Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Twitternator.

I came into work this morning and opened up my email to check what had come in during the evening/early morning. Since I recently started a Twitter feed for my organization, I've had alerts sent to me to let me know when new people follow me, so I can track which journalists, bloggers and others are interested.

I opened up my inbox, and THIS is what I found.

My first thought was, "No. Freaking. Way." But then I checked it out and it's legit. Sure, it's probably his "people" following us, and it seems weird that the most populous state in the union would be interested in a rural Alberta organization...but who am I to argue?

My brush with fame. It tingles. Heh heh heh.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I live in a very conservative place. Socially and politically, Alberta runs the gamut from right of centre to right wing to right off its rocker. Typically, that means villifying government "interference" in business and extolling the virtues of privatized versus socialized public institutions, such as health care, education, etc.

While slash-and-burn has been a way of life as far back as I can remember during my lifetime, recent events have left me disppointed and sickened to the point of near numbness.

The GOA started by merging all regional health boards into a massive superboard. Then it decided to close down Alberta Hospital--the largest intensive mental institution in the province--and send its residents into "community care" centres, where they could be looked after in a home-like setting. My view on setting a schizophrenic into an unsupervised and unfamliar setting is that shuffling people off the grid doesn't make them disappear. There are some that require 24-hour, live-in care. And if they don't get it, their health fails and they end up picking cans out of the dumpster behind my apartment, mumbling to themselves and being preyed upon by people who recognize them as victims. It's disgusting and utterly irresponsible.

Now, the government is closing long-term care beds across the province. Now, at a time when our population is aging and living longer, we're going to close long-term care beds and fob these people off on their families? For what? So they can suffer in silence or sell off a kidney to get a decent bed at a private clinic? What a joke.

Social services are just that: social. Which means that society as a whole takes responsibility for those who need it. Without judgement. Without antagonism. Without holding a grudge. We live in one of the world's wealthiest places. We're a fucking oil fiefdom, yet seem to feel that putting it into our own pockets will allow us to make society better? How? By "inspiring" the weak, lowly and impoverished to try to become us? Impossible. All it does is increase the disparity between sectors of society, where the haves can surround themselves with shiny toys, hookers and blow, and the others can scrape the remains and hope to live long enough to see the inside of a hospital once they're diagnosed with an illness.

I don't often like Paula Simons's articles. I find her a little soft and puffball on a lot of issues. But I think she was dead right on this one. So kudos to her. Please read.

Gov't idea of 'home' downloads burden of care on relatives (Paula Simons, The Edmonton Journal, September 29, 2009)

"...when we demonize and shutter institutions, instead of improving them, when we make a policy fetish out of moving people into community homes, whether those homes are suitable or not, we put ideology ahead of reality, and financial considerations ahead of humanity."


Monday, September 28, 2009

lack of "gh"

Grammar lesson: in defence of "ight."

In a culture of short attention spans and advertising-driven communications, you see a lot of abbreviated words. One of the most grating is the use of "ite" to replace "ight." Like lite beer, tonite only, etc.

The part that gets to me is that people see the words in print and from that incorrectly assume that this is the correct spelling.

Sure, maybe in a hundred years or so it WILL be the correct spelling, as our language evolves and spellings change. However, for the time being, it's NOT correct, and it MUST be stopped, lest I be forced to pull my leg hairs out one-by-one with a rusty pair of pliers. Ugh. (erm, I mean "U".)

Wondering why there are so many silent GH's in English?

Well, according to Dr. Goodword's Language Blog:

"The sound represented by the silent GH in English was once a [k] in Proto-Indo-European (PIE—as mentally nutritious as it is delicious). That sound became [kh] over the course of the development of ancient Germanic languages like Old English. We still find this sound, as mentioned before, in Dutch, German, and Scots English. In most dialects of English, however, it reduced itself to [h], a sound so slight that has disappeared altogether from English everywhere except at the beginning of words. However, although the sound has disappeared, we continue spelling it.

So words in English containing the Silent GH mark the spot where a real sound once stood. While English speakers are not at all resistent to changing their ways, we are very reluctant to change the way we spell our words..."

It's the same reason we have a silent k at the beginning of knight and knife. Because once upon a time, they were "K-niggict" and "k-niff". And doesn't that make for a more interesting word? By keeping the letters in, you learn something about the history of the word, which makes you appreciate the evolution of language as words wax and wane in popularity and usage.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Cymbal Monkey

Holy f*cking Christ that is terrifying.

