My Week 52: My Robot Boyfriend, More Catalogue Craziness, One Whole Year

Monday: My new robot boyfriend

Last week, I got training on a new type of text-to-speech technology, which is used to allow visually impaired people to access reading material. No, it’s not for me personally, even though I’ve recently complained about how abysmal my vision is, and even though I’ve just gotten new contacts lenses and glasses whose prescription is frightening close to blindness. But I’m lucky—at least my vision can be corrected to almost 20/20, unlike the people this technology is designed for, which is 20/200 at the bare minimum. So, no whining from me, even though there’s a very large intersection of an imaginary Venn diagram in which my distance vision and my close-up vision are both non-existent (by the way, I had no idea what the intersection of a Venn diagram was called, so I googled “what is the middle bit of two circle-y things called” and that’s what it said). At any rate, I got the training last week, and on Monday, someone from IT came to install the software on my computer. This was a complicated process, which involved things like clicking on a link to a download and then waiting while it installed itself. I probably could have managed it with my fairly extensive computer training, but it’s always nice to see the guys from IT, who can do a lot more than click links (sorry, did that sound kind of naughty?). My favourite is when there’s something wrong with my computer, and this box pops up that says, “Allow Bob to remotely take over your computer?” I always go on faith that it’s actually Bob from IT, and not a hacker searching for government secrets, of which I have virtually none, but hackers, right? Who knows what motivates them? I’m sure Ashley Madison totally understands how I feel. So, I got the software installed. At this point, I should clarify that the software consists of a robot voice that reads things. It started immediately talking, and it was very confusing, but the IT tech showed me how to turn the program off. Except that it doesn’t STAY off. Every so often, it would randomly make some pronouncement that would cause me to jump in my seat a little (I have a terrible startle reflex—just ask any of my co-workers, who have learned to sidle up to me rather than approach from behind when they want to get my attention). But then I started listening carefully to the robot voice, which was very masculine, and spoke with an accent that I pinpointed as being Italian. I realized that he was telling me things about the computer; for example, when it went into sleep mode, or reverted to the password screen. Then he would shout my name, and proclaim, “Password! Enter Password” And the best part? When I ENTERED the password, he would say, “Star! Star Star Star!” Yes, I know he was only reading the asterisks, but it’s one hell of a boost to your ego to have a charming Italian man insist that you’re a star. I decided to name him “Carlo”, and for a short time, Carlo and I had a bit of a whirlwind romance. He would tell me sweet nothings, like “Word. Open File”, and wish me goodnight with “Monitor going into sleep mode”. But after a while I noticed two things: first, Carlo was a very limited conversationalist. He had no opinions on world issues or politics, and when I asked him who he thought would win the upcoming election, he would simply say “Java would like to install an update.” Sure, he said it in his lovely robotic, Italian voice, but I was really hoping for something a little more related to the question, like “Stephen Harper’s record on the environment is appalling”, “Justin has really nice hair”, “What’s up with that NDP guy?”, or “Why are all the other candidates so afraid of Elizabeth May?”. He had no sense of humour, and when I’d say, “Haha, look at that—Firefox wants to be my default browser. Good one, right?”, he would stay silent, just leaving me hanging. Second, and more disturbing, was that he was getting super-clingy and needy. I’d be trying to work, and every five minutes, he was calling my name, trying to get my attention. I’d tell him that I was busy or that I had a headache, but he just wouldn’t lay off. Finally, I had no choice—I had to mute him. I realized that I just wasn’t cut out for an affair, even if it was only with a disembodied Italian robot. Ken is more than enough for me—he’s fun to talk to, watches the news every day so that he can talk knowledgably about the world, and isn’t always trying to bug me when I’m working. If he had an Italian accent, he’d be perfect.

