Home

8 Things That Probably Mean You’re Not Canadian … Sorry, Eh?

Leave a comment

Mountie moose

O CANADA our home and native land ….

Wait a minute… I can’t hear you singing!!

OK… perhaps you prefer O say can you see … or… Allons enfants de la Patrie, perhaps God save our gracious Queen … all are uplifting.

A few days before the Trump’ster blurts something bombastic and self-serving and frankly stupid in front of the Lincoln Memorial next Thursday … Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will stand before the citizens of the True North of North America and remind us with some eloquence of what makes a Canadian… well… Canadian.

Yes, Monday is Canada’s 152nd Birthday. A baby in global terms…

What Trudeau says won’t please every citizen of the land, because the nature of a diverse country shaped in a multicultural kaleidoscope of skin tones and religious and gender leanings, is that there will be disagreements and philosophical variations …

… but for the most part, Justin will speak in terms and pictures that will make most of us proud to carry the Maple Leaf passport.

Sure, there are things that annoy and anger me about my homeland. As a country we’ve committed our fair share of sins, just ask the Indigenous folks who have lived here for millennia …

And to be clear I’m not a raging fan of nationalistic pride… I am a greater fan of a global community where the goal is to achieve a more or less equivalency of living standard for all folks.

It’s kind of corny and in some ways naive, but I’d rather live a positive dream, than wall off others in fear of what I might lose by their prospering.

Nonetheless, I’m greatly fortunate and appreciative of the hand-up I was given at my birth to springboard out into a huge country of great wealth and freedom to shape my own destiny.

So, are you ready to find out if YOU are…

CANADIAN? YES or NO?

Trudeau.jpeg

Just to be clear, not everyone can be a Canadian.

But if you think YOU might be a Canadian, read through the following list of 8 for either confirmation or denial.

 

  1. If you haven’t said “sorry” at least 3-4 times in the past 24 hours, you’re definitely NOT a Canadian. Canadians apologize for talking, for walking, for breathing… we say “sorry” instead of prayers when we go to bed at night … it’s in our DNA … I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is.
  2. If you say “Aboot” instead of “Abowt”, you are NOT Canadian. I know this bucks the accepted norm that others outside of Canada believe. To be fair, the occasional stand-up Newfoundlander might be heard uttering ABOOT, but it gets lost in the mist of the Atlantic Ocean. To be clear, this pronunciation guide does not carry over to the word “route” which may be spoken as “ROOT” or “ROWT”, either can be accepted within the Canadian vernacular.
  3. If you popped a beautiful bouncing bundle of new life in recent memory and reluctantly went back to the salt mines to pay for your groceries after a mere 3 weeks or 3 months, you’re NOT Canadian. Canadian maternity leave is a year long for those who can manage it … Employment Insurance pays Mommies and Daddies to look after their little Sweeties (for a while anyways).
  4. If you can’t recognize a flag with a red maple leaf as its emblem, you’re NOT Canadian. Canada has the coolest, most recognizable flag… who the heck couldn’t know that a big red Maple Leaf represents Canada? OK, I’d have preferred blue bars (instead of red) on either side and a blue stripe across the top to represent the 3 oceans on our borders, but Canada is about compromise, I can happily live with all red.
  5. If you pay a monthly premium for health coverage with co-pays and deductibles, or struggle to buy expensive drug treatments, you’re NOT Canadian. It’s cliched, but as I listen to Democratic debates south of the border, I appreciate all the more that even without a perfect health care system in this country, there aren’t multitudes of bankruptcies and families destroyed by lack of adequate health care.
  6. If you reject the notion of helping the world’s desperate and downtrodden, you’re NOT Canadian. Canada accepted the most refugees of any country last year … The UNHCR’s annual global trends report shows that Canada took in 28,100 of the 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries during 2018. This is very meaningful to me in my role as a tutor to a young Syrian refugee brought to this country in 2016.
  7. If you detest the notion of same-sex marriage or the freedom of choice for women to decide what can or can’t be done to their own bodies, then perhaps you’re NOT Canadian. Yes, and even marijuana is legal now… the True North is strongly high and free…
  8. If you don’t like the taste of clam juice mixed with tomato juice and vodka, then you are likely NOT Canadian. We drink this strange mixture in abundance and think it tastes good, also… we put “u” in the middle of words for no good reason, we say “eh” all the time, pronounce “z” as “ZED” and lieutenant as “leftenant”, sometimes we wear shorts in the dead of winter, we don’t own handguns or assault weapons, we call our money “loonie” and “toonie”, we eat Kraft Dinner like it’s the National dish, and we pick up our morning coffee at “Timmies” like it’s a citizenship requirement.

