Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delayed gratification

I can't even remember what this feels like. I've become so spoiled with my "see it-want it-buy it" attitude. The last two weeks of Christmas spending is starting to make me feel nauseous. Where is the restraint? Do we even have enough money in our bank account to cover this? I haven't a clue and even if I did, it probably wouldn't stop me because this is Christmas after all and you don't get a second chance to get it right.... or do you?

I don't like feeling out of control. Remember the good 'ol days of saving up for something, and looking forward to getting it? By the time it was yours, it actually meant something. Or better yet, you realized that you really didn't want it and were strong enough to walk away. Take dessert -- it fails to satisfy. Too much of a good thing and in fact now my sugar addiction is starting to piss me off because I have not lost the pre-holiday weight I promised myself I would. I think it's worse this year because we seem to have no time to shop so everything seems like an impulse buy. We're buying gifts more out of obligation and guilt -- especially for our extended family, who really don't need anything they can't buy for themselves.

So what do I do when I feel this helpless? I desperately grab hold of spending I can control, like food. I have to pinch pennies somewhere to compensate. Of course I'm never sensible about it -- I just go ape shit on my family. Like this morning, I almost diluted the milk in my cereal with water. KD, hot dogs, freezer burnt leftovers -- these are next week's meals. Will this work to balance the buyer's remorse that I already feel? *Sigh* This is a first for me -- I CAN'T WAIT for January to get here. Deprivation, I'm yours.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nicole loves Liam

The other day, my six year old son was telling me all about the crushes in his Grade 1 class and I found it really endearing to hear about 'who loved who'. And when I asked him who he loved, he plainly said 'nobody', but that he knew who loved him. Phew, I'm an over-protective mother of boys and was not ready to hear about that. But then part of me, way down deep started to feel really badly for these little girls. And in fact my inner child rose up hours later and got me thinking about all the boys I had crushes on and how no one was ever crushin' on me -- NO ONE. By the time I was a teenager, boys were interested, but it's not the same as *really* liking someone -- usually from afar, dreaming about them, looking forward to your next encounter, wishing they felt the same way. No one has ever been completely ga-ga for me, not like I have been for them -- not even my own partner. He's told me as much -- that he just went along with it. We got along well, had common interests, the sex was good and he was ready to settle down. No baying at the moon, stalking, obsessing -- none of it. *sigh* He doesn't understand this business about being 'boy-crazy' or crazy for anyone for that matter. I guess it just takes one to know one. I'd like to see my son all starry-eyed for someone one of these days. It's a good feeling. I certainly don't want him to expect that it's only girls that should crush on boys. And will I ever stop being boy crazy? Nope. Never!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Staying Positive

Tony Robbins says that just thinking about how half the world lives off of less than $2/day should be enough to make you realize how fortunate you are. Thinking about what you are thankful for, thanking those who you appreciate and giving back instead of expecting to get are three other things that will snap you out of your self-loathing too.

What is it about this time of year that I despise? I can feel the stress already starting to build and it's still a month away. I know this post is supposed to be about feeling positive, but I've got to vent and sadly, I have no one to vent to right now. So here goes -- why I hate Christmas:
  1. wanting to buy my children the perfect gifts -- what they really want, what will give them tons of enjoyment, what will last and not break the bank ... and did I mention that I have no time to put in the hours of shopping required to find these perfect gifts?
  2. wanting to entertain my family -- amazing food, clean and cozy house, everyone happy and relaxed
  3. wanting to not gain weight -- but still indulge
  4. wanting to find interesting things for us to do rather then be bored being stuck with each other for 10 days
  5. wanting to be done with my shopping early and not running around at the last minute to find impossible to find items
  6. wanting to not feel like a complete fraud by going to church and acting religious
I think that's it. I have other stressors in my life, but thankfully most of those are work related and hey, at least I won't have to worry about work over Christmas!
What can I do now to prepare for the inevitable?
Plan, bake & freeze, hire a sitter so we can shop, lose a few pounds beforehand (yeah right), and above all ACCEPT. Like one of my good friends says, 'Christmas is all about being disappointed'. The kids might as well learn it now. I accept that some things will be last minute, some appetizers will burn, my partner's family will say something to tick me off, my partner will get me shitty gifts, and I will be tempted with rich fatty food and lots of booze .... lots of booze. Hey! maybe that's another way to handle the stress! Let go of perfection D, it's not worth the stress.
And as for Tony Robbin's advice, it's a good reminder and something I feel compelled to do something about. In fact I've been working on some love letters for each of my loved ones because I really want them to know what they mean to me and how grateful I am to have them in my life. I also want to cook dinner for a family in need -- not drop off a raw turkey in a hamper, but prepare a complete meal and nicky-nine-doors it. Gotta figure out the logistics of this one (stay tuned).

How do I ...

I've had it with our Intranet space and am doing a complete re-write of the content and architecture. Yet, I know that I am bound to come up against some major resistance from those on my team who love wordzzzzzzzz. Readers don't want to scroll through crap. They have a short attention span and want quick answers, so they can get on with doing their work.

How do I: ... organize my files
... describe my information
... handle personal information
... get rid of my files
... respond to this ATIP request
.... contact my IM Specialist
... get more training

Other than some basic info on who we are, what we can do for you and what's new, this is all we really need. Now, how do I .... convince the rest of the team that my solution is the way to do? Here's where my influencing skills need work. Maybe I should put it in front of a few end-users and share their feedback (which will be nothing but positive).

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I'm always blown away by those who can write. It's a daily struggle for me to express myself the way I want to. How many times do my friends and colleagues hear me ask "what's the word for ... you know, when you're ... " Are you doing a cross-word puzzle over there, D? Nope, I'm just writing a fucking email.

Shawna Wagman is one of my heroes -- boy can she write. And about FOOD too! Take this snippet she recently wrote for Ottawa Magazine:

"When Ottawa chef-icon John Taylor announced that he was
opening a casual, seasonally inspired gourmet wine bar in
a converted corner coffee shop in Old Ottawa South, foodies
rejoiced. We couldn’t help thinking of it as “Domus Lite.” But
when Genuine opened, the tenor soon turned heavy. There was
a time when fine dining meant a night away from the kids, but
the saga of the breastfeeding mother’s right to include her baby
in an evening reservation revealed tension about whether we’re
comfortable saying some places aren’t for everyone. For me, this
episode points to a less political issue as well. It highlights the
increased importance we’re placing on hospitality. And in spite
of its name, Genuine gets demerit points on that front — the service
and attitude in the room run rather cool." ....

I don't know how to describe it, but its that subtle, indirect way she has that conveys her opinion, but not in an overly judgy (I know judgy is not a word, I admit I can't write) way.

Will I ever learn by just reading? Or do I need more practice. This blog has really helped me get my ideas out, but I'm impatient and want to see leaps and bounds of improvement. Maybe a writing course?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cheap Oil

No more burying my head in the sand. I'm finally starting to inform myself about why this crisis is just around the corner ... and it's depressing as all hell.
It's more than the fact that the oil taps are running low. We all know how deep our hunger and addiction to the lifestyle oil provides goes. Here are some other things I learned from reading Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization :

Demand in developing countries is off the charts. No amount of energy savings gained by tightening our belts or 'off-peak' discipline will ever counter the amount of energy being consumed in places like China and India. They finally get to have a taste of our lifestyle ... and all the problems that go with it.

Local oil is subsidized to make oil more affordable for developing countries, but it also hurts investment in the local oil industry. With oil consumption on the rise, there is less left to export and this causes oil export prices to rise even more.

I didn't know this, but OPEC countries are burning oil to produce electricity. Rapid population and economic growth means high power demand (again, less oil to export). Saudi Arabia is also running out of fresh water because they are draining their aquifers for irrigation. This means they are burning more oil for desalination plants, which of course are energy intensive. Thanks!

And then there's also the fact that there's more money to be made with oil as a petrochemical than just burning it (like our planet needs more plastic shit).... less and less oil folks.
More and more countries are repatriating their oil and kicking internationals out (except for Canada). Yes, the tar sands ... will not save us either. Oil sand extraction is COSTLY. It also requires an enormous amount of energy to process, referred to in this book as a low energy rate of return. What will happen when natural gas is diverted elsewhere to more financially attractive demands? And if and when environmental laws finally tighten up? Bye bye tar sands.Off-shore oil is not the answer. Fast depletion rates, costly rig repairs from severe storms and environmental devastation from spills make this a non-starter.

Forget about nuclear too. Too many years to become operational + costly + lots of downtime = disappointing yields. What about bio fuel? We've already learned that stealing from our food supply to feed our cars is utterly foolish. But what I didn't know was that the energy return from producing ethanol is almost negative -- planting, fertilizing, harvesting, processing, transporting all require a lot of energy.

Hydrogen? Not unless you can afford a million dollar car. It too has a low energy return because it takes a lot of energy to produce and is expensive (and dangerous) to transport. Surely solar and wind? Nope. Energy leaks don't make either particularly efficient. Plus you'd need to install panels all across a piece of land the size of New York State just to power the US vehicle fleet. It's certainly an 'alternative', but not a replacement.

And speaking of efficiency, I found it incredibly depressing to read about the rebound effect in this book. All of the technological gains in creating energy efficiency (following the energy crisis of the 70s) has actually increased consumption. Yep. Those Rabbits of the 80s used less energy which brought oil prices down so what did that afford .... bigger more energy consuming vehicles to fuel (and bigger houses to heat/cool to boot).

So there you have it -- things are BAAAADD. The rest of the book talked about how our world will get smaller. It reaffirmed everything I've already learned. Travel, exotic cuisine, year-round produce, bargain-basement prices, over-consumption, long commutes ... these WILL be history. I really can't stop thinking about this (wait, could this be a new obsession? :-P). What can I do now, this very minute, to prepare myself and my family? How can I wean myself off this lifestyle because I really can't ignore it any longer. xx

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Every time my partner and I get talking about what's wrong in the world, the conversation inevitbly ends with one of us saying -- what we desperately need is campaign finance reform. It's just too easy to judge corrupt politicians and greedy capitalists. However, I'm starting to see how preferential treatment influences my own judgement.

I'm building on the ideas I first heard Jesse Hirsh talk about this week -- the power of recommendations. I'm all about openness (to a fault). I love to share and see others benefit from any good deals or worthwhile local activities I've discovered. I also rely on my network of like-minded friends to share with me their fav books, movies, songs, recipes, restaurants, advice, whatever -- just give it to me baby! So what happens when a corporation thanks me for my recommendation? I'm invited to attend a focus group or asked to review some new products in exchange for a little pampering (a few drinks and nibblies to share with other Westboro Moms perhaps)? At that point I am no different than the bought politicians I abhor! And let's face I am a sucker for a pretty face. Sales people love me. So when someone hot shows their appreciation for my oh-so-discriminating taste and tosses a few freebies my way, bias has already been created. What harm is there in saying a few kind words or letting them use me to promote their wares. The obligation is there and who doesn't want a win-win anyway?

*Sigh* Everyone does indeed have a price. Maybe openness is how you counter this. A friend of mine said he recently read a review for a computer game and the reviewer explicitly stated that the software company invited him down to Disney World to review the game. Was his review biased? Probably. But at least he was open about it. Of course people don't want to admit that this is happening. In fact when talking about this today, this same friend said "that's really no different from being flown out to Seattle to meet with Microsoft" .... UGH!

Hell, at least I am aware. I can't stop this from happening. Nor can I judge the sytem. I will continue to offer up and seek out reccomendations (that's just who I am) -- but with a critical eye.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My head is swimming with ideas after having the pleasure of hearing Jesse Hirsh speak at a conference this week. I haven't felt this inspired in a long time. I want to get some of these out of my head and think about them -- they really are golden. xx

Ever stop to think about what the Internet is? It's something we've come to rely on, but never talk about. How do you use it? How does it use us? The seduction is powerful, no doubt about it. What does Google, FB, Twitter really want to be? And what is our role in all of this?

In his presentation, Jesse started talking about Web 3.0. --the personalization of content to the point of it being able to anticipate your needs ... which is pretty scary when I stop to think about what that world looks like. Only give me content I'm interested in. No wonder we've become so narcissistic! In fact he went on to say that as a society we are experiencing insularity to the extreme. NO! Isn't technology supposed to tear down barriers and expose us to a world of diverse cultures and ideas? How did we even get here?

It started with Web 2.0. I can now create content as easily as I consume it and that's powerful. But how is all my precious content being used? Is it being used against me? Data mining has been around for ages, but now I'm hearing more about sentiment analysis -- scrapping tweets to predict things like box office success or product market penetration. Marketers are starting to figure out that if the masses are talking about them anyway, then why not pay them to keep talking? Such is the rise of micro-advertising and micro-celebrities which are spokespeople you don't have to pay. Just throw a few freebies (like concert tickets) their way and they'll keep influencing their social networks. In fact there are even tools now that claim to identify who has clout. But we're a savvy bunch and know when we're being advertised to, right? Not so much, because now my online network of 'friends' are trying to sell me shit I don't need. Nice. According to Jesse, there's power in recommendations. We are relying on our networks more and more to influence our buying decisions. ... which is not going unnoticed by marketers. In fact you can read more about Twitter's resonance algorithm yourself -- advertisers pay to elevate tweets that support them.

Why do I feel like I'm being raped? I innocently use these tools on a daily basis to stay connected to my family and friends. But really, I'm just feeding the machine. My privacy is just another commodity. I could choose to leave, but it's too late. The seduction is powerful and I am already addicted to social media. So come and get me. The Internet is really nothing more than a myth.
*Sigh* This reminds me of some depressing conversations I've had at work about the fate of the world. When is the peak oil crisis going to turn off my PC for me and end this parasitic maleficent relationship for good? Please, take me back to a simple and wholesome world where we were too busy gathering our own food to have time to waste trading our privacy for commodities. K, now I'm being tangential (new word I've been dying to use). I'll share more deep thoughts from in a subsequent post.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Remember

How can I express how I feel about November 11th without coming off like a complete ingrate. It's a day of mixed emotions for me. Part of me is loyal to my roots -- my Dad is extremely proud of his 35 years of military service, as am I. The Armed Forces rescued my Dad from a hopeless, loveless and poverty-stricken upbringing. The opportunities afforded by a military life is certainly what gave my sister and I most of what we have today. I am also incredibly grateful that my Dad did not see conflict overseas. I remember being terrified as a child during the Falkland Islands and also later hearing of how close Canada was to going to Vietnam. There's no question that my old man was ready to serve his country. Lucky for us, it never happened.

I also have tremendous respect for people who make it their livelihood to serve other people. The medical profession, enforcement, safety -- these are my heroes. It's clearly more than a pay cheque for them. They give WAY more than they receive. They are deserving of our respect.

And then there's the pacifist in me who has a really hard time honouring war. No one can argue about the death, destruction and debt that ensue and yet here we are being given a day off to 'remember'. There is no such thing as a noble cause. Why must we continue to force our beliefs and values on other cultures? What the fuck are we fighting for really? Money, pure and evil. I will not honour the military industrial complex. I just won't.

I feel sorry for the families of those who died in combat. They did not have a choice. But please, let's not put Afghanistan in the same boat. WWII was the last 'just' war -- our sovereignty was in eminent danger. Somehow by honouring world wars, the default has become 'homage to all combat'. I also make a distinction between inscription and voluntary service. If you choose to join the military then you choose to accept the risks that come with the job. It takes a brave person to put their life on the line for their beliefs, but let's not forget that they are the beliefs of the government and not necessarily those of its citizens.

Of course any criticism of the military that I express is perceived as treason. I wouldn't dare say any of this to my 'Support Our Troops' faring family. So I keep it to myself and every November 11th, I take a few quiet minutes to think about what the world would look like if we were all at peace -- peace with each other and most importantly, peace with ourselves. That's what I think we should be remembering. xx

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things I wish I had time for

This recent posting from one of my fav blogs gave me clarity.

Why is it I spend so much time surfing, blogging, face-booking ... wasting time!

The things that I really want to do take time, seem daunting and may have a low probability of success. Often I need a quick fix -- I've got to escape from life for 10 mins -- just enough time to pop online and connect with my friends, pop culture, anything but my mundane existence.

But if I add up all these little breaks, I'm wasting a huge amount of time that I could be spending doing what needs to get done -- things that will give me HUGE satisfaction. I need to break up the big things into manageable chunks. I hate leaving things unfinished, which is why I never start, but I've got to make progress.

So here goes, a new 'Things To Do (instead of surfing)' list:

1. READ - where did I leave my book? if I go looking for it downstairs someone will see me and want something; I wish that I could pull it out of my butt whenever I wanted; even reading 5 pages is better than nothing .

2. FINANCES - it's daunting yes, but I should start looking at things like how much $ I need to cash out to prepare for our solar project, if we're caught up on our RESPs this year, if we can dump something on our mortgage, etc.

3. PURGE - I'd love to do a clean sweep, but it's not going to happen. How about the office closet for starters? The kids room is jam packed with toys they no longer play with. There's also a pile of broken toys that should just be pitched.

4. EXERCISE - why not just drop to the floor right now and 100 sit-ups, lunges or squats?

5. RESEARCH - ideas for Xmas, new recipes, teaching tips and tricks for skating, reading, piano, there's any number of things I've been meaning to look up but never seem to remember when I've hopped online.

I'll leave it at that for now. Am thinking that if I'm truly serious I should go on a FB diet ....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's the Thought that counts

My mom and dad were over the other day to drop off some gifts they picked up for us on their trip to Israel. The kids were pretty happy as was I to hear that they had a great time. A few days later, my mom asked me about my gifts -- "you didn't show much reaction, did you like them?" "Yes, of course, thank you." That wasn't good enough. In fact it was the tipping point. She proceeded to tell me that she was hurt that I never show appreciation for the presents she buys me and that she hoped I was not like this with my partner or my in-laws. Yikes!
I tried to give her the reassurance she was looking for, but I've been thinking about it ever since ... how did this happen? I think it's because we are not poor. Growing up, money was tight and gifts were rare. Whenever my sister or I got anything, it was a BIG DEAL. We were over the moon and would treasure even the tiniest package of gum. But now I have everything and things in fact mean very little to me. I buy myself stuff all the time and most of the time it actually depresses me because I have to find a home for it amongst the clutter, I have to dust it, I have to eventually throw it out and feel guilty for spending money on it in the first place. I didn't have the heart to explain any of this to my Mom. She'll never get it. Even though my parents are no longer poor, they will always be frugal.

So what does matter? Well I love it when my mom brings me food, when she plays with the kids, tells them stories about my childhood, goes running with me, irons my clothes, bakes me pies. Those are the things I am over the moon for. She wants to see a reaction out of me -- sure --- those are the things I will show her I am grateful for. Yes sirree!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sustained Attention

From an RM Job Description (CR-04): Sustained attention for short periods, averaging 2‑3 weeks per year, is required when developing technical specifications to accurately depict the information management structure; lapse in attention may result in missing or misunderstanding key information..


I have ADHD. Self-discipline is not my friend. I need to lock myself in my office, disable my Internet access and just get 'er done. Help!

Domineering, Direct, Demanding

I took some management courses last week and one of the activities was a personality/behaviour test of sorts. The idea being that you must know yourself before you can adjust your behaviour to interact with people who are not like you.

So here's me -- no surprises there. I was hoping that my softer side would start to shine through by now, but this is still my core being. I especially like these statements:

They tend to tell people what to do rather than ask them to do it.

They believe that their way is the best way and they tend to disregard the opinions and ideas of others.

They will tell it like it is and may come across as harsh or blunt.

Ahhh .... doesn't everyone love warm and fuzzy people like this? Thanks to all of my navel-gazing, I already know that I need to watch my tone, choose my words more carefully, ask (instead of demand) and listen. Alright, I get it already!

But enough about me. I made my partner do the test and he's the complete opposite. Although I disagreed with some of his answers, he's a type 'S' (slow and steady). Loyal, dependable, calm -- yep! He is the ying to my yang. And I would hazard a guess that my dearest friends are also Ses (that includes you too Steph). But this is the killer:

If there are changes to be implemented ensure you give them warning enough that they are able to prepare themselves for it
High S's need direction, they need to know how they are meant to do things and when they need to be done.
High S's respond well to constant appreciation, the more praise they receive the better they work

We all appreciate a little direction to make sure we're likely to succeed. And you'd think this would work really well for my controlling style. But I hate being like this! Trust your intuition, figure it out, please -- no more questions. I also resent having to be SO grateful for every little thing. Of course, this is exactly what I need to work on -- showing appreciation.

If these are my partners 'faults' then hell, I would love to trade places with him. He is Zen and I am Piss and Vinegar (cider vinegar :-)). He could take a page out of my 'can do' book and I could learn a thing or two about letting things go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Treat others as they want to be treated

A new twist on the Golden Rule. I like it a lot.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awaiting Moderation, eh?

I'm not much of a contributor of knowledge, but at times I want to provide my two cents. I try my best to be polite and to the point, but sometimes my feedback is just not appreciated. Take this posting on what used to be one of my fav blogs about personal finance. It shouldn't shock me that yet another blogger is exploiting her readership by touting merchandise under the guise of advice, but that she's calling her frivolous purchase 'frugal' is enough to make me un-friend her blog.

I will not be shunned. So here are my comments out there in the blog sphere. Take that!
"These are definitely cuter than any grocery store cupcake I’ve ever seen and would probably rival most designer cupcakes that are in vogue right now. However I am surprised that you would advocate buying a single-use seasonal pan for this project. In fact most festive merchandise is a complete waste of money. Just walk through any craft store at this time of year if you want to be sickened by the amount of consumerist plastic garbage being shoved in our faces as essential housewares. I’m sure you could’ve achieved close to the same results by cutting out your cupcakes from a sheet cake. Or how about renting those shaped pans from the Bulk Barn for around $2/day? Think about it -- this pan will be used once and stored for 364 days. I think you’ve advised this before — the best way to be frugal is to just do without."