Friday: More mail-order catalogue madness

On Friday, I came home and there was a copy of “Bits and Pieces” sitting on my desk. “Bits and Pieces” is a mail order catalogue where you can buy puzzles, kitschy ornaments, novelty clothing items, and a whole lot more. It’s not as sophisticated as the other mail order catalogue that we sometimes get, the German “Hammacher Schlemmler” or as I like to call it “Sledgehammer Schlepper”, but it has more outrageous, and much cheaper, items. There are several things that caught my attention, so here, for your reading pleasure are the top three most bizarre things that you can buy from “Bits and Pieces”:

3rd place: We have a tie between the “Set of Four Wind-up Mice with Whirling Tails” and “The Creepy Infrared Remote Control Spider”. What exactly are you planning when you buy EITHER of these? Inviting your elderly grandmother over and scaring the living sh*t out of her? So you hide behind a corner, wind up a realistic-looking mouse and let it loose while you snicker at her screaming. If you do this, you are an incredible d-bag. And trust me, the laughter will fade quickly once she disinherits you. The spider is described as having “lifelike” legs and eyes that “glow with a blue light to enhance his creepy appeal.” You don’t NEED glowing eyes to enhance the creepiness of a giant remote control spider, unless you’re Stephen King. Also, it’s $25, which would probably be better spent on buying Granny a nice box of chockies, if you don’t want to get cut out of the will.

2nd place: Second place definitely goes to a variation on the charming babushkas that were so popular many years ago which featured painted ladies of various sizes, one inside another, until finally you got to the smallest one, which was a baby. This set, however, is the “Delightfully Gory Zombie Family Nesting Dolls”. Delightful and gory are two words that will NEVER go together, no matter how hard you try to convince people. The description states that each doll is a “zombie character, rising from the dead to greet you.” That isn’t charming, that’s f*cking gross. The mother doll’s eyeball is dangling out of her face, the son is all oozy and bleeding, and the baby is a disembodied brain. What kind of décor, or mental state, would you have to have to put this on your mantle? Instead of rising from the dead, this “Fall Favourite” would be better buried deep at the back of your garden. Or used for target practice, just in case there ever IS a zombie apocalypse.

Ist place: The first place trophy for most bizarre item that you can buy from “Bits and Pieces” is on the front cover, and is described as a “Top Seller”. It’s called the “Surprised Garden Elf”. What’s the surprise? His pants are down and he’s peeing on your tree. Surprise! In real life, we call this “indecent exposure” and “public urination”, both of which are criminal offences. I know that there are a lot of people who think garden gnomes are adorable. I’m not one of them. And they’re especially not adorable when they’re waving their tiny penises around. Thanks, “Bits and Pieces” for THOSE bits and pieces. I have a vivid image of that poor grandmother, with a mouse running over her foot, a spider crawling up her arm, and a gnome pissing on her leg. This is one way to secure your inheritance—make sure she dies of a heart attack BEFORE she can change the will. Hammacher Schlemmer might sell ridiculously expensive and useless items, like a “celebrity robot” for $345, 000 (and it doesn’t even speak Italian), but at least they don’t encourage deviant behaviour or terrifying your loved ones.

Saturday: Today is my 52nd week writing this blog. That’s a whole year. I started writing a humour blog to counteract the small but toxic and obscenely vicious group of people who were in my life a year ago—they aren’t anymore, but I’ve kept writing, and will keep writing, because of all the positive people in my life. Thanks to all my readers around the globe—here’s to another year of humour, hope, and happiness!

