Friday, 30 January 2009

What Could I do with 18.4 Billion Dollars?

In stunning acts of avarice and colossal greed that would make Bernie Madoff shudder with pride, the titans of Wall Street were bellying up to the bonus trough to the tune of 18.4 billion dollars in 2008, the New York Times reported yesterday.
Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year. 
That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

While the payouts paled next to the riches of recent years, Wall Street workers still took home about as much as they did in 2004, when the Dow Jones industrial average was flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high.

Some bankers took home millions last year even as their employers lost billions.

There have been reports of multi-million dollar packages for corporate bigwigs, spa weekends as perks, office redecoration bills in the millions and corporate jets still being flown with regularity, all while the markets have tumbled in record fashion, job losses are mounting daily, foreclosures are becoming commonplace and taxpayers are footing the bill for these assholes' companies bailouts. Can you say disconnect? President Obama (Wow! That really rolls quite easily off of the tongue) was almost apoplectic. (Ok! He was the Obama version of apoplectic. I think I saw his nose twitch a little, which obviously meant that a nostril must have flared!) 
"It is the height of irresponsibility for employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their crumbling financial sector received a bailout from taxpayers. "It is shameful," Obama said from the Oval Office. "And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility."
Restraint, you say Mr. President? Don't you really mean a cultural sea-change? John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch which was recently sold to Bank of America as a direct result of a 15.4 billion dollar fourth quarter loss, has been trying to wrangle his 14 million dollar bonus and severance package out of the wheezing company that forced him out. This comes after it was revealed that all the while the bailouts were being negotiated, Mr. Thain was redecorating his downtown Manhattan offices to the tune of 1.2 million dollars. These bills included a $1400 wastebasket and a $35,000 toilet. (Insert obvious crap joke here!!) Mr. Thain has become the poster boy for the Wall Street bandits. 

I ask you? What do these people do that is so special, that makes them think that they deserve bonuses of this magnitude? I always thought that the word bonus meant "extra". If a job is done and done well, there are bonuses tied to exceptional performance. Shouldn't that also mean that if you have put a company into the crapper ($35,000 one notwithstanding) you must be held responsible? I have heard the argument that they work hard for the money, but do they work any harder than the emergency room physician on-call for 48 straight hours or the construction worker repairing a damaged bridge in -40 degree temperatures? No, there is an obvious disconnect between the financial sector and the average person. There is a sense of entitlement that is frighteningly apparent, that hasn't dissipated one iota, even as their worlds have begun to crumble around them. 

This disconnect extends to politicians as well. Here in the Great White North, Sweatered Stevie just brought down his much anticipated budget; the one that was supposed to kick-start the economy and keep the evil Liberal empire from usurping his turf. One of the centrepieces of the document is a much discussed tax break for home renovations and re-fittings. The idea is to help the ailing trades. Steve, baby! Why would somebody put new windows in their home, when they can't even pay the mortgage because their job has magically disappeared? Do you honestly think that the tax cuts proposed are going to be spent in the economy or isn't it more likely that they will be saved for essentials like food and heat? 

This economic recession that the world finds itself in will be studied and debated by smarter people then me for many years to come, and I would hazard to guess that it will probably get much worse before it gets better, but at the very least it is time to "bitchslap" the so-called financial wizards who hastened our arrival at this point. I realize that recovering that 18.4 billion is probably a lost cause, but it would be nice to see someone try.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

So You Want to Know Why I Spend So Much Time in Florida?

If any of you are still wondering why I spend so much time in the southern home, I thought that I would post a couple of photos from my windows comparing where I was yesterday and where I am today. No joke! These are actual pictures and views from my windows in both the northern and southern homes. God, I REALLY HATE WINTER!!!!

Monday, 26 January 2009

I Love My Hometown, But.....!!

Toronto is a beautiful city, and I really love living there. I am not a member of the Chamber of Commerce, nor am I an employee of any level of government. (Can you imagine me as an employee of the government?) I am just a born and bred citizen of Canada's largest city. For any of you who are thinking about vacation plans in the near future, please allow me to tout the merits of my hometown. 

