Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Birthday Quick Hits

Happy Birthday to me. I usually couldn't care less about this day, but it does provide me fodder for the blog, so here goes.

The Husband has been wishing me a "Happy 4 Dozen" all day. Frankly, I could do without the reminder of just how many years have passed on my life's calendar, but his heart is in the right place. Why do I feel the overwhelming urge to purchase eggs or donuts? Some women get jewelry, I crave What a Bagel!!!

Younger Son called down from the balcony to inform me that a package had been delivered. The Husband was smirking, so I assumed that he had done something sweet and romantic. Imagine my surprise when I retrieved the box from security, only to discover it was filled with a special flax seed mix that The Husband favours and that he had had sent down from Toronto. Some women get jewelry, I get regulating fibre.

My boys bought me a very thoughtful gift. They know their mother so well. They bestowed upon me the latest 45th anniversary box set of The Sound of Music. ("What could they possibly have planned for the 50th anniversary?", she sarcastically inquires.)I think that this purchase completes my set!! It is number 22,342 in a limited set edition of 250,000. Not so terribly limited, if you ask me. It came complete with a book, four discs, a certificate of authenticity(???), and a small hand-painted music box that is supposed to play My Favourite Things. I say supposed to, because it apparently is malfunctioning. They offered to return it, but I am thinking that I can do without the cheesy sentimentality of the box. As Older Son so delicately put it in a way only he can, "Thank God that I don't have to hear that! I guess You really do exist!" Nice!! Some women get jewelry, I am bestowed with sarcastic wit!!

Facebook is remarkable. I have been inundated with birthday wishes from far and wide. I haven't received this much email that wasn't spam in months! Thank you to all for caring enough about me to check your Facebook feeds today and send me greetings. Seriously, it is nice to be cared about. Some women get jewelry, I get to collect friends.

Everybody enjoy my 4 dozen. I hope that your days are as lovely as mine is turning out to be.


Younger Son's Young Lady has gotten into the act and she appears to have me figured out in a very short period of time. An Edible Arrangements fruit thingy arrived a short time ago-many dipped in dark chocolate. Um......she's a keeper. Some women get jewelry, I am blessed with my children's excellent choices. Lucky? You decide.

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Thursday, 23 December 2010

It's Christmas, So Do a Mitzvah!

I heard a story yesterday that almost brought tears to my eyes. A true story that really defines that "Christmas Spirit" thing that we all hear so much about at this time of year. As a committed Jew, I must admit that Christmas is not really on my radar screen. I do love this time of year, though. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, published a blog post this week that actually articulated very well why I like this season and why Jews can learn much more from Christmas other than where to find good Chinese food. Here is one such tale.

We have a very good friend down here in the Southern Home. He is a single man who gathers his friends close. He is the first one willing to help when something breaks down. He has been known to spend hours fixing computer networks, setting up wireless systems, hunting for bargains for needed items that he has heard them mentioned once in a passing conversation, waiting around for cable guys when neighbours have been unable or unwilling to do so, and basically just being an all-around mensch!! He graciously watches over our place down here when we are north, as he does for both of my sets of parents and countless others in the building, and we have come to think of him as a part of the extended family. What our friend doesn't have a lot of, unfortunately, is family. He is an only child who lost his father many years ago, and over the past number of years has been the sole caregiver for his aging mother and aunt. Unfortunately, his mother passed away this past summer and his aunt is living in an assisted living centre. This will be the first Christmas that our friend will be spending without his mom, and as the holiday approaches it is obvious that is painful.

He has gone about his preparations as usual. He has decked out the building with his usual flair. (As a matter of fact, he was just informed that his lighting designs won first prize in the Hallandale Beach decoration contest.) His tree is up, and he continues to attend mass every Sunday leading up to Christmas Day. But he knows, as do we all with sympathetic pangs, that this year is different for him. I think it is getting to be all too much, and he has had moments of tremendous grief and sadness as one might expect he would. And then yesterday, I heard something rather wonderful. My dad and mom told me that they, along with 4 or 5 other couples-all Jews, by the way-are going to join our friend at midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I was so moved by this act of compassion. These people are committed Jews, every last one of them. Catholic mass is about as foreign to them as is the thought of travelling to Afghanistan. They are going because it is an act of love for a friend in need, a friend who has been there for them many times, and because nobody should have to celebrate their holiest days without family.

My parents and their friends have truly demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas this season. They have crossed ecumenical lines with one single act of compassion. These people are performing a Christmas mitzvah and I am so proud that they are my family.

Merry Christmas to all of you who observe and may the season be filled with joy and peace. B'simcha v'shalom!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Stop The World I Want to Get Off!

My battle with motion sickness and being equilibrium-challenged has been well documented. Those who know me well have heard tell the tales of sketchy airline flights where I searched furiously in the seat pocket for an air sickness bag that hadn't been glued together by the previous occupant's masticated chewing gum, ferry rides over to the Toronto Islands whereby I needed to grasp the railing in order to keep from fainting from the dizziness that was brought on by the swells of Lake Ontario, subway trips to the Eaton Centre that induced nausea so severe as a result of traveling backwards through the tunnels,that I almost didn't make it to the Queen Street entrance ladies room, and car rides of more than an hour that had me hanging my head out of the window at 100km like a Labrador Retriever with tongue a-wagging! This cornucopia of problems doesn't even begin to address the beautiful cities and countries in which I have been violently ill. There was the launch over to Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica, the ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito, the ferry from Halifax to Charlottetown, a day long mess on a cruise in the Caribbean to celebrate a friend's birthday in Nassau, not to mention legendary nightmares in Capri, Sorrento, a sea day outside of Limon, Costa Rica, and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party ride in Disney World. In short, I am a f@$&ing mess when it comes to issues of motion and regulating my inner ear balance.

Studies have shown (sorry, I am at sea and do not have the ability to tag these studies at the present moment, but I am certain that if you Google "puking at sea" you will find some scientific bullshit that backs up my claims!) that motion sickness affects some people more than others and that it tends to be genetic. There are no concrete answers as to why some people can withstand pitching seas, dead drop roller coaster rides, and turbulent airplane flights, while others, like myself, tend to puke in their hats. All we do know is that the world does not stand still, even if there are those amongst us that hope against painful hope that it would.

I have refused to allow my handicap (and believe me-it IS a handicap) to stop me from doing all of the things that I really want to do and experience in this life. I have researched methods and medications. I am religious about diet and food choices so as not to exacerbate the problem. I have tried it all. Ginger, soda, sea bands, acupuncture, all forms of herbal remedies and visualization. Nothing really works, but I have learned to mostly cope. And then, an episode like Friday occurs.

We had booked a tour on the picturesque island of St. Lucia. If you have never visited, I suggest that you book now. The word "stunning" doesn't really do it justice. The island is small and actually derives much of it's beauty from the surrounding pitons and volcano. There is one main road on the island and in order to access anywhere, one must climb the mountains via this one thoroughfare, and then head back down to the coastal towns. The trip up was pretty uneventful. Our small group of eight was in high spirits, buoyed by the glorious weather, our fabulous guide and the free rum punch and island beer. We chatted with the locals, saw the scenery, ate some local bananas, and headed to a magnificent beach. It was all good, mon! And then it happened. The final stop on the tour was a visit to the volcano. It was fascinating, but reeking of sulphuric acid with a stench approximating rotten eggs mixed with old man farts. We climbed back into the van for the return trip back to the ship. Oh boy was I sick. Twin Son's Better Half, always the girl guide, was prepared with a plastic bag for me, sparing my hat. The Social Butterfly called out to our good-natured guide to please stop so that I might collect my bearings. Upon disembarkation for a much needed breath of air, I learned that another in our group, Holistic Mama, was just as sick as was I. I moved into the passenger seat, hung my head out of the window and prayed that the winding ride straight down the mountain was just a nightmare from which I would surely soon awaken. When I inquired of the driver if it was almost over, he giggled and answered with a brisk "No!" This was a ride that Six Flags and Walt couldn't have concocted in their overly furtive imaginations. The turns were hairpin, the speed was excessive, the drop an amazing 15% grade, and it went on for an hour and half.

When we finally made it back to port, Holistic Mama and yours truly were more than a little bit off kilter. I couldn't sit for fear of puking. Standing had me swaying at a 45 degree angle. I didn't realize that the world moved with such fury. My inner ear was shot and my equilibrium a disaster. The last thing I needed or wanted was to get back on the ship. The Husband decreed that walking was what I needed, so (God bless the man) he supported me until I could do it myself once again.

I realize that I am defying all Newtonian,Galilean, and Einsteinian laws when I cry for a reduction in the earth's rotational speed, but please-I simply cannot take it anymore. Stop the world! I need to get off!!!

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Friday, 17 December 2010

What's wrong with that?

I met a man yesterday in St. Maarten who seems to have found the secret to life. Seriously! No religious platitudes, no proclamations of eternal love or angst. He was simply happy. Marty is a transplanted Canuck who is blissfully living in the port city of Phillipsburg peddling candy. We searched Marty out because he is a friend of a friend and he was aware of our arrival. When the Social Butterfly had sent him an email before the cruise to ask his address, Marty had simply replied, "Don't worry. You won't need an address. Just ask for the Candy Man. Everybody knows me!"

