Sunday, June 29, 2008

All about numbers

quan-ti-fy: (verb - used with object) to give quantity to (something regarded as having only quality).

Why are we so afraid of numbers?

Age. Weight. Income. Debt. Savings. We really don't talk about them.

When I say "we", I don't mean society on a larger global scale. After all, we know lots of numbers at that level: deaths in Afghanistan, murders in Toronto, flood victims in Myanmar, fetuses in Angelina Jolie. The "we" I mean is more the personal, friend-level "we". And we don't talk about numbers.

However, I have had many political debates with my Conservative friends; I've discussed religion on a personal level with many people; I've discussed my sex life over a few pints. Name anything that might seem personal and chances are, we've talked about it: family history, personal insecurities, inappropriate crushes, gossip about friends.

But do you know how much money your friends make? How about their weight? Or how much they contribute to their RRSP?

Is this a woman thing? Something that springs from our desire to not reveal our weight and has spilled over to the other numbers in our lives? Do guys talk frankly about salary and personal debt?

Or is it because it's easier to judge someone based on those numbers? Your job title could be "project manager", but that is so very ambiguous. Or you have a boyfriend, so therefore you must be having sex, like, eleven thousand times a week - or at least more than your single friends. You voted in the last election, therefore you take an active role in politics.

Maybe, maybe not.

But if I know how much you have in the bank and how much you owe on your credit card and how much you make in a year and how much you weigh and how old you are, I have something tangible, something quantified, to judge you on. And I probably will judge you, for better or for worse (for both you and me).

Perhaps that's why we're so afraid. Because one can pass a more accurate judgment on someone based on their financial and personal numbers and we don't want to make ourselves that vulnerable to anyone else.

Regardless of the rationale, I'm not about to break with tradition. My number stay just that - mine.

(For a notable exception to my thinking, check this out.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

a-larm: (noun) an automatic device that serves to call attention, to rouse from sleep, or to warn of fire, smoke, an intruder, etc.

Car alarms are among the stupidest thing ever. EVER. I honestly don't get it sometimes. I could hear one going off when I got home and it proceeded to squawk for about two minutes before anything was done about it. In two minutes, even a crappy car thief would have your Civic hot-wired and away.

In the fall, while walking down Queen St., a car alarm went off and the stupid driver was frantically flipping through the owner's manual trying to figure out how to turn it off. She finally figured it out...only to have the alarm start up again. My favourite part though was when she went back to the manual, apparently forgetting how to turn off her car alarm in the seven seconds that had elapsed since she had previously turned it off. Sigh.

My other favourite thing about car alarms was when I was in residence at York and, on pub nights, all these cars would be parked outside my residence (and, as it were, my window), while the owners partied it up at the nearby pub. Of course, car alarms would start going off but the owners certainly couldn't hear them, since they were dancing the pub night away. But I could hear them loud and clear (yes, there were pub nights I stayed in). Made me wish the cars would be stolen, just to show them.

I just don't get it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

At the end of the day...

cli-che: (noun) a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

I hate cliches.
I mean, really really REALLY hate them. Not enough to completely stop using them, mind you, but when I do use them I try to be as tongue-in-cheek about it as possible, even if I'm the only one who realizes my tongue-in-cheekness.

That said, I have come to a sad realization: the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is related to a certain aspect of my life into which I will not delve any further at this time but which is apparently incredibly cliched. It is also sickly ironic that in the encyclopaedic excerpt for "cliche", there is a reference to the printing industry. I rest my case.

Note I: any time I hear someone utter the horrific phrase "At the end of the day", I become so enraged and want to inflict such great bodily harm on that person, I think my pupils might actually dilate as I begin to grow and turn green.

Note II: could someone tell me how to make the accent appear over the "e" in "cliche"? I don't know how to do it and it's rather irksome.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's all in my head

sub-lim-i-nal: (adjective) existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness; being or employing stimuli insufficiently intense to produce a discrete sensation but often being or designed to be intense enough to influence the mental processes or the behavior of the individual.

I'm sure, by now, that everyone knows about The Secret. I have toyed with the idea of buying the book and almost did yesterday, but put it back mainly because I've got some other things I should be spending my money on. That's not to say I won't get it at a later date, though. (And the funny thing about this is that I can be very pessimistic towards self-help books.)

But whether or not I actually buy the book, the idea behind it is a pretty simple one and one that I can implement on my own - thinking positively. It's easy to get down on yourself when things are kinda crappy and, with me, it's pretty easy for one simple thing to affect all areas of my life and really drag me down. And since there is one area that I'm not only not happy with but at present unable to easily change, I've been pretty miserable lately and I'd rather not be that way. So book or no book, I've just got to make the effort to think positively. Whether or not this will actually make things happen for me, I don't know, but at least if I think happy I will be happy. Or happier at least. And that's better than where I am now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

NHL - National "Hokey" League

fal-la-cy: (noun) a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc.

How to Increase Media Awareness of NHL Hockey in the United States - A Simple Five-Step Plan

1. When an uber-rich Canadian such a Jim Balsillie offers to buy a flagging team (i.e. the Nashville Predators) DO NOT sell to him. Instead, sell to William "Boots" Del Biaggio for significantly less money.
2. Watch while Mr. Del Biaggio is sued for forging loan documents and lying about assets in order to secure the funds necessary to buy the aforementioned NHL team.
3. Watch while Mr. Del Biaggio declares personal bankruptcy.
4. Ensure Mr. Balsillie is once again refused ownership in aforementioned NHL team when Mr. Del Biaggio attempts to sell his shares to that uber-rich Canadian.
5. Watch while the FBI subpoenas government records of Mr. Del Biaggio's to further their investigation.

Way to bring NHL into the US media. Gary Bettman, you deserve a round of applause. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's in a blog?

blog: (noun) a weblog; an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page.

Sometimes random-seeming thoughts strike me at random-seeming times. Like today: as I was leaving the gym, I suddenly started thinking about blogging and bloggers and blog readers and the voyeuristic nature of it all and why people start blogs in the first place and why people read those blogs (particularly the ones I find rather mundane but seem to have a huge following). Since I am a blogger and blog-reader, thinking this may not be that random but my usual post-gym ponderings tend to lean towards the "I'm hungry" way of thinking.

All these thoughts of course led to the obvious first question: why do I blog? The simple answer: I like to write and keeping a blog makes me feel like I should be more diligent about my writing. I also find it kind of fun. And there's a part of me that wonders if there's someone reading this who I don't know, who is in some far corner of the world and is actually enjoying my ramblings. I think that is really why I blog; this far-fetched idea that somewhere out there I have one rabid fan who just can't get enough of me.

The next logical question would, of course, be: do I read blogs? And I do. Mainly blogs of friends, but there are a couple others I read. (I keep meaning to post a list on my main blog page, but haven't yet. Bad blogger!)

I guess the reasons for blogging are simple enough: to share opinions, to be accountable, to keep friends up-to-date, to be provocative (particularly if one is a passive person in general), to kick-start a writing career, to channel their inner Carrie Bradshaw, to carry on journal-writing tendencies in another medium. And many, many more I'm sure.

So maybe this whole pontificating on blogs isn't as big a thing as I initially thought. Perhaps blogging is so overdone now that it's irrelevant. Perhaps we're just a society of voyeurs. Perhaps I'm overthinking a very simple thing. I tend to do that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


un-hap-py: (adjective) sad; miserable; wretched. Unfortunate; unlucky.

I haven't really felt much like blogging lately and I'm forcing myself to write this post. The main reason: I've been rather miserable lately and I don't want that to spill over into here.

My first attempt at blogging was via MySpace - an account/page/whatever that I haven't visited in over a year and don't even know if it still exists - and there were quite a few posts there that were me bitching about this, that and the other thing. I think in my grumblings I was trying to be funny in that sarcastic-yet-witty way and I don't really know how well I succeeded but that is beside the point. The main thing was that I was complaining, whining, bitching, grumbling, etc., about far too much and I didn't want this blog to start being like that.

I will admit there have been a few posts where I have been grumbly but I try to keep those to a minimum. And if I'm writing about something I have a negative opinion about that is not just regarding my personal life, well, that's different.

What I'm having lots of trouble spitting out is that I don't want to bitch here. I've been doing it far too much to the people around me and to my mom, my roommate and my boytoy, I apologize. They have been on the receiving end of my misery and it's not fair to them. But it's almost inevitable because when we talk, stuff in my life comes up and when that stuff is making me unhappy, I end up discussing that misery and complaining their ears off.

Simple thing is this: there is one main aspect of my life that is not pleasing to me and, while I am endeavoring to change it, it's taking a bit of time and I have no real choice but to suck it up and deal with it until I can change it. And I'm trying - I REALLY AM - to be happier, to not let this get me down, to be positive and optimistic, to think happy thoughts, to picture myself being in a better position...but those who know me well know this is not my standard frame of mind. Alas.

I know I will get happier again. I know I made a mistake and I'm trying to fix it. I know what I need to do and I'm trying to do that. In all of this, I am also trying not to complain here.

Did I succeed? I think I just might have.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Simple Simon met a pie man

sim-ple: (noun) easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.

Today I was thinking about an old skit I saw on Polka Dot Door. It involved the two hosts and all four of the stuffed animals. In it, they were getting sandwiches from a sandwich vendor and there were a variety of sandwiches, but all had a peanut butter base. Just peanut butter was called Simple Simon. Other varieties had better names, such as peanut butter with tomatoes being called the Red Baron. (It was a kid's show which therefore requires a fair amount of imagination and acceptance that one would desire a peanut-butter-and-tomato sandwich.)

I can't remember any other varieties, but that's not important. What happened in the skit is each animal would pick a "fancy" sandwich but, in the end, opt for the Simple Simon. This made me think of a couple things.

One - you would never see any children's show use peanut butter as a focus point for anything, except if Dora the Explorer were to find it in a spider hole with Osama bin Laden and Jimmy Hoffa.

Two - I always go with the Simple Simon choice. Well, maybe not always, but it seems that when options are presented, when decisions need to be made, when there's a chance to branch out and actually do something a bit new or scary or even uncomfortable, I stick with the Simple Simon option. In fact, I think most people do this. I think we like to think of ourselves as a generation of risk-takers, of movers and shakers, of doers and getters. And we may well be that but I also think we will try to achieve all this via the Simple Simon route.

I have dreamed of selling everything I own and packing up and moving to PEI and getting a job at some bed-and-breakfast and living a calm, quiet, simple, soothing life by the ocean. I've fantasized about this more than once. But I haven't done it and I won't do it. Because it's a little too Red Baron.

And I know very few people who have actually done things that were a bit out of the ordinary or a little scary or even a bit uncertain. Is it because we don't want to? Or is it because we really can't be bothered, because we get by (and maybe even get ahead a bit) by doing it Simple Simon. Now being Red Baron-ish doesn't mean moving to some far corner of the world. It could mean leaving a job you're not happy with to do something you love but that isn't as lucrative or secure. It could mean taking a risk with the person you're dating because you just have to know what might happen. It could mean buying that condo even if you're not sure you can afford it in six months.

I do know people who have chosen the Red Baron route and I am not ashamed to say I am both proud and jealous of them. One day, I just might try it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Not overly palatable

pal-let: (noun) a bed or mattress of straw.
pal-ette: (noun) a thin and usually oval or oblong board or tablet with a thumb hole at one end, used by painters for holding and mixing colors.
pal-ate: (noun) the sense of taste: a dinner to delight the palate.

Yes, homonyms can be tricky, but when you're naming your business, don't you think you should check out ALL definitions? Case in point: Please Your Pallet Catering.

Proofread much?

Bonus points to those who spot the abundance of spelling mistakes.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

And another thing

view-point: (noun) an attitude of mind, or the circumstances of an individual that conduce to such an attitude

This guy may have been a U of T student (and not York) and his actions may have happened 40 years ago, but I really feel like following his lead with my degree.


hyp-o-crite: (noun) a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

This pisses me off. I mean, really pisses me off. "York U to ban funding for anti-abortion groups" - what the hell is that? I went to York for three years and even dated a (rather crazy and slightly unstable) poli-sci student so I was very aware of the political nature of York, of the ideas behind freedom of speech and the rights of students to not just publicize their views but protest them and shove them down the throats of anyone within shouting distance. And even when I felt it was over-the-top, even when I really didn't agree, even when I felt it had gone too far and there was no point to be made, it was still their right. The ability to be able to speak your mind and share your opinions and not be afraid of being shut down is a great thing and freedom of speech is an absolute necessity. Even when you don't agree.

So they go and shut down anti-abortion groups?! Holy bloody hypocrites!!! Honestly. Honestly. I will go on record right now and say I am pro-life (and don't dare call me anti-choice because, to me, the antithesis of that is anti-life; would you like me to call you anti-life?) but I completely respect it when people have a differing viewpoint and are pro-choice. But for York, a school that puts on airs of being so open and free and accepting, will go so far as to do this?!?! I am honestly ashamed to be an alumna now. This is just terrible. Because I will bet you any money that the pro-abortion groups will still be funded. So much for freedom of speech. So much for freedom of expression. So much for anyone who dares to have a viewpoint that is not so radical, so out-there, so protest-until-we're-arrested.

Religious or otherwise, pro-life and pro-choice groups have the right to exist. Just because not everyone will agree with you doesn't mean you can't share your ideas. I mean, what would happen if we didn't share ideas or think differently? What would happen if we weren't able to freely express ourselves? What would happen if one viewpoint was forced upon us by the institutions (ahem, York) that profess to be places of openness and diversity?

I know exactly where we'd be: 2 + 2 = 5.