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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
How do you keep 'em in the city, once they've seen the farm? I am off to the not-so-wilds of central Alberty for four days of farm-sitting. This year the livestock assortment includes two desperately cute Holstein calves, 20 loud-beaked chickens, 12 lumbering Belgians, the outrageously energetic dogs, six riding horses and two donkeys. Oh, and a few ambitious mice. So I'll soon be off home to pack the essentials, i.e. clean gaunch and the latte machine.
Of course, this was all planned back in the summer, months before I made The Decision. Now it just happens to be fairly inconvenient timing. That is what happens in my life in vaudeville. Anyhow! Worky worky work! Stay busy! Stop worrying! Okay, then, just stay busy!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A Farewell to Swarms. Rudy the Bee Guy and I were up on the roof this afternoon, refilling the bees' sugar supply, wrapping the hives in winter blankies and tarps, watching as the custodial bees dragged dead chums through the hive opening, then unceremoniously pushed them over the edge of the landing. Stay warm and well, you laidback bees. I'll miss you. [Unless Nik convinces me to raise bees in flower paradise.]
Community Service it ain't. Sat through my last community association meeting last night, which I would have skipped if I'd remembered that it was going to be all about the budget. Boring, always so. Just when I finished my third surreptitious piece of foolscap origami, what happens but two women commence a loud and very childish argument. "Oh, grow up!" "No, YOU grow up!" "I'm not going to stand here and let you slander me--" meanwhile the meeting chair, the milquetoastiest of mortals, tries to remind the crabby bags about Robertson's Rules of Order. "Please address the chair--" she starts, politely. The combatants ignore her. "If you're going to bring up my conduct at a public meeting, I have the goddamned right to defend myself--" Suddenly, in a scene out of DC Comics, the chair rises up righteous and snatches the microphone out of the first fighting woman's hands. "Both of you sit down! NOW!" she orders. We're all so shocked by the chair's transformation that I notice everyone is sitting up straight and has stopped doodling/reading magazines/watching films on iPhones. A very polite lecture ensues about rules of order.
Of course, after the meeting ended, the two cranky batfaces couldn't wait to confront each other in the parking lot. I just left them to it. I won't be at the next meeting, but I suspect there will be two new people (well, three, including my replacement) giving reports.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Checkout Follies, the Musical!
Customer: Oh, damn! I forgot two things on my list. [To cashier:] Could you call someone to get these two items for me?

Cashier: I'm sorry, you couldn't find these items?

Customer: No! No, I just forgot to get them. Could you get one of your staff to get them for me?

Cashier: You realize that in a store where customers do just about everything themselves, even bag their own groceries, well . . . shopping is considered to be one of those self-service things?

Customer: Huh?

Cashier: Okay. I can call one of our price-checkers. I just want to point out that it's Saturday afternoon and you'd be looking at a 5-minute wait at the earliest.

Customer: Tsch. I'll just get them myself, then.

Cashier: Thank you.

Furious customer, jabbing finger at price screen: Hey! That price is wrong!

Cashier: Oh, sorry! Which one? . . . No, sorry, you bought one bag of flour. The lower price is when you buy more than one bag. That's why it says "Quantity discount: 1 @ 5.98, 2 or more: $5.38."

Incensed customer: It doesn't make sense that you are charging two different prices for the same item. Can't you ring it in twice and then take off one bag?

Cashier: I can try. Nope, the computer won't let me void a single item from a multi-item discount. Let me call for an override.

Supervisor: Why are you calling me for an override on a multi-item discount?

Cashier: This customer wants to know why he has to buy more than one item to qualify for the discount.

Pissed-off Customer: Yeah! Why don't I get the lower price?

Supervisor: You want the discount, you gotta' buy more than one bag. Says right there on the tag. I can't override our store's pricing policy, sorry.

Snarling-mad customer: Your prices are f**kin' stupid. I'm never coming back. F**kin' store.

Cashier: Thank you for your honesty.