After a day touring the island, we found ourselves back in Phillipsburg but with limited time before the ship was to set sail. Driving and parking in these Caribbean islands is a young driver's worst nightmare, (an entire world of nothing but parallel parking that goes on for miles) so an excursion to "The Candy Man" was beginning to look a tad optimistic. I am so glad that we made the effort. We parked the car and simply asked for the Candy Man! Marty was right. Everybody knew him. Within minutes we were in front of a sun-yellow coloured shop about the size of a mini van. Marty greeted us like long-lost relatives. He was floundering at home in Toronto, unable to find his place or his purpose, until he discovered his island paradise 2 years ago. He got some advice, borrowed some money I would suspect, and headed down to live in St Maarten full time. He works hard. 7 days a week, from 8 in the morning until 10 at night, but he is well-known, well respected, well loved and blissfully happy. He has everything he could want. He works his business, chats up the locals, has some close friends, and when it all gets to be a bit too much, he closes up his shop for a couple of hours and goes floating on his raft in the ocean and soaks up the sun. What could be wrong with that?

Marty is lean, trim, very tanned and was decked out in white linen draw-string pants and a white cotton dashiki. The only thing identifying him as a Canadian is the bright red Roots hat he sports. I would venture a guess that he has put socks on his feet since his arrival, and business suits and ties are a thing consigned to his past.

Marty did everything he could to make our short visit a pleasant one, even offering to pay for our candy purchases. (an offer we firmly refused) I was in awe of Marty. He seems to have found bliss. It may be off the beaten track, but it is genuine and seemingly lasting. Would that all of us could discover our purpose and passion as has Marty.

A quick postscript. We are actually leaving St Lucia as I complete this post. A beautiful island that deserves it's own post, but a ride through the islands has left me feeling a tad equilibrium-deprived. Think Space Mountain meets 24 hours at Le Mans and you might just get an idea of my headspace right now. More tomorrow.
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Eavesdropping Conversations Onboard the Carnival Miracle

Our first few days aboard ship have brought less than ideal weather conditions. Cold, windy and more than the Caribbean's share of precipitation have been the norm, so we already winter-weary Canadians have had to source out other forms of entertainment. Following a rousing game of "Where are The Social Butterfly and his Lovely Wife the Sephora Queen, and why won't Carnival let them board the ship?", (a story for another time) we decided to pursue more pedantic and sedentary activities. The Husband and I have been engaged in some serious people-watching, and like any good voyeurs we have spent several hours eavesdropping on a myriad of conversations. Here is a small sampling.

An elderly lady corners a staff person and notices from her name tag that she is from Chile. Elderly lady with heavy Brooklyn accent inquires of said crew member "Oh you're from Chile? Do you know any of the miners?" Isn't that a bit like saying to me "Oh you're from Canada? Do you know Celine Dion?"

Another elderly lady wandering around the 7th deck looking aimlessly lost, stops The Sephora Queen (who is just as lost!) and asks her to help her find her cabin. Sephora Queen immediately figures out that cabin 4123 is not on the 7th floor and directs helpless elderly lady down three decks. Sephora Queen then returns to casino to find Social Butterfly because she can't remember her own cabin number or find it alone!

Speaking with a woman from Barrie who tells us that they have just escaped 1.9 metres of accumulated snow and are perfectly fine with the weather as is. Fantastic attitude. She also relays how her husband managed to smuggled his booze onto the ship and past the alcohol Nazis. We will keep that bit of trivia under wraps until the next cruise. Brilliant piece of Canadian ingenuity. The Husband is still unsure that we will actually see our confiscated bottles at the conclusion of the voyage. He is not at all happy about this little turn of events.

Retired couple from Dallas approach The Husband and myself as we are sprawled out reading our Kindles. The woman asks how we like them, and before The Husband can answer, her husband enters into a monologue about the importance of the tactile nature of books. We never asked his opinion nor did we care. The nice woman then proceeds to tells us what a computer illiterate her husband is, and how she is the one that does all of the online work in their house. She relays a story as to how she receives pictures of the grandkids on her iPhone, to which her husband replies "Yeah, sure. Nice picture. Grampa send $20!!!" Something tells me that there is very little new technology coming her way in Dallas.

A minor sampling of the various characters aboard ship. The weather isn't really looking all that promising for St. Maarten, but at least it should be warm. If not, I am finding many other ways to occupy myself and have a great time-if you exclude my rocky nausea-induced first twelve hours. Bygones. I'm on vacation!!!!!

Friday, 10 December 2010

AT&T: Please F*&# Off!

I will attempt to say this as nicely and as ladylike as I can-AT&T: Please F*&# off and leave us alone. Sometimes these hard sells are just a little bit more than a nice polite Jewish girl from the very nice and polite suburbs of Toronto, Canada can stomach. A bit of history is in order.

When we are down here in the Southern Home we have always used AT&T as our landline provider. We use another company as our cable provider and, horror of horrors according to the nice folks at AT&T, we use yet another company for our internet access. We don't want it any other way. We are happy with the arrangements we have, we like the service we are getting, and we are not willing to switch companies no matter how many times we are swamped with phone calls, emails, or flyers. We have told the torture experts at America's largest phone company this very message on the many occasions that they have inquired. We have also been stupid and lazy in not adding our phone number down here to the Do Not Call list. As such, the geniuses who sit in the sales cubicles (probably outsourced to some area outside of the North American perimetre) at AT&T continue to harass us about switching our provider. Yesterday, within a span of 2 hours, (no joke-2 HOURS!!) we received two separate phone calls, an email, and snail mail letter from this communications giant all imploring us to change our internet provider. How many times and in how many ways can we say NO politely? When the second call came in, The Husband, as only he can, tried very nicely to explain to the poor minimum wage/commission-challenged employee that we STILL were not interested in their services and would they please remove us from their call sheets. The dork on the other end said fine, but it might take thirty days to remove us from their lists. 30 days? Why? Can't they just take a pencil or a pen (I realize that these utensils have become somewhat archaic, but c'mon!) and scratch out our names with big, swift, and broad strokes? 30 days?

They aren't taking our hints and they aren't listening to our firm "No Thank-Yous" so what is left at our disposal. Maybe I should swamp their offices with emails, letters and phone calls and maybe I should only call during the dinner hour and maybe....Oh what the hell. AT&T-well you all know the rest.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Aretha Franklin - I Say A Little Prayer

A voice for the ages and truly blessed by the gods. Here's to recovery of good health to the Queen of Soul. Refuah Shelemah!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What Shall We Do For 26 Hours?

It has been many many many years, fifteen in fact, since The Husband and I have made the winter exodus down to the Southern Home the old-fashioned way-via Henry Ford's grand invention. (Or in our case, the technological advancement of some genius Japanese engineers at Lexus!) The last time we attempted the drive, Bill Clinton was still in the White House basking in the afterglow of Monica, OJ's glove didn't fit so the jury acquitted, Yitzchak Rabin was brutally murdered after a peace rally, and the first Toy Story movie had just been released. A lifetime ago! The boys were quite young and it was the only way that we were able to afford a trip south for the four of us. Flights from Toronto at Christmas were and still are, quite expensive. By throwing the kids and their paraphernalia into our very suburban mini-van, we were able to make the drive in about 26 hours of highway time and get away for a couple of weeks at minimal cost. The  results were usually lovely and uneventful, but on the return trip in January of 1996, we were waylaid by Mother Nature, Pizza Hut and the good people of Kentucky. The story is long, convoluted and ridiculously  absurd, but suffice it to say that the four of us were stranded under 5 feet of snow in the hamlet of Mt Vernon Ky for almost 6 days with nothing to sustain us but cable TV (how I learned to loathe Nickelodeon) and a Pizza Hut that adjoined our tiny motel. None of this prose is in any way, shape, or form exaggerated. Honest!! If any of you faithful readers are really interested in the whole gruesome story, post a comment and I will continue.

It was because of that incident that The Husband swore off driving to Florida in the winter. That time was the last time. The rental car costs were nothing compared to another incident on the snow-covered interstates. But this year, he seemed open to the idea of a return trip. I am spending larger chunks of the winter in the Southern Home, and the irritation of not having a car all the time was beginning to wear. The cost of renting down here during the winter months is ridiculous. I was thinking of offering the car companies the soul of my first born son, but I believe that it is already spoken for. Thus, The Husband suggested (it was HIS IDEA!!) that we drive this year and leave the car here until the middle of March. He figured that if we left early enough in December, we probably could avoid the worst of the weather and vice versa come early spring. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but his intentions were good.

Two days before we left, Buffalo got slammed with a major winter storm that closed the NY State Thruway for 24 hours stranding tens of thousands of cars. The weather channels were calling for snow showers, snow squalls, or snow flurries (anybody know the difference?) on every route available to us. In the end we decided to go with the known quantity, the tried and true. We headed down I75 just like before. The drive is a few hours longer, but at least we knew where we were, and the hope that the further south we travelled, the less the possibility for the white stuff. We decided to get a jump on the weather by heading out on Saturday afternoon after Shabbat morning services.

We were so concerned about the weather that we forgot that we needed to occupy ourselves for many hours of drive time. I75 is one of the most boring stretches of road ever constructed. What would we do? Here are a few impressions of 26 hours alone with a husband of 25 1/2 years.

