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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Calgary Has Arrived

Just wanted to let everyone know that Calgary has offically arrived as a "cool" metropolitan city. Why, you ask? Simple.

Today I saw a man "driving" around the downtown core on a Segway. Complete with helmut. And let me tell you, he was really turning heads.

For those of you who don't know what a Segway is, remember the hype a few years ago about the invention that would be "It"? That's the Segway - a human transporter; an electric scooter that you stand on. Take a look at:

If you want to buy one (around $5,000-$6,000 depending on the model) check out the Canadian distributor at:

Gotta say I'm intrigued. Perhaps might make it as another one of Bast's Best Products in the near future ...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bird Anomalies

Well, it supposed to be spring here in Alberta. So far, it's been ok, if only in that we haven't had a major dump of snow. But as I was coming home tonight from my tap-dancing class (will be another blog, promise) I heard an interesting bird call.

Gulls. I was sure it was seagulls. Now for those of you "from away" Calgary is smack dab in the middle of the prairies, near the foothills. Not an abundance of water nearby. To be fair, I had seen these birds before, but when I first moved to Calgary in 1994, I swear we were gull-free. So why were they here, now? Well, we do have a very nice bird sanctuary in Inglewood. Perhaps they decided to check it out, and as so many people who visit Calgary do, decided to stay.

But they're not the only bird-newcomers. Again, when I first moved here, there were no pigeons. But pigeons abound in my back alley now. Although a nice diversion for the cat, they can be bothersome birds in great quantities, as I discovered in my years in Europe.

So what's going on here? Some kind of avian re-population effort? Both of these birds are scavengers, to be sure. Perhaps Calgary has finally hit the map in bird destination travel? A better class of restaurant fare on which to scavenge? Maybe it's simply that the lure of the big city has got to them too.

It's disconcerting for me though, because I always equate seagulls, well, with the sea. And I always felt a bit special (like being near the sea) when I heard them. Now they're just confusing the hell out of me. Which is not hard lately. More anon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bast's Best Products: "Salt" of the Earth

I've been really busy lately. This is a Good Thing, as I run my own business. I have many deliverables due on or by March 31, so I am flat out right now. But my body has recently been informing me of the stress I'm under. This manifests itself in the form of tiny tinges in my lower back, as if to say, "Keep it up, and you'll be sorry. I can go at any time and you'll be on your back for two weeks straight. Tee hee."

I've never been very good at self-care. But I am beginning to learn as I wax and wane dangerously close to mid-life. I went for a cranial-sacral massage on Friday night, and I do believe this woman is a miracle worker. I felt mah-velous, darlink. She said to top it off with an epsom salt bath. Epsom salts? Wasn't that something old men used to use in the 40s? Not wanting to do anything to endanger my new-found back happiness, I stopped by the drugstore and picked up a bag.

After coming home from the wake (yes, I attending an actual Irish wake on St Paddy's Day - Long may you visit, Joan), I went home and tentatively tried these mysterious crystals out.

Magic. Have no idea what they do. My massage therapist said something about leaching out the lactic acid from your muscles. Being inquisitive by nature, I did a little reasearch. Where else? The website of the Epsom Salt Council (!) . So here are the alleged health benefits of said salts:

  • Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration
  • Help muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Make insulin more effective
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use


  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins
  • Help prevent or ease migraine headaches

Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, you see. "Epsom" came from the town in England it was first "discovered" and "salt", well, because it looks like salt.

Whatever it is, go, buy some. Soak. You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Strange Place

The universe is a wild and wacky place. I've always believed that and it was reinforced for me again last week. A dear friend from Ottawa who I haven't seen in years will be coming through Edmonton on her way up to the NWT and wanted to see if we could connect. That in itself wasn't too odd, and of course I'm delighted to go up and see her.

But then another dear friend from Kitchener, who I haven't seen in years, emailed me to say that she was going to be in Edmonton for a friend's wedding, which takes place a few days after my Ottawa friend's trip. Great, you say - one trip, two friends. But even that isn't the strangest part. You see, these two women also know each other, as we were all living in Ottawa in the early 1990s (and were known to have the odd drink together, etc.) They haven't seen me in years, or each other. Talk about a reunion. And don't even get me started about my friend who actually lives in Edmonton and knows them both.

So there you have it. The tapestry of life once again weaving its magic. Four lives that went their separate ways years before will come together again in of all places, Edmonton. I am really looking forward to seeing these women again - they hold special, dear places in my heart. And although we may not see each other for years, when we do, I'm hoping it will be like we were never separated. Perhaps, it the grand scheme of life and the universe, we never were.

There's gotta be a movie screenplay in there somewhere. There's just gotta be.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy International Women's Day!

I've been doing some thinking about March 8 today, and its relevance to our current place in history. To be sure, I'm not sure if today has been a success or a failure. IWD seems to have passed with a wimper and not a roar. Not even Google deigned to provide a float-over graphic like they do for other days of note, such as St. Patrick's Day, or Van Gogh's birthday.

In Canada, a press release was issued noting that women's wages are currently at 71% of men's. Seems my allusion to wanting to be born a man to make more money in my last blog entry was pretty bang on. There is also a noticeable decline in the number of female senior executives, now at 22%, after a high of 27% in 1996. We are up in management positions though, from 30% to 37%, but we are clustered at lower-level management positions. Sigh.

But here is the statistic that wasn't reported today. Women's entrepreneurship is increasing dramatically. The number of women starting their own business has doubled since 1990, and women now own, or partially own, a full 50% of Canadian small businesses. So it seems quite clear to me that women are simply taking matters into own hands and changing the rules. We are fed up of being round pegs trying to fit into corporate square holes. We are building our own segment of the economy, with its own built-in flexibility. And we are doing it in unprecedented numbers. If corporations don't take note of this trend and take appropriate actions to retain and reward women appropriately, they will be losing some of their best and the brightest.

Being one of the many who has the best boss in the whole wide world (me), I'm not holding my breath for systemic corporate change. And on this day devoted to the tenacity of female workers worldwide, I say why wait? Let's go out there and make our own destinies.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tag! You're it!

I've been tagged by a man I've not yet met. Seems odd, I know, but that's the 21st century in cyber-space for you. Turtle Guy is interested in my responses to the following questions - I'm flattered, if a little intimidated. Must be humorous, or somewhat deep! I'm not going to tag anyone else - because really, everyone else has already been tagged. And tagging strangers? Seems somewhat cheeky.

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?
Anyone who knows me knows I prefer B&W. Love the oldies, love anything with Astaire. Love Now, Voyager, with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Love Summertime with Kate Hepburn. Goes w/o saying I love Casablanca too. Need to see Good Night and Good Luck because I'd love to see George Clooney in B&W. (I'd love to see George Clooney in anything, really, or nothing at all...)

2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?
I hate to say it, but anything to do with kids. I just tune right out.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?
MP3s? What is this magic of which you speak? Ya, I'll stick with tapes (because that's what my car stereo can play) and CDs (because I have a cool storage rack for them).

4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
Pretty much, ya. Then I would find a loophole in the contract and re-connect with everyone later. Like maybe change my name so it wasn't really me who was contacting them. Kind of like the old Kobayashi Moru manoeuvre that Kirk pulled in Star Trek II. If faced with a hopeless situation, change the rules.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world's most pressing issue now?
Tedious - next question. There are too many.

6: How would you rectify the world's most pressing issue?
Equally tedious.

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
Be born a man. Probably be making two or three times what I am now.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
Luther's nailing of his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Seems strange, I know, considering I'm a Protestant and all. But the Protestant Reformation really was one of the worst transitions for women in history. Put us back tremendously. Opened the door to the Witchcraze. Closed the door on any other life choices beyond being the Good Wyfe.

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole Opry: which do you choose?
Opry, hands down. No time for high culture - just pop culture. So most of my time in Cambridge was rather wasted on me. Except for the fine wines - they were ok. But so was the plonk. You see what I mean.

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you'd like to solve?
What happened to the Mary Celeste's crew? That one's always bothered me. I know, I know, it's a mystery, not a crime, but I prefer that question. Don't like crimes. Also would like to know if Nessie, Ogopogo and the Sasquatch really do exist. Cryptobiology is quite fascinating. Oh, and what actually impacted at Tunguska in 1908? And if the Mars "face" is really a beguiling message left to ourselves as to our true planetray origins. Shall I go on? I could, you know. Very curious about mysteries - not so much on crimes.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
Probably Germaine Greer. She's a hoot when she gets going. Give her a couple of ports and watch the fireworks. Serve her a meal? Why? Just keep the drinks coming. She won't notice there was no meal after awhile. Now if she cancelled out on me on short notice (known to occur), I'd probably invite Sharon Butala - because she's just lovely. And I'd serve paella and tortilla - because I could.

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky - what's the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
Nothing different. Don't really live my life on that basis. More on the Golden Rule basis, or the Thumper Principle, if you will (If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.) Don't do all that well on the Thumper Principle. Ah, well. Room for improvement, for sure.