For all of the bitching and moaning that I do about the traffic congestion and the lack of a long-term  coherent transportation plan, Toronto is actually fairly easy to navigate. The buses and the subways are relatively clean when compared to other metropolitan centres of our size, and most drivers are willing to go out of their way to help. Waiting for a bus or a train is usually not that big of a chore, unless.... IT IS WINTER! Then the slush, snow and cold makes a ten minute wait seem like ten hours. The wind cuts through the many layers of knitted protection like a hot knife through butter. The buses and cars splash pedestrians so that now they are wet AND cold, and ice litters the sidewalks so that any short walk, even from curb to establishment, is an exercise in terror. Driving is not much better. Black ice is a joy, potholes created by too much sand and salt give the axles a workout, plowed snow narrows the roadways and most drivers forget their winter driving training five minutes after they have completed it. Transportation in Toronto is great, when it isn't winter.

We have a fantastic cultural experience. We have a newly renovated museum and art gallery, both considered architecturally important and stunning. Our theatre scene is the best in the country and rivals the heavyweights of New York and London. We have a budding movie making business, a film festival that is a bellwether for awards season, and our club scene is second to none, if that is your thing. We are often one of two or three Canadian dates on major concert tours and our symphony, opera company and National Ballet are world renowned. We have more restaurants than a gourmet can ever hope to visit, and one can dine on cuisine from every country in the world. Yes, there is much to do and keep you busy in Toronto, unless....IT IS WINTER! Then an evening out is balanced by the shlep of getting there. Theatres and concert halls don't have wide enough seats to fit winter coats, so checking them is a must. Expensive tickets might be wasted if the weather is bad and it takes a ridiculous amount of time to navigate the streets through the snow and muck. It is dark and cold and hardly seems worth the effort. Nightlife in Toronto is great, when it isn't winter.

We have a marvelous zoo and in the winter you can cross country ski there. (I don't ski.) We have many ski resorts within an hour of the city that provide hours of enjoyment. (I said I don't ski!) There is outdoor skating at city hall and wonderful hiking trails throughout many city parks. (I hate skating and hiking in the winter is just plain stupid!) Our shopping is world class. (If you don't mind shlepping heavy jackets and boots for the excursions!) We have a beautiful waterfront and the Toronto Islands are well worth exploring. (Unfortunately, Lake Ontario is frozen until April and the ferries close down for the season!) Even our hockey team seems to hate the season as is evidenced by their lackluster performance over the last 40 or so years.

We are known for how clean our city appears, but in the winter it seems dark and grey and slushy. We are known for our friendliness, but in the winter we seem surly and discontented. We are socially conscious and committed to greening the city, but in winter, green seems so much the oxymoron. 

And so, as I depart the southern home to trek north to the land of -25 celsius temperatures, I am comforted by the fact that I will be returning here shortly. I am excited to go home to play with family and friends, to drive a car again without fearing for my physical well-being, and to get my hair cut. I am far less excited to don my ski jacket, (I don't ski, but I own a ski jacket!) boots, sweaters and ear muffs. I loathe the idea of sitting on a hot water bottle for extra heat, gaining a few pounds because a higher carb diet, and dreading simple trips to the grocery store. I love Toronto dearly, except for in the winter.

Friday, 23 January 2009

I'll Always Be My Mama's Baby

As advanced in age as I get, and as mature as I think I might be, (which really isn't all that mature!) I will always be my parent's little girl. Now, don't get me wrong. I have a wonderfully adult relationship with both of my parents. They treat me with a tremendous amount respect, (even if my dad and I still have heated "discussions" about the state of the Maple Leafs and even if my mother does have this cloying little habit of picking lint off of my clothing!) and we have a wonderful way of socializing as friends. But from time to time, something inevitably crops up that reminds all of us that there is still a familial pecking order.