My Week 51: Head Transplants, and Helping the Homeless is Hard

Monday: Scientific researchers will not want my body

On Monday morning, I went with a few colleagues to Loblaw’s to get coffee (hot chocolate for me, because coffee is gross. Maybe that doesn’t make me a “real” Canadian since I rarely go into a Tim Horton’s but I’m convinced that they put opium in their coffee and that’s why everyone is so addicted to it). Naturally, the subject of death came up. I say “naturally” because I’m being sarcastic—seriously, it was pretty early in the day to start contemplating mortality, but that’s what sometimes happens in the big city. One of my colleagues expressed that she had no interest in any of the fuss of a funeral and planned to donate her body to medical research. But I don’t know—isn’t having over-enthusiastic medical interns freaking out over your small intestine just as bad as people you barely know eating little sandwiches in your memory? As many of you are aware, Ken and I have had several discussions about our final wishes. Ken has his preferences, which I will most likely ignore, and will deliver a eulogy full of quotations from him that he never actually said, like “Cruise control is for lazy drivers”, “This isn’t really a shortcut—I just like to get lost”, and “Beets disgust me”. Ken, however, has promised to build me a mausoleum where I will be enshrined forever ABOVE GROUND. It will be glorious and most likely made out of barnboard, but that’s just fine, because barnboard lasts almost as long as marble and is hella cheaper. And the important thing is that I will be completely intact. Not because I don’t agree with organ donation; I just don’t believe that medical science would ever be interested in what I have to offer. I’m not even going to discuss my liver and kidneys, because it’s almost a certainty that they will be worse than useless by the time I kick off. There are a lot of other things that I COULD donate, but that no one would actually benefit from. Case in point—my eyes. A lot of people donate their eyes, but that’s probably because they can actually SEE out of them. Me, I’m almost legally blind. I once broke a toe when Kate was a baby—she woke up screaming in the middle of the night, I jumped out of bed to run to her room, and slammed into the doorframe because I couldn’t actually see where I was going, and in my panic, had forgotten to put on my glasses. Try comforting a screaming baby while you’re sobbing and bleeding all over the place. Of course, as my dad pointed out, I was lucky that my feet are so big; otherwise, I would have broken my nose. So I can just picture the poor blind person who got my eyes waking up from surgery and being like, “What the hell?! This is the best they had? Give me my f*cking cane back!” I suppose SOME vision is better than none at all, but I hate to disappoint people enough as a living person, and the thought of doing it when I’m dead makes me feel even worse. My hearing’s not great either—all those years of listening to loud music has taken its toll, that’s for sure. Can you even donate your hearing? I’m not sure—like what part of the ear would that be? Eardrum? Eartube? Inner ear? Again, I’m sure someone would rather have SOME hearing rather than none, but aren’t there better candidates than me? I’d just disappoint all over again, and these blows to my self-esteem aren’t doing my heart any good. Now, I DO have a pretty decent heart; it pumps and all that good shit, but if I give it away, would that make me like a zombie or something? Or the Tinman from The Wizard of Oz, wandering around the afterlife singing songs about the empty hole in my chest while I’m warding off flying monkeys/cherubim? See, the problem is that I haven’t yet resolved my feelings about an afterlife, and it occurs to me that I might NEED this stuff. How am I supposed to hear the choir eternal or eat the manna if I’m chopped up into little pieces? I’m not very religious, but I’ve always gone on the theory of being better safe than sorry, plus I can’t stand it when people touch my stuff, so how am I supposed to cope with them touching THAT stuff? When our cleaning ladies have left, I spend hours moving things back to where they’re supposed to be, so I sure as hell would have a problem with someone putting my pancreas in a jar. At any rate, it won’t be long before someone invents robotic eyes. We already have the technology to transplant all kinds of things from the animal world, like making new stomachs out of sheep and whatnot, and face transplants are an actual thing, so stop hounding me, Organ Donor Card.

Just the other day, I read an article on an actual legitimate internet site about Russian researchers who are on the brink of being able to do a head transplant. They even have a patient lined up for the procedure, believe it or not. This, of course, led me to wonder though–under what possible circumstances would you EVER need a head transplant?! How the hell did you manage to get yourself decapitated in the first place? And if it were possible to re-attach a head to a body, wouldn’t you want your own head back? Where would you EVEN find a body that had also lost its head so you could put the two of them together? Kate says that it’s for people who are quadriplegic, so that they can have functional bodies, but in that case, wouldn’t it be a better use of medical research to figure out how to fix a spine, rather than aspire to be Dr. Frankenstein? Trust the Russians to do things the hard way—this is why they lost the war. (Which war, you ask? Take your pick. I did some internet fact-checking because as we all know, historical accuracy isn’t one of my strengths, and it turns out that they lost almost every war they’ve ever been involved in. Sorry, Russia. They DID win the space race though, so hats off for that.)

If there WAS something I could offer to medical science, the only thing I can think of that I would never need again is my uterus. It’s in pretty good shape, I know for a fact that it works just fine (or at least it did 17 years ago), and I don’t plan on using it ever again. So give me a call, Russia—maybe we can work out a deal.

