The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

November 30, 2006



A snow-storm and windchill temperatures of around -30C (while it's +17C a mere province away) can do that to you. I feel shut in, a bit shut down, knowing winter has grabbed us.

And won't likely let go until March at the earliest. For you Aussies, South Africans, Floridians, Mississippians and others living in southern climes, this means many things.

It means I have now started plugging my car in at night to keep the engine block from freezing so I can start my car in the morning.

It means shovelling snow and skin freezing in less than a minute.

And it means staying inside a lot and unavoidably becoming more introspective. That means thinking about me.

And what I have within these walls that I spend most of my time in, things that make me feel warm and secure and comfortable.

Here are a few of them:

This is my Marvin the Martian coffee cup. M the M is one of my favourite Bugs Bunny characters of all time. I don't drink coffee out of him, I use him to store things, as you can see, and to be just be there.

This is a cheap picture my son bought me for a birthday from a dollar store when he was about 8. It's the first present he ever gave me that he paid for. It's a brutal picture, but I hang it anyway so he can see that I value it, which I do.

For the same reason, but also because of the words on it, I hang the scroll thing labelled "Dad" (on the right) on the wall above my computer screen. It's a gift from my daughter.

The C's are my initials, given to me by a woman I was involved in a relationship with who had also bought herself her own initials. The MYO 244 is a vehicle licence plate I found in Bangalore and brought home from India in 1979.

The mask on the left is something I bought in Spain in 1992, I just love all the colours in it.

The huge snake-charmer painting on the right I bought in India, also in 1979, for my mom.

She knew how much I loved it; she gave it back to me several years later.

These things will hang on whatever walls protect me, forever.

And to the left here is a treasure trove of stuff that never leaves the top of my TV/sound system wall unit.

The clock my mom gave me; the "Beary Special Dad" teddy bear from my daughter; the bottle of Quebec maple syrup from my son.

Other items are there from different people, including an Alaskan bear, a vase, a black puppy dog from women past and present.

And this is only a small sample of the knicks and knacks of my life and my travels and "my stuff" that I keep not in a closet but there for me to see, all the time.

Blogger wouldn't let me download any more pix, so I might have to follow this up with a Part 2 unless I've put all of Blogworld (or at least the few visitors to my little part of the planet) to sleep by now.

And if I haven't done that, I'll say this: I've opened up a bit of my life to what are some of the things you hold dear, knick-knacks, gifts you've received, keepsakes, etc., that adorn your home?

Things you want to have around you to remind you of this thought or that person or that time or that relationship...or whatever?

November 28, 2006

Are you a candidate for Blogger's Back?

Canadian and Scottish health researchers with nothing else to do have discovered the latest craze to help whiny Web Wackos avoid a condition I am calling Blogger's Back.
Basically, it amounts to doing this while you're keyboarding...

Essentially, need to take up meditative Yoga or become a professional contortionist.

And, contrary to the long-held belief by your mother and other such medical experts, the old "sit up straight at 90 degrees or you'll become the Hunchback of Notre Dame" warning is not valid.

No, what these back specialists are recommending now is that while blogging (or while doing anything else that requires sitting), that your back actually be at 135 degrees, which I believe could tear some of my stomach muscles.

This is of particular interest to me (and probably only to me) because among my many surgeries, I have had a disc removed from my lower back, a sports injury that was the result of another sports injury.

I became familiar with such terms as lordosis (the kind of curve you have in your back) and other fancy names I can't remember. So I can vouch that you shouldn't slouch.

Here's an edited version of today's story...

By using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Scottish and Canadian researchers have been able to show that sitting in an upright position places unnecessary strain on the back.

Sitting in this posture for hours at a time can lead to chronic back pain, say the researchers.

Lead author Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir, of the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital in Canada, says "sitting in a sound anatomic position is essential, since the strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness".

The researchers say the best position in which to sit at your desk is leaning slightly back, at about 135 degrees, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal.

Back pain is the most common cause of work-related disability in much of the developed world and is a leading cause of job-related absenteeism.

Dr. Bashir says man was not created to sit down for long hours, but somehow modern life requires the vast majority of the global population to do so and the search for the best sitting position was all the more important. (Hello, Blogworld!!!)

The patients were asked to adopt three different sitting positions: a slouching position, in which the body is hunched forward (e.g., hunched over a desk or slouched over in front of a video game console); an upright 90-degree sitting position; and a "relaxed" position where the patient reclines backward 135 degrees while the feet remain on the floor.

Measurements were taken of spinal angles and spinal disc height and movement across the different positions. Spinal disc movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the internal disk material to misalign.

The team saw that disc movement was most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture and was least pronounced with the 135-degree posture. The "slouch" position revealed a reduction in spinal disc height, signifying a high rate of wear and tear.

They advise patients to ward off future back problems by correcting their sitting posture and finding a chair that allows them to sit in an optimal position of 135 degrees.

And here, if only to wake you up with visual images, are a bunch of left-over neat illustrations I pulled off the Web...

November 27, 2006

Parent/child Convergence (Gasp!)

My son turned 15 today.
And a development over the weekend, after I gave him grief about his less than stellar school report card among other things, has me turned upside down.

I might have, or might not have, posted previously on the fact that he and some of his friends have formed a musical group. I'd tell you the name of the group but I can't remember it, it's so forgettable. I think it has something to do with death.

And he is to be the lead singer of this group, which was a total surprise to me since I've never heard him sing a note in his life. I am now paying for his singing lessons and have loaned him my guitar, for which I'm sure lessons will be requested soon.

You might have heard of the catchy word "convergence."

In my media business, it was thrown around a couple of years ago to signal the inevitability of all the different forms of media -- print, radio, TV and of course the Web -- converging, coming together, in one unified format.

It's no longer just a pipe dream. I file stories to the Web all the time even before I sit down to write stories for my newspaper. It's that whole immediacy thing.

But on the weekend, convergence took on a whole new shocking meaning for me.

I'm not a numerologist, but it just occurred to me -- my age and my son's age comprise the same numbers, except I'm 51 and he's 15. Eery. That's 36 years apart. Our birthdays are 12 days apart.

I'm a Scorpio and he's whatever comes after that. (Clearly I'm not an astrologist either).

My music tastes range from the Beatles to Wang Chung to Supertramp to Bruce Cockburn to John Mayer to Celine Dion (just kidding about that last part).

His likes are almost completely focused on a Canadian punk/alternative band called Alexisonfire, plus other heavy metal groups like Silverstein and Billy Talent.

And one of the constants with some of these bands is they have a "screamer." If you have the courage to stick with me, if only for 30 seconds or so, you'll see what I mean.

I remember growing up when my parents listened to Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Andy Williams and, to be really ultra-modern, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (I loved that Whipped Cream album cover).

When the Beatles came along and the Stones and DC 5 and Herman's Hermits and "rock n' roll" started rockin', my mom and dad just called it "long-haired noise" and didn't want to hear it on the stereo in our living room. That was the 60s.

Fast-forward to the 21st century. I'm a baby boomer with my bombs away mentality behind me. My son is on MSN all the time, teaches me stuff about downloading from Limewire and has an MP3 player with who knows what on it.

He's on my pc all the time playing the same stuff all the time. And when I boot him off, he goes into the living room and plays it all again on my sound system.

To my amazement, in between all that "screaming," (stay tuned), with my ears buzzed and barely able to function, I heard a few beautiful songs by one of the members of Alexisonfire, a guy named Dallas Green.

All through the weekend, we talked about how good he was. I eventually went on Limewire and downloaded some of his songs. So here we are, and my son and I have had a musical convergence that transcends the ages.

Something I never would have thought possible.

Below, assuming all this works correctly, are two YouTube vids. The first one is a song called Pulmonary Archery by Alexisonfire, with Dallas Green singing but also with the band's "screamer" screaming. Just try to listen to it.

The second vid is one of my favourite songs by Green himself, who has now released a solo effort. It's called I'm Coming Home.

Enjoy (or don't) and ponder yourself: if you have kids (or if or when you HAVE kids), would you ever expect you could have THIS kind of convergence?

alexisonfire pulmonary archery

You might note that the producer of this crude video actually labels the song Pulmonary Academy for some reason...the guy on the guitar and singing in a normal voice is Dallas Green, then of course there's the "Screamer..."
City and Colour - Comin' Home

This is Dallas Green, he plays under the name City and Colour when he's not with Alexisonfire...a lot of the lyrics mention his travels in Canada.

November 23, 2006

Woman's Brain vs. Man's Brain


I believe you would be able to find that somewhere in the nether regions of my mind, or at least in the dregs of my long forgotten previous posts, but I don't know how to direct you there. You'll have to go look yourself if you want.

As a refresher, the working example for my ground-breaking theory rested on this diagram below:

Well now (and you will notice I have switched to pink), there is this fine scientific advancement, provided to me by a lovely woman in Ontario, to shed light on the far too complicated female brain.

