Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

What housing crisis?

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I like to watch the real estate programs. There was one on called “My First Home”, or something like that, that takes place the United States of America.

They profiled three or four couples:

Couple 1 was counselled to get another credit card to boost their credit rating which was bad because they owed more than 50% on each of their existing twelve credit cards. All so they could then get a 0% down mortgage. That’s not a bankruptcy waiting to happen.

Couple 2 was approved for a mortgage after four tries, based on the fact they paid down $3000 of debt, and though they had another $20-something still to go on retail credit.

Couple 3 “got around” an extra insurance premium by taking out two mortgages – one for 80% of the price and one for 20% of the price. All to get a $142,000 house. If you can’t afford a down payment on that, you have no business buying a house. Period.

On top of all this, all of them were rejecting houses left and right because they didn’t have granite counter tops, or they were too small, or they didn’t have a jacuzzi in the master ensuite.

The American Dream may do a lot to motivate people who want to achieve, but it also creates a plethora of unrealistic expectations, and the system is doing it’s best to make foreclosures a continuing problem.

Live within your means. Life is much better that way.

How to sell your book

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

A compelling look at the poignancy of growing up. [Insert author's name here]‘s lyrical musings on modern life eschew the mundane for intriguing contemplations of the heart.


Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing

So don’t be a dumbass … :)

Friday, March 28th, 2008
Your Thinking is Abstract and Sequential
You like to do research and collect lots of information.
The more facts you have, the easier it is for you to learn.
You need to figure things out for yourself and consider all possibilities.
You tend to become an expert in the subjects that you study.

It’s difficult for you to work with people who know less than you do.
You aren’t a very patient teacher, and you don’t like convincing people that you’re right.

Sentences of wonderment

Friday, March 28th, 2008

For a moment I believed that the man had shot me and I was dying, and I thought of what my grandmother had always told me–that if ever death comes to take you and you believe he has arrived by mistake, you must meet him with with defiance in your eyes. I refused to look away.
“The Air Is Full of Little Holes”, Kevin Brockmeier

Seventh-LayerSome writers have the ability to turn a phrase or describe an everyday thing in a way that charges it with poignancy or beauty, an importance that it wouldn’t have otherwise, but that we recognize in moments of our own lives. Even better when the prose is spare and quiet.

DeLillo and McCarthy come to mind, and I’m adding Kevin Brockmeier’s collection of short stories, The View From the Seventh Layer, to my list of fab stuff.

Gosh. How to explain. He writes big philosophies in small sentences, through the eyes of a wide range of people across time and space.

I bet you he’d kick ass at the one sentence stories.

I can’t say much about the stories, which, in a book review, is kind of a bad thing, but it would ruin your reading experience. Let’s just say he brings us in sideways or underneath some pop culture. And there’s tribbles. And a “build your own adventure” story where you pick the path you read, though we all end up in the same place.

I am insanely jealous of his turns of phrase and his ability to pull just the right metaphor or simile to reveal a character. And I’m sure I was alternately smirking and holding my breath with appreciation while reading it at the dealership this morning.

Read it.

No. no. no.

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Several people out sick at work. One girl in the office with visible signs of fever and postnasal drip. And I had to use her laptop at a meeting yesterday to show some project updates without the benefit of rubber gloves to protect me from the cootification.

Now I have a semi-full head and a thickness in the throat and I have the chills. I feel compelled to point out that all of these people have children. Petri dishes. Little petri dishes that deceive their parents with their ephemeral moments of cuteness and then spend the rest of the time being petri dishes.

We are family, and puppies

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

We had our family Easter yesterday and I met Gilbert – and he’s a galumphing 10-month old who weighs the same as me and slobbers a lot and likes to meet people nose-to-nose. Definitely a gentle giant: the chihuahuas are able to back him off with a good yap. He’s adorable.

Then there’s Sof, who’s looking awesome despite the fact she’s down one eye. The purple stitches were a festive Easter touch. More seriously, her demeanour is so much better now that’s she’s in less pain. Tumour in the eye socket. Not good.

Other than the dogs, there was family bonding and delicious food and the watching of various youtube videos such as rally car goes snowboarding and stunt drivers do cool things with parked cars.

My niece and nephew received some nice gifts and added to their respective piggy banks. I think my niece is saving up for some kind of gecko, and my nephew is saving up for something related to Pokeman :)

Another feature of my family gatherings is that they are often material exchanges. I bring a fixture for my father, my mother gives me a coat, and so on. Oh, and we also exchange books. When you add that to the leftovers we take home, it’s always a win-win situation.


Can I get a hell, yeah?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Mark Morford’s take on The Vatican.

Here’s an idea: don’t fish in croc-infested waters!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Another show that causes me to make unattractive girly hand-waving gestures is I Shouldn’t Be Alive.

crocThis group of 5 people in Africa decide to go fishing, in a big river, with big crocs. The inevitable happens and the boat capsizes and one guy is left on the boat and 4 make it to a sandbar where they can minimize croc exposure. But there are crocs everywhere so they can’t move.

One guy decides to swim for it to get help and he’s almost at shore when big croc attacks his arm and puts him in a death roll. Guy’s got survival smarts and punches down the croc’s throat to break open the flap that keeps out water so the croc has to let go and guy gets to shore, but not without dislocating his shoulder and showing bone on his arm where the croc got a good gnaw in.

Cut back to the guy on the overturned boat. It’s getting dark and the boat is sinking and he can’t swim. But he has to swim so the people tell him on the sandbar to go for it. He takes off, crocs all around, trying to get there, …and he makes it! They’re all still stuck on the sandbar but they’re together.

Dude on the shore isn’t doing so well. He drags himself under a tree and passes out.

Then comes night and they can hear hyenas and other various beasts out hunting and they are afraid to yell at the guy under the tree in case it helps the beasts to locate him. Meanwhile, they’re knee-deep in dark water with no way of SEEING if a croc is coming to get them. This is a level of hell, I’m pretty sure.

driver-antDude under the tree wakes up to excruciating pain on his arm, when he figures out that there are Driver ants EATING HIS ARM. This charming species has been know to eat ENTIRE HUMANS. They will leave their pincers behind rather than let go if you try to remove them. Flying nuns on a cracker.

He somehow gets up and thinks he hears a boat so he gets back to the river and there’s a couple on the other shore making out and taking no notice of him. Split screen to the people on the sandbar who see two guys in canoes (canoes! croc-infested waters – wth?). They get rescued.

Dude on shore passes out, making out couple finally notice him and they grab him and get him to safety. They all survive and two of them continue to fish in the freakin’ CROC-INFESTED WATERS.

No wonder I hate fishing.


Monday, March 17th, 2008

One of the writers I follow in the Interwebs is recounting her recent stay in a care facility where she had to undergo therapy for a suicide attempt. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve read in a blog – she’s hilarious, sad and painfully vulnerable, and brave.

In today’s post, she talks about realizing that you can love your parents intensely and still understand that things they did can impact how and whom we are as adults. Even if she fights the twaddle of “blame your parents” – since as adults we can choose how we overcome such things. Very powerful.

At times in my life, my actions were directly related to my parents – a lot of the “do the opposite” variety, or “do the same, only angrier”. If you had asked me when I was 25 if I would ever have a healthy relationship with either of them, my answer would have been a resounding NO, followed by another shot of whiskey.

Here I am now. I know they tried. I know they failed many times. I know I turned out okay (though maybe not the most relationship-oriented person in the world :) My father and I have made a real peace. Monsters laid bare and discussed. Forgiveness offered and accepted. All that’s left now is a true friendship that is better than a parent-child relationship, at least for me. My mother is more complicated, but she always was. I will never be her friend in that way, but it’s okay for me to love her now.

Moving through my anger, and necessary isolation from them (for a while) and finally to my new relationships with them came through the idea that I was constantly seeing them and evaluating them as people, not parents. I always felt weird around other families, where it was so clear that there was a “parent” role that included this blind kind of love from the children that I never experienced.

In the end, I think I got to a place that’s good. Where I can accept “parent” separate from “person”.  Thank you, C, for your honesty.

Help Terry get more time to play video games

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Match it for Pratchett

And that is where I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the cure comes along. There are nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers and it looks as if the number of people with the disease will double within a generation.

It’s a shock and a shame, then, to find out that funding for research is three per cent of that which goes to find cancer cures. Perhaps that is why I know three people who survived brain tumours but no one who has beaten Alzheimer’s.

–Terry Pratchett, The Sun