Archive for February 2009

Dealing With Your Cabbages

February 26, 2009

(This guest post written by Friar’s Mom).

I finally cleaned out my fridge yesterday.   I want it to be spotless before I leave for out west in a few weeks, and my house-sitter moves in for the winter.  I don’t want her to think I am a real slob.

For a long time now, I have been putting off the fridge cleaning.  It’s a longish story that began in May.

We had invited the family for Mother’s Day Dinner.  It was the Sunday before Jay died.   We had a wonderful, fun-filled multi-course dinner.  It was good to have the entire family together after our winter of skiing out west.  I requested that Jay, my husband of forty-three years, make cabbage rolls.   Everyone raved about Jay’s batch of cabbage rolls — best ever.  He used an unwritten family recipe which he learned from his mom, about 15 years ago.

This time, Jay miscalculated his ingredients and had leftover cabbage. One whole head and a partially blanched half- cabbage remained.  Frugal me, I had every intentions of making cabbage soup with the blanched one, and coleslaw with the other one. I put both cabbages in plastic bags and stashed them at the back of the bottom shelf of the fridge .

Jay died, four days after our family dinner, at which point my plans and priorities changed drastically.   I kept putting off making soup and coleslaw.   I was too busy with cycling, dealing with legal matters, family, social life, banking, gardening, etc.   I completely ignored the cabbages.  If and when I noticed them, they reminded me of the Saturday when Jay took over the kitchen and made the cabbage rolls.   They reminded me that he would never make them again. They reminded me how tired he was when he finished, because his arthritic knee was so sore. They reminded me how Jay didn’t complain about making them.

Stored in plastic bags, the cabbages didn’t smell, so I just left them there.  Eventually I forgot about them.  Ignorance was bliss.

But I knew I would have to face those cabbages one day.  I had no excuse yesterday.  It was raining outside, which meant no cycling, and no yard work.   Except for housework and cleaning out the garage and closets,  I had no pressing priorities.

I began to attack the fridge.  But even in the process, I continued to procrastinate about the real task at hand– and disposing of those cabbages.  I washed down the outside of the fridge, the door handles  and the dirty gaskets.  I pulled out the fridge and vacuumed behind it.  I cleaned out the shelves in the door, the egg shelf, and the butter keeper.   I emptied the fridge shelves one at a time, removed them and washed them.  I emptied and washed the vegetable crispers and the meat keeper.

And now then for the last task, five months after putting them in the fridge, I finally removed the two cabbages.  Surprisingly, they were still very much intact.  The blanched one had lost some of its firmness and had faded to a very pale pastel yellow.  The whole one was in sadder shape; it had it sprouted from the inside, and its outside leaves had blackened.  Not bad– no smell, no oozing liquid.   Not an unpleasant surprise.   I chopped them up on a cutting board, carried them outside, and laid them to rest in the compost bin.

I feel so much better, now that I have faced my nemesis.

Lesson to be learned: Don’t be afraid to face confront the cabbages in your life.  They’re likely not as bad as you envisage them.   You’ll feel so much better afterwards.

Deal with your cabbages, and get on with your life.

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Blogging Commenter Stereotypes

February 24, 2009

The Kleenex-Boxer
Take your pick.   These Empaths will burst into tears at the slightest mention of love, spouses, children, life, death, health, sickness, a motivational quote, a poem, chocolate or Oprah.  Makes you wonder how some people handled Real Life before the internet.

The Scrappers
Like two kids in a schoolyard who don’t get along.   They’ll visit your blog, pick a fight with each other, trash the living room, and then leave the place a mess.

The Hi-Jacker
Makes a smart-ass comment, encourages others to follow, and ends up derailing your whole comment thread.    Sometimes tag-teams with another hijacker, in which case, you might as well just hand over the keys to your blog, and come back tomorrow.

The Stranger
Comes by once every 6 months, leaves one comment, and then goes away again.  (Uhhh…okay.  Thanks for showing up!)

