Lieberman and the same campaign of racism was transposed to a campaign of anti-Semitism, we would be screaming foul from every media outpost in the land. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into the viral world of hate that this campaign has spawned.  We as Jews know all too well the ramifications of hate and fear and we can never allow ourselves to become party to it either by commission or omission.

If John McCain is your candidate of choice because you truly believe in his policies and politics, then I cannot sway you and nor would I attempt to do so.  But, if you are voting for McCain because you are fearful of the black guy with the scary Arab-sounding name, then I urge you to take a second look.  The world needs change and the time is now. Barack Obama is the only candidate that truly represents at least a glimmer of hope for that kind of true sea change. I am too young to remember the excitement and the hopefulness that President Roosevelt or President Kennedy embodied.  This man engenders that kind of passion. Is he perfect?  Of course not, but he is worth the gamble. Unfortunately for me and millions more like me, we cannot vote in your election, the most important in a generation!  We leave it to your capable hands, my American friends.  As Jews, we need to leave behind the politics of fear, and embrace the politics of hope.  May we never again know what it feels like to be isolated or hated simply because we are not the majority. 

First they came for the Communists,
- but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,
- but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews,
- but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Jack Horner Was All Thumbs and So Am I

It is ingrained in family folklore that I am a true klutz with sharp objects. Knives, scissors, razors and the like have been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. I could never manage to cut a piece of paper without hacking myself or the sheet in question. I have even found ways to slice myself on safety scissors that kindergartners use. My men have long since excluded me from bagel cutting duties for fear that I might lose a digit. I now use one of those razors that includes an all-in-one bar of moisturizer in order to reduce the number of nicks, burns and cuts that are constant fixtures on my legs. I have sliced open finger tips on Cuisinart blades with frightening regularity. Yes, I am not to be trusted with cutting utensils.  It constantly amazes me that I could have such dexterity with a musical instrument, but cannot manage to keep my hands safe from wayward knives.  And so, I employ all of my willpower to keep a safe distance from these objects.  

But, there is a problem with this avoidance mentality. I love to cook and bake. How can I properly operate in my brand-new state of the art kitchen with tools that are no more effective than a butter knife? The short answer is that I can't and so, over the years I have accepted that every so often, there might be a bit of blood with dinner. The husband has learned to accept and ridicule my klutziness, but he tries everything he can to help me protect my hands from sliding chef's knives and skidding cleavers. So, it was with some horror that he allowed me to purchase my latest toy, a Waring Pro Electric Knife Sharpener.  My theory goes like this-if the knife is kept sharp, there is less of a chance that it will skid and hurt me. In other words, the sharper the better!  What a wonderful gadget.  It plugs into the wall and the motor activates the grinders.  You place the knife needing sharpening into the grinders and voila, an instantly renewed blade!!  And so it was, with some excitement that I set out to sharpen my 8" chef's knife in order to slice the onions and peppers necessary for this evening's dinner. (You all can see it coming, can't you?)

Half way through the dicing procedure it happened.  My left thumb, as if operating with its own individual brain stem, stubbornly stuck itself right into the path of the knife just as I was completing the chop and was opened into a bleeding gusher. Screaming in pain from the cut and the mixture of onion and garlic juice that seeped immediately into the wound, I raced to the bathroom and immediately applied pressure.  First aid training is a wonderful thing.  It seems to automatically kick in when needed.  Not to sound too gross and disgusting, but the amount of blood that made its way from my tiny little thumb, was worrisome.  Upon further examination, it was becoming entirely possible that a stitch or two might be required to close the cut, but I was not yet willing to give into that possibility.  I wrapped my thumb in gauze, and secured it with 5 (yes-5!) Band-Aids so that my thumb now looks as though it is wearing a weird looking splint.  My thoughts are that if the blood seeps through my defense mechanism, then I will make my way to the emergency room. If not, then I am probably safe.  The amazing part of all of this, is that I actually returned to my meal preparation and finished slicing, dicing and cooking.  The good news is that tonight's meal is chili, so a bit of extra red will not be noticeable.

My thumb is throbbing and bound so tightly that I cannot move it at all. There is very little circulation moving through the tourniquet right now, so the thumb is about 5 degrees colder then the rest of me.  I need to practice some music for the upcoming Kol Isha concert, but I can barely grip the neck of the guitar.  Not only that, I am feeling like the perfect fool.  I am a grown woman for f*%$ sakes, who cannot cut a f*&@#*g vegetable without fears of amputation.  The only good news in all of this, is that my new toy works to perfection.  Hopefully, this will be my last Jack Horner moment, but I am highly skeptical.  Once a klutz, always a klutz!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sarah Palin is a Good Sport-But STILL not Qualified to be VEEP!

