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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nate's secret admirer

Megan: so it appears that you have a secret admirer
Nathan: hmmmm
Megan: I laughed until my belly hurt last night.
Nathan: its steve
Megan: what?
Megan: Ben and I took over Steve's account last night and sent an e-mail to Sexy Nate and signed it with your name.
Megan: Steve says Sexy Nate didn't write us back.
Nathan: he wrote ME
Megan: no, we wrote to the sexy nate account.
Nathan: & he wrote me
Megan: sexy nate?
Nathan: ya....dont kno who it couyld be
Nathan: ok....FREAK ME OUT....meg go to the site the guy left on my blog
Megan: what site?
Nathan: on the MP3 comment #4
Megan: ben and i saw that last night.
Megan: we laughed for about two hours.
Nathan: who would know where to find a video like that? tell steve if its him he's getting toooooo into it!!
Megan: that's what showed up after we sent the e-mail from steve's account.
Nathan: ya
Megan: wait are you saying this is not all from you?
Megan: Ben and I were convinced this was all from you
Nathan: ???
Megan: we thought that the comment, the video and the Britney link were all part of the same joke.
Nathan: i wouldnt do that
Megan: no?
Megan: are you serious?
Nathan: DUH!!!
Nathan: the video WAS my joke
Nathan: well its obviously someone I know who just set up that account cuz he says his name is Josh, but his email is sexynate
Megan: sorry, this whole thing is too funny.
Megan: I am laughing so hard I am actually crying.
Megan: wait, he told you what his name is?
Megan: ah, here's the e-mail we sent:
Megan: Dear Sexy Nathan, I have never done this before. Please send me a pic. Somehow I know that u r just as hott as u r in my dreams. Hopefully yours, Sansthespam
Megan: seriously, did you get an e-mail?
Nathan: ya
Megan: really?
Megane: what does it say?
Nathan: Hey Nathan,

Thanks for the JT PIC...I think he is sooo hawt!

I hope this is really you and not your friend 'STEVE' or 'sansthespam'
trying to mess with me... I guess that is the risk you take when you
your email on a website that lots of people can access.

I have attached a 'real' pic of me...hope you will do the same.

I really like your blog postings, you seem really intellectual. This
me happy because I'm really tired of guys who just want me for my body.

I go to school part-time and I work at the GAP. What do you do?

I'm getting ready for a New Years Eve party at my friend Randi's
house... I
will let you know how is goes.



Megan: LOL
Nathan: Its obviously a joke
Megan: what is a JT PIC?
Megan: is that like a jpg picture?
Nathan: Justin Timberlake
Megan: you sent him a picture of Justin Timberlake???
Megan: what are you doing with pictures of Justin Timberlake???
Megan: HAHAHAHAHAH he sent you a picture???

Megan: LOL
Megan: that is ben!
Nathan: is it???
Megan: well now I'm not sure.
Megan: send it to mom and ask her.
Nathan: ya, but he's drunk in the pic
Megan: let's do this as a conference
Bobbi has joined the conference.
Megan: hey
Megan: I was sure it was Ben for a while, but he swore up and down that it wasn't him.
Nathan: what did ben say wasn't him....the pic?
Bobbi: I've got to see that!
Megan: ben said the whole thing wasn't him.
Megan: let's invite ben and ask
Nathan: whens the last time u were talking to him.......i think its his buddies
Megan: we were chatting for hours last night.
Megan: we wrote the e-mail to Sexy Nate together.
Nathan: its great to see the family becoming so close after sooooo many years of isolation
Megan: Nate, did you write back to Sexy Nate?
Megan: if you let someone write BEER on your face, you gotta be pretty wasted.
Nathan: very tru!
Megan: it sure looks a LOT like Ben.
Bobbi: But he would have to know Nate for it to be a joke
Bobbi: did Ben see this picture?
Megan: no
Bobbi: Nate can you send it to him?
Nathan: ya, when he gets on i will
Ben has joined the conference.
Megan: there you are!
Ben: hello
Megan: we know it is you!
Ben: what is me now?
Megan: you are sexy nate!
Bobbi: Ben have you seen the picture
Ben: are you accusing me of impersonating sexy nate again?
Nathan: its him
Nathan: its on your email now
Ben: lol, what's this picture from?
Megan: is that you?
Nathan: its you
Ben: no, it's not - I have a much hairer chest
Megan: riiiiight
Bobbi: I think He does
Ben: I also would not wear a hat backwards to save my life
Megan: I note that you are not disputing the BEER written in permanent marker on your forehead
Ben: well....that may or may not have happened
Nathan: but you were drunk....maybe they shaved your chest
Ben: it's would have to have grown back in overnight though
Ben: so what's this from anyway?
Ben: is this a communique from sexy nate?
Megan: Sexy Nate sent it to Nate.
Megan: so we have narrowed it is either Ben or someone who knows Ben.
Megan: I think it's your roommate.
Megan: OR MATT!!!
Bobbi: I wondered about Matt
Megan: ha!
Bobbi: I'll call him
Bobbi: still think it's Steven
Megan: Steve says it's not him.
Ben: well of course he says that
Megan: that is true...
Megan: hrm.
Megan: Ben, seriously, did anyone write BEER on your face and take your picture? where did this picture come from, if it's not you?
Ben: not that I'm aware of, no
Bobbi: He'd get the biggest kick out of watching us try to figure it out
Ben: I'm quite certain it's not me, although it definitely does look a lot like me
Bobbi: Matts getting in
Matt has joined the conference.
Megan: welcome.
Megan: are you sexy nate?
Matt: ahhhhh!
Matt: Kinda scary people
Bobbi: But Matt doesn't know what is going on
Nathan: or DOES he???
Matt: heh, hardly ever. It's a policy of mine
Megan: So, Matt, if we were all trying to figure something out, what do you THINK we would be talking about?
Megan: *intense stare*
Matt: hmmm... I would say that you are mostly talking about the recent political upheval in Iraq
Megan: wrong.
Megan: guess again.
Matt: haha
Matt: ski trip in colorado?
Bobbi: He doesn't know
Matt: why would I know
Megan: matt, go look at nate's blog
Matt: brb
Megan: it might be steve, but I would have seen this picture before.
Megan: I don't think I've ever been with Ben when he was loaded
Megan: Matt, now...
Megan: Nate, now...
Megan: Dad, now...
Megan: but not Bed
Megan: ben, sorry
Matt: what on EARTH am I looking for here?
Bobbi: go to the mp3 player
Bobbi: video comments
Ben: I swear, it's not me!
Bobbi: Ben are you sure? Maybe this is a picture of last year?
Ben: lol, thanks Mom
Bobbi: hahaahahahahahah
Ben: yes I'm quite certain
Nathan: well then its steve
Megan: I dunno...nate, write back to the guy and see if you get a response
Megan: Who here has seen Ben really really drunk?
Matt: I'm not sure about REALLY
Ben: I'm pretty sure none of you have, especially if "really drunk" means "drunk enough to get his chest shaved and not only not remember it, but be so hung over he doesn't notice it for the next week"
Matt: heh
Bobbi: still hard to say. Looks alot like a drunk Ben might look!
Megan: looks like a regular door in the background.
Megan: suspiciously like Ben locked himself out of residence and passed out standing up.
Nathan: exactly
Ben: it happens to the best of us
Bobbi: Ben, are the doors painted white at the dorm?
Ben: no
Matt: so drunk and apparently naked at some random house...
Megan: sounds like ben to me!
Ben: it does look remarkably like me, I will admit
Megan: It is some sort of institution...white walls and all.
Matt: and then there is that odd tatoo on the forehead...
Nathan: its a busch in his its american
Bobbi: It sure looks like Ben. the more I look at it the more it looks like him. but who would have a picture of Ben?
Megan: either Matt or ben's roommate
Megan: I don't know who else could possibly have a picture like that
Bobbi: Ben didn't send it so who did?
Matt: not I!
Matt: well, I am supposed to be on my way to a party and now I am late!
Megan: matt, this is more fun than a party
Megan: or should I say SEXY NATE???
Matt: why are you calling ME sexy nate?
Megan: I think you are the only one with motive and opportunity.
Matt: ME? heh, I am afraid that this wasn't me
Ben: no, just a lookalike
Ben: the face is eerily similar, but there's no way I would have not noticed my chest being shaved
Matt: IS you chest shaved?
Bobbi: Maybe he was younger?
Ben: lol no, it's not shaved
Matt: looks shaved to me!
Ben: I think you're just going to have to take my word for it, I don't know of any pictures of my chest online
Megan: is this maybe a picture from when Ben was 16 or so?
Bobbi: Maybe he will respond by e-mail again. there are 2 guys writing, right? Josh and sexynate.
Megan: wait, how do you know what his name is???
Megan: MOM???
Ben: the picture is titled "Josh"
Nathan: they're the same dude
Bobbi: ya josh's made-up email is sexynate
Ben: so wait, this guy is actually emailing you now Nate?
Megan: yeah Nate sent me the e-mail.
Nathan: yes...ben & its YOU!
Megan: ben!
Ben: what?
Matt: so WHAT is this guy e-mailing you?
Ben: jeez, it's like a game of clue in here
Megan: Hey Nathan, Thanks for the JT PIC...I think he is sooo hawt! I hope this is really you and not your friend 'STEVE' or 'sansthespam' trying to mess with me... I guess that is the risk you take when you post your email on a website that lots of people can access. I have attached a 'real' pic of me...hope you will do the same. I really like your blog postings, you seem really intellectual. This makes me happy because I'm really tired of guys who just want me for my body. I go to school part-time and I work at the GAP. What do you do? I'm getting ready for a New Years Eve party at my friend Randi's house... I will let you know how is goes. TTFN, Josh
Megan: *falls over laughing*
Nathan: wait a minute....MATT is going to a new years eve party!!!!!
Megan: matt?
Matt: HA
Megan: matt goes to school part-time!!!
Ben: who's JT?
Matt: I wouldn't have posted anything so grammaticaly incorrect!
Nathan: justin timberlake
Megan: and you spell grammatically incorrectly...
Nathan: i sent a pic as me
Bobbi: Nate! You sent Josh a picture of yourself???!!?
Nathan: no of JT
Matt: way to go Nate, now we have to deal with your creepy stalker dude
Matt: and I am actually late. I need to get my newfie slush from the freezer and head to the party
Ben: all right, later matt
Matt: have fun guys!
Matt has left the conference.
Bobbi: He says he's from Edmonton
Nathan: i noticed that
Megan: yeah, that doesn't make sense to me.
Nathan: must be steve.......who else would call me nate?
Bobbi: It is Steven
Nathan: its STEVE!!! Meg's in on it
Megan: Steve says it's not him...but that is possible, I guess.
Bobbi: where would he get that picture?
Megan: see, that's the thing. I have all of the pictures. I don't have this one.
Bobbi: was Steven on the internet at that time?
Megan: no, Steve was drywalling earlier and has been with a visitor for the last 2 hours or so.
Bobbi: then it can't be him
Nathan: it IS him.
Nathan: hmmmmm y r u covering for him??
Megan: it is possible.
Bobbi: It has got to be Steven
Megan: but I just don't see where he would have gotten that photo.
Megan: Ben, seriously, do you have a Flickr account or something Steve might have found?
Bobbi: I don't think that picture is Ben
Megan: really?
Ben: nope, no Flickr account, I don't keep or get pictures, besides, it's not me anyway
Nathan: i agree its just some random dude
Megan: yeah, I'm thinking that you're thinner than that, aren't you?
Megan: wait...are you saying that my husband trolls the Internet looking for pictures of drunk naked guys???
Ben: yes.
Megan: and videos of guys flexing their muscles?
Ben: that's exactly what we're saying
Megan: nate, ask him for another picture.
Nathan: NO!!!
Megan: I think it is just some random person.
Nathan: with that much spare time on thier hands?
Megan: I'm telling you, send the guy a picture and see what you get.
Bobbi: Megan!!!!
Megan: send one of matt.
Megan: or HEY send one of Ben and say that you are obviously meant to be together!
Bobbi: ahahahahahahahah
Bobbi: that would be hilarious!
Ben: I don't think I like the way this conversation is going