So, did you qualify to be Canadian?

If not, I’m SORRY, but don’t fret.

And don’t give up.

Work hard and try again next year. Canadians believe in second chances, eh ? …

Happy Birthday Canada

birthday cake.jpg

A Square Peg… Or How I Started As A Wine Virgin

Leave a comment

funny wine

Mmmmmm… nice overtones of peach and grapefruity citrus with a strong acidic finish and a light touch of oakiness.

Yes… a pretentious yet sensitive wine with a sunny hint of snot, clown tears, and liquid viagra. Great with roadkill or Cap’n Crunch.

The wine world is viewed by a lot of people as a mixed word salad of pompous ostentation.

Pinot Meunier, Reisling, Cabernet Merlot, Chardonnay. Still or frizzante. White, red or rose.

For someone who doesn’t drink much booze, the demon drink has been a prominent part of my life for the past 5 years since I hung up my laboratory petri dishes… a new set of chemicals (ethyl alcohol) and microorganisms (yeasts) has displaced the E. coli’s and Salmonellas that I sniffed and puzzled over for more than 3 decades.

Each of the past 4 summers I’ve mixed and poured my heart out, bartending a couple of nights a week at a local Greek restaurant. Martinis, Margaritas and Sangrias were my stock in trade.

I thrived on the enthusiasm and fast pace – the steady flow of staff and patrons that cascaded life right back at me. Bartending has a certain scent of glamour and mystery I love.

However, for a guy who routinely wakes up each morning ready to fly (or spin or HIIT) at 4:30 or 5:00 am, concocting colourful umbrella-festooned drinks at 9:00 or 10:00 PM, well… it’s not the very best collaboration conceived.

Be Best.

Thanks Melania… my best is early in the day which makes my new summer job a “best” fit.

Living in Canada’s Okanagan Valley today means an exposure to grapes on just about every hillside… we’ve become a pint-sized version of Napa or Sonoma,  Mosel or Reine, Loire or Bordeaux, Tuscany or Collabria, Coonawarra or Kangaroo Island.

So this summer, I’ve decided to hang up my evening bartender’s apron and try on a daytime sommelier’s cape.

Signing on for a couple of mornings each week at a winery 5 minutes walk down my road is just the fresh breath I need.

8th Gen wines 2

My morning role is minimal – I set up and send boxes of wine to restaurants and wine club members who receive regular shipments of the fermented juice.

And when (if) my time allows I’ll set up shop at the counter of the tasting room and pour out mini-sips of liquid and words of wine wisdom to the visitors passing through.

But back to the jargon of wine country.

The other night, for a few hours, I and the entire crew of wine hosts (perhaps 12 of us) sat and quaffed our friendly owner/vintner’s full line of libations. Being paid to drink and eat is hard work!

Like car salespeople, we were test-driving the vinos on offer to the local and tourist throngs that flock to this region in the summertime.

Of course I’m new to this world. A square peg in a round hole. A virgin in disguise as a well-oiled call boy.

The other hosts/sippers have mostly completed college and university courses that detail the importance of terroir (terror?), the crush (schoolyard romance?), the malolactic fermentation (marshmallow what?).

The table was covered tip to tail with long-stemmed and tumbler-style glassware of different sizes and conformations. In front of me I counted 5 unique sipping vessels.

I immediately displayed my impeccable knowledge-base of the fermented grape by sloshing a generous spurt of water into the Cabernet Merlot tumbler. Oops! Nothing to see over here folks…

The wine was skilfully poured by our smiling hosts (the wife and husband owners) and with each sip we were served an encyclopedic description of where it was grown in the valley, the soil type, the micro-climate, the time of picking, crush method, fermentation approach …. and on and on … did I mention… on?

Yes, it was overwhelming for this neophyte. Fascinating, but overwhelming.

8th gen vineyard.jpg

The descriptor word salads were sashayed forth in great abundance and splendour… yada yada yada

I smiled, and in contrast to my younger years when I would have blushed and tried desperately to fit in, I didn’t make any attempt at looking remotely intelligent (like the others).

I didn’t even verbalize any (not one) erudite comments that displayed my astounding breadth of knowledge as a oenologist. This is good and oh, this one’s yummy maybe wouldn’t have added to the mastery and understanding of the gathering.

I came, I sipped, I listened. And I enjoyed. You translate that into Latin!