At least the woman has a sense of humour and knows how to laugh at herself. I can see why she appeals to mass audiences, but let's be clear-this sense of the absurd still does not qualify her to run for the second highest office in the United States and frankly she is so right of centre that she positively tilts. Still, it was funny.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Could You Withstand the Scrutiny?

As the American election season crawls mercifully to a close on November 4th, with a hopefully positive outcome for the Democratic Party's nominee, I have started to ponder on the absolute bullshit that is dredged up during these campaigns.  Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News has been running a fascinating series.  Every week in her Presidential Questions series, she has asked the two candidates to answer probings of both politics and character.  This week the question was on the subject of infidelity.  "Why do you think so many prominent political figures risk so much by being unfaithful to their spouse?"  Watch the candidates and their answers.

Now Mr. McCain clearly did not want to answer this question.  Maybe because he falls into the category of unfaithful political spouses? His discomfort is so obvious that it caused me to squirm in my seat. But, it has always been my premise that a candidate's private life should have no impact on whether or not they can do the job that they so ardently pursue.  But, I am obviously in the minority with these views, as every inch of the candidates past is so thoroughly dissected and vetted, that it is a wonder that anybody would willingly choose to run for office. It got me to thinking about whether my own past misdeeds could withstand the scrutiny.  You can all be the judge.  

I quit the Girl Guides when I was ten.  I had a run in with my Captain (I think I actually called her a bitch to her face when we had an expressed difference of opinion. What that argument was about is beyond my memory) and I refused to return to receive my Canada Cord. (The Canadian Girl Scouts highest honour) Much like the American Olympic basketball team of 1972 who were robbed of the gold medals (their silver medals were never presented) my Canada Cord probably sits in a box in some old woman's basement waiting in vain for the presentation that will never come.  I suppose that in the political arena, this fit of pique might make me look like a hothead who cannot control herself in the face of adversity.  

I attended a party in 8th grade where alcohol was the highlight of the evening for all of the prepubescents in the room.  A roomful of puking 13 year olds is probably what turned me off of the stuff for the rest of my life, but I need to fully acknowledge that for that one evening in 1975, I broke the law and was an underaged drinker. The horror of it all!

I have had personal friendships with a bevy of clergy persons over these many years and I am certain that at least one or two has sermonized on a topic that could be misconstrued as radical and having a liberal agenda.  My all-time favourite was when the rabbi that I was working with spoke ardently in favour of gay marriage at a Rosh Hashana service at least ten years before it became a legal reality here in Canada. Oy! Did we get letters.  My mere presence on the bimah must have been looked at as conspiratorial and assenting with her every word. I wholeheartedly backed her at every turn!!  

My grandfather was a card carrying member of the communist party.  Yes he was! Many Jewish immigrants who came to North America in the late 20s and 30s found the communist manifesto a philosophy to which they could easily relate.  Now, his communist leanings lasted only for as long as he wasn't making any real money.  As soon as he became somewhat of a success, he leaned much more to the right, but he never forgot his socialist roots and voted for the NDP right up until the end.  He would have found the likes of Stephen Harper, George Bush and John McCain laughter inducing.  I guess because of my family history, I could be labelled a subversive.  

On the plus side-I have never indulged in the wacky weed, (probably because of my singing) I have never engaged in weird and wild sex practices (sorry all!) and my biggest run-in with the law came this past summer when I was presented with my very first traffic ticket.  My children have not come home pregnant, (or given me any cause to think that a grandchild is on the horizon--right gentlemen?) I don't have a strange middle name (unless you think that Dawn is strange) and my parents have stayed happily married for almost 47 years without straying too far off of course.

I still think that it is impossible for any of us to possibly withstand the shit slinging that takes place during these campaigns.  If all of us were slaves to our past misdeeds, nobody would ever get elected to anything.  May this campaign come to a merciful and swift conclusion.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Some Things Just Defy Explanation

There are just some things that cannot be explained, nor should they!!  I need to thank a good friend for the heads-up to this apparently growing trend.  Men's Pantyhose!! Yes, you read that correctly.  Check out this site.

Now I spend a good portion of my life attempting to figure out how not to wear pantyhose.  Are my legs tanned enough?  Have I sufficiently shaved?  Is it warm enough to forgo the struggle, pain and droopiness of this surely misogynistic invention?  And here are some obviously in need of therapy men, who not only wear the damn things, but embrace them as a cultural sea-change!! 

A few questions to the guys out there.  Wouldn't you think that wearing these contraptions would squeeze the "boys" a bit?  Maybe single leg nylons with garters might suit better.  How does one go about designing suitable hose for the male leg?  Does the nylon need to be extra durable to hide the hairy legs or do these men shave and/or wax?  Where does one go to buy male pantyhose?  The lingerie department at Sears doesn't carry King-size last I looked!!  I really think that I want to be there the first time the husband, the progeny or any of our male friends try on pantyhose for the very first time!! I will bring the popcorn and the diet coke, ladies and we can make an evening out of it!!