  • We crossed the border around 4:30pm, just as dusk was hitting. Our border guard seemed to have a Napoleonic complex and kept asking us how much money we were bringing into the country. We said we only had a few dollars and he couldn't seem to grasp how that might work. When The Husband explained the concept of a ATM, he seem perplexed. He kept grilling us about our condo and our luggage. He didn't seem at all happy to be working on a cold Saturday night, and we were his convenient targets. God bless The Husband. His cool demeanour seemed to throw off The Emperor until there was nothing left to say. I, on the other hand, was ready to go all Waterloo on his ass. Off we went.
  • We had heard tales of snow in southern Ohio that day, so The Husband desperately wanted to stay in front of what might be heading north. By the time hunger had set in, we were cooked and fairly confident that we had avoided the worst of it. We stopped for the night in Bowling Green Ohio and we couldn't figure out where all of the college-aged young people in our hotel had come from. It turns out that we were staying directly across the street from Bowling Green University and a visiting basketball team had come into town for a game. There were a line of vans in the parking lot and a bunch of kids in matching sweatsuits in the lobby. It seems as though we got our room just in time. 
  • I finally got to taste Chipoltle's fine cuisine. The Husband and I have been very concerned as to what we would eat on this road trip after our nauseating experience with highway fare this past summer. The American Interstate's food system just wasn't considering vegetarians at all when it decided that Mickey D's was needed at every exit. My boys have raved about Chipoltle's for years, so when a franchise was next door to our motel, we silently cheered. Not bad for fast food. Huge veggie burrito, but very heavy on the salt. Still it beat out the alternative dinner of Doritos and Diet Coke. 
  • As we passed Mt. Vernon Kentucky the next morning, The Husband perversely exclaimed that we should stop at Pizza Hut for lunch. I decided that spitting out the window as we passed by was more to my liking.
  • There was more snow in Knoxville Tennessee than there was in Cincinnati. What is up with that? The temperature actually dropped from the morning in Bowling Green to midday in Knoxville. The squalls were worse the further south we travelled. Certainly not normal to our experience. By the time we stopped for the night 2 hours south of Atlanta in Perry Georgia, the thermometer read -5C. (For my American friends-that is f*&@ing cold!!!)
  • I just want it on the record that my knowledge of American midwest geography is better than The Husband's. He thought that Columbus was west of Cincinnati. We fought about it until we saw the sign directing traffic east. I win! (A big apology to Younger Son's Young Lady for that gaffe!!)
  • I love satellite radio. What a wonderful invention. The Husband, however is ready to murder me and any direct relative that introduced me to Broadway show tunes. Sirius/XM has a station on channel 75 strictly devoted to Broadway. After 6 hours of said music, The Husband got a wild look in his eye reminiscent of Freddy Krueger, Chucky, and Jason. I quickly switched over to the 60s channel strictly for self preservation. After hearing Marianne Faithfull sing As Tears Go By three separate times over the next 12 hours, I went back to Broadway. We are still talking, barely!!
  • Florida-what is up with the anti-abortion billboards on the highways? They are ubiquitous!! Every few metres or so, these huge nasty slogans screaming pro-life talking points came at us at 70 miles/hour. I tried to get a picture, but really-what for! What was even more distasteful were the gun and ammo ads that were right behind them. It seems it isn't okay to "destroy" a human life through a pregnancy termination, but it is perfectly fine to blow them away with an AK47 legally purchased at any number of outlets advertising on the Florida Turnpike. 
  • A few more random thoughts: Burger King has a veggie burger. Who knew? Not great-but edible. Perry Georgia? Not all that Jewish. The deer hunting magazines and Christmas decorations were everywhere, but nary a Channukiah. American mega churches seem to gravitate to the Interstates. What is up with that? We must have seen at least 10 with direct proximity to exit off-ramps. 
So we finally rolled in around 4:00 pm yesterday afternoon, and after an excursion more dangerous than the drive down (grocery shopping at Publix on Hallandale Beach Boulevard!) we are settling in. I love my man for doing every minute of the driving and I need to tell him publicly that he is way more than just my chauffeur. Any man who can put up with me and Broadway show tunes for 26 hours in a car with no escape hatch must be my B'sheret!! By the way, for all of my friends and family freezing and digging out, it was 0C this morning in Miami. Hope that makes you all feel a bit better.

    Wednesday, 1 December 2010

    Snuggie Hanukkah

    A sign of the Apocalypse? Wait that isn't very Jewish, is it? Well neither is this. OY!!! Chag Chanukah Sameach all and here's hoping you celebrate it better than this!

    Thursday, 25 November 2010

    Some Random American Thanksgiving Thoughts

    I have always loved American Turkey Day. It is the true definition of a non-religious national family holiday, something that we Canadians can't really claim about our October observance. I have always attempted to make parade viewing appointment television on the fourth Thursday in November, and my continual cheering for a Thanksgiving Day victory from the perennial woeful Detroit Lions is part of family folklore. I have a few random thoughts about the day.

    • Broadway musical presentations, always one of my favourite parts of NBC's parade coverage, (for obvious reasons) was kind of thin this year. Elf? I mean, really? While Memphis looks like a no-brainer choice for our next NYC excursion and American Idiot is intriguing, I was disappointed by the sneak peak of Million Dollar Quartet. Somehow I expected better. The recession has hit Broadway hard. Musicals are expensive to produce and fresh ideas are tough to come by. 
    • I am thinking that as tough as it might be to admit, it might be time to retire the Rockettes. I know that they are an American institution, but they are hardly a great example of hipness or diversity. Their costumes were right out of a 1930s Busby Berkley musical, their choreography insipid, and I counted one woman of colour in the entire troupe. Nothing lasts forever, ladies.
    • Who is Eric Hutchinson? From my brief Google search, I have discovered that he is a 20 year old American singer/songwriter who is starting to make it big. He was riding the Food Network float this morning, and Matt and Meredith made a big deal that he was debuting his brand new song 'Best Days". Dude!! The melody is a blatant copy of the Beatles "A Day in the Life". I don't know if he realized it or not, but some smart recording executive should have. 
    • I realize that I am a simple and  parochial Jewish Canadian, but do you people really line up for days before in order to bargain hunt on Black Friday? The commercials advertising sales that begin at midnight or 2:00 am seem slightly insane to me. There was even a news break showing people in tents that have been in queue since Tuesday. OK! Anything for a buck?
    • Arlo Guthrie singing Pop's masterpiece. Enough said!!
    • How great is Marlo Thomas and her work with St. Jude Children's Hospital?
    • It is rivalry weekend in American College Football and while I do not usually play favourites in these games, I have some dear friends rooting hard for the Buckeyes against Big Blue. For them and them alone, will I wear scarlet and grey on Saturday.
    • The Rockettes could learn a lot from The Young Americans. Dancing penguins. Loved it!!
    • How I Met Your Mother simply has the best Thanksgiving episodes on the air since the WKRP famous Turkey Drop.

    Feel free to add your own random musings. Enjoy the day, America!

    Sunday, 21 November 2010

    A Red Letter Day

    It has finally happened. An occasion of momentous proportions. My grandmother used to call days like these "red letter days" simply because she would circle them in red ink on her calendar so that they would always stand out amongst the ordinary. Yup. I've got one of those now to call my own, Bubby. One of my progeny has finally and quite publicly declared his respect for his parents. On Facebook, no less!! What, you may query, did I do to deserve such an overt and brazen example of PDA? Was he finally impressed by the fantastic and loving environment in which he was raised? Nahhh. Too pedantic. Has he finally learned the value of a dollar and how difficult it is to manage his financial health without constant insertions of capital from Mom and Dad? Of course not! But in his defence he is getting there. Did he finally realize how much we value a job well-done and hard, diligent effort at all one strives to achieve? Uh.....not so much. Nope. That isn't what allowed me to declare today a red letter day. Instead, my Younger Son expressed his new-found respect for his father and me as a result of what I would refer to as a really stupid life-choice.

    The Husband, Older Son, Twin Son, His Better Half and Yours Truly toiled yesterday at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo being held this weekend in downtown Toronto. This is the third or fourth year (I honestly cannot remember, because frankly every hour of every day spent working these shows is torture for me, and they all run together!) that we have offered free family labour in support of the vodka business that we hope against hope might yield some contribution to our retirement funds. It is a gruelling four day event that pushes the boys to their limits; taxes their vocal chords, causes aches and pains to legs, knees and backs, provides weird insight into the dating rituals of the under thirty set, and in reality, strains credulity as to how much vodka is actually moved. In past years Twin Son's and Better Half's children have also joined in this endeavour as has Younger Son. Given all the various work and school schedules this year, their participation was either severely limited or non-existent. No issues. Life happens, so we made do with what was available. Thus, yesterday's skeleton crew at the Still Waters booth.

    There was very little time to get away from the booth. The place was jammed and the tastings one after another. Pee breaks became welcome just from the standpoint of walking to the bathroom, and dinner was a true afterthought. All that food in the Convention Centre and we accessed very little of it. The crowds were massive, the lineups ridiculous, and honestly, we were just too busy. By the time the day was over and the wall of people escorted out, it was close to 10:30 pm and we were all ravenous. Older Son bade us goodbye as he envisioned a Harvey's visit in his future. The four of us remaining middle-aged morons decided to follow what has become a really stupid and ill-conceived tradition. We made our way north to a local greasy spoon called Golden Star for a late night supper of burgers, fries and onion rings. As I contemplated a minor snack of wickedly delicious onion rings, The Husband confidently stated that I shouldn't worry-Golden Star makes a veggie burger. I know, I know. What the hell was I thinking???? By the time we arrived it was 11:15 pm but the clock didn't dissuade us. STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!! The veggie burger was to die for, the onions rings sublime and the french fries unbelievable.  We closed the joint. The old Greek guy who runs the place actually ushered us out the back door. I probably should have taken that as the first sign of my shame.

