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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Please Edit, Please? Edit? Please. Actual conversation between one of the friendlier ad execs and me:
Me: Why did you put "stet" on this edit? You can't say "Please R.S.V.P." It's redundant.
Ad Exec: It's the way the client wants it.
Me: Yeah, but does the client know that the invitations now read "Please respond please?" R.s.v.p. means "Repondez s'il vous plait."
Ad Exec: People don't know that--they don't know what "R.S.V.P." actually means, they just think it's an acronym that means "answer," so it makes sense to them to put "Please" in front of it, y'know, "Please answer." They think it looks rude without it.
Me [Going for the jugular, and by the way, "RSVP" is not an acronym. "Scuba" is an acronym.]: But...isn't it our job to help our clients look their best? I'm just trying to make it so that the clients don't look like illiterate stubble-jumpers when people read their invitations.
Ad Exec: Yeah, but what you have to realize is that people probably already think these guys are illiterate stubble-jumpers. You could say it's part of their brand.
Aieeee. "Please R.S.V.P." it is, despite my eloquent protestations.
I become famous in the third person. The Little Company That Could made the top 10 of "Canada's Best Workplaces" for a second consecutive year, so we had a bit of a shindig yesterday to celebrate. This included each of us getting a nifty water canteen, Swiss made, steel, none of your Bisphenol-A-ridden plastic crap, and a copy of the Best Workplaces article in that most businesslike of newspapers, the Globe and Mail. But I achieve fame in the company's press release, oh yes!
"With offices in Calgary and Vancouver, [The Little Company That Could] is Western Canada’s leading interdisciplinary branding agency and is committed to making its 79 employees the primary focus.

That includes helping a copywriter tend bees on the roof of the Calgary office or making it easy for a project manager to volunteer to help orphans in Ethiopia. We also cheer as an architect in our Environments department cleans up with her clothing collection at Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels competition."
From sad R.S.V.P.s to happy, happy continues to be oddly endearing most days.
Monday, April 28, 2008
And so...the CONCERT. Now known as "Concert No. One," since the second concert that I didn't know about is still a couple of weeks away. Saturday we rehearsed with the St. Andrews choir, some of whom also sing in the philharmonic chorus. This is not yer average group of warblers. My choir, ReVoice, had a rehearsal that sounded mainly like this:
[Choirleader]: (one, two, three!) WAIT--gentlemennnn. Watch the hand (motioning in 3/4 time).
[Choirleader]: And! one-two-three, etc. OKAY OKAY! STOP. You have to WAIT for me, your conductor, to signal you to come in. I'm talking to the basses. That'd be you gentlemen. WAIT FOR THE CONDUCTOR.
[Choirleader]: one-two-three, one-two-three, O Roses whose beauty is subtle and raaare--STOP. Guys, slow down. You're ahead of the piano now. Watch the hand. WATCH. THE. HAND.
Yesterday, about an hour before the concert, we had a quick run-through of the same song. The tenors and basses ripped through it yet again. Although I don't expect ReVoice will ever be an auditioned choir, we may have some sort of counting competency instituted. The phenomenally patient choirleader walked the gents through it again--and so to the concert! Where the boys ripped through their solo again! A half beat ahead of the accompanyist! Good thing it was a modern piece. That cacophony? We meant to do that.
So it was great fun, and I managed to hornswoggle Vinnie La Vin and SuperBeryl, her luminous ma, into attending. That's friendship, let me tell ya.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Damn, she's off AGAIN... Back on top of the soapbox, ranting away...
The latest trigger: another friend in deep, chronic back pain. Has he been to the doctor? Well, his chiropractor has doubled his appointments over the next month. So: no, in other words. I wish I'd been able to quote the following from memory:
Look, it's not rocket science. You can’t cure an inflamed gallbladder or a pulmonary embolism by adjusting the spine. You can’t actually adjust the spine either because, while I am second to none in admiration for the typical chiromancer’s knowledge of spinal anatomy, all of those ligaments and muscles that they rattle off prevent the kind of movements that they claim to induce. Hell, in my line of work we call chiropractic “spinal adjustment” by its correct term, “trauma,” and it is only the inability of most chiromancers to generate motor vehicle collision-type forces that keeps them from hurting more patients than they actually do.
From Doc Panda (Boldface and italics mine.)
For the record: I don't have too much of a problem with chiropractors who stick to massage and flexion to help their clients--and more importantly, who suggest that their patients go to an M.D. if their pain isn't eased. Also for the record: four years of chiropracty school does NOT make you a doctor. Premed, then four years of med school, passing your boards, then surviving your residency: that's what makes you a doctor. Taking a course on radiology that involves simply looking at x-rays does NOT make you as adept at interpreting them as a radiologist (or an x-ray tech, for that matter).
Finally: all the people I know (including two or three friends) who use chiropractors have two things in common: they've been seeing them regularly, sometimes bi-weekly, for years, and their conditions are never cured.
Oh, you see, there I go. There's something about alternative medicine that spells "snake oil" to me and makes me absurdly impatient, albeit quietly, with its adherents. It's not *my* back/neck/knee/etc. after all.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Vignettes of the weekend past: Snow. Wind. Another of my socks gets eaten. Go, Canadiens! Oh. Well, good game, anyway. Go, Calgary, I guess...yep, you go'ed. A toddler's supreme meltdown in the Stupeystore: bring back spankings. O Snow, You are So Huge... And now, 1940s-vintage crossword puzzles. Howdy, racism. My moonboots draw giggles.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Hey, Joe, where you going with that Stanley Cup in your hands? I love that Joe Sakic. I love him and Stevie Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan and Paul Kariya and Mats Naslund and Larry Robinson and Bobby know, the hockey players who play(ed) as part of a team. I love their counterparts in other sports, too--like Cal Ripken, Jr. And that is why, I predict fearlessly, that the Calgary Flames will not win the Cup this year: because they've got too many attention-seekers. They've got too many players who want to be the hero who gets the goal. As a result, they keep throwing their brilliant goalie, Miikka Kiprusoff, under the bus. The Flames won't win another Cup until they trim a few egos, says I. You know, 'cause I'm such a cheenyus and so athletic and all that.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The new Dad legend: Call it poetic justice, a karmic snoutwhack, or just pure dee highlarious. Mad Melvin is not a man who's all that patient with people making mistakes. His dad was the same. I know I have precious little patience with the slip-ups of others, so I'm carrying the gift forward. Anyway: Dad came to Alberta with a cooler full of ocean treasures: packages of prawns, salmon and cod, all for our soon-to-be-doomed family feast (see below). Anyway, my sister-in-law is a supremely gifted cook and makes fish chowder that Mad Melvin adores. He says he's brought the cod *especially* so Alayne can use it in her chowder. Whereupon Alayne gets everything together for the making of same. Gets the package of cod and opens it to find--
--cod? Not quite. A pile of fish skeletons with heads and tails attached. Presumably Dad kept them in the freezer for eventual use in his crab traps, not out of sentiment. Anyhow: the thought of the mad dad proudly chauffeuring fish detritus from Vancouver Island to central Alberta makes me chuckle every time I think of it. Now to come up with some way of twitting him about this at least, oh, five times.
Incidentally, other Dad legends involve a hatchet, a camp table and an oven broiler. Perhaps one day I will share.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Good God, I really AM mellowing. Friday, April 11th: the date of a rare Farries family reunion dinner in Red Deer, as the Mad Dad has driven over from Vancouver Island to see his offspring, especially the second editions, the grandchildren. Naturally there was the usual Melvinism: he and L. are coming to Calgary, but really need to get together with Uncle Jim and L.'s sister and family, and they really want to get to Red Deer early, but if I had an hour or two free, maybe...? I respond that since they're pretty busy already, let's just keep to the Red Deer plan. Sign of Mellowness: check.
Friday turns out to be pretty grand, as I take a flex day from the office and head up to Jean's farm with the beasts. We go for a 6-mile bike ride (or 10km-ish for the metreheads) in brilliant sunlight, then do some sittin' and yakkin' before I leave the dogs with her and head into Red Deer.
The Plan: Stop at a car wash, give the Mazdad a quick grooming (so the Mad Dad will know I'm taking good care of the Mazdad, really), then pick up dessert as discussed earlier with Alayne, beloved sister-in-law, before heading over to house. So far, so good. And now, point-form recap begins:
  • I arrive at Older Bro's house just as Dad and L. are leaving. They are going to a dance recital where one of Younger Bro's kids is performing. What time dinner? Shrugs is all.
  • I enter house just as Older Bro, sis-in-law, and 3/4s of their children are sitting down to a dinner of mac 'n' cheese, salad and buns. My eyebrows twitch. What the?
  • Oh. Older Bro and his younger daughter have a lacrosse game. They scram down dinner and leave. I then hear from sis-in-law about (a) the bad timing of having stove and oven die on day of family get-together, (b) the renovation and its accompanying disarray, (c) the mad dad's quirks as a guest (always asks if there's "anything he can do," only to politely beg off any suggested tasks), (d) not knowing when the hell Younger Bro and family will arrive at house, since they were supposed to be there already, and (e) by the way, Sis-in-law has made 4 desserts. Yes, she remembers talking to me about bringing desserts, but then couldn't remember if I'd confirmed coming to Red Deer. (Jane to self: What?! We talked YESTERDAY. And I have just spent about $30 on ice cream cake. Oh, well. Mellow Sign #2!)
  • The phone rings: It's older Bro. The timeclock at the lacrosse game has come over all dead. He needs his wife and one of his sons to come to gymnasium with stopwatch, take over timing duties and other stuff.
  • I consider and then decide against asking why in hell we set aside this date for a family dinner when no one seemed to have made any accommodation in their calendars, and my family was in fact scattered like buckshot. Then I offer to take over getting dinner for the mad dad, L., younger bro and family if they ever return. Mellow Sign #3.
  • Mad dad and L. are the first back. Dad asks if "I need any help getting supper on," and does not escape in time. I ask him to barbecue salmon while I get the rest of the dinner put together (not so hard; mac 'n' cheese is done, just have to make more salad, set table, etc). Dad asks for the prawns he brought from home to be threaded onto skewers so he can grill them. Done.
  • Younger bro and family return from dance recital. Through the inevitable chaos, dinner #2 finally gets put on the table. I have already eaten, but sit with the relations and enjoy watching Dad interact with the son who always makes him laugh easily.
  • As two nephews (inseparable friends) take on the dish-doing, Older Bro et al. return home. Two of the desserts are brought out and devoured. Yapping occurs while the children riot around the house and yard. Despite nothing going as planned, despite the chaos, I am having a great, great time with the brothers, the nieces and nephews, the mad Dad, hell, even L. Ultra-mellow I am!
Note to self: check messages, bonehead. I don't care if it's the weekend. Check 'em anyway. Then you won't show up for Sunday's meeting that's been cancelled. With great good luck, Vinnie is home with her son, whom I now call "Bucko," and invites me over for a visit. Bucko and I discuss superheroes, Looney Tunes characters, birthday parties and such. The Buckster is not quite 5 years of age--so for the moment I tend to win all debates. A lovely interval it was, so thanks again, Vin. Back to the dogs, who are still thrashed from Friday's farm visit. A quick walk, then home for The Task.
The task being this: I bought a new television. Back in October 2007. An oldstyle (not yer plasmatic kind) 27-inch teevee. Weight: about 180 pounds. Getting it upstairs from the garage was why I kept putting off enjoying my new roommate. Anyhoo! Jane strong, strong. Smart, not so much. After much puffing and straining, not to mention hip-checking the TV one step up at a time, I plugged it in. It works. Now to wait until an unsuspecting guest comes by to be shanghaied into helping heave it on top of the entertainment shelf. This morning, my back and legs? Definite reverse-mellow.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Snow was falling, snow on snow on snow on snow on snow.... Thank you, Kipper Family, for the most appropriate lyrics for Calgary's weather. We're having a rare megadump of snow today. Last time I saw one of this magnitude was back in 1986, again during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but in late May, of all times. I was out with the dogs at 6:00 a.m. when it was snowing lightly but stickily. Came back home, indulged in a post-brekkers nap, and awoke to HOLY KADOODLE A FOOT OF SNOW ON TOP OF MY CAR! A FOOT! The dogs gave up on the usual romp during their before work walk--the snow was up to Piper's chest and both dogs were having a time of it just getting anywhere. Then. The Drive. Actually not so bad! Because a lot of people just stayed home until the snow stopped, which it has yet to do. SNOW.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
The Meme Decade. Finally! A Meme for Jane! In fact, I confess, I am tagging myself. I read about this on another site and thought, yep, I'm agonna'. So here goes:
  1. One book that changed your life: Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis. Read it when I was 16. I still haven't attained fearless living, but the model, oh my.
  2. One book that you've read more than once: Okay, there are many dozens of these. First I can think of: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, a book with superbly written characters.
  3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska.
  4. One book that made you laugh: Again, there are so many..."Red Sky at Morning" by Richard Bradford.
  5. One book that made you cry: Okay, I was in Grade Two, but the end of "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White had me crying in class, at home, and in my bed that night.
  6. One book that you wish had been written: "Brittania Bellicosa: The War Diary of Julius Caesar."
  7. One book that you wish had never been written: the utterly stupid "Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus," by two-dimensional thinker John Gray.
  8. One book you're currently reading: "The Known World," by Edward P. Jones.
  9. One book you've been meaning to read: "Remembrance of Things Past," by Marcel Proust.
Now to spread the love: Vin, Grant, and me old Nik.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Repeat until Dead:
Relation: Do "Z."
Me: I don't want to do "Z." I want to do "L."
Relation: I would think you'd want to do "Z," given your history.
Me: I've wanted to do "L" since I was a kid.
Relation: You know you're going to end up doing "Z," so you should just get it over with.
Me: (sigh)
One Half-Year On:
Relation: Hello, how's things?
Me: Not so good.
Relation: What's wrong?
Me: I had to do the "Z" last week.
Relation: Z? Why'd you do that all of a sudden?
Me: (brain implodes).

Thursday, April 03, 2008
Things is all. The mad dad arrives in the province next week, and I'll be driving up to Red Deer to carouse with him, the brothers, and the Narsty Nine, a.k.a. the nieces and nephews. There is some dance competition going on that afternoon, and if you want to see some nifty steps, watch as the Mad Auntie dances her way out of spending three hours watching 11-yr-olds dressed as spangly streetwalkers interpret such classics as "G.N.O." by Miley Cyrus (yes, I had to Google it).
Dogs to the rescue: Pipes and Riv are CNG (canes non grates)/unwelcome at the Red Deer bro's house, so I get to drop them at Jean's farm first. This should only take an extra three or four hours, meaning I'll just get back to town in time for family dinner. As Jeeves said, one gets these premonitions.
The Maple Leaf forever: Canada, having run out of things to argue about, has decided to have a controversy over flying the flag at half-mast. The opposition party in Parliament (the Libs) say that the flags on Parliament Hill should be lowered to half-mast each time a Canadian soldier is killed. Polls on the subject spring up in every newspaper, site and broadcast. The rule for the Parliament Hill flag is that it's only at half-mast for the death of a queen/king/governor-general. There are few exceptions and I'm not going to Google them right now.
I say no to the half-mast for every soldier killed, simply because repetition would kill the significance. I don't ever want to get used to such occurrences. Then I will take the advantage of my encroaching dotage and remind people that we didn't put the flag at half-mast for each soldier killed in WWI, WWII or the Korean War. Remembrance Day has already become just another day off work, and students who can recite "In Flanders Fields" are rare--even rarer if they know where Flanders is. Right, next door to the Simpsons. According to the Globe and Mail poll, conducted across Canada, I'm in the minority--most people want the flag lowered. Will it matter in another 100 years? Doubtful.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
They Got Me. That classic Ceeb radio show, As It Happens, last night had a report about the upcoming Canadian $3 coin, which will come out in August '08. The radio hosts solicited listeners to send in their suggestions for a coin name and design. Well! I was off to the den of word mavens, Vinnie's and Schmuke's house, and we had an enjoyable evening of watching the game and thinking about coin names that would go with Canada's existing loonie and twoonie coins. I came up with the "Threebie" or "ThreeBob," with profiles of Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Bob Gainey on the coin. Or a bison, beaver and badger, for the "Threefer." Vinnie came up with the "Stanley" (with the Stanley Cup on it, natch), the "Biscuit" and others.
If only I'd checked the calendar. What an idiot.
In Keeping with Latest Revelation of My Stoopidity:

Your Score: Pooh

You scored 13 Ego, 12 Anxiety, and 16 Agency!

"What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best?" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

You scored as Pooh!

ABOUT POOH: Pooh is a bear of Very Little Brain but quite a lot of heart. He enjoys the simple things in life, like visiting friends (in time for lunch), counting honey pots, and going for nice walks. He is a steadfast and loyal friend, and is often much brighter than he thinks he is.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a positive and calm sort of person, and you tend to go with the flow. When things go wrong, you generally find the most practical solution and put things right, with very little worry or fuss. You are a rock that your friends can lean on in times of trouble.

Your attitude towards life is very Zen. You appreciate the small things in life, while still managing not to sweat the small stuff. Your biggest flaw is your tendency to underestimate yourself. You are actually much smarter and more capable than you think you are.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

Jane, Jane, of very little brain. Repeat...
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
The Two in the Back are the Alpha Bitches, They'll Have You Know:
Picture taken on Easter Sunday, 2008, at Jean and Tyke's farm. From left to right: Diesel, Piper, Doc, Jean (Alpha Bitch #1), Peggy, Riven, Jane (A.B. #2), Hamish. I love how the dogs' eyes gleam: the bright amber eyes of Piper and Peggy, the limpid blue of Doc and Riv, and the dark brown of Diesel and Hamish. They're happy mutts, all of 'em.