Tag Archives: rules

Follow the “effing” rules! Please.

As a shallow person I don’t make a habit of telling other people what to do. Most of the time I mind my own business and let the chips fall where they may. But in case you haven’t noticed, these times are different than most. In many ways. I mean not so long ago we were all able to walk into a grocery store without waiting in line. Without putting on a mask. Without sanitizing our hands on the way in and on the way out. And I don’t know about you but I clearly remember sitting on the cafe patio, spending time chit chatting with friends while sipping a latte. At the same table. Or inviting them to my home and letting them inside when they discretely asked to use the “facilities”. At least I would if I had managed to clean before they arrived. But those times appear to be gone. At least for now. And for now, what seems to have taken the place of all that we knew, are rules. Rules that, for our own good, we need to follow.

Now none of us are strangers when it comes to rules. We grew up with them. Right from the get go. Most of us, at least most of us who are of a certain age, remember the plethora of rules we had to adhere to at school. No chewing gum in class. No running in the hall. No talking out of turn. Simple rules but ones we had no choice but to follow lest we find ourselves spending many an hour sitting under the watchful eye of a teacher who no more wanted to be in that room with us than we with them. Little did we realize that these rules were designed to assist us in becoming decent human beings. And now, as decent human beings we know there are rules we need to follow for the sake of others. That’s why we don’t drink and drive, no longer smoke in public and do our best to eat with our mouths closed, the latter being particularly important when sharing a meal with loved ones, as we so often did in the past. Some of us go so far as to adopt rules for our own good. We pay ourselves first, finish what we start and, of course, “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”. And we are better people for it. 

Let’s face it though. Not all rules are the same. Some rules, like the ones we have to decipher when doing our taxes, are complicated. Break one of those rules and you’ll hear about it for sure but, if you’re lucky, someone will likely accept your mea culpa and let you go on your way. With a small penalty of course. Some rules have more serious consequences. Like when you decide to put the metal to the pedal on a long, lonely stretch of highway thinking there’s no one else going to wherever it is you’re going. And then you discover, much to your dismay, that you have a new friend in a black and white cruiser who has decided this a good time to get better acquainted. In this case you can say all the sorries you want but that cute little red number you love so much will be sitting in your new friend’s garage and you’ll be walking to work for the next little while. And some rules are ok to break every once in a while. I mean who didn’t sneak into the house hours after curfew, confident that the ‘rents, sleeping like logs, would be none the wiser? Trust me. They weren’t sleeping. They knew. But since you were home safe and sound, and they could now get some much deserved shut eye, they let you off the hook. Every once in a while. 

Then there are some rules that are so simple, so easy to follow, that it’s hard to understand why anyone would decide to break them. And yet, they do. So now that things are opened up just a tad, me and my guy have taken to sitting outside at our local cafe (I’m quite sure I don’t have to tell you which one) for our afternoon coffee. Not everyday, but once in a while. Here’s the thing. Because we still exist within our “new normal” a few rules have been put in place at the cafe. Nothing onerous. Like this. There is now a door to go into the cafe and a door to come out. And they are not the same. One set of doors is around the corner from the other. To make matters simple, a sign has been posted on the now “exit only” door to clearly indicate that it is, in fact, the exit. To clarify, there’s an arrow pointing to the door you are supposed to use to enter the cafe. And in case you can’t tell where the arrow is pointing there are actual words that explain the entrance is around the corner. Off the patio. It’s not hard. Yet, as I watched with some dismay, two out of three people entered through the exit. Some read the sign and clearly decided to ignore the message. Some did not read the sign at all, I suppose thinking the message was not meant for them. While others read the sign, thought about it for a moment and for some unknown reason, made the determination that the rule did not apply to them. Perhaps the extra 30 feet was too far to go.

Okay. I get it. Old habits die hard. But this one, very simple rule has been put in place to keep everyone safe. You. Me. Your kids. The people who work at the cafe. You know. The ones who are forced to wear masks all day long so we can all continue to satisfy our habit. The woman who dutifully walked around to the new entrance each and every time she needed to enter the cafe only to end up face to face with someone who chose to enter through the exit. Without a mask. So while I hardly ever tell people what to do, and I never swear, I’ll say this just once. If you do nothing else. Do this. Follow the “effing” rule. Please. And all the others that have been put in place to keep us safe. Honestly. It’s not that complicated. Not that hard. Because unlike your parents, this virus won’t be letting any of us off the hook.