Wednesday: The homeless are making it very hard for me to help them

Last holiday Monday, I went back to Toronto for work. I had no food, and the Loblaw’s down the street was miraculously open on Labour Day, so I decided to pop down and at least get some things for the morning. On my way, I saw one of my “regular” homeless guys, Dan (not his real name, but that’s what I call him), who I hadn’t seen for a while. I stopped to give him a toonie and said, “Where have you been?” He told me he’d been sick, so I said, “I’m going to the grocery store—can I get you anything?” He thought for a minute, then answered, “I’d really like some juice,” so I said I could do that and I’d be back in a bit. It wasn’t long after that I started to get anxious. “Juice” is a very vague thing—what KIND of juice would he like? Peach-mango seemed a little too exotic, and apple seemed too much like I hadn’t given it any thought. And the container was a problem. He had a cup, but he used it for the change that people gave him, and it looked pretty dirty. So I was tasked with choosing an appropriate juice for a homeless man that I barely knew. I finally settled on a litre of Oasis orange juice (no pulp—a safe choice) in a container with a resealable spout. The line-ups were insane though, since no one in Toronto seemed to remember that school started the next day, and I was surrounded by parents getting lunch stuff for their kids. When I finally got out of there, I crossed the street and Dan was gone. What the hell?! I couldn’t see him anywhere, and now I had all this juice. And then I was wracked with guilt. What if he thought I was just shitting him about the juice and he gave up on me? I am NOT that kind of person—if I say I’m going to do something, I do it, and the homeless people in my neighbourhood should know that about me by now.

I didn’t see Dan for the rest of the week, which made me even more worried, because maybe he was sick again, and he would never know that I had followed through with the juice. Then it was one frustrating incident after another this week. Every time I saw a panhandler, I would go to bring them some food or whatever, and by the time I got back, they would be gone. There was the couple from Nova Scotia with a sign that said they were hungry and tired who missed out on the granola bars I was bringing them, the kid outside Bulk Barn who disappeared before I could give him a bag of trail mix, and the woman who I was GOING to give a bottle of water to, until she pulled out a cell phone, and lit up a cigarette from a pack hidden behind her back. I hate to be judge-y, but if you can afford a cell phone plan and smokes, you can buy your own damn water—I’m not that gullible.

But then on Thursday, the tide turned. I was on my way to Metro, and I passed a young guy in front of the 7-11 with a little dog. He looked pretty done in, but he was cooing to the dog and cuddling it, so I bought some dog treats for him. When I came back, it looked for a second like he wasn’t sitting in front of the store anymore, and I was like “Are you f*cking kidding me?!” Then the crowds parted and sure enough, there he was. I gave him the dog treats and he gave me a beautiful smile and thanked me. As I walked away, he’d opened the bag and was giving one to the dog, petting it and talking to it in a really loving way. And as I got closer to my condo, I could see Dan sitting in his usual spot. I ran into my condo and grabbed the juice. Now I could finally fulfill my promise, relieve my guilt, and let the homeless of Toronto know they can still count on me, even when they make it really hard. They might not want my eyes, but they damn well better take my food.


My Week 50: Blonde Ghosts, Fire Alarms, and Other Craziness

My Condo Is Trying To Make Me Crazy

Monday: On Monday afternoon, I returned to my Toronto condo for the first time in a few weeks, having been on holidays. I had had absolutely no desire to leave the comfort—and quiet– of my small town in the meantime, so naturally, I was a little worried about what would happen when I opened the door. Would there be an overwhelming smell of something decaying, even though I was pretty sure I’d emptied the refrigerator and taken out all the garbage? Would there be another flood, even though I checked all the taps before I left in July? Would there be spiders? Would a colony of mice have taken up residence in my closet? I stood outside the door for a second, bracing myself for the worst. Then I put the key in the lock, and tried to open the door. “Tried”, because it wouldn’t open. What the hell? That wasn’t even on the list. Had someone changed my lock while I was gone?! I turned the key again, and this time I gave the door a shove in frustration. It moved slightly, and I realized that it wasn’t the lock causing problems, the door was stuck in the frame. Now, to my knowledge, this only happens when something has shifted, and I got a little worried, because my building has 33 stories, and if it’s starting to shift, that’s a pretty big f*cking Tower of Pisa, and how long will it be before the furniture starts sliding towards the open balcony door? But it was a really hot and humid week, so the other explanation was that the door was just swollen in the frame, and with that in mind, I braced myself again and started pushing. It finally opened enough that I could squeeze through, and then I was inside. Everything looked exactly like I had left it. It smelled normal. It was a little warm, since I’d turned off the air conditioning, but other than that, it was pristine, aside from a little dust on the floor (the hardwood is very dark and shows EVERYTHING), which could be easily swept up.

