Saturday, August 14, 2010

The coin of the realm

The evolution of language is an interesting thing. It gives us such insight into our culture and how our perceptions, etc. have changed over the years.

A hundred years ago a woman who was well-endowed had a good dowry. Today, one who is so described has large breasts -- today's coin of the realm.

Each has its appeal to men. Which, I wonder, is better for women?


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ontario: the new black

True story:

Overheard at Tim's in Truro last Tuesday.

A young guy approaches the order counter and greets the server whom he obviously knows. He proceeds to tell her that he has a new girlfriend who is pretty and very nice and he's happy with her.

The woman smiles and tells him she'd love to meet this new girl. "Bring her in sometime."

The young man drops his gaze to the floor which he examines with sheepish intensity. "Uh, well..." There is a long pause. "She's from Ontario."

"Oh," the woman responds. "Well, as long as she's nice."

Is Ontarian the new black?


Friday, July 9, 2010

The Grand Gesture

I'm a sucker for the grand gesture.

You know? That thing a guy does that sweeps you off your feet? Right. That thing.

Like when I was in elementary school, a guy who liked me did all my yard chores -- while making his friends wait for him to play baseball.

Or in high school, a guy I'd met only once walked six miles to give me a birthday present. It was the Led Zepplin IV album -- the one I really, really wanted.

Or years later when a guy surprised me with a weekend away and took care of all the arrangements including childcare for my child.

The problem with the grand gesture is that it isn't necessarily a knight's errand. It can be an empty display meant to camouflage any of a number of sins.

Example: I've travelled all the way from XXX to see you but now I'm broke so can I borrow a few bucks?

Care to offer a guess as to whether the loan is ever repaid?

Moving on.

Because I am such a sucker for the grand gesture -- it fills me with ridiculous girlhood thoughts of true love -- I try to overlook the obvious self-interest of such a not-so-grand gesture.

This gets me into trouble.

Lots and lots of trouble.

I know. You're saying that I should smarten up. That there are plenty of nice guys out there who are a little less flamboyant but who would offer love, dedication and stability.

If you say so.

I mean, I've heard the rumours.

But, in my life, they are like unicorns.


Just kidding. I know unicorns are extinct.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Slow down you move too fast

gotta make the morning last
just kicking down the cobblestones
something, something
feeling groovy

This morning as I was finishing the lengthy process of straightening my hair, I caught part of a CBC interview with Nicholas Carr. He has written a book entitled The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

Research suggests that those of us who multitask (i.e. tweet, check email, etc while doing something of importance) over time lose our ability to focus for longer periods of time and our multitasking skills worsen.

Carr explained that as we surf the net, our train of thought is interupted by the region of our frontal lobe that has to make decisions about where to click, which link to follow and so on.

I believe his premise is that as this interuptions become part of the way we train our brains to work, we are less able to sustain deeper connection to our thoughts, personal experiences and what we are reading.

There was an interesting post on his blog about James Sturm, a cartoonist, who has decided to unplug for four months and write and draw about his experiences.

Carr quotes Sturm:
"Whether it's a sports score, a book I want to get my hands on, or tuning into Fresh Air anytime of day, I can no longer search online and find immediate satisfaction. I wait for the morning paper, a trip to the library, or, when I can't be at my radio at 3 p.m., just do without."
This has also been my experience in having gone without a vehicle for 11 months. Life slows and you learn that all that stuff you once deemed necessary, simply isn't. That you don't really need that new dress, that you can go another day without something you're running low on. You begin to make decisions about which things (and people) are important enough to walk 40 mins or travel two hours by bus to see, do or buy.

Sturm says that he's noticing more moments of synchronicity -- magical thinking -- that is easy to dismiss.

"Are meaningful connections easier to recognize when the fog of the Internet is lifted? Does it have to do with the difference between searching and waiting? Searching (which is what you do a lot of online) seems like an act of individual will. When things come to you while you're waiting it feels more like fate. Instant gratification feels unearned. That random song, perfectly attuned to your mood, seems more profound when heard on a car radio than if you had called up the same tune via YouTube."

I agree.

There is something to living slowly. To not having everything at your fingertips the instant you want it. To walking a couple of kilometres to meet a friend for coffee or to stroll home after a dinner out.

Doesn't it make sense that we will begin to think differently as our experiences change? That our brains will begin to re-wire?

If we are going to change our thinking -- not always such a bad idea! -- we need to at the very least be aware of what we're changing, why we're changing it, how it will impact us and whether we want that change.

I'm not advocating a boycott of the internet. I love being able to find information when I want it. I am, however, suggesting that we give some thought to how we want our lives to unfold. Take a breath every now and again. Cook a meal from scratch, walk around your neighbourhood, check a book out of the library. Heck go to a music store and buy a CD just so you can look at the liner notes and read along with the lyrics.

Take some time to enjoy your life.


P.S. In keeping with today's theme, I didn't check the internet to find the lyrics that I'd forgotten. Instead, I'll turn to you, dear reader. Can you remember the missing words?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah!

OK, this isn't about standing but as I was typing "I'm still walking" that Elton John song popped into my head.

Anyway, I gotta say that I am pleased with myself today.

No, nothing spectacular happened.

It's just that I'm trying to continue walking as much as possible rather than being lazy and grabbing the car every time I have to head out.

As you, dear reader, know, I picked the car up on Friday, ran some errands out in the boonies then returned home and the car stayed parked all weekend! Of course, that would not have been the case if the weather had been nicer because then I would have driven to a beach. But that's the sort of excursion the car is for, right?

Today, I had errands to run downtown and I walked to them all. Bank, bank, post office, drugstore, video rental place. A total of 2.6 km. Not far, I realize, and it would be a bigger pain to drive everywhere and have to search for parking, but still.

Not to mention -- but I will -- that I almost walked right into a guy with a walker urinating on the sidewalk. It was outside Starbucks at the corner of Spring Garden and Queen, for anyone interested. It's that sort of quaintness I'd miss if I'd been in a car. Sort of like walking around with an iPod permanently attached and missing the sounds of life around you.

So yay me for not getting lazy and missing what my city has to offer!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Provincial silliness

Queen Elizabeth is here for an international review of warships resulting in dozens of them being anchored in the harbour. It's so weird seeing all those grey ships just sitting there with smaller boats zipping around between them. The tourists line the roadways and shorelines snapping photos while RCMP guard the bridges, the LG's residence and protect Her Majesty's motorcade.

Sort of gives me the creeps. The demonstration of our ability to annihilate one another.

On the way home, after dropping my daughter off at work (which I can now do thanks to new, shiny car) the afternoon announcer on CBC was comparing the security in Halifax for the Queen's visit to the security in Toronto during the G20.


They just can't help themselves. If there is a comparison to be made with Toronto, they have to make it no matter how lame it is.

It was so more peaceful here than the events in Toronto.

The undertone was that it must be because Nova Scotians are more civilized than Ontarians.


It wasn't more peaceful because say, it's the Queen and no one much cares that she's here? That there isn't much to protest about with the Queen other than the use of fur in the guards' hats or the redundancy of the monarchy. That issues like poverty, labour issues and women's rights aren't going to land on Her Majesty's doorstep.

No one gives a damn that ships were inspected by an octogenarian highness. Many do care that the environment isn't top of the government's agenda.

Crappy service and this ongoing pissiness about Ontario are the two things that make NS extremely annoying to me.

Nova Scotians: You have a terrific little province. Be happy that such beauty surrounds you and quit knocking everyone else. You don't need to compare yourself to others. Travel once in a while. See the world. Enjoy it. Enjoy coming home again. Be generous in your compliments and sparing in your slights. Ontario is a beautiful place, a large place. It exists beyond the boundaries of Toronto and, believe it or not, people there are just as friendly as you are.

I'll be glad when the ships are gone and these silly comparisons stop.


Monday, June 28, 2010

First the good news

I am often at a loss as to how business in this part of the world operates.

This afternoon, I received a call from a building manager where I had applied for a three-bedroom apartment.

"You've been approved," she said.
"Great. I guess you'll want us in to sign some paperwork. What day is best?" I responded.
"The apartment's taken."
"You just said we were approved."
"Yes. We have a two-bedroom coming available in August. Would you like that one?"
"No. I want the three bedroom. Didn't you just tell me we were approved? Are you sure the apartment hasn't been takem by us?"
Shuffling of paper can be heard.
"Is your name Wilson?"
"What apartment was it? Number 111?"
"I don't know the apartment number. It was the three bedroom on the first floor. The one you just told me we were approved for."
"Was it 111?"
"I don't know the apartment number."
More shuffling of papers.
"Didn't you just call me to tell me that we were approved for the apartment we applied for?"
"Yeah, but that's taken. Do you want the two bedroom?"

I couldn't make this up.