I’m getting the Look. You know the one: the face loses expression, the entire body goes still. From an adult, that unblinking stare would be rude and not a little unnerving. From a kidlet, it’s more a sign of intense concentration, a holding pattern as they work out what to do next. They use it whenever something in their world does not compute, which happens a lot when you’re a preschooler.
What’re you drinking?
The “How the hell are ya?” greetings done, the bartender gets down to business with his patron—newly arrived but clearly not new.
Gimme a martinus.
Although this is one case where the customer clearly isn’t right, the bartender’s correction is a little tentative: after all, this guy’s a frequent flier.
You mean a martini. Just a little heavy on the final “ee”.
The patron sporting a toga retorts, If I want two, I’ll ask for them. Continue reading
Unencumbered by handles, the tea cylinder is still too hot to lift, so I nudge it carefully, turning it to see what it says. Ah. Ten Ways to Good Health, with a clear flavour of the Orient:
Less Alcohol, More Tea
Less Meat, More Vegetables
Less Salt, More Vinegar
Less Sugar, More Fruit
Less Eating, More Chewing
Less Words, More Action
Less Greed, More Giving
Less Worry, More Sleep
Less Driving, More Walking
Less Anger, More Laughter
Not “rules” for good health, mind you, but “ways” to it. And not out-and-out prohibitions— No booze! No white death!—but merely gentle suggestions for a mid-course correction. How far you take it is up to you. Interesting. Sort of a Less Guilt, More Encouragement approach. Continue reading
It started innocently enough. Doesn’t it always? It ended with yet another overwhelming spell on Dr. Google’s couch. But I get ahead of myself.
If you find no fish, you have to eat bread.
Fish. Yes, that’s where this story starts. Brain dead from hacking through the proposal jungle for several days, I balk at planning and preparing an evening meal. The Big Guy balks at passing on food entirely, so we drive to the sushi delivery place that’s well within walking distance, plunk ourselves at one of the few tables, and peruse the lengthy menu. Well, given my remaining mental acuity, the Big Guy peruses the menu; I flip pages and look at the pictures. Gyoza. Rolls. Tempura. Unagi—is there a reason they’re not translating it? What the heck is it? Sashimi—oops, no, I know what the heck that is: a bridge too far is what that is. I close the menu. Continue reading
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Robert Frost
Forget Robert Frost. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, you can’t remember the one-way streets.
Heading to a meeting, I struggle to visualize the address and plan my path to it. It’s been a long while since I navigated downtown Edmonton: which roads are one way, again? Trying to keep it simple, I turn onto Jasper Avenue—the original main drag and still blessedly bidirectional—intending to make my way east to where I’ll turn north to the parkade that’s been recommended. Instead, I find one side of the avenue all dug up with road or subway tunnel reconstruction of some sort: left-hand turns are prohibited for several blocks. With the river valley cutting in from the south, I’m also about to run out of right-hand-turn options. Continue reading
The last of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise,
with apologies to both Toby Keith and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Favourite question and answer on an island tour:
Fellow traveller: Are the roads always busy like this?
Guide: Not sometimes.
Second-favourite question and answer on an island tour:
Me: What’s that black bird?
Guide: A blackbird. Continue reading
Two stories on the morning radio show; two typical reactions from the CBC host.
Story #1 – Three female teens (now 16 and 17; just 15 and 16 when arrested and charged) had appeared in court to plead ‘not guilty’ on 74 counts involving forcible confinement, uttering threats, procuring for prostitution, robbery, human trafficking, sexual assault, and making child pornography. The alleged victims? Seven other female teens (then 13 to 18), allegedly lured on social media to what were supposed to be parties, and then variously drugged, physically/verbally intimidated, and forcibly delivered to adult men for sex; or beaten, stripped and photographed. Allegedly. Continue reading
The seventh of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise.
Resting between courses at our first formal night in the dining room, we are accosted gently by someone other than our (two!) waiters. Would we like to book a meal at one of the (extra cost) specialty restaurants?
Heading out for a few hours on shore, we are accosted gently by a member of the ship’s bartending staff. Would we like to buy chilled, bottled water to take on our excursion? Even before the built-in 15% gratuity, it’s more than double what we will eventually pay onshore.
Walking along the dock, we are accosted gently by two engaging young people from the activity staff. For a small fee, would we like a picture of us in front of the ship, to remember the day? Continue reading
The sixth of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise.
In my own mind, I’m not rich: I work for a living, I make trade-offs, I watch my budget. But the Caribbean islands make me feel as uncomfortably rich as I did while studying Spanish in Guatemala 10 years ago. If there are just Rich Folks and Poor Folks in this world, I’m sure not Poor Folks, but the Caribbean is full of them.
Thousands of years ago, humans moved out of Africa to inhabit almost all terra firma—any scrap of land where they could at least scratch out a living. The calculation of where you could have an acceptable living changed as hunter-gatherers morphed into farmers. Then came the industrial revolution and the equation changed again. Now the information age is upon us. Continue reading
The fifth of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise.
Brring, brring. It’s oh-six-hundred and something-or-other. The automated wake-up phone call startles me awake, as it has every morning since we sailed. We always seem to be (over)eating at sunset, so I have added the sunrise patrol to my daily routine, just before my walk. When we were heading south, our port cabin offered a convenient picture-taking vantage point, but now we’ve turned west. Throwing on my exercise clothes and grabbing my camera, I trudge up the stairs to Deck 15 for its aft view. Continue reading