Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year...!

Happy New Year to everyone. I know for some folks 2010 was a wonderful year, and for others ... perhaps not so much.  It does get better.

My Danish friend Ann has a wonderful quote that she always uses to toast in the New Year ...

"Happy New Year to you.  Here's champagne to your real friends, and real pain to your sham friends..."

Best wishes to all my friends, and may 2011 be your best year yet...!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Am I Wasting Time At My Day Job...?

What is this piece of cr*ap, picture, you ask...? Well, it's one of the drawings in the upcoming exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. My friend Leslie and I were discussing just the other day how dismal and sad Vancouver's Art Gallery is, and how they attempt to be avant garde, but just end up missing the mark by miles. I know, I know, art can be edgy, it doesn't all have to be Rembrandt or Van Gogh or even Odilon Redon, but for goodness sake...  Would you actually go to a gallery and part with your well-earned money to see this?  Oh, I suppose some folks will, and they will nod their heads and say, "Amazing, wonderful..."

The name of the exhibit is UNREAL and it runs from January 22 to September 5, 2011.  The name of the drawing is Untitled, by Marcel Dzama, 2000, ink, watercolour, root-beer wash on paper, and it's part of the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  According to the New York Times, "Dzama is a Canadian Wunderkind, and his lugubrious fairy-tale sensibility in some way exemplifies the latest drift in contemporary art. Call it cute tragedy or tragic cuteness: either way, it refers to the impulses of a post-Warhol generation that uses the popular art forms of childhood to express a startling array of adult feelings."  They're kidding us, right?  What claptrap.  Here is some more of his work:

Why am I wasting so much time at my day job?  I could be doing this and earning thousands of $$dollars. I guess this is art ... well, anything can be art, but ... am I missing something?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maggie And Keith...

This Christmas I received two absolutely wonderful books, about two of the most interesting people -- Margaret Trudeau and Keith Richards.  It's interesting how their lives intersected.  Margaret Trudeau was married to the Prime Minister of Canada, and she threw it all away and ran off to be with ... the Rolling Stones.  Like Princess Diana, Margaret Trudeau became obsessed with her own celebrity, and was often seen dancing -- scantily clad -- at Studio 54 in New York City.  She also admits to having had an affair with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, among others.  She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this book is about that journey.  She has an interesting story to tell, and I can hardly wait to read it.

I have started reading "Life" by Keith Richards, and goodness, what a life.  He comes from a rather nice, conventional family in a suburb of London.  He was an only child but he had a very large extended family.  His favourite aunt was named Joanna.  He was a boy soprano in a boy's choir, and sang before the Queen in Westminster Abbey.  When he was a young boy, he and his friends found a dead body, a homeless man, and they were so scared they jumped onto their bicycles and rode off without reporting it.  As a child, Keith Richards suffered a hand injury that left one of his fingers slightly bent, and added to his unique sound as a guitar player.  He has been married to model Patti Hansen for 27 years, and has remained faithful to her for all these years.

Every person has an interesting story to tell -- or rather, several interesting stories, and I love to read about them.  I heard some interesting stories around the dinner table the other night.  I'll bet you have an interesting story to tell too...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me...

Today is my birthday. It has always felt perfectly normal having a birthday sandwiched in between Christmas and New Year's, almost as if I were an important part of the whole celebration. Christmas ... my birthday ... New Year's. It's as it should be ... right?  This year my birthday actually falls on a statutory holiday, so I don't have to go to work.  Usually by the time my birthday rolls around, everyone is so pooped -- including me -- that it is never really a big celebration, per se.  I feel a bit like the Mad Hatter, et al...

"A very merry unbirthday
To me
To who?
To me
Oh, you

A very merry unbirthday
To you
Who, me?
To you
Oh, me

Let's all congratulate us with another cup of tea
A very merry unbirthday to you."

I am a Capricorn, and according to the Zodiac, these are the traits of a Capricorn:

Good organizational skills
Neat and tidy
Strong work ethic
Materialistic tendencies

Omigoodness, I sound rather boring, don't I...?  Well ... hmmm ... I suppose ...

A very merry unbirthday to meeeeeeeeee........

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Me To You ...

For the past few days I have been too busy to do much blogging, or to visit my favourite bloggers. And what spare time I have has been spent catching up on my sleep.  Ahhhh....  So, I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, even if you don't celebrate Christmas -- Merry Christmas, anyway.  Christmas is a spirit as well as a time of year.  Political forces in the past few years have done their best to expunge Christmas, and they have tried to turn Bedford Falls into Pottersville.  But, try as they might, they just cannot do it.

