My Week 43: Hardware and Software Issues, The Nothing Box

Monday: I start the day as a computer expert and end it trapped in a dress

I got back to work on Monday after having been on a mini-vacation for over a week. In the meantime, someone from IT had moved my computer to my new workstation, and had set it up for me. I went to a meeting about writing a report first (which was the reason I went back in the first place), and it was weird because I realized that I didn’t know half of the people there even though they all seemed like they’d been coming to meetings with me for years the way we were all making small talk, kidding my director about the baking he did on the weekend, and giving each other knowing looks. Then suddenly my director asked me if I knew everyone, so I had no choice but to do what I always do in a case like that—I just smiled and said “Yes, sure,” because it’s so awkward to be like, “No, I have no clue” when you’ve been joking around and laughing with total strangers for the last five minutes. But one of my colleagues looked at me and was like, “No, I don’t actually know you,” which I thought was pretty much throwing me under the bus in a very verbally blunt and highly accented way, and then everyone introduced each other. Which would have been fine, except they just said their names, not what they did, not their “rank” or whatever, so I’d know who to defer to—in fact, it was even worse because one woman, after introducing herself, said “I’m the new Michael”, and then I had to also pretend that I knew who the hell Michael was, which I obviously didn’t. So I said, “Oh, that must be why I haven’t met you yet—I’ve been away for over a week,” to which she replied, “I’ve been here for three months.” Long awkward pause. Finally the meeting started, and ended, and I could get down to the report writing. Except I couldn’t, because when I turned on my computer, it said it couldn’t connect something or other and to “contact my system administrator”. I thought for a minute that maybe THAT’S who Michael was, and this was my colleague’s revenge on me for not paying attention when she started working with us, but no, it was just my computer being a dick. Then the computer screen went completely white, so I did what any reasonable person would do—I shut it off, then turned it back on. Because if you ever have computer issues, or cell phone issues, or air conditioning issues, or even toaster issues, the first thing any expert will tell you to do is to shut it off/unplug it, then restart it. Which doesn’t seem very expert-like to me, and I don’t think you need a lot of schooling to give out those instructions, but then when my computer came back on, it said the same thing, and this time the computer screen went completely black, with only the cursor shivering in a corner, so I figured I should contact IT (which technically stands for Information Technology, but basically means a person who is an expert with computers. And also toner cartridges). But I had to find another computer first, because apparently, it’s faster to email IT than to walk down and try to find them in the maze of cubicles on the floor below where I work (I tried to actually find them once, but I got totally lost and I had to ask someone, who said, “They’re over by the kitchen”, and I was like “Kitchen?! We have a KITCHEN?” so I gave up, having neglected to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way back). Sure enough, after about ½ an hour, a very nice young tech came up to look at it. The first thing he said was, “Hmmm. It shouldn’t be doing that”, and I was like “Really?! That’s what I thought too!” Then it occurred to me that maybe, without even knowing it, I was also an IT tech person, because not only did I instinctively know that my computer shouldn’t be doing what it was doing, I also was able to turn my computer on and off LIKE A BOSS. But then he sat down and started fiddling with it, so I thought he probably had some post-graduate training that I had opted not to unknowingly take, and I started using the computer at the next station while I waited. When I turned around to see if he’d made any progress, he was standing there with my tower under his arm. We looked at each other and he shrugged sympathetically and said, “It’s broken. I’ll get you another one”, and I realized that I MUST be an IT tech because not only did I understand his fancy jargon, he and I were totally on the same wavelength there.