I fit in like the paparazzi observing a special event, recording and enjoying but also realizing that I’m not (yet anyway) a true part of the world of this vintage group.

The good news is that no one made me feel lesser for my “virginity”. The warmth of the evening and the people I shared it with was a tasty introduction to my new “chemical” society.

Afterwards I shuffled (straight, mostly) home and whispered quietly into the cool night air and stars above … Cheers… Salud… Prost… Gun Bae… Santé…

cheers

 

Trivial Pursuits… Ken vs James … A David and Goliath Moment?

Leave a comment

Jennings and Holzhauer

… In the red corner, checking in at 162.5 pounds, soaking wet … undisputed champion and winner in 74 rounds of nerdish intellectual battle …

Kennnnnn Jennings (and the crowd roars…)

 

… and in the blue corner, weighing 165 pounds… the up and coming contender, the king killer from Las Vegas, Nevada…

Jamesssss Holzhauer (another sizable roar…)

JEOPARDY

The regal sport of trivia nerds and Alex Trebek groupies.

If you’re of a certain age… you might remember when Muhammad Ali was at his peak of boxing perfection and popularity. Everyone oohed and ahhhed when he’d “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” in the ring. He was brash, loud and seemingly invincible.

In 1969, some promoter dude concocted a “reality show” where he spliced together a fictional dream boxing match, titled The Super Fight, between 2 undefeated pugilists from different eras – Ali (31-0) and Rocky Marciano (49-0).

At the time, Ali and Marciano were the only undefeated heavyweight champions in history and fans often debated who would win had they met in their primes. Ali and Marciano were filmed sparring for 75 one-minute rounds producing several possible scenarios for a genuine fight, with the result claimed to have been determined using probability formulas entered into a computer.

Who won? Drum roll….. sorry … no spoiler alerts here…. head to the GOOGLE for your answer.

ali-marciano.jpg

And today, we could see another Super Fight, a match of kings-at-their-trade with Trebek in his role as the referee.

It’s been 15 years since Ken Jennings packed his big punches while James Holzhauer (at this writing), remains on a roll like a hot bettor at the craps table in Vegas.

Jennings and Holzhauer are freaks of trivia nature. The hard drives inside their heads are multiple times larger than 99% of us. Their ability to retain gigs of data, access it quickly, and then skilfully out-click all of their opponents consistently is … well … mind boggling.

So, for those of us who enjoy the sport of watching excellence vs excellence in any arena, a pitched match between these 2 trivia superheroes might be just the thing to take our minds away from the 10,000 lies and Congressional hearings and Venezuelan coups.

OK, it may not attract the feverish crowds that slurp at the trough of Game of Thrones or Avengers: End Game and their huge markets of physical battle-related contests and the endless speculation of who will be having sex in next week’s episode.

I’ve yet to see anyone naked on Jeopardy, much less have a sexual encounter, but intellect can be sexy, don’t you think? Ohhhh hunny, it makes me so hot when you know the capital of Lithuania…

I admit that I’m a Jeopardy fan… a trivia nerd if you will.

I shout out my answers (sorry, questions) at the TV with no buzzer button to handicap my responses. I play my Walter Mitty part and accept Alex Trebek’s congratulatory handshake at the end of the episode.

I’ve dreamed of becoming a contestant – to match wits and tidbits of esoteric info that float through my head.

Yes, I even took the online qualifying test, but alas, have never heard back.

I harbour no illusions that I would ever make a close battle with James Holzhauer… the friendly, little daughter-loving, quiet but clever-spoken whiz kid.

I’m just hoping for a Super Fight between old master Ken and young grasshopper James.

And the winner is … Who is Sean Connery? No, I mean Turd Ferguson….

Nope, these days it’s always James Holzhauer.

Funny Jeopardy.jpg

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Carb-Free, Meat-Free … Is THIS Freedom?

2 Comments

unhappy chocolate

 

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz

Has everything become verboten?

Everyone should have the liberty of free choice.

I’m 100% invested in freedom. All for it.

For millennia (and today still) we’ve worked and struggled and evolved, fought wars, disease, and terror … much of it in the name of freedom… freedom to do and be who we want.

But.

A little piece of this wonderful liberty scheisse is sending vexatious ants into my Calvin Klein’s. It shouldn’t, but it does…

FOOD.

Yes, glorious food. I love food.

I love food of almost every origin, every ethnicity, every food group, every farmer’s field or pasture from Dewar Lake, Saskatchewan to Cusco, Peru to Marrakesh, Morocco and beyond.