In the original super-complex diagram depicting the actual documented workings inside the modern female brain, all those little blue dots above represented single thoughts.

And they were all moving around at once, from top to bottom, much like a gargantuan canning factory assembly line with pulleys and levers operating in perfect unison, processing one thought after the other.

(Or just by gravity?)

With my tiny male brain (above), however, I could not figure out how to show in this post the moving version of the diagram, as I could not find it on YouTube. So this will have to suffice.

(Editor's note: There is also a sign depicted in the moving version with the word "NO" flashing every two seconds or so. I don't know if this is the part of the female brain that deals with men's request for sex and the typical response).

At the top of the diagram (not shown) is a little intro that says something like this:

"Every one of those little blue balls is a thought about something that needs to be done, a decision or a problem that needs to be solved."

Or, put another way, women's brains are wondrous things, far superior to men's.

They can process thousands of thoughts simultaneously, including such crucial facets of life as which way toilet paper should be installed: is it better to roll it up or roll it down.

Thus, the blue balls that move so efficiently below.

(Second Eds note: I have some recollection of a blue balls phenomenon, but in a different light).

At the bottom of the diagram, this simple statement is made:

A man's brain requires only two balls.

It isn't immediately clear what this last statement means in the evolution of our respective genders. Further research is required.

November 21, 2006

In the meantime, I leave you with some musical enjoyment from Canada's own Kim Mitchell, one of my old all-time faves...

Probably his best song ever, along with Sailor, which I can't find...the guy with huge hair and a pasty blue suit jacket with no shirt almost looks like Gino Vanelli, another great Canadian balladeer, but I'm sure someone (hello Homo Erectus) might confirm or deny that...
Kim Mitchell at Super Ex

A brutal vid, but another one of his hits...
Kim Mitchell - Go for a Soda

He's a funny, strange guy, but I love his music and sense of humour...
KIM MITCHELL - Rock N Roll Duty

One of his classics, a Canadian who coulda, shoulda been a bigger star...

November 20, 2006



But the biggest unreported story of all, which I am today trying to peddle to Entertainment Tonight for thousands of dollars, is that Canadian singer Nelly Furtado did NOT have a wardrobe malfunction.

The Grey Cup is Canada's older, but not nearly as media-driven, overly glitzy professional football equivalent of America's Super Bowl. And you know what happened two years ago in Texas, right?

Let me remind you (vid can be found at

In a crass, obviously staged stunt that they later tried to pass off as completely accidental, American superstar Janet Jackson suffered a "wardrobe malfunction."

This happened after Justin Timberflake reached over and yanked off some conveniently removable thingy just as their song ended, exposing her right breast.

Janet just stood there in a stupid pose, enough time for millions if not billions of viewers around the world to see her nipple, etc., before she feigned a look of horror and disgust and covered up.

The world, for the most part, either laughed in hysterics at what was later called a "wardrobe malfunction" or they gasped.

Not surprisingly, the talkshow hosts had a field day. Miss Piggy had fun with it, and even Janet and Justin dolls found their way onto the market.

Now Canada, as we all know, is not the United States, although we do make some pretty stupid attempts to mimic the great elephant south of us. But there are some things we simply WON'T DO.

And judging by Sunday's half-time Grey Cup performance in -6 C temperatures in an outdoor stadium, one of our best-known female performers decided that a wardrobe malfunction is one of those things we won't do.

There were about 45,000 people in the stands and millions -- including some 350,000 in the U.S. and overseas -- tuning in on TV. The opportunity was there for some northern exposure.

Nelly, who had leapt into stardom with a bubblegum song called "I'm Like a Bird," has altered her image and her latest global hits are songs called Promiscuous (playing with this post) and Maneater.

She sang both tunes at half-time but try as she might, she could really be neither promiscuous nor much of a maneater, given the weather and this get-up, which made her somewhat less than sultry...

We can't report this as fact, but our suspicion is that Nelly was likely doing the Canadian thing -- dressing in layers -- to ward off the cold.

It therefore stands to reason she had eight pairs of long underwear and at least three thermal shirts on. A wardrobe malfunction would have taken quite some time to accomplish.

November 15, 2006

The Absent (and absent-minded) Blogger

I have been so busy covering our national football championship Grey Cup Week that I can barely even look at my own blog and respond to comments, let alone getting to other sites and friends to see what they're up to.
I've been working 12-hour days for most of the week doing this...

Photo/caricature/print credit: Donn Coppens, a.k.a. Homo Escapeons

Instead of visiting and commenting on the brilliant postings by my friends and fellow bloggers, and I sincerely apologize for that, and I miss it. But it is virtually unavoidable.
Here was Wednesday's schedule:
6 a.m. -- Wake up, go pee, go back to bed.
6:15 a.m. -- Emergency backup alarm goes off. Drag sorry ass out of bed.
6:16 a.m. -- Fire up computer, turn water on for instant Maxwell House Coffee, good to the last drop.
7:30 a.m. -- Shave, etc.
8 a.m. -- Depart for press conference featuring head coaches of two teams.
9:15 a.m. -- Leave press conference, see that car has been towed away.
10:30 a.m. -- Retrieve car, have conniption, go to office, transcribe tape of press conference, try to write story, can't finish, must depart for B.C. Lions' practice.
1:30 p.m. -- Freeze in -10 temperatures with biting wind for next two hours at outdoor practice.
3:30 p.m. -- Get jostled during media scrums/interview opportunities with players for next hour.
4:30 p.m. -- Depart for home, but almost run out of gas in car that had been towed and which I now hate.
5:15 p.m. -- Arrive at home, write three stories, knowing still must write two more, but need to eat.
8:30 p.m. -- Daughter phones. Can I pick her up from work? Yes, at 10 p.m.
8:45 p.m. -- Check blog, respond to comments, decide to post about this insanity.
9:04 p.m. -- (Right now) -- Fall asleep at keyboard.

November 14, 2006

My Meeting with MJ The Infomaniac

WHO IS.....................


She definitely is not the paper-bag-faced male above, but that's the only pic I could find to illustrate my point that she is among the most mysterious of Blogger's bloggers.

I met MJ The Infomaniac in Vancouver on the weekend, curious about this faceless, nameless poster of all things wacky and wild, a woman of few words but many images, some pretty outlandish.

She values her privacy and her persona, so I will keep that secrecy intact. Suffice to say we met at a bar near her home address, which is...

Just kidding!

I believe I can tell you that she is about 5-foot-3, slim, older than 40 and younger than 50, with shoulder-length brown hair, a beautiful smile and an engaging personality featuring spontaneous outbursts of laughter.

She's very alive and fun to be with and talk to. And she made me walk 25 minutes back to my hotel in the rain because the cab she said I'd be able to catch never showed up as she walked back to her home and her husband.

MJ is a far more gifted writer than she would let on by the sparse words she uses in her posts and she comes by her nickname "Infomaniac" honestly, although I can't tell you why or she would kill me.

In fact, I'm not sure I can really say anything else about her, because I will spontaneously combust. So we'll just leave it at that it was a pleasure to meet, for the first time, in person, a fellow blogger whose initials aren't HE.

November 13, 2006



So now that we've got that myth out of the way (hey, and didja know, they're called the Felions? Meow, purr....), what was Vancouver really like?
Well, it was a whole bunch of this...

It rained, and rained, and rained...and then it rained some more. Vancouver's a beautiful city, but I did not bring an umbrella. I felt like I was in the Vancouver Aquarium the entire weekend.

But it was also about this...wild fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (green, left) and the Lions (red, right) getting together to watch the Lions win the Canadian Football League West Division Final.

The Lions will arrive in my city, Winnipeg, tomorrow along with the Montreal Alouettes for Sunday's CFL championship, the 94th Grey Cup, and I'll be working on that all week for my newspaper.

The weekend was also about a chance to get to meet the beautiful and talented MJ The Infomaniac, but I'll post about that meeting when I get the chance. I did not get the opportunity to meet Andrea of Colouring Outside the Lions. :-(

Right now, I need to dry out, my computer keyboard is wet.

November 10, 2006


OK, not really, but I do hope to inadvertently run into these two women below, members of the British Columbia Lions' cheerleading squad, inexplicably posing with whoever this guy is.

OK again.

No, in fact, I am off to Vancouver this weekend to cover the Canadian Football League West Division final on Sunday between the Lions and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at B.C. Place Stadium.

And if I get to meet the cheerleaders at a post-game hot tub party, well so be it. All part of the job.

But even if that doesn't happen -- or even if it does -- at least I might be able to meet with Vancouver blogger MJ (The Infomaniac) or Andrea (Colouring Outside the Lines).

Regardless, this will be my workplace this weekend (and how ironic is it that Vancouver, which hardly ever gets snow or cold but just gets rained on all the time, has a domed stadium and Winnipeg doesn't):

Here are some action shots of the Lions and Roughriders in action. The winner of this game will advance to the Grey Cup, the CFL championship, in my Winnipeg on Sunday, Nov. 19.

