Thursday, August 31, 2006
Late breaking news: Hugo Schwyzer, who has a very interesting comment section about Tearfree's ratemyprofs.com strategy, is the second hottest professor on Ratemyprofessors.com's 50 Hottest Professors list. Despite this, he freely admits to not being as hot as Jack Bauer and being slightly envious of the "Canadian Dude" who is number one.
Then I hit 37.
And they arrived.
The chin whiskers.
I actually thought it was a cat hair that had stuck to my chin after a cuddle with one of household pets the first time I noticed one. Nope. It was a chin whisker. And there was more where that f**ker came from. I have now become so adept at knowing when they are about to appear that I can actually tweeze them when they are practically still under the skin, though I am certain co-workers wonder why I spend so much time gently stroking my own chin. Then came the upper lip hair, and soon after the upper leg hair -- always just flaxen peach fuzz; suddenly something far more sinister. Then the fair-coloured hair in the usual regions began to expand at an urban-sprawl-like pace.
And now, I am a full-fledged hair removal addict. I have magnifying mirrors situated at every south-facing window of my home. I have about seven pairs of tweezers -- and that made for some interesting explaining last time I flew and my makeup bag went through the scanner. Thankfully, it was an Hispanic woman at the scanner who basically said: "Say no more," when I explained to her why I had a round-tipped pair, a slanted-tipped pair, a square-tipped pair, scissors-style pair, a pointy-edged pair, etc etc etc. She knew all about it.
Intellectually, I knew this was part of aging: women's testosterone goes up while men's estrogen does the same. So it stood to reason while men my age were freaking out about man boobs and cellulite on their thighs and feeling weepy, I would soon have to start worrying about a pot belly and a 'stache. I just honestly didn't think it would happen to me.
Is this what brunettes suffer through for most of their lives?
I have not done any electrolysis yet or laser hair removal or any such thing, so any tips from you brunettes would be appreciated. What works and what lasts and what is the most affordable? I can tell you, however, that the Veet cold wax strips are far, far superior to the Neet and Nair ones. They've got 10 times the hair-ripping power.
p.s. No, that is not me.
After last week's historic agreement, the Caisse de Depot, which invests Tearfree's public pension funds, wants to know if it should buy up more forestry stocks. What do you say, concerned Lumberjack?
Update: RTK has learned that Quebec Premier Jean Charest commented on the forestry industry today, explaining why the Caisse de Depot was looking to the smartest source around (RTK) for insight. Monsieur Charest said the forestry industry has just been through "the worst crisis" ever due to import duties imposed by the U.S.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Well, here are some more soccer hotties in a truly classic match.
Tearfree had an interesting discussion with a colleague today about the very long profile of Michael Ignatieff, which appeared in The Globe and Mail last Saturday. The colleague was appalled at how 15-year-old Michael had treated his younger brother Andrew. Tearfree thought it was fairly standard behaviour for an older sibling. And she also gets the feeling there were a lot of "other issues" at play in this scenario described by reporter Michael Valpy.
As an older sibling herself, Tearfree understands where Michael was coming from and she also knows that the urge to stamp a younger sibling out of your life can co-exist with a need to protect the sibling. She doesn't think the two are mutually exclusive.
Andrew followed him to UCC in 1962. A self-described "fat little prick," he was absent his brother's talents. He was not an athlete, not adept at writing and public speaking, not competitive. While Michael was "God," and "everybody bowed and scraped when he passed," Andrew became known as "fatty," "piggy," "slob," "spaz," "big ass" — and "Iggy," a nickname he loathed.
He, too, contributed to Old Boys — it's the last public comment he has made about his brother.
"Before I started at age 12," he writes, "our parents sat down with my older brother and me. They said, 'Michael, you're the big brother, and Andrew is going to UCC for the first time. It's the first time he has ever been away. You have to understand you have to be good to him.'
"Michael was very sweet and he told me how wonderful UCC would be. Then we went to my Aunt Helen's house and again he was very sweet. My Aunt Helen [Ignatieff, the boys' in loco parentis in Canada] again impressed on him the importance of him looking out for me. Then we went to the school and he introduced me to all the masters in the prep.
"The next morning he said, 'How are things going? Did you sleep well?' I said, 'Yes, I slept well.' He said, 'How was the food?' I said. 'It was gross.' He said, 'Do you want to go for a walk?'
"We went for a walk, and he said, 'I want to make one thing absolutely clear to you. When we're at Aunt Helen's house or Aunt Charity's house [Charity Grant, their mother's sister], you can say whatever you want to me. But if you ever see me on the school grounds, you're not to talk to me. You're not to recognize that I'm your brother. You don't exist as far as I'm concerned. Do I make myself clear?'"
The brothers obviously have a complex relationship and if Andrew has forgiven Michael, Tearfree doesn't really understand why her colleague isn't able to overlook this past error and ascribe it to the follies of youth.
He and another colleague argued back that "good" people just don't do that kind of thing, but Tearfree think it depends very much on the family dynamic. She is also curious as to why a grown-up Andrew would publish such a tale for the whole world to read and believes a shrink would want to discuss that too. Of course, it could also be that Tearfree is just making excuses for her own misdeeds with regard to her younger brother. You decide -- in the comments section.
Anyway, my daughter wanted to earn some extra cash and dropped an application off at the neighbourhood IGA. And they hired her on the spot! And she worked a seven-hour shift yesterday, is back today, and is skedded for tomorrow. They want her to get up to speed as much as possible before she starts school and reverts to a few hours a week.
She is only 15, turning 16 in a few weeks. As her mother, I am proud yet fretful. She came home exhausted last night, having spent the whole day on her feet. I had to give her a foot rub. And I wonder: Is this too much work for a girl her age?
I am feeling a bit like Coco the cat: I supported her getting a job, and helped her with the application, but now both she and I feel like there's a rubbery-winged bat that has risen up in front of us -- is it too much? What if it interferes with her school work? Is she too young? Have I subtly forced her into child labour because I cannot afford to support her love of shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch and Aritzia? Could it all go terribly pear-shaped?
What would all you other parents have done?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The Very Bad Teacher taught music at my daughter's school and was known for being intense. He was heavily into music and had started up some famous choir in the neighbourhood and was extremely intent that his music pupils and his school choir were the best in the city. He put on a Spring Fling one year that rivalled some Broadway mega-musical -- it was completely and utterly over the top. But the school kept winning prestigious music awards and the ruthlessly ambitious principal at the time loved the attention he was shining on the school; she wanted a huge job at the board of education, and he was helping her get there.
The Very Bad Teacher was so intense, however, that when a child acted up in class, he didn't hesitate to scream obscenties at them or, oftentimes, grab them by their shirt collars and physically hurl them from the classroom. My daughter and her friends -- straight A students and athletes who got good music marks and participated in the choir -- began to come home with horror stories. One of the girls was told she was ugly and an embarrassment to his choir when she turned around to speak to a kid behind her. When a group of parents suggested to the principal that The Very Bad Teacher seemed to have some anger management problems, she immediately turned it around on the kids, calling them tyrants, despite the fact that just a few weeks earlier she had awarded some of them the Principal's Award for outstanding conduct and for setting an example for others. The fact that we had spoken to the principal infuriated The Very Bad Teacher, and we were soon forced to remove our kids from the choir, and then from the music class, because he literally began terrorizing them. Our complaints to the board and the trustee, meantime, went largely unheeded -- they sided with the principal.
Now before anyone says it (40 and No Boat), let me be clear: I am not one of THOSE mothers who believes their child can do no wrong. I pooh-poohed my daughter's complaints at first, told her to respect authority figures, and deal with it. But before long just about every parent in the school was hearing the same stories. And the principal began refusing to even speak to parents who wanted to voice their concerns, or to show up for PTA meetings where he was discussed. I ended up in mediation with the principal, some parents threatened to sue, but still the music teacher remained in the classroom.
Three years later, the same teacher actually picked my son up after he'd fallen out of line in a square dance and hurled him to the ground. My son was 10 at the time, the littlest kid in his class, and shy ... he had never been in a whit of trouble before. This time, I went straight to the board and avoided dealing with the principal. In a month, The Very Bad Teacher had been reassigned to a board job and was out of the classroom.
I am actually still angry about it, mostly at the principal. She clearly had a whackjob on her hands and yet refused to even return parents' calls. She too is no longer a principal and didn't get the job she'd hoped for. I hope my complaints about her to the higher-ups had something to do with it.
Tearfree’s then 10-year-old daughter was, to say the least, distressed to discover some of the not-so-nice things written about her Mom there, and, like the loyal daughter she is, she took it upon herself to set the ratemyprofessors.com record straight. “I would love to have this prof as my BFF,” she gushed online as if she were at a slumber party. Tearfree’s daughter’s friend also added some equally kind words about her own mother.
The girls were so proud of the instant results of their handiwork that the next time they got together, they decided to boost their Moms’ ratings yet again. But this time their flattering postings were removed from the site. The girls had been unmasked as users making multiple posts about the same professor from the same IP address. They’d encountered just about the only barrier ratemyprofessors.com has.
While most profs –including, until very recently, Tearfree -- choose to take the high road about ratemyprofessors.com and ignore it, despite the fact that it has given a Google-empowered podium to some of the biggest blowhards currently enrolled in institutes of higher education, Tearfree decided earlier this year that enough was enough.
She did not take the route of more diplomatic colleagues who have appealed successfully to the managers of ratemyprofessors.com to take the worst stuff down. Nor did she follow the example of valiant professors from the social sciences who have performed complex statistical analyses of ratemyprofessors.com’s data and drawn all sorts of conclusions, including the highly obvious one that students are inclined to give top ratings to attractive easy markers. No, instead Tearfree decided she was going to go up against ratemyprofessors.com using their own dubious tactics. Thus, since the beginning of 2006, whenever she finds herself with a free moment while sitting in front of someone else’s computer – be it at the library or at her aunt’s place of employment or at the gym – Tearfree just writes herself a glowing ratemyprofessors.com review and posts it.
The only unsuccessful part of this strategy is that for some reason all the chili peppers she’s given herself, to indicate a scalding hotness rating, have failed to show up. Yet despite that small flaw, Tearfree now has one of the best ratemyprofessors.com ratings in the entire university, making herself an off-the-charts statistical anomaly and a possible footnote in that study that concluded hot easy markers almost always come out on top.
Update: See how the Pentagon is monitoring Tearfree's ratemyprofessors.com strategy
and check out Tearfree goes to Harvard.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Crocs news goes from bad to worse!
Ever since Quebec-based Foam Creations made the fatal mistake of selling out to a Colorado company, Crocs have been going gangbusters. Last week brought another blow to the Canadian taxpayers, who helped pay for the development of Crocs (through a grant from the National Research Council), but will not reap the profitable rewards. Crocs are now expanding into China.
Now that the weather has cooled off, RTK would like to appeal to readers to start taste-testing Dr. O's desserts. She happens to know that the 40 and No Boat household is in possession of a Black Forest cake mix, which would make a perfect finishing touch to a casual September supper. In the mean time, we continue to receive regular Dr. O. traffic, including not just North Americans curious to know about the chocolate mousse but also Germans who, living as they do in the baked goods company town of Bielefeld, want a perspective from outside Dr. O's world headquarters.
Just a reminder to you that the RTK Dr. Oetker taste test can be found here.
At the Emmys last night, best actor for Kiefer for playing the incomparable Jack Bauer and best drama for 24, the most fabultastic TV show ever. Tearfree just wishes she didn't now know that President Palmer was assassinated this year. And once again, NO SEASON FIVE SPOILERS!
Readers are confused. We do not -- repeat NOT -- blog about James Blunt at RTK. Besides, even Sara has said she is bored with James.
Synchro Swimming: Men need not apply
Tearfree apologizes for missing this story when it broke at the tail end of her vacation. USA Today reported earlier this month that men will not be admitted to competition at the highest level of this sport and only women will be permitted to compete in the big leagues of Synchro Swimming,
Breaking into the Technorati top 100
Despite RTK's highly influential readership, we have not succeeded in generating the links needed to climb the Technorati Most Popular Blogs list. We are stuck at 265, 913 so please if you are a blogger, link to RTK. And if you aren't a blogger, encourage your friends to read. We need all the links and publicity and word of mouse we can get!
Tearfree's New Puppy
Bridget cost Tearfree an unplanned $100 this week. Friday morning, Tearfee awoke to find the puppy had been sick, either due to all the pebbles and flowers she eats or because of a food change. Tearfree cleaned her up and by noon, Bridget had perked up and was back to her regular self, but her hindquarters were still in need of a Vet's opinion. Goodbye 60$. That evening, the Tearfree family tried to watch a DVD but plans were preempted when it was discovered that the cable connecting the DVD to the TV had been severed by canine teeth. The $10 cable was replaced the next day and, with much anticipation, everyone hit the couch to finally watch the DVD. No luck. It seems a $20 adapter wire, which had gone unnoticed the day before, had also been chewed through. Throw in a $10 taxi fee to arrive at the $100 grand total. Sigh!
Back to School: Be zen
Many readers have been writing for some commonsense back-to-school advice. Just like Tearfree had to take the puppy costs in stride, she urges all of you parents of school-age children to be zen about back-to-school expenses. Start by preparing your self for the endless unexpected payments you are going to have to make.
Om. I will have to buy lots of stuff I never imagined I would have to buy this month.
Congratulations to 40 and No Boat
Thanks to his love of tasty vegetables, Tearfee now knows what a "weeping bed" is and RTK is now number two on google for this crucial info.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Update from Tearfree: Saturday noon
In answer to Jacy's question, it didn't take very long. (Click on the image to enlarge)
So do officials in the U.S. Department of Justice:
If you want the full story on how RTK became an authority on softwood lumber it can be found here. Many of our original readers were Mummy Bloggers who developed a keen interest in softwood lumber so we hope some of the new softwood lumber visitors will take the time to read our Hip Cool Mamas post as well as the latest softwood news.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
There can be no denying that the current Yummy Mummy phenomenon has had many positive effects, the most notable of which is probably far more fashionable maternity clothes, but it's also had some grave negative consequences, the first and foremost being a serious bout of wheel reinvention. This summer, for example, we heard, first from England's Daily Mail, and, later, in a copycat article in Canada's Globe and Mail, that "motherhood is boring." Well duh, as Gail Lethbridge of Halifax, succinctly put it in a letter to the editor:
Motherhood boring? Excuse me, does Rebecca Eckler and her bevy of bored mummies actually think they are inventing the idea of boredom in motherhood? I hate to spoil the party, ladies, but this is not news.
Remember Betty Friedan and Sylvia Plath? They were saying the same thing in the early sixties, but unlike the smart, middle-class, uninvolved mothers (SMUMs) quoted in the article, they were saying it with poetry and panache.
Too true, Gail, and what's more the boredom thing is not the only rediscovery. For some bizarre reason today's Moms seem to think they are the first generation of hipster mothers and just can't get over the fact that they're Mommies and cool too (or at least think they're cool), as if that's never ever been done before. Well, Tearfree is here to tell you that just as mothers have been bored out of their minds with certain aspects of motherhood for centuries, so too have there always been hip cool moms.
Once again ladies, this is not news. Hip mothers have been around forever and the hippest of them all understand their place in the grand scheme of things. So as a reminder that billions have gone before us including millions of awesome rockstar mothers, Tearfree is giving you three shining examples of hip cool moms from yesteryear and encouraging everyone to nominate their own candidates. Here at RTK, we are committed to never ever reinventing the wheel.
HIp Mom, number 1, Susanna Moodie (photo on top)
Stuck in the bush with five, count 'em, five kids before flush toilets, AfterBite, and wireless communications, and with an oft absent husband, Susanna Moodie not only kept the homefires burning, she also managed to write several books. Sure, she could have used some of that marvellous lip plumper that anonymASS informed us was invented in Ottawa, but Susanna's still a total rockstar, so much so that Margaret Atwood wrote a bunch of poetry about her and even Tearfree, who absolutely hates camping and sees nothing morally elevating in it, thinks Mrs. Moodie was amazing.Hip Mom, number 2, Jacqueline Kennedy
Tearfree doesn't care about JFK's fooling around or Jackie's subsequent marriage to Ari, she was still the 20th century's yummiest famous Mummy.
Hip Mom, number 3, Margaret Thatcher
She became Prime Minister of England and that's good enough for Tearfree. Everything else pales in comparison to that achievement.
Comments are open for more hippest moms ever nominations.
Update: Read more on "The Escalation of Cool" when it comes to all things motherhood.
I even noticed a letter to the Globe and Mail this week chastising other letter-writers regarding bored mothers. Mothers should be free to whinge about how bored they are without fear of being judged, lamented the affronted letter-writer.
I disagree that people should never judge other people. We wouldn't have a legal system unless people were judging other people.
And look what that creepy supposed JonBenet Ramsey killer, John Mark Karr, had to say today to People Magazine on this very topic:
"People say I am a monster and a horrible person. They don't know me ... they won't approve of what happened. (But) I don't approve of what happened."
Hey, Ed Grimley ... you raped and killed a six-year-old girl, or you're lying about raping and killing a six-year-old girl. Either way, you're a sick headcase. And you're MOST CERTAINLY a monster and a horrible person if you did what you say you did. So please spare us the lecture on how we shouldn't judge you. And while you're at it, rethink how high you're wearing your pants, you horribly monstrous fashion victim.
2 seconds on google: READ, weep, and go buy something nice for yourself to help make you feel good again.
I will continue to research for specific names of companies, but odds are we all have something unspeakable like that in our closet. (literally)
I was sort of the position of don't ask any questions before, and I have half jokingly asked the cashier at Old Navy if the products were made by children and she got very serious and said firmly NO.