When the Husband departed three weeks ago from South Florida, to reenter the frozen wasteland that is my hometown, he returned the rental car that we had been using. There was really no need to leave me the car. In the first place, my parents reside close enough to me here, (2 floors down!) that if I required the use of an automobile I could easily borrow theirs. Not only that, since my other parents are also here (1 floor down!) there is rarely a time when both cars are being used at the same time. If I need to get out for groceries, sundry items or a sanity trip out of Hallandale, a car is always ready and waiting. In the second place, I absolutely loath driving down here. I struggle for the right words to describe the drivers down here---MANIACAL, CRAZY, PSYCHOPATHIC---all come to mind, but these adjectives are really not descriptive enough. In the two plus decades that I have been coming here, the stories of road rage that I could share would curdle the blood of even the most seasoned of drivers. I have seen people physically attack each other over parking spaces. I have witnessed right hand turns from extreme left lanes and left hand turns from extreme right hand lanes. I have seen drivers flip the bird to ambulances with sirens on and lights flashing. I have been trapped on the Hollywood Roundabout for over a half an hour, endlessly circling in tears, because no decent human being would allow me space to switch to the proper lane to get off. I have watched in horror as people drove on the sidewalks in order to get two car-lengths ahead in traffic, without any regard for the pedestrians that they clip. In short, the drivers of Miami are amongst the worst in North America, (Allstate Insurance says this, not me!) and I have the emotional scars to prove it. Thus, when the Husband said that he was returning the car, I was just fine with the plan. Transportation down here is essential to mental health, however, so just knowing that a car was at my disposal was comforting.

A week after the Husband left, a friend of mine joined me here to spend a couple of weeks. She was perfectly happy not to go to the added expense of renting a car, and was more than happy to act as my chauffeur in Dad's SUV if we wanted to head to the mall or a movie. The day she arrived the weather turned frigid, (Don't yell at me!! For Florida-this is frigid!) and as such, we needed to find ways to entertain ourselves. That meant borrowing my parent's car. Now, I don't know about all of you, but the last time I asked for permission to borrow a car from my parents, I was 17 years old. Last week, I felt 17 years old. I mentioned this phenomenon to my mother while I was apologizing for leaving them stranded yet again. The conversation went something like this. Really!!!

Me: "Hey Mom! Could I possibly borrow the car for the umpteenth time this week. I am really sorry if I am inconveniencing you and Dad, but I really do appreciate you allowing me to use it."

Mom: "No problem, honey! Happy to do it. Now let me remind you of the rules. No drinking, no phone use while driving, no wacky behaviour and your curfew is 10:00pm!"

Did we ever laugh. It was a real reminder for both of us as to the way things used to be. It got me thinking about the roles of parents and children, and how as we age, those roles can often become blurred, as is evidence by the following conversation with my father the next day. Really!!!

Dad: "Hey Faigel!"

Me: "Hey Dad."

Dad: "Can I borrow the car, tomorrow? I only need it for an hour to run some errands and I will have it back for you at around 1."

We had a good laugh, but there was a seriousness to his comments. He wanted me to know that they really didn't mind us usurping their transportation and that it was truly their pleasure to give to their daughter. Parents! Just when I thought I had mine all figured out. I only hope that I can be half the parent to my adult children as mine have been to me. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Yes We Did!

I have a cold. Not a wonderful way to spend a day in South Florida, or anywhere for that matter, but I really didn't want to be sick today. I wanted to revel. I wanted to gloat. I wanted to make fun of the Dumbass in Chief who was finally exiting the world stage and I wanted to heckle his "Dr. Evil"-clone in a wheelchair, sad excuse for a vice-president. (Didn't he look like Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove?) I wanted a clear head when I heard intelligence from a political leader for the first time in years. I didn't want to miss a moment of history-and this is coming from an outsider; a stranger in a strange land, who crashed the party, uninvited.

Today I witnessed elegance. Today I saw humanity. Today I engaged in dialogue and rational thought. Today I saw generations weep for those who weren't here, and those who were yet to come. Today I was an observer to true bipartisanship; and today I saw true believers. It may sound corny and it may sound trite, but today I saw a man become an icon and an entire world transformed by his grace.

