My Week 17 – GPS Guilt and Indoor Wildlife Rankings

Monday: My GPS makes me feel guilty.

Last year for Christmas, Ken bought me a GPS. I don’t mean this past Christmas, I mean Christmas two years ago, technically. I never installed it, because a) I have an innate sense of where I’m going b) I lie about my innate sense of where I’m going, so I use Mapquest a lot, and c) I hate winter, so it was always too cold to put it in my SUV, and I only ever thought about it during the winter. But a few weeks ago, Ken decided that I should have it in my new car, just in case I got a job in Toronto. That sounds like a weird long shot, but it turns out I DID get a job in Toronto, which just goes to show that Ken is prophetic AND practical. Anyway, he installed it, or at least tried to, in my new Chevy Sonic. But there were some significant issues with the Tom-Tom, which is a stupid name anyway, and always makes me think of Jacob Two Two, and his Hooded Fang, because the GPS is just like having a Hooded Fang in the car anyway. The first sign of trouble was when it kept coming un-suctioned from the suction cup attaching it to my console. I’d turn a corner and the whole thing would fly through the air at me like a pissy poltergeist was controlling it. Then we actually tried to use it, and the real problem made itself abundantly clear: its sole purpose was to make me feel sad and guilty, because the voice of my GPS was a very pleasant woman—well, pleasant at first, but don’t cross her, because she can be pretty tyrannical. Everything was going fine for the first little while, with her telling us to turn right, or that there was an intersection coming up, but then we made the fatal mistake of GOING A DIFFERENT WAY. Then she was all like, “Turn right here”, trying to redirect us back to the route SHE had picked, and she started to sound more and more sulky. Then things started to get really dramatic, and we somehow ended up in Ajax instead of Toronto. Well, not really, but according to her, that’s where we were supposed to go , and if we didn’t want her advice, well screw us, we could just rot in Ajax. For the record, I don’t even know where Ajax IS, but if it’s my punishment for defying the GPS, then I don’t WANT to know. Anyway, a couple of days later, I was driving with Kate, and we decided to try the GPS lady again, hoping she had forgiven me for my past cartographical transgressions. We were going into Kitchener, and wanted to practice programming it, and thought we had done everything right, when the whole monitor part went crazy and started flying around the car. The next thing we knew, she was trying to direct us to Stratford, and kept yelling at us about going up some Regional Road every time we came to an intersection. Let me just clarify here that I actually KNEW where I was going, since I drive the same way to work every day, but she was f*cking relentless about us taking a road that looked like it went through some kind of swampland. The more we ignored her, the more insistent she got, until finally, I just yanked the plug out of my cigarette lighter thing-y. Kate calls this “rage-quitting” and I think it’s an accurate description of the way you feel when you get sick of being manipulated by your passive-aggressive GPS. (Ken just told me that he was “fiddling around” with the GPS the other day, which sounds slightly infidelity-ish, and that you can program it to talk with a different voice. I said unless it sounded like Darth Vader, or Bane from Batman, or my mother, there was NO WAY I was taking directions from it. And if it DID sound like my mother, it would keep asking me why I wasn’t wearing a scarf because it’s cold out, you know. Now it’s in his truck. I hope she makes him happy.)

Friday: I rank the animals you don’t want in your house, from best to worst.

I’ve had a lot of time, and a lot of animals, to consider this, and it occurs to me that other people might benefit from my experience of having a variety of wildlife in my house and cottage and which ones are better than others. So I decided to rank them in order of what’s the best case scenario to the worst case So here you are:

Number 5: The best kind of animal to have in your house is a BAT. That sounds really crazy, but honestly, they aren’t so bad. Bats have sonar, which is a fancy way of saying that they can tell where you are and won’t fly into your face or hair, which is always a plus. The other day, we were eating dinner, and Ken suddenly said, “A bat just flew by the doorway.” I had my back to the kitchen at the time, so I said, “What?!” and turned around in time to see it fly past the doorway again. I ran into the corner with my dinnerplate, while Ken went to investigate, but he couldn’t tell where it had gone. He also found it pretty amusing that I was freaked out, but not enough to make me stop eating my dinner from the corner of our breakfast room. Well, I was hungry. At any rate, we searched the house, but it seemed to have disappeared, which was bad news, because I was NOT going to bed with a bat in the house. We had also just taken apart a piano, and I became irrationally convinced that the bat had been living in the piano, and I wouldn’t go hear it for the rest of the night. Finally, around 11 o’clock, I went downstairs for one last glass of wine (wild animals always make me want to drink), when I saw it hanging quietly on a curtain. Ken came down, and cool dude that he is, he just wrapped it in a towel and let it out the door, while I drank wine and made squeamish sounds.

Number 4: Mice. Mice are OK, and if you read my blog about Jimmy, you’ll know that they can become elevated to almost pet-status in our house. But I can’t say too much more, because if my sister-in-law even thinks that I’m writing about mice, she will NEVER read this blog, and a) I like her feedback and b) I don’t want to traumatize her even more than my blog about Jimmy did. Enough said.

Number 3: Rats are gross, but if you don’t know about them it’s not an issue, unless your husband decides to tell you YEARS LATER that your dog once found one sunning itself on the basement stairs and “took care of it”. You know what—if you ever DO find a rat in your house, and you’re the ONLY one who knows about it, keep that shit to yourself. (Speaking of things that should be kept to oneself, Ken just told me that the bat was back yesterday. Apparently, he came out of the shower, and Titus was running around the kitchen trying to catch it. So he opened the door to our courtyard, and flapped his arms at it until it flew outside. Ken did a great job of imitating both himself flapping and Titus snapping his jaws and going Rar, rar, rar, but I still REALLY didn’t need to know.)

Number 2: Raccoons are vicious beyond belief if they have babies. Once, I had a really bad cough so I was sleeping in our guest room. At one point during the night, I woke up to what sounded like an elephant moving furniture around in our attic. It was unbelievably loud and scary and possibly human, but the attic door locks from the inside-the-house side, so I figured that if it was a serial killer, he was pretty much stuck up there until Ken dealt with him, and I went back to sleep. In the morning, I told Ken about the noises, and he said he would investigate. I was taking a course at the time, so I told him I’d call him at the break and he could tell me what he found. When I called, Ken sounded a little distracted.

Me: Where are you right now?
Ken: In the attic.
Me: What did you find? Please tell me it’s not a rat.
Ken: No…I’m staring right now at a very large mother raccoon and six newborn baby raccoons. She’s kind of hissing at me.
Me: I’m going to say back away slowly. Don’t break eye contact. If she goes for you, run.

Eventually, after several misadventures, and a lot of damage, including a hole chewed right through our roof (raccoons aren’t the brightest apparently, and can’t see their own offspring in a shoebox at the bottom of a TV tower), we caught her in a live trap. Ken had to carry her in the trap out of the attic, and through the house in order to get her outside. She was going insane, snarling and trying attack the bars—I could tell Ken was a little intimidated by the way he was holding the trap as far away from his body as possible, and walking VERY quickly. We decided to take her and the babies down to the river flats where they could live happily ever after, but then we realized we had a major problem—what if, when we opened the cage, she tried to attack us in a fit of vengeful rage? Ken had the great idea of using the cardboard box the live trap came in, putting it against the trap door, and letting her out into the cardboard box, which might disorient her long enough for us to jump back in the car and make a clean getaway. So we did that, but she somehow missed the cardboard box. I don’t know what happened next because we were both already back in the car, having run for our lives. Ken went back later to get the trap, and both she and the babies were gone. I hope they had good lives down on the riverbank.