Childrens’ entertainer Fred Penner sings a cute little ditty about food… well, sandwiches to be truthful … but I’ll amend his words a wee bit for my purposes:

Food is so beautiful, food is so fine –
I like food, I eat it all the time.
I eat it for my supper and I eat it for my lunch;
If I had a hundred types of food, I’d eat them all at once!

.
Food is sustaining of life, the scrumptious repast for 7 billion human souls, but it’s so much more than that, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be?

.

Food is family, food is flavour, food is fuel, food is love, food is passion, food is sharing.

………………………….

Humour keeps us alive. Humour and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.”
Joss Whedon

.………………………….

.

So, if food is all of these wonderful things, what’s your beef (get it? beef!) Larry?

I’ll get there soon, OK?

I have this zeal for cooking … especially cooking for others.

Cooking is a key part of my socialization, my way of connecting with others. Booze helps too, fo shizzle, but food is the real glue.

Nothing warms my heart more than a group of family or friends at our decorated table with smiles and gustatory enjoyment, relishing a meal I’ve prepared.

Oh sure, I get kidded by my kids about the old Uncle Buck line :

cooking garbage

But … in the past few years my Joy of Cooking has begun to slowly melt away when it comes to having guests. Julia Child shrilly mews from the beyond.

Today, every meal prepared for visitors seems to require a “non-consumable” list from each attendee – the list of allergies, sensitivities, likes, dislikes, dietary peccadillo-of-the-week.

If all of our society migrated like Wildebeests in the same direction simultaneously, I could handle that.

But no, each individual is just that… individual. Each plate set at the table comes with a unique dietary request.

What was once a treat for me – cooking and preparing a celebration of flavour – has become an arduous serpentine journey through esoteric cookbooks and websites in search of the acceptable meal-du-jour.

I get it, I do. We all want to feel our best … if food is a helpful adjunct to that end result, I’m happy for that.

Vive la liberté!

All this freedom, while emancipating and gladdening, has meant that at least some of us pay the price of less enjoyment when it comes to the group repast … the giddy moments of pleasure I used to feel in dreaming up culinary delights … now diluted and slipping away in the murky mist.

In today’s world, it kinda appears that food enjoyment comes more from the ubiquitous Instagram snaps of each picturesque meal, rather than the pleasure in tasting.

Change is the constant, right? Adjust and move forward.

I still thrive on making new and old dishes that encompass different ingredient choices that sometimes circumscribe and confine.

This old dog merely has to keep learning new culinary tricks.

That’s my sob story and I’ll just have to eat it.

cooking dog.jpg

Let Them Eat Cake… What Are Your Positive Addictions?

Leave a comment

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette:

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

 

As it turns out, Madame Marie likely never spoke those words, but nevertheless… I would so love to eat cake every meal of every day.

My dream world consists of one food group … SUGAR!

Cinnamon Buns and Black Forest Cake for breakfast.

Key Lime Cheesecake and Matrimonial Square for lunch.

Bakewell Tart and Boston Cream Pie for dinner.

Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Bar as Evening Snack.

The perfect diet for the perfect day.

Fool! Wake up Larry! That’s not the perfect diet for the perfect (long) life.

I know YOU’RE perfect, but I’m not … there’s an addict… a Sugar Monster inside me (maybe I could sell him to Sesame Street).

Cookie monster.jpg

Damn… we live in a world of honeyed riches for the not-so-rich Mr. Average. This is a thick problem for this not-so-thin Monsieur.

How many types of sugary sweetness are there and why am I so magnetically drawn to each of them?

How many sensuously slinky saccharine seductresses sway and dance before my eyes before my mouth must take them in?

If anyone in this world deserves Type 2 diabetes, it’s me.

I tell myself that if I only exercise like crazy 5, 6, 7 times each week and somehow sweat sufficiently to keep my weight below 200 pounds, then I’m immune from the ravages of modern metabolic syndrome.

Yeah, it’s probably a delusion … a childhood imaginary friend that is invisible, especially to me. Addictions hide out in the open like the glasses we’ve lost on the top of our head.

We all have blinders on don’t we? Somewhere in our lives?

There are harmful addictions galore in this world of fallible humanity. Alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, gambling… sugar.

We always talk about the harmful addictions. We should talk about harmful addictions and the pain they germinate.

I freely confess to my sugar addiction … but you know … I also confess to a slew of beneficial addictions.

Maybe sometimes… no … often… we need to look at our half-full cup and remind ourselves that despite our failures, our weakness, our fallible selves… we also contain a cornucopia of goodness that doesn’t necessitate a daily or weekly visit to a 12-step meeting.