But while I might have mad computer skills and knowledge, I discovered later that I’m not so good at doing things like judging what might fit me, or how to get in and out of clothing. I went shopping after work with my sister-in-law, because we’re all going on vacation to Spain together, and she was insistent that I get “comfortable walking shoes”, which I said begs the questions “If I’m on vacation, why the hell am I walking?” because to me, vacation means lying on my back and doing nothing more strenuous than signalling the waiter for another drink. But she has travelled the world and knows what she’s talking about, so I totally trust her. I dropped a sh*tload of money on a pair of shoes that didn’t look like much, but she assured me “they’ll go with anything and you’ll be able to walk for HOURS”. Whut?! Then we tried on hats, and I discovered also that I’m not a “hat person”, judging by the way she giggled at me whenever I tried anything on that I thought was cute. “A little too floppy”, she would say, and I wasn’t sure if she meant the hat or my head. Spain is supposed to be hot—in fact, whenever I tell ANYONE I’m going to Spain, the first thing they say is “Ooh, it’s going to be hot.” So we decided to buy sundresses. I tried one on and quite liked it, and as I was paying for it, the schmoozy sales guy, who had previously told me how good the sundress looked on me, which I would have taken as a compliment but I think he works on commission, told us that they were having a “buy one get one half price sale” and that I should get another one. I was running out of energy, so I grabbed another style in my size, figuring that it would surely fit, and paid for both. When I got back to my condo, I decided to try it on and see what it looked like with my new “comfortable” shoes, which were apparently guaranteed to go with anything, even sundresses. I put on the shoes, then I got the dress over my head—it was a little snug, but I managed to pull it down. It didn’t take more than a few seconds to realize that the stretchy elastic at the back was nowhere NEAR stretchy enough, and that I was having trouble breathing. I started to take the dress off, and realized that “off” was going to be WAY more of an issue than “on”. I grabbed the bottom hem and started pulling upwards—the waistband shimmied up towards my armpits so I put my arms over my head to keep pulling from the bottom. That’s when everything went to hell, and the dress turned into a straitjacket. My arms were ensnared in a tight band of fabric, my face was covered with the skirt, and the bottom half of me was blowing in the wind. I tugged. I struggled. I contorted, bending over from the waist and hoping that gravity would help me. It didn’t. Exhausted, I stood in the middle of my bedroom and wondered if someone would eventually find me if I didn’t show up to work the next day, trussed up in rayon like a Thanksgiving turkey. It occurred to me that I could always cut the dress off, that is, if I could get my arms free. Which I couldn’t. Finally, I’d had enough, and gave it one last, Herculean pull. I heard a slight ripping sound, and the dress flew up over my head and across the room, taking my bra with it, leaving me standing there half-naked, wearing only underwear and shoes, panting with exertion. But my feet were comfortable.

Wednesday: I wish I had a Nothing box

On Tuesday night, Ken announced that he and T were getting up early YET AGAIN to go and play squash. My response was “Fine, but you’ll be sleeping in another room tonight then.” And it was a REASONABLE response because A) I’m on my holidays and B) I have no desire to be awakened at 7:30 in the morning on my holidays while Ken and the dog run out of the room, then run back into the room, because they both are REALLY excited in the morning. Then Ken tries to sneak around getting dressed, but the more he uses his tiptoes, the more the floor bounces, and then I’m wide awake. “What’s the problem?” Ken asked. “You can always go back to sleep.” No, Ken, YOU can go back to sleep, but I CAN’T. Because I’m a woman and you’re a man. The second I wake up, my mind starts racing with all the stuff I need to do that day, and how I’m going to do it. When you wake up, your mind says, Sleep Now, like those creepy alien guys in the movie “Dark City”, and you’re like OKAY , and you go back to sleep. Later that day, Ken posted a meme on Facebook that said women typically lose 2 to 4 hours a night lying awake thinking about stuff, and I said, “See? Even the internet knows I’m right.”

And that to me seems to be the main difference between most men and women. I heard once a long time ago on a talk show that men have a Nothing Box in their heads. So when you say to a man, “What are you thinking about?” and he says, “Nothing,” he’s telling you the truth. There is literally NOTHING in his mind because he’s in the Nothing Box. And sometimes, I’ll ask Ken a question, and I’ll be waiting for the answer, and he seems to be taking a really long time thinking about it. Only he’s not. He’s still in the Nothing Box, and when I ask if he has an answer yet, he’ll look at me kind of surprised, like he forgot we were in a conversation. This happens quite often when we’re having a “debate”, and I’ll ask “What the hell is wrong with you?”, totally expecting a response, because I’m not being rhetorical, but then he just goes into his Nothing Box when he’s SUPPOSED to be figuring out the answer. I don’t have a Nothing Box. I never think about nothing. In fact, I can’t even meditate—if you ask me to clear my mind, I immediately start thinking about how to do that, how long I should do it for, what does “empty’ mean in this context anyway? And a thousand other things that ultimately prevent my mind from actually emptying. Ken, like most men when told to empty their minds, are just like “Done. Let’s meditate.” Then they go into the Nothing Box and stay there for a while. It’s like the saying “Lost in thought”. When a man is lost in thought, it’s just ONE thought that he’s contemplating, like shortcuts or compass points or sandwiches. When a woman is lost in thought, she is literally lost in a maze of bizarre and random ideas that jump from one thing to another like a hyperactive frog, but the one thing she is ALWAYS doing is problem-solving and making decisions. Even if it’s not readily apparent to the guy in his Nothing Box.