I unpacked, then poured a glass of wine (these events may or may not have been in the opposite order), and got out the broom. I swept, then I swiffered, until the floor was spotless. This may seem like a really boring and pointless catalogue of events, but just wait. I puttered around for a few more minutes, rearranging the two pieces of furniture in the “guest bedroom” in preparation for the arrival of a friend later in the week, then I came back out into the main living area. I stopped dead. In the middle of the floor, which I had just carefully cleaned, was a broken fingernail. A long, broken F*CKING FINGERNAIL. I stared at it for a minute, then looked at my hands. I was intact. I picked it up by the edges and examined it carefully. Then I looked back at the floor and realized that there were also several strands of long, blonde hair laying in various positions around the room. Yes, the floor that I had just swept. It definitely wasn’t mine, me not being remotely blonde. And then I remembered that I hadn’t done my usual security check of the unit when I got in, because I was so distracted by trying to push the door back INTO the frame and lock it. I was feeling a little panicky, and started to envision an intruder, blonde and badly in need of a manicure, hiding under the bed. So I did what anyone would do in similar circumstances—I called Ken.

Me: I need to talk to you while I search my condo.
Ken: OK.
Me: I found a broken fingernail and some blonde hair in the middle of the floor after I swept it. I don’t know where the hell they came from. They weren’t there a few minutes ago.
Ken: Did you open the balcony door? Maybe they came in through there.
Me: I’m on the 27
floor. Do you really think someone broke a fingernail down on Yonge St. and wind currents carried it up here!?
Ken: Maybe they were under the couch….

Ken tried his best, but I remained convinced that my condo might just be haunted by a crazy blonde. It makes sense—hair and fingernails continue to grow after death, right?

Wednesday: I’d pretty much forgotten about my blonde ghost, and nothing weird had happened since Monday. I went to bed after re-watching an old episode of “Lost”, which is a great show, but after later events, it occurred to me that my current situation and the show have certain similarities, the first of which is the seeming presence of mysterious “others” on the island and in my condo. The second similarity was the screaming alarm that woke me from a deep sleep at 1 o’clock in the morning. I jumped out of bed, completely disoriented, and ran out of the bedroom like a decapitated chicken, deafened by the sound, and terrified that Toronto was about to be bombed. The sound was coming from the ceiling, and I realized that the things in each room I thought were vent covers for cold air returns were, in fact a P.A. system that was currently emitting a sound very similar to the warning alarm in the hatch in “Lost”, right before the blast doors come down and the electromagnetic field causes the hatch to implode (if you haven’t seen the show, just imagine an insanely loud air raid siren, going at two second intervals, then all your forks flying around the room). It wasn’t a bell, like regular, human, fire alarms, and I was terrified. I looked out into the hallway, and a young guy was standing outside his unit. “Can you hear that in your apartment?!” I screamed at him over the din.

“Yeah,” he yelled back. “It’s in all the units and the hallways. It’s the building’s fire alarm!”

Fire alarm?! My building was on fire? Was I going to have to evacuate in my pajamas at 1 in the morning? I wasn’t wearing my “good” pajamas, so I would probably have to get changed first. And what would I take with me that I could carry down 27 flights of stairs?! I have some really nice paintings, a couple of lovely antique cupboards, and a big ass flat screen TV that I would hate to see all melted. As I was making a very short inventory (I don’t have a lot of personal stuff in Toronto but I AM responsible for the external hard drive that holds copies of all of Ken’s pictures of flowers, trees, clouds, fences, rabbits, frogs, and whatnot, on the theory that if our house ever burned down, they would be safe with me. Well guess what, Ken? Maybe not so much, since I never gave the hard drive a single thought until just this moment, so it would have been literally up in smoke), suddenly a voice spoke through my vents, like the voice of God. An elderly, Jamaican god. It said this: “Attention, resydents. Dere is a problem wit the fi-ah alarm seestem in Buildin’ 21. Please stand by for furder information.” (I’m not so great at writing out Jamaican, so bear with me.)