It takes its comfort where it finds it these days: "We must let go of the life we had planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us." [Joseph Campbell, historian and myth meister]
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So much to do. So much. I keep thinking there's enough time, stop with the panicking, then it hits me: there is not enough time. There is nowhere NEAR enough time.
Mind you, worrying is in the blood, part of the DNA, you know, deoxyribose nucleic ANXIETY.
I am 45 and worried that I will miss the furniture I've decided to get rid of.
I am 45 and worried that I'll end up on the streets, sure as gun's iron.
I am 45 and worried, period.
So anyway. Time to get things chucked and packed.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Scratch as scratch can. I have come out in weirdly shaped, incredibly itchy hives. I went for Thai food at lunch, and suspect I may either be reacting to some fermented bean sauce or other, or this is just my systemic reaction to giving notice this morning. Whichever, man . . . I am waiting for some antihistamines to kick in. Anytime now. How about NOW?
True. I'm going to miss many things about this place. I am alternating between excited optimism and quaking terror. I shall also miss many, many people. I am also missing a full night's sleep, partly because the brain won't shut down, and partly because the dogs are so attuned to my every twitch that they've been up and ready to go at 4 a.m. Damn dogs.
To restore sanity: remember that there will always be more reasons *not* to do something than reasons to do it. When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge, etc. . . phew.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Gomo Promo:
Movember - Sponsor Me
I'm going to miss all the cool aspects of this nutty studio. The charitable instinct among us is huge. As are some of the moustaches currently.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Hrm, indeed. I have checked with Himself, but it isn't server trouble. I'm all paid up. Yet for some reason I cannot access my own blog. Must be them damn demons again.
Them demons what slash tires is all. Friday night I thought my right front tire looked a little low. Saturday morning I knew it was low, so went to the nearest gas station with a working air pump. [Note: This would not be the station on the corner. Thanks a hell of a lot, Petro-Canada.] I did this again on Sunday morning, having had no luck finding an open tire repair shop. Cut to Sunday night, about .5 km from Calgary's north limit: kaBLAM.
What I learned: I can change a tire all by myself, even if I have to check the Mazdad owner manual once or twice. Also: I felt this was karmically deserved, seeing as how I didn't stop to help that frazzled woman back in August. Also also: I was terrifically impressed by the young man who drove up during the last bit of the tire change, made sure I was all right, and kept his headlights focused on my car so I could see what I was doing. Karma, you old debbil, you. Update: new tire on car, check. Restored faith in good people: check.
Again with the karma . . . So yesterday there's an e-mail from on high, talking about the company's near future and how it may involve difficult decisions. No problem, I know I've been somewhat of a luxury these days, an editor/proofreader/occasional web writer for a thriving creative studio. That translates into "fifth wheel" pretty handily.
I know, I know. I've predicted my demise on at least three occasions in the past. This time, though, I'll be doing the deed, making the decision that is, myself. Not so very difficult, really. Oh, this midlife.
Nietzsche and Kliban on a Monday, with Tuesday's comeuppance. Nietzsche wrote about the unlucky people in life, "the botched and the bungled." Kliban drew a mordantly funny cartoon that he titled "Dummies and Feebs." These are my usual titles for the people who tend to ride my neighbourhood bus. Note: I include myself in this description, as a middle-aged frumpy sort. Anyhow, I was on this bus yesterday, going from and to the tire shop, and sure enough found myself getting talked at by people who were not all there. I was the unwilling overhearer of a drug deal, conducted rather unwisely on a cell phone in a loud voice, but then I realized this was probably just posturing on the part of the caller, a young tuffstuff looking to impress his teenaged female seatmate. The bus is human comedy best served in small portions, I find.
Tuesday's comeuppance was when I and several colleagues volunteered at the downtown drop-in centre, dishing up and serving lunch to approximately 700 homeless people. They gave us a round of applause at the end. Where are your dummies and feebs now, Jane, you old harridan? I hope class is contagious: I desperately need some.
Friday, November 07, 2008
The T-shirt I want: "Hey, Obama! Where's my jetpack?"
How Not To Win My Loyalty: Back in the summer I renewed my Liberal party membership because, hey, you know, more e-mail . . . anyway, yesterday I get a cheery announcement that the outgoing head of the party, Kevin Taft, wants to get a bill passed to make rodeo the official sport of Alberta. Why? Because it's part of Alberta's history. Yes, well, so were smallpox-infested blankets, but you don't see any movement building steam for an official Alberta contagion.
Look: I eat meat. I ride horses. I know where my steak comes from, and that many animals don't have that merciful an end. But why make their torment a sanctioned entertainment? No matter how you celebrate a bull for throwing cowboys into rails, or horses for launching them into orbit, the entertainment is one-sided. The animals have to be tortured into bucking through the use of tight flank straps. They're not enjoying themselves--they're in pain and they're small-brained creatures trying to get away from that pain.