Ken is not good at the decision-making process. Oh, he can MAKE decisions all right, but then he pretends that he needs my help to figure out things, which is super-frustrating. We have had MANY debates over the years about why he does this—here are two examples of this little quirk of his.

Me: Let’s go for a walk.
Ken: Sure. Which way do you want to go?
Me: Towards the park would be good.
Ken: No, we should go towards the store so we can check our lottery ticket.

Me: Which one of these paint chips do you like best?
Ken: I don’t care. They’re both fine.
Me: I like this one the best.
Ken: No, that one’s too yellow-y. The other one is the colour we should paint the room.

I always say, “Why did you ask for my opinion if you already knew what you wanted to do?!” Then I wait for an answer. But I never get one, because he’s in his Nothing Box. Lucky bastard.

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My Week 42: Kanye vs. Dave and Dad, Key Misadventures, Ken Steals My Idea

Wednesday: I compare Kanye West to Dave Grohl and also to my Dad

So the other day, I was watching the Pan Am games and they announced that Kanye West was going to be performing at the Pan Am Closing Ceremonies, that he would be the big closing act. My first reaction was “Did every other musician on the planet say No?” because frankly, I think it’s a lousy choice. Not because I don’t like rap music—while it’s a bit of a niche market in Canada, and not completely to my taste, there are a lot of fantastic rap artists out there. In fact, I spent a lot of time the other night downloading a group called Die Antwoord, a South African rap group who are absolutely insane, but fascinating all at the same time (if you want a good scare, check out “Ugly Boy”). I’ve always had very diverse musical tastes, even at my age, and will listen to just about anything, even COUNTRY MUSIC (time for my favourite country music joke of all time: what happens when you play a country music record backwards? You get your truck back, your job back, your dog back, and your wife back. But you don’t hear Satan cuz God’s on your side).

But when I heard the Kanye West announcement, I was perturbed for a wide variety of reasons. For example, why not have a Canadian closing act? The Pan Am games are all about showcasing Canadian culture, especially in preparation for a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, and instead of someone like Shad or Classified, they choose a foreign bit player in a reality show who already gets so much media exposure that the Pan Am games would be nothing to him. Then I made my peace with the idea of an out of country act—why not show the world how Canada embraces internationality?—but I still had problems with Kanye. I know that a lot of people like him, first and foremost Kanye himself, and maybe that’s the ultimate issue: his ego is disproportionate to his musical talent, and as my brother pointed out, “his antics and tantrums are the antithesis of respect and sportsmanlike behaviour “(He posted that on Facebook. My brother is a lawyer and actually talks like that all the time because he has a Ph. D. from Oxford, so he knows his shit. Unlike me, who would have used swear words.) One of the things that Kanye West is currently very well known for occurred recently at the Glastonbury music festival, where he ended his set by butchering “Bohemian Rhapsody”, one of the best songs ever written, and then proclaimed that he was “the world’s greatest living rock star”. I didn’t know that rap counted as rock, but whatever; it’s still a pretty big claim to make. So I did a little research on the topic of Kanye West, but I thought it would only be fair if I put it into some context. I pondered for a while: Who do I think really IS the greatest living rock star so I could compare the two, and the choice was instantly clear: Dave Grohl, lead singer of the Foo Fighters, and former drummer of Nirvana. And now, for your reading pleasure, I have created a comparison chart to prove that Dave Grohl is, if not THE greatest living rock star, at least a GREATER living rock star than Kanye West:

Dave Grohl Kanye West
Can sing – the main criteria for being a rock star in my opinion Can’t sing – as evidenced by his crap rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, and relying on the audience to hit the high notes for him.
Doesn’t rap, but probably could if he wanted to, and respects rappers Is a decent rapper, but he’s no Tupac
Plays several instruments, including drums and a variety of guitars I saw him play a few chords on a piano once, but he messed up the ending. I’m sure if he wanted to though, he could learn to play every instrument on the planet in two hours because he’s Kanye and he’s that smart.
Created a documentary series called ”Sound City” where he recorded songs in several American cities with local musicians and producers, then celebrated the musical history of each city, proving that not only is he an amazing musician but a historian as well. Thinks Coldplay are better than the Beatles. Said in an interview that he’s too busy writing history to read it—or worry about it, based on his subsequent statement that he “likes to create against the past…Michaelangelo, Picasso, and you know, the pyramids”.
When you Google “Things Dave Grohl says”, the first few hits are Brainyquotes, “The Silver Tongue of Dave Grohl”, “Reasons Why Dave Grohl Is Awesome”, and “Inspirational Dave Grohl Quotes”. When you Google “Things Kanye West says”, the first few hits are “Kanye West Quotes That Completely Baffled Us”, “14 Increasingly Stupid Things Kanye West Has Said”, “Top Dumb Kanye West Quotes Compilation”, and “Shit Kanye Says”.
Recently started his latest tour with The Foo Fighters by falling off the stage and badly breaking his leg. Instead of calling off the show, he reappeared in a a wheelchair with a temporary cast on, and continued the set. The tour has gone on, renamed as The Broken Leg Tour. Recently stopped a show dead to yell at two audience members for not standing up and dancing. A roadie had to tell him that they were both in wheelchairs and couldn’t get up.
He named his children Harper, Violet, and Ophelia He named his daughter North. NORTH WEST. Yes, Kanye, we get it.
Builds up and has tremendous respect for other musicians; in fact, when The Foo Fighters had to cancel their headlining show at Glastonbury because of his broken leg and he was asked about Kanye West replacing him, he said that it could be the greatest gig of all time. Consistently interrupts other musicians receiving awards to tear them down, self-promote, and embarrass the musicians HE thinks should have won.

Sure, maybe I’m picking and choosing a little, but if you spend any time at all investigating these two guys, it becomes patently obvious that Dave Grohl cares more about music and musicianship than Kanye West. Which makes him, hands down, the GREATER living rock star. In fact, MOST people are greater than Kanye West. Case in point—my own dad. Like Dave Grohl, he’s a better singer than Kanye, although he prefers opera. He can also rap—well, it sounds like rap when he’s had a few scotches and starts to talk really fast with that Scottish accent. Kanye says he “rocks a bespoke suit” and is a “tastemaker”? Well, my dad looks pretty natty in his tuxedo, which he brings out for special occasions like dining with the Captain on a cruise ship. That’s right, Kanye—THE CAPTAIN. And maybe my dad doesn’t play an instrument either, but he can whistle REALLY well. He’s super smart—truth—and not just because he SAYS he is. He always gets the answers right on Jeopardy, and wins so fast at Trivial Pursuit that we all get mad at him. Kanye admittedly doesn’t read books, and “wouldn’t want a book’s autograph”, which doesn’t even make any sense, while my dad is an avid reader. And a shout-out to my mom—she’s also smart and can sing, and she hasn’t had any work done like Kim Kardashian, but she looks great and could probably balance a martini glass on her ass if you asked her to. But you wouldn’t. Because she’s a respectable English lady like the Queen, and you wouldn’t ask the Queen to balance a martini glass on HER ass, would you?! Dave Grohl wouldn’t. But I’ll bet Kanye would.

Thursday: I have key misadventures

On Thursday, my mom and I went to the cottage. We were planning a very cool “girl’s night”, even though technically neither of us are girls anymore. It was an hour’s drive to get there, and we had loaded up on snack food, wine, and other “girl’s night” things, like more wine. We pulled into the driveway, and I reached into the back seat to pull the cottage keys from my purse. But they weren’t IN my purse. They weren’t in any part of my purse, and they weren’t in the glove compartment. WTF?! I asked my mom if she had a key to our cottage and she said, “Yes…”, and I was so happy for a minute, then she said, “…in our car. Back home with your dad.” I stood there for a minute considering options. I knew that there were several people who had an extra key to our place. First call—my brother, whose cottage was just down the road and who I was sure had a key. No answer. Mom and I drove down to his place while we waited, Mom sure that he had a key to HIS place in the BBQ so that we could get in. She also had a key to his place, but guess where it was? In their car back at home with Dad. We wandered around my brother’s place for a while, but no luck—the bbq was empty, and all rocks overturned had nothing under them. Then he called back and verified that No, he didn’t have one. In the meantime, though, we had discovered that his front door was wide open, although the screen door was latched. But I didn’t have a key to HIS place so that I could go in and shut the front door because it was on MY key chain. Which was missing. When I asked him if he wanted me to cut a hole in the screen and unhook the screen door, he was like, “NO!!! GOD NO!!”. Ok, maybe not that freaked out, but pretty adamant that he didn’t want me to do that. Then he said his electrician had a key, and to call him to come over. I realized that Lloyd also had a key to my place. Eureka! But he didn’t answer his phone. Neither did the local contractor, who also had a key that he kept for convenience. For CONVENIENCE—like when it’s convenient to give it to me! My aunt had a key, but she was out of town. I called her anyway, but she didn’t have a key to HER place hidden outside anywhere so that I could get in her house to get MY key. End result—I was keyless and cottageless. We had no choice but to come back home, where I was terrified that I was going to find the lanyard with my keys hanging on a hook by the door. But no. I scoured the house, but there was no sign of them. The next day, I went back to the cottage with Ken’s keys, certain that I must have accidentally locked them inside, but they weren’t there either. It’s four days later, and the keys have yet to appear. I realize that this blog entry isn’t very funny, but it’s true to life, and sometimes life isn’t funny, it’s just kind of absurd. So to make up for the lack of humour, here’s the conversation that Ken, T, and I had today:

Ken: Hey T—your mom and I are going to compete in the 2024 Pan Am Senior Games! Me: What the hell, Ken! I told you that was going to be my blog topic this week. How am I supposed to blog about that now, when you’ve already told everyone about it?! You posted it on Facebook yesterday, and then you’re telling him now? That’s like EVERYONE who even reads my blog!
Ken: You can still write about it…I’m sure not everyone who reads your blog saw it.
Me: What would I say? You attached a link to all the sports. You spoiled the surprise. Stop stealing my ideas. Now I know how all those guys felt when Shakespeare took their poems and turned them into plays.
Ken: *sighs and rolls eyes* OK, honey.

My Week 41: When Pigeons Attack, The Pan Am Opening Ceremonies

Wednesday: I worry about being attacked by a pigeon

It’s summer in Toronto right now and that means only one thing. Well actually, it means more than one thing. For example, it means that the streets in the downtown core smell heavily of urine, garbage, marijuana. Why? you ask. Because there are more people sleeping out in the open air ie: “the middle of the sidewalk” when the weather is warm than there are in the winter, and there aren’t a lot of bathrooms on the sidewalk, so the sidewalk BECOMES the bathroom. Also, I’m surrounded by high rises; I know how many dumpsters the people in my own building are capable of filling, so extrapolate that to like 20, 000 other buildings full of hot, stinky garbage. As for the marijuana, there are just a LOT of people in T.O. who have no problem whatsoever walking down the street openly smoking pot. But the most important thing about the change in weather is that summer is Patio Season. Yes, Torontonians ADORE patios, and will eat or drink just about anything if it’s served on a patio. Maybe it’s because they spend so much time encased in concrete, but the second the temperature hits anything above 10 degrees, people are dining al fresco, even if they have to wear parkas and sit under heat lamps. Every restaurant downtown, regardless of the size of their frontage, has at least one table out front, even if it blocks the sidewalk. Personally, I love relaxing on a nice patio with a cold glass of white wine in hand (even if said glass costs more than the actual bottle I can buy at the liquor store—Toronto prices are a rip-off), but there are some dangers to the patio life that need to be taken into consideration. First, you are an open target for panhandlers; to them, it must seem like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve also heard stories of street people taking sips out of glasses or stealing fries off plates. But it’s a chance we’re all willing to take for the luxury of sitting outside. But the biggest hazard to patio season is the wildlife, which brings me (finally) to the point of this story. Last week, I went out with a group of colleagues after work for a drink. Patios are so popular right now that, when there’s no room on one, you can get put on a waiting list and the hostess will give you a disc that flashes and buzzes when there’s seating available. So after waiting for about 15 minutes, we made our way out to the patio at Jack Astor’s. It’s a great spot, high up and overlooking all the madness of Dundas Square, with misters that spray the air above you if things gets too hot (I just realized that makes it sound a little like a gay bar—let me clarify that “misters” are like showerheads, not actual men. I was actually in a gay bar yesterday afternoon and instead of spraying us with cooling water, the waiter yelled at my friend for putting her feet up on the outdoor patio chair. When I laughed and said, “Who are you, our mother?”, he replied, “Well, SOMEONE has to parent you, sweetheart!” Too awesome for words, really).

