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Monday, April 30, 2007

Of Bananas and Bibles

UPDATED: I just received a top-secret message from someone who recognised the banana guy. My confidential source claims that the video IS a joke...sort of. Apparently the tone is supposed to be funny, but Banana Guy really means what he says. I'm not convinced that this makes it a true joke.

Apparently, people suspect that the video about the soul-saving banana is not real; that it's a joke designed (ha!) to make Christians look stupid.

Sorry, but it's entirely real. Take a look again at the first few seconds of the video. There are two men in it. The guy who hardly speaks is Kirk Cameron, star of Growing Pains and Uriel's favourite movie:

Kirk is so religious that he has his own entry on my new favourite website, Conservapedia. The entry is short, but you have to start somewhere:

Kirk Cameron is an American actor. He is best known for his role in the TV series Growing Pains and later the films based on the Left Behind Series and the Christian TV series The Way of the Master. He became a born again Christian as a young adult and works with evangelist Ray Comfort

As you can see, conservatives don't worry much about grammar or facts. This is pretty insulting, since I consider myself a conservative most of the time.

The banana video is incredibly popular and has been viewed over 128,000 times on GodTube alone. Sorry about that.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What's in my MP3 Player?

This will come as no surprise, but I don't have a JPod. I was going to post a video I found on GodTube that actually IS in my iPod, but I got a little freaked out when I realized it was a Clay Aiken slideshow labelled "Ask the people who have been touched by Clay". Speaking of which, I have to ask: what is UP with the Aiken slideshows? There are just a few too many for me to write them off as the products of a single disturbed mind.

So I will have to keep looking on GodTube for something that would be appropriate for this blog. In any case, this song is also in my iPod. This is one of my favourite coming-of-age movies, although not for the reasons you might suspect: I never identified with the preacher's daughter in this movie. She is a bit too whorish for Prudie McPrudence.

For Mom

This is NOT in my MP3 player. I have some guilty pleasures, but this is not one of them. I am posting this only because my mom doesn't have a TV and will not understand Uriel's jPod selection unless I show the original. I'll understand if you can't make it all the way through. I'm in convulsions over here.

I am having a ton of fun with these alternatives to life in the real world. Next up: Conservapedia.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude

NOTE TO NEWCOMERS AND HUMOUR-IMPAIRED: The Uriel personality is a joke. You can read more here.

Greetings, those who will suffer the punishment of eternal fire:

I am continually disgusted by your perversions and immorality. They are constant fodder for my prayers, which I offer in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men (the more the merrier, I always say).

If I could shut myself off from your hedonistic ways, I certainly would. As that's not possible, I have contented myself with establishing holy counterparts to your wicked, wicked lifestyle. I spit on you.

My new favourite website is an alternative to YouTube. No, I will not provide a link. This is a holy blog. As we all know, YouTube contains many offensive videos. The government should have taken action against this site long ago -- it promotes immorality and devil worship. They will be punished for their sins seven times over, and I will get to watch. Frankly, I can't wait.

The alternative to YouTube is GodTube. It includes videos that prove the existence of God, like this one, which is labelled on the site as "The Atheist's Nightmare":

Strictly for research purposes, I spent some time with prostitutes and tax collectors to conduct some field testing on this video. I'm pleased to report that it truly is the atheist's nightmare. The arguments presented in this video are so compelling that four out of five atheists immediately renounced their evil lifestyles and gave their hearts to the Lord. I made sure to write their names down, so I can get credit for their conversions at the end of days. (I wouldn't want anyone else to steal my Commission -- that's a little joke that sinners like you probably won't get.) The fifth was destined for eternal fire anyway, so I'm not too worried.

This site is proof that believers are cool. My favourite videos are the Mac/PC parody ads. You might not know this, but true believers don't call themselves "Christians" anymore. We're known as "Christ-followers". Christians are losers. Just check this out:

Or this:

I encourage you to go to this site and learn more about Christ-followers. It's definitely what Jesus would do. In the meantime, I'll be on the street corners with the prostitutes, telling them who is going to heaven and who is not.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Having a lousy week in so many ways

Thursday, April 26, 2007

You're so cute, I think I'll bash in your head

Well, except for that nasty business about how it's illegal to kill seal pups. They are so much cuter than the ones that actually get killed!

While we were in Florida, we saw a group of naked people standing near the road shouting at cars. It was the first time I'd ever seen such a thing. People don't strip for their pet causes in Name of Town Withheld. I was trying to size them up without being too obvious about it, because of course people who are naked don't want a lot of attention. I realized that they were holding signs that said I'd rather be naked than wear fur. Yuck. Suddenly I wasn't interested in looking at them, no matter how naked they were.

A few weeks ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the mayors of all Canadian capitals, asking them to lower their flags to half-staff out of respect for the seals that will be killed during this year's commercial hunt off Newfoundland.

HAHAHAHAHA. I know, it's already hilarious.

The best part is that Iqaluit is one of the Canadian capitals. If you've never heard of Iqaluit, please watch this video a friend of mine made during a trip through town (it is less than one minute long):

So you can imagine how this letter went over in Iqaluit. (It's more fun to imagine how it went over in St. John's -- go, Danny, go! -- but I have a northern perspective these days.) Sealing has been a way of life in Nunavut and Newfoundland for hundreds of years.

Iqaluit city council reacted much more maturely than I would have. They invited PETA to visit the north to learn how anti-sealing campaigns hurt the Inuit.

As it turns out, this actually had some effect on the PETA spokesperson. When CBC called him, he said, "No one, not even PETA, has a quarrel with native people who truly have no choice but to hunt in order to survive."

