Wild Kingdom*

*(not that kind of wild, for that, I refer you back to Martin and Danny)

(posted by asta)

I was in such a state yesterday that I forgot to introduce myself. How rude. Then again, it may be my awkwardness with introductions that subconsciously had me skip mine. I never know what to say, since I feel anything I say will be inadequate, misleading, subject to misinterpretation, or a combination of all three. I am both greater and less than the sum of my self-descriptions.
Enough prevaricating.

I’m a female married anglo living in “la belle province” on the outskirts of Montreal. This is the second time in my life I’ve lived in Montreal and while I didn’t return willingly, I’m enjoying it more the second time around. Age mellows. Speaking of age, the calendar and statistics say I’m middle-aged. I don’t believe a word of it-although the bathroom mirror tells a different story. I’ve had two disparate careers, none of which I’m prepared to talk about here. It’s a small world.

Friends and acquaintances tell me that I am (among other things) the most pulled-together, organized, and unflappable person they know. I tell them they need to meet more people…..let me illustrate.

We own a Miniature Schnauzer named Spenser. He’s a great little buddy, and despite his advancing age and a heart murmur he’s a pretty happy guy. Except for thunder. I won’t go into why he’s terrified by it, since it’s all just supposition on my part anyway. He just is. He shakes and hyperventilates and doesn’t believe me when I tell him it’s nothing.
So for four hours he stayed glued to my side as the heavens roared.
Finally the storm passed. Time for bed. Plenty to do tomorrow. Since he hadn’t been outside for awhile I thought it best to let him make a visit to the tree in the yard before calling it a night.
There’s a lovely calm in the air right after a big storm, everything smells clean and fresh, right up until the moment he met his first skunk.
I didn’t even have time to sound the alarm. POOF.
My little guy stops dead in his tracks. He’s been gassed.
Now I’ve heard other people’s tales about this happening, but I’ve never had it happen to any of my dogs before. I’’m alone in the house. D’s away on a road trip. Lucky him. It’s too late to wake any of the neighbours and ask them for advice. All I remember is that tomato juice is an old wives tale.
So this is where I make my first mistake.
I pick up Spenser and bring him into the house.
Oh*My*Gawd!! As I’m running and gagging my way to the kitchen sink I’m already thinking that I’ll never get the smell out of the house.
Deposit freaked-out, half-blind dog in sink and turn on the water. Second mistake. I’m just spreading the smell around.
Pick dog up, run to the bathroom and deposit in bathtub. Remember to put towel under dog so he doesn’t slip. Wet shaking dog is now thoroughly traumatised. Leave dog in bathtub and run to computer room and turn on machine. Elapsed time- three minutes. Curse machine for taking another two minutes to boot up. Google search skunk spray. Jackpot on first try. All I need is a gallon of peroxide. Sure, I always have a gallon or two around the house. Run back to bathroom to see how much we do have. Looks like about two cups to me. No problem. He’s a small dog, we’ll just make this work. Run back to kitchen for baking soda and liquid soap. Gag. Make note that kitchen will need serious attention later. Mix up solution. Apply to dog. Rinse. Damn. Forgot to wait five minutes. Hard to tell if dog still reeks. Think olfactory nerves are fried. Reapply solution. Wait. No watch on. Hard not to notice that bathroom is small enclosed space and I still want to retch. Get up and turn on bathroom fan. Rinse dog. leave dog to find more old towels.
Check computer to see what it says about house smell and whether or not my clothes can be saved.
Discover just how big mistake number one was. Says nothing but time and ventilation will work. Clothes can be washed with high concentration of bleach. Probability of dark clothing surviving bleach- less than 20 per cent. Will pack in plastic bag and worry about later. Back to dog . Towel off. Smells…. better but I can still smell skunk. especially around snout. Put dog back in tub. Give face extra attention. Leave dog and hunt for more towels. Grab Lysol spray and frantically spray upper level of house. I’m kidding myself. Return to dog. Rinse. Okay. Not great, but much better. Towel off dog again. Let dog out of bathroom to run around and finish drying. Elapsed time 40 minutes.
Grab all the towels and head for laundry room. Put three cups of bleach in the wash and let it rip. Strip remaining clothes, bag them and head for the shower. Get out of shower. Dress and grab jug of bleach. Wash down front door, front landing, kitchen and bathroom. total elapsed time 1 hour 25 minutes.
The house stinks of skunk, bleach, Lysol, and bayberry room freshener(it was there,so I sprayed)…. but mostly skunk.
Dog is curled up in ball on his bed five feet away,sound asleep. Am considering slathering myself in teatree oil in hopes that I can smell something besides skunk before dawn.