I'm not sure what possesses adults to think of the most bedwetter-creating ideas to entertain children. This twitchy, unstable little critter is merely one more in a long list of inappropriate toys and images for kids. And you thought clowns were scary.

Think these things are harmless? Sure they are. Except when they wake you up in the middle of the night, crashing their cymbals and chattering without you having touched their windup key. Stephen King wrote a short story about one once. Picture 'IT' but with these bulging red orbs eyeballing you in the dark.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tweeters not Necessarily Bad Spellers

So, according to this article, kids who OMG and ROTFL can LOL at all the h8trs (yours truly) who bewail the death knell of proper English spelling and grammar. According to this, teens who are good spellers can switch into and out of web mode and retain their lexical prowess. Poor spellers are going to be poor spellers, online or offline. Sorry, kids. Maybe you can OLO or LLO? Or you could just go, "ha, ha!" and leave it at that. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A little clever goes a long way

I am not a fan of most protests. Having been to a few during my student years and having observed even more during my working-for-the-legislature days, I'm pretty blase about the whole exercise. Not that protest isn't meaningful. Just that, well...for the most part, the average protest is more about making angry remarks and less about getting the message across. This is why I like irony, satire and the like. They make protest subtle, stabbing the heart of the matter like a swift blade, rather than bludgeoning observers over the head with it like an anvil.

Remember Kanye West's horrible mic-snatch from Taylor Swift at the MVAs? Here's someone's Kanye-take on US healthcare. Brilliant.

ps - a plug for my homeland never goes unappreciated.

A new book to add to my collection

Behold a masterpiece of mockery:
"The Quotable Douchebag: The 500 Douchiest Things Ever Said" by Margaret McGuire. I require a copy for my shelf.

Choice quotes straight from the egos' mouths:

Gene Simmons: “[I] don’t believe there’s any difference between a monogamous and a polygamous relationship. Those are all just big words, like gymnasium.”

I actually find this one kind of funny. Maybe because I don't take it seriously:

Eminem: "I'm a t-shirt guy now. But wifebeaters won't go out of style, not as long as bitches keep mouthing off."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey(brains) of the Week

***Note: I forgot to post this on Friday. Sorry, Alex.***

Among my top ten films of all time are the Indiana Jones trilogy. Yes, I'm aware that they made a fourth one a few years ago, but for all intents and purposes--since it reflects neither my childhood dream of one day becoming an archaeologist nor my undying love for Harrison Ford in a fedora--I'm giving it a pass.

One of the most famous scenes in the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is a feast with the maharaja and his entourage, where eyeballs, live snakes ("snake surprise") and monkeys are on the menu.

I love monkeys. I would never actually consume them. But then I got to wondering:

Do people actually EAT chilled monkey brains?

According to Wikipedia (here's your grain of salt to go with that brain meal), they actually DO. That seems almost...cannibalistic, no? Though I'm a meatatarian, I could never eat something that I had an emotional connection to (like a dog or cat) or something intelligent enough to see it coming. I mean, if the damned thing can use sign language, it's off the menu, you know?

Anyway, here's the clip if you'd like to see it (in LEGO-vision!) Forgive Mrs. Spielberg her acting. She married a billionaire director, so either way, she got the last laugh, right?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twit or Tweet

I'm now Tweeting along the ol' interwebs. Lest you say my zeal for hearing my own voice (digital or otherwise) has overrun my good sense, please note that the Twitter is actually for my work. I am, however, in charge of all the Tweets. Check it out.

Politicians are silly...

...and making fun of them is akin to shooting fish in a barrel, taking candy from a baby, or any number of effortless cliches.

When done well, however, you can't help but snicker and applaud.

I've worked in and around politics, politicians and policy hacks for a few years now. While I don't consider myself a staunchly political person, I am engaged and have developed into a wary cynic, rather than any sort of commentator. That said, I rub shoulders with and socialize with a broad spectrum of politically-minded folk. I worked with Dave Cournoyer briefly and went to school with Adam Rozenhart. They're both clever and quick, ideal qualities for handling the slippery subject of politics. Kudos to both for their ingenuity.

Sometimes, politicians don't need their asses handed to them. Sometimes, they serve it to you on a silver platter. Schadenfreude, baby.

Ok, that's my dose of real-world for the day. Tomorrow: monkeys!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rubber Ducky Goodwill Mission

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman (yeah, I can't pronounce that first name, either) has crafted a massive rubber duck and sent it afloat throughout various cities.

His website states:

"The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Man, I could really use a bubble bath right now. Or an episode of Sesame Street.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Barrel of Monkeys

I love this game. I still own a glow-in-the-dark set that sits on my bookshelf. I don't really play with it, but it's got a pride of place right next to my miniature Etch-a-Sketch. What? My inner child needs an outlet sometimes, people.

Could you make a full monkey chain? My hands are too unsteady to get all of them to last much longer than a few seconds before they start to fall off. It's more of a skill than a game in that sense.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


I'm usually very proud to say that I'm a Canadian. We've got a lot of great things going for us (besides the weather) such as universal healthcare, personal freedoms, etc. But sometimes, this makes us complacent and makes it easier for us to ignore dodgy things going on in this country.

Among countries that accept people caught up in human trafficking, Canada is one of the worst. This article calls us "an international embarrassment." Yikes. You don't hear about it, or see it, as long as you stay away from the shadier parts of cities and towns. Even in Edmonton, people probably assume that "well, that happens in a big city like Toronto or Vancouver, not here."

What they don't realize is that in a boom town with a transient worker population, this place is the perfect location for human traffic.

Most women taken internationally are used in the sex trade. And Edmonton's finest just busted their first (and certainly not last) rub and tug using imported Chinese ladies as sex slaves.

There's always a dark undercurrent running far closer to the surface "niceness" of a place than anyone wants to admit, to themselves or others. Until it slaps you in the face like this, and you're forced to look at it. Reprehensible. We can't just sit back and let this happen. If we allow this in our own home, how can we possibly say, "for shame!" to others? There are no politicians yelling about this, even though it's a big issue. Something ought to be done. Read the Future Group's estimation here.

Whenever you start to feel like the centre of the universe...

...stop and take a look at these.

They're the newest photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, and they're spectacular.

Makes you reconsider your significance as a teeny speck, now doesn't it? I also found an interesting explanation for how they get those photos to look so beautiful. Yep. Lots of Photoshop and a little bit of science, too.

This one's my personal favourite:

Amazing to see the way light is manipulated, when so much that we manipulate is with our hands (the word comes from latin for "hand", so yeah, I guess that might have a little something to do with it). Making the intangible tangible. It gives me the tinglies. And no, it doesn't make me feel closer to God. In fact, it doesn't give me a hankering for god(s) in the slightest. The reality of the universe is so stunning and incapacitatingly god-like on its own, there's no need for something beyond it. To me, that is "god": the weightless, seemingly purposeless yet wholly purposeful expanse of...existence. Wow.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

09.09.09: A Day Without Cats

A meme has swept the interwebs today, according to Urlesque. The powers that be (robots? dogs? Allergy sufferers?) have declared September 9, 2009 "A Day Without Cats."

At 4am today, I would have agreed wholeheartedly and handed my cat over without a second thought. Take her, damn it! Just let me f*cking SLEEP!

But then I catch myself and realize that I wuv my snuggly wittle kitty witty. Ugh. Wait. Did I just go all kooky about cats? Oh...I get it now.

Help save worldwide sanity and avoid the following websites today:

These are just a few of the worst feline offenders. Perhaps coming to terms with the oversaturation of pussy cats online will help us get back to the real issues that matter. Like otters. And monkeys.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Blob of the Week

...UHH...I think it's a monkey. Or, perhaps, a totem head from some long-lost tribe?

Isn't it strange...

...the things that jog your memory? Scientists say smell is the strongest trigger sense. Even if I think of a memory through a flash of colour or a snippet of a song, inevitably, the lingering smell of that memory is the last and most stubborn recollection of all.

Thinking about this after spending the past few days helping my Bettsy and her man renovate their first home. I've been stopping over after work, munching on snacks and listening to music as we roll paint on the walls and tape baseboards.

I volunteered to putty in all the holes and dents along the walls, which were many. (Apparently, a band of wild apes wrestled with each other wearing steel-toed boots. There's no accounting for the sheer volume of damage, otherwise.) As I spent the hours scanning the walls and digging my trowel into the plaster, I couldn't help but be reminded of my maternal grandfather, and how my simple actions mirrored his--long ago as they were.

My grandfather was an incredible man, about whom I plan to one day write more than a simple blog entry. My favourite childhood memories relate to the time I spent with him and my grandmother in Quebec.

But I digress.

Grandpa Williams was a plasterer who built his own home and ran his own company, building many homes throughout Montreal. This was the East, before sheetrock walls made home renovations a cinch. This was a time of laths, crown mouldings and decorative flourishes around ceilings. My grandfather was an artist, not only in his work, but in his life. Filling nail holes at my friends' place suddenly became an image of my grandfather, the artisan, deftly creating something clean and beautiful with the same tools.

Even though he retired during my lifetime, I never remember him wearing a shirt that wasn't flecked with plaster. I remember his strong, dark fingers, stained with paint, as he doodled on the newspaper he always read at the breakfast table. I would sit quietly in or near his lap, nibbling on my toast. I'd inhale the scent of plaster and Colt cigarellos (wine-tipped) in silent worship.

As I finished helping last night and made my way home, my mind smelled faint cigar smoke with a hint of sweet wine. And as I drove home, I smiled.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My first magazine.

I published my first magazine as managing editor for my organization. It's a 3x-yearly publication for members and politicians on rural issues (are you falling asleep yet?...) but I'm proud of it. More times for my name in print, and professional, at that. I wrote three features and edited the entire content, chose photos, etc. One more for the portfolio.

Rural Routes Magazine, Summer 2009.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why Twilight sucks. Pun intented.

I am on the last book of the series, Breaking Dawn, and still feel a strange combination of fascination and self-loathing every time I turn a page. Curious to see if others shared my repulsive compulsion, I Googled "Why I hate Twilight." A flurry of clicks later, I've amalgamated a series of essays, theories and top 10 lists that helped explain this odd love/loathe experience.

Here are a few that adroitly convey some serious issues that I have with the book:

From Vulpeslibris:

"I had always felt deeply uncomfortable about the way this book portrayed Bella. At the start of the book she seemed pretty clued up, a normal teenage girl. By the end she was a lying, pathetic, characterless stooge and all thorough the actions of one man…Edward Cullen."

Comparison to Harry Potter (the far superior series):
"To put it simply, dear reader, I was horrified. Not just by the sickeningly purple prose or the lack of general writing quality, but the books themselves are insulting on every level--as a woman, as a teenager, as a literature student, and as a graduate of the Harry Potter craze. What’s worse is that so few seem to realize it."

From Blast Magazine: "It is important to note that the heroine should not have to sacrifice anything besides her ambition. If you think she SHOULD sacrifice something, make sure that she’s only giving up her family and friends so that the she can devote her entire life and purpose of being to the hero. She should NOT have any kind of hobbies, interests, etc. outside of the hero, and if he leaves her she should become suicidal."

Wikipedia entry about "Mary Sue", the literary cliche of an author inserting him/herself into a piece of writing by making the main character a transparent version of him/herself.

Last--but not least:

From Cracked's hilarious sendup of the movie "If Twilight was 10 times shorter and 100 times more honest":

KRISTEN STEWART: Me? Oh, no. I'm just a hollow placeholder for all of the teenage girls in the audience to project their personalities onto. I have none of my own whatsoever.

ROBERT PATTINSON: So, the next generation of young women are currently flocking to see a female lead starring in a movie by a female director based on a bestselling book by a female author, and in this movie the main character wants to become completely submissive and self-sacrificing for a male.

KRISTEN STEWART: I love you. Put a baby in me.

ROBERT PATTINSON: At least the other three books can't possibly be more misogynistic and depressing.

They ARE.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How to be a Good Girl

"Girls collect achievements by the handful, but often don't have the confidence to own them." Sure, we may outpace the guys around us in school, but by the time we enter college, we'll have given up our leadership roles. We'll make up just a third of business-school students and barely a quarter of law-firm partners. We invalidate ourselves through speech, body language, and weak handshakes. And we still earn less—77 cents to every dollar—and ask for raises less frequently."

Found this article today on how our current generation, while capable, competent and available, aren't willing to grab onto what they want in life. For all my staunch ideas and ability to flap my yap on any subject, I get that paralyzing fear of not succeeding. Do I start to excuse my behaviour, thereby weakening my position? I believe that I very well do. Perhaps recognizing it is the first step towards correcting the behaviour? Let's hope so.

Self-imposed Glass Ceilings

Choice Quote:

"Asked to write down how society expects a "good girl" to behave, [a group of surveyed middle-school girls'] responses ranged from "perfect" and "kind," "intelligent" with "tons of friends" to "no opinions on things" and "doesn't get mad." A bad girl, on the other hand, was described as a "proud" "rule breaker" who "speaks her mind" and likes being the "center of attention." Or, to put it simply, all of the things that make somebody a good leader. "

Yikes. Time to strap those feminist stompin' boots back on, ladies. We've got more work to do, it seems. And we'll have to start with ourselves.