    Of course I was up all night. The physical pain of a 47 year old digestive track under assault from a once a year indulgence is not to be underestimated. I have nobody to blame but myself. I know this, but as I sit here typing this post, still suffering from the post-ingestion glow (I actually think that I can SEE my heartburn!) I am not above looking for scapegoats. I decided that if I was suffering then it was only fitting that my friends should share in my discomfort. I took to Facebook to vent. I posted thusly.

    In the interest of your former lives as youth group advisors I thought that I would frame this in language that you can fully understand. "Be it resolved that eating at Golden Star at 11:00 pm, even for a veggie burger, should never be allowed for us middle-aged wretches." I may never eat again!!!

    And then it appeared. My red letter day-worthy comment from Younger Son.

     I have new respect for both of my parents.

    So this is what it took to garner my son's respect. I needed to abuse my body with fat, cholesterol and calories in a whimsical act of stupidity for one of my children to actually think I was cool. I wondered how he might have felt had I decided to bungie-jump off the CN Tower? Admiration? No, that is way too much for my acid-reflux infested body to digest at the moment.

    Wednesday, 3 November 2010

    If Only, I Remember, I'm Amazed!

    I had a very interesting experience yesterday attempting to arrange a short vacation for our family. It used to be that all I had to do was pick the dates, source the flights, pack the bags and off we went. Ok! Maybe it wasn't all that simple. In reality, there were bags and bags of clothes, toys, food, diversions, and age-appropriate paraphernalia that travelled with us. Sometimes we would spend several days in a car (before the invention of in-auto DVD players) with both boys harnessed into individual car seats that severely limited their movements. We shared cramped motel rooms and shlepped diaper bags everywhere we went, but for some reason all of that seemed simple compared to now.

    Yesterday I found myself tethered to the computer with one of those travel sites on-screen, while I had both boys on separate phone lines assessing their schedules. (Neither lives at home nor do they reside together!) We also had to factor in Younger Son's Young Lady and her timetable, so that she might join us this year. She is coming from a different starting location, so I had two separate windows open on the computer with two separate flight plans. In order to facilitate all of this mayhem, Younger Son was texting her while talking to me while I was on the computer. Got all that? It was truly migraine inducing. Add to all of that mess, was The Husband's insistence (whimpering plea?) that we make one single trip to the airport to pick them all up. OY!!  Suffice it to say that it all worked out (an hour or so later!) and that I was able to procure reasonable flights at surprisingly reasonable rates for the season. It was tough, but it mattered. The fact that my children still want to spend an extended period of time with me was worth every minute spent. But, it got me to thinking about those early days. I used to say "If Only....".

    • If only they could use the bathroom then I wouldn't have to carry the diapers.
    • If only they would grow a bit, we could get rid of the car seats.
    • If only they would be more adventurous with food we wouldn't have to stock the refrigerator with Cheez Whiz.
    • If only they were a little older, they could walk themselves to school and I wouldn't have to go out on a cold January morning.
    • If only they were young teens that could stay a few hours on their own, then we wouldn't have to pay for babysitters.
    • If only they could drive themselves places, I could say goodbye to carpools.
    • If only....

    The "If Onlys...." then turned into "I Remembers...".

    • I remember being amazed at my early readers.
    • I remember when we turned what could have been miserable experiences into family jokes and family folklore.
    • I remember the wonder at seeing and sharing new things.
    • I remember enjoying sitting down to family dinners and sharing our days. (in spite of the Cheez Whiz!)
    • I remember all of the parent/teacher conferences (even the tough ones!) and all of the performances, speeches, debates, and song contests. I remember sitting and weeping with pride at their confidence and accomplishments.
    • I remember....
    I suddenly realized yesterday that "If Onlys..." and "I Remembers..." are laments and that lamenting the past might have a place, but it doesn't serve to articulate what really matters now. That is instead reserved for the "I'm Amazed...."

    • I'm amazed at the men they have become and the fact that maybe I had a little something to do with it.
    • I'm amazed at the diversity they display in their interests and that musical theatre and sports can so easily coexist in their lives.
    • I'm amazed at the independence in their thoughts. They listen to all sides and then make their own judgements.
    • I'm amazed at how important camp was in their lives and how it instilled within them a concrete Jewish base, even while they now search for answers as to what Judaism and religion in general  means to them.
    • I'm amazed that spending time together as a family still matters and will always matter to them.
    • I'm amazed....

    I think that I prefer the world of "I'm Amazed...". Life goes by very quickly. Spending an hour of chaos yesterday in order to facilitate more of "I'm Amazed..." was an hour well spent. I am very much looking forward to our family vacation in the southern sun.

    Wednesday, 27 October 2010

    I Hope I Pass

    Why is it that whenever I schedule my annual physical, I suddenly feel as though I am cramming for a final? Tomorrow's date has been circled in red on my calendar for the past two months (is it actually possible to circle a date in red on iCal?) and I have been frantically scurrying around hoping against hope that I do all the right things leading up to the day of doom, and that I don't do anything stupid to f@#* it up! Is there enough time to get into good enough shape to run that 10K I have been promising myself for lo these many years? Is there enough time to exercise this week? Can I work out enough to drop 10 pounds before the weigh in? Maybe I should increase my regimens to twice daily. Of course that would require that I a) have a regimen and b) that I stick to it at least once a week let alone once a day. And no, sitting on the couch drinking a Diet Coke while watching The Biggest Loser is not a regimen!

    Is there enough time to get my blood work in order? I promised myself after last year's examination that I would become more diligent in the taking of my daily supplements. Of course that vow lasted just about as long as the one to finally run that 10K. I can only hope that cramming One-A-Days, B12, Ds, and calcium pills down my throat for 14 straight days might just stave off my chronic anemia and Vitamin D deficiencies. But, we all know that there is a fine line between hope and delusion. 

    I can't eat that popcorn tonight. The salt might cause me to retain water and push the scale up a pound or two. I haven't indulged as much as I would like in my favourite chocolate. The calories ingested would take too much effort on the treadmill to shed. I am not sleeping properly because I am too stressed, and I am too stressed because I am not sleeping properly. Exam anxiety? Just like my old school days. I really do need help.

    In seriousness, I am actually quite conscientious about my yearly physicals and the adjacent tests (mammograms, blood tests etc..) that go along with it. But just like everybody else, I allow myself to fall into habits that are either easier or far more pleasurable-hence my dependence on chocolate and Diet Coke. That said, there is a great deal of significance that accompanies these annual doctor visits. As I age, I worry more that things won't always be ok. I worry that I am breaking down slowly but surely. I know that I need to work harder at maintaining my health even though it gets easier to ignore it.

    Judaism has a great deal to say about what I like to call these "well baby" visits. In Deuteronomy 4:15 we read the words v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem. "Be extremely protective of your lives." 

    Maimonides, himself a physician, declared: "Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God - for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if one is ill - therefore one must avoid that which harms the body and accustom oneself to that which is helpful and helps the body become stronger." (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deot 4:1)

    Finally we have the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his book Horeb: "You may not in any way weaken your health or shorten your life. Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly injure your health.... And the law asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb than in the avoidance of other transgressions." (Horeb, Chapter 62, Section 428)

    We are instructed by our tradition to keep the body healthy and whole so that we may better understand God and God's world. Ok! So I don't always do it well. I should exercise more often and more strenuously. I should certainly take my vitamins on a semi-regular basis, and I should absolutely drink less Diet Coke, but I can also take comfort that I am trying. I have made a more conscious effort in my diet. My vegetarian menu has become second nature and it has had the added side benefit of making me more aware of everything that I eat. I have cut my junk food consumption dramatically (Younger Son joked the other day that there are more popcorn seasonings in the house then there is meat in the freezer for him!) and I eat mostly fresh and local products, chocolate notwithstanding. I am really trying to get a full night's sleep, but some things must be taken in baby steps. My stress levels? Give me a break! Type As don't cure themselves overnight. I realize that I can't fix an entire year of suspect health habits in a three week cram session, but I can hope that following tomorrow's examination the good doctor will proclaim me fit enough for another year of debauchery and decadence. I think that I might celebrate with Diet Coke!

    Monday, 25 October 2010

    My Favourite Tweets from Municipal Election

    Some of my favourite tweets from election night 2010 in the Big Smoke.
    • From flyguyPR: Calgary meet traditional Toronto politics (Mr. Nenshi). Toronto meet traditional Calgary politics (Mr. Ford)
    • From moongoddess: Next time, Vote Quimby!...oh wait, you already did... sigh 
    • From livinginthepost: if you voted Ford, you no longer have any right to make fun of the Tea Party in the US.
    • From torontocranks: Wonder how things would have been different if Giambrone had managed to keep his pants on?
    • From JasonJHughes: Rob Ford is the Nickelback of Mayors. All the votes, yet no one admits to voting for him
    • From JayGoldman: To those of you who voted for Rob Ford: Congrats! you have just George Bushed our city. Thanks
    • From AntoniaZ: Dunno what's scarier. Rob Ford as mayor or Ben Mulroney on a political show
    • From snotforprofit: The Penguin is the mayor of Gotham City!
    • From LaurAlexisBanks: I've never ever been this discouraged by the democratic system. What a horrendous gong show. (Note: This is about the travesty of an election in Vaughn!!)

    Twitter was the most entertaining part of the entire evening. I am without words myself, so I turned to the witticisms from the Twittersphere. Thanks guys.