Now, this is an interesting take. Because the Inuit don't NEED to take part in the commercial seal hunt any more than Newfoundlanders do. The commercial hunt's not about surviving in the way the PETA fellow would like you to believe. And PETA's lurid campaigns have nothing to do with subsistence hunting -- the guy who shoots a seal, brings it home and eats it. Those blood-drenched commercials are focused on stopping the commercial hunt and reducing the market for seal pelts, meat and body parts.

Boy oh boy, is it ever easy to sit in the city and pass judgment on the people from a completely foreign culture. The commercial hunt is seasonal work. It's tough, it's bloody, and it's dangerous. Right now, 39 sealing boats are trapped in the ice near Newfoundland. People don't do this because they're sickos who like to kill animals, and they don't do it so they can eat seal meat all year long. They do it for the same reason other people have jobs: to get money to pay the bills, because there's no other work. PETA doesn't think of this as "hunting in order to survive", but the fishermen do.

Seals are an easy target for PETA for three reasons:

  1. They're cute when they're babies;
  2. They're killed on the ice, which makes a nice contrast for blood; and
  3. The only people who have a real stake in the industry are destitute fishermen with no other job options.
If you've ever seen a sealskin, you know that adult seals are not cute. And they're not nice, or quiet, or docile. They will rip your face off. If you were ever face to face with an adult seal, you'd reach for the hakapik too. And yes, it's pretty horrible to see the pristine ice covered with blood. Nobody likes that. But it's a bit disingenuous to pretend that you wouldn't see much more blood if you put a white sheet down in a slaughterhouse. And I think #3 makes me madder than the other two.

My buddy Danny Williams has been the most vocal opponent of the anti-seal lobby. He appeared on Larry King Live with Paul McCartney about a year ago. Here's the transcript -- sorry, I don't have a YouTube link. The worst part of this, for me, was Sir Paul's utter ignorance about why people would kill seals. He feels that they don't make very much money, so they should just stop. The program revealed that the usual paycheque for a season of sealing is $10,000 to $20,000 for every member of the crew.

Now, I can understand that Sir Paul doesn't think this is very much money, but it's a heck of a lot for the rest of us. So I have a solution that would stop the entire industry and put clothes on the backs of those poor protesters in Florida: Sir Paul could pay each potential sealer $20,000 per year to sit at home and not kill seals. This would shut down the commercial hunt and PETA could count it as a "win".

But of course, this would never happen, because it would require the same kind of sacrifice from Sir Paul that he's demanding from the people of Newfoundland and Nunavut.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grammar: a way of putting words together so they make sense, especially to people who can't really read or people who just need a little extra help.

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Compound-complex sentences.

I’m sure that, like me, whenever you have a question about life, whether it be urgent or trifling, you immediately ask yourself one question, and that question would be, in all likelihood, “What would Russell Smith do?”, unless, of course, like me, you cannot stomach any more of his preening pomposity.

I’m now convinced that whoever edits Russell’s newspaper column has a wicked sense of humour. This is a person I want to meet. He or she is no longer correcting Russell’s grammar, and I love it.

As my Canadian readers may know, Russell is the self-appointed Canadian fashion guru who has recently styled himself (ha!) a grammar expert. I called him out on this when he had to look up the meaning of the word “that”, but he is still going strong and now has his own show on the national broadcaster. What will it take to stop him?

I’ll concede that Russell is very knowledgeable about important topics such as fingernail length and hair colour, but he is no grammar expert.

I see from his latest column that he has figured out how to use commas, semicolons and dashes. This is excellent progress, but the key to good grammar is that nobody should notice it. Russell, you’ve finally figured out how to use the word “that”, but you’re a little too excited about punctuation for my liking.

Let’s review a sample sentence:

The popularity of look-at-me blogs and Facebook pages, the culture of exhibitionism that the Web promotes, it is said, are all part of this and give rise to a disproportionate valorizing of celebrity, and it is this that makes teens crazy, literally crazy, for fame.


Since I’m clearly part of this “culture of exhibitionism”, I’m going to expose my own credentials: I’ve been working full-time as a writer for the past eight years and have an honours degree in journalism from a respected Canadian university. They call this a “four-year BJ”, and many of my readers have indicated that they want one, too. Sucks to be you. The point is, I like to think that I know something about writing, and, my friends, I can guarantee that, according to accepted standards, Russell’s columns, frankly, leave a lot to be desired, at least for those of us who appreciate, really appreciate, clear writing.

Journalists usually make an effort to keep their sentences short, like this:

The popularity of look-at-me blogs has created a culture of exhibitionism. This makes teens crazy, literally crazy, for fame.

I love commas. I really do. They create lists, form compound sentences, and, best of all, allow writers to provide commentary on their own writing. But when reading Russell’s column, I am reminded of a kindergartener:

Today I was looking at the Internet, and I thought it was bad, and I figured that everyone wants to be famous, and that would be bad, and people are going crazy, and that’s bad, and some guy TOTALLY shooted a bunch of people!

Russell, you’ve got an entire column to fill every few days. There’s no need to pack every possible idea into a single sentence. It’s great to see that you’ve figured out how to use dependent clauses, but you might want to try cutting back to one or two per sentence. While you’re at it, you should put your thesaurus away and focus on making your columns easier to read. Your schick is wearing thin.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I like this new trailer better

Response from JetBlue

Dear Ms. {name withheld},

Thank you for contacting us your flight that was cancelled due to the weather on April 16, 2007.

The amount $115.80 will be posted to your credit card. Depending on the accounting procedures of
your individual bank, this credit should appear on one of your next two statements. Please contact
us again if you have not seen it by that time.

We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced due to this cancellation.