Number 1: The absolute worst thing to have in your house, or anywhere near it, is a squirrel. Oh, but squirrels are so cute, you say. No, squirrels are simply rats with bushy tails. The next time you look out your window at the squirrels cavorting on your lawn, and you smile indulgently at their antics, think about how you’d feel if it was rats doing the same thing. Your lawn covered in rats. Even worse is having one in your house. A couple of years ago, I got home from work, and was puttering around while K did her homework upstairs. I walked into our back family room, and as I passed the couch, I heard something sneeze. I looked around, and couldn’t see the cat or dog anywhere, so I figured it was either my imagination or some weird old-house noise. But then when I came back the other way, I heard a sneeze again, and this time there was no doubt that it was coming from BEHIND THE COUCH. I just lost it—I ran upstairs, got K, and made her look behind the couch with a flashlight while I cowered around the corner in the kitchen.

Me: Can you see anything? Please tell me it’s not a rat.
K: I can’t see anything yet—HOLY SHIT, there’s something back there!!!!
Me: What?! What?!
K: I think it’s an owl!
Me: An owl?! How the hell did an OWL get in our house?!

So I called Ken on his cell phone—he was about 5 minutes from home, and I made him stay on the line with me until he arrived, based on a bizarre belief that if he kept talking to me, the owl would leave me alone. Anyway, when he came in, he took a look and very calmly announced that it wasn’t an owl, it was “only” a squirrel. This was a new experience for both of us, and while Ken pondered how best to get it out of the house, I poured a glass of wine and stayed on the other side of the room. Finally, he decided the best thing to do would be to open the door, push the couch away from the wall, and let the squirrel make a run for it. It did, but not after doing a couple of mad circuits around the room, trying to run up the wall, and falling back down (which I think stunned it a bit). Finally, it saw the open door, and took off. You’d think it would have been happy to escape and would have gone into hiding, but NO. It ran up a tree and spent the next ten minutes telling us exactly how pissed off it was that it had fallen down our chimney and ended up behind our couch, where apparently, it was very dusty. Now, I realize it doesn’t seem like squirrels are so bad but this is not my only squirrel story. Next week, I’ll tell you all about Squeaky Fromme, the cottage squirrel from hell.


My Week 16 – Jimmy the Mouse and Awkwardness With Boobs

Sunday: The Saga of Jimmy (It has a happy ending, so don’t feel too bad)

We have mice. I don’t mean that we have pet mice (well not up until now anyway); I mean that there are mice in our house. It’s an old house with a partial basement and crawl space, and we hardly ever go down there because it’s uber-creepy and the ceiling is so low that you have to walk hunched over. (Side note: There is an old cistern in the basement. Once, we had problems with our water softener, and a repair guy came to look at it. Out of the blue, he started telling me how the cistern had water in it, and I “should come down to the basement and take a look.” I was alone in the house, so I was like, NO THANKS, but he kept insisting, until I had to lie and say a) I believed him so completely that seeing it for myself was unnecessary and that b) our former dog , a tremendously sweet yellow lab, was very protective and could be quite vicious if provoked. I said this while she stared at the dog cookie jar wagging her tail. He finally left, and I immediately locked all the doors.) So anyway, every once in a while, there are mice. We know this because somehow they get into the cupboard under our sink, and poo everywhere. They can’t get out into the actual house but it’s still yucky and gross—apparently mice defecate continually, like little poo machines. We were using live traps for a long time, and Ken and I would drive the mice out to the country and let them go. I like to silently whisper “Fly, good Fleance, fly!” in an homage to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and hope that the mouse understands that if it comes back, I might have to assassinate it to preserve my throne. I think I might be giving the mice too much credit, but they don’t normally come back, so maybe my empty threats are working. But lately, the mice have been a little overwhelming, and have also figured out how to chew through the live traps. So Ken finally got fed up, and said to me in that domineering and commanding way he has, “I’m done with live traps. Get me the ones that KILL the mice, woman!” OK, he didn’t actually say “woman”, but it makes for a great dramatic flourish, and he WAS rather commanding. Good work, honey. I hated to do it, but I bought some traps, you know, those wooden ones that snap at you and make the horrible sound. Then last weekend, I woke up, and this was the conversation:

Ken: “I caught a mouse last night, but the trap just got his leg. It’s in K’s room.”
Me: “I’m confused. The leg is…”
Ken: “The MOUSE is in K’s room. She wouldn’t let me kill it, so she got a lunch container, poked some holes in the lid, and the mouse is in it. His name is Jimmy.”
Me: “You named the mouse Jimmy?! What are we going to do with him?! What about his leg?”
Ken: “K named him. His leg is OK—it’s just a bit funny-looking. We’re taking him to the cottage with us.”

