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July 31, 2005

Yeah, but you should've seen the other guy...

A very determined pitbull (is there any other kind?) has an encounter with a porcupine. Quills fly.

I found these pictures on a bulletin board recently, and sure enough, Snopes already has the background to the story:

Inca apparently did not know when to quit when she encountered the porcupine on Victoria Day, May 23rd [2005]. These are the pictures the vet sent before the long (and expensive) procedure to remove the quills. She had thousands of quills, and her tongue was so covered, she could not close her mouth.

It was pretty scary at first. She is doing okay now, but looks like a World War III survivor as they had to cut some out in places, stitched between her toes, and many quills bled on removal.

Here are still quills buried in her, but they should work their way out over time (I pulled four more today). She is on antibiotics and pain meds and thankfully is doing quite well. Maybe she was showing off for her new boyfriend, Rocky, I don't know; but he only got a few in him, which friends were able to remove. Ike, of course, had better sense.

I sure hope that the Queen of Quills has learned her lesson...

July 29, 2005

Banks

I don't care for them, myself. And they don't like me. Recently we decided to simplify our banking by changing my wife's account at CIBC into a joint account. We went in and I filled out numerous forms and signed and initialed on the appropriate dotted lines. Our new checks arrived and... I was listed as:

BRUCE GOTTSRED
Hmmm. I went in to their office a month ago to straighten this out, and wrote my name as clearly as I could in block letters on a piece of paper. It would terrible to make a mistake again, said the pleasant woman from the evil corporation that nickels and dimes us to death. The new checks listed me as:
BRUE GOTTFRED
I was too angry to call them again, so my wife did it. Now the bank knows me as:
B. GOTTSFRED
Maybe I should just get my name legally changed to match the checks.

July 28, 2005

A dish served cold

After multiplying exponentially and splitting everything, these jerkfaces decided that a $3.00 tip was perfectly acceptable. When they asked if there was enough for a tip I replied with "Well, you left me 3 on 500, so I actually paid to serve you. Thanks a lot! They were insulted but I didn't give a rat's ass! They complained to my manager about my not splitting their bills, and he replied, "Well, you shared everything, what do you expect? She's not Rainman!"...

-- An anonymous waitress at a restaurant in Alberta

Bitter Waitress is a site where those in the food service industry bite back. The Shitty Tipper Database contains a wealth of stories on tight-fisted eaters. There are some celebrity names to be found, but they may have to be taken with a grain of salt. There's no verification of the stories, allowing some that may seem a little unlikely. What's more interesting are the regular horror stories, like this one:
The manager's wife comes in to eat every so often with 5-6 of her friends. The time I had to wait on her, there were 7 of them total. They were all drinking and being obnoxious. I took great care of them, as her manager husband was on duty that night, and told me to make sure she was happy. They were one of those tables where only 1-2 of them would order a drink at a time, but by the time you got back to the table with the drinks, another 1-2 of them needed another drink. They had appetizers, salads, entrees and shared a couple desserts as well as booze booze booze, and pretty much ran me ragged. At one point, when the manager told them I was going to school for music, they even asked me to sing for them, which of course I did. I am supposed to keep them happy, right? So they're finally ready to leave after taking up one of my tables for almost 3 hours, and the manager gives the whole table his 50% discount on their original $256 tab, which brought it down to a very affordable $128 for 7 people. They all threw in some cash, and then left, giving me a glowing recommendation to the manager. When I picked up the cash, they'd only left $145!!! The manager came up to me later and said, "So how did they treat you?" I told him what they'd left, and he just shook his head and said, "They could have treated you better" and walked away. The next time she came in, I got very busy with my other tables. I refuse to wait on her again.
It's always important to remember there's a person serving you, and that you're not living in 17th century France.

(via small dead animals)

July 26, 2005

Canadian Security Alert System

Essay at Stupid Angry Canajun has leaked the new Canadian Security Alert system. Security Czar Anne McLellan (sorry, Anne McYellin) was to have announced this next week, but now the secret is out. When implemented, the four level scale will tell Canadians the proper, government sanctioned response to the risk of terrorist attack.