We look forward welcoming onboard a future JetBlue flight!


Customer Commitment Crew
JetBlue Airways
Crewmember 22063

Monday, April 23, 2007

What's in my MP3 Player?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Man, I'm a loser

Media Accountability (LMK-i-A gets serious)

A friend and former co-worker from my MotherCorp days asked me what I thought of the CBC's decision not to air the videos the Virginia Tech gunman sent to NBC.

I wasn't aware of this situation until she mentioned it, but I'm not surprised. Media outlets make editorial decisions all the time. Yes, "editorial decisions". Some are calling this censorship, but I disagree.

I was travelling when the footage became public, so I saw the range of responses. CNN appeared to have it on a loop. USA Today printed a cropped picture of the killer: you could see his face but not the guns. The Globe & Mail printed a picture of the killer with a gun to his head (try explaining that to a six-year-old). I'm told that the CBC aired descriptions of the videos but not the footage itself.

This is a free society and networks are free to make their own editorial decisions. It would be censorship if a government agency told the media what to publish. It is not censorship for a news agency to hold back some of the footage. Networks do this all the time.

I was in my fourth year of journalism school in Halifax when the Swissair plane crashed. Some of the recent graduates were assigned to cover the story. Trust me, reporters were holding back a LOT of the details. They couldn't handle it. They had footage of dead people floating in the water off Peggy's Cove. Usually, the rule is "film everything and make editorial decisions in the edit suite", but the CBC videojournalists turned off their cameras so the images could never be broadcast, ever. On air, they talked about "body parts", but in person they talked about lungs washing up on shore, or looking down and seeing a brain. They showed images of waves crashing and people sobbing, but anyone who went to Peggy's Cove would have seen intestines floating in the water. This was not censorship: this was an editorial decision. The reporters didn't pretend that these horrible things weren't real; they just chose to talk about them rather than to show them. Similar editorial decisions have been made in other situations, especially murder cases. Reporters often have pictures of crime scenes but decide not to use them.

The Virginia Tech gunman wanted his insane ramblings to be aired on television. That is the only possible reason for mailing them to NBC. Journalists were then forced to decide if the images had any news value and, if so, whether they should be published or broadcast.

I think it's quite clear that the images have news value. In fact, I don't think there's a credible argument to be made that they don't have news value. However, I think there's room for discussion about how to use them. For example, USA Today cropped the guns out of the photo they published of the killer. This showed his face but completely removed the context for the image. I think this was the photo editor's goal: to publish the killer's photo on their own terms, not his. The Globe & Mail's decision to publish the shot of the killer holding a gun to his own head was clearly an effort to show a representative photo from the set that was sent to NBC. It's not often that you'll see a newspaper allow the subject of a news article to submit his own glamour shots, but this was an unusual case. I don't know if any major news agencies decided to hold back the photos in favour of describing them, but I doubt it.

Having seen the looped tape on CNN as a backdrop to Nancy Grace's wild theories about who should be charged with a crime, I have to agree with CBC. The video definitely had news value: it presented the killer's own words about why he committed the crimes. But when the Unabomber sent his manifesto to The Washington Post, the editors didn't rush to publish it just because they had something of news value.

A reporter's job is to report news, not to be the enabler in a homicidal maniac's quest for publicity. This was such a clear-cut case of a killer trying to use the media for his own purposes that it's really rather surprising that so many journalists took the bait.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What would be in Michael's MP3 player if he had one?

It turns out that Michael has -- wait for it -- different musical tastes than I do. I first suspected it when he joined the Clay Nation at the age of three, and I have to admit that the recent Rick James obsession is more than a little weird.

But I really had no idea how far it had gone. In fact, I'm not sure how he learned that this singer existed. He definitely didn't learn it from me, so I blame Steve. This song was in heavy rotation on the flight from O'Hare to Calgary. Lucky me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Trip from Hell

UPDATED: JetBlue has responded.

UPDATED AGAIN: Air Canada has responded, sort of.

UPDATED YET AGAIN: Air Canada has responded.

I am still arranging my thoughts before I start to write really snotty letters to the airlines, but trust me, I'm plenty angry.

Our trip home from the Philosopher King's wedding was supposed to take a day and a half. We were to leave Bangor on Monday morning, catch the JetBlue Portland-JFK flight at 3:10 that afternoon, stay at the Ramada in New York City on Monday night, and catch the Air Canada direct flight to Calgary at 7:40 the next morning. This would bring us back to the Canadian Arctic around 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon.

I thought this was the perfect plan.

On Monday morning, a storm was in full swing over New England. Two people had already died. The power was out at some of the gas stations along the interstate. We kept going.

I returned my rental car and discovered that the power was also out at the Portland airport. All flights were cancelled and the computers at the JetBlue counters weren't working. The agents told me to call JetBlue and rebook.

This turned out to be hilarious advice. The phone number took me to a recording that said there were a LOT of calls coming in (I can't imagine why) and I should go to the website. I went to the website. It took me to a page that said there were a LOT of people trying to log on (I can't imagine why) and I should call the phone number.

At this point, I had booked myself into a hotel room in Portland. I still thought that JetBlue had some sort of obligation to rebook me. They had no flights available that day and only one seat on the Portland-JFK flight for the next day. This might have worked for me, except that I have a legal obligation to look after my six-year-old son and couldn't leave him behind. I went to the JetBlue website and bought new tickets for Wednesday evening's flight to JFK.

I also thought that JetBlue had some sort of obligation to refund my money for the flight they cancelled. I found a WEATHER-RELATED CANCELLATIONS link on their front page. It took me to a page that explained that flights from Portland were cancelled and that I should enter my information to get a refund. I entered my information. It produced a web page that said I couldn't get a refund because my flight had already left. In case there is any confusion, my flight had been cancelled by JetBlue; it had not already left.