An aside: I know none of my readers would do this but feel free to share with someone you know who might. 

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Rules are Made to be Broken

red nail polishI strongly dislike nail polish. It’s not the colours, or the smell or even the fact that using a toothpick to painstakingly paint little pictures of stars, flowers or hearts on 10 teeny, tiny canvases seems like a rather frivolous waste of time. Nope, it’s not any of those things. The reason I strongly dislike nail polish is because, strange as this may sound, I’m a little claustrophobic and when I put polish on my nails my fingers can’t breathe. That’s right. For some reason, which I suspect will forever remain unknown, nail polish does that to me. So I do what any reasonable and clear thinking human would do. I don’t wear any, ever. Which is why you will probably be surprised when I tell you that I am, right now, attempting to remove some glossy, red paint off of my thumb nail. All this because, if I can put it this way, curiosity appears to have killed the cat. But here’s why.

I’m cleaning. This is not your run of the mill “a little dust, a little vacuum” kind of clean. Right now the entire family is in the midst of a knockdown, drag-out fight against clutter. And we’re about 30 years too late. Do you have any idea how much junk four people can accumulate over 30 years? Well I do. And to put an end to this guessing game, let me just tell you, it’s a lot. But what has to be has to be so without further ado the time has come for us to rid ourselves of the treasures we have somehow managed to accumulate over these many years. Because, as you may have heard, we are moving. Soon. And we simply can’t take all of this stuff with us which I believe is a reasonable, and rather easy conclusion to have arrived at based on the fact that we have less space in the new place than we have now. Not a whole lot less. But less all the same and, to add some insult to the injury, that “less space” comes in the form of no basement. And we all know that the basement is such a handy place to put all the stuff that you don’t really need but hate to part with. Which I am afraid has caused some, but not all of the problem we now face.

The most difficult part of this whole exercise is figuring out what to take and what to leave behind. That’s figuratively not literally since the person who is replacing us in our home probably, and I say this with some confidence, would frown upon us doing so. Now if I was the kind of person who played by the rules I most likely wouldn’t be in this pickle. I mean I’m a big fan of reality TV and, at least for a while, there were any number of shows dealing with the organization of “stuff”. So I am no stranger to advice on how to manage this whole thing. I know about the “keep”, “donate” and “discard” bins. And I can’t count the number of times I have heard that, perhaps now overused and almost impossible to abide by rule, “one in, one out”.  Let’s face it. I don’t always buy something to replace something else. Sometimes I just buy something because I like it. And maybe, just maybe, I like all the other ones I have that are like “it” too. Sometimes I need an “extra” one of something. Like a spatula. Who doesn’t sometimes need an extra spatula? Or something in another colour. Maybe I bought a green T-shirt. That doesn’t mean I can throw out a blue one. Does it? I rest my case. One in, one out simply does not work.

I suppose that’s why I now find myself wading through a plethora of stuff, which wouldn’t be so bad if I could at least follow that “touch things only once” rule. But when you come upon things that you haven’t seen for a very long time, sometimes you get distracted. Which seems to be the case, even for a shallow person like me. Call it nostalgia or call it whatever you want, but sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. Like finding pictures of your kids when they were really, really small and spending a little time remembering the days before they could walk and talk and stay out all night at the bar. Or coming across a rock you brought back from a camping trip you took years ago because you liked its colour or shape, and thinking back to how much fun it was to sleep in a tent and cook hot dogs over an open fire which you had almost forgotten you ever did because they very rarely allow you to do that at the Hyatt. Or finding a little bottle of nail polish that you never even knew you had and deciding to try it on because you are curious to know if it still makes you feel claustrophobic. These are the times you discover that rules really were made to be broken. Unfortunately, what t has also made me discover is this cleaning thing is going to take me a lot longer than I thought.

Photo credit: Disco-Dan / Foter / CC BY
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A Shallow Person’s Guide to the Folk Fest (Part 2 of 3)

What to Bring

Don’t minimize the importance of getting this right. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself at a great spot at the bottom of the hill only to realize that you left your favourite recycled plastic yoga mat you were going to carry to all of the side stages, at home. Along with the requisite sunscreen, bug spray, hat, sunglasses, and reusable water bottle I suggest the following:

The Chair: Veteran or newbie this year everyone is going to need to get new chairs. Remember those rules I talked about yesterday? Well there are new ones for chairs this year and I’m afraid that means trading in your Costco “Rio”, which only about ⅔ of the festival goers have used without incident over the past 5 years, for something a little shorter. On a recent trip to our local camping store I discovered a tie-dyed number that meets all of the official requirements and, at first blush seemed to me to be the perfect folk fest accessory. But in retrospect I’m a little worried that some people will exercise both this and the tie-dye t-shirt option (you’ll read about that tomorrow) and, as a result, have the unfortunate experience of finding a complete stranger sitting on top of them because they were indistinguishable from their surroundings. So just to be safe I would go with something in a solid colour.

The Tarp: You’re going to need a tarp and you better make sure it is 8×10 (yes, it’s a rule) or you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of this fence. I’m going to say you go with blue on this one. Yes it’s true that’s the colour of 95% of the tarps at the festival so yours will become just one more fish in a rather large sea. But here’s the thing. At some point in the week-end someone you know is going to want to meet you at your tarp. The only way to get them there is to figure out how many rows you are up from the bottom of the hill and in from the side and to pass on that information. Of course there are no real “rows” at this fest which leaves your directions open to some rather significant interpretation. The thing is, if your tarp was let’s say orange, you would be making things all too easy for your friends and what’s life without a challenge or two?

The iPhone: I know, you’re wondering why on earth you’re going to need this technology from your “other life”. Well there’s more than one reason. First, when your friends can’t find your tarp (that tarp counting never works) they’re going to call you so you can talk them through the crowd. Of course this will be of minimal use since there is so much noise they’ll only pick up every few words. Never mind, they’ll find you, eventually. Next, I think it’s a good alternative to the “candle” thing that goes on every night on the hill. There’s nothing more disconcerting than watching free spirited children run around with lit candles while their free spirited parents pay little or no attention to them. So to get around this rather dubious practice I think we should all download a candle app which will make swaying to the music, light in hand, all that much safer. The effect will be the same and the fire chief can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, download the Folk Fest app. It will come in handy as you move from one stage to the next and perhaps more importantly, you’ll save the five bucks you would have spent on the program.

The Food: You’re going to have to eat while at this shindig and unless you plan on spending a good portion of your time standing in the food lines, you will want to bring some of your own. Please remember that there are people on all sides in close proximity watching, so what you do here will have a major impact on your folk fest persona, especially if there are children involved. Trust me on this, if it says “Hostess” on the package, leave it at home. For this event you’ll want to buy in bulk, but if that’s not possible, at least make sure it looks like you did. No plastic bags please, only reusable containers made of BPA free recyclable plastic. I’d suggest glass but that won’t get through the security check (have I mentioned the rules?). Adding something “ethnic” to the menu will add significantly to your currency. Organic juices can be refreshing although this year I’ll be toting flavoured Perrier as I think it’s just retro enough to be cool. If what you really crave is a bologna sandwich, remember that Yves veggie slices are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and I dare say you will be safe as long as you don’t offer a bite to your vegan neighbour.

The Other Stuff: You’ll need a bag to carry all of this stuff in and I’d like to suggest something colourful and woven if at all possible. If you insist on leather just make sure it is well-worn and handcrafted by a local artisan from cows that have been raised for this purpose. Perhaps something that matches your belt (more about that tomorrow) would work. For some evening fun bring an inflatable beach ball and if you can find one with a “world” imprint, all the better. Unfortunately since this will be used to create hours of fun being tossed from one tarp to another as the night goes on, you won’t be getting it back so a trip to the dollar store may be your best bet. While you are there, pick up a couple dozen glow sticks as without them, no one will be able to see you dancing in the dark. A note of caution: While at the dollar store you will want to avoid anything that’s made in China.

Tomorrow: Stay tuned ‘cause you’re going to want to know what to wear.