July 25, 2005

The abandoned playgrounds

I occasionally take the kids to a playground in the course of the day. There are none within walking distance of our house, so I'll take them to others in different neighborhoods. One thing I've invariably noticed is that there's rarely any kids in them! My memory is hazy, but I seem to recall the playgrounds of my youth bustling with kids. Now they seem like abandoned ruins from another age.

Reasons for this? I dunno. There's the obvious society's-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket explanation that kids don't play outside anymore and prefer to sit in front of their home entertainment systems and blow things up. I'm sure that's part of it. But other things have changed as well. Parents don't let their kids go off by themselves the way they used to. Lots of people with kids build their own playground in their yards so they don't have to leave home.

It's too bad. Pick-up play with other kids is important. Seeing other kids is important. It would be nice if parents could take their kids out in public more often. (I'm not saying I do this enough, either.)

And though I rarely see kids in parks, I sure see lots of people walking their dogs. Is there something happening here?

July 21, 2005

News from London

It looks like there's been another series of attacks on the London Underground. I haven't seen much coverage of them yet, but so far things look much less disastrous. Unlike the previous attacks, there have been no casualties reported. In fact it looks like things may have gone very wrong for the terrorists. Here's a second-hand report of what happened on one train:

"He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack. The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage."
Perhaps the intelligence services have allowed some faulty detonators get into the terrorist supply chains. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this...

July 17, 2005

A Day in the Life, part VII

Though this blog is on life support, every now and then I still get inspired and decide to put a lot of work into a post. Usually I think better of it and drop it, but this morning at 5:58 I decided I wasn't going to back down. Today I was going to write another installment of A day in the life and nothing was going to stop me. I was going to create a detailed chronicle of this day so my children will be shamed in the future into visiting me more often at the nursing home. And I managed to do it, like I have every few months since they were born. Hooray for me! Previous days in the life can be found here: part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V and part VI.

Note that they both are toilet training at this time, but to be fair to them I won't be writing about it. Multiply my described frustration levels in this post by about 1.5 to compensate.

6:00 The alarm goes off. After a minute I get up, shower, get the paper, and start to make breakfast. I'm very hungry, so I decide we're having pancakes with apples.

6:20 Michelle is up, and gets the kids out of bed.

6:30 Max comes down while she deals with Talia. He 'helps' me as I cook the pancakes. When my back is turned he turns the dishwasher on and soaks the clean dishes from last night.

7:40 Breakfast is done and Mama heads out to work. They didn't eat too well, especially when you consider that we had pancakes, one of their favourites.

8:00 It looks beautiful out, so we head outside. I'm building a new compost bin, and I thought I could get some work in while they were still in their morning good spirits. They 'helped' by handing me bunches of nails as soon as I picked up the hammer. They were pretty good, but after a half an hour they were starting to get mischievious, so I took them away to do something else. No use pushing my luck.

8:30 We went over to the hammock, where I got a few cute pictures.

Max sang a made-up song, "Swinging In Me Garden".

8:40 They're bored with the hammock. We go back inside to finish the breakfast.

8:45 I'm cleaning up in the kitchen when I hear the kids having a conversation at the table about imaginary gumdrops:
Talia: "My gumdrop is very pink!"
Max: "Me gumdrop is very big!"
Talia: "Hmmmm...?"
Max: "Don't take me gumdrop! NOOOO!!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!"

8:50 Finished breakfast. For sure this time. Talia takes Max's boot from the hallway and puts it on. Max runs to me and says, "Ta-ya take me boot! She take me boot... Ousie! ... It's me boot! AAAAHHHH!!!" The day's fun has surely begun.

8:53 Talia throws an empty 18 liter water bottle down the stairs. Max forgets his earlier distress and laughs merrily. We're ramping up fast.

8:55 I'm done cleaning up. I take them upstairs to brush their teeth. When I'm in the middle of doing Talia's, Max bursts in the bathroom saying, "I got a snotty nose!" He then grabs a wad of toilet paper, jams it against his nose and blows, forcing out a gout of translucent goo. None of it is caught by the tissue, which he neatly puts in the garbage can. Then he wipes his face with his forearm, making it slick and shiny, before dashing out.