I rebooked my Ramada room to Wednesday night. I rebooked my Air Canada flight to Thursday morning. I extended my Portland hotel room for a second day. I booked another rental car for Tuesday and Wednesday.

At this point, JetBlue had cost me:

  • $85 for the hotel in Portland (I got the distressed-passenger rate)
  • $165 for the new flight to JFK
  • $170 for the rental car
  • Meals for two people for two days
  • Two days of work
The Wednesday flight actually did go to JFK. Our hotel stay was uneventful.

On Thursday, I got up at 3:30 Eastern time. We were to be on an Air Canada direct flight from JFK to Calgary. Yes, "were to be". Actually, make that "would not be". There was a problem with the on-board computer. We waited on the plane for three hours before Air Canada decided the plane would not be able to leave. All passengers were individually diverted. We were rebooked on a LaGuardia-O'Hare-Calgary flight. Yes, LaGuardia. As you might imagine, this is not the same airport as JFK. The agent told me to get a cab. I told her I did not have any money, so she gave me $25 in cash. She also said that my connection would be rebooked and someone would meet us in Calgary to book us into a hotel.

The cab did not cost $25. It cost $31.70. As you might imagine, this was more than the amount of cash I had. I paid the cabbie with my credit card, and there was a $45 minimum charge. Nice.

We caught our connection in O'Hare and arrived in Calgary. I can't believe it, but I was actually surprised when nobody met us to book us into a hotel. I was even more surprised when the Air Canada agent told me that there were no hotel rooms available anywhere in the city. Their solution was to book us onto a flight to Edmonton, find us a hotel room here, and rebook our connection to the Canadian Arctic. Our bags were drenched in sleet when they arrived. I thought that was a nice touch.

We did have a hotel room in Edmonton. We got there at 1:00 AM, which, considering the time changes, was almost exactly 24 hours after our day had begun.

Air Canada did have the decency to pay for our hotel room, so they cost me:
  • $20 for the cab ride to LaGuardia (over the $25 they gave me)
  • Meals for two people for one day
  • One day of work
Air Canada diverted us onto a Canadian North flight that left Friday morning at 10:00. I've decided that I love Canadian North. The flight left on time. They didn't let my bags get wet. They didn't try to reschedule me. They served quiche for breakfast.

Oddly enough, Canadian North did not cost me any extra money at all.

Including meals and the three missed days of work, I am out at least a thousand dollars. I expect JetBlue and Air Canada to make this right.


I haven't abandoned the blog, I've just been travelling. My 24-hour trip ended up taking five days. I am emotionally unstable right now, but will post about it when I feel better. Otherwise, I might misuse a hyphen. That's how bad it was. I was calling it the Trip From Purgatory yesterday morning, but I decided last night around 10:00 that it really was the Trip From Hell.

In summary: I am very unhappy with JetBlue and Air Canada. I adore Canadian North.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Presented without further comment

Minister aims for parental pressure to give up school

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NAME OF TOWN WITHHELD - Education Minister Charles Dent is looking to parents to help convince {name of town withheld} Education District No. 1 to give up one of their schools.

Dent will hold two public consultation meetings about the benefits of closing a school. The first will be Thursday, April 19 at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre, and the second on May 3 at Northern United Place.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Charles Dent: "I think both boards have decided it's a battle over turf - winning - rather than looking out for the students."

"The parties involved are not getting all of the information out there," said Dent. "To have an extra school open you don't need to have open, it means you're taking that money out of the classroom."

Dent sent a letter to Yk No. 1 in February asking the board to close one of its schools and lease it to {name of town withheld} Catholic Schools while the Catholics await a retrofit to be completed at St. Joseph school.

A fire last summer at St. Joseph school forced the Catholic school board to share classrooms with Yk No. 1. The public school board is pushing for the same arrangement next year, and is refusing to hand over any schools to the Catholic school board even though enrolment at Yk No. 1 is at only 70 per cent.

YCS board chair Shannon Gullberg said that the conditions of this year's lease were not adequate. With 150 more students needing room next year during the retrofit of St. Joseph's school, she does not want to split up the students between various Yk No. 1 schools.

Other than a letter sent to YCS from Yk No. 1 asking to renew the lease, both school boards admit there has been little communication. Mike Huvenaars, assistant superintendent of business with YCS, said last week that a "political process" involving discussions with Dent are holding up negotiations over the new lease but the minister is taking exception to that claim.

"It's irresponsible of YCS to lay this all at my feet," said Dent. "I think both boards have decided it's a battle over turf - winning - rather than looking out for the students."

Shannon Gullberg, chairperson for YCS, said it is Dent's responsibility for ensuring there is space for their students next year.

"The government is the lead on this retrofit," said Gullberg.

"It is the government's responsibility to make sure there are adequate facilities."

Dent is hoping to convince parents at the public consultation to put pressure on Yk No. 1 to close a school.

"I'm hoping parents will push Yk No. 1 that it's a wise move to close a school," said Dent. He said his main influence on the school board is economic, as he has already threatened to redirect $300,000 in funding to YCS.

Dent seems confident he'll be successful.

"By the time we get to major construction, Yk No. 1 should be able to look at closing a school," said Dent.

Monday, April 16, 2007

THE ISSUE: Literacy problems WE SAY: Can be overcome

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Kids should learn to read good.

I am still pretty upset and wasn't planning to blog tonight until I opened Name of Newspaper Withheld. Someone has to stop them. This is just too much.