Nathan: see that meg
Megan: *falls down laughing*
Nathan: its a real dude then
Bobbi: WHAT?
Megan: at least we know it's not ben.
Megan: how did you get this?
Ben: wait what is it?
Nathan: just emailed it
Ben: he send you erotic photos of himself?
Megan: not really erotic
Megan: I have pictures of Nate's stalker saved on my hard drive.
Bobbi: Hey, Wait! Isn't that Jamie in the background?
Megan: who is Jamie?
Bobbi): Bens friend
Megan: REALLY???
Nathan: AHA!!!!!
Ben: did someone send me this picture so I can verify?
Megan: sent
Bobbi: Sorry Ben, I couldn't resist!
Megan:: that is not ben in the front.
Ben: lol, no that is most definitely not james
Nathan: she just gave u up ben
Megan: nate did you get this in an e-mail?
Nathan: ya
Megan: did you write back?
Nathan: not yet
Nathan: no its ben's friend
Ben: no it's not
Megan: how do you know that?
Nathan: it HAS to be
Nathan: STEVE!!
Nathan: well tell steve the jig is up
Megan: what?
Megan: is it Steve?
Nathan: yes
Megan: that would be HILARIOUS
Nathan: well, it totally is
Megan: I dunno. He is drywalling again.
Nathan: go check his hard drive for "josh.....& the recycle bin....he'd had to saved them to change the name
Megan: I am not going through his computer!
Megan: is this based on facts or your craziness?
Bobbi: I think it's Steven, these guys look like Newfoundlanders
Megan: no way is Steve keeping erotic photos of 18-year-old drunkards
Ben: i think it's either steve or megan
Megan: not me
Ben: because megan is clearly having an absolute blast with this
Megan: I admit, I think this is hilarious
Bobbi: Could be. Why would Steve have these pictures?
Megan: ok Steve is back.
Megan: I am gonna ask him
Bobbi: Ask him!
Nathan: he'll lie of course
Megan: he says of course.
Bobbi: of course?
Megan: he is mad at me for not helping drywall
Megan: geez!
Bobbi: he admits it?
Megan: not exactly.
Nathan: he's secretly laughing
Megan: very possible.
Megan: nate, write back.
Nathan: NO
Megan: was it just a picture or did he write anything?
Nathan: Hey Nathan, Sure...if your mom wants in that's cool with me. It will have to be next week though. I'm heading to Randi's party...I've attached a PIC of me and the way we are not dating. Can't wait to see your PIC! Josh
Bobbi: So what we are left with is this guy accidentally found your site, assumed you liked that band then assumed you were gay then sent you invitations. How do I get into the conversation? When you wrote in to him did you say something about your Mother wanting to meet him?
Nathan: i told him i was sending you the pic.....thinking it might be ben
Megan: well no wonder he thinks you're a weirdo.
Ben: all right people, I've got to go
Megan: bye ben!
Nathan: layyyyyyte ben.....
Ben has left the conference.
Bobbi: well it was fun
Bobbi: I have to go get something to eat
Nathan: well, i'm stumped
Megan: ok talk to you later.
Nathan has left the conference.
Bobbi has left the conference.

On the eve of his sixth birthday

Welcome, Benjamin

Well, it's official: Everyone in my family has a blog, and all of my closest friends have blogs.

Benjamin is the latest to the party. He and I spent a few hours last night trying to figure out who Nate's new secret admirer is.

Ben is the youngest in my family and is in the middle of an engineering degree. I remember him as looking a lot like Michael does now, but that's because I moved out of the house when he was seven. Talking to him on the phone is always a bit of a shock, because I don't expect him to have a deep voice. When I call, he knows it's me, because I always start with "Um, is this Matt?".

Go and check out his blog. You all know Nate by now, but it appears that Matt has decided to start posting again. At least that's what I think his latest entry means. I can't tell. Does this mean that he is much smarter than me?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Steve's first job in I**vik

As a follow-up to what I just posted, this is where Steve worked during our stay in I**vik.

We were still very new to town when he went for the interview. Before he left the house that morning, he asked me how he should respond if he was asked what salary he wanted. We decided that he should try to get $15 an hour. This was more money than we could imagine at the time - he had been making about half this amount after several years at a similar job in Newfoundland.

He was offered the job almost on the spot, with a starting salary of $20 an hour.

People who want to work will always be able to find work.

[Updated: I was popping up on a search engine because there was a community name in this post. I've added some asterisks so I don't show up on the search engine.]

Land of Opportunity

[Updated: I was popping up on a search engine because there was a community name in this post. I've added some asterisks so I don't show up on the search engine.]

