Now THAT’S Entertainment!

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This is our TV.

Our one and only TV.  I know some of you are suspiciously thinking, “Hey, that looks an awful lot like Alison’s one and only TV.” And you’re right. It does. But it’s not.

Before we moved to Halifax in 1998 we divested ourselves of all our stuff except for a few suitcases and boxes of essentials. Then we had fun getting new stuff once we got there. We picked up the TV from a Canadian Tire about 4 months after we moved.

The TV has a 13 inch screen. (Coincidentally, I once knew a guy wh….. er, nevermind).  So, our cute little TV sits unobtrusively in a corner with its perky, decorative rabbit ears antenna.

The cat loves to sit up there watching us while we’re watching TV. Sometimes his tail hangs down over the screen which drives my daughter crazy because it pretty much blocks out the whole picture – and the cat doesn’t have a particularly bushy tail.

She yells at him, “Move your tail!” And then he swishes it back and forth. This makes her even angrier because she believes he’s deliberately mocking her.  

I laugh and I laugh. It’s better than anything they’re actually broadcasting on the TV.

Anyway, I’ve never had cable in my life. I’ve never felt any impetus to sign up. I don’t like the whole idea of paying for cable.  I can get the 3 major national channels with the rabbit ears along with the provincial public broadcasting channel, a couple of local channels and a bunch of French channels.

The Francophones really seem to love shows where people film each other, their kids and/or their pets falling off or under stuff, tripping over stuff, bumping into stuff, getting injured, maimed, electrocuted, losing their clothing or being spotted doing crazy stuff while naked and/or urinating. As far as I can make out, there are at least half a dozen French Canadian versions of America’s Funniest Home Videos. On top of Juste Pour Rire, which I think is really awful and doesn’t make me rire at all. (Click link for video samples).

Sometimes,  I’ll look through the TV listings to see what I could be watching if I had cable and there’s almost never anything that I can’t already watch on the channels I have.

The kid, of course, is totally horrified, completely embarrassed and extremely fed up with our “home theatre system”. Every time we change the channel (and yes, we do have a remote control), she has to get up and adjust the rabbit ears, shift the TV and find a place to sit that doesn’t interfere with the airwaves.

Her exasperated grumblings and exhortations are also always quite entertaining.

And then there’s the ultimate good time of getting ready to watch a DVD. The TV needs to get hooked up a VCR player, which then hooks up to a DVD player. Coaxial and perhaps some other sorts of cables are involved, I think.  (I let the kid take care of this too since she does it so much more often, she’s gotten to be a pro). Everything then needs to be plugged into the wall. And then it all needs to be turned on. And then a video needs to be put into the VCR in order to start the whole thing rolling. Then the video is removed.

Only then can the DVD can be put into the DVD player player. Then the cables need to be adjusted for a clear picture. Then we get to watch a 13-inch movie.

Her friends don’t much like coming over to watch movies. Not that she would ever invite them specifically for that purpose. (Perish the thought).  It’s just that when teenagers gather and get bored of the computer, the only other thing they can think of to do is watch DVDs.

So, the kid has been lobbying mercilessly to a) get a new, bigger TV; and b) get cable.

Basic cable starts at around $30 a month + +. It’s not a lot, but the idea of being suckered into another stupid bill every month when I already pay a ridiculous amount of stupid money for internet, home phone and cell phones irks me. 

I think I could get away with not getting cable if I cave on the new TV. It’s probably high time anyway – especially in light of the upcoming digital conversion scam. BUT! Will I still be able to use my rabbit ears antenna with a fancy schmancy new digital TV?

I went to Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs so that I could find out everything I needed to know about getting a new TV and now I’m scared. When did a television get so complicated?

So before I run out to Future Shop and end up slapping some condescending salesgeek, I would appreciate any tips, advice, inside information, warnings, opinions, suggestions and/or hilarious anecdotes.

Thanks.

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Down There

Disclaimer: Anyone easily offended by harsh reality, should probably not read this blog today. There will be mention of body parts and bodily functions some of which may or may not be related to sexual activity.

Vaginal Relaxation.

I know!!! Not only are people finally talking seriously about this horrible, horrible affliction, but some people are actually doing something about it!

As any woman  who is over 20; or who has birthed dozens of children; or who has engaged in many, many, many sexual liaisons with stallion-like male partners knows — the old cootchie isn’t as snug and springy as it used to be.