I swear that this is 100% real. My analysis is in bolded text.

Read on Fort Res

Oh. My. Gawd. This is the honest-to-goodness title of the editorial about how important literacy is. Do they really want me to read on top of Fort Res? Or did they, I dunno, FORGET A COMMA??? And in case you were wondering, the title of this post is the little nugget of wisdom beneath the title.

Literacy program success should be modeled around the territories

Headlinese exists only in the newspaper world. It's a way of saying something in as few letters as possible, and it should only be used when there's no other choice. In this case, it would be better to say "Successful literacy program should be a model for the territories". My re-write is even shorter and (who woulda thunk?) makes more sense.

Reading is an important part of anyone's life. Poor reading and comprehension skills have serious affects on a person's ability to function in society. Career, schooling, entertainment, going for groceries, even reading this editorial can become a frustrating chore if literacy skills have not been properly developed.


And here's something you might not have known about parallel construction: It only works if everything in the list is in the same form and actually makes sense with the rest of the sentence. Answer me this: is "Career can become a frustrating chore if literacy skills have not been properly developed" a sentence? Actually, don't answer that. I don't think I want to know what you would say.

I'd agree that reading this editorial is a frustrating chore, but not for the reasons you've mentioned.

As of 2005, according to the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 40 per cent of Canadians struggle with low literacy. Of those statistics, 15 per cent have difficulty dealing with any written material.

15 per cent of which statistics? Or do you actually mean that 15 per cent of the 40 per cent have difficulty? I'm guessing that this made your head spin, and you probably didn't use that calculator feature on your computer to figure out that this means that 6 per cent of Canadians have difficulty dealing with any written material. I wonder how many of the 6 per cent work for Name of Paper Withheld.

That same survey revealed that 69 per cent of aboriginal people in the NWT have what are considered lower than average English or French literacy skills.

I'm frothing at the mouth, but I will pay you a compliment (not a complement): Thanks for remembering that CP style is "per cent", not "percent". You might want to think about looking up the correct way to spell "lower-than-average" when used as a modifier, though.

This is why a program, which has been offered at Deninu school in Fort Resolution, should be encouraged, supported and perhaps modeled elsewhere in the territory.

Nice try with the first two commas, but please read that sentence again. You don't actually need them in this situation. And when I say that you don't actually need them, I mean that you shouldn't use them. Please fix that while I'm still asking nicely.

For the past three years, 'Balanced Literacy' has helped increase literacy skills for students.

That would be "students' literacy skills".

According to principal Moh Odeen, students meeting Alberta literacy achievement testing standards in Fort Resolution rose from a dismal 40 per cent in 2004 to an impressive 80 per cent in 2006.

I think you mean "the percentage of Fort Resolution students who met Alberta's literacy standards rose from a dismal 40 per cent in 2004 to an impressive 80 per cent in 2006." And while we're on the topic, it's nice to know that you think 40 per cent is a dismal grade. So far, every single one of your paragraphs has had a serious error. I think that's pretty dismal, especially considering the topic.

It's even more remarkable considering the international literacy survey gave Alberta one of the highest scores among all provinces.

Considering THAT, Name of Newspaper Withheld. Considering THAT. I'm eying that "among" but I'll let it go.

The Deninu school program began with students between Grade 1 and 3 and was extended this year to Grade 4 to 6 students.

Here's an exciting lesson about pluralizing words: Just add an "s" and you're ready to go! The program began with students in GRADES one to three. Not grade.

One student in Grade 4 is reportedly reading at a Grade 6 level and other students in the primary grades are devouring words, reading more than 100 books a year. That is a stark contrast to an atmosphere where interest in reading and books was previously weak.

No, it's IN stark contrast. And remember that saying about apples and oranges? You can compare atmospheres, or you can compare anecdotes. You can't compare anecdotes to atmospheres.

Other schools in the NWT should learn from Deninu school's example and model the Balanced Literacy program.

A few newspapers could learn from the school's example, too.

Increasing rates of literacy will have life long benefits for students in the NWT. Improved reading and comprehension will make it easier to enter, and be successful, in a post secondary education program, hold down a job, and conduct tasks common in everyday life.

Life-long! Not life long! And please, please, please learn how to use parallel construction before you attempt it in print. You might want to check your comma placement while you're at it.

Studies have shown that children with low literacy skills also have more behavioural problems. Teaching children to read better and achieve at a higher level will mean fewer instances of violence, abuse and acting out in NWT schools.

Everyone wins when a child learns to read.

I'm not sure that you're right. I can read pretty well, but I'm feeling more violent all the time.


There is a storm hanging over New England.

And I am right in the middle of it. It is going to take me four. freaking. days to get home. I am stuck in Portland until Wednesday night. I was supposed to be home on Tuesday afternoon!

This totally sucks.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Was in deinem Speiler MP3 sein sollte?


Isn't the ring bearer supposed to be the star of a wedding? Just for good measure, though, I tossed in some shots of the bride and groom.

The quality's not great because the church was dark and I was filming surreptitiously from my seat. I'm hoping that the Blueberry Princess will have some nicer photos on her blog later.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary, out by the gas fires of the refinery

Yeah, this is where I was born.

The wedding is today. This is the first time Michael will meet my extended family. I haven't seen my uncles or cousins since my grandmother died seven years ago. It is hard to believe that it's been so long, but we've all moved to far-flung places.

I received one more question through a relative and will respond to it quickly:

Question #8: So, is Megan weird now? I went to her blog but now I'm freaked.

Oh dear. After a few follow-up questions, I discovered that this was the first post that one person saw on the blog. He had no context for this, so he (metaphorically) turned and ran. This would be why he stopped e-mailing me.

