Category Archives: Informative

Remember When

I’m not really the nostalgic type. While I am never one to speak for all, I’m thinking most shallow people are with me on this. At times I think the desire to recreate the past happens when we’re not so happy with the present. At other times I simply can’t remember what it is I’m supposed to be nostalgic about. Whatever, it seems to me that living in the here and now, not in the past or in the future, is best. So it was with some surprise to myself and others that I decided to go on the hunt for a manual (yeah, there wasn’t always a plug) typewriter. As expected, it wasn’t long before someone asked me “Why? Why would you want a manual typewriter?” To which I provided what seemed to me to be the most logical response, “because I want to write using a typewriter”. Which is partly true. I mean the idea of taking the time to tap hard on each key and having no easy way to correct my mistakes has an odd appeal to me. Possibly it could make me a more deliberate and mindful writer. I’d have to think carefully about each and every word, how to properly structure my sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into stories. I’d have to learn how to spell again. The other part is I have this handcrafted pine desk crying out for me to put something on it and I thought an old typewriter could be just that thing. More decor than function really. Regardless, this little journey of mine into the past got me thinking about how things have changed even over the relatively short time (come on…in the scheme of things) I have been living on this earth. So as I am wont to do in this cases, I will share some of these thoughts with you.

Remember when a phone was something you only had in your house? If it rang and you were home you normally picked it up as there was no way of knowing who was on the other end. If it happened that you were having one of your daily chit chats with your friend from down the street, catching up on all the comings and goings of that neighbour you were pretty sure, but not entirely confident, was having a fling with the grade 4 teacher, (it’s possible there was just some tutoring going on) your caller would get a busy signal (you can play it here if you don’t know) and be left to redial over and over again until their fingers got tired and the incessant sound of the rotary dial made the whole endeavour seem a little too onerous . And if you weren’t home at all?  Well if a phone rings when no one is home does it really make a sound? Now, short of putting your phone on “do not disturb” which no one really understands, there’s simply no escaping it. It’s with us everywhere and all of the time. For most of us hearing that catchy little jingle we have chosen triggers an immediate response. Like Pavlov and his dog. We text, we talk, we FaceTime, and we pretty much know exactly when that grade 4 teacher comes and goes.

Remember when a coffee shop was a place you could stop off on your way to work to grab a cuppa joe for a quarter? Pretty much always it was better than the sludge they percolated in the coffee room. Sure, sometimes you would linger for a moment to hear what Sam the owner, who knew everyone’s business and was more than happy to share theirs with you and yours with them, had to say.  But unless you were under five and could be entertained by continuously spinning on those metal stools that someone somewhere decided would be a viable alternative to a chair, it was a pretty uncomfortable place to spend your time. Now coffee shops are a destination. A retreat even. You go, you sit, you read, you meet, you greet, you make new friends, lose old ones and, of course, you spend inordinate amounts of money on drinks that bear only a faint resemblance to the roasted beans from which they came.

Speaking of friends, remember when they were people you actually knew? And liked. There was a time when making friends wasn’t so easy. First you had to identify people who were somewhat like-minded and with whom you had something in common. Like a shared interest. Or work. Maybe a hobby or two. Then you had to actually meet them. In person. Once that happened you would spend some weeks or months getting to know each other and somewhere down the line you would realize you had made a new friend. If you were really lucky you might find a few more people that you could call friends. Now I have 82 friends on Facebook (a paltry number by most standards) and I don’t even know where some of them came from not to mention how they have come to know me. One thing I do know for sure. They must really like me because they all seem to remember my birthday.

And we couldn’t leave this trip down memory lane without remembering when no one, and I mean no one, spoke openly about marijuana. Not that it wasn’t around. But if it was around you sure as heck didn’t want anyone to know. Apparently, (well this is just hearsay) to get some you had to know a guy who knew a guy and your guy had to be pretty sure that guy wasn’t from Precinct 52. And from what I understand, there were no choices. You got what pot you got. Unlike today where you can meander down to your corner weed boutique and find a litany of choices with enticing monikers like Moon, Forest Rain and Ocean View. Not sure if the names reflect the effect but if they do, might I suggest you stay away from something called Shark Shock

Finally remember when Barack Obama was President? I do and lately I have found myself pining a little for that time. So at the risk of sounding just a tad nostalgic, I would like to pose one question. Does anyone happen to know anyone that has access to a time machine?