I have never before seen anything like today. I was not around for the last transformative leader. I was an infant when he and his kind exited this world with so much left incomplete. I have lived through a time of great excess and selfishness, a time of intolerance and a time of greed. My generation has usurped its authority. Today, we were reminded of our responsibilities. Today, we remembered that we need to be more engaged and more involved. Today we know that divisiveness and pettiness and ridiculous partisan behaviour needs to be consigned to the dustbins of history, in favour of cooperation and compromise. Today we saw the beginning. It won't be easy. He is not a messiah, he is just a man. But, he is a man with ideas-ideas that deserve to be heard and attempted. He is a man with an intellectual creativity that is astounding, and he is a man who has a genuine affinity for family, without resorting to using them as props.

So, today with my nose weighing about 10 pounds, surrounded by my Kleenex, Sudafed, Vicks lozenges and Chloroseptic, I spent 15 hours on the couch watching every move, every speech, every band and every dance. I debated her dress with my friend and I laughed at the lack of attention of the young girls. I was appalled by the poet laureate (WTF?) and I was reaffirmed by the brilliance that is Aretha. I tolerated the pundits and I even watched Fox News for a few minutes to laugh at their pessimism. (Today was not the day for pessimism!) Today, I actually didn't mind being sick, because I was totally captivated. Tomorrow, the real work begins.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Mysteries of the Make-up Counter-Culture

I have never been accused of being a terribly girly sort of girl. As a youngster, while all of my friends with XX chromosomes were dreaming of owning Barbie's  dream house and marrying her off to Ken, I was hoping for a new hockey stick with a decent blade. While they were all hoping their mothers would take them for manicures and pedicures, I was praying for Blue Jay tickets. And while they all fantasized about the ultimate wedding dress complete with the perfect shoes, I just wanted to change out of my heels into sneakers. So, it should come as no surprise that I have never really been all that knowledgeable about the mysterious world that is cosmetics industry.

I am krill in a shark tank. I am Daniel in the lion's den. I am the Jamaican bobsled team. I am so ignorant on the subject that I require tutoring sessions. The experience is overwhelming. One step into a department store and the barrage is in full swing. Perfectly coiffed and over-made salespeople surround and attack. They push lotions and potions, refining masks and pore minimizers (Do they also sell pore maximizers for those that are "pore-challenged"?), eye paint and face paint in hues with names that sound more like a salad than a blush, and scents that bring this asthmatic to her wheezing knees. These people have no problems pointing out my problem skin zones (In the world of skin care, it is all about targeting your zones; dry zones, oily zones, patchy zones or breakout zones!) or insinuating that they have all of the answers to my issues. Who knew I had issues?  In a department store, the cosmetics area is so large that it literally encompasses a full floor, with counters from dozens of companies, most of which are foreign to me. Heaven forbid that one should want to purchase a Revlon lipgloss at Bloomies! That is so bourgeois. 

A dear friend of mine is the makeup maven and my personal touchstone for all things cosmetic. This is a woman who follows trends in the industry the way that I follow music, politics or baseball. Whenever I am with her, I am in awe and completely submissive. She is like a graceful dancer, easily maneuvering through the crap. She actually can speak with authority on mineral based foundations and she knows every brand and colour that is new. When Sephora finally opened a store in Toronto, I honestly thought that she might declare it a national holiday. She has more points as a frequent shopper there than she will ever be able to use, and I honestly believe that they may create a "super-elite" status just for her. Every time that I am with her, we take several trips to the cosmetics counters. She has a thing about lipstick. She told me once that she continually is experimenting and purchasing new tubes because she hasn't yet found that elusive perfect colour combination. Several years ago, when her family held a garage sale, she allowed her son to sell off hundreds of unopened lipsticks and glosses that she never used. All in shades of brown! Oh sure they may of had fancy names like "rum raisin" and " New York coffee toffee", but to me they all looked brown. Her son made hundreds of dollars that day, because apparently there are many women out there just like my friend. 

I am far more utilitarian in my cosmetics purchases. I use drugstore moisturizers, and my foundations are purchased at Target. I own 2 blushes, a half a dozen shadows and several shades of the aforementioned Revlon lip glosses. I use Oil of Olay body wash and I buy my shampoo and mousses on sale. I colour my own grey (horror of horrors!) and I never, ever use scented anything. (I can't even come within 10 metres of stores like the Body Shop or Bath and Body Works, for fear of a scent triggered attack!) I am a mess when it comes to brushes. I use a blush brush for foundations and a liner brush for shadow. Yesterday, as I entered a MAC (cosmetics, not computers!) store at the mall, I was stunned and amused to note that every salesperson was equipped with a holster of brushes strapped to their chests like some weird kind explosive device. They whipped them out at will, and they knew which to use for shading and which to use for foundation. I was duly impressed, but still unwilling to invest. 