So I went into K’s room, and there was Jimmy, looking quite lively despite the bum leg. Later that morning, we packed up, put Jimmy in the truck with us and Titus, who seemed absolutely unconcerned that a mouse was his travelling companion, and we drove to Port Burwell. By this point, however, my maternal instincts had kicked in, and I started worrying about Jimmy. Were his air holes big enough? Was he hungry or thirsty? Was he in pain? When we got to the cottage, I made him a wee water bowl out of a K-cup, and K and I researched the kind of food mice liked. We didn’t have any of the things mice tend to eat (K had apparently been feeding him almond slices the night before, but we had no nuts at the cottage), so I gave him Rice Krispies, which he seemed more interested in tossing around than eating. Considering he’d been into our garbage until very recently, I thought it was kind of diva-ish of him, but I don’t know mice very well. At any rate, he stayed on K’s bedside table until the next morning, with all of us checking in on him regularly to make sure he was still happy. And alive. He was remarkably chipper, all things considered. That morning, after we finally got K out of bed, she and Ken took Jimmy outside to the composter (Ken was convinced that the middle of the compost pile would be warm and provide him with food) and by all reports (because I couldn’t bear to see him go), when the container was opened, Jimmy hightailed it into the compost without so much as a backwards glance. “Live long and prosper, Jimmy,” I whispered silently. But secretly, I hope he doesn’t prosper too much, because I really don’t want mice at the cottage. We’ve had enough trouble with squirrels. But that’s another story.

Thursday: OMFG, could I be any more awkward?

On Thursday after work, I decided to go shopping for a dog coat for Titus. Ken likes to take him on long walks, and although he never complains, I worry that he’s too cold. Titus, that is, not Ken. Plus, he would look awesome in a black leather jacket, or a tweed Burberry style pea-coat. I went to Petsmart, and all they had were tiny tutus for tiny dogs, and cutesy sh*t like that, so I gave up and went to Winners. I found a coat that was dark brown with a snappy corduroy collar that looked like it was big enough for a gigantic dog. Also, I found some shoes and a matching top. For me. Hey, if Titus gets a new outfit, then so do I right? I went to the checkout line, and I found myself behind a woman who was holding and rocking a tiny, TINY baby. The baby was wearing an adorable outfit and had one of those headbands with a bow on her head. I was staring at the baby when the woman noticed and turned around to face me. Which is when I realized that she was actually breastfeeding the baby while she was standing in the checkout line. Now, I have no issue at all with people (well, women) breastfeeding in public, and I think boobs are great but then I got worried that she maybe thought I was staring at her exposed breast rather than at her cute baby. So I did what anyone would do—I struck up a conversation with her, which, as you know, is never a good thing, considering my social awkwardness with strangers. But she was very friendly. The baby was just three months old–time had flown by so quickly, she said. Just wait until you have a sixteen-year-old–you blink and suddenly they’re taller than you, I said. And so on. Still, here’s the problem. It was virtually impossible not to look at her “lady-friend”. It was like someone telling you NOT to think about rhinoceroses. It was there, like a pale, life-nurturing beacon, and she kept referring to the breastfeeding process, like, “Oh, you’re so hungry, aren’t you?” (to the baby, obviously), until I just kept trying to make eye contact while giving what I hoped were casual glances at the baby/boob in an effort to make HER feel comfortable, especially since the woman behind me in line, who smelled liked she had just smoked 15 cigarettes at once, kept throwing her the evil eye. Finally, there was a free cashier, and off she went, suckling baby and all. I breathed a sigh of relief, then I saw the cashier do a double-take, and I sent out sympathetic vibes to HER, as she tried not to talk to the boob.