Building 21?! WTF—I live in Building 25, so why am I being terrorized? Turns out the alarm system for my building is connected with theirs. Thanks a hell of a lot, Building 21, for your stupid electrical issues. 10 minutes later—yes, another 10 minutes of a screeching klaxon filling my ears and condo, the voice came on again: “Attention, resydents. Dee fi-ah department has been called and is on its way.” This was repeated twice, just in case we missed it. I hoped for a second that the alarm might be shut off at this point but no such luck. I could hear sirens getting closer and then could see flashing lights reflected in the glass of the building next door. Another 10 minutes went by; I tried going into the bathroom and shutting the door, hiding in the walk-in closet, and finally resorted to putting on the TV as loud as it would go, but I couldn’t drown out the sound. Finally, the voice came on again: “Attention resydents. Dee fi-ah department has given the All-Clear. Go back to your regular activeeties.” My regular activities? What the hell did he THINK we were all doing at 1:30 in the morning? He should have just said, “Go back to bed, mon.” Which I did, for about 20 minutes, when the f*cking alarm went off again. This time it was only for about 20 seconds, but it was just enough to scare the crap out of me again. I finally got back to sleep, and guess what happened? Yeah, at 5 o’clock in the morning, for a full 5 minutes this time. Then silence. Blissful silence.

Thursday: I have a dishwasher in my unit which has never worked. Ken and I tried it once, but all it did was fill up with water, then nothing. The water just sat there in the bottom until we bailed it out. I should have taken care of it sooner, but I kept getting sidetracked. Then I had to notify my property management company about the door sticking, so I figured I’d throw the dishwasher in there too. On Wednesday afternoon, I got a call that “Tech 2000” would be coming by on Thursday to fix the dishwasher and I needed to leave a key with my concierge. I initially envisioned a kind of cyborg-ish repair person, like the Terminator or something, but it turns out that Tech 2000 is just the name of the company, not a guy whose arms morph into giant screwdrivers. When I came home from work, I asked the concierge if the repair person had picked up the key. She said “No”, then handed me the key envelope, which had clearly been ripped open. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Because it looks like someone has taken the key out of this envelope.” She just shrugged and maintained that she hadn’t seen him. I didn’t know what to expect when I went in, but here’s what I got. The dishwasher was partly open. The bathroom door was shut. Let me just clarify that when I left that morning, the opposite was true—that is, the dishwasher door was shut, and the bathroom door was open. Was there someone IN the bathroom? Was it the crazy blonde ghost, using my manicure kit? I was getting a little panicky again, so I did what anyone would do under similar circumstances. I called Kate (because Ken was still at work):

Me: Hi, it’s me.
K: Hey.
Me: So I came home and my bathroom door is shut. It was open when I left.
K: Is there someone in it?
Me: I don’t know. I need you to talk to me while I open it.
K: OK.
Me: Do you think I should knock first?
K: What? I don’t know.
Me: OK, I knocked and there was no answer. I’m going to open the door….all right, there’s no one in the bathroom. Just wait until I search the rest of the rooms.
K: OK.
Me: Are you playing Counterstrike right now?
K: Yes.
Me: Thanks for the help. I think I’m good now.
K: OK.

I still have no idea if the dishwasher got fixed or not. So between, fire alarms, fingernails, doors that won’t open and doors that are weirdly closed, it was one hell of a week. In the latest episode of “Lost”, the gang gets chased by a polar bear, so I guess I have something to look forward to.