The Stalker
Comments a little bit too much, perhaps.  Or the comments are a bit edgy..to the point of scaring off your other readers.   (This is why I’m glad I don’t use my real name on my blog!)

The Melt-Downer
Someone will have a tantrum and start to lose it.    They might even verbally abuse other bloggers, before self-destructing in a major snit-fit.   This doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s very entertaining to watch.

The English-Perfessor
Constantly provides obscure quotes or artsy literature references to help emphasize the point they’re trying to make.  (Oooh, look at me, I’m well-read!)

The Preacher
Can’t comment, without including the following statement:  “If we only (fill in the blank) a little bit more, we can make a difference, and the world will be a better place“.    (Thanks for that…now go  back to crunching your granola.)

The Blogger
Their comment is so long, it might as well be a whole blog post itself!    (Get off the fence, already.   Tell us how you REALLY feel!)

The Martyr
They’ll apologize for not commenting sooner.    That’s because they feel obliged to follow 500 blogs and comment on each and every one.

The Cry-Babies
You poke fun at something which (God Forbid) might not be PC.   Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, except for the Cry-baby, of course, who takes offense.   There one in every crowd.   (Wah.)

The Wise Philosopher
They’ll often start a debate, in an attempt to try to make the other person “think” and see both sides of the story.   Because they know better than the rest of us (or at least, they think they do).

The Apple-Polisher
Doesn’t matter what you write.  They’ll tell you “Oh, yes…thank you for this wonderful post. It changed my life! I so TOTALLY agree! I’m going to follow your advice RIGHT NOW!“.    You’re not sure if they’re sincere or not.   But if you combine the Apple-Polisher with the Kleenex-Boxer, watch out and prepare to get soaked in estrogen-tears.

The Cool Kids
The Apple Polisher’s goal is graduate to this next level.   The Cool Kids comment using code-words and inside jokes that only the other Cool Kids know about.   They’re obviously quite pleased to be within the Sacred Inner Circle, and they like to let you know it.

The Class Clown
They dont’ really care what your post is about.  All they want to do is to make make everyone else ROFOL or LOL.    They often work in co-operation with the Hi-Jackers.

The Mutual Admiration Society
This is where the commenter and the blogger get into a group hug, and won’t let go.    Watch for the following dialogue:

“You’re the best.”
“No…YOU are.”
“No…YOU’RE the best..” (ad infinitum)

(Gagggg!  Where are my air-sickness bags?)

The Cynic
They like to leave snarky comments, but without the smiley-face emoticons.   So you’re never sure if they’re taking a shot at you,  or just having fun.   I never could figure these people out…they sure do keep you on your toes…guessing.

Cheech (or Chong)
Like you know when you get these comments in one long sentence without any punctuation and it’s like the persons’ been smoking weed or is drunk and they’re so brain dead they’re just rambling out random thoughts in no coherent order man I really hate comments like that they just annoy me so much but it’s all part of blogging I guess so we just have to accept it you know like whatever?

The WannaBees
I feel sorry for these people. They’re new to blogging. They’ll visit and leave sincere comments and try to take part in the discussion. But they’re often ignored, especially by the Cool Kids.

Maybe they just need to polish a few more apples.

Ladies and Gentlemen (Mesdames et Messieurs…).

February 22, 2009

We all know flying can at times be really annoying.   Delays, crowded airports, turbulence, screaming kids, cramped seats, etc…  

But those annoyances, I can at least tolerate.

But there’s one thing that I have a bee in my bonnet about.  That sets my teeth on edge.  That makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

It’s the ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Those #$%@ ANNOUNCEMENTS.    Whether it’s a 40 minute flight, or across the ocean.  It’s the SAME annoucments, over and over.

Let’s do a count.   For each and every flight, we get:

 – The pre-take-off instructions  (safety exits, please put your seats upright, how to fasten your seat belt, where the oxygen masks are located).  

– Just after take-off instructions (please remain seated, the bathrooms are located in the back, and if you’ve grown up in cave, this is a non-smoking plane).

– We-will-be-selling headphones announcement  (oh…so THAT explains why the lady is selling headphones!)