I will take that at face value and say jp did not know what she/he was talking about in this particular case, but in reality the remark was not far from the truth.
In the above mentioned article there is a lot of talk about carpets being made by children strapped to the machines, so in my defense the last 2 carpets I bought were Canadian made and in a past life I used to pick the carpets up for shipping directly from the manufacturer. I never once saw a child in the factory.
Be proud buy Canadian and eliminate the guess work.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
- Softwood lumber, which we have reported on extensively here at RTK. (Just scroll down and see.)
- And mothers supposedly breaking the last taboo and admitting they're bored.
Now that doesn't mean that it's not rewarding. It's just one of those great contradictory mysteries of life. It kind of reminds Tearfree of a comedian's rant she once heard about sex, something along the lines of why is it always one person having a good time and the other getting a cramp? Positive and negative at the same time in the two situations and the outcome of both is still overwhelmingly positive, right?
Tearfree is truly surprised that anyone is surprised at the boredom factor and she thinks that the Moms who believe they are being "brave" about admitting motherhood is boring have set the bar for bravery pretty low. Send them to a Taliban firefight and then they'll see BRAVE.
In related news, Tearfree would like to note that Rebecca Eckler fed parasitically on this scandal-provoking piece by Helen Kirwan-Taylor, published last month in The Daily Mail.
Now Tearfree would be the first to admit that she regularly feeds parasitically on Eckler's blog but unlike her host, she doesn't make claims not to. Consider what Eckler wrote on her blog just last month:
By the end of my old job at my old paper I was literally saying, "I'll only do the story if no one else has done it before" to PR companies. That's because I'm also super competitive and I hate repeating stories that other papers have already done.Sounds like she's in denial just about as much as those Moms who claim they're never bored.
I'm so American in my competitiveness. I swear, when I read something in a Canadian paper that I know I read...just...last...week in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, I throw down my paper in disgust. Why the heck are we always following America?
So how competitive am I? Well, let's just say when I hear about a story that is going to come out in an American paper, I always tell my Canadian editors, so I can do it first. I know, sad. But why shouldn't I want to beat the NY Times? I do want to beat The Times.
Plus, are we not good enough to find our own stories? Canada has a ton of interesting stories and people who need a little bit of help. Press helps their businesses out, so why not?
People say you can't believe alot of what you read on the internet.
Never mind the nay-sayers.
Your dog gets skunked during the bedtime walk, one immediately becomes desperate and I don't mean for affectiion from the loved one. Besides if they are worth half their weight in gold they should be the one on the internet doing the search.
Trust me this works. My dog is beside me in the house 2 days after the skunking and the only way I can smell her is if I stick my nose on her right cheek. I have no idea what it will smell like when she gets wet, but for now everybody is happy.
Free advice Tearfree as you head down the path of dog ownership.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
In the meantime for all you high-minded types, here are some softwood lumber blogging FAQS:
Tearfree, how did you get into softwood lumber?
It was shortly after I started my blog. There was a controversy about the person mentioned in number 17 that brought me a lot of readers, but also a lot of criticism. Sceptics said I wouldn't be able to make it as a blogger beyond the first month and asked what I would blog about going forward. I chose softwood lumber and made good on my promise.
Is it fair to say that your first post on the topic was not promising?
Yes, it was problematic, but we got some good comments and I was determined to show another side of myself and I just refused to give up. Next thing I knew, readers were telling me that the softwood lumber posts were their favourites.
And now you're number one when you google "lumber blogger?"
Yes, it's a privilege and an honour.
What about Concerned Lumberjack? When did he get into the picture?
He came to RTK after hearing about it in a trade relations chat room. He's provided invaluable insights and I was flattered that he came out of the closet on this blog after being named COW.
Doesn't Unfaithful Husband have a softwood connection too?
Yes, he made his first post about softwood lumber. He was quite heated up about the issue because he lives in the States and can't get low-cost BC plywood.
Did you celebrate today's annnouncement?
Yes, but nothing spectacular.
What will you blog about now?
The Crocs sandal scandal needs uncovering. It's a national disgrace.
We got the lumber deal! Armageddon didn't happen so here's the lovely and amazing Brigit.
Last week Tearfree sent her daughter out to buy doggie supplies but she neglected to provide detailed instructions, instead just telling her to take the money on the dining room table and buy a collar, lead and food bowls.
Tearfree's 11-year-old daughter bought a $13 collar, an $18 lead and an $18 set of feeding bowls. When Tearfree received this news over the phone she freaked out. "My Gawd, what did you get?" she said, trying to keep from totally losing it.
"Fake Louis Vuitton," replied her daughter, who is a total brand name slut.
Finally yesterday, after accepting she would never get around to returning this overpriced merchandise and that she must take responsibility for not providing pricing instructions, Tearfree decided it was time to move on. She even used the leash in question without bitterness and remorse. But then today, when she and her daughter took Brigit for her 8-week vaccines, she was reminded of the situation once again.
"Wow, a Louis Vuitton leash," said the Vet's assistant.
"It's fake and plastic," shot back Tearfree, who is not into brand names and looks down upon those who worship them.
Oh," said the vet's assistant in a manner that made it unclear whether she was relieved or disappointed.
"Why did you have to tell her it was fake?" asked Tearfree's daughter after the vet's assistant left the room.
"Because that's the difference between us," answered Tearfree. " I'd be embarrassed to own a Louis Vuitton lead and you're embarrassed to own a fake."
Here's the lead for you to bid on over at Ebay if you're so inclined. And the real thing sells for around $300 Canadian just in case you're considering it.
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government will
bring in legislation next month to implement a controversial
softwood lumber deal with the United States.
Harper says the deal, which some critics call a sellout to
Washington, has won support from key provinces and major segments of
He says it's the best deal that could be achieved and will be a
boon for Canadian companies.
They will get billion of dollars in refunded duties collected
over the last few years.
The prime minister says the agreement will also bring stability
and predictability to the industry.
The seven-year, renewable deal was first announced in April after
years of on-and-off bargaining and litigation.