Oh my God!! There are just some lines that should not be crossed.  I think this is one of them!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

That's a lot of Money to spend on Nothing!

What a colossal waste of my money, my time and my attention!  The Conservative Party of Canada has been returned to power, albeit with a slightly larger minority, (with little or no help from urbanites-gains came mainly from the outlying regions!) and I am sitting here this morning trying to ascertain the purpose of the past 37 days.  Mr. Harper is still the Prime Minister. His band of neo-con merry men has been re-upped almost intact. As far as I can see, our troops are still soldiering on in Afghanistan with no relief until at least 2011.  The economy is tanking (especially here in Ontario) yet our PM is still living in his Alberta bubble. We Canadians have just endured our 3rd federal election since 2004 and nothing has fundamentally changed.  

I thought that you all might be interested in a few statistics here the morning after.  According to Global TV, untold millions have been spent on this fiasco.  While the final tallies won't be known for a few months, the 2004 numbers are staggering.  
Elections Canada spent $277.8 million on the 2004 general election. The agency bore the cost of the electoral process, pre-election activity, and re-imbursements to parties and candidates.

This time around, Stephen Harper's election call cancelled four by-elections which were set for September. According to Elections Canada, a federal by-election costs an average of 892,000 per riding. That means taxpayers will pay $3.5 million for the cancelled by-elections, since spending tallies are restarted once a general election is called.

In 2006, each major party had a spending limit of $18.3 million dollars, while individual candidates averaged about $80,000. This is without all of the "under the table" spending on advertising that seems to occur long before the actual election is called. (Mr. Harper calling Mr. Dion all sorts of ugliness just so that Canadians could see how good he looks in a sweater vest!)

Now I realize that these numbers pale beside the almost $1 billion dollars that my American friends will be tossing down the toilet to elect their next leader, but remember we are a tenth of the size and our election campaigns run for a month instead of two years!!  I am just having a bit of trouble spending all of this money on a pissing contest that basically solved nothing!!  Mr. Harper told Canadians that the minority government had become unworkable, and last night he told Canadians that he is ready to work with his new mandated minority!  HUH???  

I believe that Harper made several tactical errors that will eventually come back to bite him in the ass.  

Firstly, he ran this election against Mr. Dion and not on his own Conservative record. (Maybe because he doesn't really have a record to speak of!)  This would have been politically smart had he won the majority, but now, he will most certainly be facing a new Liberal leader within the next 6 months as the left of centrists correct their catastrophic leadership mistake.  The "Red" party will not make the same error in judgement again and Mr Harper can expect a much rougher ride the next time.

Secondly, Mr. Harper was so sure of his majority that he forgot to run on any platform until the final week of the campaign.  In Quebec, this strategy proved to be a disaster as his candidates had nothing with which to fight.  His public musings about arts cuts and changes to the Young Offenders Act played like a lead balloon in culturally sensitive Quebec and cost him his precious majority.  

Thirdly, the economy is not all hearts and flowers.  If Harper cannot find some answers to the job losses across the country that don't involve more tax cuts, this minority may not last more than a year to 18 months and we could well see ourselves at the polls yet again, spending millions more!

I am not surprised by the outcome of yesterday's election, but I am somewhat disgusted.  It seems to me that my elected representatives should take better care with my money, before spreading it around on wasteful contests to determine "whose is bigger"!! Frankly, I could not care less.

Monday, 13 October 2008

News That Isn't!

Watching the evening news has become an interesting and at times, comical experience. Have you ever noticed how little actual news airs? We have weather and sports and human interest and some form of gossipy entertainment segment. I have often believed that weather is not really news.  Anything that I can discover simply by opening the front door, should not qualify. (Although I have a friend who says that he uses the weather forecasts to determine whether or not he should bother washing his car. There might be some value in that usage, I suppose!) Sports?  Well, if I hadn't had the opportunity to watch the game and garner the score for myself, I suppose there is some merit to a public service announcement.  But, it seems to me that the whole exercise could be accomplished in a 30 second scroll through the major leagues so as to ascertain the outcomes.  Most of the sports segments devolve into team analysis and interviews with less than articulate athletes who spout platitudes and cliches.  Certainly not newsworthy! (I simply cannot think of a new and novel way to accurately describe how pathetically bad the Maple Leafs are for yet another season!) Don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of Brittany's latest folly or Janet's latest excuse for canceling out on her concerts.  Who honestly gives a shit?  But, what is really starting to burn me, is the amount of time that newscasts spend on promoting and commercializing themselves.

If I hear Wolf Blitzer push "The Number One Political Team on Television" one more time, I may have to stick a fork into my ears.  I think that I saw Candy Crowley actually squirm the last time he said it.  It might be better for CNN if someone else were to tell them how good they are, rather than puff themselves up all of the time.  (For the sake of full disclosure; I watch CNN a lot.  Mostly because I cannot access MSNBC and I refuse to watch the boors on FOX! I do catch up on MSNBC online.)