– We-will-be-serving snacks announcement.

– We-will-be serving-juice-or-water announcment  (oh..so THAT explains why the lady is handing out beverages!)

– We-will-be-landing-soon announcement (please put your seats up again, and stow your gear, etc.)

– Landing announcement (Please remain seated until the plane comes to a complete stop, thank you for flying Crap-Jet,  etc. )

 Holy crap.   That’s seven announcements each flight.   And if you fly across the country like I recently did, with 2 additional connecting flights, you might end up with TWENTY ONE announcements.  

And I CAN’T drown them out.  I try to.   I try to nap.   Read.    Do a crossword.  But my brain still make me listen to this drivel.

And it’s the WAY they talk to us that gets to me.   It goes on and on, and they treat us like we’re idiots.    

Ladies and Gentlemen, should you have to take a dump during the flight, we encourage you to use the toilets at the rear of the plane.   When you’re finished, please remember to wipe your arse in a circular motion, using the toilet paper provided in the dispenser to your right.   Should you require any assistance, please let the flight attendants know, and we will only be happy to help you with your wiping activities.

And did I say seven announcements per flight?  Sorry.   Double that..and make it FOURTEEN.

Because in Canada, we use two official languages, and everything needs to be repeated in FRENCH.    

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anti-French.  In fact, I’m bilingual… Which is the problem.  

You see, I can’t ignore ignore the French announcements anymore than I can ignore the English ones.   So (sigh) I have to here everything TWICE.  

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were human beings actually speaking French.   But that’s not often the case.   Usually they make their announcements in English..then they play the equivalent voice recording in French.  And then you get to hear the dread ROBOT-LADY. 

God, I HATE the Robot-Lady!!!   As soon as I hear “Mesdames et Messieurs“, I want to poke ice-picks into to my ear-drums and go deaf.  

Because the Robot-Lady speaks such a perfectly-clipped French, with all the accents and verbs conjugated verbs and liasons…It’s just so ANNOYING.    I lived in Quebec almost half my life…I grew up there…and I can tell you…nobody there speaks that way…NOBODY!   

It’s so artificial and fake, and condescending, you know it’s got to be a robot, or some kind of smarmy computer-generated voice. 

Mesdames et Messieurs:   Si vous avez besoin de chier durant le vol, nous vous encourageons d’utiliser la toilette située a l’arrière de l’avion.   Aussitôt que vous avez fini, s’il vous plaît,  rapplellez-vous de nettoyer votre cul the façon circulaire, avec le papier hygienique qui est disponible à votre droite.   Si vous avez  besoin de l’aide, n’hésitez pas a demander de l’assistance, et nous serons heureux de vous aider avec vos activités de nettoyage. 

So including my two connecting flights, that’s a grand total FORTY TWO announcements.  

Do the math.   For 7 hours of flying time, that’s an annoucment every 10 minutes, on average.   (Even more often than that, for the short 1-hour flights).  

It’s like sitting next to an annoying person that constantly interupts you.  Where you want to yell shut up…shut up…for the love of God, won’t you PLEASE SHUT UP!!! 

(Mabye if I bang my head, I can give myself a stroke, and blot out the French-Language part in my brain so it will just sound like blah-blah-blah). 

Look, I know we have to inform people about safety, to keep the lawyers and Walter Safety and everyone happy.   So can I propose a solution?

At the beginning the the flight, we  ask everyone:   “How many of you have never been on a plane?   Raise your hand. ”

And then we take these people aside, and give them a 15-minute crash course on how sit in a plane and act like a passengers.  Then we bring them back on board, and we continue our trip in blissful silence.

But we should also ask a second set of questions:

How many of your are morons, who STILL don’t know how to do up a seat belt?   Who can’t figure out how to use the volume control on the TV?  Or can’t understand the concept of   “Cofee, juice or water? ” without having it explained umpteen times in mutliple languages?  Who spastically will open the overhead compartments and get skulled by some loose carry-on luggage that will have shifted during flight?”

Well, we take THOSE people off the plane.  And leave without them. 

Seriously.   If you’re THAT stupid, you shouldnt’ fly.

Uncle Friar’s Tips on Dog-Sitting a Duck Toller

February 21, 2009

What do most of us want, more than anything else in the whole world?

A nice house?   To with the lottery?  A fancy car?   Our health?  Happiness?  Fame and Fortune?

Well, if you’re like the Duck-Toller I’m babysitting,  THIS is all you want.

the-ball

It’s a ball.

Not just any ball.    It’s a rubber ball that you can buy at Ikea, three for a dollar.

And it’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing in a Toller’s life.

Because they want to RETRIEVE IT.

It’s why they were born…it’s their raison d’être.

To RETRIEVE the Ikea ball!

It’s actually quite something to see a Duck Toller fulfilling their Life Goal.

As soon as you bring the ball out, their ears perk up, they start to pant, and their pupils dilate to the point of disappearing.   It’s like watching a drug addict anticipating their next hit of crack cocaine.

If you wiggle the ball in front of them, they start the Toller Dance.    Shifting weight from one paw to the other, tail wagging.   Waiting…waiting for you to throw the ball.  So that they can RETRIEVE it.

And you oblige.    Because the dog is so gosh-darned cute, how can you RESIST?

tipperball_6

You throw the ball.   And throw it…again and again.   And again and again and again.     For n equals 1 to infinity.

They’re so focused, nothing else matters.   They don’t want treats.  They don’t want to go to the bathroom.  They don’t to be petted. They just want THE BALL!!!

Surgeons performing open-heart surgery should be so focused.

tipperball_1

After umpteen tosses, you can change the game plan.  Instead of throwing the ball, you can flick it with your finger.    This way, they can get up really close to you, inches away.

And they’re so INTENSE…trying to block your path with their paw, waiting to spring into action at a nano-second’s notice, to catch that elusive rubber sphere.

tipperball_5

You keep throwing and flicking the ball.  Again and again.   And again.   Vrooom!  They don’t stop.   These dogs have LOTS of energy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re outside and the dog runs 100 feet.   Or if you’re in your basement, and they run 10 feet…or even 10 inches.

Tollers don’t care.   They just want to human/throw/retrieve interaction.

(My theory is the click of their teeth on the ball triggers a small burst of endorphins into their little doggie brain that lasts for a microsecond…Which is why they need to keep doing it.)

tipperball_7

Eventually, the dog WILL  get tired (but they’ll be the last to admit it)

tipperball_2

tipperball_3

This is when you have to be the pack leader, and tell them “TIME OUT!!!   ALL DONE!!!”.    After which they’ll reluctantly stop the game, and you go hide the ball in the freezer, so they don’t smell it and start yapping to play again in 5 minutes.

If you’ve accomplished your mission, you’ve exhausted your pooch, and they’ll actually rest for an hour or two, and leave you alone.

(“Better behavior through exhaustion“, they say about this breed.)

tipperball_4

Unfortunately, it doesn’t last too long.

I bet you if I took the ball out of the freezer right now, she’d go nuts, and start all over again.

But I probably won’t.

Let Sleeping Tollers Lie.   (Lord knows, it happens so rarely!)

Would you like a Double-Double with that?

February 19, 2009

Sometimes I get tired of doing landscapes.

So I might shake things up and make myself paint different subjects that I don’t normally do.

I’m probably not the first person to paint Tim Hortons’ donuts.

But it’s probably safe to say that not too many have.

donut-study_150-dpi

Avoiding Procrastination: How NOT to do it (*)

February 16, 2009

(*) With apologies to Alex.  🙂

If there’s an unpleasant task ahead, ask yourself these questions:  If I don’t do this, will anyone die or get hurt? Will it jeopardize someones  job? Will it ruin a friendship?  Will it bankrupt me? If the answer is “NO”, then chill out, have a beer, and don’t worry about it.

If you live alone, the dishes have to be washed ONLY when the mess starts to annoy you.  It’s up to YOU to decide when that is.  (Same thing applies to cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming.)