…….. POSITIVE ADDICTIONS ……..

I hold inside myself the nuggets of addictive behaviour that cause me to lace up running shoes and hit the sweaty streets or gym … I make special meals to celebrate others… I share the education I was so generously afforded with others who weren’t given those same opportunities to learn… I study and practice music so that I can share moments of musical joy with my self and with others … and more.

I know these are addictions because I feel the edgy withdrawal effects when they’re absent from my life.

I feel like a lesser being when a week passes and I haven’t felt my heart rate hit 150. I sense a loss in the world if a family member’s birthday goes by and I haven’t taken the opportunity to carry a candle-laden cake to place in front of them and share in the joy of their life’s passage. Positive addictions.

When we offer our time or energy to anything that makes a day better for ourselves or another, we’ve succeeded.

We’re all boats out on a foggy night … sometimes the best we can do is shine a flashlight on the brilliant parts of ourselves that reflect that light and allow the darkness to remain in the shadows.

My tummy is rumbling … all this optimistic thinking is making me think of … oh yeah … CAKE!!!!

Positive addiction

Hip Hip Hooray… Ain’t Your Bathroom Great?

4 Comments

Dog on toilet

CRAP … I lost another game of iPad solitaire while sitting on the toilet.

Yup, CRAP!

The very best place for sitting, game playing, thinking, contemplating, figuring, worrying, laughing, reading, and of course… shitting… is in the bathroom. Instant privacy and quiet.

Just the other day I wandered aimlessly upon a moment of intense gratitude. We all need more gratitude moments.

I live in a house that has an indoor bathroom. With a toilet.

I’m gonna take a wild guess that you do too.

Call it what you will… loo, WC, restroom, washroom, head, lavatory … by any name we should all smile with great glee at this thought.

In February when the cold winds and snows were pouring off the white-shrouded mountains like perilous nasty whitewater waves, I was warm, dry and windless in my cozy little comfort station.

It seems such a simple expected perk of life. So simple.

 

Diner toilets.jpg

But I don’t have to look too far off into the distance to glimpse other areas and eras where this would be a huge luxury.

In post-cyclone Mozambique news today, a reporter makes note of: “Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets.”

On a “First Class” train journey from Jaipur to Mumbai, India a couple of years back we had to balance ourselves in a squat position over a pit toilet as it jostled back and forth with the rhythm of the clickety-clack.

You guessed it. The smell and sights within the squalid little room were stomach-churning.

And of course, historically within my home country Canada, just a few generations back, my relatives all hiked outside every single day, every season. No cushy pillowed wipes… it was newspaper and Eaton’s catalogue time.

In the humid heat of fly-enriched summer and icy-terrained winter, my grandparents did their business in a highly-scented wooden box just like in the opening graphic scene from the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

………………

Well, not quite like that but you get the idea.

Our world is encased in oodles and oodles of technology, and yet, for me, despite the inventions of:

  • cars and airplanes
  • computers
  • television and movies
  • recorded music and all the electronics it comes from
  • telephones
  • automatic washing machines and dishwashers…

… that enhance my standard of living… and yes, I could go on and on … there is probably no human-devised invention that enriches my life more than indoor bathroom plumbing.

Praise be the in-house toilet.

We really don’t take time often enough to reflect and en-wrap ourselves in gratitude for the modern luxuries that enrich and simplify our daily passage.

Which is why I am dedicating this week’s blog post in praise of the indoor toilet.

You may think I’m wasting your time, you might like to poo-poo me, sure, tell me to piss off, possibly you don’t even give a shit …

… but I will continue on giving a crap about such delightfully uncomplicated things that bring me comfort and joy, even if I can’t win this stupid game of solitaire!

ipad toilet

The Big E … The Edible Exotic Erotic Feast

Leave a comment

Man Big O

What does your face look like?

No … not when you look in the mirror.

Anyone can make themselves look presentable to the mirror, and if you’re lucky (*probably doesn’t include me) even handsome or beautiful, when all the stars align and you’ve put an hour of effort into making your countenance shine.

No, right here, right now, I’m talking about in the dead of night (or during Afternoon Delight) when you reach that hot moment of glory … the Hail Mary worked… your game “face” is on …

… you know, the Big O, where the inhibitions and worries fade away and all that remains is the pouty flash-of-glory, the swinging-from-the-chandeliers, the peeling-panties-off-the-ceiling, the fireworks and Northern Lights on full display.