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It completed me

I’ve always had a healthy skepticism about technology. It’s not that I don’t use technology. Like many I rarely leave a room without some sort of device attached to my hand. And I’m certainly not a Luddite (although I would have been proud to be one in the day) as I spent the later part of my career (yes, I am that old) devoted to making learning online the best experience it could possibly be for those who wanted that experience. But that doesn’t mean I buy in holus bolus to every knicknack or gadget that promises to make my life oh so much better than it already is. “Cause, if I might say so, my life ain’t so bad right now. Besides, how often do you invite the latest and greatest into your life only to discover that without a millennial in the house there’s no possible way to figure out how to make it work? Sure they showed you what to do in the store. But get the thing home and without all that fluorescent lighting nothing looks the same. As for me, you can bet your bottom dollar that, if there’s an “app for that” I’ll take a “pass for that“.

It’s not just figuring stuff out that’s the problem. There’s the whole over promising thing too. Like the self park feature on my car. Pretty exciting, eh? I mean all you have to do is press this one little button and lo and behold, the next thing you know you’re on the sidewalk waiting for the car to finish up and hand you the keys so you can be on your way. At least that’s what I thought it would do. Then I find out the car doesn’t actually find the parking spot for you. It just parks the car and what’s the point of that?  I know how to park a car. The problem is driving around the corner 15 times with the false hope that someone might actually leave just at the moment you sidle up to their spot. Or waiting for the person who has been sitting in the driver’s seat for nigh on 10 minutes (n reverse, I might add) before you realize they clearly have just broken up with their partner and are now calling each and every one of their friends to commiserate about the bum and how they never should have put up with all his/her nonsense in the first place. Fellas, It’s finding the parking space that’s the real problem. When you get that one worked out, call me.

Having said that, every once in a while something comes along that’s right up your alley. Something that fits like a glove, is on target and hits the proverbial nail on the head. Like those rather spendy noise cancellation headphones that you dithered about buying and then wondered what all of the anguish was about the very first time you wore them on a five hour flight and realized you no longer had to listen to the person beside you crunching on chips or worry every time the pilot “dinged” the flight attendant. Your logical self knows she probably just has to use the bathroom but there’s that niggling feeling it could be something else and at 39,000 feet “something else” can be a little disconcerting. Best not to hear at all which makes those buds worth their weight in gold. Then there’s that new fangled device that lets you see who’s at your front door without actually having to be anywhere near your front door. If that means not having to run down the stairs to find out there’s yet another person who wants to paint my “just been painted” house then, as Martha would say, it’s a good thing. But as good as those might be, neither can hold a candle to the hi tech wonder that has recently come into my life. If you ask me, it’s not even a horse race.

As you can probably imagine I spend a fair bit of my time at a computer, much but not all, dedicated to sending and responding to emails. It’s not that I don’t like writing emails. It’s just that so often I say the same thing over and over and over again. Like me, I’m sure that you have thought to yourself “if only there was an easier way”. “If only this computer could read my mind and finish all of my sentences”. Well my friends, you are in for a very pleasant surprise! The other day as I was typing away, much to my amazement my computer started typing all on its own. That’s right! Before my very eyes it was anticipating what it thought I wanted to say and then said it. Without any help at all, it completed me. At first I wasn’t all that receptive to this rather personal intrusion. My immediate reaction was “how do I get rid of this pesky little feature which is clearly something new from those Google peeps?” After all, it can’t possibly actually know what it is I want to say, can it? The truth is, it can’t but the reality is that, most of the time, what it had me say wasn’t so bad. I could live with it. And so it was that I decided to let the computer say what it thought I should say. Rather than the other way around. Which makes a lot of sense if you are a shallow person like me. I mean if it’s willing to do the work why the heck would I not let it? In most cases what I was going to say wasn’t really all that much better anyway.

Of course as it oft does, this got me thinking.  Why just emails? Why not let the computer finish all of my sentences everywhere? I gotta say it would make writing this blog a whole lot easier and I’m pretty sure that my computer could learn to be as shallow as I am in no time at all.

