Sunday, May 20, 2012

Feminine Mystique

Every time I enter an unfamiliar supermarket or pharmacy in search of pads and/or tampons, I find myself standing for several minutes in front of the personal products aisles, squinting at the signs hanging overhead, trying to figure out which euphemism for pads and tampons will be in play. Feminine paper? Feminine hygiene? Top secret women's stuff?  Or is it lumped in with Incontinence?

Why can these sections not simply be labelled, "Pads and Tampons"? That would certainly be clearer than "paper" and "hygiene" which seem to have little to do with the subject at hand. I would also accept "Vaginal Accessories" which would make me giggle a little every time I had to buy some. But, baby steps.

P.S. Female readers, I don't want to hear about your Diva Cup/Moon cup/Moss plugs and how awesome they are.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who thinks of this stuff?

As I knit my first scarf (which is coming along rather well, if I may boast a little), I find myself wondering, who invented knitting? Who thought of taking two sticks and creating little knots with wool and moving the knots from stick to stick whilst creating more loops thereby creating a garment? It's MIND-BOGGLING, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm still amazed that my scarf seems to grow seemingly out of nothing.

Anyway, then this leads me to related questions, such as Who first made wool? and tangential questions, such as Who decided to add enzymes from the stomachs of calves to milk in order to make cheese? and Who first decided to eat eggs? Why would anyone eat something that came out of a chicken's nether regions? What other products of animals' nether regions did humans experiment with before sticking to eggs? How many people DIED along this path of discovery?

It's quite incredible when you really think about it. What questions do you ask yourself?

Monday, March 26, 2012

What is THIS?

Who makes these things?? A ROBOT? How ironic that would be.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Library Haul, March 2012

Since my last post, I worked in Spain for ten months, traveled a lot, then moved home, decided on a career, was accepted to grad school, and now am working on saving every penny I can, as my tuition makes a Ferrari seem reasonably priced. This means no spending money, EVER.

The advantage of this relative impoverishment is that I have rediscovered the public library. I consume information like Pac man eats dots, and sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge available to me at the library- I WANT IT ALL INSIDE MY BRAIN- meaning that before I know it, I am checking out at least ten books.

Sometimes the books are wonderful, and I want to share them with everyone, hence the title of this post: Library Haul, March 2012. For those of you unfamiliar with the haul concept, it is an idea that became popular on the youtoobs a few years ago. People go shopping (mostly for clothes and makeup, but there are book and library hauls too) and then present their "haul" to the viewer.

And now, without further ado, my library haul:

1. Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, by Guy Delisle. I whipped through this delightful graphic novel in one sitting. The book is a chronological compilation of observations made by the author during his time in Shenzhen, China. The observations are astute and often hilarious- I laughed out loud many times throughout. Highly recommended.

2. Burma Chronicles, by Guy Delisle. Do you see a theme here? I enjoy art and tales of travel...why not combine the two? I'm quite excited to read this one after finishing Delisle's other one last night.

3. Mid-Life, by Joe Ollmann. Another graphic novel, but one I picked up last-minute on a whim (it's okay to do that sort of thing at the library.) The description reads as follows: "Mid-life is the story of a 40-year old man, John, who becomes a father again with his much-younger second wife which results in a slow, painful attack by flowered baby bags..." I'm hoping this doesn't turn out to overly predictable.

4. Suez 1956: The Inside Story of the First Oil War, by Barry Turner. I recently finished watching the first season of "The Hour", a BBC series about news broadcasters in the 50s, in which the Suez Canal crisis figures prominently. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and decided I wanted to learn the nitty gritty of this war of which I know very little. One chapter in, so far so good.

5. Putin's Labyrinth, by Steve Levine. The subtitle is "Spies, Murder, and the Dark Heart of the New Russia". Putin scares me. And I figure that if I read about things going on in Russia, then I can, at least for short periods of time, tuck away the anxiety I have due to the drastic changes currently happening in North America. Maybe that's also why I'm reading about a war that took place in 1956... it takes me away from the increasingly scary present. Fingers in ears, LA LA LAAAA!