9:12 We head out for a walk. Max rides in the stroller while Talia follows behind. Musette and Squeak come along as well. We walk down to the river. They get sticks and pretend to fish.

9:45 We're still there when the Wakefield Steam Train rolls by.

No matter how many times they see the train, they're still always excited by it.

10:00 We stop at a neighbor's on the way home. They have... a trampoline! These two love the trampoline and could spend hours bounding around on it if they could. Max still just runs on it, but Talia has got quite good at jumping and can get a lot of air.

10:30 Home for a snack and some inter-sibling conflict. Much squabbling -- over what I couldn't quite make out. You'll have to wait for them to write their memoirs to find out. Max seemed to be the most upset, maybe he's not feeling good?
Me: "Max, do you want to go to bed? You seem sick."
Max: "Yes! Me sick! Need medsin!"
Talia: "I need medsin too! I'm sick too! I have a cough! *caff* *caff* See?"
Max: "AAAAHHHH!!"

10:45 Downstairs watching Dora. It was the only thing I could do. Not that they still couldn't find something to get upset about. Here Talia lets me know how she feels about Max sitting on my lap.

12:00 I'm making lunch. Talia and Max are informing me that the world is coming to an end. Now. I serve them their tomato soup and crackers. I add ketchup in the soup to make sure they eat it.

12:30 I take them to bed for their nap. I don't get any arguments. I have my afternoon coffee while surfing the web to calm my nerves.

2:25 The approach of the train wakes them up and they scream their demands to see it. I manage to get them out on to the balcony so they can see it roll by.

2:30 Snack time again.

2:40 I take them outside again and resume working on the compost bin. Ten minutes is all I get before they're so distracting I have to give up. Max takes a broom and starts pushing our gravel into the road. I explain to him that I'd prefer he sweep the gravel from the road into our driveway, but he doesn't listen.

3:30 We come in for something to drink. My offer of water starts the wailing again, but I tell them we have no juice. Talia disagrees and says we have pineapple juice. After I dismiss this thought she insists, "YES! We have it! We bought it at the store together! It's in the... the closet. Downstairs!" She grabs me by the finger and leads me to the pantry, and sure enough, there's some peach juice there. They get their juice.

3:45 Talia knocks down the juice Max had been ignoring. Max is wailing again. Okay, time for another TV break. Teletubbies this time. We're rediscovering the pleasures of the Teletubbies after forgetting about them for eight months.

4:30 We go upstairs to await Mama. Can't let her find us slumped in front of the TV. Please Michelle, come home soon! They're extremely crabby and demanding Mama. To distract them while we wait, I decide to empty their little wading pool, clean it, and add more water. I don't know why it has to be clean, since all they ever use it for is as a reservoir to fill up buckets, cups, pots and watering cans, but we do it anyway. This task seems to put Max at rest, but Talia sees Max's contentment as a challenge and she goes all out to make him crazy. Much screaming and wailing ensues, and I struggle not to join in.

4:50 Mama comes home, and after an initial greeting, starts to make dinner. I'm left tending to Max and Talia, who by this time look like they're losing their sanity.

5:30 Dinner. A battle. I don't want to talk about it.

6:00 After dinner things cool down a bit. But I'm worn out. This conversation I had with Max as I cleaned up the supper dishes shows how little patience I had left:
Max: "What's that thing?"
Me: "It's a mixer."
Max: "What's it for?"
Me: "It's for mixing up things."
Max: "Mixing up things?"
Me: "Yes."
Max: "What things?"
Me: "Anything."
Max: "Anything?"
Me: "Anything."
Max: "... Oooohhhh..."

6:30 We cut up the rest of the pineapple for dessert. Mama and Papa don't get any.

6:45 Bath time. Again, I don't want to talk about it. It was a two person job and involved a lot of screaming. Only most of the screaming was from the kids.

7:15 I leave Mama with the kids to do the story thing. The last thing I saw as I closed the door to their bedroom was Talia running up and head-butting Max as he was drinking from his sippy cup. The last thing I heard was the crack of teeth on plastic. (Okay, that's not true; I heard the screaming...)

9:00 Time for one episode of Buffy before bed. We're in the middle of season two (we started with season three.) We're almost done watching them all! How will we unwind after they're gone?

July 14, 2005

Most Annoying Americans

I had a lot of fun last year with my Most Annoying Canadian competition. Down in the States, a book has been written on the 100 most annoying Americans, called 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America : (and Al Franken Is #37) by Bernard Goldberg. Like most of the annoying Canadians, Goldberg's choices are mostly the political and cultural elites who feel they have everything worked out, and who believe the world would be just peachy if everyone would only listen to them. What seperates them from that guy at the party that won't leave you alone is that many people do listen to them. His book is aimed at deflating these windbags, and it's a valid goal.

I haven't read it, but I've obtained the Cole's Notes version. Here they are, the 100 most annoying Americans, in order from most to least most:

Michael Moore, Arthur Sulzberger, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Anthony Romero, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Marshall, Paul Krugman, Jonathan Kozol, Ralph Neas, Noam Chomsky, Dan Rather, Andrew Heyward, Mary Mapes, Ted Rall, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, Al Gore, George Soros, Howard Dean, Judge Roy Moore, Michael Newdow, The Unknown American Terrorist, Lee Bollinger, James Kopp, Dr. Martin Haskell, Paul Begala, Julian Bond, John Green, Latrell Sprewell, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Bob Shrum, Bill Moyers, Jeff Danziger, Nancy Hopkins, Al Franken, Jim McDermott, Peter Singer, Scott Harshbarger, Susan Beresford, Gloria Steinem, Paul Eibeler, Dennis Kozlowski, Ken Lay, Barbara Walters, Maxine Waters, Robert Byrd, Ingrid Newkirk, John Vasconellos, Ann Pelo, Markos Moulitsas, Anna Nicole Smith, Neal Shapiro, David Westin, Diane Sawyer, Ted Field, Eminem, Shirley Franklin, Ludacris, Michael Savage, Howard Stern, Amy Richards, James Wolcott, Oliver Stone, David Duke, Randall Robinson, Katherine Hanson, Matt Kunitz, Jimmy Swaggart, Phil Donahue, Ward Churchill, Barbara Kingsolver, Katha Politt, Eric Foner, Barbara Foley, Linda Hirshman, Norman Mailer, Harry Belafonte, Kitty Kelley, Tim Robbins, Laurie David, The Dumb and Vicious Celebrity, The Vicious Celebrity, The Dumb Celebrity, Chris Ofili, Sheldon Hackney, Aaron McGruder, Jane Smiley, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Kerri Dunn, Richard Timmons, Guy Velella, Courtney Love, Eve Ensler, Todd Goldman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Matthew Lesko, Rick and Kathy Hilton
Is there anyone missing? I can think of John Kerry and Rosie O'Donnell off the top of my head, but I guess you have to cut the list somewhere. There are lots of annoying Americans, after all. But I can't think of any that shouldn't be there, so it's a very good list.

(Speaking of the Most Annoying Canadian Canadian competion, if and when I get this blog off the blocks and back on the information super-highway again, I'm going to revive it. Nominations will begin sometime in September. Start noting who's on the TV screen when you find yourself shaking your fist at it and let me know.)

July 11, 2005

The cat came back

After a week of roaming the neighborhhood and getting into fights, Squeak the cat has returned to his place of birth.

After rubbing his head against everybody and his favourite pieces of furniture, and eating a whole bowl of Meow Mix, he demanded to go outside again. I tried to explain how much these long absences hurt us, but he wouldn't listen...

July 08, 2005

Take a trip

I must have read on a dozen blogs about how cool Google Earth is. It's all true. Google Earth is damn cool. Downloads of the necessary software were blocked for a while, but have now been reopened. I installed it yesterday and have spent a couple hours playing around with it. It's impressive that they've started filling in the international locations. When I discovered Google Maps six months ago, most of the hi-res locations were in North America. Now major cities all over the world have been added -- such as Buenos Aires. Here's a view of the Recoleta Cemetary I visited last month:

Google Earth aims to give you a real 3D view of the world. You can zoom in and zoom out of any location, but also change the pitch and direction of your view. It's crude now, but you can start to get the sense of where they're going with this project. Google aims to create a database that contains a complete 3D image of the world. Cities like New York now have buildings mapped in:

They're just grey blocks now, but you can virtually roll down the streets and get a sense of where you are. Someday the buildings will be 'skinned' correctly, and if we have a pipe fat enough to receive the data and a computer powerful enough to display it, we'll have a virtual New York on our desktops. And a virtual London, Paris, Tokyo, Baghdad, Buenos Aires, Toronto and Ottawa too.

Way cool.

July 07, 2005

Fired up

I didn't intend to write anything on the bombings in London today. The blog is in stasis, and I didn't think I had anything to say. What happened is terrible, horrible, and the perpetrators should be drawn and quartered -- what else is there to say? But after listening to Lowell Green this morning on the radio, I'm too fired up to keep quiet.

Two callers enraged me. The first claimed that he had a deep understanding of the motivations of the bombers, and that their acts were the logical response to the 'foreign policy' of America and Britain. Which precise act of foreign policy it was he didn't make clear, but he muttered something about Hosni Mubarak being a dictator and an ally of the United States. His attitude was that it's all very complicated, you see, but since he knows the name of the President of Egypt, you must assume he knows what he's talking about. And the United States is to blame, no question about it.

The other caller went even farther. He said that while of course he doesn't support the mass slaughter of civilians, the bombers were nonetheless 'freedom fighters' working for a just cause. His reasoning for this belief was even more cloudy that the first caller's, but his attitude was again that things were too complex for most common people to understand. But believe him that there are legitimate reasons for these atrocities and it's important to address them. I didn't get a chance to hear what these important issues that need to be addressed because are I was yelling at the radio too loud.

I'd like to think that people like these two chuckleheads are rare, and that most people understand the importance of standing firm against the subhuman thugs that perpetrate these crimes. But they're not. They're our neighbors and perhaps even our friends. I've spoken to far too many people that have concocted the most absurd theories to explain terrorism. They vary in their degrees of loopiness, but the one component of these theories that stays consistent is that it's all the fault of the United States.

But it's really them, those that justify, sanctify, and even praise mass murder, that makes terrorism so effective.

July 05, 2005

Going to buy blueberries

Dora the Explorer this morning had her and Boots on a quest to pick blueberries on Blueberry Hill. It was a perilous journey because Swiper the Fox lived on Blueberry Hill and might swipe their berries. Somehow the two of them overcame their obstacles and everyone danced the we did it! dance.

This story so inspired Max and Talia that they decided to go get some blueberries of their own this morning. But they know of course that blueberries don't grow on bushes, but come from the store. So they got dressed to go to the store with their blueberry buckets...

July 04, 2005

Breather

I attempted to break my blogjam (Great term, eh? Just thought of it this second!) this morning by writing about the Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Arab Libyan Popular and Socialist Republic's thoughts about African Aid, when I was distracted by tending to my children. Talia was wandering barefoot through the yard in her litle pink dress, and was looking to get into trouble. Max was busy taking water from the wading pool into a little cup, carefully pouring it into a watering can -- so carefully he only spilled half of it in the process -- then taking the water can to the other side of the house to water a small patch of grass. Soon I was talking with them and having a real conversation. They're little people now, with real thoughts and ideas. They tell me things, ask me things, and like me to show them things. They're fascinating, and so much fun to be with (well, most of the time.)

And then I went back to trying to finish the post -- and it seemed like the most pointless exercise in the world. Who cares? I mean, who really cares?

Well, I do. Still. But I'm going to give up writing about it the rest of the world for a while. (Not that I've been doing such a great job lately.) For the rest of the summer this blog will be mostly quiet, with just a few stories and photos of the kids to break the silence. I need to concentrate on a few things around here so I need to simplify my life.

Okay. Right. Now I'm going...