This blog is a mix of things in this order:

  1. Videos of Michael.
  2. Silly statements that I don't really mean.
  3. Personal opinions that I mean with all my heart.
  4. Music videos of the songs we listen to.
  5. Snarky commentary about people who don't know how to use the English language.
  6. Sexy pictures and videos of David Hasselhoff.
Other than labelling posts THIS IS A JOKE (which would kill the joke), I can't think of any way to signal clearly that I'm joking unless you are familiar with my sense of humour. CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR THE HUMOUR-IMPAIRED: There are two jokes in the list. First, I don't actually think David Hasselhoff is sexy. Second, items 2 and 3 make fun of the fact that people can't tell if I am serious. Get it? Get it?

If this is your first visit, please start here. It may help you to figure out when I'm joking.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Look familiar?

BREAKING NEWS: This fellow is mobbed when he walks around Belfast because of his supposed uncanny resemblance to David Hasselhoff.

Personally, I don't see it. However, that could be because I've committed every curve of David's body to memory. You can't fool me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What's in my MP3 Player?

Sorry that I haven't been blogging as much as usual this week. My three brothers are all in town and the wedding is on Saturday. Traffic to the blog is way down, and I assume this is also wedding-related. For those of you who are still around, please bear with me for another few days. I promise to come back.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

These so-called vacations will soon be my death

I have now been on vacation for four weeks, and I've decided that that's plenty. I want to go home.

There have been seven separate moves since I left home. Each time, I had to repack our bags. Each time, I had to drive for at least two hours before I could unpack.

Steve has been gone for almost two weeks, and Michael and I are close to coming to blows. We had a full-blown argument in a store on Sunday morning. He said that I was the meanest person in the world. I said that I was not mean, I was his mommy, and he was not allowed to eat cookies for breakfast.

I'm in Bangor for a week. This is a bit of a relief, because I can finally unpack my clothes. But I can't wait to get home to my own house in Name Of Town Withheld.

It had better be clean when I get there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just a minute, Dad. I'm gelling my hair.

What's in my MP3 Player?

This is one of Michael's favourites. It should make my mom feel better. She is concerned that musicians are putting so much work into their videos that they are not thinking about what their music should sound like. Admittedly, this is partly my fault for showing her "My Humps" so she could understand something on Glen's blog.

I think this hairstyle looked better on the Wilson sisters when they were in Heart.

Trying to ha-ha ha, ha-ha ha.

This may not be widely known, but I take poetry very seriously. I've put some thought into what the Pussycat Dolls were trying to say. (I accidentally typed "Pussycat Dollars", which is more accurate than their real name.)

I still don't think this needs to be bleeped, but at least it makes more sense this way.

It's funny how a man
only thinks about the tan

You got a real big heart,
but I'm looking at your part

You got real big brains,
but I'm looking at your chains

Girl, there ain't no pain
in me looking at your mane

I don't give a damn

Keep looking at my scam

Cause, it don't mean a thing
if you're looking at my bling

Ha, I'm a do my thing
while you're playing with your fing-er

Ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha

Better? I'm afraid the entire effort might need to be scrapped. Anyone who thinks "same" rhymes with "grade" shouldn't be writing "music", anyway.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Michael and Dimitri

Crazy Eights with Matt and Sarah

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Five bodies and seven heads. That's...a conspiracy.

There are a lot of toll booths between Crystal River and Tampa. They take your money bit by bit, about a dollar at a time.

I feel bad for the poor guys who have to work in those tiny boxes. All they see is traffic. All they hear is traffic. All they smell is traffic.

Somehow, one of the toll-booth operators has maintained his sense of humour. As my dad was handing him a dollar, the man in the box said that he thinks Dad looks like David Caruso.

Mom and Dad didn't know who that was, and I don't think they believed me when I did an impression of him. I promised to post a video. Here goes.

Maine, here I come!

Friday, April 06, 2007

You ask, I answer: Part 7

Question #7: When is your birthday? I have found THE BEST present for you.

My birthday is March 14. We left for Florida on my birthday, but this was just a coincidence.

I love presents. Is it a semicolon?

I will not eat them here or there. I will not eat them anywhere.

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

This is completely my fault. I have not been vigilant enough. When the Pussycat Dolls stripped down to panties and go-go boots and started humping the air, I stayed quiet. When they began their nation-wide skank hunt, I said nothing. (Incidentally, if you missed the linked video when I posted it last week, I highly recommend it.)

When they claimed they were re-defining female empowerment, I got a bit uncomfortable. I don't like it when people unilaterally change the meanings of words. You see, it's just a few steps from there to using "beg the question" to mean "raise the question", but I was trying to be a bit less judgmental.

But they have gone too far this time. Exhibit A:

This time they've attacked the English language. I'm willing to accept "ha ha ha ha ha ha" as lyrics. I'll even accept the beeps. As I've stated before, beeps can be funny. But this is just stupid.

You beep out a naughty word so people can laugh. If you beep out a non-naughty word like "dick", you just look like a moron. Beeps should be used strategically. Here's an example:

So let's all drink some low-carb beers
And hit on some poor schmuck

Don't ask us where our husbands are

'Cause we don't give a BEEP

Now, a review of Poetry 101 is in order. There are many ways to write a rhyming poem. This particular one is ABCB. That means that the second and fourth lines end with a rhyme. (We'll skip the concept of rhythm, at least for now.) Most songs are written this way or in AABB format.