Anyway, things were going really well, and I was totally relaxing into my drink, when I realized that there was a pigeon wandering around near our table. Pigeons are like the panhandlers of the bird world—they have no problem at all approaching you and trying to scam you out of your food or give you pamphlets about the impending apocalypse. I was doing my best to ignore the pigeon, who was getting closer all the time, but then I laughed at someone’s joke, turned my head, and for a horrifying split second, we made eye contact. Even though I looked away really quickly, the pigeon took this as an obvious invitation to join us, and began sidling over towards my chair. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the effort of keeping one eye on the pigeon and participating in the conversation was making me more and more distracted and a little afraid. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE birds. I get super excited every time I see an owl on a hydro line, and Ken and I will race from window to window to watch a humming bird buzzing around our flower garden. But the pigeons in Toronto are another matter altogether. They have no fear of humans whatsoever, and they have these malevolent, beady little eyes that follow your every movement. So there I was, minding my own business and being stalked by a pigeon. Then someone asked me a question; I took my eyes off it for a second, and suddenly I couldn’t see it anymore. Then I felt something brush my leg, and when I looked under the table, the pigeon was NEXT TO MY FOOT. I moved my foot in a panic which made the pigeon fly up and start hitting my leg with its wings and talons. I screamed and thrashed at it—which made everyone at the table look at me like I was some kind of lunatic, but then I said, “Pigeon!” and they all smiled and nodded knowingly. So now, even though I love patio season, I’m also super-paranoid about pigeon attacks, and with good reason. In fact, I’m a little suspicious of all birds in Toronto right now—on Wednesday, I was out with a friend when a sparrow landed on the patio next to me. Instinctively, I told it to f—off and it flew away. You never know—it could have been the advance scout for a party of attack pigeons. I’m not taking any chances.

Friday: I try to make sense of the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies

On Friday night, Ken and I were all excited about watching the opening ceremonies of the Pan Am games. It’s a huge moment for Canadian culture and sports, and everyone was talking about how amazing it was going to be. Amazing yes, but also very random and confusing. I knew it was going to be a weird night when the flag was carried in by Mounties, and the pianist, who was described as “adlibbing” his accompaniment was wearing a bathrobe and slippers. I know that Canadians love “Casual Friday”, but really? Then the athletes started to come in. It made sense for a minute, then after Ecuador, the United States team entered. I have a pretty good grasp of the order of letters in the alphabet, and Ken and I were initially very confused, until we realized that, while the announcers were calling the team names in English, they were in FRENCH alphabetical order. I can only imagine how bewildered the athletes were at this, since out of 41 countries, Canada (and maybe Haiti—were they even there?) is the only country where French is spoken. I can just see the Americans shaking their heads and saying, “Don’t even ask. It’s Canada, remember? They don’t like guns and let gay people get married—their alphabet is probably f*cked up too.” Then the Canadian team came in—I was really proud, but also a little curious about their uniforms, because the pants looked like they’d been designed by MC Hammer. But it was great and patriotic, and the athletes, when they weren’t texting, tweeting, and taking selfies, seemed really happy to be there. But if I thought things had been a little random up to now, just wait. It was time for the Cirque du Soleil, or as I like to call them, “Cirque du WTF?!” Here, in some semblance of order, is what I think I saw. I’m still not really sure.

• Hundreds of small children enter with Ikea floor lamps. “Ikea” is Swedish for “common sense”. Is this irony? They are accompanied by a ballerina called The Guardian of the Javelin. She has a javelin—that’s how I know that she is the guardian OF it. Otherwise, she just pirouettes around while the children dance with their lamps. The announcer says they are “learning to overcome obstacles”. With Ikea floor lamps. I pour a drink.
• The children disappear, and a group of lacrosse players arrive. They do some crazy ass version of the Haka, while a guy wearing what looks like a meat mask does gymnastics. Also, a woman at the side of the stage spins a flaming hula hoop. This is “the origin of sport in Canada”. I pour another drink.
• A group of shiny faced robot men dance around stage. One of them freaks out over a giant radio, while another opens a golf umbrella. The announcer tells us that this is “Canada’s tribute to love songs”.
• Giant shower curtains rise above the stage. A group of people who seem to be wearing gospel robes emerges from them. No, wait—the gospel robes are actually shower curtains which they are wearing like capes. Underneath, they are wearing towels. The announcer mutters something about “Hearts in Bloom”. He sounds dubious. I pour another drink.
• A character who looks like he just came out of a Mad Max movie arrives and starts glaring at everyone. The announcer states, without snickering, that this scene “represents the storm of both doubt and possibility, while the sky rains confessions.” The shower people continue to dance, while men on giant ladders swing around them. The shower people find piles of clothes and start throwing them in the air.
• Mad Max looks like he just found out that his water tanker is full of sand ie; very pissed. The announcer says, “Reality approaches…” while the shower people find shoes and put them on.
• A Santa’s Village train comes on stage. The announcer says, “The Train of Life—like a thread from coast to coast…the arduous path…” I lose track because the train is so cute. Suddenly the lacrosse players are back. They look really sad. The announcer says something about “costumes underscore athletic vocation…” He sounds like he has no idea what he’s saying. I pour another drink.
• The “Guardian of the Discus appears to “inspire them to build a strong country and stable future”. He looks like the Riddler from Batman and is carrying a bar tray.

At this point, things get really random: BMX bikers start riding around wearing construction hard hats; two Michael Jackson look-alikes bounce on bungee cords while directing air traffic; the lacrosse players look like they are auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance. Suddenly, the announcer calls out, “The Moment of Truth approaches!” We’re on Yonge Street, “the final destination—the birth of unity and the realization of a dream!” He sounds really happy, especially about the “final destination” part. Then there’s a flurry of activity—shower people and lacrosse players dance; guys on treadmills atop Skyjacks run; a woman dressed like a Barbie Princess twirls; male strippers pole dance; there’s a giant lollipop tree; finally, Zoltar the Invincible appears wearing a helmet and cape and looks on as the torch is finally passed to Steve Nash, who lights the cauldron. I wonder if the people in the audience had the privilege of hearing the voice-over narration or were they just sitting there completely unaware that this represented the “Canadian Journey”. Because if you didn’t know that, you could never have made sense of any of it.

After that, it was pretty downhill, as the speeches progressed (even the announcer said things were “starting to lag”). One man informed the audience that Toronto was “in the heart of the Americas and the Carribean”. I suggested to Ken that perhaps he should have consulted a map first. There were two sign language interpreters, and at first Ken and I both thought one of them might be fake, because they were NOT signing the same things, but then we realized that one (the woman super-enthusiastically waving her hands around) must be French and the other (who looked bored) was English. Then a lovely, very old man came to the microphone. I think Spanish was his first language, but whatever it was, his English was a little spotty. He started speaking English first, and at some point, he seemed to be thanking the media, and said something about “the relentless fight against doping”. But he went on for quite a while, and Ken and I had this conversation:

Me: Who IS this guy?
Ken: I don’t actually know.
Me: What language is he speaking right now?
Ken: Uh…English?
Me (a few minutes later): Is he still speaking English?
Ken: No, I think he switched to…Spanish?
Me: The interpreters look confused. I’m telling you, I think they’re just making shit up right now. Deaf people all over Canada are getting the season summary of Game of Thrones. “Then Jon Snow brought a group of wildlings back to Castle Black…”

He finally finished speaking. At some point, the CN tower exploded in a shower of fireworks—I’m not sure when, because I may or may not have had several glasses of wine. At any rate, it was a spectacle, and something to be proud of, no doubt about it, even if no one understood it. But that’s Canada for you—anti-gun laws, gay marriage, and subtle symbolism.

My Week 40: Wearable Pet Tech and Wedding Vows That Should Be Made But Aren’t

Wednesday: Wearable technology for pets

On Wednesday morning, I was watching Canada AM. I never get the chance to do this normally, and believe me, it wasn’t by choice, but I’m on a mini-holiday, and of course, thanks to Ken and Titus getting up, running around, then jumping back onto the bed—yes, both of them—I woke up WAY earlier than I had intended to. I tried to get back to sleep, but then Titus suddenly disappeared, and I heard the distinct sound of him knocking things over and eating. And since it was coming from the office, and Ken showed absolutely no interest in what was happening, that left it up to me to find out what the monster dog was up to. Sure enough, he had found T’s leftover Hungry Man container from the night before and was dragging it, and its contents, around the office floor. To make matters worse, as I was trying to get the container away from Titus, I stepped in cold, mushy corn, and just about lost my sh*t, because it was kind of like stepping in cat puke, which I have also had the misfortune of doing on more than one occasion. So there was no chance in hell that I was getting back to sleep any time soon. After I washed the corn off my foot, I decided to go downstairs and watch TV, but there’s nothing decent on at that time of the morning, except for uber-cheery morning show hosts who run through the usual assortment of even more ecstatic guests, like the guy who shows you how to “grill” portobello mushrooms (to the rest of us, this means barbeque), the woman who excitedly talks about the latest fall fashions (because obviously it’s the beginning of July, so who WOULDN’T want to talk about the impending onslaught of cold weather?), and other random but equally happy people who obviously have no night life if they’re up this early and not pissed about it, like I was. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was grumpily watching Canada AM, and the host started interviewing this guy who was hawking “Wearable Tech For Your Dog”. She was as flummoxed as me, and we both said, kind of simultaneously, “What exactly is that?!” Except she said it in a really happy, interested way, and I may or may not have included one or more F words in my query. It turns out that wearable tech for your dog is the kind of thing you might find in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue, in among the heated outdoor cathouses and giant celebrity robots—in other words, something that a person with more money than brains would buy. For example, for the low cost of $119.00, you can buy the equivalent of a Fitbit for your canine pal, so that you can track the number of steps it takes in a day. I don’t need to spend ANY money to know that Titus puts in a lot of steps running between the door, the supper dish, and every garbage can in the house looking for food, and I have no interest in knowing the exact number—in fact, it would probably scare me how much energy he puts into doing that. In addition, for $149.00 plus an additional monthly fee to access the app that you need to use it, you can buy a health monitor that attaches to your dog’s collar and measures heartrate, respiration, blood pressure, and so on. Why the hell would you want to do this? Well, the techie guy explained that if your dog got sick, you would already have important information to help the vet make a diagnosis. Call me a little mercenary if you want, but doesn’t the vet get PAID to do all that? Do you really think the vet is going to be like, “Thanks so much for the extra, helpful information—I’m going to reduce your bill by 20%?” Just like I expect the cashier to bag my groceries if I have to buy the plastic bag, I expect the vet to work for his fee. Plus, I already worry enough about Titus (two nights ago, I was convinced for about ten seconds that he was actually dead until he finally opened one eye, looked at me dismissively, and went back to sleep), so I would probably spend way more time than I should obsessing about the monitor, which ironically, for 150 bucks could have clarified the whole “Titus is dead!” incident a lot more quickly than me poking him and screaming “Titus!!” at him for several terrible moments. Finally, for $199, you can get a GPS tracker for your dog. This, explained the techie, is the ideal way to locate your dog if it goes missing. I have something similar for Titus—it’s called “his name”. If I can’t see him anywhere, I say it loudly, and he miraculously reappears. Personally, I think it would be better to have a GPS tracker for your cat, judging by the number of missing cats on various local buy and sell sites. It makes absolutely no sense to me that people let their cats outside in the first place—why would you let an animal that exhibits absolutely no loyalty to you wander around the neighbourhood, then act shocked when it doesn’t come home? So a Cat GPS would at least give you some peace of mind, like “Where’s Tinker?! Oh wait…the GPS shows she’s down the street, sucking up to Mrs. Smith for a bowl of milk—AGAIN.” The only piece of wearable tech I would ever want to see on a dog is something that could translate its thoughts, although if most dogs are anything like mine, it would pretty much just always say “This is the best day EVER!!”, every day. Either that, or “Sorry for eating the garbage.”

Friday: Wedding vows you didn’t make but should have

Sometimes I make notes on my Iphone about things during the week that interest me or amuse me so that I have something to write about on the weekend. Yesterday, I was looking at my phone and it said, “Wedding vows you should have made but didn’t: I won’t puke on your hand”. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the context for that. I mean, it makes total sense, and I remember it coming up in conversation, but still, I had no idea what it was about and neither did Ken, since neither of us have EVER puked on each other, either deliberately or by accident. Still, with our 25th wedding anniversary coming up this week, I thought it might be appropriate to consider OTHER vows that in retrospect, we could have made to each other, instead of the boring, traditional sh*t.

Ken: I promise to love and honour you. I also promise not to make fun of you every time you see a hawk on a hydro line and yell out, “Look, Ken—an owl!”, even though I’ve told you a hundred times that owls are nocturnal and don’t roost on power lines. I promise to always straighten up throw pillows, rugs, and to always smooth out the comforter after you’ve “just made the bed” when I then sit on it to put on my socks. I promise not to move ornaments out of place. I promise to eat quinoa, or whatever you tell me to, because it’s “good for me”. Finally, I promise to appreciate your slightly obsessive nature, because I know it just means you care about EVERYTHING, even if it’s sometimes nitpicky and annoying.

Me: I promise to love and honour you, too. I also promise not to make too much fun of your weird taste in music, even though no one in their right mind puts Stomping Tom Connors and Nine Inch Nails on the same mixed CD. I promise to make sure you dress appropriately, that you don’t wear pink and red together, and that I will look up words on your T-shirts on Urbandictionary.com to make sure they don’t have alternative, dirty meanings. I promise to take your decorating ideas into consideration, and when I dismiss them, I promise to do it nicely. I promise to always hold the ladder so you don’t fall off, even when you’re only up a few steps, or at least to keep asking you if you’re OK. Finally, I promise to always appreciate your wonderful sense of whimsy and your immense creativity, even when it distracts you from cleaning up the closet in your office.

Happy Anniversary, honey:-)