The One Armed Bandit . . and it ain’t Vegas Baby

By one-armed bandit I don’t mean one of those ubiquitous slot machines in Vegas

Rows of the One Armed Bandits

Nope, yours truly is the one-armed bandit in this story.  And I’m  .  .let me think .  .mad, sad, frustrated and bored. 

Two weeks ago I was volunteering at the Deep Cove Dragonboat Regatta –  spent the day hauling people safely in and out of boats from the steep drop Deep Cove dock.  Then we loaded all the gear into trucks and as I was heading back to my car . .  .disaster.   I tripped on a tree root and went down hard on a concrete retaining wall.   Landed hard on my right hand and wrist and gave myself a good bump on the chin.   After several hours at Emergency, I had a livid bruise on my chin (but all my teeth and no broken bones) and a very painfully sprained hand/wrist.   Morphine is a great thing, let me say, and does qualify you for a week off work.

Fast forward a week or so .  .the massive swelling has gone down, I can move my fingers (heartfelt sigh of relief) and I’m off the hardcore painkillers.  A couple more medical visits and the diagnosis/prognosis is torn ligaments and tendons in my right hand and wrist that will take another 5 weeks to heal, along with a hairline fracture on the side of my hand.   Nice, very nice.  [insert a lot of loud cuss words here].   The offending limb is strapped up in a brace for at least 3 more weeks and then I can gradually start using it again.   [insert more loud cuss words]

Here is a list of things I can do with only one left hand. . . pretty much nothing.

Ma glamorous brace

The list of things I can’t do is way longer . . .pretty much everything.  I can’t type, I had to peck this out with 2 fingers on my left hand . . but hey, I do have time on my hands.   I can’t paddle, run, swordfight, do yoga, go to bootcamp. . . you get the picture.  The very time I could seriously use a big endorphin high – no such luck.  I can sit on the couch watching TV .  . .no endorphins there.   But I’m open to suggestions . . .

I also have to brush my teeth left-handed, can’t blow-dry my hair and have nearly poked both of my eyes out trying to apply mascara.  I can’t open cans or jars or cut anything with a knife.  I love my homemade, fresh, organic food, but it’s convenience food all the way for me now.  I had a beer and some nacho chips for dinner tonight – seriously.

Other shit I can’t do:  open the car door with the keys in my hand – you need both hands – same goes for the door to my house.   Dig anything out of my purse while I’m holding it.  Driving left-handed – only for short neighborhood jaunts, but at least I’ve figured that out.   My garden needs cleaning and the spring plants put in – hahaha, good laugh.  Car is dirty  off to the car wash.  I did manage to give the dog a bath, but only coz I’m really stubborn.

And what do I do for a living – I TYPE!  [insert waaaay more cuss words].  Luckily I work for a great company and they are all being super understanding and helpful.   I now have DragonSpeak, voice recognition software, installed and I dictate most of the work I do.  It actually works surprisingly well, and it’s better than this hideously painful, time-consuming 2 finger pecking.  

Usually I’d be happy to catch up on some movies and reading, but I’m so mad and frustrated about this that I can’t seem to settle to a good book.  I have to find some serenity.  

Well, that’s my big self-serving rant.   I am violating all orders to rest my wrist and feeling a bit guilty.

I’m waiting for a couple of good local shows – at least I can still stand and listen to music.  I can’t wait for Shaun Verrault and Wide Mouth Mason to get back to Vancouver with their new album.  Here is a great new song, I Love Not Loving You Anymore..  Can’t wait to see it live.


Are you Voting on May 2nd?

I didn’t ask HOW you are voting,  only IF you are voting.   Because no matter who  you vote for, what’s most important is that every single one of us get out and vote on May 2nd.   The only way our democratic society works is if we all participate.   And that means not only the great grey wave of boomers, whose mass demographic have been in control of so much of our lives for so long, but also all the (apparently) disenfranchised Gen Xers and the newest generation of voters still in university or just starting out in the work force.   Vote, it’s both a duty and a right.

I am not an ardent follower of news or politics, despite being a Political Science/History major at UofT (that hotbed of leftist/socialist  sympathizers)  but I do consider it my duty as a citizen to be informed in at least a cursory way of the current political climate, the hot button topics that concern all of us and the promises that those we elect have made about how they intend to spend our tax dollars to govern us.   Television news is, for the most part, a fairly worthless source of (mis)information, so I still read the newspaper pretty much every day and follow a few online news sources and OpEd writers.  

And if the issues at stake in most elections remain relatively static, one interesting piece came up in yesterday’s paper.  Did you know that section 329 of the Canada Elections Act states that

“No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district”.  

This law was deemed necessary in Canada because of the sheer size of our country, the population demographics in particular provinces and the time zones from east to west.   Given that the majority of our population lives in Ontario and Quebec (something I’ll never understand . . .but that’s another topic) and they are 3 hours ahead of the West Coast, too often our votes became irrelevant as the election was decided in the East long before our polls had even closed.   So to give us Lotuslanders some feeling of significance, they don’t tell us the election results in the East until after our polls close.   Occasionally the Western vote is pivotal, most often, unfortunately,  it remains an afterthought.   The one way we can change this is to get out and vote.   Just do it.

Enter the digital age with the ability for one Facebook page or twitter stream to broadcast to a huge audience the results of the Eastern voting while the Western polls are still open.   And the owners of those tweets or FB pages can remain largely anonymous.   Elections Canada is saying that despite this law being 75 years old and completely outdated, it remains a law and it will enforce fines of up to $25,000 for anyone convicted of transmitting election results ahead of the polls closing.  

I take issue with a number of points in that statement, the first being that all laws that remain laws in Canada are, and should be, enforced.  This is simply incorrect.  If you have followed the current Supreme Court case involving the polygamous communities in Bountiful, BC,  then like me you know that not all laws are being enforced.   The laws against polygamy have not been enforced for many years as successive governments in BC have feared that they are unconstitutional.   Yet it remains a law and it remains unenforced.  And it is simply trite bureacraticism to say that we enforce all laws, no matter what.  

I care about this debate for a number of reasons, and they are not all about free speech in the blogsphere, although I care about that passionately.   For me, knowing what the election results are in the East in this election will be a strong determining factor in how I vote.   Not to bare my personal sympathies in public, but being a bit of a non-conformist I usually vote for the Green Party – it’s my way of giving the one-finger salute, and maybe sending a bit of a message –  to all those self-serving politicians.  And who knows, one day we may even elect a Green candidate.  Now that would be a reason to celebrate.  Interestingly, North Vancouver has a history of a strong Green vote – not something I would have predicted – but it seems there are a lot of us non-conformists hiding in the North Shore mountains.   Nice!

In this election the only determining factor in who I vote for is who has the best chance of dislodging Stephen Harper from his roost.    I am so strongly opposed to that man, his party, his philosophy and “iron fist” style of governing that I’d vote for anyone that will boot his prissy ass right off Parliament Hill.   My vote is not going to be pro-anyone, it’s going to be anti-Harper.  So for me it’s all about figuring out which other party has the best chance of forming a government.    Sadly it won’t be my beloved Greens, and I’d assumed it would be Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals, but recent polls have put them behind Jack Layton and the NDP.  So now I have a quandry.  Which way do I jump?   Liberal or NDP?    Knowing before I go to vote which other party is leading in the East will determine for me who I vote for in North Vancouver. 

Jeremy Berry, the public relations professor at Mount Royal University who was quoted in the Vancouver Sun today saying

“What damaging content could an armchair critic tweet out that would be so devastating that Elections Canada would go after them?  I can’t see something like that”.  

Imagine, Mr. Berry, if every single voter in the West decided, like me, to wait and see how the Eastern results were shaping up and then cast their vote accordingly.  I’d say that would have a very significant impact.  But I’m only one person, with one vote.  Some of you might think your vote is irrelevant, that you can’t change anything.   Well, if you don’t vote it is irrelevant and you will never change anything.  I prefer to believe that if enough people care enough, we can effect change.  


Here’s a particularly relevant video from my favourite, and always political band, Bad Religion.  21st Century Digital Boy, he doesn’t know how to read but he’s got a lot of toys.   I love that Dr. Gaffen cares so much.

TRUE FACTS about Vancouver Canucks MVP Superstar and Superhuman goaltender Roberto Luongo you might not have known…

I’m not really a hockey fan, but this cracked me up.  Courtesy of the NHL website . . . .Oh wait, what’s that thumpin’ sound . . . all the latecomers to the party jumping on the bandwagon . . .maybe even me!
Superhuman superstar Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
TRUE FACTS about Vancouver Canucks MVP Superstar and Superhuman goaltender Roberto Luongo you might not have known…1. Roberto Luongo’s tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.
2. Roberto Luongo does not sleep. He waits.
3. Inappropriate
4. Roberto Luongo has counted to infinity – twice.
5. When Roberto Luongo does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
6. Roberto Luongo recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.
7. Roberto Luongo can build a snowman out of rain.
8. Inappropriate
9. Roberto Luongo’s calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd; no one fools Roberto Luongo.
10. Roberto Luongo can speak braille.
11. Superman owns a pair of Roberto Luongo pajamas.
12. Roberto Luongo can slam revolving doors.
13. Roberto Luongo can delete the Recycling Bin.
14. Inappropriate
15. Roberto Luongo can kill two stones with one bird.
16. Roberto Luongo is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his right and left pads.
17. Roberto Luongo is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
18. Roberto Luongo can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
19. A cobra once bit Roberto Luongo’s leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
20. Roberto Luongo’s dog is trained to pick up his own poop because Roberto Luongo will not take sh*t from anyone.
21. Inappropriate
22. Roberto Luongo doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
23. When Roberto Luongo enters a room, he doesn’t turn the lights on, he turns the dark off.
24. Jesus walked on water. Roberto Luongo swam through land.
25. Roberto Luongo once had a heart attack; his heart lost.
26. The only time Roberto Luongo was wrong was when he thought he had made a mistake.
27. Inappropriate
28. Roberto Luongo can do a wheelie on a unicycle.
29. Inappropriate
30. Giraffes were created when Roberto Luongo uppercut a horse.

Manscaping: Trimming the Topiary

WARNING:  This post may contain words and images that offend some people, especially those with no sense of humour or who are squeamish at the thought of zapping their family jewels with lasers.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I laughed so hard,  I couldn’t believe it earlier this week when the  lovely ladies at Vancouver’s Urban Body Laser posted a contest on their Facebook site for some lucky guy to win a “Balls n All” laser hair removal package.   Here is what they posted, complete with pictures:

There were some hilarious comments, including at least one from a guy who freely admitted to having this done and “enjoying the compliments of his partners” and another one from a gal who said that if her ex got it done “the value would be $4 his package was that small”.    OMG.   You can’t make this stuff up.
This got me thinking about the whole subject of “manscaping” that modern (or is it?) phenomenon that has a lot of previously hirsute guys trimming their topiary.   Off to run a quick Google search and what pops up in my search engine – literally hundreds of “how to” sites.    The very informative site writes:
What once was the concern of bodybuilders, models and porn stars is now a question every man must consider. To shave or not to shave? To suffer the laughter and ridicule of a woman or the outrageous gasps of teammates in the gym showers? For every man that has shaved his face in the shower there has been a moment when the razor seemed to lure him to take his clean-shaven look further.
Old School Manscaping
Most of the sites were proponents of some careful grooming:  there were how to videos on creating that perfect “scruffy, after-5” facial hair, a lot on getting rid of back hair – something I totally agree with – and quite a bit on shaving and/or trimming chest hair.  One site offered the bon mot that if your chest hair was long enough to wrap around your finger, it should be trimmed.    Prevailing sentiment on whether to go completely smooth with chest hair was split  – I think I need to do a bit more research before I come up with a definitive personal opinion!!
But on the subject of  taking care of the hair down there – the full “balls n all” wasn’t garnering a lot of support.   But I have to say the euphemisms cracked me up . . . .”getting the twins a buzz”, “trimming Tiny Tim’s Topiary”, “taking a blade to your blade”  and it just went on.   And why would the guys want to “edge out the happy trail”?  From what I could gather the ONLY reason was to appeal to women.   Apart from looking cleaner and neater, “making your junk look bigger” was the Number #1 reason for trimming the topiary.   The thought crossed my mind that this could be, in a sense, false advertising, since appearance is one thing, but the only real “measure of the yardstick” is in the performance . . . just a thought. 
The methods for achieving this smooth look were multiple; waxing was popular for chest and back but a lot less popular for the nether regions.   Shaving was also popular for all areas, but there were issues of ingrown hairs and stubbly, itchy regrowth, something most of the ladies will be very familiar with!   Laser hair removal, or “lightening around the thunderstick” is relatively new, but apparently growing in popularity.   I would have thought that the idea of getting your private parts zapped with a laser would make most guys wilt at the knees – I’ve had laser hair removal and it’s not painless, no matter what they tell you, and there is the horrible smell of burning hair . . . .  Anyhow, apparently this is not the biggest fear.  To quote from the Balls n All brochure on  Urban Body Lasers website:
One of the biggest concerns among men is the fear of getting an erection during treatment. While some men do get an erection, it has nothing to do with sexual arousal. It is simply a physiological response, as the heat of the laser increases blood flow to the area.  Rest assured that our technicians do not touch your private parts. Men are required to hold and adjust their own shaft and testicles during treatment.
And I don’t think I have a single thing to add to that conversation stopper.   I did come across the hilarious U of Andy on YouTube and he has, of course, a manscaping video. I laughed so hard I choked on my coffee.    Have a great weekend, and if you or your partner think this is something you would go for, Like UBL on Facebook and sign up for their promo!!!

Shark Diving was an unintended consequence of my actions!

My daughter sent me a link to this site Fiji Shark Dive and photos while I was at work the other day.  It looks fantastic, but for one little thing . . . .

Did you notice as fast as I did what’s missing – yup – CAGES!  In any normal world I can think of, there would be serious steel bars between me and/or my  nearest and dearest and any man-eating predator of the deep.  But no bars anywhere.   Oh no . .it’s free diving with sharks in Fiji.  But I guess I have only myself to blame, since this is clearly an unintended and unforseen consequence of my own actions a couple of years ago.

I was lucky enough to have my house used as a movie location shoot back in the fall of 2008.  And this wasn’t a one day thing – we moved out to a hotel for a month and my little old townhouse became one of the two main locations in the film, Tooth Fairy.   Not an Academy Award winner, I know, but it was an experience . . .and it paid well.   So well that it made it possible for me to take my daughter to Australia for a month, where we took our Open Water diving certification on the Great Barrier Reef.

We did the school and pool portion of the course here in Vancouver through the Diving Locker – they were fantastic.  Pool time was in the dive tank at UBC.   My daughter was a natural at it; she may be a quiet young woman, but she takes to adventurous activities like a fish to water – pun fully intended.   Her mom . . .well let’s say that although I really want to love scuba diving, and once I”m 40′ or 50′ down I do love it, getting there has been a challenge for me.  PADI training means that we actually do a live exercise (and self rescue) of any possible problem that might happen while you are “down below”.   PADI instructors tell you over and over that there is no problem that can’t be resolved underwater and that learning to overcome the (very natural) desire to shoot to the surface at top speed is the biggest lesson new divers have to learn.  Hmmmm, that’s a tough impulse to overcome.  

One of the drills involves completely removing your mask (while on the bottom of the pool, or better yet sitting on the bottom of the Coral Sea), continuing to breathe through your respirator for a minute, then replacing and clearing your mask.  This was a challenge that almost stopped my scuba career in its tracks.   The first time I tried it in the pool, I had a moment (or several actually) of sheer panic.  And despite the fact that my instructor (who was by the way a completely gorgeous hunka hunka burning love from South Africa) grabbed my nose (so I would breathe through the respirator in my mouth, not drown myself by panicking and breathing through my nose) I solved that little problem by kneeing him in the family jewels and shooting at top speed to the surface.  I looked like a dolphin at the Aquarium in the middle of a show – shooting wildly into the air.   He popped up a few seconds after me and managed to calm me down and gave me the option of trying it again.  Unable to contemplate the humiliation and scorn of my offspring, who had performed the skill without a qualm, I bravely donned my mask and respirator and headed to the bottom again, where by sheer strength of will I managed to complete the exercise. 

Needless to say, it was a dark moment when, several months later on the Great Barrier Reef,  our instructor on the dive boat announced that we would all have to go through the mask removal drill  40′ down and not only did we have to sit there breathing, we had to swim 100′ with only the respirator, no mask.    Sweet Jesus.   As I am now proudly a certified Open Water diver, I can say that I did manage to get that done, but the look on my face did prompt  my hunka hunka burning love Australian dive instructor (they are all gorgeous, it seems to be another PADI rule) to reach for my nose – but I waved him off and managed to suffer through it.  Done.  It’s weird, but the running out of air drills, the rescue swim drills, none of them really bothered me, only the mask removal drill. Go figure.  My daughter sailed through it all like she was born with gills.  The little darling.   Here we are hanging out at the safety stop.

Hanging out at the safety stop

That and terminal sea sickness almost ended my diving career.   In my own defence we have hit some hideous weather.  You know all those gorgeous shots you see of diving in Australia – not us.  We had big seas – even the crew were downing sea sickness pills like candy –  wind and rain.  It was warm, but on a dive boat 30 miles offshore for 3 days there is nowhere to go when you are throwing up endlessly, you just suffer.  Actually the only time I didn’t feel sick was when I was down below.   It was calm down there – and I might add, incredibly beautiful.  Once I’m down there I absolutely love being in a 360 degree world – it’s like having an extra sense.  Diving up and down a 60′ coral wall is simply amazing.   I just have a couple of problems to overcome . . . .  

Trying to dry a whole boat of wet dive gear

We went diving again in Key Largo last year – same damn problem – it was so cold the manatee’s were getting frostbite and the fish were dying – literally;  it was windy and rainy and the seas were huge.  Paige had no problem, she did a swim through cave dive, saw a shark, had a blast.   I found out that it really is possible (they told me but I didn’t believe it) to barf right through your respirator underwater and not drown.  I am doing something wrong, I know. 

Here is a picture of my daughter and I just after we came up from our certification dive.  I wasn’t going to include it, because (also contrary to advertising) diving is not a glamorous sport and the photo is not really my best . . .really not!   But then I thought, what the hell – I should be proud of what I had just accomplished, not ashamed that I didn’t look like some airbrushed model at the time.  So here we are on the Great Barrier Reef, certified Open Water divers.

Open Water Certified, Cairns, 2009

And now, having spent all that time, money and effort introducing her to diving, my daughter is off in Fiji, diving with sharks. An unintended consequence of my actions.   She left yesterday for a three-month solo backpacking trip to Australia, with a week in Fiji on the way there.  We had a heart-rending goodbye at the airport, with much sobbing on both sides.  I had a moment, as she walked through the departure gates and I watched my one precious daughter, who looked so little and so fragile at the moment, when I wanted to yell “Wait, I made a mistake.  You are far to precious to me to let you go and do all these crazy things on your own.  Come back, I was wrong”.  Now that would have been a fine Mom Moment.  I did manage to not do or say  any of that, I just walked sobbing back to my car and drove home as she winged her way to the adventure of her young life.  I encouraged her to be adventurous, courageous, to push her limits all the time.  And I have definitely led by example, but I didn’t know the consequence to me would be so traumatic.  I miss her and worry about her and I’m counting those 90+ days till she comes home.