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Friday, June 29, 2007
A profoundly moving, peaceful, even funny tribute to 7-year-old Noah at his funeral yesterday afternoon. The church was packed with families and children, with the resulting noise and chaos that was somehow just right. The funeral mass concluded with a sweetgrass ceremony and Tsuu-tsina chant out in the foyer. Normally I'm not a fan, but the singer's voice was so beautiful and melodic as to be unforgettable. I saw Noah's parents, Michele and Andrew, along with their families, but decided not to bother them, surrounded by hundreds of people as they were. If you've lost a child to a freak accident, particularly a child who was gradually, gleefully overcoming his congenital heart malformation, I'd guess that anything after that, such as a funeral or prayer service, is a walk by comparison.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The Return of the Passive Engineer. Some of the chums have said that I sound depressed in my posts about my job that still is. Let me clarify: okay, I'm not ecstatic about the new situation, exactly, but my displeasure is with myself. I deal with boredom quite badly. Alas, I get bored quite easily. So like the classic Passive Engineer I am, I've allowed things to go on and on without putting a foot out, without brandishing a pen and shouting "I am in CHARGE, do you hear?" or taken similar actions. So now my work, which is quite good by the way, has now evolved into more of an administrative than a creative role. You know what sucks? I can't blame anyone else. Ooh dammit dammit dammit.
Not that I'm not allowed to be creative anymore, no, not that. I still have a cool job in a cool little company, which pleases me greatly. So while I'm quite dismayed at certain things in my life, like I'm still not famous, cute, wealthy and carnally satisfied by seafaring rogues, overall things are pretty good. Of course, the part of my psyche that is a wind-burned, calloused Highland peasant has not once shut up about how "ye shoulda' been fired, ye feckless gob."
Still here. I was right about one aspect, though. I don't really have my old position any longer. Now I'm more of the communications dogsbody/grammar thug. How do I feel about this? I'll let you know.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Tick-tock, tick-tock... and the waiting continues. Ah, well, before I become more obnoxiously cryptic than usual, I will just say that I've had a strong feeling that my job may be coming to an end today. What surprises me more than anything is how mellow I'm feeling about it all. This is a great and cool little company, and I will definitely miss my friends and the bees. I will spare you all the details of why I have the strong feeling. Anyway, I've been known to be wrong. Once or twice.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Listen to that Spidey-sense. Karo's Staff Appreciation Day-day, a.k.a. SAD Day, is on July 6th. In early May the planning committee met to discuss options. We decided to book the services of a circus school here in town. I was thrilled with the idea and hoped that my yoga training would make me a useful team member. In the intervening weeks we've met two or three times to discuss details. As of two weeks ago we had not yet found out from the circus school what events they could set up for our group of 50. Last week we decided it was time to push for some details. I felt that the school founder was a confirmed ditherer, and since I'm one myself, I counselled that Karo use strong but polite language in dealing with the circus man. Today our committee Do-All, Nicole, received a cryptic e-mail from him, stating that "sorry, we will be unavailable to accommodate your event." Nicole, incredulous, phoned the ditherer and reminded him that he had confirmed his staff's participation nearly three weeks ago. "Sorry...can't get the people." Well, of course we called bullshit on that, then immediately set out to find something else for the Karovians to do. In mid-afternoon Nicole received a phone call from the ditherer who assured her that he would find some way to make things happen. "Uh, no," she said, echoing the committee's sentiment.
The circus school is Velocity Motion Werks. And they really need to get their shit together.
I often browse through the local obituaries, a habit I've had since childhood. Today I saw what I wish wasn't there, what stunned me into humble silence: a notice for my former colleague's 7-year-old son. Born with a heart malformation, he went through a few major surgeries before he turned two. I last saw him a few years ago, when he was a thoroughly energetic four-year-old and a new big brother. I expect his family knew that his heart complications might result in a shorter life span. But I don't think it's ever possible to be prepared to lose a child, no matter how much you know. Update: I have just learned that Noah died after being struck by a car backing out of a stall in a parking lot, not from his heart condition. A complete tragedy made even more painful by it being an accident.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thanks, Bertie. I happened upon it while researching quotes on group dynamism, fellowship, what have you.
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
Albert Schweitzer.
I could blather about this, you know. But I think I'll just be grateful to old Al, and oh yeah, to all the rest of you bipeds in my life.
Well, that was FAR too soppy. I'll have to remember that when I checked on the website of the upcoming movie, The Golden Compass, which is one of my favourite stories of recent years, I was given a tiger as a daemon. A monstrous big Bengal tiger named Aesop. Of course, friend Nik, that old cheenyus, was given a fox. I see it now: Nikki will continue to come up with brilliant plans, and I'll just slash people's heads off. Sher Khan RULES.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Things What We Know:
  • If you're in a Japanese restaurant in a land-locked city in a land-locked province, but you're the only Gaijin in the place, you know the food is going to be good. Lori and I did the co-birthday dinner thing on the weekend, and at her suggestion we dined at a suburban Japanese restaurant. So popular with Calgary's Japanese population that reservations were strictly enforced--to wit, they wouldn't seat us 10 minutes early. Time was when fresh seafood in the Prairies meant that the restaurant had thawed it the same day you dined. Times have changed.
  • When your office is again experiencing sudden and intense construction, and the replacement coffee machines are now situated adjacent to your work wedge, people expect you to make coffee. You expect yourself to make coffee. You think about coffee all goddamn day now. You resolutely HATE people who leave a millitre of coffee in one pot because they'd have to make a fresh pot if they'd emptied it.
  • When you're asked to devise names for a multi-billion dollar office tower complex, and the names have to reflect landscape, history, and business climate, but you can't use words such as "peak," "Rockies," or "summit," you will form an undying bond with your Oxford Thesaurus.
  • Because your deranged skin didn't bat a follicle at being stung by a bee last Friday, you think you may be over the latest histaminic hissy fit. Then a mosquito gets you. You soon learn how wrong you are.
  • When you get the latest notice from the Amazon chumps that the order you placed over six months previously has been delayed yet again, deal with it: you are not going to receive the item, ever, even if Amazon continues to live in denial.
  • Things that we thought would make us envious, such as our older brother and sis-in-law purchasing a country home that backs onto a river, in fact do not do so. We're really more concerned that our beloved sis-in-law will work herself to death.
  • When people who have done many good things for us in the past now impose restrictions on us that we feel to be quite unfair, we are initially tempted to make a scene. We must remember the magic word, "perspective." Yes, we wish we could introduce these people to the term, "reality check," but we must also deal with the inadvisability of such.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Irony. Bigger. Better. Daily.Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's minister of religious affairs, is quite upset with the U.K knighting Salman Rushdie. Apparently upset enough not to realize when he's making a complete fool of himself:
"The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the 'sir' title," ul-Haq said.
Where did I put my old "Death to Extremists" t-shirt, anyway?
Friday, June 15, 2007
No, no, no... those little darling honey bees won't sting me! I am the granddaughter of a bee charmer! I don't need my veil and gloves to go and check my little chumskis. Hmm, two of them have crawled up my left sleeve. C'mon out, you little rascals, c'mon--OW! Okay, so that's what a bee sting feels like. Hmm, now I have two more bees in the Lyle Lovett hairdo. And the other bee is still in my sleeve, now up above my elbow. I appeal to Rudy, the bee whisperer. "It's probably not going to end well," he says cheerily. But! I manage to detangle the hair bees. And finally the arm bee comes back down and flies out of my sleeve. I notice his sting is missing, probably embedded in my sweater somewhere.
Five minutes later: Well, I know I'm not having an anaphylactic seizure or anything, but dangit, this sting hurts. My whole arm is tingly. Mostly I just feel sheepish, though. They may be laid-back bees, but they're not absolutely unflappable. Sorry, kids.
Irony in the UK:

I'm putting this in the Funny-Sad file as well as the Hilarious Irony one.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The 2007 Myrmidons made an unusual start to their lawn bowling season by winning both their games--including a shut-out of the team that paddled them mercilessly last year. One of our competitors wins Honorary Myrmidon points for insisting on playing with an infected knee that had been doctored and bandaged, and with an IV drip attached to a shoulder pack full of antibiotics. You know, even a Myrmidon might take the night off rather than lose a lower leg. I was quite fascinated by Simon's bad leg, to tell the truth, although the cellulitis that had swollen his calf to twice its size was a little alarming. Anyway, the Myrmidons chose to show their compassion with a 10-0 score. Get well soon, suckah!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
My birthday mojo runneth over. Yesterday was one of the finest. I don't know how they managed to do it, but Vinnie and Schmuke cooked every one of my favourite foods for dinner: grilled asparagus, grilled eggplant (aubergines if you insist), rack of lamb, perfectly browned new potatoes, and a new favourite, grilled green onions (scallions, all right? scallions). Enhanced by this marvelous olive oil from Italy, fresh herbs and sea salt. Jane HAPPY. The spoiling continued with Vin giving me two brand new graphic novels, a Neil Gaiman and one called "The Pride of Baghdad." I never thought I'd be a graphic novel reader, but sign me up, I'm hooked. So, thoroughly feasted and feted, the evening ended with a conversation on my favourite topic, movies. Specifically what we considered to be perfect movies. For me, that means movies that I can watch over and over again and still find something new, or still enjoy just as much each time. Casablanca, Tom Jones, Fargo, Rushmore, Life of Brian, Harold and Maude, and that's just to start.
Came home to romp and cuddle with the dogs, the perfect end to a pretty dang perfect day. Thanks, all.
Hmmm...this year's newspaper birthday horoscope, which must of course be true, says that something I have been working on for the last 8-9 years may be about to end. And now we know why I feel the job's about to go four-in-the-air, to use Jean's colourful term. I'll keep yez posted, of course.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Heya, gorgeous. Once again I was well into the homestretch of the morning dog walk before I remembered that it was My Day. Last year I just happened to be a shame-based organism for the whole of my birthday, although Vinnie and Schmuke did the usual miracle and ungrouched me with a marvelous dinner. This year I'm in standard Jane mode: sure that work is about to collapse, happy to have the friends, family and beasts that I have, and completely out of underwear and socks. Overshare? Sorry. And yay, Vinnie and Schmuke are having me over for dinner tonight, another step towards their Nobel Peace Prize. Thanks, all.
Monday, June 11, 2007
There is a God. Batty skin, take heart. I mean, grass.
One year. Though yesterday was 52 weeks to the day, today is the official one-year anniversary of the Amazing Thing, i.e., No Hooch for Janey. It doesn't seem like a year. Frankly, it really doesn't seem like a big deal. I'm recording the date only because that's what this lava rock brain of mine likes to do.
This year's MS Bike Tour, the verdict: Loved it. Will I ever do it on a cruiser bike again? I don't think so. It's frustrating to be kept to a top speed that you know you could blow away if you just had more gears. But the weather was divine, the lunch was homemade and absolutely delicious, and I felt excessively virtuous upon reaching the finishing line. And I must say that Jean and I looked ultra retro-cool on our bikes with baskets and stuff. Although we were a little alarmed at how often the tour ambulance kept coming by.
Hmm, despite lashings of SPF 30 sunscreen, my face and arms were burned (sun and wind), which the insane skin was not at all happy about. Ah, shaddup, ya rotten hide.
I was able to visit for a few minutes with the older bro and sister-in-law who very kindly put me up overnight in Red Deer. They're so busy with their kids that I felt a tad guilty for imposing on them. First niece Marilla's graduation ceremony went well, and the dry aftergrad sounded pretty fun. The dry party had a bunch of games, including the velcro wall that you could bounce and stick to (when wearing the appropriate fuzzy suit, I expect). 'Rilla had a blast, despite nearly breaking an ankle during a foambat fight. Her parents, who'd stayed up the entire night to supervise the dry grad, felt the lack of sleep for the rest of the weekend.
Movie Question: How is it possible that Terry Gilliam, who made two movies that actually changed my life for the better in the years I saw them ("Brazil" in 1985 and "The Fisher King" in 1991), managed to bore me, his great great fan, into snores with "The Brothers Grimm"? I liked "Jabberwocky" a lot more than this one. Beautiful to look at, the Grimm movie was, but slow! Oh. Slow. Glad I didn't spend money to see it in a theatre, but rather watched it on satellite. I liked "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" better than this one, too. And that's saying something. Okay, so maybe this kind of clanger from someone I know to be a genius--maybe this can be an encouragement to those of us who fear to test our creative limits. Even a Gilliam clangs once in awhile. Hmm.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Weekend scorecard:
  • Good: The 2-day MS Bike tour in the Red Deer area. Day 1 we cycle a little over 100 km, Day 2, 90 km.
  • Bad: Now, retardo skin, NOW you're acting up? Your timing sucks. I have an image of myself as an antihistaminey, dopey cyclist crashing into the refreshment stations. Not pretty.
  • Good: Crowded House is coming to Calgary in September.
  • Bad: What with the bike tour and the cash donation, the liquid funds aren't quite there for CH ticket.
  • But again, Good! The wonderful Vinnie La Vin to the rescue. She gets the tickets right away. BLESS YOU.
  • Good: First Niece, the beloved Marilla, graduates from high school tonight.
  • Bad: My niece is already 18, gawdsakes...I am, accordingly, ancient.
  • Bad: The TV, my lifelong roomie, has at last served notice of its imminent Rapture. Now, to change channels, I have to hit the Program Channels button and hit the Increase Volume button when the channel I want flashes on the screen. It's a system right out of "Brazil."
  • Good: New TVs, the non-plasma, non-5-foot flatscreen kind, are not all that expensive. So perhaps soon we shall have a new one. And yes, that's how I truly know I am middle-aged: when the thought of a new TV makes me feel that life still has meaning.

Monday, June 04, 2007
Things what I should have mentioned: Sometimes there's a pause in the "me me me ME" aria that is my blog, and I seize the chance to mention other things in life besides my dogs, my bike, my horse, and so on. Back in April the tiny little company that employs me was voted No. 5 in Canada's 100 Best Places to Work. The poll was conducted by Canadian Business magazine. So yeah, of course the cynic in me had to note that No. 1 was the company "Got Junk?", and No. 46 was the old hellion Thomson-Carswell (formerly Carswell Legal Publications, my employer from '88-'97). But really, if my cynicism could just shut the frig up for five seconds--really, it is, as Ray the Cat might say, hell of cool to make the top 10.
And it's really a new company these days, old Karo is, lots of new people, new clients, new pursuits. Even a new writer onboard! Young and male and English and funny! I was on the verge of cleaning out my desk when I noticed a dangling modifying clause in one of his ads, and the incorrect use of "everyday" in another. So yeah, go ahead, be brilliant, go on! Just make a few typos here and there so I can justify my existence, eh?
Phoning ahead, i.e., how to prolong the agony. This coming weekend is the MS Bike Tour, and Jean and I and our two spiffy cruiser bikes are getting ready for the glory. I've been looking for suitably Fifties-ish bike accessories, but despite the explosion of cruiser bikes on Calgary pathways, there aren't a lot of accessories outside the Disney Princess Sparkly line. After a couple of disappointing trips to bike stores, this morning one of my sole remaining synapses sparked: how about phoning the stores first? The first two stores gave me giggly, snorting denials that they carried such stuff. Finally I talked to Bow Cycle. Handlebar streamers? Sure. Bike baskets? Oh, yeah. Proper ah-oogah horns? Yeppity yep. Keen! I bounced off to the Soccer Mom van and happily drove to the store.
When the third salesperson asked me if I needed help and when I told him about my prior phone call about bike accessories, pointed me to the order desk, where I had been sent twice before and directed to various locations in the store to "go check", I began to snort, the sign of a middle-aged crosspatch about to lose it. "Never mind," I said to salesgoon, "I can look through the aisles by myself." I found the bike baskets and decided to declare victory. At the sales counter, I mentioned that "I really didn't want to sound like a jerk, but when you phone beforehand and are told something's in know..."
"Oh! I know exactly where the handlebar streamers are," said the woman behind the desk. "They're for kids, though." I shrugged and smiled the idiot smile. "Okay, then!" She disappeared into the back. Two seconds later she reappeared with handlebar streamers. Then she asked about the bike tour and said it sounded like "an awesome way to support charity." Extremely soothed, I took my bike accessories outside and drove happily back to the office. To the first three salespeople I just want to say--would it have KILLED YOU to check the stock room? Anyway, Bow Cycle is still a grand store, my favourite bike store in Alberta, actually. Sometimes having a well spoken near meltdown can work in your favour. Lesson for the day. [Oh, and the streamers? They're pretty princessy, but dammit, they're MINE.]
Friday, June 01, 2007
This is not how it's supposed to be. My younger brother's friend, Martin Hausch, died yesterday in Edmonton. He'd been in hospital for brain lesions and was to be transferred to the Cross Cancer Institute yesterday, but suddenly succumbed to a heart attack.
How it should be, say I as the reigning older and unattached paragon, is that the older go first. Simple; logical. I didn't know Martin well, but I liked him from first meeting him, and I will never forget the sound of his infectious hoots of laughter in my brother's company. He was a good one.