Yeah. Now I’m just gonna sit back and watch that skepticism of mine fade away.

PS: Thank you to the person who left the Starbucks mug on my doorstep. Just a guess but I’m thinking it must be someone who reads this blog as otherwise it was a very uncanny random act of kindness. Gotta admit. The last time I was in Saskatchewan I don’t think there was a SB, let alone a mug dedicated to the “Breadbasket of Canada“. It is very much appreciated and a wonderful addition to my collection!

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A True Story (unlike some others)

Not everything I write on the blog is 100%, should I say, accurate but this is a true story. I may not have previously mentioned that I have a collection. I suppose you may think it’s odd that a shallow person like myself would feel the need to accumulate a whole lot of something. I’d be with you on that. Most collections I know of, and I really don’t know of that many, simply take up valuable space and require a rather futile effort to stave off an ever growing blanket of dust, not to mention, from what I understand, the time required to sort, photograph and catalogue each and every piece. Of course there’s also the cost of locating and acquiring the precious items which, I can only imagine, could inflict a fair amount of damage to the grocery budget. Just think about how difficult it has been for John Reznikoff to complete his collection of celebrity hair locks which includes samples from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Ludwig Von Beethoven. Not exactly sure where he might have gone to get those but I’m guessing it cost him a pretty penny.

Perhaps the worst of it all is, although you most probably love whatever it is you are collecting, you are bound to leave everything virtually untouched in order to prepare for the day you decide to list the whole kit and caboodle as “new with tags” on eBay. This is particularly important if, like Dutch collector Niek Vermeulen, you have a penchant for collecting “airline barf bags” which one can only hope have remained in pristine condition over time. But think about how frustrating it must be for Manfred S. Rothstein to stare at the world’s largest back scratcher collection while trying to ignore the annoying itch he simply can’t reach without a little help. Or how disappointed Victor Taylor could be should he ever decide to scratch one of the 10,000, now expired lottery cards he has collected. It goes without saying that somewhere out there are multitudes of toys that can’t be played with, wine that can’t be drunk and cars that can’t be driven. I must say, there’s not one little bit of any of this that makes me want to run out and buy multiples of pretty much anything. And yet, here I sit with a collection of my very own. 

It all happened quite innocently. One day when travelling through those United States of America I thought it would be a good idea to buy myself a little souvenir as a remembrance of  the good times had. Of course I could have just taken a pic, but there’s a pretty good chance that one mountain or lake or beach, or whatever I set my eye on, would meld into the next and before you know it I would be wondering if I had been roaming around Idaho or Minnesota. No, I needed something definitive. Something that would tell me exactly where I had been. And that’s when I found it. Leisurely sipping on my afternoon Starbucks’ latte, (yes, even on holidays) I looked up and noticed that, there on the shelf, were dozens of mugs all with the name of the city I was currently sipping in. What could be better than that? Not only would I be able to remember where I was, I would take home something I could actually use. Whenever I wanted to reminisce about my time away I could pull out my mug, sit by the fire sipping on my tea (I never drink coffee at home) and think back longingly to the time I was wandering these lands of ours. Little did I know that would never be the case.

Because people started to notice. They would come to my house and I would give them a cuppa whatever in one of my mugs and they would remark on how interesting it was that I had begun collecting. Collecting? No, I’m just bringing back mugs from wherever I have been. But it seems when you have more than a few of something people begin to think you want even more and they apparently get some joy out of helping you add more of whatever that is. And so it was that whenever one of my friends would embark on their travels they would return with a mug from the city they had enjoyed a latte in as well. Which was nice, although not all that practical. You see, there was only so much room in my kitchen cupboards and since we didn’t drink all of our meals I needed to preserve some space for more practical items, like plates. Yet I enjoyed those mugs from places I had never been and accepted these gifts graciously. Truth be told, I even continued to pick up one or two more on my own.

Here things get a little blurry but one day while perusing eBay, I discovered that people purposely collected these Starbucks mugs and it was possible that I was sitting on a veritable gold mine. Who knew? Unfortunately my mugs had been used which any collector worth her salt knows is a cardinal sin. There was only one thing left to do. All my heretofore unused mugs were quickly moved from the kitchen cupboards to the safety of the glass enclosed china cabinet. Now “official”, this collection of mine has grown over time. Sometimes in fits and spurts, sometimes exponentially but in a pinch, I can accommodate upwards of 60 for tea. If I were to use them. Which of course, I won’t.