6. Othello, published by No Fear ShakespeareTM. The play comes with a side by side modern English translation, which is awesome for getting the gist of more complicated expressions. I did intially contemplate reading just the translation (heresy, I know), but eventually I gave in to the beauty of phrases such as, "The goodness of the night upon you, friends!" One act in, thus far.

7. Pick-A-Plot: You Are a Cat! by Sherwin Tjia. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE book for grownups! I haven't started it yet, but I have high hopes for good fun. This is the first of a series of Pick-A-Plot books; others include You are Doing 20 to Life!, You are a Cult Leader!, and You are on a Date! Creepily, there is also one titled You are a Concentration Camp Cop!, which, seems, uh, inappropriate and not very fun.

8. Vaudeville! by Gaetan Soucy. I am developing a slight obsession for Canadian literature, hence the choice of this French-Canadian novel. I haven't started it yet, but again, I have high hopes. I figure if it won the Scotiabank Giller Prize AND someone bothered to translate it into English, it must be satisfactory.

And that's it for now! (Well, actually, I also checked out a Perry Mason DVD for my father who otherwise watches old episodes on the Described Video channel, but that doesn't concern us.)

What are you reading lately, dear reader?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Let's sloooow things down for a minute.

One of my favourite websites, Sociological Images, posted a link today to the following documentary from the 1970s, titled "Ways of Seeing".

As I began watching the documentary, I found myself growing impatient with what I felt was an incredibly lugubrious pace, and could imagine my contemporaries having a good laugh at the video with its seemingly awkward, long pauses.

However, it occurred to me a few minutes in that perhaps the video was proceeding at a perfectly reasonable pace, but that most of us have become so used to being continuously bombarded with sights and sounds and information, that extra time to process information seems strange, maybe even inefficient.

Thus enlightened, I was able to put aside my irritability and appreciate the content of the documentary, which turned out to be fantastic indeed. Let's all sloooow down and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer-induced nostalgia

When my younger sister was really little- maybe three years old or so- she had a most amusing way of sitting down when wearing a dress.

First, she would hold the corners of her dress, as though about to perform a curtsy:

Then, she would lift up the bottom half of the dress entirely, exposing her tushy to the world:

And finally, she would sit down, bum fully in contact with the seat:

This whole motion was carried out smoothly, and without a trace of self-consciousness.

Now that it's quite hot out, I find myself wearing skirts often, and whenever I am about to sit down, I remember my little sister and giggle to myself.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Canada's annual period of introspection

Here we go again.

July 1st, Canada Day.

I know, I know, today of all days, I should put aside my cynicism and just enjoy the day, right? But I can't! (I'll blame it on a traumatic childhood incident...or something.)

I like Canada Day...a lot! Actually, it's my second favourite holiday after Thanksgiving. However, every year without fail, on the days leading up to July 1st, and on the day itself, the nation's media outlets work themselves into an unbecoming frenzy, attempting to "define" what makes Canada so awesome. This annual introspection (or navel-gazing as I like to call it) is exactly the opposite of awesome. It has about it the juvenile stench of seeking acceptance, of trying too hard.

Today's Globe and Mail, for example, boasts the following headline: "The Year Canada Grew Up"

The author, Patrick Brethour, claims in his commentary that at the age of 143, Canada may now call itself a mature country. Why? Well, we had the Winter Olympics in Canada this year, you know! We held the G8/G20 summits here! We developed a global-maternal health initiative! The Prime Minister finally offered an apology to the families of the Air India attack victims!

Let's take a closer look at all these supposedly fantastic events. Hosting the Winter Olympics and the G8/G20 summits shows that we spent scads of taxpayers' money this year on impressing the world. (Did it work? Is Obama finally going to invite Harper over for a sleepover?) Many of the actual Olympics events were overshadowed by whinging about how few medals Canada won, while the G8/G20 summits showed off an eerily empty Toronto framed by arguably mismanaged police deployment.

Discussion of the G20 leads to that of the global maternal health initiative, on which, let's be frank, most of Harper's own team was unclear (wait, are we funding contraception or not?) Anyone who thinks that this initiative will actually make a lasting, positive impact need only look at the dozens of initiatives and treaties and pacts and pinky swears of summits past that lie covered in cobwebs to realize that optimism for this new initiative is naive.