A couple of years ago, Steve told me I had to stop telling people to move to I**vik.

I couldn't help it. I would talk to people who were complaining about how they didn't have any money, or couldn't get enough hours at work, or couldn't find a job that paid more than $6 an hour. They didn't know how they would pay off their student loans.

This completely blew my mind. In I**vik, secretaries make $20 an hour, even if they haven't graduated from high school. You can get a job in less than a week, and there is no such thing as a part-time job. I knew many people with two or three jobs. One job was for paying daily expenses. The cheques from the second job went into a savings account. The third job was for "fun money".

So I started telling people that they should move to I**vik and look for work. This idea was not generally welcomed. One person asked Steve if I was having trouble making friends in the Arctic.

I still don't understand this. I know people who work part-time at minimum-wage jobs (or close to minimum-wage) and refuse to look for better work. I'm not sure if this is because they think they'll never find anything better or because they are secretly quite happy about being able to complain.

Here's something to think about: Many companies pay moving expenses for their new employees. Yes! When the MotherCorp moved me to I**vik, I didn't pay any of the costs. They put me up in a hotel and paid for all my meals while I looked for a house. When my current employer moved me out of I**vik, I didn't pay any of the costs. They put me up in a hotel and paid for all my meals while I looked for a house.

There are tons of jobs out there. You just have to apply for them, and you have to be willing to go wherever the work is.

Free beer

Made you look.

No, we're really just giving away free health care over here. Especially to people with runny noses. Got a sniffle? No problem! This is Canada! Get in line! What, you called the clinic before I did, and I've got flesh-eating disease? No problem. It's only fair that you should get the first appointment. In fact, it's only fair that you should be able to go to the doctor as often as you want, even if you're not sick. Don't worry - I'll pay the bill.

We already have a rowdy discussion in the comments box, and it has only been a couple of hours.

On a totally unrelated note, I want you to imagine that you're at a wedding. You like beer, right? How many beers are you going to buy? OK, keep that number in your head. Surprise! The groom is feeling generous. He is paying for EVERYONE'S drinks all night long. Now how many beers are you going to order?

Like I said, that has absolutely nothing to do with the Canadian health-care system.

Oh, and in case I've never mentioned it, I adore my brother. You thought I was bad. You have no idea.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It has come to this

We got excited this morning. Steve found a doctor to be his GP. An actual doctor, who is actually willing to make appointments and help him with his physical health. Most importantly, the clinic is usually able to see patients within two days.

My American readers are blinking dumbly at this. My Canadian readers are wondering who this doctor is and how they can convince her to be their GP.

It is considered un-Canadian to suggest that our health care system is not the best in the world. After all, it is free.

I'll just let you think about that for a minute.



I have a good job. I am paid well. But I never look at my pay stub, because it sickens me to think about the money the federal government takes from me. I am up over $1000 in deductions every two weeks. Some of this goes to my pension or to my dental plan, which is OK. (Note that I am paying for this myself. This will be important later on.)

Last week, just for kicks, I pulled out my pay stub. The line I was interested in was TOTAL TAXES. About 90% of this was federal tax. The total was $23,282. Wait a second, I have to go throw up.

By the end of the year, I will probably have paid $25,000 in income taxes, give or take a few dollars. This is more than I used to earn in a year. It also doesn't include the taxes I pay to the city or the taxes the Co-op collects for the government when I buy groceries.

Federal taxes pay for many things. Universities, for example. Public broadcasting. Oh, and health care. I would like to know how much I am paying for these things. Anyone know where I can get a handy pie chart? Something that would tell me that, say, 23% of taxes go to support our health-care system?

Canadians like to compare their health-care system to the one in the States. They are always convinced that their way is better. The only reason I can think of for this is that they believe that Canadian health care is free. Excuse me while I laugh. This will be a short, bitter laugh.


People who insist so loudly that the Canadian way is better are usually not people who have ever experienced health care in another country. Don't get me wrong: I am not saying that the American way is perfect. But at least, once you've paid for health care (through your insurance or out of your pocket), you actually get health care. In Canada, once you've paid for health care (through your taxes), you get to languish on a waiting list for months while your condition worsens.

In 1997, my doctor knew that I had a neurological disorder. But he didn't know which one. The worst-case scenario was that it could have been brain cancer. I needed to see a neurologist. I was lucky; I lived in a southern Canadian city with first-rate specialists. Onto the waiting list I went. They said it would probably be a six-month wait.

My parents lived across the border in a small city, and they couldn't stand waiting. My dad called the local neurologist, and I had an appointment in two days. Diagnosis: Temporal-lobe epilepsy, not cancer. Cost to my father: $200 (I'm sure the insurer paid some money too).

Canadians often tell me that they are glad they don't have to pay $35 to get their kids' ear infections treated. I suppose that this is true, if you use the word "pay" to mean bringing your chequebook to the medical clinic.

It seems that your choices are:
US: Pay for health care when you need it and get health care.
Canada: Pay for health care when you get money or spend money, and don't get health care.

I'm sure that I will get some nasty responses to this post. I beg you, don't resort to violence. I don't have a doctor, and it takes two weeks to get an appointment at my clinic.

[UPDATED: My dad's response to this post has reminded me of something that may shock my Canadian readers.

When I was growing up in the States, we hardly had any money. We were definitely what Canadians would call "poor". Actually, Canadians have no sense of what it really means to be poor, but don't get me started on that.

I had appendicitis in 1986. My appendix burst. I almost died. My parents took me to the hospital, where I had surgery to remove my appendix and the poison that had spewed into my lower abdomen. I stayed in the hospital for several days. Yes, they let me in. And I had a private room - they did not keep me on a bed in the middle of the hallway, like I've seen in several Canadian hospitals.

My mom had two of her four kids in the hospital. Yes, they let her in, too.]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dear Britney,

OK, I know that I just finished saying that I am not a fashionista, but my office has literally shut down for a week and a half and I have nothing to do but look at celebrity blogs. Well, technically that's a lie. I was supposed to clear off the roof today, but got distracted by this:

OK, Britney. I am really glad to see that you are wearing underwear again. That's an important first step. But I think you've missed the point.

Under...Wear. You wear it under things. Like your clothes. Bras go under shirts. Underpants go under pants. Man, even Ozzy Osbourne can figure this out.

That's a cute bra. Unfortunately, you are wearing it in the wrong way. You are supposed to let the shoulder strap show, and then demurely act like you didn't realize it was happening: Whoops! Tee-hee! Silly me! I was having SO MUCH FUN talking to you that I accidentally showed my bra! You are not supposed to go out in public with the back strap shoved way up out of the top of your shirt. A lady leaves some things to the imagination. Like the print on your bra. Unless you are a Victoria's Secret model, you are just supposed to give people a glimpse of it.

And while I'm on the subject, a few notes about the art of flashing your G-string: You are supposed to FLASH it, not let it all hang out. You bend over to tie your shoe, let the back of it show, and then demurely act like you didn't realize it was happening: Whoops! Tee-hee! Silly me! I was SO BUSY tying my shoe that I accidentally showed my underpants! You are not supposed to go out in public wearing a see-through lace dress.

Last but not least: Please brush your hair.

Being Russell Smith

Oh dear. Is it possible that LMK-i-A is even more persnickety than Russell Smith?

The self-appointed Canadian guru of fashion appears to be stretching his oeuvre. He is now critiquing grammar. Worse, he is willing to accept "impact" and "task" as verbs.

This could cause some rumblings. Little Miss Know-it-All is not a fashionista. She has exactly two pairs of shoes, and both are of the sensible variety. She buys pants with built-in creases because she does not trust herself to iron at all, let alone iron in a straight line. She would not be able to challenge Russell Smith in hand-to-manicured-hand combat.

Fortunately, LMK-i-A is confident in her belief that, although her V-neck tops may be a bit lower than Russell Smith would like, she is much better at critiquing grammar than he is.


I like babies just fine, thanks. But I don't want to have another one.

When I was pregnant with Michael, I was very sick. When I wasn't vomiting, there was vomit at the base of my throat. I had to change my hours of work and go on drugs. I actually injured my larynx and couldn't speak for six months. This was particularly troublesome, because I was a radio reporter. I used to be able to sing reasonably well. No more. My voice still sounds different, and I have an odd tickle in the back of my throat that never goes away no matter how much I cough.