I should tell you that, like most collectors (I call myself that now) I’m not in this for the money. Nope. It’s about the thrill of the find. Although I must admit it’s a lot easier to walk into a Starbucks in just about any city and buy a mug than it would be to get your hands on, let’s say, a vintage 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Of course that Ferrari is worth considerably more than my, for instance, Edmonton city mug which currently demands about 280.00 (US) on eBay.

Come to think of it, I have two of those. Doing a rethink. PM me if you’re interested.

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So far, so Meh!

It’s been just about a year since I started my shallow life of leisure so I figure, since I have nothing else to write about, I would update you on how things are going. Well so far, so meh! Which doesn’t mean it’s been bad. There have been great walks with the “walking ladies”; wonderful lunches and dinners with some old and new friends; and coffee, lots of coffee. But let me get this off my chest. For a gal whose motto to live by was  the least amount of work for the most amount of money”, you might find what I am about to say a tad surprising. The truth is, I’m not all that crazy (yet) about being retired. Not only that, I have another confession to make. I took a job. It’s not a very big job, but it is a job nonetheless. And I like it. So clearly, if there ever had been a plan for my retirement, and of course there wasn’t, this would not have been it. As you can imagine, at this point I figure I might benefit from some sage retirement advice. And can you think of anyone better than Oprah to call on when you need a little sage advice? Neither can I.

But before I get to the piece of wisdom she shared with me, let me talk a bit about procrastination. Mostly because I’m pretty good at it. I mean think about it. I’m actually writing this yearly update about a month too late since I did officially retire at the end of June 2017 and here we are staring down the end of July 2018. Not only that, I spent an inordinate amount of time “researching” procrastination, which was kind of silly since I already know so much about it. Although it did prove to be rather enlightening and not as much of a waste of time as I thought it would be. You see, I discovered that there are real benefits to procrastination including the possibility that if you put something off long enough you might not have to do it at all. And who hasn’t done that? It also gives you a chance to mull things over for a really long time so you end up with a better outcome. Maybe. Perhaps though, the most important thing I learned was that the best way to make sure you do what you say you are going to do is to “commit publicly to your task”. Nothing like a little peer pressure to motivate. So that’s exactly what I am going to do now. Commit. But before I do, let’s get back to Oprah.

I’ve always liked Oprah even though I was never in the audience when she gave away cars, or houses or anything else for that matter, mostly because I was never actually in her audience. But even though she no longer enters our living rooms each and every day, if you look closely and pay enough attention you will find her, like I did, on the magazine rack of your local grocery store. There she is, every month, gracing the cover, looking gorgeous I might add, and continuing to share with us her recipe for living our best life. So it’s not surprising that, given my current situation, this month’s O Magazine’s headline “What are you longing to do?” caught my eye. Of course Oprah is not one to leave us hanging so if I was prepared to buy the issue, which I was not, apparently I would get some help answering that question by finding out  “how to make my life synch up with my soul”.  That’s about as far as I got given that I always thought those two culprits were one in the same and was unlikely to get caught up in that spiritual bubble. Nonetheless, since I still have an imagination it got me thinking. Thinking that since, at my age, it’s quite legitimate for me not to work any longer, I really should figure out what else might keep me occupied for the remainder of my days. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

I want to make a table and I want to take some pictures. So come the Fall I will be enrolling in a woodworking course and a photography course. At different times of course. Not sure how this will go. Last time I was in the vicinity of a power saw I just about lost a thumb so hopefully I’ll do a little better this time. And while I most likely won’t stand out in the rain taking pics (my hair just hates when I do that) I’m hoping to be able to fill up a few inches of my blank wall space with a vista or two. And who knows, my new adventures might even give me something else to write about.

So that’s it. Simple, really. All I have to do is find a couple of courses, get myself registered, and attend the classes. And I’m sure I’ll get around to doing that sometime soon. But I figure there’s no real rush. Because now that I’ve told all of you what my plans are, I’m already well on my way.