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Crazy things we type in to our computers

(posted by Martin)

martintagBloke A: Thwack!
Bloke B: Ouch

Repeat ad nauseam.

That’s what I watched happening today in a chat room. A public display of the most boring sexual activity on the planet, in front of an audience of about a dozen. There ought to be laws against this, and indeed there probably are.

Why is yawning contagious?

(posted by Gordon)

Well the most common answer is along the lines of… cavemen… alpha male… control of group… monkeys… showing largest canines… that type of thing. Grrrr, fecking alpha males, trying to control everyone as usual. I really don’t like them, strutting about like they own the place and using (whether they are aware of it or not) clever peer pressure tactics to maintain their popularity, something they perceive as superiority, even if that popularity is transient.

Hmmm hang on and I’ll backtrack a little.

I work in a male dominated industry. My office in particular is full of stereotypical alpha males. Strutting around, projecting their own form of authority like self-important peacocks. I hate it.

You know the type. The ones who enjoy the sound of their own voice far too much, who presume that because they have said something it MUST be right, and who, whilst they may ask for your opinion, only do so because they vaguely remember that they ‘should’ even if they are not sure why.

You come across these men all over the place, shouting into mobile phones, treating waiting staff like they are dirt, and generally walking around like their **** doesn’t stink.

In fact I find these characters so repulsive that they are fascinating, in the same way that you want to ‘just have another quick glance’ at that person with the disfigurement, I find myself watching them in action, trying to figure out just how insecure they are with themselves, and if they even realise that there is such a thing. Are they presuming that their arrogance and overbearing personality somehow makes them seem confident and assured? Do they understand that without integrity and compassion they will never be anything other than the class bully manifested in the adult world?

What makes these people (for it is not always a male trait) the way they are? Is it purely upbringing? Did they have an overbearing father to live up to? Or was it a lack of an authoritarian figure that lead them to become what they are?

Of course it’s always easy to look at others critically, make assumptions and proceed to erroneous conclusions. But dare we cast the same eye over ourselves?

I’m not an alpha male, mainly because my mother was the authoritative figure in our household, and I was following my fathers lead. Instantly that will make you think that my Mum ruled the roost and my Dad was hen-pecked. That, of course, isn’t the full story. My Dad is very laid-back, my Mum is the worrier. My Dad is happy to take things as they come, and likes to keep busy, pottering round the house. My Mum likes plans, lists, organisation, and ‘gets things done’ when needed.

Most of the conflict between child/teenager and parent in our house was between me and my Mum, in fact I’m pretty sure all of it was. Did this shape the adult I’ve become? As I wasn’t allowed to easily stamp my authority in those situations I guess it did. One vital thing I DID learn was that intelligence was a far bigger weapon than any physical attribute*. Brains not brawn is the way to go…

Now I know you are all thinking.. where the hell is he going with all this.

And you know what.. so am I….

* yes a deliberate OOERRR phrase, well I’ve got to try and keep up with my (clearly) over-sexed companions… (jealous? me?)

Fun Things To Do On Your Own

(posted by Martin)

martintagSo last night there’s sod all on television, so I watch EastEnders and then go through to the bedroom and fire up the laptop. I look at some racy pictures for a while, and they’re not really doing anything for me. My body is definitely turned on – but it has been all day. However, my mind is a million miles away, thinking about everything from the preparation of audit checklists to wondering why Cal’s working late.

I phone Hari, hoping for a conversation about which organ would be in which orifice if he was here, but he’s out, so I leave a message with his concierge.

I hear Cal coming in about nine, and hastily haul my trousers up before he’s got the door locked behind him.

– I’ve got to tell you something – he says. It’s a secret.

Okay… now I’m not so good with secrets. First off, I like to tell Hari pretty much everything, and I hate keeping secrets from him. And secondly, I don’t see why people tell anyone secrets. That stops them being secrets, doesn’t it? He blurts out his secret before I can ask him not to, though.

– I just had sex with Michael Gregg.

There is his secret. It takes a second for me to realise what he’s just said. Michael Gregg works with us. In particular, he works for me. He goes drinking with me and Hari most weeks. Hari and I have discussed whether or not he’s threesome material. And he most definitely is. Looks like he could play rugby for Scotland. Definitely looks like he’d be great in a scrum, and – being honest – in the showers afterwards. He is definitely shaggable, but – and this is important – he is a mate. So it’s never going to happen.

But now I have to picture him and Cal engaged in various forms of activity at the back of our office car park, which is apparently where they consummated this act. I get a blow by blow account, which is far more than I wanted, particularly as I’m finding the whole thing much more arousing than I want to. Cal is going in to pretty graphic detail, and I realise that I haven’t buttoned my fly and so my interest in his story is kind of obvious. Luckily, he doesn’t notice. He’s reliving the evening in technicolour in his head.

I make a barbed comment doubting how committed he is to getting custody of his children, then I go to the bathroom and lock myself in.

I sit on the toilet for a few minutes, looking down at “Little Martin”, who winks back up at me, reminding me that he has needs too. I try to think about unsexual things, like politicians, or Delia Smith, but I keep imagining what Michael’s face looks like at the moment of triumph, when he’s just scored a try and is about to go for the conversion. All too much. So I tell Cal I’m getting an early night, lock myself in my room, and go online again.

I paste pictures of some private movie star into my profile, pop in to a chat room, and within a few minutes I’m chatting to someone else who’s lying about every statistic in the book. We exchange small talk for a while, we lie to each other for a bit to feed each other’s fantasies, and after a while I get bored with the whole thing, and start playing minesweeper. My new friend seems to be satisfied, I tell him that he’s the best I’ve ever had, and I go to bed, hugging the pillow that smells of Hari.

Little by little, one travels far. -J. R. R. Tolkien

(posted by Venus)

Scottish / Canadian Sex week, is it? Oh, dear. Are you readers ready for it? Is the world ready for what may come out of our dirty little imaginations? On my part, I’m honoured to be here, even if this does feel like the Island Of Misfit Toys. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I guess I’ll start by saying I’m far from a writer. I picture a writer as a man or woman much older that me with disheveled clothing and a bad haircut. But I’m not far off. I’m an accountant. I have horrible eyesite, so sometimes I wear glasses. Although I don’t have a pocket protector, I do have an extensive collection of calculators. If you ever need a calculator, I’m your gal. I’ll hook you up. I got a call not too long ago from a friend of mine. I was just hanging out watching TV and the phone rings.

“Do you have a scientific calculator?”
“Who is this?!?”
“ME. Do you? Hurry up!”

First of all, ME doesn’t help, people. Secondly, the overwhelming need of this person for a calculator was beyond even my understanding. It turned out to be a friend who’s in university, was on a scavenger hunt and needed to know “pi” to six decimal places. And I came through for her. After digging through all my precious babies and their wonderful array of buttons, I found the scientific and saved the day. Yay for me!

Sometimes I do get out of the house and head out on the town. Getting all tarted up to go out dancing is one of my favorite things. Throw off the glasses and tear off the nylons. Here I come baby! I like to accessorize. Once I have chosen the very best makeup, shoes, purse etc. from my vast collection, it’s time to go meet the best accessory a girl can ever have: My harem of gay men.

Now, before you start jumping to conclusion, I must tell you that there are two types of f*g hags. (Is that a naughty word in the UK, too? I’ll asterix just in case. I could be referring to a cigarette I guess).

1. The sweet but unconfident, usually overweight female who constantly needs compliments and the only place she can find them is with her gay friends, with whom she eventually falls in love with, then cries her eyes out but pretends not to care when he ditches her for a pretty boy.

2. The sweet but overconfident, usually pristine female who is just along for a sassy time with a lot of beautiful men in gay-shape.

Please do not mistake me for #1. That said, it always gives me a rush walking down Davie Street in my newest sleek top and black pants, heels clicking on the sidewalk arm in arm with two handsome hotties and a few following. Yes, I’m a star. The price to pay though, is the vast overexposure of Kylie Minogue to my brain.