Steve really really really really really really wants to have another baby. It is getting stressful. I just can't go through that again. One of my friends just went through a really tough pregnancy with an extreme form of nausea called hyperemesis gravidarum (about a thousand times worse than what I went through). Some days, she could barely eat or move. It was like watching her die.

Sorry, I'm not up for that. The grandparents are going to have to look to their other kids to produce the next grandchildren.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What's in my MP3 Player?

Aye, Cap'n

We didn't have a TV when I was growing up. We had a record player. I'm not sure if my brothers will remember, but we had this record:

The Just So Stories appear to be the only things in the world that are not available on YouTube. They were Lamarckian creation legends, and they were over 100 years old. A very unsatisfying version of How the Camel Got its Hump is available through Free Classic Audio Books, but this computerized voice pales in comparison to Captain Kangaroo's version.

The introductory song went like this:
Just sooooo
Just sooooo
They're the stories that we tell of long ago
We weren't here to see it
So we really couldn't know
But they tell us that it happened just so
Once the world was little
Once the world was new
And every twinkling star
Was younger far than yooooou (daa-bee-daa-bee)...

The stories went on to explain how the leopard got its spots, how the elephant got its trunk, and even how the kangaroo got its legs. It has been more than 20 years since I heard them, so I only remember the broad outlines of the last one. A predator of some type (possibly a wolf) gave the kangaroo a head start in a race around the world. Not wanting to be eaten, the kangaroo took off and didn't dare stop. ("Keep going, kid! I'm right behind you!") Somewhere along the way, his hind legs became bigger and stronger. And that's how the kangaroo got its legs.

Captain Kangaroo told us that he wasn't sure that it had actually happened this way, even though his name was Captain Kangaroo.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Things over which people fight

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Things that are no big deal.

Little Miss Know-it-All understands that in your quest to avoid her wrath, you have been following as many grammar rules as possible. However, there comes a point when you have to put the grammar book down and actually understand how to use the English language.

There are some things about which I do not worry. For example, it's sometimes OK to end a sentence with a preposition. I know this is confusing, especially considering what you're up against. Calm down. I'm certain that with time, the grammar Nazis will come around. If they can't join us here in the warmth of proper sentence structure, we'll just leave them outside. They are the sort of people we can do without.

Your attention must now be brought to another topic. The active voice is overrated. Or so it is claimed by me. My former journalism professor used to say that all sentences must be written in the active voice. I still don't agree. Rules are made to be broken.

Short sentences are good. They are easy to read. I like short sentences. But don't overdo it. Use commas. Or semicolons. Or linking words like and or from. You want sentences of different lengths. That way, you don't look stupid.

OK, show of hands: How many of you suspect that Little Miss Know-it-All is violently opposed to split infinitives? OK, put your hands down. You guys make me sad. Do you even know what an infinitive is? One way to easily find the infinitives in a sentence is to quickly look for the word to right next to a verb. You split the infinitive by putting another word, like an adverb, in front of the verb. Then you boldly go where no grammarian has gone before. And this isn't really a big deal, as long as the sentence is clear. LMK-i-A does not like split infinitives that don't make sense or are unnatural, but she is willing to quietly let some of them slide.

I am a huge fan of celebrity copy-editor Bill Walsh of The Washington Post. Out of deference, I am even willing to grant him a capitalized The in his employer's title. However, he and I disagree about the proper spelling of "website". He claims that the proper spelling is "Web site". He was correct in 1995 or so. But languages evolve, and our words about computers are changing very quickly. Consider the new meanings of hack and burn and digging, for example. "Web site" is pretentious. Maybe The Washington Post has a Web site, but I sure don't.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Uncle Nate is the COOLEST UNCLE EVER.


Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Incongruity.

I don't pretend to be an expert on humour. I leave such things to Woody Allen. I do, however, know a few things about pacing, grammatical construction and expository devices.

During my TOTALLY NON-SAPPHIC search for videos of Natalie Portman late last night, I stumbled across something that made me think about last week's post about WARNING WARNING dicks in boxes. And you'll know I'm really a geek when I tell you that what I thought about was -- wait for it -- literary juxtaposition. I realized why last week's Justin Timberlake video bothered me more than usual. (I typically treat Mr. Timberlake with scathing indifference.)

Consider this video from the same series (SNL Video Shorts):

Now, it is probably asking too much to suggest that if NBC had really wanted to push the envelope, they should have released the uncensored version of this video rather than the J.Timb video. We all know that that will never happen. So I'll ask the same question my mother is asking right now: why is this funny?

This video is funny because of its incongruity. Harvard grads don't do gangsta raps. In particular, Harvard grads who are fluent in Hebrew and pride themselves on their serious acting work don't do gangsta raps. Videos like this are on TV all the time. They are not funny because these lines are delivered by posers who claim that they are "from the STREET, yo." This one is funny because gangsta rap is juxtaposed with delivery by a serious actress who is about five feet tall. Personally, I think that the joke is telegraphed a bit too much. I would have pulled the interview segments.

Now consider this, the first video from the series to go viral on YouTube:

This video is also funny because of its incongruity. Cupcakes are not cool. Kids' movies are not particularly cool either. The humour here comes from seeing two loser white guys rap so intensely about something that is not cool. A few months ago, Glen and I were chatting with another person about this type of contradiction. I dare not say more, lest I go too far: I just had to pull down an earlier post on this issue. I compared the topic at hand to rapping about cupcakes and The Chronicles of Narnia. They both stared at me like I was a crazy person, and said they had no idea what I was talking about. I actually had to Google this just to be sure I hadn't imagined it. Glen, I suspect that you were pulling my leg -- if not, this is the video I was talking about.

Now consider the latest digital short (uncensored version: I couldn't find the censored one on YouTube, imagine that):

OK. What to say? Justin Timberlake as a boy-band moron. Not a huge stretch. Bad music and bad lyrics. Again, not a huge stretch. The funniest part of this USED to be the bleeps, but those are gone. The problem here is that they are trying to be incongruous, but they haven't reached far enough. Put J.Timb in a Metallica cover band or an opera. Or use a word that's more shocking than WARNING WARNING "dick".

This type of humour only works when you go beyond what your audience normally expects from you. Otherwise, it's just not funny. And even worse, it's bad writing.

Symphony of excess

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I was so busy planning my split from this evil blog that I almost missed this breaking news story. Just a fact of life here in the true remnant.

Laura Mallory, who is almost certainly in the running for sainthood, has been waging a campaign to ban Harry Potter from her local schools. She has alarming statistics that show that kids who read Harry Potter are more likely to try to cast spells. Goodness knows which of these spells might work. Clearly, these books are works of Satan. Saint Laura says she has not read them and does not need to read them to know that they are evil. Amen, sister! A teenager is helping her in this noble quest. The teenager went into a suicidal depression after she read the books and unsuccessfully tried to do the spells. If this isn't proof of Harry's evil nature, I don't know what is. If kids want to read, they should be reading the Bible.

It's time we contained this type of knowledge. Pile all of these books up and set them on fire. Use one of those burning American flags you're so fond of. As the flame blazes up toward heaven, the angel of the Lord will ascend in the flame. Every face from south to north will be scorched by it. I can hardly wait.

My body's aching and my time is at hand

My dear friend Stacey has been addicted to cigarettes for almost the entire time I've known her. When I needed a "smoking" sound effect for a school radio documentary, I recorded her. She said that it sounded distinctly female, but I couldn't tell the difference.

Over the years, she has tried to quit many times to varying degrees of success. When she last lived with us, I made her a basket of things that I thought might be helpful. I put a silly poem on each item: a toothbrush to keep her mouth fresh, a water bottle to keep her body hydrated, a worry ball to keep her hands busy, tissues to spit the yucky black gunk into.

The first days are always the worst. After a few days of not smoking, the body starts to heal itself. Thousands of small hairs in the trachea are able to move after years of being paralyzed. This means there's lots and lots of coughing. Black tar starts coming up. Right when you are trying to feel good about your decision to quit smoking, you feel worse than you've ever felt. You have to keep going, no matter what.

Stacey is quitting again. She is on day 4 today. I have heard that some support groups for addictions celebrate each person's recovery, no matter how far along he or she is:
"It has been 20 years since my last drink." "YAY!" *wild applause*
"It has been 3 hours since my last line of cocaine." "YAY!" *wild applause*

So: YAY! *wild applause*

Stacey is a child of the digital age, and she has decided to chronicle her experiences in a blog. I've added her to the rapidly-expanding links list.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Welcome, Cindy

I spent most of today at my friend Cindy's house. Michael spent most of today playing with her kids. I discovered that she has a new blog, which I have added to the links section over at the right.