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A Shallow Person’s Guide to the Folk Fest (Part 1 of 3)

Thanks to haloocyn http://www.sxc.hu/photo/856335It’s that time again. I don’t know about you but I sure find that each year seems to go by faster than the last. Everyone has a marker by which they measure the passing of time. For some people it’s New Year’s Eve, for others perhaps an anniversary or birthday. For me, it’s the Edmonton Folk Festival. My year runs from one folk fest to the next. And now, in these few moments before the big day, or should I say four days, I am filled with both excitement and dread because, as you may already have guessed, it’s not always easy to be a shallow person attending what for many people is their “kumbaya” event of the year. But I’ve been attending now for more than 30 years and have come to learn the ways of the devotees so, for those who may be embarking on this journey (or some facsimile) for the first time, I thought it would be good of me to share with you some of the wisdom I have acquired over what appears to be a very long time.

Getting Ready

The Rules: For such a free n’ easy music loving crowd there are a lot of rules that you are going to have to follow. There’s rules about when to come, where to line up, who to line up with, when and how to enter the park, where to put your tarp, how large your tarp can be, how tall your chairs can be, what you can drink…well you get the picture. My advice is to start following rules, yes any rules, for a couple of weeks before the event, just to get into practice. A good long game of “Simon Says” might help you get into the spirit of things while, at the same time, strengthening your listening skills.

Warning! This is a particularly difficult aspect of the show for us “shallows” as we typically like to do things our own way. There are ways around most, if not all of the rules but since I don’t want to jeopardize my ability to attend this festival, (and not following the rules will do just that) you will have to contact me privately for more information.

The Line-Ups: There’s no getting around this one. You’re going to line-up to buy your tickets, line-up to get into the entry line-up, line-up for food, line-up for the plates you need to put the food on, line-up for bathrooms (a bit of a stretch to call them that), line-up for CDs, and line-up to leave. At the end of each night you will find yourself in the “mother of all line-ups” traffic jam. Here’s where that ability to make small talk will come in handy as you try to alleviate the boredom by engaging those on either side of you in some sort of meaningless banter. See the “conversation starters” below for some tips on how to get things started. You may not like it but it’s either that or one of those “little white pills” I have spoken so fondly of in the past.

The Dance: Back to the mirror for this one, although for the purpose of this exercise I recommend a full length one. There’s gonna be dancin’ and you’re gonna be boppin’ if only to continue to see the band while everyone else is groovin’ to the music. Here’s what I suggest. Practice your moves to some Celtic and then some African sounds. They’ll be entirely different (one you’ll have to focus on your feet, the other primarily on the upper body). Once you have those down some combination of each should get you through the North American stuff. (The rather colloquial language here is my attempt to get into the spirit of the event.)

Starting a Folk Fest Conversation

Like it or not at various points during the week-end you’re going to have to start a conversation. Whether it’s in one of the multitude of line-ups, the beer tent or while you’re “chillaxing” on the hill, it’s going to happen. I’ve said it before, I’m nothing if not the queen of chit chat, so here are some conversation starters for communing with your new folkie friends. They tend to be friendly, engaged and committed people so once you get them going you’ll likely be able to sit back and let them do most of the work.

“Love the shirt! Did you pick up the fabric on your last trip to India?”
“These are delicious! Are they local, vegan hotdogs?” (thanks Wader)
“I can’t wait for the Sunday morning gospel workshop!”
(Watch carefully for the look on their face before continuing with this thread.)
“I really wanted to see
[insert your favourite artist here] but there was no way I could miss my hot yoga class this morning.”
“Oh, you’re an accountant. That must be interesting work.”

Warning: At some point during the week-end you’re going to be approached by a long-time attendee who will start complaining about the crowds; let you know that side stage concerts are not really “workshops” anymore; and that they used to be able to arrive at anytime and still sit a stone’s throw away from the main stage. It’s time for them to face the harsh reality that, despite their appearance, this is no longer the ‘80s and this conversation is getting really old. I’m afraid you’re going to have to be the one to tell them to “let it go”, for all of our sakes.

There’s just too much to cover and so as not to overwhelm (and keeping my Gen Y readers in mind) I have broken this posting into 3 parts. Tomorrow…What to bring.

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