    ****UPDATE!!! Lest those of you who reside in the City Above Toronto think I am generally unhappy with the election results, I am not. What does stun me, however is that the citizens of this town could return the former mayor to office as a regional councillor in spite of the fact that he is awaiting trial for election spending issues and the fact that he was in the pocket of the developers that have brought the city to near ruin.

    Wednesday, 20 October 2010

    Election Exhaustion Syndrome

    Is anybody else suffering from Election Exhaustion Syndrome? (EES) I am truly politico-"ed" out! This year seems particularly bad. Not only do we here in the GTA have to endure the slings and ridiculous arrows from the miscreants running for municipal office, but given the strange timing of the election cycle, we are also being subjected hourly to the circus reality show also known as the United States midterms. Our close proximity to our southern neighbours provides us Canucks with numerous benefits, including NFL football, (GO RAMS!!) a reasonably priced three hour flight to sunshine and heat in the dead of the January winter, and Mad Men-just to mention a few necessities. But it also means that we are inundated daily with the idiots, imbeciles and fools who truly believe that they are the answer to all that ails our American cousins. Here are just a few examples of the obnoxious noise and acrid stench emanating from the south.

    • There is the guy running for the GOP in Ohio's 9th district who staunchly claims that he isn't a Nazi sympathizer in spite of his hobby of dressing up like the SS. The spin from both sides of the argument has been migraine-inducing, but suffice it to say that it can't be good politics to dress up like one of Adolph's boys for fun.
    • Then there is the less than-distinguished Senate majority leader who is in the fight of his political life in the desert. He is up against a woman who recently told a group of Hispanic high school students that they looked Asian to her. This gaffe wasn't her first or even her most egregious, but because the majority leader is so universally reviled in his home state, the race is too close to call. His answer to all of this noise has been to actually tell voters not to vote because Nevada has a none of the above option that will most likely help him win the race. OY!!! Believe me when I say that this election idiocy is cutting fairly across party lines. They are all morons!
    • Delaware has become the national joke. Not only did the Republicans toss a sure Senate win into the toilet with the nomination of a boob, but said boob has become a media darling because of her boobiness. It is unbelievable to me that people actually give a rat's ass about somebody whose greatest contribution to the dialogue is that she makes the former governor of Alaska look like a Rhodes Scholar. 
    And these are just a few of the lowlights. Canadians-stop that self-important smirking. We aren't that much better. We are currently witnessing a mayoral campaign in Toronto that is now all about holding one's nose when entering the polling booth. The "anybody but" campaign has gained steam, but it has become so unsavoury and so distasteful it is no wonder good and smart people avoid politics like the plague these days. It has come down to two candidates possessing equal amounts of squirm-factor, and the sad part is that nobody expects either man to actually solve any of the myriad of problems plaguing this really terrific city. In points west, north and east of the core, citizens are faced with choices that include a longstanding 90 year old mayor facing conflict of interest allegations, and a mayoral contest in the City Above Toronto featuring an incumbent under suspicion for spending violations (several councillors are also being investigated) and a council that tried to orchestrate a palace coup against her. Ain't it grand??

    As if all of that weren't enough, I have been robo-called until my ears bleed, accosted by lawn sign wielding community anarchists, had my mailbox stuffed full of trash, and have endured hours of tv spots so slimy and sleazy that they make me ashamed for those running. It is almost enough to get me and thousands like me to swear off election day.

    I think that I can safely speak for millions of others when I scream-UNCLE!! There was a time when politics had some air of respectability. No more. From where I sit it seems to be all about ego, power and money. Those of us suffering from EES are in desperate need of cure. Anybody?

    Saturday, 16 October 2010

    Swedish Ingenuity Once Again Meets Canadian Idiots!

    I hate Ikea. It isn't the merchandise, which is actually often amazingly cool and remarkably functional. It isn't the prices, which are stunningly competitive. It isn't even the ridiculous store layouts, which force the consumer into the kid's bedroom department before hopefully and mercifully stumbling upon office furniture. Nope! I hate Ikea because I have an innate inability to fit bolt A into slot B. I cannot for the life of me put their furniture together no matter how hard I try nor how many different projects I undertake. I have yet to master the art of the Allen key, and I have yet to comprehend the funky diagrams with odd-sounding Nordic names like Manstad or Solsta. For all I know these could be Swedish culinary delicacies instead of sofa beds. Instead, I thank God for giving me a man who views Ikea as Hillary did Everest. I honestly think that his testosterone level surges when he opens those cardboard cartons and counts out the hardware. There are beads of masculine sweat that dot his upper lip as he prepares his toolkit and gets down to work. And then, inevitably the shit hits the fan.

    Ever since Older Son finalized his move from our house last year, we have been lackadaisical in doing something with his room. If he would have done me the service of leaving the bed behind, I would have simply repainted the walls and kept it as a guest room. But because he decided that sleeping on a mattress and box spring was preferable to a sleeping bag and the floor, we were left with an empty space and a redecorating project that neither of us was truly ready to undertake. After some discussion, The Husband and I decided to convert the room into a music office where I could store all of my instruments, guitar paraphernalia, sheet music and books, and some relevant Judaic CDs. The desktop computer with my full catalogue of Jewish music would find a permanent home in the room, and in order to allow Older Son a sleeping location when he visits, we would purchase a futon that could doubly function as a sofa. It sounded so simple I knew that it was doomed from the start.

    While I spent some of last winter at the Southern home, The Husband took it upon himself to choose colours for the walls and trim, and he set to work painting the room as a surprise for my return. He called to tell me about the project.

    The Husband: I am painting Older Son's room.

    Me: Great. Are you happy with the colour?

    The Husband: I am, but I think it looks far better on the walls then it does on the floor.

    Me: You painted the floor? You do know that the floor is carpeted???

    In spite of the false start and the difficult mess, the room actually came out looking fantastic. The next step in the process was mine. I was to source the appropriate futon. I scoured the GTA searching for just the right piece, the right price and the right fit. The search lasted almost 6 months until the fall Ikea catalogue arrived on our doorstep. There it was. Reasonably priced and the perfect length. The only problem was that it was from Ikea-the bane of my redecorating existence. I knew that it would all work out, though. The Husband is an Ikea-slayer!!

    The futon arrived late yesterday afternoon in three cartons. The Husband, all swaggering and macho, grabbed his tools and started in on the puzzle. He was clicking on all cylinders. He had it configured within an hour and just needed a couple of extra hands to help with the mattress and cover. It took 2 university graduates and a university junior almost 45 minutes to figure out how to place the mattress and pad on the frame. 45 MINUTES!!!! We felt like absolute morons. There was no logic to the diagram and nothing seemed to fit. Squeezing the mattress into the cover was like attempting to put toothpaste back into a tube. Finally, Younger Son had a brainstorm and showed his idiot parents how the f@#*ing thing fit together. Thank God for the next generation. We were cleaning up the last remnants, when I decided to try it out. I sat down on my brand spanking new futon/couch and promptly went right through the slats with my ass on the floor. (I am not that heavy! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!) The Husband looked crestfallen. It was like I challenged his manhood. After some quick observation, it became obvious that he had put the slats into the frame upside down. (See!! I told you that I wasn't that heavy.) He repaired the damage this morning and all is again right within his world.

    The room is almost complete. I now have a comfortable space in which I can work and Older Son no longer has to crash on the basement couch when he stays over. (He was starting to feel like old storage material that we shove down there so that guests can't see our mess!) This is all solely due to The Husband and his mastery of Swedish diagrams, and Younger Son and his ability to recognize his parents as the idiots they most certainly are. I-I K-(k)need E-everything A-Assembled!!

    Friday, 1 October 2010

    What is it about Men and Illness?

    I have spent the last 5 days playing nursemaid. No, I misspeak. What I should have said is that I have spent the last 5 days attempting to play nursemaid. The Husband, usually the most healthy of souls, has been struck down by a case of walking pneumonia. Now I should make it clear that I have been nagging and badgering him for about a month to get himself to the doctor to get his roiling chest cough checked out by a professional who won't placate him. Getting sick around here during the High Holidays is not an option that I can realistically hope to handle, (yes-I am a selfish bitch!!) hence the nagging and badgering. It was as much about self-preservation as concern for him and his "I never get sick so therefore I cannot be sick" ass.  I have heard it all.

    Me: "You need to call the doctor."

    Him: "I am fine."

    Me: "You are not fine. You sound like your whole insides are coming up every time you expel a hack!"

    Him: "I AM FINE!!"

    Me: "You are NOT FINE!! Fine doesn't sound like an old man in a nursing home puking up last night's dinner!!"

    Him: "F*&@-off!!! I AM FINE!!"

    A month's worth of nagging and badgering must of worn him down, because unbeknownst to me he finally engaged the opinion of a professional. On Monday he came home armed with a diagnosis, a bucketful of antibiotics with names that are unpronounceable, and an acute inability to say "Yes, dear-You were right and I was wrong." It was truly amazing to watch this man who refuses to ever relent to illness, finally admit that maybe, just maybe, there was more to this phlegm-laden bark then just allergies. Unfortunately the diagnosis of pneumonia did nothing to slow him down. I attempted to get him to stay home for a couple of days. After 3 hours on day one, I thought that I might end up as a poster-girl on Dateline for having a suspiciously missing husband with no trace of his movements or remains. His boredom was palpable. Oprah, game shows and soaps are definitely not on his TV watch list, and he decided that it was the actual diagnosis of pneumonia that was making him feel so shitty. If I hadn't nagged and badgered him into going to the doctor, he would have continued to feel just fine. Isn't it amazing how his pneumonia suddenly became my fault?