There is evidence to suggest that in times of economic hardship, one of the few industries that actually improves is cosmetics. Maybe people feel that a new lipstick or cologne provides that little lift to get them through a rough spell. As for me, I would rather get my little lift from a good bar of 70% extra dark chocolate. We all have our vices.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Weather Thoughts From the Comforts of South Florida

I am a proud Canadian. It is often said of Canadians that we are obsessed with two things in life; hockey and the weather. Actually, if you think about it, the two are inextricably linked. Winter life bred our consumptive fascination with shinny. But, it is our interest in the weather that I find truly interesting. 

My guess is that our history as an agrarian society has some basis for this passion. Farmers need to follow weather patterns, else they perish. There was a time in the not-so-distant past where a majority of my compatriots depended on rainfall estimates and wind models for their livelihoods. Not so much today. More than 80% of Canadians now live in major urban centres, where weather is a thing to be loathed, embraced, feared or mocked. Ask any Canadian today what the temperature is and they will answer something like this: "Well the actual temperature is a brutal -21 degrees C, but if you factor in the windchill, it feels more like -32!" (For all of you Americans who still haven't embraced the metric system like the rest of the world, that is translated as f*&$#@g cold!! As a touchstone, you might want to remember that -40 is the same on both the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales!) The same holds true in the reverse. If you were to ask a fellow countryman for an assessment of the searing summer heat, you would get a response close to the following: "Well the actual temperature is hovering around 32, but the humidex has it closer to 43! It is stifling!" We can never just say the real number, because the real number doesn't feel like the real number. 

We pour over the weather reports like crack addicts. We need to be the most accurate and the most up-to-date. "It isn't -21.  CityPulse said it was -19, and they are never wrong!" Cold is cold people! We are incredibly loyal to our weather casters. Everybody has a favourite. 

"I watch Dave because he is always accurate." 

"Are you nuts? Susan is the best! She has never steered me wrong!"

Dipsticks!!! They all get their information from the same place, Environment Canada, and they are all preaching the same bullshit. You like Dave because he can write backwards with both hands and you like Susan because she is hot! You could be just as accurate by walking outside and assessing it yourself.

And, we are pompous about our weather acumen. We brag about our heartiness and we scoff at blizzard reports. Snow? Bring it on! Heat? We're tough! Rain? We'll compare our floods with your floods anytime, anywhere! Most of us own several winter coats. One for looks, one for warmth and one for frigid. When a former mayor called upon the army for aid during a particularly horrific storm, we Torontonians cowered in shame at the images broadcast. We were the laughingstock of the country. (It is interesting that we also can't forget about it. The ten year anniversary of this event occurred last week and it was marked with commemorative newspaper articles and interviews galore.) We mock our southern brethren when they close schools for an inch or two of the white stuff, and we laugh out loud at the mess they make of road clearing. Yes, we Canadians know our weather.

It is amusing that this obsession transfers when we travel or relocate. Whenever I come to the southern house, The Husband always immediately checks out the weather channel. We worry when a cold front is approaching (as if a 70 degree temperature will seem chilly to us!) and we stress over the number of rainy days. (I will admit that being down here for an extended period of time this year has made me far less involved with the atmospheric conditions!) You wouldn't believe how many native Floridians are wearing turtleneck sweaters and ski jackets today in what they laughingly refer to as a cold snap! We Canadians? Today you can find many of us at the beach soaking up the sun. 

I know that whatever I say today will be of zero comfort to my nearest and dearest back home, stuck in the midst of a miserable deep freeze that is showing no signs of abating. That is the reason that I winter as much as possible down here. I may be a proud Canadian, but I sure as hell am not stupid!!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Bloodsport of Shopping at Publix!!

I am not a terribly competitive person by nature. Opinionated, yes! Expressive in my thoughts? Absolutely! But, competitive? Not so much. I play for the fun of the game. I enjoy the strategy and the machinations, but the outcome is not really an issue for me as long as the game has been played by the rules and fairly. (In the interest of absolute transparency, I should offer the following caveat. When it comes to games of trivia, all bets are off. In those cases, it is every person for themselves and I promise you that I will show no mercy!!!) But, I find myself in a whole other game-playing dimension when thrown into the ring of hand-to hand combat. This occurs every single time I undertake a shopping trip to Publix on Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

This is the den of the devil; the pit of mass destruction. One better be prepared for all comers, else one perish. Octogenarians armed with canes and carts engaging in wheelies in the aisles. Single mothers attempting to corral escaping children with snot-filled noses with one hand, while tossing boxes of sugared cereal with the other. Women screaming obscenities at the deli counter along with their orders for roast turkey. God help the wait person who slices 12 pieces instead of 10! Scooter driving maniacs who are better suited for Daytona, than a residential grocery store and check-out staff whose faces bear the scars of verbal encounters in several languages. This is Darwinian shopping; shopping where meekness cannot be tolerated and only the strong survive. 

I drip with perspiration at the very thought of my descending into the bowels of the beast. I psyche myself up for the task at hand, and I head out into the fray with a self-promise to stay patient and aware at all times. This will be the time that I survive intact. This will be the time that I don't get rammed from behind by an old lady hopped up on caffeine. This will be the time that I don't get pushed over by an obese, sweating man at the bakery counter. This is my time and my time is now! Armed with my list, (NEVER, EVER go to Publix without a list! It is like baking without a recipe. Disaster will certainly ensue!) my people and I headed out for our confrontation with the enemy. You all should have seen us! We were like a finally tuned offense. Three carts working in tandem. When one stopped, the others kept moving, scouting, looking for deals. When one needed to search for coupons, (the coupon fetish down here is a whole other post!) the others provided cover and shelter. When the old man brandishing his cane as a weapon shouted at me in a voice reminiscent of "The Shining", "MOVE!!", I silently complied so as to avoid a beating, all the while the other members of my team were loading up. We glided up and down the aisles with military precision; we took no shit and we took no prisoners. We were in a word-SPECTACULAR! Any of today's NFL playoff teams would have been left slack-jawed at our synchronicity. I felt like patting them all on their butts and giving them all a high-five. Way to go team!

I can't promise that my next trip into the lion's den will have as positive an outcome, but just for today I feel as though I have won the Super Bowl. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Send OUT the Clowns!!!

I have a thing about clowns. Please don't mistake this as a positive "thing". I think that clowns are irritating at best and slightly creepy at worst. There is something about a grown human being decked out in full facial make-up, bright red nose, ridiculously ill-fitting shoes who is attempting to douse me with water, that sets my teeth on edge. I realize that I am probably in the minority on this side of the circus, but clowns piss me off. They are freaky and slightly on the scary side. Mimes are no better. They are just clowns that don't say anything that beg for money! Have you ever seen a small child at a circus? Most of them are crying in horror and scrambling for protection in Mom and Dad's laps when the clown mafia approaches. For years down here in South Florida, one of the local flea markets used to feature a full circus under its roof as a way to draw in customers. I will forgo the obvious animal rights issues of keeping large cats and elephants in a flea market building, but the thing that disturbed me more than Leo the Lion or Jumbo the Elephant in captivity, was the over- eager and very pushy clowns. (Honestly, is there anything lower on the ladder of "clowndom" than working at a flea market on I95?) Whenever it was suggested that we trek up the interstate to show the boys a "fun time", I could feel that knot tie just a bit tighter in the pit of my stomach. I knew that Older Son would grasp my hand a little bit harder, and Younger Son would beg to be carried. This was supposed to be entertaining? Needless to say, we stopped going.

On my first trip to Las Vegas, we were instructed by friends that we "absolutely must" take in the Cirque du Soleil show Mystere at The Mirage. We purchased tickets, but unfortunately they were for the first night that we arrived, and we were all a bit past the point of exhaustion by the time we settled in our seats. (Not a great mood for me to be in to see a circus of any name!) The clowns came out first to warm up the audience. I had the "good fortune" of sitting on the aisle. (I guess given my short stature, The Husband wanted to make certain that I could see the entire show unobstructed.) Within 30 seconds, one of the f*&%#*g clowns zeroed in on me, and started in on his routine. (He must of sensed my seething dismissal of his supposed craft!) When he saw that I wasn't into the game, the asshole stole my shoes! I sat through the entire performance barefoot. I didn't get my shoes back until were headed toward the exits. God, I really hate clowns.

I mention all of this because of a birthday gift. Last week was my birthday and to my surprise and joy, my sons ordered me a floral arrangement. As I went downstairs to the concierge to retrieve it, I was filled with pride (they remembered!) and excitement to see what my gift would look like. Imagine my horror when I spied the balloon attachment. CLOWN!!! I brought the bouquet upstairs and when the boys saw it they were stunned. "That wasn't what we ordered", they cried. Older Son could not stop apologizing for the kevlar nightmare. "Honestly, Mom! I am truly embarrassed by the balloon." I was just so thrilled that they recognized the day, I just waved away his misery, thinking that when the stupid thing ran out of helium, I would remove it from the otherwise stunning arrangement of flowers. Well, here we are 8 full days after the fact and the miserable thing is STILL floating. Observe!

The damn flowers are starting to wilt and fall and that stupid thing is still up there, grinning its evil at me every day! I know I should just take it down, but it was a gift from my boys and I just can't bring myself to do it. Maybe I will give it a little nudge with a pin and cause it to slow leak. Curses to you my white-faced nemesis! 


At approximately 10:32 am EST, I released my nightmare into the wild blue yonder of Hallandale Beach. Clown was last seen floating high above Three Islands Blvd with stupid grin on his face shouting "Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, I am free at last!" Good riddance to you, sucker!!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Strange Goings On to Begin the New Year

One of the strange by-products that has come out of this blogging thing, is the oddity that I am able to track who stops by to visit my site and from where they are logging on. Please do not misunderstand this practice. I cannot in any way determine who individual users are, nor can I discern anything more than an IP address, which to the computer idiot like myself, means absolutely nothing. I subscribe to an online statcounter (one of many that are available for free!) and through them I can view a myriad of stats, most of which are about as logical to me as is the Russian language, but every so often I am intrigued by the global power of the Internet and I check out the traffic. Most of the time the voyeurs to my site come from my hometown, as is befitting a small local blog like mine. Every now and then, I can see that a few of my American friends have had a minute or two to kill and thus, decide to waste it on my ravings. But, once in a while I get hit on by the obscure. I have had viewers from Australia, Pakistan, Viet Nam, and Egypt. Usually, these folks have stumbled upon on my blog either because they are sleep deprived and have nothing better to do in the wee hours of the morning then surf, or they have conducted a Google search for something specific and their search engines flagged a singular and peculiar word or phrase from my blog. This morning yielded just such a hit. This morning, I received a hit from that great bustling metropolis and home to the most famous unwed teenage mother in the country, Wasilla Alaska! (By the way-Mazel Tov on the birth of your grandkid, Sarah!! When is the bris? I'll send a gift!) It seems that someone (wink, wink!!) in Wasilla was conducting a google search using the keywords "Jewish Men Hairy" and for some reason was directed to my blog post about hairy Jewish men not wearing kilts. Now, here is the big money question-Is Moose-Hunting Sarah doing market research or is she looking for a shidduch, a match, for one of her brood? Is she concerned that we Jews are a tad hairy for the likes of ivory-skinned Bristol, Willow or Piper, or did she by chance have an encounter with Sasquatch and mistake the mythical beast for one of my people? Sarah, bubbelah, let me put your mind at ease. It is true that many of my people, both men and women, can be considered somewhat hirsute, but it shouldn't be a disqualifying genetic characteristic. I would think that hairy individuals would be commonplace in your neck of the woods. Not only that, hairy is warmer! If you are still not convinced, then I am certain that the Republican National Committee would be happy to pony-up for waxing or laser removal. Just send them the bill!