Then I was reminded of my other very awkward conversation this week, when I was talking to a colleague who was getting text messages from a friend. “She’s my spiritual friend,“ she informed me, but I was a little distracted so I replied without thinking (as per usual), “Oh, is that like a girl crush or something?” She looked at me curiously, at which point I thought maybe I needed to elaborate (turns out I didn’t), so I said, “You know, like the female equivalent of a bromance? Like a friend you would…” She replied, very thoughtfully, “No, more kind of a life coach. We do yoga together and go to spiritual retreats. She gives me advice about big life decisions and things like that.” Then I felt like a bit of an idiot, and I was grateful that my colleague is a really awesome person who is not judge-y at all. The world needs more people like her, and less like the cigarette-smoking woman who apparently DOESN’T like boobs.

My Week 15 – Strange Bathroom Experiences and Customer Service

*I am currently over the quarter-way point towards a whole year of inanity. Huzzah!

Thursday: I have strange bathroom experiences.

In my workplace, there are many bathrooms. That is to say, there are many bathrooms for the students, but only one staff bathroom. This can be very awkward since I teach 3 floors away from said staff bathroom, and most often resort to using the girls’ bathroom down the hall from my room, in order to be more efficient. As a side note, are there any other professions where you can’t go to the bathroom when you want to? When a BELL tells you when it’s OK to pee? But let’s face facts; most of us have a ‘system’, a type of rotating coverage where we keep an eye on each other’s classes in the case of an emergency, and since our classes are made up of teenagers, it’s a pretty safe bet that you can nip out for a quickie without anything bad happening, like someone putting glue in someone else’s hair, or poking each other until someone cries, or whatever. I haven’t taught elementary school in a while, but I know those kids get into trouble at the drop of a hat (or a number 2). Kindergarten teachers must have to hold it ALL DAY—what a life. As a second side note, when I use the staff bathroom, it’s become almost inevitable that another staff member (usually female—well, always female, really) will want to strike up a conversation with you when you’re trying to do something that requires both privacy and a certain amount of concentration. I NEVER have that problem in the girls’ bathroom. On a third side note, I don’t make my students ask to go to the bathroom. They are allowed to just leave. I have no interest in being in charge of anyone else’s bowels, and the whole notion of someone asking me “Can I go to the bathroom?” tweaks the absurdist part of my brain. Is there really more than one response to that question? Why would I EVER say No? Some people might say, “But how do you know they’re really going to the bathroom?” What the hell else would they be doing? Starting an insurrection? Holding cockfighting tournaments in the basement? Basically, I trust my students to do what they say they’re going to do, until I actually find them NOT doing it. Or they come back to my room covered in feathers.

At any rate, one of the joys of using a student bathroom is that you never know what kind of surprise is awaiting you. There’s usually a lot of graffiti, although the custodians do their best to remove it regularly. Girl graffiti is a bit boring, mostly stuff like “Johnny is so hot”, or “School sucks”. Last year, there was a whole thread about the power of the Lord, and living your life like Jesus. It’s amazing the kind of pious sentiments that bodily functions can provoke. But I work in a school with a large International Baccalaureate program, so sometimes the graffiti is fairly esoteric. The other day, for example, I sat down in a stall, and read the following:

Things I Hate
1. Vandelism
2. Irony
3. Lists
4. Originality
5. Poor spelling

It made me laugh. I wonder what was going on in this girl’s life at that moment, what prompted her to scrawl this in black sharpie on the back of a bathroom stall door. But kids do weird things in bathrooms. When I was 16, we got up to all kinds of things, mostly smoking. You’d slip out of class, meet up with a friend and have a smoke. Teachers regularly came in to check the bathrooms back then—not to actually USE them, but just to see what we were up to—and sometimes they caught you smoking and you got sent to the office, and sometimes they just shook their heads sympathetically at you and left. Nowadays, girls never seem to smoke in the bathroom. Which is why the other day, I was so confused and befuddled. I came out of a stall, was washing my hands with the outrageously cold water that the students are gifted with, and I saw a girl at the hand dryer, having an animated conversation with another girl about a boy she liked, and she was DRYING A CIGARETTE LIGHTER. Very casually, like there was nothing strange about this at all. Based on my own life experiences, however, I immediately jumped to “She skipped class to go have a smoke, dropped her lighter in a snow bank, and was now trying to dry it off in order to resume her smoking.” So, being the responsible adult that I am, I, equally casually, but just a little bit ominously, went over and asked, “Hi there. Can you tell me why you’re drying a cigarette lighter?” She gave me a big smile and replied, “Oh, we’re doing an experiment in Chemistry and I dropped it in the beaker.” So now I felt like a complete dick, being all suspicious of this poor young scientist type—it just goes to show you that teenagers are, for the most part, pretty decent human beings if you don’t pre-judge them. Then on Friday, I had my second weird bathroom experience that week. I went in and there was no one around, but taped to the front of the first stall was a handwritten note that said, “Do Not Flush. Ring in toilet.” Now in my experience, toilet rings are best removed by a good scrub and a flush, so naturally I was intrigued. I looked, and sure enough, there was an actual ring in the toilet—a gold ring. It looked slightly like the Ring of Power from Lord of the Rings, and I simultaneously felt like whispering “My Precious” and then seeking out the girl with the lighter to see if we could heat it up and make some runes appear on it. The toilet water looked clean enough though, and I hated the thought that this stall would become permanently unusable, while everyone avoided flushing the ring, so I did what anyone (as it turns out, not really anyone) would do—I pushed up my sleeve, stuck my hand in the toilet, and pulled the ring out. Then I washed it and my hands a couple of times just to be sure. It turned out to be just a piece of costume jewellery, but it might have had some sentimental value, so I rewrote the note, directing people who were interested in it to my classroom, wrapped it in some toilet paper, and took it to my room.

“Look what I found!” I exclaimed to some of my grade 12 students.
“Oh my God,” they replied. “Did you pull that out of the toilet?!” Apparently, it had been in there long enough that a lot of the girls had seen it.
“The water was clean,” I said. “Besides, I’ve changed dirty diapers and cleaned up baby puke. My hands have been in worse places.”

This, for some reason, did not comfort them, but prompted some of the girls to insist that they were never having children. So I feel like, on the one hand, I did a good deed by saving someone’s precious ring, but on the other hand, I might be responsible for declining enrollment.

Friday: Conversations with customer service representatives are getting more and more difficult.

I don’t know why, but it seems like lately, the quality of people who work in customer service is going downhill. Last night, it took me ten minutes to order pizza. I was at my aunt’s house, and we were hungry, so I called Pizza Pizza. For some bizarre reason, they have a call centre, instead of letting you call the store you want to get the pizza from. The guy taking my order was NOT a native English speaker. And that’s ok with me, as long as he could actually speak English. But this, apparently was a challenge. Shouldn’t the most important criterion for hiring someone to take pizza orders be that the person can understand the language the pizza orders are mostly going to be in? He asked for my address at least 5 times. I said it, I spelled it. He said it back, he spelled it back. He was wrong each time. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, my aunt looking terribly amused in the background. When I finally said, with a certain amount of frustration, “It’s Keats! Like the poet!” she laughed out loud and said, “There’s no way THAT’S going to help.” I hadn’t even gotten to the food part of the order yet. Don’t get me wrong—it has nothing to do with what country someone comes from—in fact, I had even more trouble trying to order something from a Sears rep. who was from Quebec, and whose English was also virtually non-existent.