    I have been told by several friends that men, when faced with illness, seem to handle it in one of two ways. Either they revert to childhood and hope that their women will care for them like their mother's once did, or they stoically and with intense machismo deny all aspects of the illness so that they can carry on. My man has been stupidly choosing option 2. As I write this, he is at the office awaiting some delivery that probably could have waited out the weekend, but at this point in time is the single most important delivery ever to arrive at any office ever in the City Above Toronto.

    The wild irony in all of this is that the Twin Son, not to be outdone or out-ailed, is currently recuperating at home with several broken and cracked ribs brought on by a Peter Pan induced delusion that he can still play hockey at his age without physical repercussions. He is, I am told, on some painkillers of mammoth proportions and can barely inhale without pain. It seems rather fitting that these two idiot split souls should both be suffering from breathing issues at the exact same moment in time.

    I have lived long enough in a house full of men to realize that XY chromosomes and physical discomfort don't always mesh well. All I wanted was for him to acknowledge his illness and be proactive towards its cure. I have spent the better part of the week futilely attempting this feat. If anybody has any suggestions, I am open to them all.

    Wednesday, 22 September 2010

    Really, Toronto?

    I must qualify this post right from the beginning. I do not live within the regional boundaries of Toronto that would provide me any say whatsoever in the upcoming mayoral election. That understood, I do live in the massive area known as the GTA where every decision, large or small, petty or important, made down at Nathan Phillips does carry significant impact for my neighbours and me, whether the denizens of the city choose to recognize it or not. Believe me when I say with no irony whatsoever, that we up here in the self-described "City Above Toronto" have our own municipal cesspool to deal with, so fixating on your election follies down there was not something I had anticipated, but I just have to ask-REALLY, TORONTO? What are you thinking?

    I realize that the last 7 or so years have not been a bed of roses. The current office holder has been worse than anticipated no matter on which side of the political spectrum you sit. There have been tax increases, traffic bedlam, no truly cohesive transit strategy, bike lanes to nowhere, streetcar lanes from hell, a municipal strike that left garbage rotting in the summer heat, children without camp and parents without daycare. I get it. Toronto is ready for a change, but again I have to ask-REALLY, TORONTO? What are you thinking?

    According to the latest poll, the residents of Canada's sixth largest economy are about to elect a loud, often boorish, and totally devoid of any cohesive platform other than save money on the paperclips at city hall, west end councillor as their new mayor. This man has spent more time over the last ten years being called on the carpet for his bad behaviour than a raunchy frat boy. Interviews with citizens around the city over the past few days have revealed a real distrust for politics as usual, and a willingness to try any new formula, no matter the history. They seem to like his in your face honesty and political incorrectness. They like that he supposedly speaks up for them and not for the interests of political machines. They like that he tells it as he sees it and they like that he goes from the gut, rather than studying it all to death. Where have we heard that before? W, anyone?

    I would love a politician that is honest too. Believe me, I would. I would love for them to just get down to work and solve the real problems facing our society. I would love somebody-anybody-to actually say that having to pay taxes really sucks but having crappy sewers, gridlock, and potholes suck more. I would love for somebody to stand up to the union bosses and tell them the hard truths that job security is a thing of the past. I would love for somebody to stand up to developers and tell them that the free ride is over. I would love for somebody to push through a cohesive transit solution that isn't so parochial that it only takes into account the boundaries of the 416 area code and doesn't factor in those who actually NEED to drive their cars to work. I would love all of this, but again I have to ask-REALLY TORONTO? Is Mr. Etobicoke the answer? What are you thinking?

    We currently find ourselves in a season of anti-establishment candidacies around the world. Chantal Hebert, a national columnist in The Toronto Star wrote just today about how governments from around the world are being turfed and forced into coalitions in order to function. One only has to turn on the TV these days to see the absolute bedlam occurring during these midterm elections in the United States. Voters are desperately searching for alternatives to the status quo and the citizens of Toronto are certainly no exception. But I urge all of you who do have a vote, to use it wisely. If Mr. Etobicoke is really the guy who you think will help address the serious issues facing our city, than who am I to tell you otherwise. But, if you are planning on entering the voting booth with the idea that he couldn't be worse, I urge you to rethink that position. REALLY, TORONTO? Start thinking!!

    Thursday, 16 September 2010

    Jews, Baseball, and Yom Kippur

    Every Jewish person I know, knows the Sandy Koufax/Kol Nidre story. It has become part our collective folklore and heritage. In 1965, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the World Series because it fell onYom Kippur. The Dodgers started Don Drysdale instead of their ace and the results were less than pretty. The boys in blue fell 8-2 to the Minnesota Twins while Drysdale gave up 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings, famously remarking to manager Walter Alston , "I bet right now you wish I was Jewish too!"

    Jews and baseball. Quite the conundrum. In 1934, Hank Greenberg the hard-hitting first baseman for the Detroit Tigers faced a similar dilemma as to whether to play on yontif. 

    The Detroit media, aware of Greenberg's indecision, sought out the opinions of local rabbis, with the Detroit News running a headline saying "Talmud Clears Greenberg for Holiday Play."
    "The team was fighting for first place," wrote Greenberg in his autobiography, "and I was probably the only batter in the lineup who was not in a slump. But in the Jewish religion, it is traditional that one observe the holiday solemnly, with prayer…. I wasn't sure what to do."
    Greenberg skipped batting practice that day, thought some more, and finally chose to take the field. He hit two home runs to lead the Tigers to a 2-1 victory.
    The next day, the Detroit Free Press ran a banner headline, in Hebrew, that read "Happy New Year, Hank," Also in the Free Press, an Edgar Guest poem celebrated Greenberg's decision:
    Came Yom Kippur -- holy fast day world wide over to the Jew, 
    And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true 
    Spent the day among his people and he didn't come to play.
    Said Murphy to Mulrooney, 'We shall lose the game today! 
    We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat
              But true to his religion and I honor him for that.

    More recently, Shawn Green of the Dodgers decided to sit out a pennant race game against the hated Giants that fell on Yom Kippur. But for every Koufax, Greenberg, and Green there are 10 players like Jason Marquis. Marquis, a Jewish 2-8 pitcher with a 6.60 ERA with the Washington Nationals, a team that has absolutely no playoff aspirations, plans to take his regular turn in the rotation this Friday evening-Kol Nidre. Says Marquis, “Your team expects you to do your job and not let your teammates down, and that’s the approach I take.” In fact, this is the approach that Mr. Marquis has taken in past seasons as well.

    Now, I have never been one to to tell anybody how to practice or observe their religion. (My children may disagree with that statement, but I reserve the right of motherhood with them!) Religion is a personal matter better left between the individual and their God. If Jason Marquis wants to pitch on Yom Kippur, who am I or anybody else to tell him not to. I will suggest the following, however. When Jews choose to work or go to school on the holiest day of the year, it makes it that much more difficult for those of us who choose to observe the day in a religious manner to explain our choices to a secular audience. "If Jason can pitch, why can't you be here for class or in the office or.........."

    I have heard all of the reasons. "I simply couldn't get out of it because I would be docked." or "They told me I would be in trouble." or "What difference does it make, I don't practice anyway." I get it. Your lives are important and your jobs are important. All that I am saying is that your decisions impact all of us who do observe.

    A personal story. My paternal grandfather was a practicing atheist. Back in Poland, he had begun studies for the rabbinate, before deciding that it was all hooey for him and finally ran off to join the army. When he came to Canada he was a cultural Jew who had absolutely no interest in God or synagogue practice. It probably was the height of irony for him that his children and grandchildren became so involved. Every year on Yom Kippur my grandfather would insist that his family, including my father, dress in their best clothes. They would be scrubbed and clean and out of the house early, and then he would take them all to the movies for the entire day. They would sit through several features, just long enough for synagogues to conclude their final prayers and then they would return home. When asked why he engaged in this behaviour year after year, my grandfather would respond "I can't insult every other Jew on Yom Kippur just because I don't believe." That is how I feel about Jason Marquis and every other Jew who chooses to work on Yom Kippur.

    There is a reason that we Jews so identify with what Sandy Koufax did. He was taking the stand for all of us that observe but, for some reason feel the need to justify it to our employers, our families and to ourselves. It is not easy being Jewish in a modern world. Sandy Koufax made it a bit easier. It will be interesting to see what other Jewish ballplayers choose to do this weekend. Kevin Youkilis, Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun-are you listening?

    Wednesday, 8 September 2010

    Spinning Squirrel

    It is really a squirrel's world! Finally-karma bit the little bugger in the ass. Happy New Year-even to the rodents. :)

    Tuesday, 7 September 2010

    Al Cheyt

    We teach our children very early on that they are fallible creatures; that mistakes are a part of our lives and that with the appropriate amount of remorse we can repair the errors of our ways. In other words, we teach our children the art of the apology. It is never easy. Try playing mediator between two young boys in the backseat, both convinced that the other took his video game, all the while attempting to keep your hands on the steering wheel so that the family fate isn't as roadkill. When they are young, our kids have to be instructed and prodded into apologizing.

    "Tell Younger Son that you are sorry that you bit his toes," said I on one memorable occasion.

    "Tell Older Son that you are very sorry that you slammed the bedroom door in his face."