And lastly...Stephen Harper's apology to families of victims of the Air India tragedy. That it took so. many. freaking. years for the Canadian government to finally recognize these families as Canadians wronged by their own government and deserving of acknowledgement, apologies, compensation, SOMETHING, should be a point of national embarassment. Harper's apology may mark a turning point in the ongoing Air India story, but let us not confuse it for an event that helped Canada to "mature."

I recently read a book called "More Money than Brains", in which author Laura Penney says of her university students and certain public figures, "Anything that happened before [they] were born is part of the same undifferentiated mass." I would suggest that Brethour is guilty of similarly treating everything prior to 2010 as "an undifferentiated mass".

Many events of note have happened in the years prior to this one- the silliest statement to ever be made- but the fact that Brethour attaches more importance to those of 2010 could be indicative of any number of things, ranging from the possibility that events of this past year indeed are MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO DATE IN CANADIAN HISTORY (which, if you can't tell, I doubt,) to Brethour having given up marijuana and embraced a more clear-headed lifestyle in early 2010.

Now that I have sufficiently depressed/enraged/bedazzled you (man, my blood sugar is quite low from all that typey-typey-thinkey-thinkey), let me tell you the things that actually make me eternally grateful to live in Canada.

Being able to write this blog with utter freedom; being able to read whatever I want; an abundance of food and water; less right-wing lunatics than the U.S.; receiving free medical treatment for anything from the littlest stomach ache to full-on gunshot wounds; Canadian literature; the CBC; and...many many more things that I appreciate on a daily basis and don't need to rattle off here.

Now, let's stop the navel gazing, and enjoy the fireworks. Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earthquake? So I'm not just losing it? Phew.

As all Canadians know, Toronto is the centre of the universe. Well, I must inform you that an earthquake took place at the centre of the universe today, and disrupted life for approximately eight seconds.

I, personally, did not realize it was an earthquake until a fellow building resident (aka neighbour) asked me if I had felt the earthquake.

"Oh, is that what it was?!" I asked, incredulously.

In all seriousness, I had attributed the moving and shaking to my imagination or low blood sugar. At one point in those eight seconds, I even thought, "Maybe it's really windy out," and continued reading my book.

Learning the truth was a relief- I'm not crazy or physically ill!- but I was also surprised at how readily I had taken credit for an earthquake (only a small one, but still.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The end is nigh

Thank you, Globe and Mail, for this incredibly nuanced visual:

(click to enlarge)

Perhaps yesterday's "Africa" edition (with contributions from such intellectual heavyweights as Christie Turlington and Carla Sarkozy) wasn't cringe-worthy enough.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The BEST thing EVER

I am a little upset that this event is being held at the mall where I work, on my day off:

This is so unbelievably hilarious, I don't even know where to begin my commentary. Are the races broken down by weight? By age? By ambulatory ability? Are babies going to arrive sporting headbands and carpet burns from weeks of practice? Do the prizes include reserved spots at prestigious daycares?

All I can say is...AMAZING.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spanx this

As a woman with a body fat percentage in the double digits (gasp!), I feel that I'm supposed to embrace Spanx like any good, self-conscious woman. However, I'm of the mindset that my clothes should make me look good, and not the other way around. A revolutionary concept, non?

Anyhow, here is a picture similar to one that appeared in the Globe and Mail today, in an article on how far feminism has not come:

Couldn't Spanx at least make an effort to find some women on whom wearing Spanx might actually make a physical difference? I highly doubt that the model shown is in need of any sausage casing to hide her non-existent fat deposits.

And now take a look at this height of stupidity:

That's right, pregnant women! Your fat should be distributed just so! Be ashamed no more! Look like the perfect, holy vessel of miracles that you are. Encase yourself and your baby in a thin layer of spandex! (Good luck peeing.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A letter

Dear future offspring,

Every month, I (quite seriously) consider having my uterus removed because of the wretched beast that is my menstrual cycle. But, I endure the waves of nausea and debilitating pain, because I am expecting you, future offspring, to be cute and smart and loving and take care of me when I am old.

Okay? Don't ever forget my sacrifices.


Mumsy, QoT

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day, or another day at work for me

On May 1st, synonymous with International Workers' Day in many countries, citizens took to the streets of cities across the globe to rally for better working conditions. Having become incrementally more lefty every year since the end of high school, I would have loved to attend this protest, but instead spent the day at my full-time retail job at a company that I shall lovingly call Winkleskeet Inc.

Winkleskeet Inc. is a relatively new company that promised to be different. Employees will be adequately compensated! they said. You will love your job and will provide excellent customer service as a result! they said. Born a cynic, I did not believe a word of this (paying me 50 cents an hour above minimum wage can yield only mediocre customer service at best,) but clapped along with everyone else at the initial team-spirit-corporate-rah-rahs in order to not call attention to myself.

And guess what! Winkleskeet has failed me and my coworkers, and sooner than I could have possibly imagined. I am paid a barely liveable wage. If it were not for the fact that my sister pays all our rent (in exchange for groceries and Sunday sister-snuggles), I would be positively destitute. Winkleskeet does not operate on commission, meaning that I am stressed out, grumpy, and dealing with the worst aspects of humanity for eight hours a day (sometimes without breaks for we are that busy and that inadequately staffed) for very little reward.

There are those that would argue that this is my own doing; after all, I used to be an engineer earning an annual salary that is absolutely disgusting compared to the pittance I earn now. I left the country to travel and wander for a few months, and returned during the recession, when obtaining a decent job was a wet dream for most. Granted, I did not throw out any muscles on my job hunt, seeing how I abhor engineering (not the field in general, but as a career fit for me) and I took my time to find a relatively simple job that would act as a nice stop-gap between careers.

This relatively simple job has turned out to be like an onion, with each alternate layer either a blessing or a nightmare. The blessings are the very excellent friends I've made, learning to make do with less (what on earth was I spending my money on two years ago?) and to hold my own against people who attempt to bully me. The nightmares are some of these people who bully me, elevated blood pressure (I haven't measured it, but it sure feels higher), and not receiving the full amount of my paycheque on payday.

There are times when I find myself thinking, "Well, it's a shitty retail job. What was I really expecting?", but I have to stop myself, because this is a very snobby, highbrow judgement. I am luckier than many: I have family who will support me through these times, I have an amazing job awaiting me in September (in Europe, no less!), I have a significant amount of savings from my previous employment, and I have the education, the confidence, and the support to eventually leave this job and develop a rewarding career. But what about others who may not be so lucky? What about those who rely on this job to pay their rent and to buy their groceries due to their life circumstances? What about immigrants whose skills are not recognized in this country and are forced to undertake work for which they are overqualified? Should they not be adequately compensated for the (grueling) work that they do? Do they not deserve to rest on statutory holidays like all upper middle class folks?

The argument that people who wish to live a comfortable lifestyle should seek the education required to earn such a salary is a flawed one. If everyone were to become bankers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc, who would sell groceries and other things we expect to be able to purchase 24/7? Who would manage our apartment buildings and run daycares? All these services that we consider to be vital should not be treated merely as short term jobs from which everyone should seek to break free in order to achieve some distorted capitalist dream, but as perfectly respectable jobs which should allow employees to live healthy and sane lives, with decent housing, food, and vacation.

And that is my rant for today. Merci bonkers for reading.

Mary QoT

Friday, January 29, 2010

NEMESIS of 2010

There is a older man at the gym who drives me bonkers!

His offenses include:

1. Wearing teeny tiny shorts from which his boxer-briefs are visible.
2. Performing 80s-style calisthenics (think Jane Fonda) and dangerous weight-lifting manouevres in said short shorts.
3. Exclaiming "I love that women work out now! It means I have something to look at!" to a fellow male gym-goer.

Ugh. No further comment necessary, methinks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to blogging, with a new theme!

I've decided to document things that make me despair for humanity, and the occasional thing that gives me hope!

Here is one of the latter: