Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 26, 2009

And On We Go!

Today I have the pleasure of turning 36. At 9 a.m. precisely. And because I am a blessed blessed person, I have some birthday messages that came my way via facebook. I have a really big family. And they’re really spread out. And without the wonder of facebook and email, I wouldn’t speak to some of these people as much as I do – if there’s one thing I’m deeply deeply grateful for, it’s certainly the internet.

Hi Aunt Nancy (Belgium)! Also Cousin-Sally-in-Maryland, Donna-in-Germany and everyone back in the homeland. It’s so very nice of you to drop me a line.

And in the spirit of internet and sharing, I’ve got the best thing I could think of – a good laugh courtesy of a Scot in Australia.

We’re very continental here, poppets.

Warning: there’s a weensy bitsy bit of bad language here. Oops!

Hope you have a great day too.

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 22, 2009

There Are Rules, You Know

When I was a kid, telephone etiquette was drummed into me by The Pack Rat and Deep Six. It’s important for anyone to know, of course, but as these two ran a business out of our home, it was essential that any potential customers who called and got either The Brother or I, weren’t put off by our chirrupping voices.

When I got older and started to work at the public swamps (I believe other cities may have called them ‘pools’), telephone customer service was again a major theme. What we were NOT to do, it was emphasized, was ignore the phone for the living, breathing customers in front of us. If the phone was ringing, that was a customer who deserved our full attention. We were told how to politely ask someone to wait while we attended to the phone call, and how to politely ask the person on the phone to hold on for just a second while we dealt with the person standing in front of us.

It was all so simple then.

Nowadays, it’s not an either or situation anymore, of course. One doesn’t often hear of someone asking anyone on an electronic communications device to “wait just a second. I’m going to finish up here with Person A and then I’ll be right back to help you.”

Waiting doesn’t happen anymore. And priority, I’ve noticed, is almost never given to the breathing pulsing person right in front of you.

I remember walking to work in our previous neighbourhood and seeing a collection of teenage refugees from the local high school standing in a loose circle – as one does at that age – with nary a word being spoken. They were all head down, staring at their fingers. Or so it appeared. Of course they were all very busy texting their friends and friends of friends unto the seventh generation. It was when one of the girls gave a sudden hoot and showed a message to another bomber-jacket-skinny-jean-muffin-topped casualty and a third joined in that I realized they were texting each other!!

This was incredible to me. You are all standing together!! Why can’t you talk? What’s wrong with talking?

It has happened so many times since then that it seems hardly remarkable anymore. But it was the invention of this infernal device -

blackberry

That really put a final nail in the coffin.

The Blackberry is ubiquitous – it is everywhere in Official Ottawa. Taxpayers can take solace in one thing, this is one bit of Canadian technology that is scrupulously, dilligently, maniacally made use of. Political wonks of all shapes, sizes and hierarchies are gunslingers when it comes to this ridiculous item.

Not to get too shriek-y, but as a non-user, the Blackberry has killed conversation. What it means, poppets, is that people who once worked and then went to restaurants and concerts and dinner parties – or even to the movies or bowling with the kids – are now at work, all the time. I’ve been to Christmas parties that looked no different than that gaggle of kids outside the high school except with better jewellery and support hose.

As soon as that thing hums in their pockets or purses, these crackberry addicts dive in and retrieve their techno-nipple and start to tap away like demented telegraph operators. It doesn’t matter if they’re talking to someone – if they’re smack in the middle of a conversation – whatever is crossing the screen at that very moment, whatever message is currently lodged in the black bowels of silicone and wired wizardry, is of gravest importance and simply Must Be Addressed.

Long gone are the days when one finished one conversation before beginning another. And it’s had a deletrious impact on conversation overall. I am not an elegant conversationalist – though I do make the effort – but people with ‘berrys are trying to keep track of three or four conversations at a time and frankly, darlings, they don’t do it very well.

Frankly, darlings, they really kind of suck at it.

So, in the interests of maintaining Peace, Order and Good Government – also bedroom privileges – I am laying out a few guidelines. A few Good Ideas. Something for you to mull over.

  1. when you are in front of a person, and they want to talk to you, holster your sidearm and give them your full attention. If that’s too hard, put the berry out-of-sight. Give them your time and when they’re done, and you’ve asked to excuse yourself, you can dive after the berry like a dog on a rat. Go for it.
  2. on social occasions – anywhere after hours, not the office or home or not an official function of any kind – try and leave the blackberry at home. Or in the glove compartment. Or give custody of the damn thing to your long-suffering spouse. Just don’t hold it yourself. If you are one of the, um, two or three people in the world who are absolutely indispensable and must be available at all hours, I suppose you can keep it. But unless your name ryhmes with O Lama! you probably aren’t one of those people.
  3. DO NOT bring the ‘berry to church! It cannot be saved. Sorry.
  4. never ever text someone in the same room as you are. Or even on the same floor. Or for that matter, in the same building. That’s just lazy. Seriously? Seriously.
  5. texting and driving, texting and watching television, texting and talking are all bad combos. You do not multi-task as well as you think you do. The truth hurts, doesn’t it? That’s okay, now we can work on change.

I think that’s a good place to start. But above all poppets, please remember that a living person is more important than what Susie has just posted on Twitter or whatever bit of office gossip you’ve just picked up. Our world talks way too much.

Too bad it so rarely has anything to say.

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 19, 2009

Why. . . Not?

I’ve just posted my 101 post. I think that’s a milestone, isn’t it? In keeping with my Disneyfied view of the world, 101 is far more interesting than an even 100 would be. This will actually make it 102 – even more interesting!

But it begs the question – why?

Why do I do this? It’s quite simple really. I have the floor for as long as I want it and only relinquish it when I’m truly done talking. You have no idea how little that happens in my world. Thing One and Thing Two in particular is extremely chatty – usually in the early hours of the morning, God love ‘im – and I rarely get to complete a thought without being derailed by requests for socks, permission forms, breakfast or wallets.

It’s not easy being me, you know.

Not really.

More seriously, I write because I have to. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I am not an elegant conversationalist.

I’ll just give you a moment.

. . . .

It’s true. I lose words somewhere between my cerebellum and my uvula. I lose whole concepts. I lose threads of conversation, subjects, topics and focus. I stammer. I am easily confused and, when in a debate-ish sort of setting (something that happens fairly often for such a Retiring and Quiet Sort Of Girl) I often get sidetracked and tricked into saying things I had no intention of saying and often don’t really believe.

I’m disorganized in my brain.

My dear Grandmother had a degenerative form of dementia that was essentially treating her brain like a corn field in Saskatchewan – mysterious crop circles would appear in her memory and she’d no idea how it got there. There one day, gone the next. Some days as sharp as a marble, other days clear and edgy enough to split hairs. I feel a little like that sometimes.

So for me, writing is a way to communicate honestly. To say what I actually think in a clear, logical and reasonably concise way. Roughly. It’s something I do because it’s what I was trained to do. It’s the only thing I’m really good at and I always seem to have something to say.

Given the circumstances, what else could I do?

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 15, 2009

Okay. That’s Just Weird.

I am now officially old.

That’s the only answer.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m watching the rebirth of prog-rock and I’m finding it uncomfortable.

I know their have been other revivals in the past – Duffy channels girl groups from the 1960s, Paolo Nutini reminds me of Petulah Clark (I may have issues. I’m checking that out) and Adam Lambert would have fit into the glam bands of the 1970s without missing a beat – except for a heartbeat ’cause he wasn’t even born yet.

Sigh. I was.

Anyway, the whole waver, prog-rock thing, that’s the music I grew up with. Those are my tunes man! Tears For Fears, New Order, 10,000 Maniacs, Psychedelic Furs (mining a bit of a punk vein there, I admit it), Flaming Lips. . . those were the songs I knew when I was coming up. Not for me the pretty boys of Menudo or NKOTB, it was Depeche Mode and Simple Minds!

Speaking of Depeche Mode -

I lovvved that song. I sang it for days. Rattled Deep Six it did. She was pretty sure it was sacreligious. But recently I was minding my own business listening to CBC Radio One a few weeks ago and I heard this -

Gak!!!

You see what I’m saying?? Now I know nuffink about Muse (though they seem like a nice enough bunch) so I did a little recon. On youtube, the conversation under that particular video was all about whether or not this bunch ripped off the song from Radiohead.

Darlings. You know nothing. They ripped off Depeche Mode.

But I think we’re all okay with that.

If I look really hard, I’ll bet I can dig up my Violator concert t-shirt. . . .

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 14, 2009

Prove It.

ignorance

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.’
 
‘Have they no refuge or resource.’ cried Scrooge.
 
‘Are there no prisons.’ said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses.'”

So I was watching The National tonight when a story came on about euthanasia. I include the above quotation because, as I was thinking this over, it occured to me that at one time we knew when something was Wrong – in 1843, the world was a much simpler place. Our duties were clear – we didn’t try to soften it, couldn’t deny it, didn’t try to complicate it and acknowledged our responsibility to care and comfort the afflicted.

The world has changed a little since then, I suppose.

I know. I know. I’m sorry. Usually I’m a lot more fun. But a girl just can’t let stuff like this sail by her without saying something.

I found the newspaper story where this article appeared and from whence, I’ll wager, the CBC got the initial impetus for the issue.

Gazette

If you read through the article – and you should, it’s a lot more balanced than the CBC report was – you’ll find that there are a couple of people in there who are all like, “whoa!” On one side we have folks who appear to be saying, “It’s already going on, we need parameters to make this work properly” and on the other we’ve got people who say “Never no-way, no-how.”

A couple of points to consider:

If it’s already happening ‘under the radar’, won’t tacit legal consent make it even more common? If, when there are no regulations – when in fact, it’s entirely illegal with a hefty penalty – it’s being carried out, when the barriers are removed, how will you then stem the tide?

We used to think that God alone determined when someone was born and when they died. Now that we’ve taken that power into our own hands – for good and for ill – who decides when life is no longer tenable? Who is that wise, that faithful to principle and has that much personal integrity and honour that they would never abuse that power? You’re asking for infallibility! Human gods. Happy hunting – I can’t be trusted with a plate of cookies, who would you choose to be in charge of the scissors and thread? I know there are those who would say, “it’s up to the patient.” Humbug. Anyone who has been 14 knows there are days when one truly wishes they could die. Which conditions would be acceptable terminal illnesses and which would not? Would persistent depression make the list? I have friends – dear dear friends – who might not be here were that to be the case. People who live productive lives – lives that they fought for and came at considerable cost. If they had been permitted to end their lives, they might very well have made that choice – but it would have been a choice that came out of the mouth of their disease. 

Lastly, suicide is a terrible thing. I’ve lived long enough to see how this kind of death affects the survivors. Suicide is not like losing a loved one in a car accident. Suicide is a choice to die and that is a crippling thing for the people left behind to live with. There isn’t any way I can speak to you about this that would make any sense – if you’ve been through it, you know.

So let’s have that discussion. Let’s talk about who gets to choose to die, who will do the killing (you can gussy it up by calling it euthanasia but here, I’m going to call it what it is), what qualifies as a good reason to die and what restricitions you could use to try and make it all palatable to a sleeping public.

In A Christmas Carol, Dickens juxtaposed Cratchit – with his little disabled, non-productive son – and Scrooge, wealthy and succesful. One with the means but mean, the other limited and limitless. We are becoming a small, mean society if we will take it upon ourselves to decide when one is no longer ‘useful’ – in our stunted, uneven interpretation of the word. Even if it’s the wish of the patient, choosing to die should never be an option. Productive humanity is not quantifiable. It’s limitless, even among the limited. The single act of being human is enough – entirely enough – to make a life worthwhile. Whether you would believe it or not. And taking that life, snuffing it out like a cigarette under foot, does something irrevocable and horrific to the one who has perpetrated the offence.

Let’s talk about it. From a genuinely humane point of view.

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 13, 2009

Red Letter Day

I have a love/hate relationship with Hallowe’en.

On one hand, I love dressing up. It’s fun. Lets me break out a frilly crinoline and some wings I’ve had stashed in the closet for some time. The kids found it years ago and asked me what was up? So I told them: they’re Mommy’s work clothes. When you go to sleep at night, I put it all on and head out as the Tooth Fairy for district 613 E. You should have seen their eyes. They got as big as toilet bowls. “Really? Really Mummy? For true?”

“Of course” sez I.

“Let me see the teeth! What do you do with them all?”

“I can’t tell you. That’s a secret. And I’m not YOUR Tooth Fairy – that’d be a conflict of interest. Your Tooth Fairy is actually a guy. He’s got a jet pack instead of wings but frankly, I like the wings better. They’re much quieter.”

Telling them their tooth fairy was a man caused a minor uproar so I didn’t mention that the uniform consists of a wife-beater and a pair of black suspenders and black dress pants which, come to think of it, is what my Grand Dad wore when he was frying eggs and bacon of a Sunday morning.

But I’m getting off the point.

Hallowe’en is a tricky time of year. I love dressing up, I love seeing all the children and teasing their parents and generally participating in the neighbourhood mayhem that is All Hallow’s Eve. It’s a great time to connect again after a busy fall. That part is fantastic.

I hate candy. Which is to say, I love candy. But I hate that I love it. I hate that I love it soooooo much that any vestiges of self-control I manage to scrape together the other 364 days a year disappear in a haze of a Toblerone-induced mania.

Sigh.

It never seems to change. Despite everything I know (my mantra is “Diabetes is Bad. Diabetes is Very Very Bad”) it seems that the least I can do is eat it all. And I’m shameless! My poor darling Ferrets have no chance against their wily mother. Because, in the immortal words of the Pack Rat:

“Old Age and Treachery will beat Youth and Enthusiasm. Every @#!!$#@#!!!!!! time.”

Well, he doesn’t say it precisely like that. I put my own spin on it.

I have no honour. I’ll stoop to the lowest level of conniving to get my mitts on a sweet bit of chocolate. I’ll tell them I’m “checking the candy” even though I know personally every single person they visit. I’ll steal it while they’re at school. I’ll brazenly take it from under their twitching little noses. I’m terrible.

And I’m telling you this, poppets, in an effort to shame myself into better behaviour. I have a reputation to uphold, after all. Here I sit marinating in the adoration of children – I have been charged with a momentous and long-term duty. I am a role model – if they don’t learn moderation from me, they won’t learn it anywhere else. I have power and I must be responsible with it.

They don’t let just anyone be the Tooth Fairy (District 613 E) you know.

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 8, 2009

Listening To

If you don’t know A Fine Frenzy, you really should.

A-mazing.

Also – this guy is like. . . I dunno, 12?

That is so not fair.

*pouting*

Ah well. I can at least looooooovvvvvvveee it!!!!

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 8, 2009

By Any Other Name

It may be the world’s oldest profession – and have the world’s oldest client base (’cause really, what do you think came first? Some lady standing on the corner or some guy who said, “Hey Baby. I’ll give you a goat if . . .” ?) – but it seems that no one’s really made up their mind about prostitution.

I have some thoughts. Like my earlier post about addiction, I’ve never been a prostitute. I’ve met a few but I’ve got no first-hand experience. So these are just some thoughts and ideas and maybe you’d like to consider them. Or not. You know, whichever.

In this recent story -

Globe and Mail

The author contends that most Canadians are in favour of legalizing prostitution. No doubt a lot of Canadians are. After all, we think about the poor crack-addled woman standing on the corner in our not-very-temperate climate shivering and suffering and we think “that poor woman. Leave her alone. Her life is a punishment as it is” and that’s true. The life of a street hooker is tough. But if it were legal, if the police couldn’t take her into custody, if our front-line people in uniform were told to march on by, would her life improve?

How many street walkers have been taken into custody and put on a path of recovery through their interaction with the courts? Does it happen very often? Maybe not. But it happens. And if it was your daughter out there, wouldn’t you want that tool to use if you had to?

As for those Canadians who want to see prostitution legalized – not just decriminalized but legalized – I have to ask: what about in your neighbourhood? They’ve got to go somewhere you know. Right now there are red light districts in every major city in Canada. These areas tend to be heavily policed, non-residential and home to other criminal elements. If prostitution became a ‘back room’ industry with licensed brothels offering services, how would you feel if one set up shop on your street? Would you sell your home? Who would buy it?

Legalizing the world’s oldest profession in essence makes it just another career option. For those of you with daughters, what if your daughter decides it’s a viable career path for her? If she’s an adult, you have no recourse naturally. She can do what she wants. But I don’t believe there’s a parent on the planet who aspires to hookerdom for their little girl.

And then there are the johns. Now, if I had control of the universe a while, it’d be the johns who’d get my first thunderbolt. As a group, ‘reprehensible’ doesn’t even come close to the loathing I have for these guys. Base, lewd, disgusting predators. Argh! I’m getting all furious just thinking about it! But if prostitution was legalized, if it was okay to obtain a lady’s services for a fee, these guys are just being validated thinking that a human body is a good – something to be used for their purposes and then sent on its way. Is it a good thing for the state to, in effect, affirm a man’s belief that a woman is a collection of apertures available for rent?

Are their contradictory laws in our criminal code concerning prostitution? I’m sure there are. David Asper raises some in this piece -

National Post Editorial

But inconsistencies don’t mean that legalization is the logical way to deal with the situation. It’s the pendulum swinging from confusing to bizarre. The questions I’ve asked above are just the tip of the ice berg – it only gets tougher from here. And no one has asked the question that I really want answered:

What does the act of selling her body for money do to a woman? What happens to the minds and emotions of women who allow their bodies to be invaded and used for a price? What are the costs? Some may argue that many prostitutes engage in the profession (I am willing to believe there are areas of expertise in this – as in all – marketplaces) voluntarily and maybe that’s true. How do they handle it? Do they seperate their work from their person? How does this fracture in their psyches affect them? How does it affect the people who love them?

This doesn’t even take into consideration other factors – children and women forced into the sex trade, criminal gangs (and don’t tell me that if prostitution was legal the criminal factor would be removed. After all, cigarettes and alcohol are legal and I defy you to try to tell the smugglers across the Ontario/New York border that they’re wasting their time), abuse by johns and pimps and the disproportionate numbers of aboriginal women involved in prostitution.

It’s a dangerous game we’re playing. Instead of arguing in front of the court to legalize an activity that marginalizes and commodifies women, we should be doing something about the conditions that make some women and girls believe that their vaginas are their only asset.

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 5, 2009

Strategic Communicator

As some of you may know, HWMBA is a ‘strategist’. It comes in the realm of communications and although that’s not his job at the moment, it’s his most natural mileu. He likes to out-Herod the other folks who make politics their bread-and-butter.

Now, I’m not one to tell tales out of school, but between you and me and the fence post, I think some people who do the strategic-communications-thing tend to do it best when they’re on the clock. Some people – I mention no names – are at their most effective, communicaitons-wise, when they’re talking to people who don’t share their DNA or bank account. It wouldn’t be at all kind of me to give anything away here but let’s just say that some people – particularly those who are almost 41 and have a lot of very dashing grey hair and secretly listen to Phish in the truck – leave all their expertise at the office and come home and turn into. . . um, rocks.

Pretty rocks, but rocks all the same.

As a totally unrelated example, HWMBA, who is a lovely man and only drives me nuts 50 per cent of the time, has been trying to explain something to me for the last week. It has to do with a sermon delivered by our pastor last Sunday and his own interpretation of what it means – he had a small quibble (Presbyterians! They can never ‘just get along’) and he was trying to illuminate my poor benighted consciousness.

I think that’s what it was. It’s hard to tell. You see poppets, HWMBA is mighty economical with his speech.

I remember reading somewhere, many years ago, that men have something like a  4000 word limit per day. Women are somewhere around 3 squintillion. So while we’ve got all this excessive verbiage just flowing like a torrent, our menfolk are mum. Bupkiss.

Nowt.

As you might imagine, this is an issue for me. I, who can turn any gathering into a happy babble, who has an innate horror of the ‘empty silence’ and ‘conversational lull,’ I have been pulling my hair out trying to get this man to explain himself. It’s not that we’ll disagree -

. . . .

*crickets*

There is that possibility I suppose.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m setting out to intentionally disagree -

. . . .

*crickets*

Fine. Occasionally I do. But not this time. No, this time I truly just want to understand what the man is trying to tell me. Once I’ve got that down I can constructively and instructively point out the error of his ways. But for the moment that’s impossible because he won’t talk!!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Sweetheart” (and I’m so glad we’re on such good terms, by the way) “if all you’re going to do is debate the poor fellow, after his long day at work when his brain is full of static and his ears have been jam packed with all the excessive pointless chatter of official Ottawa, well, you can hardly blame a guy for closing his pie hole.”

I know. I get it. And I promise not to unleash all the powers of my vocabulary at warp speed. I promise to be gentle. I’ll listen. I promise.

It’s just getting him started. I think that’s the key.

Maybe if I just sit here and stare at him. . . .

Posted by: thearchmarchhare | October 2, 2009

Friday Dance Party

This may become a regular thing.

Today’s entries are courtesy of The Ewok who was doing a unit at school about how all of humanity, regardless of any of the usual qualifiers, is connected. Now him being a very pragmatic child, and going through a stage where black-and-white are the only categories that count, for him it was a logical question: it all came back to Adam and Eve.

So these are his videos – culled during school hours (and my goodness but we’ve come a long way since ditto machines and mimeograph paper!) and presented with a flourish for your enjoyment!

I’ve been to this station – it’s actually quite lovely.

From the imagination of the incomparable (and possibly slightly disturbed) Terry Gilliam – The Fisher King. If you haven’t seen this film – and if blue language won’t make your ears bleed – you should really check it out. The scene in Grand Central Station was filmed with whoever was in the station at the time – with a few extras for colour. It’s all about what Perry sees when he sees Lydia – who doesn’t, like most of us, register the homeless guy’s presence at all.

Lastly, my favourite.

Well, mine and 14 million other folks. Which just goes to show that good taste and inspiration are not exculsive.

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