Now, I couldn't stand to transcribe the lyrics in this song, but fortunately Sing 365 has done the work for me. I present the first part of the song, which should be enough to make the point:

Ha, ha-ha, ha-ha
Ha, ha-ha, ha

Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha

Ha, ha-ha, ha

It's funny how a man
only thinks about the BEEP

You got a real big heart,
but I'm looking at your BEEP

You got real big brains,
but I'm looking at your BEEP

Girl, there ain't no pain
in me looking at your BEEP

I don't give a BEEP

Keep looking at my BEEP

Cause, it don't mean a thing
if you're looking at my BEEP

Ha, I'm a do my thing
while you're playing with your BEEP

Ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha

Every boy's the same

Since up in the seventh grade

They been trying to get with me

Trying to Ha, ha-ha, ha, ha-ha

They always got a plan

To be my one and only man

Want to hold me with their hands

Want to Ha, ha-ha, ha, ha-ha

I keep turning them down

But, they always come around

Asking me to go around

That's not the way it's going down

I can't handle any more than this. These lyrics are clearly AABB structure. I can tell by looking at the un-beeped section, where the genius lyricist has artfully rhymed "down" and "around" as well as "plan" and "man". Oh, and also "same" and "grade".

So this should be a song that has dirty (and therefore beeped) words that rhyme with "man", "heart", "brains", and "pain" in the first verse. Perhaps I am too puritanical, but I cannot think of dirty words that rhyme with any of these words. "Fart", maybe. What is this, kindergarten?

The second verse gives some clues about what its beeped words should be. I can think of several ways to end the phrase "I don't give a BEEP", but the beeped word should rhyme with the beeped word on the next line. The next two beeped words should both rhyme with "thing". Again, I'm having trouble imagining what they could be. "Bling"?

The next set of lines is not a verse, it's a bridge, but the distinction has likely been lost on the Dolls. They have used "ha ha ha ha ha ha" in place of beeps, just to shake things up a bit. This time, we are to use our imaginations to fill in half of the line. The last word in the line should rhyme with "me" or "hands". Oh, and it should be naughty. Otherwise, what would be the point of tantalizing us with "ha ha ha ha ha ha"?

Dolls, rhyming is so easy that Michael could do it years ago. It means that two words end with the same sound. Like "skank" and "rank". Or "whore" and "bedsore". Or "burns when you pee" and "don't sleep with me". See how easy that was?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

You ask, I answer: Part 6

Question #6: David Hasselhoff. No, seriously.

*deep sigh*

If you knew where this question is coming from, you would understand why it pains me so much. I might have to watch OOGA-CHAKA-OOGA-OOGA just to pull myself out of the funk. This feels very man-behind-the-curtain-ish, so I won't be offended if you feel that you have to skip this entry.

Okay, here's the thing with David Hasselhoff: He's a massive joke.

David Hasselhoff became famous this way:

He wasn't a great actor, and he was an even worse singer, but right around this time he decided that he wanted to be a rock star. I have no idea how, but he became a giant star in Germany. Then he showed up on our TVs again:

To this day, I can't tell if Boobwatch was intended to be a comedy. Apparently Pam Anderson is the most famous Canadian in the world because of this show (great, just great).

David became a colossal joke in North America and disappeared for a few years. They still loved him in Germany, where he did shows like this:

I know. It is already too much to take, but we must press on.

At some point in the past few years, David realised that he could revive his North American career by making fun of himself. He made appearances like this one -- sorry, but I can't embed this 16-second movie clip.

And he did videos. Be still, my heart -- he did videos. Yes, he did OOGA-CHAKA as a joke. But it's only funny because he did the same sort of thing with a straight face for 20 years. He's an overwrought has-been. And that's why he's funny.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Dear Simon Cowell,

I can only assume that your recent threats to quit your show are nothing more than an (albeit successful) attempt to gain more publicity. But maybe they're not. So let's review the concept behind the show you invented:

  1. You hold open auditions all over the country.
  2. Judges pick the most promising contestants.
  3. Viewers vote for their favourite contestants. They can vote as many times as they want, for any reason.
  4. Every week, the contestant with the fewest votes is kicked off the show.
  5. The last one standing is guaranteed to get a record contract. The others have to hustle to get similar or better contracts.
I think that's basically it. Oh're upset because you put a really bad singer named Sanjaya into the competition. You think he's a terrible singer. You're mad that people are voting for him just to make fun of your show. You think this is a mean thing to do.

I might agree with you, if it weren't for the fact that bad singers are your show's bread and butter. The early shows are nothing but bad singers, and you make fun of them all the way across the country. You have special "Worst of American Idol" shows and DVDs. I saw a live show last year where a delusional young man who styled himself after a former runner-up actually appeared on stage with his "Idol". Clearly, you don't hesitate to make fun of bad singers.

So you put this guy into the top 20, or whatever, and you're all upset because people keep voting for him. You want us to laugh at bad singers, but only at a time of your choosing. The lesson here might be that if you wouldn't want to see a person win the whole contest, you shouldn't put him into a position where members of the public will be able to control his fate.

You ask, I answer: Part 5

Question #5: If no one is posting these questions to your site, how is it that you actually know what the questions are? Are you just making these questions up in some bizarre Multiple Personality disordered fashion? Come now. THE TRUTH!!!

Some questions are coming in through non-traditional channels. This includes instant messages, e-mail and oral questions.

And it's "multiple-personality-disordered fashion". You're welcome.

You ask, I answer: Part 4

Question #4: When the hell are you back? Are you back now? Seems like you have been gone forever!

Although I've been responding to my work e-mail, I am still on vacation in Florida. Michael and I stayed, but Steve went back to Name of Town Withheld on the weekend. The philosopher king and blueberry princess are getting married on April 14, and we'll be back home on the 18th.