I told her that I am thinking about splitting my personalities, and mentioned that I had created a temporary blog just for Uriel's posts. Here's the best part: She didn't ask who Uriel is. She already knew.

Cindy and her husband are uber-Catholics. One day a few years ago, they were visiting us, and we must have started talking about what Anglicans believe. I don't really remember the details. What I do remember is that I figured this would be easy to resolve: Grab the trusty old prayer book and turn to page 699: Articles of Religion.

I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. No problem.

II. - V. Various things about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. No problem.

VI. Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation. (Yeah, the capitalization is a bit odd.) There is a list of Canonical Books and a list of books that the church doth not apply to establish any doctrine. Already, things were a bit off. You see, the Catholic Bible includes extra books that Protestants doth not apply to establish any doctrine. But this wasn't a problem. It was more of an idle curiosity. The real fun started at:

XXII. Of Purgatory: The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God. Well. If you ever want to stop a party, haul out an official-looking leather-bound book that tells your guests in no uncertain terms that your religion officially teaches that their religion is repugnant.

It didn't get better. Having public prayer in a language not understanded of the people was also listed as repugnant. Transubstantiation was listed as repugnant. The book also stated in no uncertain terms that it is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one. Yikes.

Cindy's husband calls the Anglican Articles of Religion the "list of repugnants". I don't think I'll be pulling THAT book out at parties anytime soon.

A sample

I haven't pulled the posts down from here; I've just copied them to a new blog to see what this would look like. There are too many Little Miss Know-it-All posts to do this just for fun, but I figured it was worth a try. This way, you have a better sense of whether this would be a good idea.

Plus, if someone stumbles across it without knowing what's going on, we can all have a ton of fun.

Interim Results

It has been 24 hours since I posed my question about whether I should split the blog. So far, reaction has been heavily weighted in favour of keeping one blog instead of giving Uriel and LMK-i-A their own spaces:

I have enough trouble handling one.

I see you in all three personalities.
(I bristled at that one.)

That's definitely you. The fact that your using a lower-case 'i' speaks in volumes! i guess thats the 'proper' way to do it??? us illiterate guys dont know that stuff!

The last one had me laughing out loud. I also use hyphens when I write the shortened form of "Little Miss Know-it-All".

Friday, December 22, 2006


Okay, I have a serious question. Yes, I know you didn’t come here looking for serious questions, but that’s too bad.

The blog appears to have developed a split personality, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

First, there’s me, the real me. You see the real me in posts like:
Welcome, Glen
Girls on film

Then there’s Little Miss Know-it-All. She pops up, maw dripping venom all over posts like:
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gymble in the wabe
What goes around comes around
Complements to morons everywhere

Then there’s the personality that Glen calls Rapture Girl. She doesn’t technically have a name, but I have already started calling her Uriel in my head. She writes things like:
Getting closer
I brake for distilled spirits

I started thinking about this after a friend referred to the Uriel personality as Little Miss Know-it-All. I am wondering if it would be best to split this into three blogs. Any thoughts from my loyal readers?

Advantages to keeping things as they are:
1. Just one blog to look at.
2. You get a post every day, and you always know where to look.

Advantages to splitting the blog:
1. Each blog would have a clearer focus. For example, you wouldn’t see Michael videos unless you went to the family blog.
2. Pagans could be blocked from tainting the Uriel blog.

If I split them, I can already tell you that I won’t be posting to each one every day. I am going to keep posting every day, but these posts would be spread over the three sites.

If you are reading this, you know how to contact me. Send me an e-mail or post a comment. Or just tell me on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A shout-out to my peeps at the NYT

Boy, oh boy, is the New York Times ever "with it". You will NEVER guess what happened. Should I tell you or would you like to read the NYT's breathless story about it?

NBC -- the former home of David Brinkley -- has POSTED AN UNCENSORED CLIP ON ITS WEBSITE. I can hear your horrified gasps from here. This is an unprecedented move. I mean, the standard process is to let these things leak onto YouTube and then scream about copyright infringement. The most shocking thing about this is that this particular clip contains a word that NBC executives think is naughty. I probably wouldn't use this word around my grandmother, but I don't think I'm disturbing any of my readers by exclusively revealing that the word is part of the title of a book Michael owns. The rest of the title is "...and Jane". *nervous giggle*

This all started when Justin Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend. He did a music video about WARNING WARNING SLIGHTLY OFFENSIVE WORD COMING UP dicks in boxes. Yeah, maybe you had to be there. Anyway, it was bleeped. It was late, and I had had a few too many hits from the Bailey's bottle. I thought it was funny.

A couple of days ago, NBC posted the uncensored version on its website, cackling over its own hipness.

Boy, these are exciting times -- and exciting Times. (Get it? GET IT???) The NYT is practically bursting with glee over this development. However, being a newspaper of record, they cannot come straight out and tell you that this is a video about dicks in boxes. Rather, it is "a holiday song about making a gift to their girlfriends of their male anatomy, which they appeared to have wrapped in boxes (strategically placed) and then topped with bows."

There are days when I wish the mainstream media would curl up and die. This might be one of those days. What is WRONG with these people? This just reeks of "I'm really cool! Look what I'm doing!" "No, I'm really cool! I'm reporting on what you're doing!"

A message to NBC: Thanks a lot for posting your pathetic uncensored clip. Not only is it less funny than the censored version, but it has removed any suspicion I might have had about whether they were actually saying WARNING WARNING SLIGHTLY MORE OFFENSIVE WORD COMING UP "cock in a box". When I worked in radio and we wanted to make something funny, we would bleep out a few words. Bleeps are funnier than swear words, because I get to think about what you might have said. Now that I know that you censored "dick", I don't think you're cool for posting the uncensored version. I think you're pathetic for censoring it at all.

A message to the NYT: Thanks a lot for reminding me how ingratiating NBC is. Now you have that pathetic-stink on you. This isn't news. Not even at Christmastime. And man, I didn't think a person could come up with that many words to describe the concept of "dick in a box" but you've really outdone yourself.


I'm not worthy.

Everything’s been sold to others’ revolutions

Yes, I am the person you’ve seen picketing at the car factories in Detroit. And at the rubber-glove factories in Malaysia. And at the security-harness factories in Taiwan. I have been getting quite a lot of press about my signs that call for the president to cut federal funding to these industries and the sinful, sinful groups that buy their products. I figure that it worked for the AIDS funding we used to send to Africa to promote condom use, so it’s worth a try.

I am vehemently opposed to car bumpers. So is everyone else who goes to my church. Bumpers encourage bad driving. For proof, you need look no further than my car: When a stranger rear-ended me, which part of the car do you think he smashed into? The bumper, of course! He damaged his own front bumper and my back bumper. Clearly, he saw that we both had bumpers, and he decided that he could drive recklessly on our icy roads. And what did he learn from the experience? Nothing, of course! His car wasn’t destroyed, as any God-fearing car without a bumper would have been. He is probably out there having indiscriminate car accidents, leaving a trail of heartbreak. What a terrible story. It could have been avoided if neither of us had bumpers. Then we could have removed his DNA from our gene poo – I mean, we could have mourned this beautiful, created being, fully secure in the knowledge that we are much better than he is.

Rubber gloves are a sure ticket to hell. They encourage people to touch other people who are possibly infected with God only knows what. In MY day, we threw stones at lepers. We certainly didn’t touch them, and nobody gave us rubber gloves to “protect” us. I’m telling you, if people are sick, it is because they are supposed to be that way. It is all part of a plan that is so huge that your puny mind can’t comprehend it. Don’t touch these people. For goodness’ sake, don’t put on rubber gloves and think that you will be safe. I won’t allow rubber gloves anywhere near me, and I don’t recommend that you wear them, either.