But face to face can be just as bad. Today, I was in an antique mall, and I found an old historical atlas of Oxford County in one of the stalls. I was really excited, and opened it up to see the price, because most responsible antique dealers pencil the price inside the cover to avoid damaging the outside. It said $12.00. Awesome! Then I looked at the outside cover, and it said something MUCH more expensive, on a nasty sticker. Well, I wanted the atlas, and the booth was 15% off, so I took it to the counter. I showed the woman the page with $12.00 written on it and said, “Can you remind your vendors to remove the price they paid from their items before they re-price them?” then I showed her the price tag on the cover. She looked at me and said, “What?” Actually, it was more like, “Whuh?” I don’t know how much clearer I could have been. I keep thinking of variations but they seem to all sound very Neanderthalic, like “Old price good, new price bad. Old price go away. Me buy book.” That makes even less sense. Maybe she didn’t know what a ‘vendor’ was. Like the time I was down in Ohio at an All-You-Can-Eat pizza restaurant and I asked the woman behind the counter if she could direct me to the cutlery. She stared at me blankly and said, “The what?” I repeated, “The cutlery.” She said—and I kid you not—“I don’t know what that word means.” I replied, “You know, like knives and forks and stuff.” She pointed to a counter by the pop machine and said, “Oh, you mean ‘silverware’.” It was plastic, by the way, so no, I didn’t actually mean silverware. Maybe I should have just said, “Me want fork.”

My Week 14 – Bad-ass Animal Hybrids and Buy and Sell Sites

Monday: I decide that a Rottweiner would not be a good dog to have.

So the other day, I was driving along and I saw a guy walking a dog. As I got closer, I realized that it was a dog with the body of a large Dachshund, and the face of a Rottweiler. It was a ROTTWEINER. And then I was really disappointed, because it did not look badass at all. You would think that a dog with the personality of a weiner dog, all scrappy and feisty, and the body of a Rottweiler, all muscular and mean, would be the height of badass-ery. Nuh. It was just a bigger than average weiner dog with a round Rottweiler head. And it looked very awkward and self-conscious, like one of those dog-slinkies whose back end has a mind of its own. Why is it that the permutations of nature are never as cool as you hope they would be? Then I got to thinking about other hybrid animals (cuz I was driving, so why not , right?) and it occurred to me that they all pretty much suck. For example, the mule. This is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Why would anyone WANT to do that? Especially the horse or the donkey? Who knows how it happens, except that apparently it’s always a union between a donkey girl and a horse boy. Which makes sense because how would a boy donkey reach up that high? Then I thought the same must be true of the Rottweiner—it had to be a boy Rottweiler and a girl dachshund, or else SOMEONE was using a step stool. Anyway, aside from the complicated logistics of these types of unions, the whole DNA component is also a puzzle. Why is it mules are sterile, but Rottweiners can go on to have little rotty-weiner babies, or even breed with another kind of dog, say, an Irish Wolfhound? Wouldn’t that be a bizarre looking beast? I actually did a little research for this (ie: I googled “Crazy Animal Hybrids”), and while there were some real disappointments, like the Sheep-Goat (it’s such a bad hybrid that it doesn’t even get an cool name like Shroat, or Greep) I discovered some pretty amazing creatures, so here are my top 3:

3) The Liger: This is a cross between a lion and a tiger. It’s the biggest cat known to humans and can be over 10 feet long and weigh 700 pounds. Also, its best friends are Heffalumps and Woozles.

2) The Grolar Bear: Created when a grizzly bear and a polar bear mate. While this seems unlikely, given that polar bears live NO WHERE NEAR grizzly bears, scientists speculate that it’s happening more and more in the wild due to global warming, and grizzly bears moving into formerly polar bear-only areas. See, global warming has its upside, which is awesome new animals. As the earth warms up and other ecosystems change, maybe we’ll also see the Pengotter (yes, this is an imaginary cross between a penguin and an otter, which I made up just now, and it would be the cutest thing to ever exist).

1) The number one best animal cross, in my humble opinion, is the Coydog. According to the article I read, the Coydog has the natural cunning of a coyote without its instinctive fear of humans, making it tremendously high on the badass scale. So it would pretend to be your best friend, and then when you were asleep, it would eat all your food and pee in your bed. Or kill you. And your Rottweiner.

