Reality is not that difficult to fake

When you get into the world of social media, whether on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or an online dating site, you have to trust that the people you communicate with are honest, or at least as honest as the people you interact with offline in your “real” life.   Otherwise there just doesn’t seem to be any point in doing it.  Why waste your time communicating with people you don’t trust or believe?  But, as in the rest of life, keeping your wits about you and treating the unreal or unbelievable with a healthy dose of skepticism is a good plan.

I watched a fascinating documentary/film tonight called Catfish.  It created a bit of a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival last September and since then online speculation has been rife debating whether it’s a “real”documentary, a faked documentary  – so really just another “Paranormal Activity/Blair Witch Project” film – or a cleverly reconstructed combination of both.

Catfish the Movie

Watch the trailer from I Am Rogue for Catfish here.   It follows the story of Nev, a photographer from New York, who receives a painting of one of his photographs from an 8 year old prodigy, Abby.  Nev and Abby become Facebook friends and Nev’s brother, a film maker, starts documenting the friendship.  Through Abby’s Facebook page, Nev also becomes friends with Abby’s brother, her mother Angela and her half-sister, Meghan.   This leads to an intense online relationship between Nev and Meghan.  They chat on FB, they text each other and eventually they speak by phone.  It’s not a stretch or a spoiler (in fact it wouldn’t be much of a movie plot without) to reveal that Nev eventually goes to visit Meghan and her family, and all is not as it seems.

What is really interesting is the complexity of the online deception and the time and effort that went into creating it.  That and Nev’s reaction to it.  Nothing is quite as it seems.   And that holds true of the entire “documentary” or “mockumentary” as the case may be.  Whether it is real or fake is almost as interesting a question as the “reveal” in the movie.   And it generated a lot of online speculation, some of it very detailed in an effort to debunk the filmmakers claim that it’s all “real”.   It’s a great piece of viral marketing, either way.

It’s a fascinating and uplifting film.   Nev’s kindness is what resonated most with me, rather than the deception story itself.   And it’s yet another cautionary tale about how we conduct our lives online.  But you know, even face to face, people who want to deceive you will try; it might seem easier to lie online, but it’s certainly not limited to that milieu.  We just need to pick our online friends as carefully as we pick any of our other friends.  Oh, and don’t believe everything you read!!

Watch the movie, it’s good, and it’s showing for free on Movie Central right now.


Home for the Holiday (Weekend)

When the madding crowds were queued as far as I could see to get out of town see this past Friday, I got out of work early and made a quick, easy commute home – there was no-one on the bus.   It’s one of the great things about staying home for a holiday weekend – the city literally empties out, leaving it to those of us “Left Behind” (ok, I promise my last rapture joke!).   The roads are quiet, transit is uncrowded and you can get an appointment pretty much anywhere. Even downtown there is a relaxed, laid back vibe and that sense of having the best all to yourself.

I’ve been a big fan of staycationing for a long time now.  I’ve spent way too much time in endless, bumper to bumper traffic jams on the highway heading out of town, or, even worse, stuck in hours long line ups at the BC Ferries terminals.  Come to think of it, you can add ANY BC Ferry terminal to its own circle of hell (not a rapture joke – Dante’s Inferno) on a holiday weekend.  Even traveling on the ferries with a reservation is tedious, without one it’s just madness.

Looking like fun to me - NOT

So instead of enduring any of that craziness on Friday night, we got a gang of fellow staycationers together and headed out to the Cloverdale Rodeo!  And it was great.   I haven’t seen an actual live rodeo in many years, so I was feeling a bit trepidatious about going – animal cruelty is not my thing – but this was entertaining, fun and the animals appeared to me to be very well treated.   We saw bareback, saddle bronc, barrel racing and bull riding.   The bareback and saddle bronc horses were beautiful:  strong, proud and obviously well cared for.   After they tossed their riders into the dirt they would prance proudly around the ring before being shepherded back to their trailers.  They looked anything but unhappy – unlike the poor ol’ cowboys lying in the dirt in their flack jackets.

Bareback Riding

And the bulls – those were some huge, mean dudes.   They would beat the living daylights out of their riders for a few seconds (you only have to stay on for 8 seconds), toss them to the dirt and then try to skewer anyone and everyone in sight.   They would snort and charge around the ring, or just stand there staring down one of the cowboys with an expression that could not have said more clearly “F@# you buddy”.   Gotta love THAT attitude.

I know who I think is winning this contest - and it's not the rider!