In preparation for the Canadian election coverage tomorrow night, CTV spent a good five to eight minutes on this evening's broadcast, touting their comprehensive reporting of tomorrow night!  There was lead anchor Lloyd bragging about all of the bells and whistles and gadgets, and showing off the new election set.  It was little more than a commercial for themselves on the news.  Wholly inappropriate and just enough to make me want to tune into a rival station come tomorrow.

Since when is it okay to use the entertainment segment of the news as a vehicle to push whatever program will be on in prime time that evening?  By cherry-picking canned interviews from network feeds with "B" list celebrities that are attempting to rescue their flagging careers on some horrible rehash of a Britcom, the networks are turning their news departments into hacks that flog the latest and not so greatest from the entertainment end of the conglomerate. The news anchors may as well be wearing t-shirts with logos from their hits and playing TV theme songs behind their chyrons! 

Covering local charity events is particularly galling when the channel doing the reporting is also one of the sponsors of the race, ride or walk!  Nice bit of fanny patting!

I know that the lines between entertainment and news have become blurred in this age of media conglomeration, but the news has become less than it should be of late.  I tune into the news to find out what is going on in my little corner of the world.  I do not want to be shilled at or sold.  I want to make up my own mind without editorial.  If there is such an opinion piece, I expect to be told about it in advance.  Commercialization of the news should never be acceptable!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Move to Canada?

For all of my American friends worried about a McCain presidency,Slate magazine has an answer! Enjoy!

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Art of Slothing

Today, I am a sloth!!

It is a difficult experience for a type-A such as myself, but I am learning to cope.  Slothing is an acquired art form that I have learned to embrace and have come to believe is necessary for all of us in order to recharge our batteries from time to time.  For the last 6 weeks, I have been literally running on high octane in a 24/7 existence.  I know that this is not unusual for many of you, but the physicality of my job combined with my pervasive sleep deprivation has combined to make me quite hyperactive and a bit of a bitch on wheels! The day I had yesterday is, to say the least, exhausting as well as exhilarating.  The overwhelming feeling of tired extends to every part of my being, both physical as well as metaphysical.  I never knew that hair could hurt.  I never knew that fingernails could ache.  And so, I took today as a sloth day. 

I have had this day planned out for a very long time.  Here is a sample schedule.

7:30 am Wake up.  Now I realize that if one is planning to sloth, then 7:30 is ridiculously early, but I cannot sleep in, no matter how hard I try.  I actually was stirring much earlier then 7:30, so I consider it a tremendous accomplishment to have kept my eyes closed for that long.

7:35 am Retrieve newspaper, tea, computer, TV controller and telephone and bring them back to bed with me.  If one is to truly sloth, then one must have all of the sloth-like devices at one's ready disposal!

9:30 am Drag sorry ass out of bed, change into disgusting old sweatpants and sweatshirt and relocate all above items to family room couch.  Include a large bowl of raisin bran. (slothing requires nourishment!)

11:30 am Begin hour long telephone conversation with cousin/sister about absolutely nothing. (Cousin/Sister is a pro at speaking at great lengths about absolutely nothing!)

12:30 pm Lunch!! This midday meal consisted of one delicious brownie (chocolate is always a must!) and a diet coke!! Gotta love slothing!

12:31 pm Return to couch with Diet Coke in hand.

12:35 pm Younger Son calls to beg for money.  Tell him that sloths don't have pockets or purses and that he should annoy his father!  

1:00 pm Begin to watch George Clooney movie.  (Love George!)

1:30 pm Hate this movie! (Michael Clayton is boring as sin!!) Thankful for phone call from friend.

3:00 pm General Hospital is on.  Haven't caught my soap for ages.  Who are all those young and disgustingly handsome young doctors?

4:00 pm Thinking it might be time to shower.  This sweatshirt is starting to smell a bit ripe.

6:00 pm Head for dinner at mother sloth's home.  Sloths should never have to worry about Shabbos dinner!!

8:30 pm Return home change back into sweats and head straight for couch.  Another Diet Coke is in order!!

10:30 pm Bed!  Slothing is exhausting.

I have decided that this day is a moral imperative.  We all need a day like this, especially when the weekend promises to be a working weekend.  Sloth On!!!!

Shabbat Shalom all you sloths!! Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

A Primer for Yom Kippur

As we are very close to the start of the Day of Atonement, I thought that I might offer a short primer for the day. This little instruction manual is meant mostly for those who attend some sort of worship experience, but I suppose it could apply to anyone who is looking for a way to have a meaningful Yom Kippur. Please understand that given my position, I have a bit of a bias when I spout these gentle suggestions, but please know that they are meant with the utmost respect for all forms of observance. With that small disclaimer out of the way, I begin.

  • Do remember to eat lightly before beginning your fast.  There is nothing worse than sitting next to someone in shul for an entire day that is either flatulent or oozing that very familiar garlic odour.
  • Do remember to bring your own machzor (prayer book) with you.  There is nothing that says apathy better than walking through the door unprepared. Now, if you are going for apathy, then by all means come sans book!
  • Do participate when asked by the leadership. (Even when not! We love to hear people singing and joining in!!) The rabbi and cantor are there to facilitate prayer, not pray for you.  Although, if you feel that you need a bit of extra help with your atonement, let us know before the service and we will add you to our lists!! (Just joking-we don't have actual lists-just an ironclad remembrance of the year that has passed! ;))
  • Do wear comfortable shoes.  Yes there is a great deal of standing during this holiday and ladies who are trying to get through it by showing off their latest Jimmy Choo's are just begging for a painful day.  It is actually customary to wear rubber or crepe-bottomed shoes on Yom Kippur as opposed to leather.  There is Talmudic explanation for this, but I prefer to think of it as the rabbis sparing our soles!! (I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.  I guess this is one more thing that I need to atone for.)
  • Do bring your children.  The best way for them to learn about their heritage is to experience it.  We shouldn't hide this holy day from them, rather we should explain it in ways that they can easily understand.  If we never bring our kids to shul, they will never learn the importance of coming.

  • Don't eat salty foods before fasting.  Bubby's chicken soup may be a family tradition, but it should be off limits at your table.  Not only will all of the salt swell your already aching feet, but you will be desperate for drink throughout the day.
  • Don't show up to services two hours late and expect to find 4 seats together.  If you want to miss the beginning of the worship, you need to accept the inevitable.
  • Don't think that you are invisible in the crowd.  I see you.  All of you!!! I know when you are sleeping and I know when you are awake.  I see you leave and I see you yawn. I'm just stating something that you probably didn't know. You might think that you can slip out unseen, but in truth, YOU ARE BUSTED!!!
  • Don't think that you can leave at any time you want.  I know that this sounds a bit like a high school principal, but please try and understand that there are certain times when it is wholly inappropriate to start the exodus to the doors.  The Torah deserves respect.  When it is out of the ark and being read, you should stay put.  Sorry! But there are just some things that are non-negotiable in the Jewish worship service and this is one of them. Torah=butts in seats! Think of it this way- if you really are looking for atonement, a good way to go about it, is to not to piss off the One who grants it, by dissing His/Her law!!
  • Don't brag about your lunch plans to fellow congregants.  They may in fact be true, but in slightly bad taste for a fast day. 
  • Don't kiss the cantor until after the day is over.  The last thing I need is a cold, right before Kol Nidre.  I will happily smooch with anyone who asks after Havdallah!!

These are just some simple suggestions that will ease all of our worship time together.  (If it accomplishes nothing else, it will stop me from vaulting off of the bimah in the middle of singing Kol Nidre to whip the tar out of some boorish attendee!!) I hope you know that this is entirely (ok- somewhat) tongue in cheek.  I wish all of you an easy fast and a Gmar Chatimah Tovah.  May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life!

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Disingenuous Ploy of the Conservative Party!

It is well chronicled that I am to the left of centre on the political spectrum. (DUH???) My little bro actually might say that I am so far to the left, that right-hand turns become challenging! I am not sure that I would go that far, but I do question the right-wing conservative movement, usually on their philosophies on social issues. I take issue with their perceived lack of compassion (fairly or not!) and slightly smarmy way that they handle their politics. I realize that this seems a bit unfair to well-meaning conservatives, but as a whole, the movement comes off a bit creepy. Case in point was well elucidated for me during this election season here in the Great White North.

I live in a very Jewish riding. (I am not joking about this. This riding has the fastest growing Jewish population in all of North America!) The incumbent Member of Parliament is a very nice, middle-aged Jewish woman. She has been targeted for defeat by the Conservatives in their unbending desire for a majority government. As a result, the Harperites are running a "star" candidate in the area. Mr. Conservative is a very well-known former TV anchor, who is working hard to get out the vote. He has been to my front door twice now, while incumbent Jewish lady has yet to make an appearance. Not only that, Liberal lady seems to have taken the Jewish vote in the area for granted, hoping that we always vote for our own. This is definitely a riding that could make a difference to the Tory dream. Mr. Harper has been planting the seeds of conservatism within my community for several years now. We have been force-fed conservative propaganda that wants us to believe that they are they only party in the country that is friendly towards Israel. Bullshit for certain, but the right of centre Jewish community is eating it up and is practically licking the seams of Harper's sweater vest! But, their lack of genuine concern for my people was made abundantly clear, when Mr. Harper scheduled the upcoming election for the first day of Sukkot. For the uninitiated, Sukkot is kind of like the Jewish version of Thanksgiving. It is one of the Shalosh Regalim (the three pilgrimage festivals) and is considered a pretty holy day on the Jewish calendar. Observant Jews in my neighbourhood (and they are plentiful) will NOT enter a polling place on Sukkot. Mr. Harper was warned of this conflict before he called the election, but he chose to go forward. (Yeah-that is really supportive of Jewish interests!) As a result, we have been inundated over the last week with calls, letters, emails and flyers encouraging us to please vote in one of the advance polls. (Of course 2 of the days for the advance polls were on Friday and Saturday. Yet another way that those Jew-friendly conservatives were looking out for our interests!!) Many of these reminders are actually coming from the Jewish Federation who if, in my mind, had done their job adequately, would have been able to convince Mr. Harper to not schedule the election on one of our holiest days in the first place. But what has really gotten my ire up, was the recorded message that came our way last evening.

The Member of Provincial Parliament from this area is a conservative rookie, who also happens to be Jewish. It was this rookie MPP who intruded on my peaceful Sunday evening imploring me to vote in the advance poll because Stephen and the Tories are such good friends to the Jews. ENOUGH!!! I found this to be my breaking point. This man had the nerve to play upon our shared heritage, in an attempt to sway me to the Harperites, even going so far as to suggest that my interests as a Jew would be only served properly by the Conservatives. Some might call this smart politics and as an observer of the game, I would say that is probably accurate, but I find the fact that my Jewish MPP is being used to target getting out the Jewish vote slightly unseemly, when all of this could have been avoided had Harper been sensitive to our community needs in the first place. I urge you all to vote and vote for the candidate that you feel will best serve you, but I also urge you to look beneath the surface of political gamesmanship and aesthetics. The wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

I am not a big fan of game shows. I really never have been. With the glaring exception of Jeopardy, (which I frankly do not consider a game show, but rather an intricate exercise of mind and mensa that combines the intellect and skill necessary to find true wisdom) I simply cannot get excited watching others spin a wheel, open a suitcase or guess the retail price. When the boys were very young, the husband's grandmother would watch them for a couple of mornings a week, while I attempted to maintain some semblance of a career. She got Older Son hooked on The Price is RIght. (She was a huge fan of Bob Barker!! I think that she secretly wished that he was Jewish so that there could be something more between them other than a passing glance ever weekday morning at 11:00 am.) To this day-every so often-I will catch him , sneaking a peak at Price when he thinks that nobody is watching. (When Bob retired last year, Older Son made it appointment TV to watch his final broadcast!) I know that this is one of the ways he remembers her. But me? Not so much. Some of that changed this past week. Watching a game show becomes an entirely new experience when there is someone that you know on the show as a contestant.

This past Thursday, the husband and I had such an experience. A friend of my parents from the sunny south made an appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Meredith Viera. This lady called to inform my folks that her day was fast approaching and she wanted all she knew and all who knew her to tune in and, if possible, record the program for posterity. How could we refuse? So at 5:00 pm on Thursday afternoon, we set the satellite for CKVR in Barrie and got ready to cheer her on. She was a pistol. She whipped through the first level of questions as though her pants were on fire, yet she never appeared smug or condescending. With all of her lifelines intact, she moved quite rapidly into interesting money territory. Meredith slowed the action down a bit to inquire as to what her plans for some of the cash might be. Mrs. V declared that she used a golf cart to tool around her retirement community, and she would really like to "pimp out" her vehicle. The husband and I were in stitches!! We cheered each correct answer as if Joe Carter had re-hit his home run! Finally, she hit a snag. It was an art question. I was almost on my hands and knees in front of the TV, pleading for her to use me as her "phone-a-friend", as I knew the answer. (Apparently, Canada is not considered as a viable area code!!) When all was said and done, she walked away with----$25,000!!! WOW! It was a magical way to spend a half an hour. Check out the photo of the aforementioned golf cart!! Way to go Mrs V.!

Friday, 3 October 2008

When did Ignorance Become the New Black?

Folksy, you say?


One of the "regular" people.

"I could really see myself having a beer with this guy!!"

"I think it's time that a normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency."

"He speaks like me-in plain language to plain folk!"

"He's too professorial. I think he needs to dumb-down his delivery."

"He is a member of the cultural elite!"

" I work for the common man and woman!"

Horseshit!! All of it. Plain and utter horseshit!

I don't consider myself the smartest individual in the world, but I also know when I am being taken for a ride. When did we sacrifice intelligence in our elected leaders for platitudes about homespun simplicity and easy answers? Why do we accept in our leaders, qualities that we would be horrified accepting in our children? (An inability to articulate simple thoughts, sentences or even words!!) When did catchphrases and talking points replace real thought? When did the dumbing down of North American politics and politicians become a prerequisite for election?

Leading is difficult and serious business and we require leaders who have complex ideas and bring a seriousness to the jobs they seek. Stephen Harper has yet to release his party's platform and we Canadians have him cleaning up in the polls despite the fact that he has said very little during this campaign. Maybe we like the sweater? It does make him seem like one of the guys, doesn't it? In the meantime, we are ignoring his statements on raping arts funding, mandatory youth sentencing that has proven inadequate in other countries, totally ignoring the needs of our cities where a full 80% of Canadians live, an incoherent and inadequate environmental plan, and drying up billions of dollars in surplus for ill-conceived tax cuts!!

My American cousins are ready to vote for one of the least qualified individuals to come along in a generation, simply because she is a "mom" like them. She supposedly understands their lives! She wants to represent Joe Six-Pack. Haven't Americans had enough of the toxicity of a Joe Six-Pack presidency? Maybe the 27% that still think that W is doing a heckuva job, will convince their neighbours that "Moose-hunting Sarah" is the right woman for the job because she has that down home quality. Her ideas of foreign policy are built around whether Russia is visible on a clear day. After all, she pronounces NUCULAR just like her role-model!! (Just for the record-I do believe that proper pronunciation of simple words should be a requirement for all those running for elected office! The word is NUCLEAR you uneducated hick!!)

In the meantime, brilliant men like Dion and Obama are criticized for being too smart, too professorial or too elite. True, Mr. Dion has a terrible time articulating his thoughts in English, but that doesn't make him less qualified. We are supposed to be a truly bilingual country and we get annoyed when our leaders speak in the "other" language! Mr. Obama was raised by a single mother in Chicago, went to community college for two years, before he worked his way through his undergraduate degree at a 4 year! He attended Harvard without affirmative action and rose to edit the Harvard Law Review. He chose to forgo the big bucks of a major law firm in order to return to his community and work as an organizer for "just-plain folk". By contrast, John McCain attended the naval academy as a legacy entrant and finished in the bottom ten of his class. And yet, Obama is skewered for being out of touch and elitist. How is this possible?

I want my leaders to have complex thought. I want my leaders to be smarter than I am. I want my leaders to be creative in attempting to solve the real problems that we all face as a society. I am tired of sound bites and half thoughts. I am tired of politicians dropping the final syllables of their words because it will attract the NASCAR voter. I am not interested in taking my Prime Minister out for drinks. Instead I want him or her to have empathy for all Canadians, no matter their tax levels. I don't want to feel as though the President of the United States or the potential next Vice-President doesn't understand polysyllabic words. I want them to answer the questions as posed and not as they choose. I want answers that are straightforward and smart, not convoluted and crap! We are supposed to value education and intelligence here in the Western Hemisphere, instead we seem to accept the lowest common denominator in our leaders. (That's math, Sarah!!) The world is not a simple place and the problems we face are anything but simple. We require and we should be demanding the politicians with the competent skill-sets that will enable them to find the complex answers that are required. Sorry, George! Sorry, Sarah! Your 15 minutes are up!!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

She's Back!!!

I promised you that the world could not seem so terribly rosy to me for very long. At heart, I am a cynic and while there is good stuff to be thankful for, I still find the levels of stupidity in this world unbelievable. Case in point: the federal government and all of the satellite services that it runs. I think that I have finally figured out where all of my tax dollars go-to the employment of hundreds of thousands of people that do absolutely nothing for their paychecks!! Here is my latest example.

I have remarked a few times that the time has come for the husband and I to renew our passports. Here in the Great White North, our passports need to be renewed every five years. Why not ten years as is customary in most other civilized places in the world? Well, my guess is that it is a money grab to garner $87.00 from citizens every five years. After my latest experience, I would gladly pay the $87 bucks, just to avoid the bureaucracy!!