My Week 49: The Canada/US Wall, Titus Tells Us His Real Name

Monday: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

I get all my news from Facebook, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Mostly it’s stuff from Buzzfeed or The Poke, so yes, pictures of kittens and fun quizzes, but every once in a while, one of my friends posts an actual news article that gets me thinking. On Monday morning, someone posted a link to an article about this dude who is running for the Republican candidate-ship thing down in the States, which I guess is like being the leader of a party here in Canada. And unfortunately, when I say “a party”, I don’t mean like an excellent party where you play drinking games, eat pizza, and may or may not end up losing your shoes. I mean a political party. The same type of things might actually happen in a political party, but the booze AND the shoes are WAY more expensive. And the pizza has truffles and sh*t on it. Anyway, this guy is the governor of Wisconsin, which I imagine is like being the premier of Manitoba or something, and he’s apparently trying to earn street cred with his followers by suggesting that he will build a wall between the U.S. and Canada. I don’t know a lot about American politics aside from what I see on late night talk shows, but I know that he’s in direct competition with another guy named Donald Trump. By the way, I should tell you right now that the word “trump” to me will always mean “bowel movement” thanks to my English mother (“Do you need to trump, honey?” “Oh my god, Mom, we’re in a public bathroom!”). And from what I’ve seen of Donald’s campaign, “Trump” is just about right on. But it seems to me that the Republican campaign so far is just a “one-upping’ of stupidity. First, Trump (heehee—I will never NOT laugh at that) proposed that there should be a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which he said the Mexicans should build and pay for. It’s a cunning plan, I have to admit, but I don’t think the Mexicans are that stupid. They spend a lot of time trying to sneak into the States—don’t you think if you let them BUILD the wall, they won’t also include hidden tunnels and access points that they DON’T tell the Americans about? If the whole point is to keep the Mexicans out, how will that help? (Sidenote: why does Donald Trump want to keep the Mexicans out so badly? Every time Mexicans in the States are referenced, it’s almost always as illegal WORKERS. Not illegal hobos and panhandlers. Some people say that Mexicans are taking work away from REAL Americans, but I don’t see real Americans lining up to be maids for rich people, or clamouring for jobs as itinerant farm workers.) Also, Donald Trump wanted to call this brilliant idea “The Great Wall of Trump”, which is both hilarious and disgusting all at the same time, considering what I was taught about the meaning of that word. As a side note, I should tell you right now that my complete experience with Mexicans is with Mexican Mennonites, who settled up here in Ontario, look like Abercrombie and Fitch models, make amazing food at their restaurants, and are generally hardworking, nice people. Which I also believe that regular Mexicans probably are, too. So isn’t all this wall-building just bizarre fear-mongering? What I think is happening ultimately is that the Republicans are in a battle for the “Most Outrageous Idea” crown. Which brings me back to the wall between Canada and the U.S. I’ll tell you right now that if Scott Walker wants a wall between us and him, I don’t have any real objection, as long as the Republicans build it themselves—Canadians are NOT stupid people either, despite the fact that Stephen Harper has been our Prime Minister for a gazillion years. But in our defence, he has really nice sweater vests, and when you live in a cold climate, that can be very enticing. At any rate, if there is a wall, I think WE would actually benefit more that the Americans. No more drugs and guns crossing our border is the first thing I can think of. But how are WE a threat to THEM? I can only imagine that conversation:

Scott: We should totally build a 4 million mile wall between us and Canada!!
Advisors: The border is only five thousand miles, not 4 million. But why would we want to do that? They’re our biggest trading partner…
Scott: They’re all f*cking terrorists, that’s why.
Advisors: Um, what?
Scott: Plus, it would stop all those so-called “Snow Birds” from coming down here with their BLOOD MONEY.
Advisors: You mean the retired Canadians who live part of the year in Florida, contribute to the economy, but go back to Canada if they need health care because our health care system sucks balls?
Scott: Those mother*ckers!
Advisors: Sigh.

Of course, when our own Canadian defence minister was asked about this, he did the typically polite Canadian thing and simply said that he would want to “protect the largest bilateral trading relationship in economic history,” and would “vigourously oppose any thickening of the border”. I assume by “thickening of the border”, he meant “put up a crazy-ass wall”, but he was just too nice to say it like that. Personally, I have no problem with having a wall between Canada and the U.S. if it will keep OUT people like Scott Walker and Donald Trump. And Kanye West, American rapper and ego extraordinaire who has also announced that he will be also be running for President. I’ve been trying to imagine what Kanye would do to win the “Most Outrageous Idea” crown.

Kanye: If I’m elected, I will take over Canada and make my wife Kim the new queen. Queen Kim the First of Canada.
Advisors: But Canada already has a queen. Her name is Elizabeth the Second.
Kanye: Can she balance a martini glass on her ass? Because Kim the First can.
Advisors: That’s not really the criteria for becoming a monarch…
Kanye: But I’m already King of the World. Why can’t my wife be Queen of Canada? Also, I’m going to change the national anthem of Canada from whatever the f*ck it is now to “Golddigger”. How you like me now, Canada?! (drops mike)
Advisors: Sigh.

Wednesday: Titus tells us his real name

Titus is a very active dog. Ken takes him for a walk every morning and every night before bed, and he still has enough energy to run around like a madman for the rest of the day (Titus, not Ken). He LOVES going for a walk—every time he sees the leash, it’s like the first time he has EVER seen the leash, and his enthusiasm is a little overwhelming, which makes him notoriously hard to control on a walk—he weighs almost as much as me, and he can very easily pull my arm out of its socket if he sees a squirrel—he’s like a 100 pound cannon ball, ricocheting off hydro poles, bushes, and interesting patches of lawn, sniffing away madly. Apparently this is one way dogs communicate—by smelling each other’s urine and deciphering the olfactory code it contains. I don’t know what kind of messages dogs send with their pee, but it MUST be more exciting than “I had asparagus for dinner” or “Someone forced me to eat beets yesterday”, which is pretty much all that humans learn from THEIR toilets. The other way dogs communicate is by barking hysterically at each other—I can always tell which route Ken and Titus have taken by which other dog in town is having a sh*t fit. Who knows what they’re telling each other. Maybe they’re gossiping—is it possible for dogs to be catty? Lately though, Ken and I have started to take a walk after dinner in an effort to exercise in the most relaxing and least strenuous way possible. At first, we were taking Titus with us, but there is NOTHING relaxing about having an insane canine tripping you continually in an effort to smell every part of the sidewalk. I finally put my foot down and said to Ken, “He already gets two full walks a day. He doesn’t have to come with us.” Ken readily agreed, and we started going out without Titus. We had to be careful because he not only does he know the word “walk”, he can also spell it. So we would say to each other, “Are you ready to go…for a stroll?” and we thought we had him fooled. But on Wednesday we came home and he was really perturbed.

Titus: Where were you?
Me: Just out back.
Titus: No you weren’t. I looked out all the windows, and I couldn’t see you anywhere.
Me: God, did you get slobber on all the windows AGAIN?
Titus: I may or may not have. I was worried about you.
Ken: We just went to the store. No biggie.
Titus: The store?!! Did you go by that house on the corner? Did you see Frank?
Ken: Frank? Who’s Frank?
Titus: He lives there? He’s a boxer? Who do you THINK I’m talking about?
Ken: I thought his name was Corky…
Titus: That’s just what the humans call him. So did you see him or not?
Ken: Well, yes, we saw “Frank”.
Titus: Oh my god! Did he say anything?
Me: Like did he bark at us? No…
Titus (disappointed): He didn’t tell you to say “Hey” to me or ANYTHING?
Me: Well, he might have given a little “wuff” under his breath…
Titus (brightly): Oh boy! This is the BEST DAY EVER!!
Me: Stop spinning in circles. You say that about literally everything. Like, remember yesterday when I got that tennis ball out from under the bookcase for you? That was also “the best day ever”. So what’s the big deal anyway?
Titus: Frank is just the coolest, that’s what. We have SO much in common—he likes Milk Bones and I like Milk Bones, he hates that yappy, blonde shih tzu and I hate that yappy, blonde shih tzu —when I told him that I got thrown in the slammer the other day, he was all like, “You do the crime, you do the time, man”, and he let me sniff his butt through the fence. It was awesome!
Me: You weren’t in jail. It was the pound. And your only crime was being dumb enough to get through a hole in the fence then FORGET how to get back in.
Titus: Whatever. Frank’s the best. Take me with you next time? Please?
Ken: We’ll see. So do all dogs have names that are different from what people call them?
Titus: Of course. You can call us what you want, but we all have our own names for everything. That’s why so many dogs don’t come when you call them.
Me: So what’s your actual name then?
Titus: Dwayne.
Me: Sigh.