Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mood Music

People often talk about mood music... but most of them mean jazz or Barry White... music to set a romantic tone for a meal or an evening with an 'other' of more or less significance.

But have you ever noticed that music often creates a mood or is chosen for a mood?

When D and I are off to play paintball, we often have what my mother lovingly refers to as "angry music" playing in the car on the way there... Industrial, Metal... loud, driving beats, heavy guitar lines. It gets the energy levels up and sharpens the attention levels.

Mighty Mighty Bosstones always evoke a 'summer' feeling for me. Doesn't matter what the weather's doing outside... it could be a blizzard... but MMB always makes me think of summer. Could be because the first time I saw them was one Canada Day... at Edgefest when Ontario Place was still home to the Forum.

Or the songs that resonate with events or timeframes in life. Kim Stockwood's "Jerk" got played a lot in the time following the break-up of my first engagement (an abusive relationship I was better off out of, but also proof that I had wasted 2+ years of time and energy on a hopeless cause)... and hearing it still takes me back to reminiscing about all the assholes I've had the misfortune to date.

Queen's "I'm Going Slightly Mad" was an off-beat favourite in high school and can still take me back to chats with friends sprawled across the hall on the top floor of the school where we had our lockers in... grade 11, if memory serves.

Yesterday I heard two of the songs that evoke powerfully painful emotional 'moods' in me. Back to back, thanks to the randomizer in my iPod... and oddly timed, considering recent discussions and tentative plans. "The Impression That I Get" by Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Queen's "Show Must Go On" . I've been through a lot of shit in life. I like to think that I'm a stronger person for it... that I've managed to learn something from most of it, either about myself, or that I can use to help someone else in some way. But these two songs always make me stop and think... the first because it makes me wonder "have the things I've fought through really been all that big? If I were faced with something bigger, would I be up for it?"... the latter because it makes me wonder why every time the world has shattered I've managed to pick up as many of the pieces as I can and move on. Is it just because 'the show must go on'? Have I really DEALT with any of it? Or have I just picked up the pieces without putting them back together?

There are other songs that provoke different responses. Songs that make me dance (it's a fight to sit still when one comes on)... songs that make me sing (ok, reality check, most of them do that *laugh*)... songs that make me smile... songs that make me think of specific people (there's an Eve 6 song that always made me think of D, and for the life of me I can't think why... or 'Wipeout' which always makes me think of Andrew who died when I was in grade 10... or "Forever Young" that always makes me think of Lisa, because she requested it and dedicated it to me and an ex she was trying to get me back together with mere hours before she died in a horrific traffic accident...)... and at least one that always makes me cry. Depeche Mode's "Precious" is just plain painful... evokes all the emotions of our miscarriages and the strain they put on us as individuals and as a couple... makes me cry every time.

So... what's your 'mood music'? What songs evoke an emotional response in you? What songs make you reminisce? What songs always make you think of summer, or winter, or fall, or Christmas (without being specifically Christmas songs *laugh*), or other events in your life? I'm a curious kitten, I want to know! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Odds and Ends

Today I'm going to buckle and talk about TV. Worse, 'reality' TV. Worst, Survivor.

But first, let me tell you about the house 3 doors up from us. The house 3 doors up from us went on the market last Wednesday. It's the same age as ours (40-ish). It's the same # of bedrooms as ours (3). Fewer bathrooms. Smaller kitchen. Bungalow (ours is a back-split). It sold before their open-house on Saturday... so less than 4 days on the market. Generally, that indicates that they got their asking price (or pretty darn close), if not more. The asking price for this smaller-than-ours house was about $70,000 more than we paid for our place 3.5 years ago. Which means, if we did a good clean & stage and put our place on the market now, we'd get more... possibly as much as $100,000 more than we paid for it... that's (give or take) a 30% increase in that time! *boggle* Now, I know when I sold my condo back in 2001 I got 50% more than I'd paid for it 3 years earlier... but I also know I got a bargain on it and made massive improvements (like the bathroom was no longer beige with dirt *shudder*... there was no longer a washing machine full of water in the laundry closet... the oven worked... and the ceiling was no longer bare stucco *laugh*)... but I also know we didn't get a deal on this house... at all. So I'd say a 30% increase (theoretically) would be pretty damn impressive!

