Friday, January 30, 2009

Touchstones of the past

Memories of good times and times gone by are great, but if you're as tactile as I am, you appreciate something concrete as a reminder.
I have what I call an unofficial collection of coffee mugs as souvenirs of places I've been and things I've seen.
Drinking glasses have also served that purpose. When I was a little guy, we lived in a duplex. In the other side was an elderly couple who adopted me as an unofficial grandson. My father moved our family into our half of the duplex on the day I was born, so the neighbour lady, Mrs. Turner -- I called her "Nurny" -- was a great help to my Mom, taking possession of me occasionally so that my Mom could pay attention to my brother and/or get some rest. Anyway, Nurny and her husband Johnny were like grandparents to me, with Johnny even coming to get me at HIS nap time, saying "Come on, Bobby, it's time to head for the tall timbers" and we would snooze together.
When Johnny died, Nurny gave my Mom a set of metal glasses that he always used, because they kept whatever liquid in them cold. I wish I knew where those four glasses (one blue, one red, one green and one gold) are now. When Nurny died, her daughter-in-law gave me a ceramic figure of a mare and her colt beside a well, and one of a little diver, complete with diving helmet. I still have them. They're very special to me.
I also had a glass that my Grade 5 teacher gave me for perfect attendance. I must have really loved school to have perfect attendance that year, because the teacher was a Class 'A' Bitch ("Bitch" capitalized intentionally). The glass broke a long time ago.

Several years ago, when my parents were considering downsizing (which they never evenutally did), they were de-junking the house, and my siblings and I had to salvage whatever we wanted, lest it go in the garbage. One of the things that I saved was a tall glass that came with either cheese spread or peanut butter in it. Featured on the glass was the character John from Disney's animated Peter Pan. Well, just this morning, I broke it. There goes another concrete attachment to my childhood
BUT I still have my A&W root beer mug! I'll now take extra care of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kinda sums up public opinion on the OC Transpo strike...

An -- ahem -- adult store on Bank St., downtown Ottawa

Sunday, January 18, 2009

After 40 days...

...Noah had found a way out of his predicament.

OCTranspo... not so much.
I'm starting to think that all that will solve the mess is Divine Intervention -- this coming from a man who's not really religious and isn't even sure there's a God.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's SO cold out...

I just saw a brass monkey with a very panicked look on his face!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Coffee's New Nemesis

This is Louie. He is a Bernese Mountain Dog, and you wouldn't know it by his size, but he's only eight months old. He and his humans lived with Coffee and me for 12 days, while the humans were in Ottawa for the World Junior Hockey Championship. His Human Dad is my all-time best friend.
It's hard to remember that Louie is only a pup, again because of his size. Coffee didn't let him get too close. If he got in her face, a sharp hiss made him back off.

This is a common position for Coffee for the 12 days, making sure Louie didn't get out of line, but keeping a safe distance. She was, however, much more accepting of him than she was of Sandy, the four-legged spawn of the devil who visited at the end of November. Coffee even let Louie take possession of a squeaky toy she has never played with. But he also tried to steal a multi-coloured ping pong ball that she often plays with. She let him take it to his big cushion that was always at the back door, so that he could get into and out of the back yard without dirtying up the whole house. But the minute he moved away from that ball, Coffee calmly walked over onto Louie's cushion, and took the ball back. You can only push a girl so far, after all.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Words and phrases that should be banned

Every year, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, publishes a list of words or phrases that should be banned from the English language.
Anyone can nominate a word or phrase. I nominated "these tough economic times" but alas, in these tough economic times, it didn't make the list.

Here are the words and phrases that did make it:

GREEN – The ubiquitous 'Green' and all of its variables, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions' and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year.

CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING – "It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to 'offset' their own 'carbon footprint.' What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!" Ginger Hunt, London, England.

MAVERICK – "The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot 'mavericky' was terribly overused. A minimum five-year banishment of both words is suggested so they will not be available during the next federal election." Matthew Mattila, Green Bay, Wisc.

FIRST DUDE – "Skateboard English is not an appropriate way to refer to the spouse of a high-ranking public official." Paul Ruschmann, Canton, Mich.

BAILOUT – "Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout." Ben Green, State College, Penn.

WALL STREET/MAIN STREET – "When this little dyad first came into use at the start of the financial crisis, I thought it was a clever use of parallelism. But it's simply over-used. No 'serious' discussion of the crisis can take place without some political figure lamenting the fact that the trouble on Wall Street is affecting 'folks' on Main Street." Charles Harrison, Aiken, SC.

Internet and texting blues -MONKEY – "Especially on the Internet, many people seem to think they can make any boring name sound more attractive just by adding the word 'monkey' to it. Do a search to find the latest. It is no longer funny." Rogier Landman, Somerville, Mass.

<3 – Supposed to resemble a heart, or stand for the word 'love.' Used when sending those important text messages to loved ones. "Just say the word instead of making me turn my head sideways and wondering what 'less than three' means." Andrea Estrada, Chicago.

ICON or ICONIC – Overused, especially among entertainers and in entertainment news, according to Robyn Yates of Dallas, who says that "every actor, actress and entertainment magazine show overuses this." One of the most-nominated words of the year. "Everyone and everything cannot be 'iconic.' Can't we switch to 'legendary' or 'famous for'? In our entertainment-driven culture, it seems everyone in show business is 'iconic' for some reason or another. "John Flood, Bray, Wicklow, Ireland

GAME CHANGER Р"It's game OVER for this clich̩, which gets overused in the news media, political arenas and in business." Cynthia, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

STAYCATION – "Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.'Vacation' does not mean 'travel,' nor does travel always involve vacation. Let's send this word on a slow boat to nowhere." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

DESPERATE SEARCH – "Every time the news can't find something intelligent to report, they start on a 'desperate search' for someone, somewhere." Rick A. Hyatt, Saratoga, Wyo.

NOT SO MUCH – "I wish that the phrase was used not so much," says Tom Benson of Milwaukee, who notes that it is used widely in news media, especially in sports, i.e. 'The Gophers have a shot at the playoffs; the Chipmunks, not so much.'

WINNER OF FIVE NOMINATIONS – "It hasn't won an Academy Award yet. It has only been NOMINATED!" John Bohenek, Abilene, Tex.

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN – Nominated by Kathleen Brosemer of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for "general overuse and meaninglessness. When is it not 'that time of year again?' From Valentine's sales to year-end charity letters, invitations to summer picnics and Christmas parties, it's 'that time' of year again. Just get to the point of the solicitation, invitation, and newsletter and cut out six useless and annoying words."