So, I’m a nerd by day and star by night. What about in between? That is the mystery I’m trying to figure out. A coworker of mine always said that you don’t really understand yourself until the age of 50. For her, it just clicked then and brought her to an greater understanding of life and what’s really important. I guess I’m just halfway there. Until then I’ll keep b*tching (<-rotton word? Maybe I’m being too cautious) about every single curve ball life throws out. It’s more fun that way.

Dealing with the Hydra Headed

(posted by asta)

A part, a large part, of traveling is an engagement of the ego v. the world…. The world is hydra headed, as old as the rocks and as changing as the sea, enmeshed inextricably in its ways. The ego wants to arrive at places safely and on time.”
Sybille Bedford

I never felt that way about traveling until this weekend.

Almost a year ago, I was adopted into the tight social circle of a group of much older women who have known each other for decades. I still don’t know why, since I have next to nothing in common with them. Maybe I’m the fresh blood, or an amusing novelty. I don’t see them that regularly, but I’ve enjoyed the dinners, parties and outings. It was at one of these events, deep in the evening after the number of empty Merlot bottles far exceeded the number of drinkers present that the leader of the group turned to me and said, ” You must come with us to Toronto in October to see ‘The Lion King”.

Right. Count me in. It’s that SARS deal, right? ( Don’t bother with the link if you already know what I’m referring to)

I promptly forgot about it until I started getting the phone calls about the logistics – paying for and getting all the tickets, selecting a hotel (The Royal York), selecting from the list of restaurants( given over to me to arrange since I’m the designated foodie) and getting there.

Ah yes. Well. I love to travel — have since I was three years old and my mother took me to New York and Washington where I danced at the Capitol and later met a famous wife. But that’s another story. Thing is, I’ve never traveled with a large group before, but have traveled enough to know that just because someone makes a wonderful dinner companion doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy schlepping bags and sharing a bathroom with them. Traveling with nine virtual unknowns seemed like a recipe for disaster. But I promised. So I gave myself an out, by informing the group I’d meet them at the hotel on Saturday- I’d be driving up alone on Friday to Oakville to visit with my god-daughters and their parents. If the weekend turned out to be a horrible mistake, at least I wouldn’t have to endure five hours of strained stilted conversations on the return journey.

Soooo here’s what happened.

– forgot that Oakville is west that’s WEST of Toronto, so got stuck in rush hour traffic on the 401 highway Friday evening making me late for dinner, which wouldn’t be so awful except parents had neglected to inform me that wife is barely able to rise from bed having been recently struck with a mysterious possible fatal kidney disease and that newly purchased monster house in undergoing major renovations set to begin at 8am Saturday ( how they got contractors to work on a weekend I’ll never know). They didn’t tell me because they were afraid I’d feel I was imposing and cancel. You think?

– I’m out the door as the builders arrive and headed for the train station. My brilliant plan to avoid the traffic and expense of downtown Toronto is to leave my car at the station, take the train into the city, pick up the car Sunday and speed off into the sunset. But now I’m going to arrive several hours before check-in and I don’t relish lugging the luggage about. Nevermind. It will all work out.

– see? This is going to be fine. They take pity on such a wisp of a thing having to carry such a heavy overnight bag. And good grief what does she have in there, bricks? Early check-in it is.

– I’ve got hours to kill, since the rest of the party doesn’t arrive until mid-afternoon. I’ve never had much desire to visit Toronto ( I’m sorry if you’re offended but I refer you to that mention of New York at age 3. That was followed by London, most of France, Switzerland and Italy at 13. Toronto? sorry) but I had heard some buzz about the recently opened Distillery District and I’ve wanted to visit the St. Lawrence Market for years. In fact I even make a habit of visiting grocery stores in every new place I visit to get a feel for the place. No really. I spend the next several hours having a marvelous time wandering the galleries at the Distillery. The market is heaven. Since I know there are plans for drinks in one of the rooms at 3 with the ladies I have a grand ol’ time picking up cheeses, sampling and selecting pates ( I’d put in the accent but I don’t know how) and chatting with the vendors.

– you see the problem developing? no? bear with me.

– I’m not so interested in the Lion King even though I have a long history with musicals (maybe I’ll explain sometime this week). For me, the highlight will be getting to the show at the ROM. I’ve promised to wait and go with one of the nine. No problem. Plenty of time before leaving Sunday.

– drinks at 3 goes well. They’ve just arrived. They’re excited – away from spouses and children and work. Who wouldn’t be feeling a tad euphoric? Some of the party is still missing, my roommate among them. Dinner reservation is for 5:30 so we can make the 8pm curtain. At 4:30 I excuse myself to shower and change. ” We’re ready”.

– 5:30 waiting in the lobby. Roommate has arrived but getting these women in the same place at the same time is a chore. Not my job, but I make a stab. “I’ll just head over to the restaurant to save our reservation, shall I?” “P will be here in just a sec. Let’s wait and go together” And this is where it starts. I hate being late for anything. I am going to spend the rest of the weekend being late or rushing so I won’t.

– lovely dinner, gobbled down mostly because “some” people can’t decide from a table d’hote that only has three entree choices to begin with.

– make it into theatre seat two minutes before show begins. Never got the Playbill so I can’t tell you who’s in the cast now, but the only one worth watching or listening to was Rafiki, the baboon witch doctor, who I think is still Phinda Mtya– can’t be sure since all my internet searching hasn’t turned up a current cast list. I’m not going to say much more about the show other than it is visually spectacular- the pieces by Lebo M and Mark Mancini far outstrip anything else Misters John and Rice contributed- in fact they should have not answered the phone when that call was made. But then we’re talking Disney.

– retired to hotel where a nightcap was definitely in order. Just for the h*ll of it I ordered a Dorothy Parker. Raspberry vodka, lime and soda. Entire group asks me “Who is Dorothy Parker?” They’re older than I am, for the love of *#@ on a bike. So I feel like a pretentious bit of fluff explaining and end with “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think”. Blank stares. I give up. All give up. We all retire. But it has been decided we will all meet for breakfast at 10. It was? Where was I? Well that’s the end of the ROM.

– due to time change I’m up at 7:30 and ravenous. I find a couple of places to breakfast for the group. I suspect they have no plan. I’m right. Locate yet another Starbucks, and spend about an hour exploring and window shopping. Nothing, aside from a few restaurants, is open before noon. World class mhfff.

– By the time everyone is up and fed, it’s time to check out. Noon. So I won’t get to the ROM, but I’ll get home at a decent hour.
except

– a tanker truck of hydrogen gas or some other nasty soup jack-knifes on the 401 Sunday morning, prompting a day-long highway closure east, just the way I’m headed. None of the radio stations mentions this. I know, since I started banging away on the scan button as soon as several thousand cars made an instant parking lot. This particularly detestable mass of pavement’s claim to fame is hosting more traffic than the Santa Monica Freeway. Do I need to mention I got home late. very late. ABOUT SIX $#@# HOURS LATE, if you really want to know. So that’s why I’m late posting today. It’s taken me this long to recover and I won’t begin to burden you with what I went through to get this much posted.
Oh…

– Did you spot it? Okay here it is. I had the most fun all by myself. This comes as a bit of a shock since I’m usually quite social. Moral for me. Don’t travel with a group. Which is going to be a problem because they want me to guide them around New York next year.

Gulp

(Posted by Gordon)

OK, seems like the polite thing to do is a quick introduction (I thought I was famous enough to not bother but it seems I am sadly mistaken, a common occurrence).

My name is Gordon McLean, and I’ve been online since 1996. In internet terms that makes me very very old, almost an antique. In reality I’m a typical 30 year old, who’s still not really sure what he is doing.

I must admit to being a tad nervous. Over the past three weeks there has been some wonderful writing, thought provoking posts and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m guessing I can’t resort to my usual get out of linking to ‘silly things’ or laughing at items from my referrer logs (the fall back of every good blogger).

I did toy with the idea of a pastiche or parody of a certain event that took place on this very blog last year… but I don’t have any designer shirts and I’m also guessing that posting about my shoes won’t quite capture the imagination in the same way.

So I’ll do my usual, warble on about this and that, never making much sense, and plagiarising as much as possible. Hell if you are really lucky I’ll spell check before I post!

(Ohh forgot to mention that I’ve been published… in the O’Reilly “Essential Blogging” book… on that self same “spell check” topic. See, I AM famous)

Right I’m off to research that phenomenon that occurs when someone nearby checks their watch. What makes you want to do it too? And why is yawning contagious?