Michael and I will leave for Maine on Saturday. We are spending Saturday with my brother and Sunday with my aunt and cousins from New Hampshire. We're doing whatever we bloody well please on Monday and Tuesday, but will be in Bangor on Wednesday to check in at the Black Bear Inn. I'm looking forward to introducing Michael to all of his relatives.

In the meantime, I am busily spending all of the money I saved throughout last year. I might be penniless, but at least I will look fabulous.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You ask, I answer: Part 3

Question #3: Uh, you know Uriel? Are you making fun of me? Do you really think this is what I believe?

HAHAHAHAHAHA. How delicious.

Here's the thing with Uriel: She's not real. Her distinguishing feature is that she believes that she alone knows what God wants. See how different this is from what you believe? Oh, you don't see a difference? Well, that changes things.


I adore the Uriel character, but it takes time to work up that level of anger, so I don't do much of her. Don't worry: she's not Catholic or Anglican. I don't see her as belonging to any organized religion other than perhaps a fundamentalist group that meets only on the Internet.

The scariest part is that I haven't made up anything she says. Every statement she makes is similar to things I've read or heard others say. Same with her attitude -- she's not even among the worst I've seen. Uriel hates everyone in the world who disagrees with her interpretation of her holy book, and she takes great pleasure in imagining their eventual demise. Her only regret is that she won't be around to witness it, because she (naturally) will be among the saved.

I have to be pretty mad about someone's hypocrisy to do a Uriel post, so there aren't many of them.

Although I think of the character as female, I stole her name from a male archangel. Uriel's not named in the Bible, but is thought to be the angel with the flaming sword outside the Garden of Eden. He also holds the keys to hell. I'm sure you can see why the name is appropriate.

Now you ask if I think this is what you personally believe. Since this blog's readership is limited, I'm going to venture a guess that it's not. But don't kid yourself into thinking that others don't think this way. And yes, I am making fun of them. And yes, they do deserve it.

You ask, I answer: Part 2

Question #2: If I post a comment, will everyone see it?


It depends on what you mean by "everyone". This blog gets 25-35 visits per day. That's really not very many people. And I'm no longer convinced that they all know how to look at the comments, so it's even fewer than that.

But yeah, if you post a comment, anyone could see it. That's assuming that:

  1. The person knows this blog exists (most people don't, and I've set it up to be hard to find through a search engine);
  2. The person comes to the blog while your comment is on the front page (the page is completely refreshed every week, and most people don't go into the archives); and
  3. The person looks at your comment.
Not much to worry about, really.

You ask, I answer: Part 1

Questions are coming in through non-traditional channels. It is OK. I'm hip. I'm cool. I'll roll with whatever you throw at me. When this is all over, you owe me a tour of the institution you call home. Just don't expect me to loosen your restraints.

Question #1: How the heck do I submit a comment?

You need to use your mouse. No, not a squeaking rodent. That thing with the buttons that you use to magically move the arrow around on your screen. It probably has a cord attached to it. See that thing? That's called a mouse. No, don't get scared again. It is not alive. It won't bite you.

Use the mouse to point the arrow at the comment button. It's not a real button, it's a hyperlink -- wait, never mind. It's right beneath the stuff I've written, on the same line as "Posted by Steve & Megan". See it now? It has a number and then the word COMMENTS. Point the arrow at the word COMMENTS and push the left button. You should hear a clicking sound, and a little box will pop up. Write anything you want in this box. When you're done, look below the box. You can pick the name that shows up. You do not need a Blogger account: if you click "Other", you can write your own name in. Then click on PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT.

Congratulations! You have left your first comment!

No, not NOW. I mean that once you go through all these steps, you WILL have left your first comment.

Experiment in Web 2.0

I'm going to try something new today. No blog post. Instead, I'll take questions from my adoring fans. Go ahead: ask me anything. I'll answer as completely as possible.

A few ideas to get you started:

How can I be so awesome? Was I born this way, or did my greatness emerge over time?

Where can people learn how to use hyphens?

Do I really think David Hasselhoff is sexy?
(A concerned reader asked this question the other day.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

The most important one in the house

In case there are any lingering questions about who is really important around here, this post should clear them all up.

Her name is (or was) Chelsie, but she now uses the alias Kitty. She thinks she is a human, and she is NOT happy about my presence or Michael's. He is allergic to her, so she has been banished to the porch while he's around. This keeps his eyes from turning the colour of cranberry juice.

Kitty is upset about the new restrictions, and it did not take long for her to figure out that our presence is the reason she can't have the run of the house. This is the same cat who used to have her own chair at the dinner table -- it was an old-fashioned high chair, and if she couldn't sit in it while we ate, she would make her displeasure known by jumping all over us, shedding hair into the spaghetti.

And this is no ordinary cat. I see that her plate (not feeding tray) must have been lost in the move, but she used to refuse to eat unless her food was on a gold-rimmed crystal plate. This is not a joke. But please, take a look at her water dish:

Yes, that's a wine glass, and yes, it's on a serving dish, and YES, THAT IS ICE IN THE GLASS.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Yeah, I'm a doofus.

I have these new shoes. They have ginormous heels that bring me close to the bottom end of the normal scale for midgets. Heels are good. New shoes are good.

Well, I have to clarify that a bit: New shoes are good after they've been broken in. Before that time, they are just awful. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in -- wait, I was so upset that I almost spontaneously changed personalities. The point is, new shoes are weapons of violence.

My feet are creased with ribbons of raw flesh and dotted with blisters. It is really terrible to behold.

And the worst part is that this is all my own fault. What kind of moron wears new shoes to the mall? Yeah, I'm definitely one of the dumbest people I know, and that is saying a LOT.