What to do?

Kegels? Ya, they’re fine up to a point, but they just don’t really restore your fur-burger to its former glory.

Surgery?  Yes, Vaginal Rejuvenation surgeries (vaginoplasties) are pretty good, but they can cost up to $8,000 depending on exactly how relaxed the kuder in question is. And, as with any surgery, there are possible complications. Such as:

  • Blood Clots which could lead to heart attack, stroke or paralysis
  • Severed Nerve during surgery – oops
  • Necrosis – death of vaginal tissue from being cut off from its blood supply
  • Blood Loss – massive hemorrhaging can occur after surgery
  • Infection
  • Fistula – Another ooops when a nick is made between the wall of the colon and the wall of the vagina
  • Death

Thank goodness someone has come up with a cheaper and safer way to perk up the pink taco.

pk24 – “Feminine Sexual Esteem” …  the first and only clinically tested, vaginal rejuvenation cream.

I really, really wish I was making this stuff up, but, sadly, I’m not.

pk24 is a liquid one applies to the relaxed poonani prior to intercourse in order to instantly tighten it up to the size of a drinking straw – and not the fat bendy milkshake drinking straws either! No siree.  We’re talking tiny, tight rigid drinking straws.

pk24 contains a blend of aloe, which is just a moisturizer;  sucralose for “flavour”; and potassium alum which is an astringent used in deodorants and hemorrhoid creams. (Yum! Tight, tasty and fragrant!)

And it retails for only $60 for a one ounce bottle!

The nice folks over at pk24 wonderland promise it will provide women with a “renewed sense of sexual confidence and empowerment”.  Well, who doesn’t want that, right? Why crawl around with your saggy old woojit flapping between your legs when 60 bucks can change your entire life!

On the other hand, why not invent a cream that will just significantly expand the length and breadth of your partner’s ding-dong instead? Wouldn’t that make everybody a whole lot happier than just temporarily unrelaxing the buju?

‘Cuz really, as columnist Josey Vogel says, “after a lifetime of gynecological concerns, childbirth and everything else our vaginas go through, don’t they deserve to relax a little?”

Lessons from Away

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Continuing on the immigration theme, did you know that Canada has the second highest population of foreign born citizens in the world? (Only Australia is higher.

The 6.2 million foreign-born people in Canada came from over 200 different countries: 58.3% from Asian countries; 16.1% from European countries; 10.9% from Central and South American; 10.6% from Africa.

Canada is also widely thought to be the second easiest country in the world to which to immigrate. Australia again wins out because they have a wider range of skills qualifications than Canada. Canada also has a greater disconnect between credentials and actual jobs.

Seventy percent of immigrants chose to live in either Toronto (40%), Montreal (14.9%) or Vancouver (13.7%).

Ottawa-Gatineau is home to over 200,000 foreign-born citizens.

One of them is Guillermo.  Some Ottawa bloggers have met Guillermo. He’s a charming young man who immigrated from South America to Canada some years ago with his family.

Guillermo maintains two blogs. On The Tired Prop he practices his English and rants and comments about every day stuff. His other blog, Los Ziegler en Canada, is in Spanish and has become a source of information and discussion for and with other immigrants and people wishing to immigrate.

Guillermos’s current project is a bridging exercise between native Canadians and foreign-born Canadians. His readers were recently asked why they chose to make Canada their home and whether this country has met their expectations: have their been any surprises or disappointments?

The answers are so touching I asked if I could quote some excerpts here (crudely translated by me using Google Translate).

Alfredo says:

My wife found a job without a problem. Equality at work is a reality here. She has had no difficulty because of her age, or the fact that she has children or because she is a woman

For me, Canada gave me back my family; gave me the opportunity to discover and re-invent myself; gave me the freedom to become a happy person. Thank you Canada for giving me the opportunity to be here.

 Jaime says:

Compared to the US, Canada allows you more freedom of thought; allows you to be proud of your country of origin unlike the US where you are expected to assimilate completely. In Canada people want to know about you and your country and can have an intelligent conversation with you about it.

Paola says:

We were expecting to have a hard time fitting in, re-adjusting and getting settled, but Canada proved us wrong in every single way. I was expecting friendly but distant people  – not the case. I was expecting to have a hard time getting a similar job  to the one I had in Argentina usning my experience and education – I got a job only 2 weeks after I got to Canada and in a better position.  And, I LOVE THE WINTER!! I still can not believe our luck.

Enzo says:

I had the chance to visit Toronto as a tourist. I literally fell in love with Canada, actually I think we had a mutual infatuation, to the point that I did not want to return to Argentina.

Canada has been extremely generous with me. I always have high expectations of this country, but Canada is always a step ahead of my expectations.

I now live in a country where my rights are respected (and my obligations enforced), people are educated, kind, respectful. I live in country where I make my living out of my hobby, and just for that I kiss the soil every time I return to this country after being away.

On Easter weekend, during a family dinner, someone asked me if I was thinking to retire in Argentina (because my money will be more profitable there). My answer was no. I never have never felt about a country the way I feel about Canada. No other country makes me feel this. I am here to stay (for good or for bad)

I also love the snow, driving in the snow, all the fuss about snow storms and then nothing happens. I LOVE IT!

It’s not all roses, of course. Some of the disappointments people noted were the poor quality of our roads (of all things), our health care system (no surprise), and our general lack of culture. Aside from some areas of Quebec, we apparantly seem to take little pride in creating beauty – in our architecture, our food, clothes,  lifestyle, etc.

I’m sure with the vast and varied foreign influences we welcome into the country, our culture will improve over time.  Adopting ethnic foods, clothing, art and even lifestyles cannot help but enrich our young country and give it dimension and beauty.

Just hearing from people who appreciate living in Canada so much already makes me see this country through different eyes.

The Love Boat People

Sometimes people who live in lands of milk and honey meet and fall in love with people from lands of dirty water and sorghum. They get married and then the milk and honey spouse sponsors the water and sorghum spouse to immigrate to Canada so they can live happily ever after.

Sometimes they do.

Sometimes they don’t. 

Sometimes the sponsored spouse just takes off as soon as he or she sets foot in this country. In Canada, the immigrating spouse is granted permanent resident status as soon as they enter the country.

Unfortunately, when you sponsor a spouse for immigration you also make yourself financially responsible for them for the next three years. If your spouse takes off and applies for welfare, Social Assistance recovers the money from you. If your spouse incurs debts; you have to pay them.

This seems to happen quite a lot though we rarely hear anything about it – until Ottawa artist, Lainie Towell.

Lainie went on an educational trip to Guinea in 2004 and met a guy named Soumah.  They got married in 2006 in a traditional wedding ceremony. All Lainie’s friends and family went to Guinea to attend. 

In December of 2007, the couple officially moved to Canada. Four weeks later, as soon as the husband got his official residency documents, he took off.

Unlike many other victims of this kind of marriage fraud, Lainie went public. She contacted her Member of Parliament, Canadian Immigration, the Canadian Border Services Agency and every newspaper, magazine,  television and radio station she could get hold of.

Last Thursday she put on her wedding gown, strapped a door to her back and protested in front of the Parliament Buildings. (As in “her marriage was just a door for this guy through which to enter the country and now she is burdened with his debts” – very symbolic).

Wedding Immigration 20090423

Of course government doesn’t want people marrying Canadians just so they can become citizens, but the system doesn’t allow for any quick resolutions. Even divorcing Soumah doesn’t absolve Lainie from financial responsibility and it could take years before any of this is resolved.

You can’t help but feel sorry for Lainie. However:

  1. If the government lets Lainie off the hook, is it right that the taxpayer, via social assistance should have to support this Soumah guy, until the government manages to get him deported – if ever. And not just him, but every man and woman who marries a Canadian citizen to get into the country and then abandons them.
  2. What will any official resolution of this situation mean to immigrants who marry Canadians in good faith, but who are then abandoned by the Canadian for whatever reason?
  3. Or immigrants who marry Canadians and are abused by them and escape and then will have no source of support?
  4. Some people say getting duped by someone who they thought loved them happens to almost everyone at some point. We all have had to live with the consequences – sometimes they’re small and cost us only a few weeks of recrimination. Sometimes they’re big and cost us a great deal. What makes Lainie so special? 

Our Big Fat Warm Sunny Weekend

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I don’t know about where you all live, but here in the eastern Ontario area people have been talking about nothing but the fabulous weekend we’re supposed to have.

 All week “they” have  been promising a sunny Friday with temperatures at 21 (70 F), followed by a hot, hot Saturday with temperatures around 29 (84 F)with a humidex over 30 and Sunday was going to be 27ish (80ish F) – sunny with cloudy periods.

You can imagine the excitement. Plans were concocted. Preparations were made. Life was looking pretty good.

While in other parts of the world responsible families have an Emergency Preparedness Home Emergency Kit  in case of prolonged storms, power failures, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other acts of environmental revenge, in this part of the world, we all have a Warm Sunny Weekend Preparedness Kit. (WSWPK) and Warm Sunny Weekend Preparedness Plan.

The kit includes:

  • A cooler, cases of beer, several bags of ice, bottle openers, bottles of wine, a corkscrew, bottles of vodka, bottles of tequila and gin, cash to buy more beverages, a flashlight in case it gets dark and you can’t find the corkscrew, a change of clothing in case you spill some drinks, toilet paper, salty snacks and olives.

 The plan involves:

  • Booking Monday off work (for recovery);
  • Sending the kids to grandma’s for the weekend. We can’t enjoy a perfect weekend with kids underfoot;
  • Running to Wal-Mart and buy some shorts and tank tops because nothing we wore last summer is going to fit us right now. Guaranteed; and,
  • Since we want to spend the whole weekend out on the deck basking in the sun and drinking, we’re certainly not cooking. So we:
    • Call around and invite groups of friends over for each night of the weekend;
    • Tell them it’s a barbeque party and tell them to bring food;
    • Make sure to invite the guy who thinks he knows more about barbequing than anyone alive so that he can do all the cooking;
    • Make sure to invite at least one over-achiever because they’ll insist on cleaning up and doing dishes before they go home.

Of course, we rarely get to put the plan into action.

Take this weekend for example.

It’s Friday morning and the sky is cloudy and the temperature is ZERO (32 F)! Saturday is now forecast for 60% chance of RAIN and maybe 27 degrees. And Sunday is forecast for showers (which are totally different from rain, apparently) and 12 (53 F) freakin’ degrees.

Could they have been more wrong? How do these people keep their jobs? Why do meteorologists even exist?  We might as well use psychics.

It’s not like weather is something new  whose mysterious depths are completely unknowable. Old timey farmers had their fingers firmly on the pulse of mother nature and knew exactly how the weather was going to play out.  We have technology!  We’ve had weather forever. It’s out there all day and all night every single day. Why is it so difficult to figure out what’s going to be happening out there for the next few days?

If you don’t know what you’re doing then say so. Don’t get us all excited all week about a gorgeous weekend and then yank the rug out from under us at the last minute. It’s cruel.

We hate you. sad-face1

Harper Has A Man Crush

I swear on my cat’s murmuring heart that none of the following have been Photoshopped in any way. They are actual photos taken by Canadian Press photographer, Adrian Wyld

JAMAICA-PLANE/HOSTAGES

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding is the first living creature – man or beast – to have ever been able to paste such a besotted gaze onto the face of our Prime Minister. He looks positively human, doesn’t he? He even tried to copy Bruce’s outfit. How cute is that?

Canada Jamaica Airplane Hijacked

Uh-oh! It looks like Bruce thinks Harper is stinky. And Steve doesn’t know because it looks like he’s about to move in for a little smooch!!  This could mean a big circuit heart break for poor Steve.

Canada Jamaica Airplane Hijacked

Don’t let go, Steve!! Don’t let him get away.  I know rejection hurts, but you’re a never-say-die kind of guy.  He’ll learn to love you like we all did. Really he will.

Wow! If  Stephen Harper falls in love and becomes a Real Boy, think what this could mean for the country!

My Mother’s An Inca

baked-potatoMy mother believes that if she doesn’t have potatoes every day she will die. I believe that she really believes that because she gets quite agitated if it gets near the end of the day and no potatoes have yet made it into her system .

Needless to say, we had potatoes for supper every single night of my life until I left home. This abundance of potatoes is not why I left home, but it may have been an underlying contributing factor. Who knows.

My mother has potatoes (mashed or fried) with spaghetti. She has potatoes with Chinese food because she doesn’t like rice. She always has potato dumplings handy for soup, in case whoever made the soup forgot to put potatoes in it. And there are always little pots of leftover potatoes of some form or another in her fridge for emergencies. She often brings a pot along when she goes somewhere for supper because she’s learned from experience that some people don’t have potatoes for supper every day.

My mother should have been an Inca.

Potatoes were first cultivated in the Peru area over 10,000 years ago. Potatoes and grains made up the bulk of the Inca diet, with a little fish, vegetables, nuts and maize thrown in for variety. Quechua, the Inca language, has more than one thousand words to describe potatoes and potato varieties. The Incas worshipped potato gods.

mph

Okay, they probably didn’t look like that, but the Incas really did worship potato gods.  Along with potatoes’ delicious, nutritious qualities, they were also used medicinally and considered symbols of fertility. I don’t know why — they don’t look like anything sexy. See.  Here’s a actual Inca potato worshippy thing:

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The Incas rubbed potatoes on the skin of sick people to make them better and used potatoes to help women in childbirth. I’m not sure how. Maybe getting them to peel a pile of spuds took their minds of their labour. Or maybe they used them to chuck at whoever had knocked them up so they could share in the pain.

Anyway, these days, the  average North American eats close to 140 pounds of potatoes per year and  the potato has become a nutritional staple around the world.

And no wonder. Potatoes have lots of good stuff in them. One 5 ½ ounce baked potato with skin contains:

  • 45% of the daily value for vitamin C
  • 620 mg potassium, comparable to bananas, spinach and broccoli
  • trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc
  • No fat
  • 110 calories

Potatoes also contain toxic glycoalkaloids, which are also found in tomatoes and peppers and are members of the deadly nightshade family. Deadly nightshade, as we know from The Nightmare Before Christmas, affects the nervous system causing weakness and confusion, headaches, diarrhea, cramps and sometimes coma and death.

There aren’t many cases of potato poisoning however because people don’t usually eat spoiled potatoes or green potatoes or potato sprouts.  Yes, that old wives’ tale about not eating that green stuff some potatoes have is true.

And speaking of delicious, non-poisonous potatoes, French fries do not originate in France at all, but in Belgium. The Belgians are still quite irate, I understand that the French just took credit for French fries and seem happy to keep doing so.

The Belgians have been deep-frying potatoes since the 17th century. It started out as a winter substitute for the little fish they used to catch and fry in oil. Because in the winter they couldn’t catch any fish, so instead of just not eating anything at all, they cut up potatoes in the shape of little fish and fried them instead. (True story).

So then during World War I British and American soldiers first discovered these high cholesterol treats at a Belgian McDonald’s or something and brought the idea back home; calling them French fried potatoes because that’s the language the people in Belgium, who made the potatoes, spoke. Poor old Belgians.

If you don’t want to eat potatoes you can also use them to:

  1. Remove stains from your hands by rubbing the hands with raw potato
  2. Make hot or cold compresses with grated potato
  3. Remove tarnish from silverware – boil potatoes and soak silver in potato water
  4. Get rid of eye puffiness by placing slices of raw potato on the eyes
  5. shine old scuffy shoes –  just rub with raw potato and then polish

But if you do want to consume potatoes, here are some unusual potato ideas:

Papa a la Huancaína – a Peruvian potato salad made from boiled yellow potatoes in a creamy, spicy Huancaina sauce served over lettuce and garnished with black olives, corn kernals and hardboiled egg quarters. The sauce is made of white cheese (i.e.: Farmer’s cheese), vegetable oil, a hot yellow Peruvian chili pepper called aji amarillo, evaporated milk and salt blended together. Some recipes also add garlic, onion and crushed saltines.

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Poutine Râpée – a traditional Acadian dish from New Brunswick and very different from the Quebec version of poutine. The Acadian poutine is a baseball-sized ball of grated and mashed potatoes filled with a ball of chopped up pork in the middle. The whole thing is boiled like a dumpling and eaten sprinkled with salt and pepper or sometimes brown sugar. Beurk.

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Regular Poutine is a big-assed helping of Belgian Fries with fresh cheese curds on top drowning in hot, brown gravy.

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Potato Vodka: Peel  1kg of potatoes for a litre of vodka. Chop the potatoes into small 1 centimeter cubes. Put the potato cubes into a pressure cooker with more than enough water to cover the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes have dissolved in the water and let the whole mess cool down. Strain out the potato leaving the juice to make your vodka.

Then you need to make a still. (Or you can buy a still for about $150) Something that will heat the juice and capture the steam and collect it — a big pot with a lid that connects to a tube or a pipe and another container to collect the juice at the other end. You do the whole distilling thing a few times and you end up with some highly intoxicating beverage.

still

 Mmmmmm…potatoes. Who doesn’t love potatoes?smashed-potatoes1