The company that owns my building is doing repairs to the outside. This requires the use of scaffolding. I’m completely in favour of scaffolding, especially when used in the execution of atheists whose degenerate lifestyles have encouraged them to lead lives of crime. But in this case, the scaffolding is being used to allow the workers to reach the second floor windows. That’s OK; I’m willing to accept that. What I can’t accept is the fact that they wear safety harnesses. SAFETY HARNESSES. That’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one. These harnesses are tools of the devil. They make people think they are safe. I bet that the people who wear them are actually LESS safe. They are probably more willing to take risks than the God-fearing workers who can be certain that they are risking their lives by stepping too close to the edge: “No need to worry about me! I’ve got my safety harness on! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” That sickening crash you hear is the tear forming in the Lord’s eye. People with crushed skulls aren’t allowed to enter heaven. The Lord saves those whose spirits are crushed, but I don’t recall anything about crushed skulls. Sucks to be you. Obviously, the way to avoid eternal damnation is to stay away from safety harnesses altogether.

I hope I’ve made you think about the horrors of your own deviant life. While you’re at it, pull out your checkbook and donate money to the president’s abstinence-only AIDS programs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm a Real Journalist! And don't forget it!

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Yes, we know you're a reporter. Now shut up about yourself and just do your job.

I have a soft spot for journalists. I used to be one. I even have an honours degree from one of the best Canadian journalism schools. I have worked in every news medium except television. So don't think that I hate reporters. It's quite the opposite, in fact. But I really can't stand the bad writing that clutters up the newspaper and airwaves, serving only to remind the public that the journalist is a journalist. Yeah, we get it. Weren't you going to tell me something significant, interesting or new?

CBC can exclusively report that... : Shut up. Do you know how many people care that your story is exclusive? I can count them on one finger. There's no such thing as an exclusive, anyway. If your story's any good, other news agencies will pick it up. Announcing your story as an exclusive does nothing to inform me about the world; it is just a pat on the back for you.

The mayor said in an interview that... : Shut up. I know that reporters do interviews. I assume that you did an interview with anyone you've quoted. That's because I am giving you the benefit of the doubt instead of immediately jumping to the alternative conclusion: that you eavesdrop on other people's conversations and rush to report on them instead of double-checking to make sure you understood. I am not impressed by hearing that you interviewed the mayor. Just tell me what he said.

Remember the day you invited Betty to the prom and got so nervous that you thought you'd throw up your jelly sandwich on your high-topped yellow Nikes? : Shut up. You're not funny. You don't know what kind of shoes I wear or what I eat for lunch. If you want to write about anxiety, write about anxiety. Don't try to cutesy it up with a made-up anecdote. If you need a personal touch for your story, GO OUT AND INTERVIEW SOMEONE.

Insiders say... : Shut up. What insiders? Were you eavesdropping again, or did someone actually tell you something? Who are these people, and why should I care what they say? And why won't they go on the record? This kind of reference adds nothing to your story except to show that you have lots of contacts who won't actually tell you anything for sure. Sorry to break it to you, but this does not impress me. It makes me think that you are too lazy to find a source who will actually tell you something. And that you are so stuck on yourself that you call your neighbour an "insider" just to make yourself sound important.

Does William think there are any perks to being a celebrity? Does he get more attention from the ladies? : Shut up. I'm sorry that you think that your questions are more interesting than the people in your story. We are all fully aware that when you interview people, you ask them questions. We get it. You think your questions are funny. You want everyone to know that you asked these questions, so you can look hip and cool. A person who was truly cool would not feel the need to chase after the readers' approval this way. If you are interviewing someone who does not have much to say, maybe you should find someone else to interview.

The Issue: Snow. We Say: People should shovel their sidewalks. : SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!! Okay, we GET it. You want to be a hard-hitting media agency with opinions on everything. You want to be the columnist that people turn to when they are trying to decide what to think about an issue. You look at Rex Murphy or Ann Coulter, see their rabid fans, and want to be just like them. So you start handing out opinions on everything. Your problem is that there are not enough issues for you to come up with a totally new and hard-hitting opinion several times a week. You start phoning it in, but don't want to admit it to yourself. Soon you are issuing pronouncements on things like whether City Hall should put more chlorine in the pool. You stake out a position (MORE CHLORINE!) and you attack City Hall mercilessly. You even suggest that the low chlorine levels are part of an ongoing effort to HARM OUR CHILDREN! You have no idea how ridiculous you look. Please stop. In the name of all that is holy, please stop.

Michael's Concert

Sorry, I couldn't get a good shot of Michael during the concert.

However, the experience has reminded me why I'm not a kindergarten teacher: "Walk that way, Jimmy! No, that way! No, THAT way! Here, I'll just show you." The teachers were definitely the unintentional stars of the show.

If you have eagle eyes, you can see Michael in the first 20 seconds of this video. He is on the left side, wearing light pants and a dark shirt. He is the one who is not sure if he should put his ornament on the tree: yes, he has practised it roughly a hundred times, but is this really the right moment?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I don’t have a sister.

I have three younger brothers.

And Glen, who is like a big brother to me. You’ve met him.

And Stacey, who is like a younger sister to me. You haven’t met her yet.

Stacey and I have known each other for exactly 11 years and 4 months. We were in the same year of our journalism program (the “four-year BJ”) at a small school in Halifax. We lived on the same floor of our small residence for two years. After we graduated, we moved to the same small town in the Canadian Arctic to work in the same small newsroom. At times, we’ve lived together. She is the closest thing I have to a sister.

Stacey’s a woman of extremes. You never have to wonder what she’s thinking. When she’s happy, she’s giddy and bursting with energy. When she’s sad, she’s in tears. In fact, she’s a lot like me.

She moved north soon after graduation, while I stayed on the east coast. When I got an interview for the position in her newsroom, she helped me prepare. They had asked her geography questions, she said. Like What’s the name of the river that runs past I**vik? I pulled out my Canadian map and turned to the very last page. That was when it really hit me that Canada is HUGE. Most people only look at the bottom quarter of the country. I looked from the bottom right corner to the top left corner, and wondered if I could ever really make a move like that.

Stacey was the one who reassured me that everything would be OK. We ran through geography questions, and I wrote the phonetic spelling of “Tsiig*htchic” on my map in case they asked: “Sig-a-chick”. Of course, they didn’t ask about Tsiig*htchic. They asked how I would deal with the complete lack of light in the winter and the complete lack of darkness in the summer. To this day, I don’t think there is an answer to this question, and certainly not one that a person who has never lived in the north could give with any degree of certainty. You don’t know how you’ll deal with it until you get here. Then you find a way of dealing with it, or you leave. Stacey would go swimming at midnight in June. I would cover the windows with tinfoil to darken the room so I could sleep.

I have never felt sisterly toward anyone else who wasn’t related to me by blood. This relationship is a complicated one. It’s not like being best friends. It’s more like being so close to another person that you could never really break away, even if you wanted to. Sisters aren’t always best friends. There’s a lot of baggage that goes along with it. She thinks that I can be judgmental. I think that she can be irresponsible. I check out her boyfriends to make sure that they are good enough for her – they almost never meet my standards. She’s irritated that I would set standards in the first place. I worry that she’s not doing well. She says she’s fine, thank you, and there’s no need for me to worry.

My son calls her “Aunt Stacey”. When I found out that I was pregnant, she was the first person I called. Michael adores her and loves one of her cats unconditionally. Her other cat is his scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in our house:

“Who messed up this room?”
“I think Trout did it.”

“Why is the fridge door left open?”
“I TOLD Trout not to steal any Coke! What a bad cat!”

[Updated: I was popping up on a search engine because there was a community name in this post. I've added some asterisks so I don't show up on the search engine.]

Monday, December 18, 2006

More from 2002

This feels really self-indulgent, but a couple of people in my family said they wanted to see the rest of the videos of Michael as a leetle leetle boy. I can't explain why I feel like this is different from the ones we take after supper, but here you go. Perhaps it is because they don't seek to tell a story.

These have been digitally altered because Steve took them with the camera twisted on its side. I have had to flip them, so the proportions are a bit different than normal.


Even then, Steve was working on his teaching skills. Here, you see him testing Michael's ability to recognize letters. I suspect that there is some cheating going on. If only I could prove my theory.


Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was a favourite in my house when we were growing up. Here you see Michael "reading" it. It took him some time to figure out what reading was all about. First, we taught him the letters. Then we taught him the sounds they make. Then we tried to show him how to read those sounds one after the other: "Mmmmm-aaawwwww-mmmmmm. Mom!" This backfired and he thought that reading was all about talking really slowly: "IIIIIII wwwwwww-aaawwww-nnnnn-tttt cccccc-aaaaa-nnnnn-ddddd-yyyyyy. It says I want candy!"


This feels like a lifetime ago. This video was taken in our kitchen in I**vik, above the Arctic Circle.

[Updated: I was popping up on a search engine because there was a community name in this post. I've added some asterisks so I don't show up on the search engine.]

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Day in the Life of Little Miss Know-It-All

6:28 Radio turns on. I am awakened by George Jones or something equally unappealing. Open eyes, groan softly. Remind self that it is not easy to program a radio show every day, and sometimes you have to play bad music.

6:30 Regional news. Listen with half an ear to make sure my employer has not done something terrible.

6:30:15 Newsreader perkily announces that some of our most vulnerable citizens have been left out in the cold. You see, a drop-in centre for homeless people has been closed. So they've been left out in the cold both literally and figuratively. Get it? GET IT?

6:30:20 Snort moistly at the bad cliché. Think about who could be responsible. Think "That reporter should be punnished." Snort again at own bad joke.

6:35 Regional news ends. Other than bad cliché, no items of particular interest. Take shower. Comb hair. Consider applying green eyeshadow as a nod to the Christmas season, but decide against it.

7:05 Wake up son. Stumble into kitchen. Grab coffee. Greet husband.

7:10 Wake up son.

7:13 Regional news promo. Newsreader promises a story about a government institution that is mean to homeless people. Hope that she is not talking about my employer.

7:20 Get more coffee. Wake up son and bribe him to get out of bed.

7:30:15 Newsreader announces that some of our most vulnerable citizens have been left out in the cold. Get more details this time. The drop-in centre was closed because of threats to and violence against the staff from abusive crack addicts. Staff are still seeing clients by appointment but do not believe the drop-in centre is safe anymore. Reporter smugly states that this arrangement is insulting. Start to get annoyed on behalf of social workers and grammarians.

7:35 Rush around, trying to pack son's lunch and get him ready for school.

8:15 Out the door to school. Completely miss the news promo.

8:30:15 Newsreader announces that some of our most vulnerable citizens have been left out in the cold. Realize that this was not merely a throwaway line for the reporter. She has built her entire story around a cliché and is trying to embarrass social workers into putting themselves in harm's way. Think about how reporter is not volunteering to work at the drop-in centre herself to keep people from being left out in the cold. Start to get really angry.

8:45 Arrive at work.

9:00 Read newspaper. Editorial smugly suggests that if hospitals just paid nurses more, there would be no nursing shortage. Linger a bit longer than usual over the job ads.

9:30 Briefly look at The Washington Post. Notice the cliché-free writing.

9:35 Try to get work done, but get distracted by the smoke rising from a nearby chimney. Remember the news coverage from the time the city and the workers' compensation board made all workplaces smoke-free. Think about how every single person in those stories was described as "fuming". Start to get really, really angry.

9:45 Try to get work done, but get distracted by righteous indignation at former colleagues and their poor writing skills.

10:00 Put feelings into words. Attack former colleagues angrily. Question their qualifications. Slander them savagely. Blame them brutally. Impugn them inhumanely.

10:15 Use sleeve to wipe flecks of spittle off computer screen.

10:16 Think that it would probably be best if these opinions were not posted on the Internet. Erase diatribe and start over with a discussion of clichés in journalism.

10:54 Check for typos (NOT spelling or grammatical errors, of course). Find none. Post to Internet. Feel much better.

10:55 Work productively for entire day without losing temper or attacking anyone.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Welcome, Glen

I didn't want to "out" Glen without his permission, so this is the first time I have acknowledged his blog. Welcome, Glen. Prepare to be flooded with hits from Little Miss Know-It-All's adoring fans.

And so, in order:

Matt is the second of three boys in my family. That's his girlfriend, Sarah (sans gas mask, which is the only way some of my readers know her). Matt has had a much more exciting life than me, and has actually lived in Japan.

Nate is my closest sibling, both genealogically and geographically. Like me, he is often asked by Canadians why he insists on hurting their feelings. Poor Canadians. They can't take that kind of strain. Odd how Americans never say the same thing: Nate and I are both convinced that we tell the truth about both countries, and Canadians are just particularly sensitive. The other possibility is that Americans are so dumb that they don't understand that we're making fun of them.

Glen is my dear friend, my former boss, and my wanna-be older brother. I am afraid to divulge any other details, because I do not have a lawyer on retainer. The last time I mentioned him, he threatened to sue me for libel. Did I ever mention that I have total respect for first-year law students? Also, that I might know a few things that he would want kept under wraps? Also, that I have a pretty wide platform here? Yeah, I think we understand each other.

These three will stay on the right side of the blog. If anyone else wants in, let me know.

Children of the Blog

I am so proud of you, my loyal readers. You have blogs of your own!

Because my dad doesn't really want a blog (just a Blogger account so he can post comments like this), I've removed the link to his page and replaced it with a link to my brother Nate's blog. If you know Nate or Matt, go check them out. Ben, all of the cool kids are doing this. You might as well join us.

I have a couple of other friends with their own blogs. You know who you are. If you want me to post a link to your site, tell me through the comments box or send me an e-mail.

Pagan festivals

Greetings, stiff-necked sinners:

A few of you have asked about Michael's so-called Christmas concert and its obviously non-Christian purpose. You are correct: Tuesday's concert is not a religious occasion. And I could not be happier about it. You see, as soon as you bring religion into a school event like this one, you have to acknowledge OTHER religions, and I just can't have that.

Religion is the one thing that you can't mock, no matter how weird it is. You could say something that's obviously wrong, like that God forgives sinners like you, and I would have to nod piously and say "I respect that." Well, I won't be respecting anyone else's religion, thank you very much. Everything in my religion is true. I know this because my religion SAYS that everything in it is true. This is also how I can be certain that your religion is wrong. It's simple logic. We can't both be right. Therefore, you must be wrong.

You see, everyone here knows that you are constantly committing wicked acts to vex the Lord. I would expel you from this holy land myself, were it not for our liberal laws that allow you to stay. And I can't let you sully this Christmas season with your made-up religious stories. For this reason, I am selflessly willing to forgo my own 100% true religious stories. I can't allow you equal time. You might sway one of the faithful, and then only 143,999 of us would get to go to heaven. An empty seat in heaven is a tear in the Lord's eye.

So I'm just thrilled to attend non-religious school concerts and to greet you with "Happy Holidays". That way, I'm able to pretend that it's all about the one true religion, instead of the vomit-inducing tripe that passes for your own view of the world.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Blogs didn't exist in 2002, so we did not do much videotaping. I have never been a huge fan of home videos anyway. This may seem odd, considering the number of video clips on this blog, but they are nice and short, with the more boring parts edited out - I really don't understand why people would keep raw footage lying around and actually think that other people would want to see it.

We had no way to send these to anyone else, so they just languished in the back of our computer. Man, this seems like ages ago. Michael is two in these videos. I do believe that those are his Big Boy underpants, meaning that he was a walking time bomb.

[UPDATE: For some reason, these are taking longer to load than usual. They do load, but you will have to be patient. If you are related to Michael by blood, you will probably think it is worth the wait.]

[UPDATED AGAIN: The problem appears to have fixed itself.]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hits from the bong

OK, now that I have officially caught the attention of the FBI...

Kids, my dad is right. Drugs are bad. Don't do drugs. They will take you from this:

to this:

I know, I'm horrified too. The last time I saw Paul McCartney, he was on Larry King Live, lecturing the premier of Newfoundland about the seal hunt. Apparently, animals bleed when they die, and this offends his liberal values, so he wants all seal hunters to lose their jobs. His feeling is that people only make a few thousand dollars a year hunting seals, so they should just stop. My feeling is that if he is really serious about this, he could give the seal hunters a few thousand dollars a year and everyone would be happy.

Sorry, I drifted off topic again. I really wanted to point out how this:

turned into this:

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. And I don't even need to tell you about how this:

turned into THIS:

It's VIDEO EVIDENCE, folks. If this doesn't convince you, nothing will. Stay away from drugs. Drugs are bad.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gymble in the wabe

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Words that don’t mean anything.

A friend reminded me about the non-word “irregardless”, which is so insidious that Microsoft Word doesn’t even think it’s a spelling error. If you’re already confused, put your eye right next to your computer screen. I’ll type slowly.


I’m telling you, I would be institutionalized if I didn’t have this blog.

“Undoubtably” is a nice try, and I see where you went wrong. You mean “indubitably.” Or “undoubtedly.” I’m just going to tell myself that you really meant to write one of these words, but your fingers slipped on the keybwsedf. It could happen to anyone.

“Absorbtion” does not exist either. When you want to talk about how well something absorbs a liquid, you say “absorption”. For example, when I can’t take out my rage on this blog, I mop up my angry flecks of spittle with my sleeve. The absorption only takes a few seconds.

“Impactful” IS NOT A WORD! Stop sending me documents explaining how something will be impactful when you really mean that it’s going to be influential.

One last thing: if “unthaw” was a word (which it's not, let me assure you), it would mean “freeze”. THINK, people! How hard can this be?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What goes around comes around

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Clichés.

“Some of our most vulnerable citizens say they’ve been left out in the cold.”

This was on the radio THREE times this morning, and I winced every time. I hate clichés, especially in the mouth of a reporter. For some reason, mediocre reporters think that clichés make their writing better.

Clichés are rude. They grab you by the shirt and demand that you recognize the person’s fabulous writing talents. It’s the equivalent of yelling GET IT? GET IT? in your reader's face.

I am declaring open season on clichés. I’ve had it up to here. (Get it? GET IT??? Man, I have a way with words. I hope you can see how great I am.)

You would think that professional writers would be able to think up new combinations of words, but apparently not. When the city passed its anti-smoking bylaw, almost every news story contained the word “fuming”. (Get it? GET IT???) Restaurant owners were fuming. Bylaw officers were fuming. Smokers were fuming. (HAHAHAHAHAHA.) Of course, most of these people were not actually fuming. They were mildly annoyed. But that doesn’t include a cool play on words that only a professional reporter would be qualified to think up, so everyone is said to be “fuming”.

Ever wonder what happens to reporters who use too many clichés? In a startling and unexpected development, our man on the scene is reporting that they just pat themselves on the back and go on with new and uninteresting clichés. Well, I won’t stand for this anymore – it has been on the back burner for far too long already. I am calling for them to be punnished. (Get it? GET IT???)

Last but not least, I have to take my hat off to those reporters who manage to make their entire STORY a cliché. This takes real effort. I am especially fond of stories about the small-business owner who is struggling against the giant and uncaring government agency that is claiming that he runs a dirty restaurant and his delivery guys are actually door-to-door crack salesmen. Poor fellow! What a shame! What a great story! This is like shooting fish in a barrel! A slam dunk!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best Friends

Yes, it's Christmas-concert time

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You'll have to excuse me: I'm not at my best

[WARNING: This is a terrible video. Press the "play" button so you can hear the music, but don't even bother trying to watch the video. Canadian music videos from the early '90s were just about as terrible as American videos from the early '80s. This particular song takes about 30 seconds to get going.]

We got married in 1998, in Bangor, Maine. It was a small ceremony with my family and extended family. Steve's parents and brothers drove there from Newfoundland.

Steve's brother Sean was quite disturbed to learn that there was NO CANADIAN MUSIC for sale anywhere in Bangor. No Great Big Sea. No Spirit of the West. No Barenaked Ladies. What to do, what to do? How could you hold a wedding without jigging?

He came back from the music store with a CD called Irish Drinking Songs. I don't think any of us had ever heard any of these songs before, but they were as close to Newfoundland music as we were going to get in New England.

The next day, I went back to the church to make sure everything was OK, and discovered that the CD had been left behind. A church lady, much like this one:

greeted me with a hissed "I think this is YOURS" and pressed it into my hand. She clearly wanted to make sure everyone knew that
1) it was NOT hers;
2) because of my degenerate lifestyle, she had shrewdly figured out that it was probably mine; and
3) she was NOT impressed that she had ever been unfortunate enough to lay eyes on it.

As a good Canadian, I'm sure I dutifully apologized.

Don't go chasing rabbits

"Dad, what's a sadistic switch hitter?"

"WHAT??? Where did you hear that? I don't know what that means!!! Is that in one of the songs you're listening to???"

This was an actual conversation between me and my dad when I was about 14. My uncle Rick had given me a book called Go Ask Alice, which purports to be an actual diary but is apparently a work of fiction. Too bad nobody told me this at the time.

This book scared the bejeezus out of me. I think my uncle gave it to me just to get it out of his house. My copy is well-worn and it was probably second-hand when he got it. I am fairly sure it's not the sort of thing he would have bought for himself: it was probably a gift from someone who was trying to scare him back onto the straight and narrow.

If you've ever wondered how people end up as heroin addicts who eat their own scabs, this book will answer all of your questions. People become heroin addicts when they go to parties and drop acid without meaning to. Damn those party hosts who give LSD away so freely and surreptitiously! From there it's a wild ride through every type of illegal drug imaginable, all manner of sexual abuse, hallucinations and eventually DEATH. This could happen to you!

I can't get rid of this book yet. I have to find an unsuspecting victim who can take it off my hands. I figure this is only fair. Perhaps my uncle's pre-teen daughter is looking for a little light reading.

Getting closer

Friends, we are getting closer to the rapture and some of you are getting nervous. You have to trust me on this. If our own Prime Minister is saying the same-sex-marriage debate is over, the sky is sure to open soon. If there's anything that can't be allowed to sully this beautiful earth, it's gay marriage. Six thousand years of perfection have made us arrogant. We think we're smarter than God. And I could not be happier about it, because it means that you heathens are going to burn and I am going to get to live on a cloud with Jesus. I will probably get my own unicorn. You, on the other hand, will be picking dead animals out of the sea after it turns to blood. That won't be a problem for me: I'll be drinking living water. Sucks to be you.

This brings me to the concerns my readers have expressed. I've already reassured you that I've made arrangements for someone to take over the blog after I've been taken up into heaven. Apparently, this is not good enough for some of you godless sodomites. When you're not busy worshipping demons, you're hassling me about the identity of the person who will be taking over the blog. Apparently, you don't like ghostwriters.

Now, I don't think you're taking your situation seriously enough. Believe me, when the locusts are stinging you, this will be the least of your worries. You are going to be tormented with burning sulfur, and I will get to watch. I know how this makes you feel: I myself could burst with excitement just at the thought of it. I wish the president would just drop an atomic bomb and hurry things along, but apparently this is not to be. It makes sense, because no man knows the hour of the rapture, and I suppose that would include the president. In the meantime, we are forced to wait hour after hour after hour until 10:30 AM, when Wheel of Fortune comes on. Then we start waiting again at 11:00.

I am trying SO HARD to make things easier for you, and this is the thanks I get? You are definitely the WORST sinners I have ever met. I would have thought that you would be grateful for the help I've offered to you. Just wait until someone writes MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH on your forehead. You'll be happy to have anything else to read, ingrates.

No, I am not going to reveal his identity. He deserves his privacy. If I tell you who it is, he will probably not be able to leave his house without having to fight off paparazzi trying to get pictures of his personal regions. You should be focusing on the log in your own eye before you try to pick at the speck in my eye. And trust me, it's a VERY SMALL SPECK.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


With the departure of our former admin assistant, I am now one of the youngest people at my office. I have become the one who knows everything about technology. People actually call me for help and say that I know more about computers than anyone they know. This is unnerving for me and sad for them, because I am basically a techno-idiot.

I get frustrated watching technology march past us while we try to figure out what the "proper" uses are. Not long ago, I was talking to someone who was stumped about how to distribute a video. So many people needed it! I suggested that we could upload it to YouTube and e-mail the link around. This idea, of course, was not greeted warmly. If we did that, LOTS of people would see it!

We are still trying to figure out how to get audio files to people. About a year ago, I suggested that we could set up a podcast that would automatically send these files to everyone who needed them. This idea, as you can imagine, was way too out-there for the others. They are probably still considering whether it is OK to mail eight-tracks to what they call "stakeholders". From what I can tell, we are not supposed to put audio files on our website, but I went ahead and did it anyway. I do not have time to burn and mail hundreds of CDs when I could just tell people to click on a link.

Technology has been good to me. This blog keeps me sane and has been a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. I am reliably informed that my grandmother is now reading the blog. (HI GRAM!) My entire family now uses Yahoo Messenger to talk about our lives. Three of my readers have started their own blogs, to varying degrees of success. I've also discovered the secret of a good home video: less than two minutes long, with no pressure on the viewer to click on the link or to keep watching. I despise watching raw footage in 30-minute chunks, and I promise that I will not force you to watch Michael's Christmas play. But don't make the mistake of thinking that I know a lot about technology. I am just stumbling along in the dark.