    This concept of repentance seems so straightforward when we are young. A simple "I'm sorry" seems to do the trick. We apologize, it is accepted and we move on. As our kids age, we hope as parents that we have instilled enough of a moral code so that the prodding comes from within them, and the apology becomes all the more sincere because the error is recognized by the perpetrator. In other words, an apology is of very little use and carries very little weight when one has to be told to apologize.

    I have been thinking a great deal over the last few weeks about this concept of teshuva. (repentance) Obviously, the calendar has a great deal to with that. We Jews enter into this time of year hoping for a clean slate. We strive, and most often struggle, to get our repenting houses in spiritual order so that we might enter into the new year with clear consciences that allow us to face our God and ourselves with humility. But, I am struck by a nagging paradox. How sincere is any teshuva that comes as a result of the  annual clock? Does the fact that the Yamim Noraim are on our doorstep inspire the apology, and doesn't that make the apology less worthy?

    At this time of year I receive many letters, blog posts and emails. The general theme is one of asking for overall forgiveness. "If I have wronged you in anyway or said anything that was hurtful...." While the sentiment is there and I am certain mostly sincere from the authors, it does always seem a bit too easy, a bit too pat. The governing principle of forgiveness on Yom Kippur is this: for sins against God, the Day of Atonement atones. But for sins against human beings, the Day of Atonement does not atone-until the sinner has sincerely sought forgiveness from the aggrieved party. But what of timeliness? If I wrong someone in February, is it ok to send out a letter in August begging general forgiveness as opposed to apologizing in person for the specific act right away? As a parent, I wouldn't have allowed this behaviour in my children. These half-hearted attempts at teshuva are extremely difficult for me. In Judaism, forgiveness is available only to those who repent, and are willing to face the consequences of their actions. How is that found in an email?

    The paradox continues for me. If it is our obligation to apologize and seek forgiveness, must we forgive just because an apology has been offered? Maimonides said: "We should be slow to anger and easily appeased. And when our forgiveness is requested, we should grant it with a whole heart and a willing spirit; we should not be vengeful or bear grudges even for a grave injury."

    "This," he said, "is the way of the upright Jew."

    But, what if that apology is insincere, ill-timed and halfhearted? It seems the height of self-importance for an individual to ask of God on Yom Kippur "Forgive us the sins we have committed against You," when there are those among us that we refuse to forgive. But, it needs to be acknowledged that the form the apology takes is often just as important as the apology itself, otherwise grudges are borne and ill-will fostered. How do we reconcile this problem? How do we move forward when we know that we are either apologizing or forgiving out of duty, rather than true remorse?

    It seems to me that forgiveness should always be granted when true remorse is expressed. My problem is that I am terribly human and I view with tremendous suspicion, those apologies that are given with less than true sincerity. I wish I could be more like the RamBam. He understood forgiveness on a level that is still unattainable to me. I am working on it, though. I hope that the new year will afford me the opportunity to be more open to all those who seek my forgiveness, no matter the transgression, and I hope that when I am in the wrong, I will have the strength and courage of conviction to step up and apologize in a sincere and timely manner. As it states in our liturgy:

    "Help me then, O God; help me always, but especially now on this sacred Day of Atonement; help me to banish from myself whatever is mean, ugly, callous, cruel, stubborn, or otherwise unworthy of a being created in Your image. Purify me, revive me, uplift me. Forgive my past, and lead me into the future, resolved to be Your servant."

    Shana Tova u'metukah!

    Friday, 27 August 2010

    Labrador and Dolphin

    Today's mental health moment!! Two of my favourite creatures on earth. A labrador retriever and a dolphin. Excellent!!

    Thursday, 26 August 2010

    Does Klutziness Exponentially Increase During Elul?

    I realize that I am not the most fluid of human beings. I definitely have moments that could charitably labeled as awkward and immobile. I have been told in no uncertain terms by my children, that if I ever attempt to cut a bagel again, they both categorically refuse to drive me to the emergency room. I am a klutz, there are no two ways about it. I often will discover bruises on my body that are unexplainable, but are certainly from a collision with an open drawer, a table top or a counter. I have fallen down a stair or two on more occasions then I would care to remember, (once breaking a bone in my foot!) and The Husband has taken to ridiculing my "band-aid of the day" routine. I get it. Some of us are graceful swans and some of us waddling ducks. I fall in with my mallard brethren. But my less than graceful demeanour does seem to accelerate rapidly the closer we get to Rosh Hashana. I feel like I am riding the demolition derby from hell.

    I know that I have never been the calmest wave in the ocean. I stress. It is part of me. It is who I am. I know that those near and dear to me will tell me that I am like this every year, and on some basic level they would be correct. There was the pre-Yontif burning of all of the fingers on my right hand in a kitchen accident, seriously calling my guitar-playing into question that year. There was last year's debacle of voicelessness 10 days before the holidays. There have been cuts, bruises, assorted maladies and aches and pains. This year I have experienced stomach issues that have proven more effective than any diet, sleeplessness that a vampire would envy, and a new joy added to the mix-brittle hair and skin. "UNCLE"!!!! I feel like Job being tested. How much more???

    Well, I will tell you how much more. Here is a litany of today's woes. I awoke from my one hour of nightly sleep with a raging stomach ache. I spilled an entire container of powdered medium-deep makeup all over the bathroom floor. (A true joy to clean!!) I got two paper cuts from this morning's newspaper. I banged into a parking curb with my car. I spilled an entire jar of honey in my condiments drawer. (A true joy to clean!!) I have dropped the telephone twice, (once into the kitchen sink!) I wasted $50.00 on a guitar capo that is a piece of shit and I stubbed my toes 3 times on the couch. And--it is only 2:30 pm.

    I think that there may be a force in the universe telling me that the jig is up and it is time to find another line of work. Either that-or it is my yearly test. Help me to understand. Am I missing something?

    ***UPDATE: I just dumped an entire large marinated cauliflower on the floor. It is being marinated in a bright yellow turmeric dressing. (A true joy to clean!!!) God-Help me.

    Saturday, 14 August 2010

    A Golden Moment

    It was extraordinarily difficult for me to fathom the idea that The Husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this past June. I realize that when all couples stand up on their wedding days, there is an expectation that it is forever. But reality is what it is, and most of us simply count ourselves lucky to be in the statistical minority of long-lasting unions with one person. Such is the case with my Other Mother and Father. While I found 25 years a ridiculous premise, today they celebrate 50. 50!!!!! 50 years with the same person. 50 years of sharing bathrooms and closets. (Although they discovered long ago that one of the great secrets to their longevity was to share neither!) 50 years of hairstyles and fashion changes-her not him! 50 years of messes, (not if she could help it!) meals, (not if she could help it!) dark chocolate marshmallow, (not if she could help it!) and rye and vodka. (Oh why bother-you know!!)

    I am in awe of 50 years. It requires stamina, patience, understanding, yelling, tolerance, mutual understanding, and of course-the big L! (Like! Love is easy, liking is tough.) I have absolutely no idea what, if any these two truly special people have in mind for gifts for one another. The party that is on tap for this evening should prove a wonderful celebration, but as my Other Dad always says to me-presents matter, and please no clothes! So, I offer a small token to them both of gifts that they might have given to each other over this past half of a century. These are items that have been invented since they stood under the chupah. One for each year.

    1960-the halogen lamp
    1961-valium (thank God!!) and non-dairy creamer for the lactose intolerant
    1962-silicone breast implants (like this family needs help)
    1963-video disk
    1964-permanent press clothing (ok-a bit of clothing)
    1965-kevlar (for the gun enthusiast!)
    1966-electronic fuel injection cars
    1967-handheld calculators
    1968-computer mouse
    1969-ATM (which apparently the Other Dad still shuns!)

    1970-floppy disks
    1972-Pong-the first video game
    1973-disposable lighter
    1974-post-it notes (for the list makers in all of us)
    1975-push through drink tab (Diet Coke drinkers rejoice!!)
    1976-ink jet printer (is your's compatible to your computer?)
    1977-MRI machines (Thank God!!)
    1978-Artificial heart
    1979-cell phones!! (Don't leave home without it!)

    1980-Hepatitis B vaccine (comes in handy for those who travel!)
    1981-IBM-PC computer
    1982-Human Growth Hormone (for those of us who are vertically challenged!)
    1983-Cabbage Patch doll
    1984-Apple Mac (we are a Mac family after all!)
    1985-Windows for Microsoft (who cares!)
    1986-disposable camera
    1987-disposable contact lenses
    1988-Prozac (Thank God!!)
    1989-Hi-Def television

    1990-The Web
    1991-digital answering machine
    1992-the smart pill
    1993-pentium processor
    1994-HIV Protease inhibitor (I know-not a great gift, but it was a slow year!)
    1996-Web TV
    1997-gas-powered fuel cell
    1998-Viagara (Need I say more??)
    1999-Techno Bubbles (??) -click the link-it is kind of cool.

    2000-The Segway
    2001-Self-cleaning windows (I want those!!)
    2002-Braille glove
    2003-Hybrid cars
    2004-running shoes with built in microprocessor
    2006-The Hug Shirt
    2007-iPhone (too bad it isn't yet available in Canada!)
    2009-retinal implants
    2010-the year isn't yet over so you still have time.

    I wish you both only happiness, health, travel and joy for the next 50, because I expect you to give us the same treatment on our 50th. Love to you both.

    Tuesday, 10 August 2010

    I Think That I Need to Turn in My Membership Card

    Betty Friedan is probably rolling over in her grave. I might just have to forfeit my lifelong, gold-plated membership as a feminist. I still can't believe that I actually did it! What is the cause of such angst? Well, it is because of how we decided to spend part of our evening last night. This hardcore, dyed in the wool, staunch believer in all things feminist had a drink at the (gasp!!) Playboy Club here on the Las Vegas strip! Gloria Steinham, please forgive me and look kindly upon this your child.

    It is important to understand that the objectification of women here in Vegas, particularly younger women, is one of the only things that is relentlessly eating away at me during this lovely respite away from reality. I am visibly uncomfortable when I espy women waitresses, dealers, and other hotel employees dressed in little more than an average Victoria's Secret catalogue model, while their male counterparts are fully clothed. I see college aged girls dotting the strip in full "skank" attire all in an effort to reel in the latest big fish for an evening "hook-up" and it unnerves me. So heading into Hugh's lair cut across every value that I hold near and dear. In spite of my reservations, The Husband, The Social Butterfly, his Ms. Sephora, and yours truly headed to the Palms Hotel for an after-show drink.

    It turned into a true hoot!! First off, The Social Butterfly used all of his shmoozing abilities with the manager and got the four of us comped in. As we stood in line awaiting the private elevator that would whisk us up to the 55th floor, an imposing looking bouncer scanned the queue looking for underaged stowaways. I am about say something that I still cannot believe-I GOT CARDED!!! I wanted to kiss the kid full on his lips! He must have felt slightly moronic when he saw the year of birth was from before the Kennedy assassination! Still reeling from the stupidity of that situation, the four of us entered into very dark and very elegant club. After procuring drinks, we made our way to the windows to take in the spectacular city scape. The fact that there were actual Playboy Bunnies complete with ears and tails, dealing cards, serving drinks, and posing for pictures didn't escape our focus either.

    As we stood there marveling at the absurdity of the situation, a nice looking guy started to hang around our small foursome. I am so oblivious, I believed that he was interested in the young girl to my right. After a short while, he disappeared into the crowd. My 3 drinking buddies all started to laugh and were convinced he was interested in me!! Nonsense, said I. They were adamant. Ms. Sephora said that he kept glancing over at me and giving the eye. I am so stupid and so very married that I can't even pick up on flirting signals anymore. OY! We laughed so hard it hurt.

    I have always been a staunch opponent of Playboy and the lifestyle that it advocated. I have never been of the mind that it is just harmless fun because of the message that it sends to both men and women about what is and isn't acceptable treatment. Last night's foray into the lion's den did little to alter that perception, but it did show me a few laughs and it certainly stoked my ego a great deal. I just hope that Gloria will understand.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Random Musings from the Town that Bugsy Built!

    Here are some truly mixed up and totally random thoughts from my oh so elegant suite at the Palazzo Hotel on the Las Vegas strip. (All thanks for that bit of decadence goes directly to The Husband.)

    • One's concept of money and it's value is truly skewed here. It is not uncommon to spend $7.00 on a small scoop of gelato, complain vociferously about being ripped off, and then head off to the casino where one will drop a minimum $10.00 a hand. I needed to purchase a disposable razor yesterday and that purchase, together with a Diet Coke cost me $17.00!! Outrageous I know, and if I had been more coherent and not been simply signing my name, I would have made a beeline for Walgreen's. Obviously that wasn't the case and when The Husband discovered my error, he became slightly unhinged, but when he then dropped over $100 bucks in less than twenty minutes, his anger quickly subsided.

    • The Blue Jays better hope that there are some great prospects in the lower minor leagues, because what I saw on display last night for their triple A affiliate here was sad. The 51s tried gamely against Nashville, buy when your journeyman starting pitcher gives up an 8 spot in the fifth, you know that there are problems. In some fairness, the Jays have sort of raided the team this season and most of their best and brightest are already on the major league roster, but when shortstop Mike McCoy is the best player on the field--OY!! We had a chance to talk to pitching coach Dave LaRoche before the game and asked him who on his staff might be due a September call-up. His answer? A roll of the eyes and a terse "not with the way these guys are throwing!!" That said, I had a blast at the game, and I felt like I was an extra in a sequel to Bull Durham. There is an entire post in attending a minor league game.

    • While I am on the subject, what is up with the Jays having their farm club a 4 hour plane ride away? How can the average fan identify with players that they never see and boxscores coming from a timezone three hours away? Not only that, the players are still wearing uniforms from their former Dodger affiliation days. Come on, Rogers! Pony up some cash for these guys and make them feel like Toronto is their home!

    • 107 degree heat is hot-humidity or no humidity. This idea of dry heat--Bullshit!! Hot is hot!

    • There was a rumour going around the hotel yesterday of a Paris Hilton sighting. My reaction? Who gives a flying f@&$? I was more excited to see the unknown bastards toiling for the Baby Jays.

    • I have come to the conclusion that the fashion mantra for women here is "skank". I have never seen so many women, young, middle-aged, and not so young, prostitute themselves in clothing so unbecoming that it is comical. Short skirts that purposely reveal pubic regions, low cut tops with so much silicone hanging out we could build our own line of cooking utensils, and clothing cinched so tightly that these poor souls are left gasping for oxygen. Don't even get me started on the CFM heels!! Their balance is so off that I worry about being smothered under the weight of some surgically altered femme fatale when she inevitably lurches forward onto me. There I'll be-swimming against the tide of a pair of double EEs, struggling to regain my composure. Females of the world unite. Dress for success and comfort instead of man-baiting and one-night hook-ups! Where is the pride, ladies? Haven't we progressed further than this?

    More to come. I apologize for any typos. I am working off of my iPhone so mistakes are inevitable.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Sunday, 8 August 2010

    Dos and Don'ts of Airline Travel

    The Husband and I are jetting off today on a quick jaunt to the land of quickie weddings and even quicker divorces, in order to yank my head out its yearly High Holiday preparation stupor. I think that he figured that a last minute trip to Vegas was cheaper than couple's counseling or a month long prescription for Valium for two! Anyway here I am, 30,000 feet over the "fly-over" states on an early-morning to Denver, hoping against hope that we don't miss our extremely tight connection into the glorious heat of a Nevada summer. It has always struck a discordant nerve with me that even after over 100 years of passenger air travel, many amongst us still haven't figured out how not to act like a boor in the air. (I kid you not, but just as I typed those words, the little girl in front of me just sneezed all over the place!!) So, in order to pass the time until we land in the Rockies, or until the massive turbulence makes typing once again impossible, I thought that I would regale you all with Dawn's dos and don'ts of air travel.

    Do: Go through the process of acquiring a NEXUS card if you do any cross-boarder traveling between Canada and the United States. I know that I have been droning on about this marvelous little wonder for months now, but it is truly amazing how much time it can shave off of your airport experience. It eliminates much of the inanity and insanity. No more questions from power hungry assholes about how much money I make or what I do for a living. A quick iris scan and it is off to security, which leads me to.....

    Don't: Think that you are allowed to take your 3 ounces of toothpaste on board with you in a regular sized 12 ounce tube. We actually waited 15 minutes behind some jack-off this morning who decided that his almost-squeezed out tube of Crest was carry-on worthy.

    Do: Attempt to travel with only carry-on bags whenever possible. Airlines are notorious for losing or damaging luggage, and too much time is wasted waiting at the carousels. In these days of airline luggage fees, carrying on one's bag is both cheaper and more convenient. An appropriate and regulation sized roller suitcase can actually hold up to 2 weeks worth of personal items, including shoes. That said......

    Don't: Try and bullshit us by trying to bring your regular luggage on board and then annoying all by complaining that it won't fit into the overhead bin. I have seen too many people attempt to bring oversized luggage, 3 suitbags, huge briefcases, and a purse onto a plane and then become indignant when the flight attendants inform them that their luggage will indeed have to be checked. And while we're at it......

    Don't: Store your bag in an overhead bin that isn't at your seat. Too many boors think that they are being clever by hogging the spaces closest to the front of the plane to facilitate a quick departure, without realizing that this behavior means that others will have to store their bags far away from their seats, clogging up the aisles for all. Planes are designed to service all passengers. Don't f$&@ that up by being a selfish prick!

    Do: Board the aircraft like a mensch and enter into your seat as if you were gaining access into an automobile-that is butt facing the seat.

    Don't: Enter your row with your ass in the face of your aisle-mate or with your ass pushing against the back of the seat in front of you. You can set yourself up for your trip just fine without me having to feel or sniff your tuchas up close and personal!!!

    Do: Use the armrests as support if you require help in getting in and out of your seat.

    Don't: Use the top of the seat on front of you for support if you require help in getting in and out of your seat. I have had my hair pulled so many times I have lost count, not to mention that I might just be sleeping as you yank on me from behind. A bit of common courtesy is in order.

    Do: Share the joys of travel with your children. Exposing kids to all that world has to off is a wondrous thing. Just.....

    Don't: Share your kids with me. Look--I am incredibly tolerant of children and I do understand better than most, the difficulties in flying with kids, but please have mercy on the rest of us poor souls. DVD players should be plugged into headphones so that I don't have to listen to 3 hours of Barney. Your child should not be allowed to endlessly roam up and down the aisles, foisting their supposed "cuteness" on every unsuspecting shnook just attempting to survive the trip. Please change diapers promptly and privately, and for God's sake-show some backbone and discipline the little monsters when required. I have no problem traveling with kids-it's their parents that I can't stomach!!

    That's all for now folks. More to come from Vegas!!

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone