The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

June 30, 2006


IT'S a gorgeous morning in middle Canada on the eve of my country's 139th birthday, sunny, clear, and so hot you can already feel the heaviness of the forecast 30C heat and the potential thunderstorms to follow.

It conjures memories of one of my favourite pastimes as a kid venturing out the door on a sunny day, a solitary but so rewarding and intriguing pursuit: collecting insects. Or, more generically, bugs.

The centipede is not an insect, but it fit the bill and was always the most challenging foe. It was the biggest, for one; the most quick and evasive and hard to find, plus most difficult to catch. And it packs a mean bite.

I was like the pith-helmeted hunter heading out into the wilds of Africa or India in my child-like zeal, arming myself with a new jar, a lid with holes poked in the top, a magnifying glass.

The 'pede was my No. 1 priority, my biggest quarry setting out each day on my solo journey. I'd hit the same old spots, lift up the same old rocks, check under the same piles of wood between garages, in my quest.

Beetles, army ants, waterbugs, even worms were my prey. I'd spend hours under the hot sun finding them, protecting them, nurturing them, watching them...and then set them free when it was time for lunch or supper.

The dragonflies, the most amazing and beautiful of them all, I didn't even try to catch, but just marvel at their evolutionary brilliance. Butterflies, so delicate in nature, were impossible, fluttering off gently just as I got so agonizingly close...

When I get the chance, I still find myself lifting rotting logs in the forest to see what explosion of life lives there, still find myself wanting to walk among hundreds of crayfish scurrying along the sandy bottom of a lake.

Oh, to be a kid again sometimes...

June 29, 2006


WHILE I contemplate my next serious or innane topic, for those of you who tuned in this past week as I waxed nostalgic about my daughter's graduation and how women are for teasing and other stuff, here she is...

Graduating, and being forced to pose during said life landmark event with dad, a form of teasing in itself...

The OTHER male to the left is her love, of course, the dirty scoundrel (he's cool)...

Now where did that pic go of her in her pyjamas, hiding the big zit on her face with a pillow as I mercilessly snapped the digital?

June 26, 2006

WOMEN ARE FOR TEASING...and other stuff

THIS is a picture, one of maybe 50 or so, that I have on my fridge. It's me, about 20 years ago, making a goofy pose for a picture as I'm making absurdly silly, boy-like faces at my eminently teasable sister.

Think about that...

I was teasing my sister -- one of three I have, all of them younger than me to go with two brothers -- as she slept on a hot afternoon at a cottage on Wallace Lake in the wilds of eastern Manitoba in the beautiful Canadian Shield.

And I was getting huge laughs out of it. And I have been doing it for three generations of women in my life.

My sister (who would many years later struggle with breast cancer and survive the removal of both her breasts, and become a huge inspiration for me) promptly woke up and just about kicked me in the gonads. Mission accomplished, gonads still intact.

And now fast-forward to yesterday, and I was teasing my daughter by taking pictures of her in her pyjamas, a big zit on her cheek, hair all tussled, looking not like she'd want to look for a picture, hiding her face behind a cushion.

The pictures themselves? Lost, unfortunately, somewhere between a digital camera I still don't know how to properly use and a fancy-schmancy computer I still don't know how to properly operate.

Suffice to say, said daughter was protesting as dad took the unwanted pix as he was laughing, and she was crying and cursing and laughing all at the same time...

So the moral of today's moribund missive is that women are many things to men, the most basic of them, of course, being that they are indispensable and our reason for being and everything, basically, that we live for.

But an inescapable, unavoidable, thoroughly enjoyable and necessary element of that male/female reality is that they are teasable, and we males wouldn't be doing our duty -- or making their lives worth living -- without teasing them beyond all reason.

All of the most precious women in my life -- my mom, who we incessantly teased about her manner of even saying hello on the phone; my grandmother, a French-Canadian under-five-footer who I'd pinch on her large bum and turn around in her swivel chair (you HASS-HOLE!).

My three sisters, who still treasure my teasing and give it back to me in spades and much more; all the women I've been with romantically, in one way or another that only enriched our relationships; and now my daughter.

They all have had to endure my silly, roll-your-eyes, moronic, kid-like humor that's modelled after, let's see, Agent 86 on Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Ace Ventura, Mr. Bean, Austin get it.

And they love it, or at least I hope so. And if I didn't have the freedom to do it and to have women who love me accept the corny stuff and laugh at it, and let themselves be the targets of it, life just wouldn't be so much fun.

June 25, 2006



We've had the Pope pounding our pavement, the Royals regaling us with countless visits and we are the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh.

But our lil' ole Winnipeg on Canada's bald prairie was the momentary epicentre of the entertainment universe this past week when Posh Spice, also known as Victoria Beckham, showed up mysteriously for a whirlwind visit.

Get your fix below, taken from a wire service...

...The pop princess and British socialite, also known as Posh Spice during her turn in the former musical group The Spice Girls, was in Winnipeg on undisclosed business since flying into the city late Wednesday night.

She's married to Madrid-based soccer star David Beckham, who is currently playing in the 2006 World Cup (and who scored his team's only goal in a 1-0 win over Ecuador yesterday to send them to the quarter-finals--ed).

At the airport, she was photographed with a representative of a Winnipeg-based garment company that makes 1921 jeans, a line of designer denim snapped up by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Teri Hatcher, and Paris Hilton.

Beckham kept a low profile in Winnipeg. What did she think of Winnipeg?

"It's been lovely. Oh, it's been lovely," she said.


Personally, I always liked Ginger the best.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled lives...

June 24, 2006


THE picture doesn't necessarily do her justice, but this is my lovely daughter.

It seems like only yesterday that I was finally throwing out the soother she would never surrender, holding her at 4 a.m. because of her colic, swinging her round and round the way dads do because their kids ask them to -- and dislocating her shoulder.

Today, just recently turned 18, she's a mere few days away from Grade 12 graduation, an Honours student, already accepted into first year university with scholarships, and trying to sink her now-single father into, To Dad, with Love.

Not really. And I do it lovingly.

But in the past six months, being the extraordinarily organized femme fatale that she is, she has assigned to me the grad-related monetary tasks as follows for her big night Tuesday of finally advancing past high school and into a new stage of her life:

1. Grad purse? Dad, $50.
2. Grad shoes? Dad, $75.
3. Grad pearl necklace? Dad, $375 (gulp, I went hog wild)
4. Grad earrings? Dad, $65.
4. Grad fundraising projects? Dad. Sell chocolates, sell baking goods, sell coupon books, finance band trip. Predictably, I simply bought all of these goods myself rather than find the time to try to peddle them to others. Estimated cost to self: $500.
5. Grad pictures? Dad, around $200.

A. An idea was floating around I would give her my car as a graduation gift. Uh, no.
B. Today, I bought her a heart-shaped pendant/locket thingy that can be inscribed and hold her pic in it ("Silver, dad, not gold"). Around $350.
C. Sigh. Probably, at some point, she'll get the car too...

I'm sure I'm forgetting half the things I should be mentioning. Of course, this cost is a pittance in relation to the importance my daughter holds in my life and, even more, the importance that this day will hold in her life.

I'll be sitting there at the grad reception/dinner Tuesday night, contemplating how that little soother-sucking ball of a bawling baby could have so quickly morphed into the confident, vibrant being she is now.

And my chest will be pumped out just a little bit more than usual...even though my wallet will be considerably lighter.

June 22, 2006


STRANGELY, but perhaps very fittingly, I'm listening to "The way it is" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range as I start this post...

TWO images from a sunny, winny, wild Thursday prompt me to pose and ponder what may be only the first instalment of my continual, quizzical look at the super self-absorbed universal question, IS THERE OR ISN'T THERE A GOD?

Image 1

As I'm driving into work this morning on a busy street in my Canadian prairie city of about 3/4 of a million people, a man is standing, his head down, motionless, in tattered clothes, turned away from me, in the way of oncoming traffic moving in the other direction.

I slow down and notice a considerate motorist who has stopped in front of the man, his four-way flashers on, his cellphone to his ear, presumably calling the police or some social work agency to alert them to the danger the man is posing to himself.

Alone. Alive, maybe barely. Oblivious or maybe making himself purposely obvious, crying out. Should I have stopped? Stopped the traffic? Approached, asked him what he was doing? Tried to help? I didn't. Off to work. Where's he now? Who's he now?

Image 2

A gentle knock on my apartment door after I've arrived home from work, still contemplating Image 1. Two young, smart-looking men, maybe 20 if that, with name tags that say "Jesus Christ" in big type and then, presumably, their names in smaller type.

I can't read it. All I can see is Jesus Christ.

Black suits, black ties, pearly white message. "Can we talk to you about the word of Christ?"

"No thanks," I respond. "I already have my own brand of faith."

"Well, do you know of any of your neighbors who might want to hear about spreading the word of Christ?"

"No. I guess you'll just have to knock on their doors and ask them yourself."

They're polite and leave, knocking on the next door.

And all I can think about is Sun Myung Moon and the cult that was the Moonies, which a friend of mine was caught up in as a 20-something guy who didn't have many answers to the questions his soul was asking him.

And I wondered just where were the precious hearts and souls of these two young guys, who should be so full of their OWN spirit and verve and free thought...and will they ever get their lives back.

June 20, 2006



I have become spellbound by Tori Spelling.

I've tried to find the rash, I've searched to see if I still have a soul, I've stopped immediately flashing past all those terribly "important" Hollywood TV entertainment shows (and their pale Canadian imitators) on the boob tube.

I think I've become a tube boob.

And it's all because of a terrible actress, her equally obscure new husband Dean McDermott (a Canadian), and a little menage a trois ugly style that's playing itself out every 10 minutes in the tabloids and on tabloid TV.

Canada was the playground this past weekend for the biggest "Entertainment Tonight" non-stories of the week, it seems, or at least the Canadian media is making it out to be.

Have a gander:

TORONTO -- Tori Spelling wants lots of kids – and they’re going to have some Canadian genes.
The former 90210 star and her Toronto-bred husband, actor Dean McDermott, admitted backstage at the Much Music Video Awards they're anxious to start making babies.
“We want a McDermott hockey team,” Spelling said. “We started saying we want two. The week we met, we picked out our kids’ names. We wanted two, we wanted three – and then by the time we got engaged we wanted nine.”
The actress used the baby talk to take a shot at McDermott’s spurned ex-wife, Mary Jo Eustace, 48.
“When you have a young wife, they can actually have more children because they start younger,” said Spelling, 33. “I’m young and virile. I can handle it.”
McDermott and Eustace adopted a baby girl just months before he dumped her for Spelling. The couple already had one biological son.


A sidelight to this story, or at least one of them, is that Eustace is writing a tell-all book about how she was dumped by McDermott for Spelling, who if I'm not mistaken is the daughter of big-time U.S. TV magnate Aaron Spelling.

And this is dominating the headlines? Tori Spelling and another blonde-haired bimbo somehow given far more than 15 minutes of fame by the moronic North American media. Recognize her?

Read it and weep about why ANYONE really cares...

A Canadian boyfriend for Paris Hilton?

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

Toronto — Last week, party girl and serial dater Paris Hilton told David Letterman she loves being single, likes not pouring all her "energy into the man," and was thriving on "getting to know who I really am." In Toronto on the weekend for the MuchMusic Video Awards, she may have had a speedy change of heart.

According to a report last night on eTalk Daily, the heiress was seen snoggling Laval, Que.-born hockey hunk Jose Theodore, a goaltender with hockey's Colorado Avalanche. A source at an after-party at the Courthouse bar snapped pictures of the 25-year-old Hilton and a man identified as 29-year-old Theodore. They were holding hands. Hilton was recently engaged to Paris Latsis, before dating another Greek shipping heir, Stavros Niarchos.

In March, Theodore's girlfriend, Stephanie Cloutier, gave birth to their first child, a daughter. Sources say Hilton and Theodore left the Courthouse together on Sunday night to hit another club.


Two more American soldiers are found dead in Iraq, North Korea's sounding off about testing a nuclear missile...and the mass media is feeding the world this pap. And we're gobbling it up.

June 19, 2006

A WHALE OF A STORY (unfortunate update)


These are mammals that communicate like us, that live in pods like us, that care for their young like us...and this is what we're doing to them -- making them a delicacy on plates in Japan and other countries.

FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts and Nevis (Reuters) - Conservation groups on Monday called on governments to redouble their efforts to save endangered whales after pro-whaling nations led by Japan won a majority at an international whaling group for the first time in more than 20 years.

The pro-whaling nations at the International Whaling Commission managed to push through a statement declaring a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling unnecessary and blaming whales for depleting fish stocks.

While largely symbolic, the declaration adopted at the commission's June 16-20 meeting in the Caribbean island state of St. Kitts and Nevis was a show of strength by the whaling bloc after it had spent more than two decades trying to find the muscle to challenge the ban.

Environmental activists, who were also criticized in the declaration, said the whaling nations' success should serve as a catalyst to stir U.S. public opinion, in particular, out of its slumber, and lead to a counteroffensive by anti-whaling nations at the next IWC meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, next year.

"For those governments that have failed to wake up and smell the coffee, this is the final wake-up call," said Greenpeace International spokesman Mike Townsley.

The great whales, the Earth's largest creatures, were almost driven into extinction by commercial whaling before the ban came into effect.

But Japan has continued to hunt whales and has killed thousands in the past 20 years under a loophole that allows for scientific research whaling. Iceland also conducts scientific whaling while Norway has ignored the moratorium.

June 17, 2006


A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.

The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. Finally in 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

Great. But life isn't universally about Father Knows Best or mom's applie pie. Stuff happens.

About half of all marriages fall apart, which means there are a lot of kids out there who are part of broken families. That's a staggeringly sad statement. On the other hand, the uncanny ability of kids to survive and even thrive is remarkable.

As the father of an 18-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, both of whom live with their mother but who I see at least every second weekend, Father's Day can be uplifting but also ultimately sad and lonely.

A recurring theme and question in my life is how, when I'm not with my kids every day, I can be the positive influence, disciplinarian, loving support or whatever else a dad needs to be if he cares.

That can sometimes be a difficult proposition if you're not there to see them cry, laugh, struggle, flourish.

I wasn't there to see the huge smile on my daughter's face when she brought home her first steady boyfriend; I missed out on being there for my son when he got the boot from his first female flame or flunked that French test.

No single, non-custodial Dad can change the sad reality of a broken marriage or, for that matter, make up for all those lost magic moments that he would have otherwise experienced with his kids.

But he can continue to tickle his daughter when he sees her and tell her how beautiful she is and how proud he is of her being an honors student, yet again.

And he can still give his son a stern look or lecture when warranted, take him out to play catch, drive him to the mall so he can hang out with his friends and feed him every hour.

There are Deadbeat Dads. But if you're not, there are huge voids in your life that can never be fully filled. All you can do is offer the unconditional love that you are ready to give them and be there when they need you or want you to be.

June 16, 2006


Now HERE'S a great idea.

Earth's largest animals are barely holding their own now in the planet's warming oceans, still subject to illegal hunting (primarily by Japan) and the hapless, helpless victims of other environmental issues.

But have a read of this gem:

For National Geographic News
June 16, 2006
Pro-whaling nations may take control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) this weekend for the first time since commercial whale hunting was banned 20 years ago.

Delegates from the 70-nation commission are gathering on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts for the IWC's annual meeting, which runs today through June 20.

Ever since the commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, Japan has worked tirelessly to restore the whale hunt. The Japanese government argues that whaling is central to Japanese culture.

This year antiwhaling activists fear Japan may finally get its way. The island nation, many believe, has recruited enough countries into the pro-whaling camp to begin chipping away at whale protections.

This morning, however, Japan lost a vote on a proposal to remove from the meeting agenda discussion of small whales, dolphins, and porpoises—which conservationists consider some of the most endangered species in the whale family.

But Japan may well have its majority before the meeting is out.

"The first vote was in keeping with the status quo," said Susan Lieberman, director of the Global Species Program for the conservation organization WWF, speaking from the St. Kitts meeting.

While the first vote is encouraging for the antiwhaling community, Lieberman says, several nations had yet to arrive at the meeting or pay their dues. At least two of those nations, she adds, are pro-whaling.

A majority of pro-whaling votes on the whaling commission will not overturn the ban. That requires a 75 percent majority. But the anti-whaling community fears a shifting tide.

So you've got the whaling weenies apparently gaining more power and I'm sure that can't be good news for Canada's beautiful Belugas or any other species. And God love Newfies, but our Canucklehead government continues to permit the annual clubbing of baby seals off the Newfoundland coast despite the international protests.

You would have thought they might have learned something about the death of the cod fishery off Newfoundland's Grand Banks, but apparently not.

Timberwolves, grizzly bears, African and Indian name it, it's vanishing or becoming more threatened every day. And don't even get me STARTED on our treatment of domesticated animals.

Just another rant from just another voice in the wilderness...

June 15, 2006



Marvin the Martian here on the barren landscape of the red planet, just peaking in to see how you're doing...and observing that from out here, you seem to be a little confused.

What is it about humans that while millions are starving in Africa and dying of disease and at the hands of machete-wielding countrymen, all of your focus is on a silly sport where your males kick a ball around for 90 minutes?

We noticed that the leader of your superpower collection of individuals, we believe you call him Dubya, flew in one of your primitive air-travel vehicles yesterday to that place you invaded for no apparently good reason at all.

He shook hands with some of your armed warriors for the cameras and then returned to the place with the big white building in the landmass you call North America. And today, the 2,500th American soldier was killed in the tiny locale you call Iraq.

Huh? We are baffled about many things that you do. We've been thinking about dropping by for a visit, but we keep hearing you say that your males are from our planet and your females are from Venus.

The only Earth creature we've ever seen is a long-eared species named Bugs Bunny. Oh...wait a minute now...I'm getting word of a breaking development in the land you call the British Isles...


This story, just in...

A PENSIONER has been charged with sending packages containing sugar and weedkiller to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family, police have said.

A suspect package similar to this was sent to the Blairs. Shirley Rita Freed allegedly posted parcels marked for the attention of Mr Blair, his wife Cherie and son Euan to 10 Downing Street.

The 72-year-old, from West Sussex, is also accused of sending letters containing white powder to Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, and Ann Clwyd MP.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said Freed was charged with five offences under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (HA HA HA!!!!) when she answered bail this afternoon. All the packages and letters were sent last year.

The charges state that the packages were sent intending "to induce in a person anywhere in the world a belief that it is likely to be or contain a noxious substance or other noxious thing and thereby endanger human life or create a serious risk to human health".

The letter to Euan Blair was allegedly posted on or before May 16 last year, and had enclosed a card, a handwritten note and sodium chlorate - a common weedkiller.

The following month a letter containing newspaper cuttings, sugar and weedkiller was sent to Mrs Blair at Downing Street, according to the charges.

Freed is accused of sending packages to Mr Blair and Ms Hewitt in September, both with newspaper cuttings enclosed.

Mr Blair received sugar and weedkiller, while a laxative was sent to the Health Secretary at the Commons. Ms Clwyd - a vocal supporter of the Iraq war - received aluminium sulphate, used in water purification, at the Commons in December.

Freed is due to appear before magistrates in Brighton on June 29.

We up here on Mars salute your western leaders -- that is, Dubya and the Blairs -- for hitting at the true heart of terrorism on your planet, namedly 72-year-old Earthling females.

June 10, 2006


THE DISTURBING but likely familiar image (if it in fact reproduced above)is called Scream, by an artist named Edward Munch.

And while it could very well apply to a lot of the goings-on in today's world these past few days, it aptly describes my feeling of horror upon visiting my friendly neighborhood video store today.

I was looking for a new release called Final Fantasy VII, for my 14-year-old son. The Blockbuster Video outlet is usually crawling with customers but on a Saturday afternoon, I found the only two people in the store were the woman behind the counter and me.

I couldn't find Final Fantasy but I did pick up a few previously viewed flicks. I went and asked her if they had stocked Final Fantasy or expected to get it in soon. She told me that they had one copy left, and went to get it.

She returned and told me that no, it had been ripped off by a couple of lunkheads who this past week came in and stole a whole bunch of movies.

I shook my head as I paid for the other movies I was buying. I stepped through the little security device at the exit that beeps if someone purposely or inadvertently tries to walk out with a movie or game they haven't paid for.

"Lot of good this is, I guess," I said with a smile, motioning at the security device.

"That doesn't make a difference," she said. "If the beep went off right now, could I stop you from walking out if I'm here all alone? They just pick up the movies they want and walk right past me.

"I can't do a thing about it. It happens five or six times a week."

Maybe I'm naive, but I've been walking around since then in a state of wonder. How could we have gotten to this point of wanton disregard, this I-don't-care brashness or stupidity?

What is happening to who we are? And why don't the 97 per cent of us who aren't like that come up with a way to do something about it? Clearly the politicians and armies and religious leaders can't seem to.

June 8, 2006

A REAL Dinosaur Story...

In the News right now...
--Bush applauds bombing death of Al-Quaida leader, but group says the killing will only make them stronger and more committed to their holy war;
--American army officer in Seattle refuses to go to Iraq as ordered, calling the war illegal and claiming his involvement would make him a participant in war crimes;
--Bush lackey criticizes UN second-in-command for chiding U.S. over its continued efforts to undermine the UN's moves to improve the world, including castigating the American government over the war in Iraq and other issues;
--Bush criticized by Far Right after Republican amendment to ban gay marriages in the U.S. fails to receive enough Senate votes.

So while George Dubya's star continues to shine as brightly as it ever has, we bring you a story about REAL dinosaurs, not the kind that are in the White House, the ones who REALLY should become extinct.

June 8: (EurekAlert): When unusually small dinosaur fossils were found in a quarry on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains in 1998, it was initially assumed that these were the remains of a group of young dinosaurs.

The rendition of the dinosaurs in the accompanying illustration are of a mini-me version of a species that paleontologists originally thought must have been the young of a species similar to brachiosaurs.

But experts now say the microstructure of the bones makes it very likely that the animals involved were adults. At a maximum estimated weight of one tonne they were only a fiftieth the weight of brachiosaurs, and thus by far the smallest of the giant dinosaurs which have ever been found.

Of course, this has nothing to do at all with the news of the day, other than the association between one group of dinosaurs (the Bush administration) and the real type of dinosaurs.

But what the is a diversion.

June 7, 2006

JUST DO IT! And I have...

Nike gets enough promotion and publicity through their blatant branding and the unbelievably ridiculous overuse of their famous check mark logo, plus silly but catchy sign-post sayings like Just Do it.

Well, I've done it, all right. And in the process, I've unwittingly become...THE ULTIMATE NIKE NERD!!!!!!

On one recent adventure that had absolutely nothing to do with playing sports, watching them or otherwise caring about them or what I might be wearing to suggest I was at all sports-inclined, I got into my car and fumbled for my keys.

My spirit sank as I noticed I was wearing the following items:

1. Nike socks with the checkmark logo on them
2. Nike black shorts with the checkmark logo on them
3. Nike shirt with the checkmark logo on it
4. Adidas runners with their logo on them
5. If I could remember what underwear I had on, I would tell you. What I know is that they were NOT NIKE!

Now, the fact is I AM an athletic, sports-minded person. But this self-discovery flew in the face of everything I've ever valued or tried to pass on to my kids or others, if they should ask my opinion.

We are SO overrun with horrible, self-serving promotion and branding by the gigantic corporations. You can't watch any sports event (aside from the Olympics and the Masters golf tournament) without being force-fed the Nike logo or the American Express card or Viagra or WalMart or whatever.

"This pitching change is brought to you by..."

Even the schools, supposedly those last bastions of truly advertising-free, objective environments, have allowed computer companies to come in and advertise in return for free computers.

We can't escape it, anywhere, this mad frenzy towards buy, buy, buy. Consumerism consumes all.

But I thought I had avoided that. I would purposely buy clothes that did NOT make me a walking ad for some company. And I would not buy such products that did make their products all about their branding, rather than their usefulness or value.

But here, thanks to what I now believe must have been several different shopping excursions where I could not avoid this plague, I had become everything I despised: a walking billboard for Nike.

Where can I go to hide...

June 5, 2006

FLUSHED into Fearyland

I went on a weekend trip to see a lady friend, a beautiful, friendly, lady-like lady friend, about 1500 miles away.

It's kinda like one of those budding long-distance relationship thingies that have little hope of working out. But because there was such a strong initial attraction, you try to make it work anyway. (Maybe that's for another post!)

This reciprocal meeting (she's already visited me once) was for a family wedding (her family), where I knew virtually nobody, she knew everybody, of course. So I was the mystery man on her arm, the NEW GUY, the man whose name no one would remember and who was expected to remember everyone else's...

It was, in a word, draining. For those of you who don't know how a male brain works, it functions something like this:

Notice the size of the listening particle. I am absolutely horrendous with names, as I believe most guys are. I can, however, get by, simply by being exceptionally charming rather than tedious, and I have developed highly-evolved methods of not HAVING to actually remember people's names when I'm talking to them.

Anyway, I hope and believe you're getting my drift.

The entire weekend was designed specifically to take advantage of the obvious shortcomings of my male brain. My lovely female friend was very good about it, and kept mentioning for my tiny listening particle's benefit which of her 18 sisters was married to which of her 19 brothers-in-law, why niece No. 6 was taking her clothes off and who her parents were and why her mom -- a lovely woman -- kept asking me to dance at the wedding reception and why her dad kept cracking those jokes about how HE'D stay in the hotel room with me, not his daughter...

It was a stressful, if not enjoyable, weekend.

And what does all this have to do with a real bathroom that shows a man free-falling out of the floor to his apparent death, presumably after being flushed down the toilet of life?

Well, as much as I did enjoy myself, when you get the feeling you're constantly being poked and prodded and quizzed and you're in an unfamiliar place with strange people who all know the one you're with and are making jokes about how you're both going to end up together at some point, and you have no idea yet that that's what you want to CAN feel a bit like you're being flushed down the toilet and into a free-fall to who knows what?

June 1, 2006

Ear today, gone tomorrow

Waxing poetic about Ear Wax

While I contemplate other more serious topics for discussion, I thought I'd write about a rather unusual, partly painful, frustrating experience I had this week, for the second time in about five months.

I had to have a compacted accumulation of ear wax removed from both of my ears.

You have to understand...this is funny, but it's not. The procedure for removing the wax is certainly strange and funny. The inability to hear out of one ear for the days leading up to said procedure is frustrating.

Here are some facts:

Wax is produced naturally within the ear as a protective mechanism to keep dust particles and other foreign substances out. The ear canal and the ear drum and other mechanisms inside are very fragile.

Some people produce more wax than others. And the wax is supposed to naturally dissipate and/or come out of the ear on its own. But in many people, this doesn't always happen and it can accumulate.

The worst thing to do when it does accumulate -- DOH! -- is to stick things like cotton swabs inside the ear canal to remove wax. All that does is compact it further inside the ear, which is what happened to me.

By early in the week, I could not hear out of my right ear. I put mineral oil inside it to soften up the wax, but because I had compacted it with the cotton swabs (Q Tips), it would not come out.

When I got into my doctor, who I have been to before to clear them out, he laughed. He motioned to me to get up on the table/chair and brought out the giant syringe used to jet warm water inside the canals to dislodge the wax.

The water and the ugly dark brown compacted wax comes out and lands in a plastic container I'm holding next to my ear. Now, I'm literally free and clear and will be mindful of putting drops of mineral oil in my ear every couple of weeks henceforth.

This brings to mind two things: how we take things like seeing and hearing and speaking and touching so for granted until we can't do those things, and how debilitated we feel.

And secondly, I wonder how much wax has accumulated in more famous ears than mine, such as George W. Bush's and other world leaders.