It is true that the passport renewal process has been streamlined. (supposedly!!) The forms can now be downloaded online and filled in on the computer, before being printed off. The forms have been reduced from 5 pages to 2 and guarantors no longer have to sign off on the completed forms. Anyone with a valid Canadian passport can now act as a guarantor. Not only that, the Canadian government now allows people to mail in the completed forms along with the old passport and the new photos. (I understand why someone would want to simplify their lives by mailing, but I seldom trust civil service bureaucracies and the idea that something might be missing or untoward on the forms was enough to dissuade me from mailing. I simply do not have the time to go through the process again before my December traveling deadline.) And so it was that the husband and I made our way to a Service Canada post in order to drop off our completed forms. (I should mention that given my anal retentive behaviour, I proofed these forms several times, made certain that the photos were in order, included the old passports, clipped all of the aforementioned together and placed each individual form in a separate envelope!!) We were told that Service Canada was merely a drop-off outlet that allowed you to leave the material, much like you would if you mailed or couriered the stuff. We were misled. Service Canada is not a drop off!! It is a satellite office that deals with everything from passports to social assistance to unemployment insurance to social insurance numbers. As the husband and I walk in the door, we are met with a cacophony of screaming. The woman directly in front of us in line is yelling at the poor civil servant behind the reception desk. It seems that the dork who is yelling is upset because the woman behind the desk won't accept her application because she has used herself as a guarantor. In other words, she is vouching for herself that she has know herself for 15 years. OY!! Finally, a quiet and decent man, steers the husband and I out of the firing line and asks to see our applications. He carefully examines each application and when he is satisfied that we have everything in order, (I told you, I am ANAL!!) he enters us into the system. He returns it all to us and we are a bit stunned. The husband inquires as to what is going on and he is told that we should take a seat and we will be called to a booth in about 30-45 minutes!!! HUH??? Tell me again how this has streamlined the process? I could have waited at the main office for less time than this. Neither one of us has an hour to kill, but we also realize that we are in a no-win situation. If we leave now, we will have to start the whole f@#$*&g thing all over again, so we bite our tongues and sit. There are 10 windows with civil servants behind them and only 2 have customers. Several of the workers are chatting with one another and several others are collecting lottery investments from their co-workers. (Last night the jackpot was 35 million!!) 40 minutes later we are called.

We sit in front of a very young and very capable woman. She is so capable in fact, that we are interrupted at least 3 times so that she might answer questions from others. Once again, our applications are totally scrutinized. (Why did man number 1 have to go over the stuff if woman number 1 was going to repeat the process? Maybe, because it gave man number 1 something to do and get paid for?) She stamps shit and puts stickers on shit and finally comes back to us and wants payment. It is comforting to know that the government of Canada will accept all methods of payment, from VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, INTERAC, direct withdrawal, cheque or even cash!! No credit crisis for my government!!! The man must be paid. We leave a few minutes later armed with a receipt and a promise that the passports will be sent within 5 weeks. In the meantime, I cannot travel outside of the country, because I have given them all of my valid ID!!

My recommendations? Go early in the morning to a Passport Canada office with all of your items intact and hope for the best. There is no good way to do this. The government of Canada has you in whatever way you turn. There has to be a better way!! Somebody show me that direction!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Life has its Moments!!

I realize that I spend a great deal of time in this space ranting, raving, and wildly gesticulating! (even if you cannot always see my arms flailing about like a maniac!!) I figured that in the spirit of the New Year, it might be nice if I were to name just a few things that remind me of the upside of life. So, just for today, I promise no political horror shows or stupidity. Just for today, I am relishing in life's small pleasures and treasures. I promise to return to my curmudgeonly self tomorrow!!

1. Chocolate is a given. Never has so little provided so much satisfaction to so many! On even my worst days, a small bit of extra dark is a God-send!

2. Pete Seeger. The man is 89 years young and he released a brand-spanking new album yesterday. If you were fortunate enough to catch Letterman on Monday night, you saw this almost nonogenarian singing to a live audience with his grandson and a small band, and he was actually teaching a new song!! Teaching!!! The man is more than a legend to me. He is the reason that my music exists!! Way to go Pete.

3. Having my boys home for a few days has been a extra-special treat. I truly believe that they are where they are supposed to be, and I am not having all of the separation anxiety that is supposed to accompany the empty-nest syndrome, but I will admit that I loved them being here for the holiday. They are truly my pride and joy and the proof that God smiles on me.

4. Paul Newman. I believe that the world lost much more than a fine actor this week. We lost a true philanthropist who truly lived by his ideals. If you need more, check out Maureen Dowd's column today. She says it far better than I ever could. Anyway, was there ever a better or more smoldering performance than Mr. Newman's "Brick" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? I think not!!

5. The wonderful people of my community. This week, I witnessed hundreds of people join together in song, spirituality and prayer--and mean every word!! There were volunteers that worried about shlepping, sound equipment, silver polishing, shlepping, organization, shlepping, ark building (not the Noah kind!!), shlepping and more shlepping. We joined together to solve problems and take care of our most vulnerable. This week, I posed a technical issue to the husband and he came through like a trooper, as he gave my congregation the ability to webcast for our sick and infirmed. This week we were all there for each other.

6. Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea! This is a magic elixir that I swear by and truly enjoy. It helps calm my voice and my nerves, and I have become slightly addicted. The unfortunate part is that I have misplaced my travel cup. I think I left it at our service location, so if any of you fine readers saw or picked up a long and lean pink cup with hearts on it, I would really like it back. My tea just doesn't taste the same in any other vessel.

7. Family, food and good friends. If there was ever a question that I have been truly blessed, I realize it all the more at this time of year. Love and thanks never seem enough, so I will have to hope that you all know how I feel about all that we are and all that we do.

Shana Tova everyone! May the coming year provide you with the small treasures and loving pleasures that life offers us every day.