Check out this video and see who you think is getting the better end of the deal – oh and feel free to check out the cowboys too – we sure did!!!   And there was some good ol’ boy partying going on in the Longhorn Saloon – not that I’d know how cowboys party or anything . . .

Saturday morning when I woke up I was sooooo happy to be tucked into my own bed – and no, not because of any cowboy!!!   It was pouring rain and cold.  I was so thankful to not be in a soaking wet tent, trying to light the camp stove in the rain to make some tea to get warmed up, with the prospect of a long, cold wet day in the campground ahead of me.   Instead it was time for a little spa action – appointments are dead easy to get, even last-minute, on a holiday weekend.  I spend a lovely relaxing afternoon being pampered – awesome!   Ran into a friend at the wine store – where else – and seeing as how we were both toting along bottles of good wine, I decided to have a little impromptu dinner party.  We drank way too many good bottles of good wine and laughed way too much while solving all the problems of our own little universes – a fun night.

My doggie is so happy because he’s being getting lots of long hikes with his momma – we have been making good use all weekend of the hiking trails around where I live.  Got caught out in a sudden storm while hiking on Sunday morning that was simply incredible for the sheer volume of rain (and hail) that dumped out of the sky in an hour.  But you know, nothing that a hot bath and an Americano couldn’t fix – try that in a tent.    Don’t get me wrong, I love camping and a do a lot of it, but speaking from years of Girl Guide experience – it sucks to camp in the rain.   Sure, you make the most of it, but I don’t think it’s what anyone would choose.

Some fun - not

And here it is Monday, I’m sitting enjoying a cup of tea, writing my blog and feeling extremely self satisfied because I not only had a fun, relaxing long weekend, but I also got so much accomplished – I even did the damn Census – though I’m still trying to figure out how they can ask anyone to identify themselves as “White”.   Seriously.   Anywhere else that would be a gross violation of every form of decency and constitutional rights, but apparently the government – or at least the census people – still get to identify us by the colour of our skins – I was so tempted to tick ALL the boxes – hmmmm civil disobedience.

So to all of you packing up campers and other assorted vehicles and making the trek home this afternoon – good luck.   And have fun unpacking all that crap you just HAD to take with you – that should be another week’s worth of work, especially if you have to clean and dry sodden wet camping gear.   I’m off to walk the doggie at the Vanier Park dog beach, grab a latte somewhere and enjoy this day.   Got a lot of travel coming up in the next month, but just for once I’m all organized.  Now THAT never happens – maybe I’m on to something here.

It’s taken me a lot of listening to really get into the latest Blue Rodeo record – The Things We Left Behind  – and I’m still finding new gems on the double record set.  This is my current favourite – Greg Keelor singing “Gossip”.  And although it’s a live bar recording, the sound is good and Greg does a great version – including his uncharacteristically funny intro.   Catching him in a chatty mood like that on stage is priceless.

When a (Royal) Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A friend sent me this picture montage from the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and it truly is priceless.   I don’t pretend to be an expert on British military matters, so I don’t know if Wills is wearing an official regimental uniform or whether it’s just one of those flashy red serge and gold braid outfits that princes have hanging around, but the amount of detail that is matched by the Disney animators  – fantastic.   And Waity Katy’s (though I guess now she’s a princess and not waiting anymore, so we have to call her Katherine) dress is an incredible match to the Disney princesses.  And he’s blond and she’s brunette, just like in the Disney movie.  Hmmm,  the only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that Wills and Kate have some sort of secret, Disney fantasy life . . .now there’s a thought.   Can’t you see them as Pocahontas and John, or maybe the Little Mermaid?  Ahhhh, doesn’t it just make you wonder 🙂
Sometimes a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
And it was so lovely of the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie to go along with the fantasy role-playing – but did they realize they were cast as the ugly step sisters?   The colour matched dresses, the hats, the hair and the faces  . . oh wait, that was just plain mean.  But really, the detail is incredible!
It could be that the British royals revel in their uncoolness, that being so unhip makes them, well, super hip.  But I don’t think so, I don’t think they have enough imagination.   They just have inbred (pun intended)  bad taste and somewhat unfortunate looks . . .though at least Wills and Kate are a lovely young couple, so maybe there is hope yet for the Royal gene pool.  Though, now that I think of it, thank everything that is good and great that Charles married Lady Di and had two handsome sons with her, she was a great improvement to the stock of the House of Windsor. 
Princess Diana, always glamorous and beautiful
 Can you just imagine what the fruit of Charles and Camilla’s loins would have looked like.   It makes me shudder just to imagine.
Charles and Camilla – they chose these outfits for their official photo

There is really only one song that can go along with this little post – it has to be the Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”. Now ain’t they a lovely bunch.


Social Post Moderators Wanted (via White Elephant in the Room)

When I sat down to write tonight, I thought I was indulging in the ultimate bloggers cheat – reblogging someone else’s great idea. But it’s turned out to be less of a cheat and more of a door opener – I’ve been most uncharacteristically suffering from writer’s block and this post has given me a way into my post  and a form to write around.  It’s not unusual for me to have a whole bunch of ideas but to lac  a form, a story, one great line to hang those ideas on –  and that’s the tough part to come up with.

This writer’s block thing really sucks.  Yeah, I know, not exactly English Lit – but it does, it sucks.  When I first started writing I had, and this is the most accurate term I can come up with, a muse.   An inspiration that got me started writing and who I often wrote TO.   Not about, because I don’t think that’s the role of a muse, but I’d write with my muse in mind, try out ideas and phrases, see how it would sound to them.   Ideas came to me and I’d write like I was telling it to them, and it’s been a fantastic way to shape my writing, my ideas, my thoughts.  Now I’m writing without that benefit, and I have to say, its tough.   But it’s one of the things I left behind  . . .so I’m now flying without a net.  Damn it. 

But it occurred to me as I started to write tonight that  “no muse” is not quite right, or maybe not completely right.  The other part is that this year had become for me a year of consolidation.  After three years of constant change, upheaval and drama I’m now consolidating all those changes.   Everything of significance in my life has changed – my marriage, my home, my job, my family – and me.  I barely recognize myself or my life anymore and I am intoxicated by that.  But after all the change, all the drama, all the excitement, I’m settling into my new routine and new life.  And settling is tough.  I’m such a junkie that I keep thinking up new ways to generate some excitement and drama – yup, that’s emotionally healthy, don’t I know it.

Who wouldn't rather be here . . Whitsunday Islands, Australia

 Taking a 2 – 3 month leave of absence and going traveling  – I”m SOOOOO captivated by that idea right now.   I keep getting updates from my daughter, who as I write is sailing and diving in the Whitsunday’s in Australia, and all I want to do is pack a bag and get out on the road for a while – a long while.   But six months into a new job – I don’t think they would really be thrilled if I asked for 3 months off.   So I will have to possess myself in patience, plan and wait.  And maybe throw a little drama in there from time to time – like say maybe a trip to Vegas!!!  Hell yes, Vegas baby. Heading to Sin City on June 1 – planning on stirring up a little excitement in my life. 

Vegas Baby - what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

And here is the original blog I was reposting  – it’s a funny take on those people who feel the need to post status updates about the everyday moments in their life, but without benefit of humour, thought or some decent writing.  I’m lucky that most of my friends have really interesting lives and their status updates are funny, interesting and informative.   They travel so I get to travel vicariously with them and sigh over the exotic locales in their photos, they have interesting hobbies, so I get to learn about diving and triathlon and wine tasting and miniatures and dozens of other interesting things.  They have beautiful children and I love to see how a new generation of parents are doing it.  And they are funny – some of those late night mobile uploads are just hilarious  – and no you didn’t dream it, you really did it!!!   There are one or two who post scintillating updates about how they love coffee and Justin Bieber and just ordered pizza, but those are thankfully scarce on my FB . . .so thanks to my friends for being so interesting, I love hearing about your lives and enjoying a vicarious thrill.

The wingchick and I got out to see a really excellent punk show last week, the headliners were one of her favourite “back in the day” Vancouver punk bands, The Pointed Sticks.  And although they certainly look a lot different than these still shots from 1978  they still sound fantastic.  Thanks guys!

Social Post Moderators Wanted In my social networks, I have a few friends with consistently fantastic, virtual-high-five-worthy status updates. They crack me up, they teach me new things, and they challenge me to up my game. So it is with no length of time spent and little deliberation that I’ve determined a new level of checks and balances should be introduced to our social networks. It’s time to place a moratorium on social freedom of speech. Much like the first comment pos … Read More

via White Elephant in the Room

All The Things That We Left Behind

We are because we remember.  As each new present blinks out, its heart is weighed and then judged, preserved in mental amber or consumed.    Myla Goldberg, The False Friend

The great thing about dogs is they don’t care if it’s raining, they don’t care if you are tired, they don’t care what sort of day you have had.  They have waited patiently for you to get home from work (ok, so the little beastie got a nice walkie at 6am in the morning) and all they want is a bit of attention, a bowl of kibble and a nice long walk.   And what’s so great about THAT you are thinking .  . .well for me it means that, no matter what, I come in the door, change out of the corporate suit and into some comfy sweats (and hopefully shorts at some point . . . ) and put on the North Van dog walkers uniform of gortex and gumboots and I head out for a long walk in the forest.   And no matter what sort of day I’ve had, I feel better when I get back from some quality time breathing fresh air and looking out to a horizon that’s further than my computer screen.    So the first thing to get left behind is that 10 hours of work burnout. 

My Best Boy Riley

My wrist injury is coming along slowly, it’s sort of a 2 steps forward, 1 step back thing.  As my amazing physiotherapist says, I’ve headed into Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” – he’s not only great at what he does, but funny too.   The Danger Zone is  the 3 – 5 week mark for this sort of injury where the worst of the pain is past (but not all) but the scar tissue hasn’t really had a chance to knit and heal.  So my wrist feels a bit better, I’m really bored and impatient with this wrist brace thing and I try to push the envelope.  That would turn the healing process  into 1 step forward and 2 back.  So the next thing I’m trying and leave behind is my impatience.   I’ve already had to leave behind some of my control freak ideas about being independent and not needing help – I’ve needed help and I’ve had to learn to both ask for it and accept it these last few weeks.   Oh yeah, my new pet hate – have you ever tried to open an umbrella with one left hand, in the rain?  Or worse yet, close it one-handed while getting on a crowded bus .  . . one thing I most assuredly wish was gone, but it keeps coming back – the damn rain.  Will it never end?

Blow dryer, curling iron and flat iron – gone, gone, gone.   I’ve actually survived all this time without applying a single hot tool to my flowing  tresses and guess what – it’s been OK!   I’ve gotten by with clips and hairbands and the world as I know it hasn’t come to an end.  I’d really love to do a great  hairdo one night when I go out, but I fear that I may end up looking like Edward Scissorhands of the Curling Iron if I get too ambitious – so it’s pony tails and it’s fine.

Edward Scissorhands

People come into our lives and sometimes people have to get out of our lives.  When they arrive they open doors we might have thought long closed.  They can be a muse; a source of inspiration.   They can change our lives in way we never saw coming.  But they can also become destructive, wasteful and lacking in respect for our time and energy and then . .  . .well I guess the only option is to leave them behind with a lot of other bothersome baggage.

 And the last thing to leave behind .  . .BOREDOM!!!   I’m packing up my little bag and heading out for a luxurious weekend at the gorgeous Fairmont Hotel in Seattle  – and oh yeah, it’s  gratis (insert huge smiley face!!!!).  One of perks of my job is that hotels are very amenable to spoiling someone who spends an awful lot of corporate money on travel and event planning . . .and who am I to say no to that. 

Lovin' Luxury
We’ve got some great blues clubs lined up – Highway 99 at Pike’s Market and the Musiquarium at the Triple Door and some great wine to drink at Purple.   Throw in some shopping and spa time – ahhhhh, I’m feeling all spoiled and the ruffled feathers and boredom are left soooo far behind.
Triple Door showtime!
I borrowed the title for this post from Greg Keeler of Blue Rodeo.  Their latest record has  the same name and Greg sings the title song.  It’s typical Greg, but I love it anyway.  And one thing I’ll never leave behind  – my fav band of all time!!  No tour dates announced yet for Vancouver this summer, but I’m watching for them.
and hell yeah – I finally figured out what was going on with the video insert widget and fixed it  – yahoooo

Colour Me a Happy Hippy from Lotusland

Rarely have I been happier, or prouder, to claim that I am a former resident of the riding of Saanich -Gulf Islands than last night.   Thanks to an energized and spirited campaign, party leader Elizabeth May defeated the incumbent Conservative Cabinet Minister Gary Lunn in a close and hard-fought race that elected the first Green Party member of Parliament.  I CAN’T WAIT till she gets to Ottawa.

I've Voted Green for a long time, finally it counts
I spent a couple of idyllic  years living in a cabin on Walker’s Hook on Salt Spring Island, one of the larger of the Gulf Islands.  What always surprises me is that even other British Columbians have only a very limited knowledge of the Gulf Islands, and the Islands are pretty much completely off the tourist map, which is great.  My cabin was a one bedroom cedar cabin on a couple of acres overlooking Trincomali Channel, not really close to anything.  I had a wood stove for heat (and I chopped all my wood myself)  my TV was a tiny black and white portable with “rabbit ears”  – no digital, no cable, no VCR, and I learned all about recycling because there is no garbage pick up or disposal on Salt Spring at that time – you had to take your garbage to a central pickup location every 2 weeks and pay per bag to have it carted off the island.  Extraordinarily, I don’t ever recall being bored when I lived there. 
A gorgeous sunset on Active Pass

Because of all the places I have lived, Salt Spring Island is  far and away the most interesting.  It is one of those places on our planet that have a very special energy; the only other place I know that comes close is Tofino – but it has a road and has changed out of all measure.  I don’t know why, and there are a lot of theories, but if you spend any time there at all you realize that  there is no denying its a place way past ordinary.  And it has, for many years, attracted the sort of people who are into seriously “alternative” lifestyles.   When I lived there, there were still hippy communes up in the hills, mostly populated by older guys with greying ponytails and young girls with names like Rainbow and Sunshine.  I’m not speculating why, I’m just saying that’s the way it was.  

But it also attracted many very, very talented artists and writers and the sort of people who thought it was a good idea to start a goat farm and hand make goat cheeses.  Those artisan cheeses are now highly prized and sought after and the farmers are, no doubt, enjoying their new-found prosperity.  Because I’m pretty sure that in the early years, there was not a lot of money in hand pressing goat brie.  And it is still the only place I know of that celebrates All Hallows Eve with a multi-denominational celebration of fire and feasting that included the local Christian churches, the Wiccan community and any other Pagan who cared to show up.  It was fantastic, memorable and couldn’t be further from what we know of as Halloween here on the Mainland (well except some of the more Bacchanalian parties I have been too . . . the spirit does live on!)

So it seems that maybe some of the rest of the world (or at least BC) is catching up with the ethics and social and environmental responsibility that have always been a way of life on Salt Spring.  We in BC are referred to disparagingly by the rest of Canada as “Lotusland” and we are often thought of, especially in Alberta (where I also lived), as a “bunch of long-haired hippies”, a sweeping generalization that does not even begin to capture the diversity of our province.   Witness the numerous Conservative and Liberal ridings elected last night – BC is far from a homogenous whole.  We are a diverse group of people with competing, and often conflicting, ideals. 

But nonetheless, the hippy spirit not only lives on, but is obviously prospering in at least some areas.  After all, where else is a gathering of more than 3 people always assumed to be a protest?   And with some glaring omissions (RCMP over exuberance) it’s usually tolerated with a certain amount of shoulder shrugging that says “well, that’s just the way it is in BC”.  

Can you see the person dwarfed by these First Growth giants?

I’m proud to live in British Columbia and profoundly glad that I kept going West till I found somewhere that felt like home to me.   And although North Vancouver, where I live now, is a long way socially and economically from the Gulf Islands, I am still always gratified that in the sea of Conservative blue that makes up my electoral riding, there are still a few thousand like-minded people who vote every election for the Green Party.  It always surprises me to see those Green votes in North Van, but every election there they are, and mine is one of them.  Maybe it’s because North Van is such a beautiful area of the Lower Mainland, backed right up on the mountains as we are.  I suspect that other people like me, who love nature and long to live close to it, find the nearest and best area on the North Shore.  

Ms. May and her party ran a great campaign. They tapped into the youth vote, they utilized Facebook, Twitter and social media in all it’s forms.  Just check out their website – it’s modern, clean and very Green. It’s appeal to young voters is immediately obvious.   And maybe that’s what I found most heartening about last nights election, because it sure wasn’t the Tory majority. It’s that there seemed to be, finally, an engagement with younger voters and after so many years of stagnation, a sense that the status quo was changing and maybe, finally, that iron grip was being loosened.  It’s going to take a while, but I”m hopeful. 

Great Platform, great grassroots campaign
So now I’ve worn my political heart on my sleeve, but it’s not the first time I’ve “exposed” myself publicly in my blog and I have no doubt that it won’t be the last.   I write about what I care about, what matters and what  is important to me.  Otherwise, why bother?   As I’ve been gratified to see by the spirited opinions on my Facebook over the last few days, my friends are a diverse bunch!   Debate and free speech are so intrinsically important, yet we take them for granted.  So on my blog at least, differing points of view are always welcome and I promise not to censor your comments!!!
And I can’t think of a better band to finish this up than those crazy-ass brothers from Ninjaspy.  Can’t wait to see there next live show . . . ridiculously talented local boys.  Here is a taste of some of their stuff. 
Ninjaspy . . hell yeah!