Tested To My Limits

So last week, I had the MRI I was telling you about, and unfortunately, I didn’t sprout forklift arms. Not even fork hands, which would also have been cool, although somewhat of a step down. But I quickly got over it because this week, I had to have a CAT scan on my head to try and figure out why I haven’t been able to breathe out of my left nostril for a very long time. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do anything special for it, except for show up at the hospital early yesterday morning.

I was sitting in the waiting room when the radiologist came to get me. He called my name and introduced himself and my blood ran cold. “Yello,” he said. “My name is Sergei. I vill be doing your CAT scan. Come vis me.” Yes, he was Russian. Now, I have absolutely nothing against Russians, but several years ago, I almost caused an international incident with our Soviet comrades when I said the following as part of a post about giving up some of my organs to science:

“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 more mobility, 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.”

Then a few days later, I was looking at my site statistics and realized that someone from Russia was reading my blog. So I did what any rational person would do under similar circumstances: I freaked out and called Ken:

Me: I think I’ve just caused an international incident.
Ken: What are you talking about?
Me: Remember last week when I was dissing the Russians for losing a lot of wars? Well, someone from Russia is reading my blog. What if it’s the KGB? What if they want my head?!
Ken: HAHAHAHA
Me: It’s not funny. If I go out for groceries and never come back, you’ll know why.
Ken: I’m sure no one is coming all the way from Russia to kidnap you and steal your head just because you said they were bad at war.
Me: YOU DON’T KNOW THAT, KEN!

So I spent several months afterwards worrying constantly about being reprimanded by Justin Trudeau for violating some kind of peace treaty, as one does, or having my head affixed atop a figure skater. I finally stopped thinking about it and assumed the Russians had forgiven me. But just when I thought that I had nicely dodged not only an international incident AND potential decapitation, I found myself at the mercy of Sergei, as he directed me to lie down on the bed and commanded “Tip your chin up, pliz.” I was just on the verge of yelling out, “No one is going to want my head—my mind is like a cross between a Monty Python sketch and a jukebox that never stops playing! It will make whoever you donate it to go crazy! Also, I said ALMOST all the wars–I’m sure you’ve won a couple, but history is not my strong suit!”—when I heard Sergei’s voice in the speaker above my head: “You’re all finished,” he said. “Have a nice day.”

“Spasibo,” I answered, just to be on the safe side.

I’m including the picture below because I know a lot of people have been feeling down lately, and after I took it, I said, “This looks like a beacon of hope.” Of course, that could just be me all tired and sentimental after a week of medical testing, but you have to admit, it’s peaceful and pretty.

The Art Of The Deal

It’s been yet another one of those weeks where the days seem to blur into each other, and where the highlight was receiving a conference call before 7:30 in the morning from a colleague who had butt-dialled the entire team. Cue several confused voices all worried that something major was going on, but all we could hear in the background was the sound of someone getting ready for work. Because I’m me, I posted a gif in the team chat a while later that said, “When you pocket-dial the entire team…” with a picture of Hugh Laurie from House going, “Oops” (I didn’t say butt-dial in the team chat because I’m a professional, dammit). Later, I noticed that everyone but the culprit had reacted to the gif, so I got suspicious and messaged him:

Me: Did you like the gif I posted?
Colleague: Yes, lol.
Me: You know why I posted it, right?
Colleague: No, why?

At that point, I may or may not have led him to believe that it was a video call, and he was momentarily horrified:

Colleague: What was on screen?!
Me: Well…
Colleague: Seriously? Omg???

I finally put him out of his misery and assured him that it was audio only. I can’t be too judgmental though—I’m the one who answers video calls by putting the phone to my ear, which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate.

At any rate, this week I was looking for cheap jigsaw puzzles and happened to be on Facebook Marketplace. Some of the ads are quite interesting as I’ve discussed before and, based on what I’ve seen, it occurs to me that I could make a fortune at helping people market their crap on there. So here are my four tips to making a great sale:

1) Truth in advertising

If you’re trying to sell something, it’s important that you’re honest with your customers and this advertisement is demonstrably inaccurate. There is no old ass in this painting anywhere—no elderly politician, no giant donkey, no wrinkled butt to be seen. The only ass in the picture belongs to the boar and it looks remarkably youthful. I was expecting something completely different based on the description, as you can well imagine. Also, it’s become de rigeur to set a price of $123 if you have no clue how much something is worth, yet below it says, “Sold at auction for €3000 euros which is like $4600 Canadian”. So the painting is already sold? Is this just someone bragging? Instead of sending the polite auto-message that says “Good afternoon, is this still available?”, I really wanted to send, “WTF is this?” But then I checked the profile picture of the seller, which featured a young couple who looked as though they imbibed frequently on certain mind-altering substances, and suddenly the whole thing made sense in a drug-fuelled fantasy kind of way. Still, the truth is important and this old ass painting has yet to sell.

2) Clarity

While this ad is accurate—there ‘is’ indeed two of them—the question remains: Two of WHAT? And the question remains unanswered in the description below, which simply reiterates, “There is two of them”. Did the person who posted this ad really think the picture speaks for itself? Because the only thing it’s saying to me is “There is two of them.” After that, I’m at a loss. Clarity—because none of us are f*cking mind readers.

3) Don’t get too fancy

I’ve never been to Antigue Dispaly, which I assume is one of the minor islands off the coast of Antigua. And I also don’t know how many styles of cabinets they make there, but I’m assuming at least 16 based on this ad. But is all of that really necessary? Do you really need to dazzle potential customers with your exotic Antigue wood? IT’S A CABINET. No one cares where it comes from, Bob. If it was that rare, you’d be asking a hell of a lot more than $175 so take it down a notch.

4) Be willing to compromise

This ad is a perfect example of someone who truly understands marketing. First, it’s completely accurate and honest. The ad description says “Sold” and it’s a picture of the word “Sold”. Second, it’s very clearly written and easily understandable—nothing convoluted here. Third, it’s not fancy—there’s no swirly font, and it just screams simplicity the way it’s on a piece of lined paper and whatnot. Finally, Debbra knows that her audience appreciates a good buy and has dropped the rather hefty asking price by 50% for a quick sale. This is what it’s all about, people.

I hope you appreciate my sound marketing advice, and with that in mind, I leave you to guess what this ad featuring Sir Turdalot is for (hint—he’s not for sale).

Jumping The Shark

OK, so this week has been pretty busy, I’m exhausted, and around midnight last night, I had still had nothing in mind to write about. Then, just as I was drifting off to sleep, a voice in my head said, “Sharks are so cool.” I woke Ken up and said, “In the morning, remind me that I need to write about sharks.” He was like, “Sharks. Right.” But then I wrote it down myself because I knew he wouldn’t remember; in fact, I just asked him a minute ago to remind me what I told him last night and he said, “Glass. You were going to write about glass.” Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as obsessed with glass as I am with sharks. And I know that sounds weird, living nowhere near an ocean as I do, but I’ve had a thing for sharks ever since I was little and we were in England, where we watched some fishermen inspect their haul and throw all the dogfish back in the water.

“What are those?” I asked. “They’re so CUTE!”

“They’re dogfish,” my mother said. “They’re like tiny sharks.”

And I was like, if this is how adorable a TINY shark is, imagine how majorly awesome a HUGE shark would be!! So this week, in honour of sharks, here are my top 5 Shark Moments, in chronological order:

1) When I was around 9, my grandmother offered to take me to the movies in another city, which involved a very long bus trip. This was in the days when the cinemas were on Main Street instead of in a strip mall or a ‘cineplex’. When we got there, there were two movie theatres on the same block. One was playing “Blazing Saddles”, the G rated comedy she was SUPPOSED to take me to see. The other theatre was playing “Jaws”. I begged her instead to take me to see “Jaws”, although I didn’t have to try to hard—my gran was one of those ‘laissez-faire’ English people, and her response was “Whatevs. Don’t tell yer mam.” If you’ve ever seen “Jaws”, you’ll know that by the end of the first minute, I was absolutely terrified. But after a little while, the terror turned into fascination, and by the end of the movie, I was kind of cheering for the shark, especially after that woman slapped Sheriff Brody, and I was like, “It’s not his fault—maybe you shouldn’t have let your kid swim in shark-infested waters—it’s not like he didn’t TRY to warn you. And don’t be blaming the shark either—he’s just doing what sharks DO.” By the time the movie finished, when the shark makes its first real appearance, I was in love. Later that week, I saw in the TV guide that there was a movie on about a shark, and I begged my mom to stay up late and watch it. She was confused but reluctantly agreed. Then the movie started:

Me: When will we see the shark?
Mom: What shark?
Me: The movie is about a lone shark. Like Jaws.
Mom: (laughing) Uh no—it’s about a ‘loan shark’. That’s a man you borrow money from, and if you don’t pay him back, he breaks your legs.
Me: What?! I’m going to bed.

2) The next year, when I was 10, my brother and I were absolutely fanatical about this novelty record that had just been released called “Santa Jaws”. It was a collection of Christmas carols, all rewritten to include sharks. Our favourite was “God rest ye merry gentlemen/You’re not so merry now./The seaside signs said not to swim/But you swam anyhow.” It was brilliant. I just looked it up, and you can listen to it on Youtube (here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELZGHmrF9pA )

3) When Kate was little, I somehow transferred my love of sharks to her. When she was about 5, she had her heart set on dressing up like a shark for Hallowe’en. But try finding a shark costume anywhere—apparently the costume people think it’s OK to dress up like vampires, zombies, or culturally inappropriate Indigenous princesses, but sharks? They’re just too scary. The best I could do was find a dolphin costume, to whose mouth I stapled sharp, cardboard teeth. Kate was only 5, so she didn’t know any different, but I was like, “Aw man—that dorsal fin is all wrong. I hope the other kids don’t make fun of her.” She still got lots of candy, despite the dorsal fin debacle.

4) A few years ago, I bought myself a shark puppet. It was on sale at the local store, and I brought it home and named it Marcelle. Whenever our previous dog Titus was getting too hyper, I would put it on and speak to him in a deep, sharky voice:

Titus: There’s food! Food on the coffeetable! This is the best day ever—wheeee!!!
Marcelle: SIT DOWN.
Titus: Whuh—who are you?
Marcelle: I’m your worst nightmare. It’s time to be a good boy. Now, SIT!
Titus: (sitting) I don’t think this is ecologically accurate—
Marcelle: No food for you!

Eventually, I gave Marcelle to a colleague’s little boy. He was just too hard on Titus. I eventually replaced Marcelle with a small stuffed shark that I named Brian. Then we got Atlas:

Atlas: Mine!
Me: No, you can’t have him.
Atlas: But I want him. I will eat him.
Me: Not if he eats you first, buddy.

So I had to put Brian on a high shelf out of Atlas’s reach, for his own good.

5) I saw Sharkwater, that documentary about sharks, and it made me cry. Then I went with my parents to Turks and Caicos, and my dad and I went snorkeling. The tour took us out to a place called Stingray Cove, where they had a lot of little stingrays that for some reason, they wanted you to hold and kiss. So we did, suddenly, the tour guide yelled, “Shark!” And I was like “Ooh, where?!”  Turns out they were small lemon sharks, who grow quite big and can be very aggressive towards stingrays. I thought it was the best thing ever, but the tour guides were all upset because they make their livelihood taking people out to kiss the stingrays, and didn’t want the sharks to hurt them.

So there I was, standing waist-deep in water with my underwater camera, trying to get a picture of a shark, with these local guys all yelling at me to ‘Get out of the water!’ and ‘Stop encouraging the sharks!’  and ‘You’re going to get bit, crazy Canadian lady!’ I DID get a blurry picture of one of them before it suddenly occurred to me that, despite my tremendous sympathy for them, a shark might not know the difference between my leg and a stingray. And they already have a bad enough reputation without the headline “Ungrateful shark eats Canadian shark ally.”

Anyway, there you have it. Sharks. Because glass is dumb.