Honourable Mention: Of course, the Honourable Mention has to go to my favourite mythological hybrid animal—the Zebrasus. This is a cross between a zebra and a Pegasus. I have a sculpture of a Zebrasus on my shelf. I found it on a window ledge on the last day of school, many years ago, after all the students had gone home for the summer. I never found out who made it, but it was so awesome that I had to keep it for myself. The best thing about the Zebrasus, aside from the stripes and the wings, is that he’s smoking a cigar. He is the Ultimate Badass.

Wednesday: Ken pushes my buttons. Literally.

Ken and I were driving in my (relatively new) car on Wednesday, and he was in one of his moods. It’s like, he knows I’m sick, so he does his best to try and annoy me. Which he did today, by pointing out each button on my dashboard and console, and asking, “What does this do?”

Ken: What’s this button for?
Me: It has a car, skid marks, and the word ‘OFF’. What do YOU think it does? Use your imagination.
Ken: I don’t know. If I push it, will the car start to skid?
Me: Do you think it’s a good idea to try?
Ken: Ummm…
Me: It’s to turn off the TRACTION CONTROL! It’s winter–why would you EVER want to do that!!?? Don’t touch it!
Ken: Oh. Okay. What’s this button for?
Me: It has a picture of a child inside a lock. Take a guess.
Ken: To lock your kids inside the car?
Me: *sigh* Yes, that’s right. To lock K in the car. You know, you have the exact same button in YOUR car.
Ken: I don’t know what it’s for in my car either. What does THIS button do?
Me: I’m going to cut off your fingers if you don’t stop touching things.

Friday: I have second thoughts about Buy and Sell sites

So, if you remember correctly, I am the proud member of several buy and sell sites. I like a bargain, but unfortunately, the bargains come few and far between sometimes, and I’m getting a little fed up. Today, I lost out on a really nice purse by about 5 minutes. And I could have had it, except for some really random rules, like “the first person to respond has first rights”. Really? What about the person (me, for example) who will pay extra money for that purse? But that’s considered poor etiquette, to try and outbid someone, and then you get called names. Called names, you ask? Yes, because the seedy underbelly of buy and sell sites is that there are certain protocols governing the procedures of buying and selling, and if you contravene them, your ass is grass, so to speak. Case in point: not long ago, a woman on a local site complained that a seller was ripping people off by charging high prices for second hand goods. This led to a litany of comments directed at her, which she, in turn, chose to respond to in the way that only a 19 year-old with a limited vocabulary can do. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such ‘imaginative language’ in my life—there were references to body parts that I didn’t even know existed. Then other people got in on the act, including a woman who claimed to be a police officer, but whose knowledge of the law was a little suspect. So I did what any normal person would do. I took screen shots to show Ken. The insults are so crude that I can’t even share them with you, except to say that speculation about the young lady’s occupation, and placement of her lady parts versus her brain, was referenced several times. She responded by concluding that her detractors seemed to enjoy cannabis and other drugs, as well as recreational sexual activities involving animals. Yes, the internet certainly brings out the best in people. I thought this was a one-off, until the other day when another young lady complained that she had purchased an item that was not in the condition it was described to be in. Without hesitation, someone immediately called her an “asshole” for not checking it out thoroughly herself. Really? That’s your first response? Can you imagine this kind of behaviour happening in face to face activities? Like, you’re at work, and the photocopier isn’t working again, and your first response is to say to the person trying to clear the jam they’ve created: “I can’t believe you broke the photocopier, you asshole.” Sure, I know we all WANT to say this, but we don’t. Would you tell your boss in person, “That’s a stupid idea, you crackhead”? Depending on the profession, most likely not. So why is it OK for people to talk like this to each other on the internet? Especially when their NAMES AND PICTURES are attached to their comments? I‘ve complained about this before, I know, but I still don’t get it. Me, I like to stay away from the drama of overpriced, used clothing, open bags of dog food, damaged furniture, and snow tires. (*I just got a message from the purse-lady asking if I was still interested. This is because I had commented “Second”, which apparently guarantees my place in the purse-buying line. I’ll keep you posted.)