In my mind I am not going to negotiate with anybody under this age, because (a) I don't have the energy and (b) I don't have to. My wife protests when I make things seem so clear and she is worried I don't see the whole picture. I try to assure her that I see MY picture clearly and have acted upon it. My brother also thinks I am way to strict and that I should stop being so passive aggressive when it comes to kids.
My point is this:
If one were to think for more than a nano-second about a relative, teacher, or coach they have had in the past, I can almost garantee you will remember the hardasses first. I don't want to talk about your parents because that is their job (or so it should have been, as you read this from your jail cell), but think in the past who sticks in your mind.
Is there a close friend of your father's who when visiting your house could make you quiet by just looking down his nose? I've got one of those who I see a couple of times a year and I just love to visit.
Perhaps a teacher you think about when at work dealing with unruly co-workers or customers and the only thought is "Gee I wonder what Mr. Dupont (grade 8 math teacher) would have done with this person?" and "Whatever happened to Mr. Dupont?"
This thought process all started upon the return of my daughter from music camp.
The first story she recounted was how the music teacher was strict and how she got in trouble for correcting the teacher, the story goes like this: "It is not good manners to correct adults!" To which my daughter replied "But I do it to my Mom and Dad all the time."
The show at the end of the week was a great success and all 14 kids sang and danced well. There was 1 teacher and 1 teacher's aid.
Imagine the energy required! I have to leave the house when 2 friends of my daughter come over, let alone show them how to sing and choreograph a solo and several ensembles and put up with back talk.
When asked if she would like to go back to music camp my daughter replied, "Oh Daddy, I can hardly wait!!"
Laissez-Faire parents be warned, STRICT is coming back.
At least in my greyless world.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Given that things are at a crucial point in the softwood lumber negotiations, RTK is being flooded with visitors looking for news, as the following Site Meter referrals indicate.
You can see clearly that softwood lumber is a lot more important and way less boring than the other subjects people are looking up, number four being a case in point.
Just as the U.S. Department of Justice comes here for softwood lumber news, so do top Canadian government officials (although Tearfree would like to know why they're using U.S. English.)
Tearfree is proud to announce that RTK is now the number one destination when you google "lumber blogger."
To get all you dedicated readers and information seekers through these critical times, she is hereby postponing puppy blogging. Stay tuned for the latest softwood developments. Our slogan is "RTK covers softwood like CNN covers Jon Benet!"
When Tearfree let it be known that she was getting a purebred dog, it generated a certain amount of controversy. Many people think buying a purebred is immoral given all the homeless mutts available at the SPCA. Many others think every purebred dog comes from either a puppy mill or a crooked breeder. Whatever! Tearfree is not going to apologize for Bridget, who is a total awesome rockstar puppy.
The SPCA gives out a lot of cats and dogs that should be put down as they say. The problem is that many of the decision makers there are virulent animal rights types. Tearfree knows this because, among other things, she has experienced it first hand when the SPCA gave her a feral adult street cat who was totally unfit to live in a house and jumped off the upstairs balcony within one hour of arriving at his new home.
One of Tearfree's students who volunteers at the SPCA and tried to talk Tearfree out of a Scottie, admitted that psycho pets, were indeed a problem there but promised she'd find Tearfree "a puppy whose tail you could step on."
In the end, Tearfree, who hasn't had a dog since she left home at 21, decided that she wanted to get her dream pet and despite all the protestations, went for the purebred and wrote the check.
Give it up for the Gunpowder Monk, who has been commenting regularly all the way from war-torn Beirut not to mention posting on his own blog, Beirut Impromptu. In these troubled times every blog needs their own Beirut correspondent even if readers don't always agree with his or her take on what's going on. Tearfree, for example, is not into anything that smacks of conspiracy theories and, well, the Gunpowder Monk has, on accasion, showed signs of possible succumbing.
Still, Tearfree's interested in hearing Gunpowder's perspective on Hezbollah and she thinks it totally rocks that as an acoustics nerd, he also has something to contribute on babies and vacuum cleaners.
So congratulations from all your RTK readers, Gunpowder Monk and thanks for filling out our standard COW winner's questionnaire.
How did you discover RTK?
It all began when RTK posted a comment at my blog, the details of which I don't want to go into due to fear of sparking yet another debate. All I can say is that it only took a couple hundred more exchanges of insults for us to become buddies ;)
Who’s your favourite commenter?
Given that there are apparently 50,000 Canadians in Lebanon, do you have anything to say about softwood lumber?
What’s your favourite RTK blogging subject?
What do you want as a prize that Tearfree can actually give you?
P.S. Tearfree forgot to ask whether you have Dr. Oetker in Lebanon.
In former COW news, please check out the picks of Emily's new baby over at her blog. She definitely gets honourable mention for blogging and commenting this week. Her city may not be wartorn but she has a newborn and a toddler, and that counts for something.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Sad to say, here we go again.
My vacation involves 9 people from 3 different families. 4 adults and 5 kids, ages 3-11. When it comes to splitting up the cost the accountants in the family total all the receipts collected and divide by 9. Simple but effective.
There is one member of our group that does not pay and their cost is picked up or split by my brother or myself. I had not discussed with anybody responsibility of payment for this cost, I simply paid because my brother had paid 2 years previous without question or expectations of repayment and I was doing the same.
Once again I am not making the following conversation up:
No Boat: "Hello STFU how are you?"
STFU: "Great, we need to talk about how much I owe for the vacation."
NB: "Don't worry about it, it has all been taken care of."
STFU: "I would like to pay for....."
NB: "No worries, we all had a great time and I won't hear of it."
STFU: "I want to know how much it cost?"
NB: "Listen I took care of it, because my brother paid last time."
STFU: "I did not pay your brother back, but I gave his family a really nice Christmas gift, I want to know the cost."
NB: "If you must know, $3500/9 about $372 I think. I don't want anything!"
STFU: "Whoa, is it really fair to charge the same price for everybody regardless of their size?"
NB: "Let me get this straight (starting to get bent out of shape), you want me to recalculate the cost of the vacation to each member of the crew based on their size and their consumption? How about I just say its free and forget the extra work!"
STFU: "Oh, Okay. Thank-you"
Why am I always getting challenged when I use the word FREE?
Thursday, August 17, 2006
This mother is an unemployed yoga instructor. She showed up at the shower with her unruly three-year-old daughter. From the moment she walked in, all attention, all conversation, had to be focused on her kid. Standing at the buffet table: "Shania loves cheese. Did you hear me, everyone, she loves cheese. She could eat cheese all day long. Which is strange because Shania's father doesn't like cheese at all, and I like some cheese, but Shania ... here Shania, have some more cheese!! I SAID, HAVE SOME MORE CHEESE ... she likes almost all cheeses, except blue cheese or Stilton or other really stinky cheeses. Her favourite is cheddar. She really, really likes cheese! Which is funny because her father doesn't like cheese at all, did I mention that?" Fascinating.
My friend and I fled to the backyard. Soon she was out there too. "Do you have children," she asked me. "Yes, four," I replied. "Oh," she said, "then you will think this is funny. Shania just took off her pull-up. And she was sitting on their suede couch. And she took her pullup off and she crouched and she was about to pee right on their couch. Because she does that at home, you know, she's only three, after all, and she always takes her pull-up off and pees on the couch. But she stopped herself!! Shania stopped herself! She was like crouched and was about to pee, but she didn't. Do you hear me? She didn't pee on their couch!!!"
I really had to restrain myself at this point from asking A. What are you raising? A child, or a border collie? What is with the crouching and the pissing on the couch? and B. Why are you yammering at me about your kid? Please, please stop.
And here was the capper. I tried to make nice to the kid at one point, actually feeling sorry for her having a mother who was obviously going to spend the next 70 years frantically obsessing over her every movement. What did the kid do? She stuffed her mouth full of banana bread and spit it in my face. The guests were horrified. The mother laughed and laughed and laughed, going on about how cute and funny it was. No apology. No reprimand to the kid. Had one of my children spit a mouthful of banana bread in someone's face at a social function, or even in the privacy of our own home, there would have been a severe reprimand. Instead a couple of the other guests scurried to bring me a wet cloth and helped me remove the chewed-up banana bread from my face and clothes as they glared at this ridiculous unemployed yoga instructor who could not shut her piehole or control her child.
Hey, I have four kids. I could have gone to social events for the past 16 years and bored the piss out of any number of people by telling countless "cute" stories about my children. I didn't do it. You know why? Because unless they're your kids, no one cares. Booooorrrrring.
When I asked the father-to-be and host of the shower "What the hell??" he replied, succinctly and intelligently: "She's an unemployed yoga instructor in the midst of a yoga boom. What more needs to be said?"
But Tearfree digresses. The point is that she was one of only two students to rate “unsatisfactory” in her grade four music class with Miss Jamison. And when that report card with the “U” on it arrived, it came as a genuine shock to young Tearfree, who, up until that moment, had never suspected that she couldn’t sing.
Not that she let it get her down. In grade five, she signed up for the new experimental Suzuki Violin program at her school and because her marks in subjects other than music were good, she got in while some far more musically talented kid with lower math scores got left out.
Fate had its revenge however as Suzuki proved a disaster for Tearfree. At the year-end recital, she had to hide behind the class Amazon, while moving her bow in the same direction as everyone else but keeping it a good ½ centimeter above the strings. After the concert her mother told her, “ You were wonderful but I couldn’t see you behind Alexandra Biggirl.” Tearfree was jubilant that her deception had worked.
She was also amused to learn from a classmate that Miss Jamison had told some other students, “ You know Tearfree never could sing, but she sure can play the violin.” This confirmed to Tearfree what she had always suspected, namely that Miss J. and a number of authority figures from her childhood, didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
For five years after the Suzuki debacle, Tearfree steered completely clear of music but then at age 15, love intervened and for her first boyfriend, she picked a choir boy, a tenor who, according to Google, still sings, and is happily married to a high-powered Silicon Valley executive with whom he runs marathons. Tearfree never went to see him sing, a fact that did not make the relationship stronger.
As she grew older Tearfree continued to feel bad about her neglect of her first love, her fondness for the Supremes, and the fact that she could only appreciate the most accessible of classical music – stuff like Beethoven’s fifth and ninth, Pachelbel’s Canon, etc. – but she never felt bad enough to do anything about it. She simply learned to live with the fact that her taste in music was dubious and that her CD collection and the playlist on her Ipod would not pass muster with hero of High Fidelity. He’d feel about it the way he did about Paul’s and Miranda’s
So poisonously awful that it should be put in a steel case and shipped off to some Third World waste dump. They’re all there Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, Simply Red, The Beatles, of course, Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells I and II), Meat Loaf…I don’t have much time to examine the vinyl, but I see a couple of Eagles records, and I catch a glimpse of what looks suspiciously like a Barbara Dickson album.”
Well, now let’s see, Tina Turner, check, Kate Bush, check, Simply Red, check, The Beatles, check, check, check. Good thing that the whole lesson of High Fidelity is that the hero has to stop being such an insufferable music snob.
But Tearfree digresses yet again. The strange thing is that Tearfree’s daughter, despite having a very similar musical heritage to Tearfree, by, some fluke of genetics, turned out to be a musical talent.
“Wow,” said the musical specialist at the day care.
“She’s really good,” said the grade one singing teacher.
“Why didn’t you bring her in sooner?” said the Suzuki Violin teacher when she had her first lesson at age six and a half.
Then, at the second lesson when Tearfree was about to deposit her daughter and leave for a latte the violin teacher called after out her as she headed for the door, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“For coffee,” Tearfree answered.
“Oh no you don’t,” said the violin teacher. “With the Suzuki method, the parents are involved and have to stay for lessons.”
What fresh hell was this? As soon as she got home, Tearfree researched it on the Internet and found out that Suzuki had always involved the parents except for the initial bastardized version introduced in North America at Tearfree’s elementary school. Yes, Tearfree, Suzuki failure with major musical issues, was now supposed to inspect her daughter’s finger placement and elbow angle and all the things she hated even more than Lamaze breathing.
It was three years of Mother/daughter torture until a switch was made from violin to cello and from Suzuki to regular, but even then Tearfree had not escaped. One Saturday, when a temporary crown fell off, Tearfree and her daughter ran into the evil new cello teacher at the dentist, where she had a spring in her step unlike anything she ever displayed during the working week. Tearfree was reminded of Miss Jamison as she asked herself what kind of person prefers going to the dentist on a Saturday to a music teaching job at a school parents line up over night to get their kids into?
Almost two years later, upon graduation from elementary school, Tearfree’s daughter officially gave up the cello. Her passion now is musical theatre and tomorrowat the end of music camp, she will be singing Abba and Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys at the concert. Tearfree will be there tapping her feet and adding any songs which catch her fancy to her Ipod when she gets home.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tearfree would like to offer a tip to all new mothers whose babies don't sleep well. The sound of the vacuum cleaner. It is white noise and it sends a lot of babies off to sleep.
Tearfree would not have noticed this had it not been for an unusual sequence of events. Her baby was sitting calmly ( a rare event) in the baby seat as Tearfree turned on the vacuum. Tearfree was worried that the much-needed dustball management would send the baby into a crying fit but instead Baby's eyes snapped shut.
Tearfree would not have put two and two together had she not read a reference a few days later to the fact that vacuum cleaners put some babies to sleep. Tearfree decided to experiment with the vacuum and found it was very effective.
Tearfree believes she maintained her sanity in her first year as a mother thanks to the vacuum cleaner. Try it and if it works for you, make a tape and report back here.
I am a Shuffle user. It works for me as jewelry and I like the fact that it removes a certain amount of control from my hands and adds some serendipity to life. Whenever I borrow my daughter's Mini I start going crazy, trying to do all the stuff I can't do on my Shuffle.
In general I love my Shuffle but there are some things that really, really bug me about it, number one being that I can only use it on my home computer and not my two other computers. Now, I know you can do things to your computers and Ipod to fix this -- complicated things that you read about on geek web sites -- but I don't want to have to do that. I just want to be able to use my Ipod on my three computers with no hassle.
I also want Apple to include a regular charger with every Ipod they sell so that the thing can be charged anywhere not just on my ONE HOME computer. And I don't want to pay an exorbitant price for their charger. While I was on vacation in the USA, I noticed some entrepreneurial type had set up Ipod charging booth in the middle of the mall and I didn't know whether to be happy that he was providing this service or pissed off that we need it.
But enough about the downside of the Ipod, which in general is a creation that makes life a lot better. Let's have some Ipod fun. Confess. What are the three songs on your Ipod that you're embarrassed about and what are three songs on your Ipod that you'd be happy to discuss with the hero of High Fidelity?
- Hands Clean by Alanis Morissette
- You're Beautiful by James Blunt
- I'd be Surprisingly Good for You (From the musical Evita)
- Because the Night by Patti Smith
- No woman No Cry by Bob Marley
- Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell (her incredible most recent version)
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Here's the online version of a recipe that's dear to Tearfree's heart and that she knows as Piraeus Shrimp from one of her Harrowsmith cookbooks. It's made entirely with pantry staples (yes, wine is a staple at Tearfree's house) except for the shrimp (which you should always keep in your freezer anyway) and the Feta (contrary to what the recipe says, any brand will do.)
Tearfree serves this with garlic bread or toast but she's seen different versions of the recipe call for serving it with rice or pasta. And of course, you can always eliminate the carbs altogether.
C'mon everyone, share your quick and easy recipes and tell the world we're not a bunch of mean girls.
Update: Thank you everyone for all your recipesP >lease keep them coming. Tearfree will eventually put them all together in one easy-to-print-out post. And she will also rant about slow cookers.
I would like to set the conversation up like it was an "ON STAR" radio commercial, and the reader has to remember I am not making any part of this up. The names are changed because RTK has a huge following.
The conversation was about her son (recently graduated college) and what his prospects of employment were.
No Boat: How is Little Johnny and his job search going?
Don't Get It: Little Johnny is currently employed at a huge box store working the graveyard shift and has sent an application to a government agency for full time employment.
NB: Which agency?
DGI: Health Canada.
NB: Why? (twisted painful face expression). I know these 2 girls who worked at the Space Agency and they would regularly tell us of days trying to look busy and then end the conversation on how they were not making enough money. Then to add insult to injury agencies like Parks Canada (employment 8 months of the year) and the Canadian Space Agency (what is Canada doing in space?) had the nerve to go on strike in search of job security and better pay.
DGI: He worked there this summer as part of the courses he was taking at school and would come home to tell us he did NOTHING all day. I think this would be a good job for LJ.
NB: So you had this kid so he could have a life of doing nothing and feeling the world owes him something.
My sensible wife changed the topic.
Monday, August 14, 2006
It's never a happy time when a construction crew sets up on your street, but these guys have to be the most laid-back workers (non-governmental) Tearfree has ever encountered. After a huge dump truck dropped off their stones, they all got out their chairs and had a nice mid-morning coffee break before they even started work. They were even happy to let Tearfree take their picture before she left for the day. It remains to be seen what they'll be up to tomorrow.
Now, Tearfree can't possibly imagine getting upset about such a thing but it's possible she just doesn't remember those days well enough.
She does remember, however, that as a parent of a toddler she was definitely on the slacker end of the parenting scale and leaned strongly to letting two and three year olds call each other poopy heads. She has far more recent memories of telling her daughter that it wasn't vaguely amusing to say things like, "Mummy, you're a poo poo," but that's about it. She never felt that there was anything abherently abnormal or over-the-top bad about it. She just thought it was a stage and a pretty long one at that.
Now, Tearfree is wondering if her laxity contributed to extending the time period during which she had to put up with endless unfunny poopoo and peepee jokes. What do you all think?
Update: Tearfree just checked her telephone messages on the caller ID and saw there was one from "Alexandra Poo Poo," the sychro swim coach who turned Tearfree's daughter off synchro swimming and whose name was most definitely not programmed into the phone by Tearfree. Hmm.
But here is the funniest thing about visiting the marriage counsellor -- he has brought us closer in ways he does not realize. Every time we're there, he says something so unintentionally and hilariously gay that my husband and I laugh about it our entire way out of his office and down the elevator, and often at home as well. A catchphrase for us has become: "That's noooooorrrrrmmmmmmaaaaallll,'' delivered in the same nasally tone as our marriage counsellor. Yes, we are making fun of him. But with affection. And it often defuses the simmering rage we might be feeling towards one another at the precise moment we trot out the imitation of him.
Couples have strange ways of bonding, and this is one of ours -- making fun of the marriage counsellor. Marriage is a mysterious thing, and I am learning more about it every day of my life. Yesterday my husband and I attended a co-ed baby shower for close friends. The husband was completely hammered by the time it came to open the gifts, giggling and cracking inappropriate jokes and acting as silly as a schoolgirl. His wife was the picture of acceptance and completely nonchalant about his increasingly drunken, and hysterically funny, demeanour. I wondered later if I would have been so tolerant, but realized that he was hoovering up the Grey Goose because his in-laws were causing him such stress, and the wife, knowing her mother and sister as she did, was utterly sanguine. Your husband gets drunk at your baby shower and you're okay with it? Now that's a good marriage.
Today, in yet another feat of investigative journalism, we unveil a second scandal, this time one about those ugly Croc sandals. As Tearfree informed readers last week, Crocs are a Canadian invention and are manufactured right here in Quebec. When Tearfree heard this startling news on CBC radio, she was, to say the least, shocked. We Canadians take pride in our Canadian inventions, like Blackberries, Celine Dion and insulin, so it did strike Tearfree as more than a little odd that the Crocs news had been so under the radar. But Tearfree had (as always) meticulously checked out her facts so she figured it must just be that the company had a really bad PR sense or that the CEO was on the lam or something like that.
Not so. It it turns out, there’s a good reason we didn’t know about Crocs’ heritage as Tearfree discovered by following the trail of the first reader to arrive at this blog seeking Croc information. Crocs may indeed have been developed in Canada, with the help of our tax dollars, in the form of a subsidy from the National Research Council, but the company that invented them, Foam Creations, was bought out by its Colorado partners in 2004.
Unlike Dr Oetker who hung on to his baked goods empire while the Vaterland lost two world wars, it seems that our 21st century Canadian entrepreneurs gave up on world shoe domination when the first cheque was waved. To add insult to injury, barely a year after the big sellout, the Crocs IPO raised a whopping $US208 million in the largest shoe offering ever. And all of this, dear readers, should have been ours, but instead of the glamour and money of Crocs, our little Quebec subsidiary has now been relegated to working on foam toilet seats.
The only shiver of schadenfreude to be had is that, according to Forbes magazine, Crocs seem “ripe for cheap knockoffs. This will force the company to defend its trademarks, copyrights, patents and designs, creating full employment for attorneys and siphoning money away from design and marketing.”
Maybe this will at least give us some revenge for the money extorted from the company responsible for that other great and recent Canadian invention, the Blackberry. Or for all the softwood lumber indignities we've suffered and continue to suffer.
Tearfree promises complete ongoing coverage of the explosive Crocs situation.
random house james frey crocs quebec blackberry
Sunday, August 13, 2006
"Have our sages gone crazy? Do they really believe that sans Israeli-Palestinian conflict nothing bad would have happened, neither the deadly Khomeini Revolution, nor the bloody Baathist dictatorships in Syria and Iraq, nor the decade of Islamic terrorism in Algeria, nor the Taliban in Afghanistan, nor the angry warriors of God the world over? The sad, reverse hypothesis is seldom posed, but it is actually much more likely: Every truce along the Jordan is fleeting, as long as the palaces and streets, the majority of the intelligentsia and the officials of the Muslim world hang on to their anti-western passion. "
From the translation of an article by the French philosopher and writer André Glucksmann which first appeared in Figaro on 8 August, 2006.
Good luck to you, concerned Lumberjack, and to your Mom from all your devoted RTK readers.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Along with having the best commenters in the blogosphere, RTK also has one of the most influential readerships. When Tearfree blogs about something, key decision makers come to RTK for her distinct perspective. Officials in the U.S. Justice department get their softwood lumber news here, Dr. Oetker executives, check in regularly as part of their communications strategy, and the editors and publishers of certain Mummy Bloggers keep up with the latest news on their authors by visiting RTK. (Click on the image for details)
Tearfree's readers are a select group and RTK has become a destination blog for key decision makers. Thank you all of you for making this happen.
random house justice department dr. oetker postpartum depression
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Perhaps this is why this recent story in The Guardian has filled me with a sense of validation and slight self-righteousness. I have friends, sisters-in-law, colleagues, who have all been going on about the health benefits of soy for many, many years as I sit hoovering my glass of ice-cold hormone-riddled cow's milk, or butter my toast, or nosh on yogurt, ice cream, cheese, etc. And they are not any healthier, nor is their skin any clearer, nor are they any slimmer, nor are their menstrual cycles any more bearable, than me/mine. And some of them, to be quite honest, are a lot crankier.
I have not bought into the soy revolution, and maybe my instincts have been correct. Or maybe I am a foolish dumbass whose body will be over-run with cancerous tumours any day now. I look forward to Forty and No Boat's insights on this issue.
The bet: $750. Could I lose 34 pounds in two-and-a-half months?Rebecca Eckler at Nine Pound Dictator, August 9 2006
I had gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy, almost half my pre- baby weight of 100 pounds -- and even after Baby Rowan came out I was still up 34 pounds.
By the way, I did get back to 105 pounds by Dec. 31 and won both my bets -- and I feel better than I ever have before.
Well, as someone who suffered from P.P.D in a major fucking way, I know what it's like to be depressed.
Rebecca Eckler at Nine Pound Dictator, March 12 2006