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Two sides to every coin

It’s no surprise that, as a shallow person, I don’t spend much time thinking about what other people are thinking. It’s not that I don’t care about other people. It’s just that I don’t usually attempt to understand them. Nor do I think they should attempt to understand me. Because, it seems to me, that each of us comes to see this world of ours from our own perspectives and it takes a whole lot of energy to try to put oneself in somebody else’s shoes. So it might shock you when I say that lately, for reasons unbeknownst to even me, I have been devoting a bit of my time to mucking about in what I think could possibly be going on in some other people’s heads. And without trying to sound overly magniloquent, this little exercise of mine has provided me with what I imagine to be explanations for why there are people who do things one way while others do it another. Albeit in some very limited cases which I will share with you now.

For those who don’t know, I have always been a “car person” which essentially means that I really like cars. Not for what they do, like enable me to go places with relative ease, but just for what they are. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of “car people”. I don’t know. One brother or another was always bringing home some cute little tattered sporty number that with a little elbow grease turned into a shiny, hot machine from which they could roam the streets of our town. And my Father would buy nothing but convertibles. I mean who wouldn’t want a convertible in a country where almost 6 months of each year are covered in snow? The thing is, he knew what cars were for. Cruising down the highway on a gorgeous summer day, Beach Boys blaring on the radio, hair and cares blowing in the wind. I suppose it’s in my blood. Cars become part of our family. We give them names, take really good care of them and keep them for an extraordinarily long time. Cars have never been about practicality or “just” transportation which might help to explain why our Mini Cooper (Red Emma) is currently the “big” car in our family.

But there are two sides to this coin. For some people cars are just cars. I know this because I see them everyday, everywhere. Practical cars with four doors for ease of getting in and out; that comfortably seat four people, five in a crunch; have trunks large enough to hold all the stuff needed for a  2 or 3 week road trip; and are equipped with a few but not too many options, mostly ones focused on increased safety. I get that not everyone develops an intimate connection with the rather expensive, gas guzzling, inanimate object that sits in their driveway. I can see why any sane person would shy away from taking a trip down the I-5 in something that could easily fit under the transport truck barreling down behind at 80 clicks an hour. And it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be sitting in the backseat hoping that your legs will regain at least some feeling once you get to your final destination. See, I get it. And I understand. We have different perspectives on what cars are about and that’s ok. For both you and for me.

I’ve been thinking about other things too. Like height. I’ve never really considered myself to be a short person but at 5’1 and a half (5’2” at my peak) I’m afraid that some other people do. The thing is, lately I’ve been noticing there are a lot of tall people around and I began wondering what life would be like from that perspective. Never having to struggle to reach the top shelf at the grocery store. Not having to wait for some benevolent soul to offer to put your carry-on into the baggage compartment. Being able to wear horizontal stripes. And then I thought, tall people must think that being short has its advantages too. Think about it. If your pants are too long you can always hem them. Too short? You’re hooped. Short people are rarely accused of looking down on others;  are very unlikely to hit their head on the doorframe and, of course, find it way easier to fit into the back seat of that Mini of mine. So you see. It’s all about how you look at things, isn’t it.

With this new found inquisitiveness I thought, what the heck, maybe I should try to better understand what’s going on in the world. Try to look at things from both sides now. So I thought about “45” and friends whose penchant for showing “strength” manifests itself in disallowing those who face the most abhorrent life conditions to further suffer the indignity of arrest, detention and most tragically, separation from their children. What could possibly be the reasoning behind taking children from the arms of their parents; locking them up in cages and admiting they may never find a way to reunite these families. Surely, I thought, there must be some justification for these atrocities. If I look hard enough I’ll discover the other side of this story. Ivanka, you haven’t said much but maybe you can help me out. Or Melania. After all, you said it yourself. Your purpose is to defend children against bullies. I suppose though, this isn’t cyberspace. But surely there has to be a better explanation other than these are the acts of a fearful, bigoted, megalomaniac that favours brutal dictatorial regimes over, well over just about anything else and who, surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people, fails to recognize the brutality of his actions. Ok, I’ve looked. There isn’t.

Damn! Must have forgot this was a shallow blog once again.

Update: He’s stopping it now. Too late. We’ve seen the pics. It happened.

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