Monday, August 28, 2006

Survivor is out of Ideas

I guess it had to happen. Survivor (starting September 14th) is pitting the races against each other in the upcoming season. The four tribes are African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and White. I have no idea why the last two aren't Hispanic-American and White-American, but that's another story.

Survivor already did the gender wars and the old versus young, and, since the rating were low last time out, they needed some new and controversial angle. If the series can hang on after this season, I have plenty of other controversial ideas, like:

lawyers vs comedians
gay vs straight
dwarves vs librarians
cops vs ex-cons (when Richard Hatch is released from prison)
porn stars vs nuns & priests
obese vs skinny
children vs adults
drug addicts vs alcoholics
Canada vs USA
Bloods vs Crips
farmers vs chefs
pilots vs bakers
presidential interns vs rent boys

And that's just off the top of my head. Feel free to add yours.

It just occurred to me that it feels like Monday, and then I realized that it is Monday.

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Friday, August 11, 2006


Just when you thought I might be back, I will be unable to blog for the next week, or so. Yesterday's post is good, so read that.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The End of Bathing

This is about my mother. She is fragile, in her late 60s, vacant - the doctor said so. He said she was empty, but the meaning is the same. She stares a lot, says little, except when she remembers to take her pills. On those days, she speaks with hypermania. It's a challenge to keep up.

Her red skin is contoured with blue veins, just like her father's. She wears a red and blue map on her face. Her grey hair is tinged with yellow from 50 years of cigarettes, 50 years of exhaling into emptiness. I remember her portrait softened by smoke, stinking of stale tobacco. She is old now, older than her years.

She found her way into the bathtub, managed to lower herself with her frail arms. Bathing is out-of-fashion in the house she shares with her mother. They prefer to stand over the sink and sponge bathe. Installing a shower is too expensive, not that there is any shortage of money. The bank accounts are full, the house paid, but my grandmother still buys her clothes from thrift shops and lawn sales as though it is 1935.

I try not to picture it - my mother clawing at the side of the white enamel, failing to achieve any kind of grip, her feet finding no purchase in the slick tub. She calls for help from her 87 year old mother. Maybe she can lift her out, but my grandmother is too weak herself, with her two plastic knees and two plastic hips. She looks as strong as ever, kind of like an ox or a streetcar. She is thick, heavy, with fingers that point in all directions of space at once, thanks to her arthritis.

The next thing to do is call to the neighbour to free my mother. I am reminded of that old folk tale, the Enormous Potato. They will form a chain: my grandmother, the neighbour all pulling. Soon, there will be a dog, a cat, and a mouse all lending a hand. Instead, the neighbour fails and they resort to contacting Emergency Services. Someone dials 911. An ambulance arrives with two paramedics. They hoist her from the tub, leave the stretcher by the door, and retreat to talk about that one with their colleagues. This is the one about the woman who couldn't get out of the bathtub. It's not an urban legend.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

I Just Cleaned my Office!

And, or some reason, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction, like I actually accomplished something important, rather than doing the obvious, expected and mundane. But, I am feeling buzzed anyway. There is white space (actually taupe space) on my desk, new places to put things, ample room for paper expansion. On the downside, I have created more files in those ubiquitous manila file folders, now hung in my filing cabinet, where they will probably languish for years before being dumped in a big blue bin with the final words "sweet fancy Moses, why in god's name did I keep this junk?"

What ever happened to the paperless office? I have more paper than ever, and a growing file of electronic documents and email backfiles cluttering my computer, not to mention music and photographs. It's seems like I am going crazy digitizing the analog, and analogizing the digital, if that makes sense. Talk about duplication.

It's a long weekend for me, and the other Ontarions out there, who are granted the first Monday in August off to celebrate Simcoe Day. John Graves Simcoe was the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario).

Wow, that's two posts in two days, but don't get excited.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Won and other Stuff

I must be seriously ambivalent about blogging, for I let this blog's 3rd anniversary pass without comment. Right now, it's too hot to blog. A while ago, I was too busy. Today - despite the heat - I am blogging, but without any kind of enthusiasm. But, here's a post anyway.

The other day, I was reflecting on the fact that many of the really cool inventions recently were my idea, I just never had the money or the technical expertise to make them happen. For example, I had the idea for the Blackberry about 13 years ago while sitting in a Research Methods class. I thought that it would be really cool to have a small device that I could use to send an email message to a person sitting across from me. Of course, I didn't call it a Blackberry: I referred to it as a "Pocket Email Device", or PED, for short.

I had the idea for MP3s and MP3 players long before the technology was "invented." I never liked Walkmen (or is it Walkmans?). Carrying around all of those cassettes was really awful. Same goes for the CD Walkman. I had a huge CD collection, and I thought, wouldn't it be great to carry around all of my music, if I could someone compress it and put it on a tiny computer. Of course, I didn't think of the term MP3: I referred to it as a "Pocket Music Device", or PMD, for short.

I also had the idea for laptop or notebook computers. I thought it was ridiculous to always have to use the computer in one place. Wouldn't it be better if you could carry your computer with you, if it could be made smaller, like the size of a binder? Of course, I didn't think of the terms laptop or notebook: I referred to it as a "Mobile Computing Device", or MCD, for short.

I had lots of other ideas that were usurped too, like the cellular phone (Portable Talking Device, or PTD, for short), the Digital Camera, Compact Discs, DVDs, Digital Camcorders, Goldfish Crackers, Soy Milk, and the Mullet.

Here's a new idea, and one I hope someone will get on with. I really hate power cords. I hate batteries more, but power cords are so restricting. Let me ask you this: wouldn't it be great to be able to place your appliance (fridge, stove, stereo, personal massager, etc) where ever you want, without having to be concerned about outlets and plugging it in? I am talking about wireless electricity. The power is delivered to your house by cables, but then power outlets are replaced by new power distributors that send the electricity through the air to any device requiring power. One outlet per room should be able to power all devices in a typical room. I call it Wireless Electricity, or WIEL, for short.

In other news, I found out a couple of weeks ago that I won an award from Johns Hopkins press for the best article appearing in one of the Johns Hopkins Press journals. I get a plaque, a nice letter, and $500 US. Congratulations to me.

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