Now it could occur in a tandem encounter (excellent), or perhaps a solo effort (great too) or … hell … if you’re into team sports, could even be in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man in Nevada (this one beats me).

Maybe still, it’ll be the Meg-Ryan-in-the-Deli (hell yeah!) scenario … where you and I wanna have what she’s having.

meg ryan O.jpg

Damn, I got distracted… again!!

*face palm*

The whole purpose of this post is supposed to be about how we eat. The cuddly facial contortions of the eating process. There’s lots to chew on here.

OK, though maybe not as titillating as the Big O … the Big E … truly does fascinate me.

And truthfully, in most cases it’s not a pretty sight (I sadly include myself in this category)

This past week, we were revelling in a delightful buffet and restaurant romp in the tropical heat o’ Mexico.

Mucho mucho demasiado comida.

Spooning (as well as knifing and forking) in the dining room is as entertaining as most other spectator sports.

My poor distracted eyes were in their most hyperactive state.

Gazing around the dining areas, the plethora of styles of masticating food is just too damned hard to ignore.

Through the musical meanderings of the accents from varied regions of the world: German, British, Japanese, French, Polish … yes, Spanish… and lots of Canadians.

There were: speed-eaters; plodders; the bend-over-to-the-plate-eaters; the eat-everything-except-mashed-potatoes-with-your-hands eaters; the mash-everything-together-eaters; the consume-while-you-text-eaters; the non-stop-talk-eaters.

Chewing is engrossing (and sometimes just GROSS) … the jaw-straight-up-and-down-chew, the circular-cow-eating-its-cud chew, the nibble-and-chew-at-the-front-of-the-mouth chew.

There really should be etiquette classes given to each of us as children on how to eat with some delicacy and grace.

Most of the consuming I saw was akin to watching a Grade B horror film… ugly but nearly impossible to look away.

And in fairness, there were a few instances of eating ballet on display… beautiful, delightful folks who obviously enjoyed their food without facial contortions while chewing, no ugly Big E moments, no displaying the contents of the food in their mouths for the world to admire.

Noshing Olympians. Bravissimo!

antelope eating.gif

The worst offence? for me? Pouring wine or beer or even water into your mouth while unchewed food still remains on view. Edentum deformis…

Eating and drinking are 2 separate activities… would you do your tax returns while approaching the Big O? … do not answer… I thought not!

Eat. Swallow. Drink.

Self Description? I’m not sharing my Big O face nowhere no-how … but my Big E face?… I guess I’m a bit of a speed eater… a slight left-to-right-jaw-drift chewer. I’m a gastronomic adventure eater (I like to try lots of different innovative foods… lots of ethnic diversity, guinea pig in Peru, snake wine in China, bull’s testicles in Greece).

When it comes to the Big O, there’s not much I can offer you … mirrors are not useful in these situations (except on the ceiling? whatevah you into)… but there is hope and help when it comes to the Big E.

Why not try watching yourself eat in a mirror sometime?

Try to adopt some classic grazing variations that increase your beauty quotient while eating. A great Big E could lead to a great Big O

Or … watch Halloween 3.

You can choose your fright-faced option!

ugly eating

Christmas in February? Happy Warren Buffett Day!

Leave a comment

WOOT WOOT!

Capitalist Christmas… yes, children… each year in December, happily excited tykes send their wish lists to Santa with great hopes for future “riches”.

Sugar plums and train sets and Barbie’s.. ok, maybe I’m slightly outdated on the Santa wish list scene.

But today … today … in the doldrums of chilly February … my Santa-of-a-sort has sent a letter of riches back to me and millions of other little investors (that could be you).

The old, wise man of western capitalism – let’s call him Warren Buffett, shall we – released his annual letter (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.html) that is a goody bag filled to the brim with witticism and sagacity and humour and good ole common sense where it comes to protecting and investing your hard earned bucks.

Buffett is an artful wizard of metaphor which makes what should be dry, cumbersome reading into a learning experience of kindergarten simplicity.

If you take the time to read through each of his 41 years’ worth of annual letters, it will take you beyond your MBA in investing savvy – all while enjoying the fruits of his homespun delivery.

You might even begin hanging out with Jeff Bezos and Dragon’s Den’ers or Shark Tanker’s.. nah….

The only caveat I might add is that while Buffett has a way of making investing sound simple… the reality is that he is a once-in-a-lifetime financial literate.

You will learn at the knee of greatness, but alas, you and I will most likely achieve only a tiny fraction of his wealth…

But … HELL … when a tiny fraction of Warren’s net worth is in your pocket, you will be richer beyond your dreams … even if you are a MEGA (not MAGA) dreamer!!