I had hoped, as Homo Sapiens, that we could evolve into kinder treatment of the animals that serve our food and work needs. Well, anyhow . . . I have written the above into a more coherently worded letter to the Alberta Liberals, but I am serious about returning my membership should this bill be passed.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Glad to be wrong. I figured that the U.S. fundies would manage to get McCain elected, but not so. This morning I thought about the election and asked myself, really, who would want to be prez when the county's situation is so chaotic? Then I answered myself: chaotic, no kidding, but who would you want to be in charge of getting affairs in order? A smart moderate person, that's who. Done.
A Canadian sez: California's Proposition 8 should never have come into being. I re-read my favourite piece of Internet writing, the sardonic "12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society," by, and found that Reason 6 explains exactly why Proposition 8 is unsound: "Gay marriage should be decided by the people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of minorities." Yes, it's written sarcastically in order to prove the opposite point. [Another example: "Obviously, gay parents will raise gay children, because straight parents only raise straight children." Go to to read the whole thing.] Yeah, I have this up at my desk and every so often someone will read it and think, gasp! Jane is against gay marriage! I then must take them aside for a tiny explanation of sarcasm, followed by a gentle biff to the back of the head.
Speaking of sarcasm, I was wearing my McCain/Palin t-shirt yesterday, and had two people ask me if I supported the Republicans. Note: This was a John McCain/MICHAEL PALIN FROM MONTY PYTHON t-shirt. The two people who questioned me didn't get the joke, one, and were under the impression that a Canadian could somehow support a U.S. politician, two. Literalists and sarcasm = oil and water.
Bravery: a simple discourse. We had an oddish kind of work seminar yesterday afternoon, moderated by a speaker who believed in inspiration rather than motivation, and held that courage was the most important factor for personal growth/success. I won't go into exhaustive detail here, except to mention that we were given a writing exercise wherein we had to mention our most recent example of personal courage. I was stumped. Stumped to silence and a blank page. Soon we had to get into pairs and discuss our courageous acts. I talked with Paula-not-her-real-name, who said that she was terrified of heights and forced herself to go on a scary ride at Canada's Wonderland in Toronto. As she talked, I was thinking about my recent life decision and realized that oh . . . I guess that is brave.
What is that? Actually, it's a double whammy. Despite being in my current career for 10 years, and having worked very hard to get into this career before that, I finally have the guts to say that I'm no good at what I do. I am not a good copywriter. Sure, I'm creative, and occasionally write some brilliant lines. But a go-to copywriter I am not. My denial of this reality has lasted at least five years--before that it was disbelief. Second whammy: I am going to be brave enough to stop being a copywriter, then. And do something else.
Details to follow, naturally. But for now: courage, small-brained biped. Courage.
Monday, November 03, 2008
At Which We Honk Up a Lung:
"You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, it looks like he rushed it." Bill Hicks (1961-1994)
Olympic Dopers, Beware! For I am an even more seasoned Antidoping Chaperone now, having attended the one-day seminar this past Saturday at the Vancouver Public Library. It was fun getting up super-early and heading to the airport, sailing through Security since bringing no luggage, and not waiting for bags at the other end. Just me trying to figure out where to catch the shuttle bus that takes people to the Airport Bus Station, which is actually about 5 km away from the airport. Then boarding the downtown bus and enjoying the early dawn of late October in a beautiful city. Enjoyed my favourite restaurant meal: bacon and eggs, toast and coffee. Found the volunteer orientation seminar. Pretty much all the same, except! Here I thought, being an old hand at chaperoning speed skaters, that I would of course be working the speed skating events. Not so. I find out later this month which events I'll be working. Wish I could specify speed skating, my favourite sport. Oh, well. Olympic Antidoping is pretty much like World Cup antidoping, except that we chaperones only follow the athletes to the Doping Control room. The actual jar-filling will be observed by more official v.i.pees (geddit? Har).
The day proceeded fairly smoothly, and I met some incredibly nice people from B.C. I also bought this insane novel, "The Half Brother" by Lars Saabye Christensen, at the library store. It's Norwegian and bizarre and I will have to quote from it soon. This is what I tried to read on the bus back to the airport, but real life weirdness intervened. A young couple boarded the bus, and the dominant one, a corpulent female, squished in beside me. Their debate resumes: "It's like my mother said: if it's a book that whole bunch of people believe, well, I'm not going to believe it unless I've read it." She delivers this line in an inappropriately loud voice. "Your mother is so NOT a Christian," says the young man-- "I NEVER SAID SHE WAS! JEEZ!" and the argument continues, while I try to concentrate on the batty Norwegian novel. "DON'T YOU TRY TO BLAME ME--YOU ALWAYS BLAME ME FOR EVERYTHING!" Now, I've never been what you'd call socially gifted, but even I know social retardation when I see it. A Loud Fight on a Public Bus, because We are in Love. And how does that love and reconciliation express itself? By both parties sharing a nail clipper -- tick! click! chip!-- while the quiet lady beside them tries not to clout them a good one for grooming in public. And getting nail clippings all over the damn bus. I make sure none have hit me or my deranged book.
Soon, flight home and bed. Up on Sunday to enjoy the extra hour by wasting it extravagantly, lolling in bed watching TV. Next: drive to Jean's to pick up pups. Another nap, this time with the beloved Dockums snoozing at the end of the couch? Why not?
Not a bad weekend, all said.