I love to celebrate Christmas in all its wonder and magic.  So everyone, from me to you, I wish you all a very...


Monday, December 20, 2010

In Search Of Perfection...

I watched a movie last night called "Snow Globe" about a woman who was looking for the perfect Christmas. She was so unhappy because her family was not perfect. In other words, they were normal. I laughed. Yes, we all have normal families, thank goodness. No perfection. What an awful world it would be if everything were perfect. None of us is perfect, but we are human. Often the pressure of having the perfect Christmas, buying the perfect gift, cooking the perfect meal, having the perfect decorations, gets in the way and people become overly stressed. It almost seems like too much work, and by the time Christmas Day comes along, folks are too exhausted to enjoy it. How many times in the past couple of weeks have I had people say to me, "Are you all ready for Christmas?"

This year I have decided to concentrate on having fun. Christmas should be the time of year when we put away our cares from the previous months, and just enjoy the celebration.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Perfection is highly over-rated, in any case.  Fun is always spontaneous -- the unexpected moment -- but, we have to keep our hearts and minds open for it.  We can't do that if we are too busy striving for perfection.  We all suffer from a common malady -- the human condition.  And thank goodness for that.

It's just a few days until Christmas.  I hope everyone can take a deep breath, have a rum and eggnog and relax.  Have fun...  And please, don't have a perfect Christmas...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Magical Mystery Gift...

Yesterday at work one of my co-workers gave me a lovely little gift, and I have no idea what it is. At first I thought it was a key chain. It's very pretty, and I like it, but I'm not sure what it is meant to be used for...

It opens, and the segmented part of it is magnetized.  It has pretty little pavé rhinestones on the top of it.  I rather like it, and I love the thought behind it -- it was very sweet -- and the person who gave it to me is a lovely, thoughtful person.  I just wish I knew what this little object is...  Does anyone know?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mission Impossible ... Humbug...

We are all familiar with those little peppermint Christmas candies called Humbugs.  They're delicious and pepperminty, but once they're placed in a candy dish and exposed to the air, they  eventually weld themselves together until they are one solid mass.  Pick up one humbug, and the whole bowl of candies comes with it.  But, what would Christmas be without them?

During the rest of the year, Humbugs are a butterscotch/peppermint candy, brown and white striped.  In Canada they are often flavoured with maple syrup.  And yes, they still retain their ability to meld together into one big lump of candy, once they bag is opened.  They're known for collecting lint in the recesses of pockets and hand bags.  But, brush off the lint, and they're as good as new.

At work today we tried to find the origin of the name of this candy, without any success.  We Googled it, we Wikipedia'd it, we did everything, without any luck. So, your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to discover the origin of the name "Humbug" as it relates to the little striped candy.  And no, it has nothing to do with a certain Mr. Scrooge and his opinion of Christmas.  A bag of Humbugs, complete with Canadian maple syrup, will be awarded to the person who finds the history of the name of this candy.

Time And Tide....

I have just taken down my last post. I'm afraid I was feeling a bit uncharacteristically discombobulated (say that ten times fast...) by recent events.  I have decided to just be cheerful instead.

Today is our potluck lunch at work, and I plan to eat ... and eat ... and eat. Chocolate is my drug of choice.

Time and tide...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

George Booth -- My Favourite Cartoonist

I was so happy when I picked up my latest New Yorker magazine, and saw that the cover was by my favourite cartoonist, George Booth. I recognized his style immediately, especially the Booth dog dawg.  I am George Booth's biggest fan.  He sees everything exactly the same way I do.  The description of his work is quoted as: In a doodler's style, his cartoons feature everymen beset by modern complexity, goofballs perplexing their spouses, cats, and very often a fat dog. One signature element is a ceiling light bulb on a cord pulled out of vertical by another cord attached to an electrical appliance such as a toaster. I have always thought that if ever I get another dog, it definitely will be a Booth dawg. Here are a few of my favourite Booth cartoons.

"We located the hissing noise, Mr. Watkins.  Your wife's mother is in the back seat."

"The dog ate my magnetic insoles."

"Forty-one years of marriage.  That's a long, long, long learning curve."

"Whistle, you dumb bastard!"

"Write about dogs!"

George Booth did write a book about dogs, and he also wrote another wonderful cartoon book called "Think Good Thoughts About a Pussycat", of which I still have a copy.  I was once asked if I had a choice of seven people I would like to meet and have a conversation with, who would they be.  At the top of my list was George Booth.  He has the most wonderful sense of irony, and sense of the ridiculous.  He teaches us that, for all its seriousness, life is really just a lot of fun, as long as we are able to keep our eyes open for the hilarity.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dark Night Of The Solstice...

In exactly eight days from today, on December 21st at 3:38 p.m. (here in Vancouver) the sun will be at its farthest point from the northern hemisphere -- the winter solstice.  That is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, and all places on earth above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north will be in darkness.  The solstice lasts for only a moment in time, and then the sun starts making its way back to the northern hemisphere.  Every culture, from prehistoric times to present day, has had a celebration of the winter solstice. I think celebrations that include colourful lights, and lots of food and merriment are also used to ward off the winter doldrums. A friend of mine gets seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter. The cure? She flies off to the southern hemisphere for a few months.


When I was a little girl, winter was my favourite season. I loved ice skating, sledding, hot chocolate, and of course Christmas. Well, I still love Christmas, and I must admit there is a certain mystical quality about the short days and the long, dark nights.

But, I will be celebrating the return of the sun this solstice. At 3:39 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, that will be me doing the dance of joy at the sun's return. Old Sol cannot come back fast enough for me. I may even start a new celebration -- the celebration of flip/flops and sandals. There is nothing more wonderful than throwing away the socks and going as barefoot as nearly possible in the summer sunshine.

"If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god." ~~ Napoleon Bonaparte

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face." ~~ Victor Hugo

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do." ~~ Galileo

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The World's Smallest Kitchen...

In Canada, we have a home design show that I love to watch; it's called Love It or List It. In each episode of Love It or List It, a couple is faced with the decision of whether or not their current home is the right home for them. Designer Hilary Farr tries to convince them to stay in their home (Love It) after she has renovated it. Real estate agent David Visentin attempts to convince them to sell (List It) and buy another home – the home of their dreams.

After going through the list of “must haves” both Hilary and David are given a budget. Usually Hilary’s budget is a tight squeeze, and I am always amazed at the wonders she can perform on so little money. She's a genius.

At the end of the show, the renovated spaces are shown to the couple, and then they decide if they're going to Love It and stay, or List It and go to one of the houses that David has found for them.

Invariably, the one room everyone wants renovated is the kitchen. It’s too small, it’s too old fashioned, the cupboards are out of date. And every time I watch the show, I am reminded that I have the world’s smallest kitchen. The smallest.

But then I convince myself that my kitchen is not small, it is just compact. I have everything I need, and it’s rather cozy. My stove is in good working order, I have a convection oven that is perfect for me, and I am happy to report I don’t own – or need – a microwave. In my humble opinion, it is the one kitchen appliance guaranteed to turn food into a soggy, watery, rubbery, unpalatable, inedible mess -- well, everything except popcorn.  Microwaves make great popcorn.

So, there you have a tour of the world's smallest kitchen.  Does it even get any more gripping and exhilarating than that?  And now I am off to my teeny, tiny kitchen to cook some of my world-famous beef stew in my wonderful slow-cooker. Have a great Sunday, everyone, and stay warm.

Friday, December 10, 2010

E.T. Go Home...

As if we don't have enough to worry about on our own planet, it appears that we are about to be visited by strangers from somewhere else. The latest goofball buzz news is that there are three objects flying towards earth.  The ETA of this UFO?  Well, you guessed it, mid-December 2012.  And of course, as with all good hoaxes, NASA is trying to "conceal this important information".  The "press release" was so badly written, I don't even want to reprint any of it here.

When I was a little girl, stuff like this used to terrify me.  The world was always "coming to an end" for one reason or another.  Even in church, at the end of the holy trinity, we would say, "world without end, amen".  The end of the world seemed to be a recurrent theme throughout my childhood.  And then the Cuban Missile Crisis happened, and I got mad.  Enough of the end of the world bullsh*t nonsense.

Why do we enjoy terrifying ourselves so much?   Come on everyone, get a grip.  What this thing really looks like is a piece of an insect that got stuck on the telescope lens.  E.T. go home...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gentlemen, Please Remove Your Hats...

There was a time when all men wore hats, they knew how to wear them and they knew when to wear them. They also knew when to remove them. There was a certain hat etiquette that everyone followed. Generally, a man did not wear a hat indoors, and there were no exceptions, except in lobbies or hallways of office buildings. A man could keep his hat on in the elevator, except if a lady were present. A man never -- ever -- wore a hat in a movie, restaurant or concert theatre. Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Besides, hats were the reason that restaurants, theatres and concert halls had hat checks.  Men were supposed to check their hats at the door.  "May I take your hat, please?"

Sinatra knew how to wear hats. He knew he wasn't particularly attractive in the conventional sense.  He was sort of scrawny and he was not what anyone would call a matinée idol. But he had a certain je ne sais quoi because of his style.  The cigarette, the jaunty hat, the loosened tie -- it all added to his sex appeal.  Add to that a ballad about loss and longing "in the wee small hours of the morning", and he became irresistible.  Sinatra knew when to wear his hat, and he knew when to remove it.  That's style, baby.  That's sex appeal.

Will someone please explain baseball hats to me? Aside from automatically lowering a man's IQ points and making him look less attractive, a baseball hat also makes him look as if he hasn't had a shower for a few days. And when was the last time the hat was washed? *Shudder* Yesterday I went to two beautiful Christmas concerts, one for Marigold and one for Phinnaeus. In both instances, the audience was filled with men wearing baseball hats. Indoors. At a concert. The fellow in front of me was at least six feet two inches tall, with a baseball cap perched atop his head. His whole head filled the frame of the stage, and the baseball cap just ... well ... capped it off. All hope was lost of my ever being able to see Marigold's performance. When the young lady who was emceeing the concert said, "Please turn off your cell phones, your camera flash functions, etc...", I added -- rather audibly, through clenched teeth -- "And please remove your baseball caps...". I think my daughter was slightly embarrassed by my brashness, but in any case, the man in front of me slowly and deliberately reached up, took off his hat and placed it on the chair next to him. Phew. Now I could see Marigold.

How do men get so attached to their baseball hats?  Is there a moment when they first put one on and say, "From this point forward, this will forever be a part of my anatomy..." ? It's sort of like when you see a men chewing on a matchstick or a toothpick in the corner of his mouth.  Did he just one day decide to do it, and that was it?  Baseball cap - check; toothpick in mouth, check...


Men, if you're going to wear hats, at least learn some hat etiquette.  Please remove them when you are indoors.  Thank you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Video Girl Barbie ... From Pedophiles R Us

Finally, now, just what every little girl wants -- a Barbie doll that comes complete with its own FBI warning. This Barbie doll is a real working video camera, that can take 30 minutes of video and audio, and post it to the Internet. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet... Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations warn that "Video Girl Barbie" could be used to make child pornography. FBI has had cases of child abuse involving Barbie dolls as well as cases involving hidden cameras, which makes them worried about the combination in this particular toy.  And yet, this doll is the hottest selling items this season.  I wonder who is buying them?

Mattell said in a statement that its "products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety -- it is our number one priority."

Perhaps I am beginning to sound like a bit of a prude, but I would not be comfortable with giving this "toy" to a child. Any child who is still young enough to be playing with Barbie dolls is not old enough to be videotaped and posted to the Internet. I should think, in the 21st Century, that most parents would be savvy about the dangers of this sort of thing, but maybe I'm wrong.  If the importance of child safety is Mattel's number one priority, they need to rethink "Video Girl Barbie". According to the merchandising, "Even though this Barbie is for ages 6+, parents will have to help their little ones at first to get started. Once the video is edited, you can save it to your computer and then upload to share with friends via YouTube or any social networking site. There will be other opportunities to share your videos with the Barbie community as well in the future."  Does anyone else find this just ever so slightly creepy? The doll even looks creepy. I think the whole idea of videotaping little girls playing with their Barbies and then uploading the videos to the Internet, is unsettling. And creepy...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Political Correctness ... Where's George Carlin When We Need Him...?

When I was a little girl, I grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island. The town, population about 40,000, is situated at the junction of an ocean fjord and a river, and it is a beautiful area. My life was rather Rockwellian I suppose, and even then our culture was very diverse.  My friends were the children of people who had come to Canada from all over the world after the Second World War.  My best friend's family was from Denmark, and I had friends from France, China, Italy, Japan, Russia, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Yugoslavia, India, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the British Isles, and even that most foreign of distant lands, Quebec.  Canada is a land of immigrants, and in some way, all of us are a minority.  My mother was from South Africa and my father's family was from Scotland.  I remember my friend Sonja, whose parents were from Finland, always had the most wonderful cookies and cakes in her lunch at school.  I loved going to her house and watching her mother bake, and inhaling the delicious aroma.  My friend Loretta was from Yugoslavia, and her mother cooked fabulous pasta sauces that simmered on the stove all day, again with a lucious, mouth-watering aroma.

In my small town we all grew up with a certain Canadian culture.  Yes, Canada has -- or I should say, had -- a distinct culture.  It was an amalgam of these various cultures that my friends' families brought with them.  We celebrated each other's cultures, but we didn't try to eradicate them.  We knew on a instincual level that that would be wrong. And even I, this boring little Canadian girl, had a distinct culture, and it connected me to the other people in my culture. It was a thread that bound us together, just as any culture binds the folks in that culture. But my culture is being taken away from me and from the other people in it. Removing my ethnic culture removes the bonds between me and the rest of people who practice my ethnic culture and weakens us as a group. We are slowly but surely expunging our traditions.  This is cultural genocide.

The definition of cultural genocide is "the process of undermining, suppressing, and ultimately eliminating cultures". And we are allowing it to happen to us and, in fact, with our political correctness run amok, we are hastening the process.

My friend Russell has a wonderful post today about a school in Iowa that has taken political correctness to a place of complete and utter insanity.  I was gobsmacked when I read it.

I remember reading George Orwell's 1984 when I was in my early 20s, and I could not believe a society such as that would ever exist, but it does, and it has happened in my lifetime.  We are ruled by political correctness and the Thought Police.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?... Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."  - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5

We are so afraid of "offending" other people, that we have completely lost our identities.  We have taken all the fun out of everything.  Lighten up, everyone.  Think for yourselves.  There is always going to be someone who is offended by something.  That's just human nature.  Where's George Carlin when we need him...?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

... And To Just Have Fun ...

When Phinnaeus and Marigold came to visit me last weekend, I gave them each a piece of paper and a pen, and I asked them to write out their Christmas wish lists. I picked up the lists today, and as I looked at them, I realized what nice kids Phinnaeus and Marigold are. Their lists were so sweet, not at all extravagant. And their lists perfectly matched their personalities. One of them had written at the bottom of the list "anything that you think I might like".  Omigoodness...

I wish I would win a lottery, so I could afford to buy them all sorts of things.  But those would only be things.  As I look over Phinnaeus and Marigold's Christmas wish lists, I can read between the lines.  They are lists of trust and hope, both of which they already have in abundance.  They are two of the very nicest people I have ever known.

When they were very little, a large part of Christmas was about Santa and the presents under the tree.  On Christmas Eve we would track Santa's journey around the world, using the NORAD website.  "Oh, he's in Nova Scotia, time for us to go to bed now..."  This year I sense something different.  This year they are more concerned about what they are going to give people, than what they are going to receive.  A polar shift...  Oh, yes, of course they still want the latest gagdets and doo-dads too, and "anything that you think I might like".

Each of their lists were only five items long, and in those five items, Phinnaeus and Marigold's own distinct personalities were revealed.  It makes me chuckle when I look at them.  Those lists say everything about who they are.  They're worth framing.  There has been a bit of a shift in the magnetic poles this Christmas, but I always believe these things are for the good. Invariably, they are for the good... My Christmas wish list for Phinnaeus and Marigold -- and for everyone -- is to just have fun.  Christmas is a time to enjoy all the wonders of Christmas, and to just have fun.

"... and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge". ~~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Most Fascinating of 2010...?

Barbara Walters has announced eight of the ten people on her list of 2010's most fascinating people.

Sarah Palin
Justin Bieber
Sandra Bullock
Jennifer Lopez
LeBron James
Kate Middleton
Betty White
The cast of Jersey Shore -- Snookie...?

Well ... I can understand Barbara's choice of Sandra Bullock, after her graceful endurance of her painful divorce. My goodness, what an elegant woman. And I suppose Jennifer Lopez was chosen because ... Hmmmm ... I can't think of a reason. I would imagine Sarah Palin was chosen because she seems to be a survivor, and Betty White simply because she has survived. The choice of Kate Middleton is obvious -- she has caught the brass ring, well, the sapphire and diamond one, to be specific.

Justin Bieber? Justin Bieber? Is he/she a boy or a girl? I can't tell.  He reminds me of Sally Fields as Gidget, except he's prettier.  Oh, I know, I know, all the tweens and teens love him, and he is very talented, but really is he one of the most fascinating people of 2010?  What on earth is going to happen to him when he hits his 20s and 30s?  Will he turn into Leif Garrett?  I hope not.  And Snookie?  Snookie is fascinating?  Pretty slim pickings.

If you had your choice, who would you choose as the top ten -- or even the top five -- most fascinating people of 2010?  For a start, I would choose the person who invented the robot vacuum cleaner.

But ... Snookie...?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is The Truth Out There...?

The Charnel House
Pablo Picasso

The Internet can be a dangerous place, but never more so than when it distributes false and fictitious information that people take as truth and fact. "The truth is out there...?" I don't think so. Most of us are able to discern fact from fiction, and of course we always have Snopes to debunk stupid rumours.  But there are conspiracy theories that take hold, and intelligent, well-read people actually buy into them.  The conspiracy theories sound plausible, they have even been "proven" and in any case, folks love a good ghost story.  Isn't it more fun to have shadowy people out there who are actually responsible for these things?  The truth isn't sexy.  It's more fun to believe that Diana was killed by the Royal family than by a drunk driver, or that JFK was killed by the (fill in the blanks with your choice) than by a crazy sniper with a good aim.  And it's more fun to believe that the shadowy "they" were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, than a bunch of well-organized, well-funded, completely insane extremists who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the buildings.

The truth of what happened that day has been proven by no less than engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Albert Einstein's alma mater), and hundreds of books and papers have been published, including this one, describing exactly how the Towers fell, and what caused them to fall.  Here is one excerpt:  The claims that the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the beams has also been disprovedFACT: Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F," notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. "And at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent." But jet fuel wasn't the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832°F. "The jet fuel was the ignition source," Williams tells PM. "It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down."

I remember the Cold War, and the fear and anxiety that it produced in everyone in my generation. Part of our school curriculum was practicing survival techniques.  The anxiety stayed with us 24/7 and it was an underlying anxiety that took years -- decades -- to go away.  The ensuing anxiety spilled over into my personal life.  I lived in fear of one government or another starting a war that would end the world.  It was horrible.  And now it seems to be starting again in this generation -- fear and paranoia of the unknown.  And it is making me bloody angry.  The only thing to be really afraid of is ignorance.  The children of this generation have the right to live in the enlightenment of knowledge, not the shadow of ignorance.  The truth is in education.  The truth is in learning the scientific facts.  The real predators of the Internet are the people who perpetuate the ignorance the children read and believe to be the truth.  People love a good ghost story, but that is all these conspiracy theories are -- ghost stories.

The truth is out there...!  We owe it to the children to tell them the truth, not some hocus pocus nonsense.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

... But Long Enough To Cover The Subject ...

The Sea, Koktebel
Ivan Aivazovsky

This week I have been participating in one of the most interesting yet grueling tasks I have ever done. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with things, I have a recurring dream that I am in a tidal wave.  I was once in a tidal wave that devastated our town, and it was loud, frightening and lasted for a very long time.  One can feel completely helpless in a situation like that, because there is no way to reason with the forces of nature.  So, with the feeling that I had to completely re-wire my brain to "think outside the box", by Wednesday I was feeling overwhelmed and the waters came rushing at me.  I dreamt I was swimming in Hawaii and suddenly the water retreated.  That's not a good sign.  And then the dark, green water came back in full force, bubbling and churning.  Thank goodness I woke up in time.  Phew!

All week long I lived in dread of having to give my presentation at the end of our week-long meetings.  My head was vibrating with acronyms and business-speak.  New paradigms, sustainability, pulling information, forward-planning.  Goodness... But, apparently my presentation was very good.  Who knew!  As my friend Russell says, a speech should be like a women's skirt -- short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the subject.  Very good advice.

Today, the sun is shining through the clouds, the dreadful cold, snowy weather of the past week has gone, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with two very special little people -- well, not so little anymore -- who always make me laugh.

Tidal wave averted ... for now ...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I hope you have a wonderful day -- eat lots of turkey and pumpkin pie, watch lots of football, and just enjoy your day.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Dark Side Of The Moon...

The Moon Woman
Jackson Pollock

I have been on the dark side of the moon for the past few days, and will continue to be here for the rest of the week while I am involved in a project at work.  I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had a chance to visit all of my favourite blogs in the last little while.  But, I am improving the world, one step at a time...  well, perhaps... and perhaps not.

See you soon.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

That's One Billion (With A "B")

Princess Patricia
1886 – 1974
Granddaughter of Queen Victoria
Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

With all the news lately of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton, there has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not the royalty is relevant any longer.  Personally, I would not like to see it dismantled, because it is a system that has worked for centuries, and who knows what we could get in its place.  If it ain't broke...  But more than that, it is a thread through time that connects all of us to our past.  How many of us can trace our lineage like that?  But in an odd way, we can.  Royalty has given us the Elizabethan era, the Victorian era, the Edwardian era, for example, each with its own achievements and culture.  And to give credit where it's due, some of these folks were amazing people, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, specifically.  Queen Elizabeth II is decades past the age when most people retire, and she still works relentlessly in public service.

If royalty did not exist, we would invent them.  The Kennedys, anyone?Observe what happened to Russia when the Bolsheviks assassinated the Romanovs and Russia became a communist country.  It didn't work;  in fact, it failed horribly.  However, the Commonwealth of Nations does seem to work.  It consists of 53 countries, and 1.7 billion (that is billion with a "b") people.  That's almost one-third of the world's population. The land area of the Commonwealth of Nations is approximately one-quarter of the earth's land mass.  It is a democratic and free association, of which the British Monarch is the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth, and a very active member.

When William becomes king, as monarch, he will inherit Windsor Castle which is 484,000 square feet and has 1000 rooms, Buckingham Palace which is 828,818 square feet and has 600 rooms, as well as Sandringham Castle, Balmoral Castle, Hollyrood House, Kensington Palace, St. James Palace, Clarence House, amongst other private homes. He will also inherit a huge responsibility, and he has no choice but to accept it.  When he gets married, his wedding will generate $1 billion dollars (that is billion with a "b") revenue towards the British economy.  His coronation will generate even more. And revenue generated by tax on royal properties and by Crown estates this year was $261 million dollars, so they are worth far more to the country than they cost it. The country receives around $4 million in tax per year from Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall.  Prince Charles was considered "dotty" 20 years ago when he converted the Duchy of Cornwall to an organic farm. Who knew he had been an environmentalist for decades and was ahead of his time?

Personally, I rather like the British royalty.  They're colourful, interesting, and often unpredictable.  Most of us are people-watchers by nature.  We love to gossip about celebrities.  So, I shudder to think who we would get in place of the royal family -- Sarah Palin and her two vacant daughters?  I'll keep Charlie and his two handsome sons, thank you very much.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Men And Women ... Vive la Différence

Morning News
Helen M. Turner

Time Magazine recently issued its list of the most powerful women of the past century.  If you scan the list, you will see that most of them started out from modest backgrounds, and whatever field of interest they developed, they all had the same intelligence, intellectual curiosity, strength and tenacity.

It has always been a misconception that women are the weaker sex.  They are not.  They are equal to men, just different -- and vive la différence.  We love men just the way they are.  For the most part, men are masculine and women are feminine, and we hope that never changes.  It's that difference that makes it all ... interesting.  But femininity does not equal to weakness.  Quite the opposite.  I work mostly with women, and in my experience women are extremely tough -- much more so than men.  Also in my experience there are two types of men -- those who respect women and love them, and those who are threatened by women, and try to demean them.  All women have experienced both these types of men.  In my opinion, there is nothing more masculine than a gentle man -- a gentleman. And there is nothing more feminine than a strong woman who knows her strengths, but still loves to be feminine. Coco Chanel, anyone?

Here is Time Magazine's list of most influential woman of the past century, and I wholeheartedly agree with the choices.

• Jane Addams (1860-1935)
• Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)
• Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
• Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
• Julia Child (1912-2004)
• Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)
• Marie Curie (1867-1934)
• Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)
• Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
• Estée Lauder (1908-2004)
• Madonna (1958-Present)
• Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
• Golda Meir (1898-1978)
• Angela Merkel (1954-Present)
• Sandra Day O'Connor (1930-Present)
• Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
• Jiang Qing (1914-1991)
• Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
• Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
• Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)
• Martha Stewart (1941-Present)
• Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
• Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)
• Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)
• Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)