In the meanwhile my friends, I’m pretending (for the next week) to live the Warren Buffett lifestyle of the Rich and Famous while falling WWWwhoaaaaaa!!… clumsily from a surfboard off the white sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen…

Maybe it IS true… fake it until you make it!

What Language Will You Learn in 2019?

Leave a comment

Merry Xmas language.jpg

Son of a Moose!

It’s so simultaneously frustrating and delightful… I know you’re speaking English, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.

And it’s not only because I’ve been drinking myself into an every-waking-moment anti-Trump sh*thole – OK, guilty as charged… but…

I love languages…  a kaleidoscope of colour and nuance and beauty in the form of words and the way they’re strung together. The phrase-work of Venus and Shakespeare.

I guess that’s why I enjoy writing this blog so much.

How many languages do you speak?

No, not Punjabi or Portuguese or Cree. If you can speak any of these, I am super-impressed and orgasmically jealous, but…

No matter your answer because we’re all multilingual.

Let me explain.

Just to be Christian seasonal, I’m pretty fluently Christmaslingual, but not Hannukahlingual or Diwalilingual … in my laboratory working life I was Blood-cellslingual and Bacterialingual but not fluent at all in Orthopedicese or Oncologese.

Different languages… in each stage of our lives we learn new languages, the words and phrases and acronyms that are confusing to most, yet have meaning to others surrounding us with whom we share a common bond.

In my days of working in hospital labs in Yellowknife or Comox or William’s Lake I would be called to SURG125 to draw a CBC for a TUPR on a patient with BPH to be done STAT.

Got that? Makes perfect sense if you speak LABese, right? You’ve had the same experience in whatever field you’ve travelled en-route to your livelihood.

This year I’ve been a “life coach” to a Syrian refugee family that needs assistance with the discombobulated convolutions of government and institutional bureaucracy. It’s been a crash course in a new set of language skills.

No matter how much French I learned in the classrooms of high school or Spanish in a language school in Cusco, Peru, I’m unprepared yet exhilarated by the onslaught of vocabulary needed to be effective or even understood in this latest incarnation of my life.

So while learning and understanding national languages is wonderful, adding to the richness of our existence, so too is learning a new “language” within our own tongue.

The fine-tuning of our brains needs the stretch of unknown unknowns that later become the known knowns.

In 2018, in addition to bureaucracy language I dangled my tongue in the tepid new language waters of:

  • Vegan cooking
  • Music production and recording
  • Non-lab related medical issues
  • Different music styles and tastes
  • Skate-style Cross-country skiing
  • Tai Chi
  • Parachuting

Skate skiing.jpg

Some new words that graced my tongue in 2018: AUG Funding and Permanent Resident Card, TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein) and Cashew Cream, EQ and Normalization, Fenestration and Intracystic Septation, Fragile Chords and Pentatonic Scales, Diagonal Skate and Double Pole, Pushing Hands, Reserve Handle and Canopy.

When you think over your own past year of activity and events, what new words were added to your vocabulary? What levels of understanding became a part of who you are? What were the stretches of language you encountered along your journey?

With only a few days left in 2018, I’m searching my mind, trying to foresee, like the Spirit of Christmas Yet-To-Come, the vocabulary that will define the year 2019 for me.

But honestly, I have no idea where the path will lead… which languages will find a place in my lexicon.

Perhaps I’ll merely live by the words of lovably cantankerous Ebenezer Scrooge:

Ghost of the Future … But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.”

And finally, as we draw close to the day of Christmas and the sight of a new year, a new beginning:

And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!’’

Scrooge.jpg

8 Things I’ve Learned At Age 60+

3 Comments

Lincoln with man bun.jpg

I’m how old? Get the f*** out… can’t be…

Or…. can it?

What’s that Serenity Prayer thing about “having the wisdom to accept what you cannot change…“, yeah, my age qualifies under that…

Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Socrates was a clever man, but I’m not buying into his philosophical ditty there…

I know lots, but I also have the wisdom to know that I have a ton to learn…

I have so much to learn… my days may wither and shrivel on the vine, and still, I’ll never really truly know if a God exists (although I’m pretty heavily invested in Stephen Hawking’s NO side) … how to fold a fitted sheet… why women have to bleed every month just for the pleasure of having children… why McDonalds doesn’t sell hot dogs… or… if chocolate comes from a bean, how come it’s not in the vegetable group?

But still, I DO know lots. I’ve survived to this point through the school of hard knocks and picked up a few valuable tutorials along the tortuous passageway of years. I’ve come a long way from, “Larry, don’t touch the iron with your hand.” “Yes, Mommy.

I’m not an expert, just an observer and sifter. I sift and I weigh, I ponder and I sift some more. Then I make my conclusion which usually sits in a grey zone. Maybe that’s why my hair’s gone grey – the older I become the more grey zones that inhabit my inner space. Like right now … I can’t decide who to vote for in today’s municipal election.

voting ballot

But this doesn’t stop me from sharing my siftings anyway… sucks to be you, eh?

A few points that stand out for me in my continuous lifelong education? Try these:

    1. Don’t stop even if it hurts (a little). If you’re on the right track: physically, educationally, personally… don’t bail because things hurt a little. Perseverance and persistence are hallmarks of success in any endeavour. The price of this improvement often involves a modicum of pain… my body usually moans an achy-breaky ballad after a long run, my fingers are sore and dripping blood (just kidding) after a productive practice session on guitar.
    2. Be responsible for your own finances. No one cares about your financial health today and tomorrow with the same intensity as you. Don’t buy into something with your hard-earned and saved capital unless you understand it and its risks well. Market makers love to yell FIRE even when there’s barely the hint of smoke in the air. So when the market yells FIRE, don’t run for the exits. The one true time to run when it comes to investing and markets is when you hear the term, hot tip... HOT TIP = FAKE NEWS 90% of the time.
    3. Discipline is key. OK, it’s bloody cliche’ish but the way to get better at something you love is to do it, over and over, then over again, practice (with intent) like crazy… put in the 10,000 hours, the 1,000 hours. Your inner happiness soars when you do something you never believed possible. Do the tough stuff first, then relax.
    4. People need to be complimented. The world is full of walking wounded – I see this constantly when I’m bartending at the Greek restaurant, or dicing and chopping at the soup kitchen. People’s inner voices dwell on the negative about themselves so often, but we can give a great gift to anyone. Remind your family members, friends, and even minor acquaintances of what they’re good at, what makes them special. I was a Microbiologist in my lab career, dwelling on the tiny points of life… nowadays I’m drilling in on the personal micro level… there are those who like to be acknowledged and recognized on the grand stage – the macro- and still others that prefer privacy and humbly favour a micro acknowledgement… I’m trying to live like a Microbiologist in my personal relations today. Simple e-mail notes of recognition or appreciation can be huge in a person’s day. I try to do a least a couple of these each week.
    5. Forget who you think you are or were. Don’t become trapped in a vision of “you” that was created when you were 20, or 30, or 40. Orange may be the new black and you may be the new “________” (you fill in the blanks). Letting the preconceived notions and concepts that have been drilled into us by our family, friends, and society shouldn’t prevent us from reinventing, reimagining who we are and can be. A scientist’s occupational life doesn’t rule out an artistic vision in later years. A bean counter can find rejuvenation in bean cooking. Throw the gates open and allow new ideas to filter through.  Kudos to Val who now fundraises for the Sally Ann, Jim who grows his own medicinal herb garden, Betty who tutors a young El Salvadorian woman, Chris who runs from soup kitchen cooking – to Critteraid – to Okanagan Gleaners that prepare and send dried soup mixes around the world. All new life episodes.
    6. Don’t complain, whine and bitch. For God’s sake, take responsibility. Your life is yours and no one else’s. The hardships (and successes too) are what make us stronger and more flexible and understanding and compassionate. Complaining breeds anger and distrust. Whining holds us back from taking the positive steps to improve and move forward. Bitching, well, bitching is mere manure oozing out of an angry, frustrated mind.
    7. Be a mentor and an intern. Help others along their path. Share your wisdom and expertise (with permission) with those who will listen gratefully. At the same time, drop your own ego and allow others to help you along your path. Both giving, and receiving wisdom and knowledge are gifts.
    8. Google is in my head. I’m getting older and my “hard drive” (in my head, not my pants!) is overstuffed like Grandpa’s armchair, which means it takes longer to access names and numbers and Jeopardy answers. But the beauty lies in letting my subconscious do its thing and find answers in its own time. When I relax and allow my mind to process, answers are magically floated to the surface. Google may be the fast food of today’s world, but my slow food is far more satisfying.

Keep learning and growing… after all the Serenity Prayer also says, “grant me the courage to change the things I can.“… that includes ourselves… one day I may even learn how to fold that *&^$% fitted sheet!… ah hell, maybe I’ll Google it!

google is my brain

Older Entries