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Monday, May 29, 2006

Spring Cleaning Madness

The worst (or perhaps the best) thing about going on vacation is that I have to rush around frantically for days previous in order to clean my apartment and get it up to snuff for my cat's Aunt to arrive. The Cat cannot be left alone (as she pines for me, poor thing, and I worry about her) so at least three times a year, my place gets a good going over. Keeping up appearances and all that.

I don't like to clean. I especially don't like to clean when I can't see the fruits of my labour (ie disappeared dust). But when I do clean, I clean. Frantically, and with vigour. And that usually includes a good cleanout of clothes and papers that have building over months. And I have thrown out a LOT of stuff this time around. But it is stunningly obvious as I look around that I still have a LOT to go through and potentially throw out. How can this be?

Paper seems to procreate in my house. To hell with the paperless society. I'm surrounded by the damn stuff. And I get irritated by it. I seem to pick up the same piece of paper seven or eight times before I either decide on a home for it or to throw it away. I suppose I could scan everything - but I actually do have a life and would like to live it. Life's too short to scan paper into a computer.

And then there's the shredding, ah, the shredding! I have to separate the papers into those that might contain personal information and need to be shredded in order that my identity not be stolen and used for nefarious purposes, and those that can be tossed willy-nilly. And the paper that needs shredding continues to sit there, staring at me, waiting for me to shred it, like it's on Death Row.

So here I sit feeling virtuous on the one hand, and intimidated on the other. I'll need another vacation to deal with the paper I have simply hidden away, out of view.

Sigh. It's just never easy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Winding Down ...

I can feel it - oh, yes I can feel it! That inevitable feeling the week before you go on vacation. Nothing else matters. I don't care what I get done at work. I don't actually care that I'm at work. I just want to go on my vacation.

Not that it will be super exciting. Just back home, to see old friends, my parents and their old friends, and maybe even make some new friends. But it will be away, and I need to get away for awhile.

I heard the other day that a full 20% of Albertans never take a vacation. Too busy making money to pay for the Hummer, the ritzy condo, the blazingly glam lifestyle, I suppose. I don't get it. I need vacations - I want vacations - I long for vacations. In fact, I really do just want to be on vacation for the rest of my life.

Now if I could just figure out a way to do that. Ideas, or straight donations to the retirement fund, very welcome.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Political blur ...

OK, I got up this morning at my regular time - about 8:00 or so (hey, I usually work until 1 am!) and was a bit flummoxed when I turned on the TV to watch the morning breakfast shows.

There, giving me the morning news in his best newscaster voice was ... our Alberta Premier, Ralph Klein. This was a bit of a shock, to say the least. Now I know back in the day Ralph was a weatherman for our local TV station, so he does know the biz. But he is the sitting Premier of our province! And one of the stories he covered was about ... himself! And how it was brave of him to even attempt to reform the healthcare system. What the ....?

Was he auditioning for a job after his forced retirement in September of this year? Was he trying to perpetuate his image as Populist Ralph, Man of the People?

One of my colleagues thought that it might have been done tongue in cheek. But it looked pretty authentic to me. No satirical stories here. I was a little uncomfortable about it at the time, but as the day wore on, I was even more so.

It speaks to the separation - or perceived separation - of government and the media. The media is supposed to be the public's watchdog - our eyes and ears - on the workings of government. But increasingly government is co-opting the media in order to get their message out - in whatever way they can. Look at the cozy relationship between the White House and Fox News. Granted, this was a pretty creative way - straight from the horse's mouth (insert other equine body part here, if desired).

Politics in Alberta continue to astound me. No change in government since 1971. No effective opposition and none on the horizon. Or is there? With our booming economy, more and more people are moving to Alberta - and many are from that bastion of Liberal thinking, Ontario. Methinks there may yet be change in the air ...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Texting, texting ...

This new cell phone is amazing. I can actually receive text messages! (Not sure if I can send them too, but wouldn't that be AWESOME!) Sad to say that the first two messages I received were from my cell phone company. But they were wishing me Happy Birthday, so hey, that's nice, right?

Then I got my first real one. And ok, it was someone cancelling a meeting with me, but it was still a real live person texting me.

Way cool. I wonder how many other cancelled meeting/Happy Birthday messages I will receive.

I live in hope.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brave New World

OK, I've finally gone and done it. Those of you who know me know I loathe buying new technology - I think it stems from that awful decision back in the day to get in early and buy that 8-track tape player.

I own a 1988 Mazda MX-6 (in about 18 months, it will become a collectible car ...) and I was the last one on the block to get a DVD player.

Then there was my cell phone. I wanted to ensure I got good use and value from it before I upgraded. I bought it in 1998. Many of you have seen "The Brick". It became a symbol of my neo-Luddite tendencies. And it was an awesome phone (Motorola Microtac - it would not die and would not often drop a call). But in 2006, it became an aesthetic issue. I was becoming embarrassed to use it in public. Getting funny looks when I lugged it out of my bag.

So I succumbed to peer and societal pressure and bought a new one. Still a Motorola, which is apparently a sound environmental choice. But this one is fancy-shmancy. It has a menu. I can get voicemail. It has a speakerphone. I have different ring tones. And it vibrates. I feel very 21st century when I hold it.

And to top it all off, it looks remarkably like a Star Trek communicator.

Go figure.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Suck it up, Calgary.

So, our beloved Flames lost in the first round of the playoffs. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth today in Cowtown. I have to admit, I'm not one of them, for oh so many reasons.

Number 1: Calgary has had a bit of a superiority complex lately, and the universe hates those who are openly arrogant. Economic boom times, coupled with conspicuous consumption, has left me feeling cold about this city I happily called home. Stories of $1,000 cigars and $5,000 bottles of wine are the norm. I doubt they are urban myths. We needed taking down a peg, and this loss to the "Mighty Ducks" sure did it.

Number 2: Not one person I've heard interviewed has said they will now be cheering for the Edmonton Oilers, who did make it past the first round. This is parochialism at its finest. When the Flames were in their Cup run in 2004, I distinctly remember Edmontonians (albeit grudgingly) getting on the bandwagon and cheering the Flames. Would you rather another American team take the Cup? Really, get over it and get cheering for the other Alberta team. This Edmonton-Calgary rivalry has to end - they are both good cities, each with their strengths and weaknesses.

Number 3: The Red Mile is no more. There was an edge to the place this year that was verging on hooliganism, and it was only going to get worse as the Flames continued in the playoffs. It would have become super-heated if the Flames had met the Oilers, and the coveted Battle of Alberta had occurred. I shed no tears for the demise of the Red Mile.

Number 4: Hockey players make too much damn money for playing what is, essentially, a pretty violent game. This may be sacrilege to most Canadians, but then again, I'm not like most Canadians.

Now it is time to enjoy spring in Calgary and get ready for the next big festival of debauchery, Stampede. More grumbling anon, I fear. Must be the season for it.