TV and computer time are best enjoyed when you “should” be doing something else.  Treasure those precious moments.

If you can afford it, just PAY someone to do the menial jobs you hate.  (I mean, why did you work hard and go to school for all those years, anyway? )

If you’re avoiding housework, just remember: doing a quick half-assed job is better than doing nothing at all.  And it will still make your place look tidier.

Don’t follow your dreams and quit your tedious white-collar office job just yet…unless you like Ramen Noodles and living out of your car.

If you have a to-do list, tear it up.  It’s just a glaring reminder of what you’re not accomplishing.

If the government owes YOU money, don’t worry about completing your tax return by the April deadline.   You can put it off indefinitely, and wait for THEM to contact you…so long as you don’t mind the Feds earning interest on your hard-earned cash.

A professor once told me:  a week in the lab will save you 5 minutes in the library.

Refuse to do indoor house projects until it’s crummy and miserable outside. (Lord knows, we have so few months of nice summer weather, especially in Canada.)

If laundry piles up, wear the same clothes around the house for several days.   If anyone complains about your B.O., tell them you’re being “Green” by cutting down on your washing, to save Spaceship Mother Earth.

Sure, you’re supposed to change your oil regularly.   But it your car is old, and you go a bit over 5000 km…well, it’s not the end of the world, is it?

Don’t pay your speeding ticket right away.  If you know you’re guilty,  let THEM settle the matter in traffic court and send you the bill.

If your Christmas lights are still up in June, then you’re past the half-way mark for the year.  You might as well keep them up for the next Christmas.

Don’t beat yourself up over a late bill payment.  The interest will cost you less than the Starbucks coffee you had this morning.

Nobody on their deathbed ever admitted “I wish I had organized my closets sooner” or “I wish I had written that thank-you card.”

Live each day as if it’s your last.  But only if you like lots of self-imposed pressure and want to burn yourself out.

Slack off at work, then rush at the last minute to the meet urgent deadlines.   Make your co-workers aware of the hours you’re putting in.   It will make you look diligent.   You might even get sympathy for working so hard.

Commit to much less than you actually plan on doing, and then do it.  You’ll look like a hero.

Don’t publicly announce what your goals are.  Remember, nobody can hold you accountable for anything they don’t know about.

Some Fringe Benefits of Getting Your PhD.

February 15, 2009

Your can brag to kids who are still in elementary school that you went up to “Grade 23”

You and your chiropractor can call each other “fake doctor”.

Your friends and family can use your degree against you any time you screw up:  “He has a PhD but he can’t even figure out how to program the remote control!”. 

Your friends and family can use your degree against you any time you happen to like something low-brow:   “He has a PhD but he likes to watch South Park!“.

You can earn a decent salary in a non-research job, but still be considered a failure by your academic peers because you don’t “publish”.

If you pursue post-doctoral studies,  you rank slightly higher than lichen on the academic food chain.

Those six additional years of graduate school are worth a whole extra $5000 in starting salary. 

Senior PhD’s will treat you like a junior employee, even though you’re in your 40’s with 10 years work experience.

Technicians and blue-collar workers look at you with mistrust, and avoid sitting with you at lunch. 

The guy with the Grade Nine education who started working at the plant at age 18 will have his house paid off before you even qualify for a mortgage.

The guy with the Grade Nine education who started working at the plant at age 18 will be retired with full pension, before you finally get out of debt.

You’re still treated like an idiot.   Especially by resentful managers who have less education than you do, who feel they need to prove some kind of point.  

It’s the only degree that’s sometimes better left unmentionned.   Especially if you’re applying for non-PhD jobs. 

When someone says “Sometimes there is such a thing as TOO MUCH education“, you know exactly what they mean.

You’re well into your 30’s, before you start making the same money as those silly bachelor degrees who started working full-time at age 23. 

The only person who calls you “Doctor” is the 20-year phoning you up from your old alma mater, asking you to donate money to their latest fundraising drive.