Thursday, April 28, 2011

One more thing I learned from TV

Have you ever noticed the television formula to getting over a break up?  It's a wonderful thing.  Whenever personal tragedy strikes in the form of an ended relationship, a person follows a few simple steps:

1. Legitimate despair
After the initial break up everyone experiences legitimate despair.  Depending on the skill of the actor, we get to see the real broken sadness that comes from the sudden ending of a relationship.

2. Sloth-like despair
Sometimes this state is implied to have lasted weeks or months, but it always involves sweat pants, reduced personal hygiene, and unhealthy eating habits.  It is always over-the-top disgusting and makes you wonder how on earth the person hasn't lost their job in that time, culminating in a group of concerned friends intervening and forcing the following step.

3. Mobile despair
At this point, our group of concerned friends have forced the heartbroken lump of sadness into real pants and out of the house.  This is where the "real comedy" kicks in.  The mobile-heartbroken-lump is trying to follow along with their friends, but at every turn is reminded of their former beloved.  They cry out in over-the-top sobs at bus stops where kisses happened and store windows where gifts were purchased, until they are suddenly discovered to be missing from the group, found half a block behind weeping because they saw a poster for a movie they were planning to see with their ex.  The friends move from sympathy to increasing levels of annoyance.

4. Recovery
The extreme display in patheticism is quickly turned around by either a) tough love from the concerned friends or b) sexiness from someone other than the former-lover.  Then a new perspective is gained, an honest heart-to-heart is had where everyone admits how hard it is, but that it just takes time, and then -poof!- the heart is mended.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letter to Baking Soda

Dear Baking Soda,

What kind of magic hands spun you into existence?  How is it that you taste so terrible on your own, yet make baked goods a delight?  You de-stink my fridge and clean my tiles.  In fact, you are so good at cleaning things that you make my teeth overly sensitive when I use you instead of toothpaste because you are scrubbing the tooth enamel right off.  That, my friend, is power.  The same power that lifts a flat cake into a fluffy, light one and puts out kitchen fires!  How crazy is that?

Wikipedia says you are mined from the earth, but I think you are mined from heaven.

Thank you, baking soda, for existing.

xoxoxo
Andrea

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Y'all!

I found my chocolate bunny in about 10 seconds.  How about you?

And no, there is no way that I'm too old too for this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A less-precious ring

This weekend my Mom bought me a ring.  You might recognize it:


Sure, mine is a cheap, mass-produced, department store replica, but yes, I am now the proud owner of Kate Middleton's engagement ring.  Somehow, during my (aforementioned) period of emotional trauma that got only just slightly (a lot) worse over the weekend, this ring has become an item of comfort for me.  How a replica of the ring given to someone who was once-just-an-ordinary-girl-before-she-captured-the-heart-of-a-prince can ease my own personal heartache is beyond me.  But hey, I'll take solace wherever I can get it, and this is much cheaper than alcohol.

During my two days of wearing this sparkling beauty everywhere I go, I have noticed one unfortunate side effect to wearing a giant rock on your hand: the thing is heavy enough to twist the entire ring around at the most inconvenient of times: most frequently, whilst typing.  Yes, that's right, I'm happily typing away on my computer, being efficient, getting work done like the machine that I am, and then suddenly my style is being unequivocally hampered by this ironically style-enhancing item!  It's rotated around so that the giant fake plastic sapphire is stuck between my fingers, slowing my typing speed by up to 10 WPM!

I tell you, it's frustrating.  It makes me feel sorry for Ms. Middleton.  I mean, nothing takes the joy out of living every single young girl's fantasy and showing them that fairy tales actually do come true, simultaneously giving them hope and making them feel horribly inadequate, like having your giant, famous wedding ring twist around in awkward and unattractive ways on your hand.

Maybe that's why it's making me feel better - it has shown me that even poor Kate has problems in her life too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Politiks, politiks

After a week of veritable silence (goin' through some personal and mouse-related trauma here people, sorry), I am breaking the silence with a massive blog cliche: the political rant.  This is not my rant, but a much better-worded one that expresses all my concerns for what Harper and the Conservatives are doing to Canada.  I am honestly scared of what will happen if they get a majority, or even get in power again, which it looks like they will.


This is a long read, but a good one.  A letter written by an Alberta senator about the reality of the changes that have happened in Canada under Harper's leadership.  It's called lies, people.  And not the regular, politician "I'm going to cut your taxes!" and then raising them, but the democracy-undermining, totalitarian-style lies that work directly against parliament.  I have bolded certain areas so if you want to skim-read for the main points you can do so.

There is only one thing about the outcome of the May 2nd election on which Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Harper agree. It is that one of them will be the Prime Minister of Canada. Mr. Layton, Mr. Duceppe and Ms. May are not in the running to form a government. They can’t. It will be either Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper.

That is the choice, and it is a very clear – in fact, stark choice. We will choose between openness or secrecy. Between listening or refusing to listen. Between someone who respects Parliament or someone who disdains it. Between things we can and will do now or things that, (provided of course that everything goes well), we might do in five or six years. Between someone who answers all questions from Canadians, or someone who won’t accept any.

Between Mr. Harper who said “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act”, or Mr. Ignatieff who said “ . . . we don’t want user fees. We want universal, accessible, free-at-the-point-of-service health care, paid out of general revenue. That’s just bottom line. Otherwise we get two-tiered”.

Between buying jets or helping vets. Between real early childhood learning and care or Saturday-night babysitting. Between respect for our great institutions or contempt for them. Between helping families or helping big corporations. Between the Canada that we think we have, or the way in which Mr. Harper has already changed it.

Over the past few years Mr. Harper’s government has quietly engineered so many changes that there are some ways in which our country is barely recognizable. Many of us don’t yet realize the extent of those changes, because many of them have been brought about very carefully and gradually – almost imperceptibly in some cases.

This is diabolically clever. If these things had all been done at once, there would have been loud protests and reactions. But moving just one little brick at a time doesn’t cause much fuss – until you realize that the whole house has been renovated. And we’ve hardly noticed.

These are changes that are at the very heart of who and what Canadians are. They are changes to the protections that used to exist against the tyranny of the majority – or against a single-minded my-way-or-the-highway autocrat. These changes are losses to our very Canadian-ness. Let me remind you of some of them:

The Law Commission of Canada was created by an Act of Parliament in 1997. It worked very well. It kept an eye in a sort-of avuncular way, on necessary reforms of the law, including election law. The Commission couldn’t actually change law; but it was very good at letting governments and everybody else know when changes needed to be made and why. It was our legal Jiminy Cricket, and it performed a valuable service for Canada. The Commission was created by an Act of Parliament, and any government wanting to shut it down should have been up-front about it. It should have come to Parliament with a Bill to rescind The Law Commission of Canada Act. That’s what any of our 21 previous Prime Ministers would have done.

But to Mr. Harper, Parliament is an inconvenience. Somebody might ask “Why are you doing this?” But he didn’t want to go through all that Parliamentary trouble; so, rather than proposing the abolition of the Commission (a proposal about which there would have been pretty fierce debate on all sides), they just eliminated all funding for it in the federal budget. Governments can do that. Poof – no Law Commission.

Nice and quiet. Just one little brick. Hardly noticed.

Then there was the Court Challenges Programme, set up in 1994, which was the means by which a bit of legal help could be provided to a private individual or small organization who didn’t have a lot of money, and who was taking on, or being taken on by, the Government of Canada. It leveled the legal playing field a bit. It was a perfect example of fundamental Canadian fairness.

By convincing a tough panel of judges of the reasonableness of your cause, you could get a little help in paying for some lawyers to go up against the phalanx of legal beagles that could always, and forever, and at public expense, be brought to bear against you by the State. In other words, if you weren’t rich, and if you were taking on or being taken on by the Feds, you might have had a chance. But Mr. Harper doesn’t like being questioned, let alone challenged. It’s so inconvenient! Solution? Quietly announce that the Court Challenges Programme is being, er, discontinued. Poof – no Court Challenges Programme – no court challenges.

Hardly noticed.

The Coordination of Access to Information Request System (CAIRS) was created (by a Progressive-Conservative government) in 1989 so that departments of government could harmonize their responses to access-to-information requests that might need multi-departmental responses. It was efficient; it made sure that in most cases the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, or at least what they were saying; and it helped keep government open and accountable. Well, if you’re running a closed-door government, that’s not a good idea, is it? So, as a Treasury Board official explained to the Canadian Press, CAIRS was killed by the Harper government because “extensive” consultations showed it wasn’t valued by government departments. I guess that means that the extensive consultations were all with government departments.

Wait! Wasn’t there anybody else with whom to extensively consult? Wasn’t there some other purpose and use for CAIRS? Didn’t it have something to do with openness and accountability? I guess not. Robert Makichuk, speaking for Mr. Harper’s government, explained that “valuable resources currently being used to maintain CAIRS would be better used in the collection and analysis of improved statistical reporting”.

Right. In other words, CAIRS was an inconvenience to the government. So poof – it’s disappeared. And, except for investigative reporters and other people who might (horrors!) ask questions, its loss is hardly noticed.

And the bridge too far for me: Cutting the already-utterly-inadequate funding for the exposure of Canadian art and artists in other countries. That funding was, by any comparison, already laughably miniscule. Mr. Harper says that “ordinary” Canadians don’t support the arts. He’s wrong. And his is now the only government of any significant country in the world that clearly just doesn’t get it.

All these changes were done quietly, cleverly, and under the radar. No fuss. No outcry. Just one little brick at a time. But in these and other ways, our Canadian house is no longer the kind of place it once was. Nobody minds good renovations. Nobody even minds tearing something down, as long as we put up something better in its place. That’s not what has happened.

Mr. Harper fired the head of the Canadian Wheat Board because he was doing his job properly. He removed the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission because she wanted to make sure that the Chalk River nuclear reactor was safe.

Hardly noticed.

There are many more things that were hardly noticed: Cuts to funding for the Status of Women, Adult Learning and Literacy, Environmental Programs, museums funding, and more. All quietly, just one brick at a time.

Hardly noticed.

As to campaign promises, everybody in sight on every side is guilty of breaking those. Except the Federal NDP of course, who haven’t yet had the opportunity. (It’s very easy to make promises that you know you will not likely have to keep).

But the government promised to end wait times in health care. They didn’t. They promised to end, once and for all, the whining of some provinces about the non-existent “fiscal imbalance”. They didn’t. They said they had brought final resolution to the softwood lumber problem with the U.S. They haven’t. They promised to create thousands of new child-care spaces in Canada. They haven’t. They promised not to tax income trusts (“We will NEVER do that!” they said). They taxed them. They promised to lower your income tax.

They raised it.

They said they had a good “made-in-Canada” plan to meet our obligations on climate change. They don’t. Mr. Harper has said plainly that whatever the Americans do is what we’ll do too.

They campaign on a platform of transparency and accountability; but they’re now trying to discredit the Parliamentary Budget Officer that they created, because he’s trying to do the job that they gave him. Mr. Harper said that our form of government, evolved over centuries from the 900-year-old British Westminster tradition, was all wrong. We had to have fixed election dates, because otherwise, democratic principles would be trampled. ”Fixed election dates”, he said, “stop leaders from trying to manipulate the calendar. They level the playing field for all parties”.

So Parliament (remember them?) at Mr. Harper’s insistence, passed a law requiring fixed election dates, which Mr. Harper promptly broke.

Somebody once said that we get the kind of government we deserve. What did we do to deserve Mr. Harper? He once said that we should all “Stand Up for Canada”. Well, let’s do that. We just have to decide whether the present version of Canada is the one that we’ll stand up for. Or stand for.

Thank you

Tommy Banks (an Alberta Senator.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cat lovers, take heed!

Apparently dogs are where it's at in Britain, and since Britain's fashion is always three steps ahead of ours (is it actually?  I think I just made that up), it's only a matter of time before dogs overtake cats here in Canada/Vancouver as well.

The headline of this article in The Telegraph (that I found via The Hairpin, of course) states "New figures show the number of dogs is at all-time high and is on course to end feline supremacy."

Really Telegraph?  Do you really think so?  Do you really think that this isn't all a part of The Alliance of Cats' evil scheme to take over the world?  Do you really think the cats don't know exactly what they're doing?

The one thing I know about cats is this: they are cunning, devious, frightening creatures that I would probably think were possessed by the devil if not for the fact that they so clearly are too powerful for possession and therefore are some kind of incarnation of the devil.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I am a cat person all the way.  I love them like the guy in that cat food commercial.  For the majority of years that I've been alive I have had a cat and those years have been glorious: full of snuggles and purring and chasing string and finding bits of fur in my mouth all of a sudden for no apparent reason (seriously, how does that happen???).

All this love, however, has not blinded me to their true nature.  Which is, of course, that of Masterminds of Evil.  I am 100% certain that when my kitty would find me and sit on my lap when I was having a particularly bad day, giving me the love and snuggles I needed to feel better, he was being entirely calculated about the whole thing.  He knew that I would have forgiven a world of evil deeds after a week of those snuggles.  And he was right.

All this to say that, of course cats are "letting dogs win", for the time being.  I mean, duh, because it's all a part of their plan.

Fear not, cat lovers!  This is merely a test of our devotion!  Our time will come once again and we will have a glorious role to play as pawns in the Great Kitty Takeover that has yet to come!

Friday, April 1, 2011

They're BACK!

My morning reading could easily be smart: I could be reading the news.  I could be catching up on important facts and commentary about all sorts of things, from natural disasters, pending elections (both in my own country and in other countries where elections are probably a much bigger deal because they involve guns), and the old lady whose cat came back and brought friends with it (why is there always a 'human interest' news story about someone getting a pet back?  Really?)

Anyways, what I'm saying is that I could be a better person.  But I'm not.  All the ladies out there should be incredibly grateful for that fact at this moment, because I am excited to report that my morning reading (The Hairpin) gave me a gift far sweeter than current affairs ever could:  THE WAKEFIELD TWINS ARE BACK!



Yes, that's right ladies.  The Sweet Valley High twins and their whole motley crew are back, except that now they're 27 years old (just like us, OMG!) and having "grown up" dramas.  I know what I'm reading this weekend, and it's not the book club book I still haven't even bought even though we're meeting on Sunday.

You can even read the first chapter online here.  Spoiler alert, just from the cover image photos you can tell that Jessica is even sluttier than ever and Elizabeth is caught up in her mess.  *Sigh*