It's going to be quite the national party, even though the game itself will likely be played in -40 C temperatures. Still, it's Canada's big football hoedown and it's going to be fun.

Nelly Furtado will play at Grey Cup half-time (we'll be watching to see if she has a clothing malfunction) and 45,000 people should be drunk by half-time. I, however, plan to remain sober.

After all, I do have to write and I will be working.

November 9, 2006



The indestructibility of the World Wide Web, the advent of MySpace, the zillion-thoughts-a-second instantaneousness of computers.

So why the hell is that at least once a day, with a high-end Dell PC that I purchased less than six months ago, I get this response from Blogger or from this site or that site: "NOT RESPONDING."

Or I get some stupid message that comes on saying this program or that program saying "We apologize, but mim needs to shut this program down now. Would you like to send an error report?"

No, I'd like to kick you in the balls!

I see bloggers mention it all the time: can't post a picture, lose a lengthy comment on a post you've just spent the last 15 minutes composing, lose a song I've just downloaded when the site shuts down...

You spend $2,000 on your new computer, another $50 a month on your high-speed connection, you buy optional programs like Limewire or Flickr or this or that...and it all goes kersplat.

Is this some big conspiracy by the computer companies and servers and website operators, including Blogger, to drive us mad so that we'll just spend more on the next highest level of service that STILL will break down?

I realize technology is fragile. But why don't they just spit it out and say, "Shit happens. Things break down. This is what you should expect. We don't have it all right. We are not infallible."

But they don't. Instead, they offer outdated advisories saying this site or that site will be taken down for maintenance. But that usually happens only after users have lost this or that.

While I'm at it, might as well whine a bit more. Why do they offer those boxes that say "remember my password," and you click on it to do so, and it never DOES remember your password?

Am I a complete whiner who just doesn't have a clue because I don't have my PhD in getting along with computers or what?

November 7, 2006

People Collection List (Canajun Verjun)

Ces, who was voting Tuesday for a New York Jew named Kinky, has I see tagged me to write "five things" about myself that are either profane or mundane.

Being a good boy who could never be profane or do anything considered profane, and being entirely mundane (I'm sure Homo Escapeons will readily back this up), I could only come up with this list:

1. By my rough calculations, I have five scars on my body totalling some 13 inches, nine inches of which are the result of three operations on my right knee, which was totally reconstructed at one point.

I blew out the knee while playing Frisbee football on a hill in Turkey. I have a bolt just below my kneecap holding it all together. The football players I cover laugh at me about having uglier knees than they do.

Other scars are on my right wrist from pushing my hand through a window while losing my temper with my mom as a kid, on my lower back when I had a disc removed (another sports injury) and on my left leg when I sunk a drill bit into it.

2. I have an actor uncle named Len Cariou. Google him. You'll probably recognize him. He's been in movies with Jack Nicholson and Alan Alda, has starred on Broadway with Lauren Bacall and Liz Taylor.

Back in the 80s I travelled to New York and spent a day with him and his then-flame, an actress no one knew until she burst onto the scene later that year with a guy named Robin Williams in a movie called The World According to Garp.

Her name is Glenn Close.

3. I have two brothers and three sisters. All three of us boys have a space between our front teeth. None of the three girls do. Go figure.

4. I told the entire planet, as a sports reporter with The Canadian Press wire service in Edmonton, Alberta, that superstar hockey player Wayne Gretzky broke Gordie Howe's career points scoring record the night he did it.

And my name is on that scoresheet because I picked the three stars that night, Gretzky No. 1, obviously.

5. I was 4-foot-11 in Grade 10 but grew six inches that summer, when I simultaneously discovered girls were as much fun as playing sports and collecting insects.

I only grew another four inches after that. :-(

November 6, 2006

The Faerie Tale of George Dubya Bush

So this guy decided to show...


And for all those lives lost, both American soldiers and Iraqis, this old man is all he's got to show for it:

And now Saddam has been sentenced to death. Surprise!

Bush has called it a victory for Iraqi democracy or something silly like that, even as his own armed forces continue to call for Donald Rumsfeld's head, even as Bush's Republicans teeter on the precipice of electoral defeat.

And even as, on Monday, a Republican governor he was trying to help get re-elected in Florida decided to pass up that opportunity to show up somewhere else instead.

The jig's up, Dubya. Listen to the people. Pull the boys out of Iraq.