Of course, we wouldn't actually get that much because the house next door has been vacant for the past 2 years (effectively... except for 2 short periods of time... and while the guys set on flipping it were doing the work)... and it looks it. Inside, it looks great... the guys did some nice upgrades and staged it really nicely... it just didn't sell (I blame the neighbour on the other side, who doubtless scuttled any potential deals by broadcasting "it used to be a grow-op"... although that was never actually confirmed). The yards (both back and front) are sorely in need of mowing... and a few weeks back were nearly solid yellow with dandelions which have since, sadly, all gone to seed. Thankfully, we seem to be mostly up-wind ;)

Anyway, on to Survivor. Today people are talking everywhere I turn about "did the wrong person win?" and Russel's suggestion that there should be a fan-vote component in deciding who leaves or at least in who wins.

1/ No, the wrong person didn't win. In fact, I'll even say "the right person lost". Despite his very vocal claims that other people weren't playing the game as hard as he was, Russel overlooked one key element in his game-play. He may have Outlasted. He may have Outwitted. He did NOT Outplay... because he ignored the role of the jury when engineering his eliminations... he treated everyone like dirt and then expected them all to vote him a million bucks richer for lying and manipulating them. His arrogance was a key element in his downfall. He walked through the game with the attitude that he was the de facto winner and that it was just a matter of time before they all voted it so. If he was paying attention, the final tribal council moment when Parvati told Jerri that she was sitting on the jury not because she was a threat... not because she would be a challenge to beat either in a challenge or at tribal council... but because Russel was 100% sure she'd vote for him to win... that moment, and the look on Jerri's face, would have told him his critical mis-calculation.

Do I think Sandra was necessarily the best player out there? No. But she understood the value of the "no BS" approach... she didn't play mind-games... she didn't threaten... when Russel asked her if she was with him or against him, she told him she was against him (he just chose not to believe the honesty of the response)... when she found a hidden immunity idol, she treated it as a HIDDEN immunity idol and didn't tell people she had it so that they could 'flush it out'. She may not have played an often two-faced puppet-master game like Parvati appeared to play (editing is a wonderful thing, though)... she may not have played "queen of the castle", but her strategy was effective. She made sure nobody saw her as a significant threat, while simultaneously planting the seeds with key people that she wanted everyone's favourite hate-target Russel gone... so when it came to the end, she'd be able to say (and no-one could really contradict her) "I tried right from the merge to get rid of him, but I couldn't get the heroes to listen".

2/ As for Russel's assertion that obviously if Sandra could be anti-social, athletically and logically deficient in all challenges, devote herself to one single goal as her strategy and still fail to achieve it, but still win the top prize TWICE, there was obviously a flaw in the game. He flat out said that the public should have a say in it. Jeff equally flat out told him "not gonna happen".

And here's why it wouldn't work.

Yes, audience voting is employed in some reality shows... but generally they're performance shows... the audience votes each week based on short performances during that week's broadcast. Survivor is a completely different beast. Each week's show is made up of 3 full days worth of activity whittled down into 40 minutes of show, at the end of which the people involved vote and eliminate someone. To allow audience participation in the elimination in that scenario effectively means that the editors choose the person eliminated each week and the eventual winner.


Yes. With the power of a good editing suite, you can pretty much make anyone seem any way you want, given 3 days of footage, 2 challenges, 'confessional' interviews and just around-camp observations. Sure, it's easier pre-merge to manipulate the image and the audience because you've got footage from 2 distinct groups, so nearly twice as much camp observation and 'confessional' footage with which to concoct an 'image' of any player... but by the time the merge comes along, the audience have already formed opinions of who they like and don't like, so that's not so much of a challenge. So by allowing audience participation in a game like Survivor, you're not "letting America decide"... you're letting the editing team decide.

Or that's my thinking, anyway ;)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The funny things in life

I found this amusing. I realize I may well be the only one. I also realize that some of the people involved may well read this and be irked... well, to that I say, you know, if you couldn't be bothered to touch base for 18 months, but were plenty happy enough to talk about me behind my back, explain why I should give a flying rat's ass whether you're irked and I'll happily edit in a way I feel is appropriate.

Anyone who checks my profile on Facebook will know a few things... they'll know that it was horrendously cluttered (and I'm working on it... still)... they'll know that I have people on my 'friends' list from a variety of aspects of my life... and they'll know that I've hardly been on in the past... oh, I don't know... eon?

So, about a week and a half ago I finally managed to get on and posted about feeling the need to do a FB purge and clean up my profile. Not the least reason being that my job now requires me to do stuff on FB and it'd probably be helpful to add some work-related contacts, but I don't particularly want them all to know everything there is to know about me.

So I posted... and then promptly wasn't online much for about a week.

Anyway... I started slowly... I set up a few groups and started assigning people to them with the intention of playing around to allow some people access to some things, and others access to others (more, or less, or just different)... because I don't necessarily want my young cousin knowing certain things... or my aunt... or my boss... or people who weren't involved in the events/stories/pictures. Makes sense, no? I figured I'd do this, then play around a bit with who was in what group, then eventually remove a few people who I couldn't identify etc.

Well, it seems that some people have decided that if they can't see everything about me all the time, I'm just not worth having around. My 'friends' list has shrunk by a half-dozen or so... and the funny thing is, it's people who haven't bothered to say so much as 'boo' for months upon months upon months (although they've lurked, and talked... and I know that 'cuz it's been reported to me unsolicited, 'cuz frankly I don't care).

I just find it funny. No bad blood (at least, not on my side... things were said, choices were made, life goes on)... but the timing's kinda funny (and that's both funny 'ha ha' and funny 'peculiar').

So, I had my chuckle (just like I did months ago when I heard someone was blaming their 'lurking' status on not wanting to upset someone by posting... because they'd be more ok with a lurker than seeing posts by someone they may (or may not) be upset with? Give your head a shake! That logic is... well... illogical!)... and now I'm continuing in my efforts (however misguided or pointless they may be) to clean up and 'sanitize' my profile.

Just thought I'd share the laugh... assuming anyone reading this can see the humour, too ;)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wacky Notions that struck me on my way home yesterday...

Wacky Notion #1: When driving one's car along a busy road during rush hour, perhaps it would be wise to observe the TRAFFIC signals more and the PEDESTRIAN signals a tad less... particularly from the centre lane where pedestrians are considerably less likely to suddenly appear in front of the vehicle.

As I was driving home from the subway yesterday, in the centre lane of 3 lanes headed in the direction I was travelling, the car in front of me suddenly stopped. This confused me. The light was green. There was no vehicle in front of him and plenty of space on the other side to clear the intersection. Why did he stop? Because the pedestrian signal about 15 feet to our right changed from 'walk' to 'don't walk' (well, graphical depictions generally interpreted in that manner). Dude! Are you carrying your car? Are you living in Bedrock and your car works on foot-power? The light for VEHICULAR traffic is GREEN!!!!

Wacky Notion #2: When the sole custodian of a child whose mother likely still measures his age in months (i.e. under the age of 2 years), perhaps the wisest course of action would be to pay less attention to scrolling through emails on your Blackberry and more attention to stopping the child from wandering out into traffic. Again.

I kid you not. I left the office yesterday and watched a man in his 60's so engrossed in scrolling through emails on his Blackberry that the toddler in his care actually got about 10 feet away from him, paused at the curb, stepped down, and started out across the street. I gasped. Loudly. I wasn't close enough to do any more. Thankfully, as I gasped, he looked up and hurried to bring the child back to the sidewalk before the car accelerating through the intersection got too close. Unfortunately, he then went right back to his Blackberry and the child made another beeline for the curb. As kids are wont to do. Because now it was a game to get grampa's attention. Yes, that's right... I said grampa. The man in question was, I'd guess, in his 60's. Definitely "old enough to know better".

I guess Dad was right... while wisdom does generally come from age (in that it's most often gleaned from experience), advanced age does not necessarily indicate heightened wisdom.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day... Father's Day... Grandparents' Day...

Ok, this is partly inspired by the fact that Mother's Day is emotionally difficult for me... but it also got me thinking.

Why does our society feel the need to dedicate a day to showing love and respect for someone who should already be seeing/getting our love and respect on a daily basis? Why do we need to set aside a day to "show Mom how much she means to you" (or Dad, or Grandma/Grandpa...)?

Ok, maybe I'm odd. I grew up doing things for Mom & Dad... buying little gifts of the "Happy Thursday" sort... silly little gifts/cards/treats for no other reason than I love and respect them. This is, in my mind, only as it should be.

So, with that in mind, another day that the marketing people can latch on to and over-advertise and pump up into an event as big as Christmas seems... well... silly. Not to mention downright insensitive to all the women out there separated from their children by distance (physical or emotional) or death. Or the women battling infertility or the sometimes seemingly endless hoop-jumping and breath-holding of the adoption system?

I freely admit, my thoughts on the subject are strongly coloured by both my struggles with infertility and my miscarriages. Mothers Day, for me, sucks ass on a monumental scale. I spent the weekend painting my nails black, hiding inside, afraid to turn on the TV or go anywhere that sells anything for fear of being reminded, yet again, that I'm not recognized by society as a Mother because I have not managed to birth and raise a child. 'Cuz that's a boot I don't need to be kicked with any more, thank you very much.

I imagine Father's Day would be addressed in much the same way in our household, were it not for the fact that both my brother and my father-in-law have birthdays around that time, so poor D isn't allowed the luxury of hiding from the larger-than-life, completely unnecessary reminders of what we have lost and have not achieved.

So, if you buy into the Hallmark Holiday tradition of setting aside a specific day to show love and respect to the people you should always show love and respect to anyway, take the time to show a little sensitivity to the folks for whom it might be a rough day. The parents with kids in prison... the kids with parents in prison... the parents and kids of service men and women on deployment... the parents of the dead... the kids who've lost the parent in question... the people struggling with infertility or pregnancy- or infant-loss, the parents who gave a child (or children) for adoption... show them all a little love and respect, too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another double-complaint day... and it's only 10 a.m.!

Today's double-rant... audio pedestrian signals and the dumbass who approved the Gumball 3000 passing through Toronto.

Let's start with rant #2 first, just to be different.

This morning on my way to work I was walking up University to Dundas. Just at the South end of "Hospital Row" (there are 4 hospitals in the block and a half between Queen's Park and Dundas). Just South of Dundas, I was passed by 3 "luxury sports cars" sporting the "Gumball 3000" logo. As I approached Dundas (a mere block from a police division, I might add) I saw another 3 stopped at a red light. The light turned green and instantly (so instantly, in fact, that I'm not actually sure he waited to see the light) the lead car hit the gas so hard that he spun the tires and the back-end stepped out ever so slightly before traction kicked in and he took off with the squeal of tires and the roar of an engine that really has no place in a city at rush hour. Or anywhere without significant 'crowd control', for that matter.

Ok, the engine isn't the problem... but the fact remains, during rush hour, downtown in a very large city (the largest in the country, actually) where there are pedestrians (a universally unknown quantity as any driver will tell you... pedestrians can rarely be counted on to fully obey traffic signals and crossing areas) is no place for rally drivers to be showing off. Especially in what is technically a 'hospital zone'. I guess this driver (and the 2 behind him who exhibited similar behaviours) learned nothing from his fellow 'competitor' (although reports and fans assure me 'rally' is just a name, it's really more of a 'road trip'... yeah... right) who yesterday had his licence pulled for 7 days and his vehicle impounded for doing 170 in a 100 zone ('stunt driving' under Ontario's laws) a scant hour after being ticketed and warned for doing 140 in a 100 zone.

Quebec City pulled the plug on the rally events that were scheduled to take place in that city due to concerns over the safety of locals (citing an unfortunate fatal incident in a previous iteration of the rally). I really wish someone in Toronto had had the brains to do the same.

Don't get me wrong... I like cars... I like speed... I like Rally and other racing... but with defined routes which have been cleared of non-participating traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian).

Now on to the other rant. In Toronto several years ago they introduced pedestrian signals for the visually impaired that had an audio component. Great idea! Successful in countless other cities around the world. Now, when the first introduced these, I was working near one of the pilot intersections... there was a 'chime' that sounded from green to yellow, then stopped... then a different 'chime' for the same segment the other way. This way the visually impaired could tell which direction it was safe to cross, and whether there was enough time to complete the crossing safely.

Now, I noticed this a few days ago, but this morning's incident with the speed demons drove it home again. Somewhere along the line, someone dropped the ball in a very big way. As I was crossing at the intersection just South of where the speed demons showed their mettle, I heard a chime while I crossed the smaller street... it continued right through the "countdown" that is now provided for pedestrians (visual only)... right through the red... right through my crossing of the significantly larger University Avenue (4 lanes each way)... right through the countdown there (which, incidentally begins before I can get to the centre median... if I, an able-bodied individual with a meter-plus stride can barely get across on one change of lights, what hope do most women, anyone in heels, kids, the elderly or anyone with a mobility handicap have?). No longer is there any difference in tone to indicate which direction it's safe to cross. No longer is there any audio cue to say "you know, you're probably not going to make it across before the traffic gets a green light, maybe you should wait"... nothing. It might as well not be there at all... it would, in fact, be SAFER if it WASN'T. Because the way it is now, visually imparied visitors to the city familiar with how these signals SHOULD work, are likely to step out into moving traffic... possibly in front of some dumbass with more horsepower than sense... and could quite possibly find themselves becoming acquainted with out healthcare system at best... and our funeral homes at worst.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Air Canada strikes again!

No, no... not THAT kind of strike... ;)

Air Canada, with no warning or publicity decided that as of May 1st, they will no longer accept any form of payment other than credit card... for IN CABIN purchases. So, if you want to eat, you have to buy a meal... but you've got to put it on your credit card. Junior wants a chocolate bar? That'll be $2... on your Visa. You want a pillow? A blanket? That'll be $5... on your Master-card. You want to buy that duty-free bottle of perfume in-flight? That'll be $87... plastic only, and no, we don't take debit.


I don't make purchases under $10 on my Visa. Why not? Because it tends to make the fraud department suspicious, and personally I'd really rather not find myself in a foreign country with a cancelled credit card because my airline wouldn't sell me food for cash. yeesh.

but my favourite bit is this... Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick was quoted in the Toronto Star thus:
"“This move is a benefit for customers and limits currency issues. Most people don’t travel without a credit card. This policy speeds up the service. Flight attendants don’t have to make change.”"

Really? A credit card transaction is going to be faster than a flight attendant making change from the bucket on their cart? So I guess you're not taking imprints of the cards and/or requiring signatures, then. Nevermind checking that the signature on the card matches the one on the receipt. Oh, wait... you're mid-air... are you going to do authorization requests mid-air on the air-phones? 'cuz that seems financially safe to me. [/sarcasm] Umm... pass. I don't even like this new policy a lot of places seem to have adopted of not requiring signatures for purchases under $50 (or whatever insane threshold they're using... I saw a signature-less $120 transaction last week). And no, those weren't chip & PIN cards.

So I can't bring a carry-on big enough to include a sweater, blanket, travel pillow, and food... and now I can't buy any of those things on the plane for CASH (you know... ACTUAL MONEY instead of THEORETICAL money a la credit card)... explain to me again why I'd be willing to pay more to fly Air Canada?

Oh, and before anyone suggests WestJet (which I will never willingly fly again for a whole other set of reasons)... they're also looking into adopting the policy, apparently.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

(un-)"common" courtesy

Yes, boys and girls... today's episode is about courtesy... common courtesy... or uncommon courtesy, as it seems is increasingly the case.

Let me tell you about my trip home from work yesterday. I encountered 5 people clustered at the corner, chatting, completely blocking the path... who glared at me when I said "excuse me". I then encountered 2 girls and a boy with a puppy who refused to surrender any part of the sidewalk they were spread out across to oncoming pedestrian traffic. Numerous people of the "walk up and stop" variety. And then one real peach who managed to irk me 3 times in the space of less than 60 seconds. At the subway station I use there are (from left to right) 1 turnstile that is token access only, 1 turnstile that is token & metropass access, and the ticket booth. People with tokens or passes generally avoid the booth path because it moves slowly, with people making purchases and asking questions of the collector and such. This peach of a 'gentleman' (and I use the term in all facetiousness) was a metropass user. I am a token user (because for someone who only uses the TTC for work and consequently uses at most 10 tokens per week it's less expensive than a monthly pass... but that's a whole other rant). He was with his buddy (also a pass user) stepped up to the turnstile to scan his pass... and rather than step up behind him, this *cough* 'gentleman' stood BESIDE him... blocking the other turnstile... the one that I could use to bypass the line of pass-holders. Fine. I'm irritated 'cuz I've got places to be, I plug in my token (eventually) and push through the turnstile... or at least, that was the plan. I am now the proud possessor of a significant muscle-bruise on my upper thigh *sigh*. Anyway, I hurry down the stairs to find that the subway I want is at the platform... I rush over... this same 'gentleman' is ahead of me, walks (slowly) through the doors and stops dead to contemplate the car. Leaving me nearly running into the back of him and still on the platform as the warning chime begins to sound. Quick step left and I'm on the subway. I turn right, but he's meandering through the car ahead of me. I see a seat to the right. He's heading to a seat on the left. I set course... he reaches the seat to the left, picks up a newspaper that was on the seat... and cuts in front of me to sit in the seat on the right to which I had been headed and from which I was, indeed, mere inches away. Yup, 3 discourteous events in less than 60 seconds.

Courtesy, I think, comes down to respect. Respect for the people around you, respect for your environment, respect for yourself. I'd love to say it's only an issue with a particular age or ethnic group... that it's an age or cultural difference thing... but it's not. The same people who for years were in the age group most vocal about the loss of manners (aka courtesy) in young people are guilty of the same breeches of conduct, themselves. Black, white, brown, yellow, red, purple, pink with green stripes... all showing the same tendencies.

I was on the subway home one day last week and was treated to the sight and sound of a young couple (of the sort where it's hard to pin down ages, but at a guess I'd peg her at 16 or 17 and him at 23 or 24) laughing and touching and fondling each other in the middle of the subway. Yes, fondling. As in groping. As him him grabbing her boobs and her grabbing his crotch. Oh joy. Thanks for sharing. Discourteous, party of two! Their behaviour showed not only a lack of respect for the people around them, but for themselves and each other.

Daily I see people cutting in front of others without so much as an "excuse me" or "thank you" or "sorry" or even a glance that says any of those things. I see people rushing to get through doors before the person who opened them can (as opposed to waiting to see if the door was being held for them, or waiting for that person to walk through and potentially hold the door or pass it off to them). A woman on the train this morning answered her cell phone at a volume roughly triple that at which she had been conversing with her friend... and then continued to bad-mouth her husband to same friend once the call (from self-same husband) was done... AT THE SAME LOUD VOLUME. Loud enough, indeed, that I am fully aware of the content of the conversation in spite of having Rammstein playing directly into my ears. Loud enough to overpower Industrial music played at loud-ish volume from closer proximity. I'd be surprised if the upper deck could also hear the whole monologue.

Chivalry... an extension of courtesy... is, as I told my mother last week, not just dead, it's been lying out in the sun for 6 days. It's bloated and smelly and rotting. I can't remember the last time a guy held a door for me... but I know he got a smile and a thank you in return! And then, probably another door held for him a few feet away, 'cuz that's just how I roll *laugh*

Please. Thank you. Expressions of regret or sympathy. The little social niceties. Those little actions that hardly take any effort, but tell the people around you "I respect you. And I respect myself enough to SHOW you the respect I have for both of us." Those actions of which people say "it's a little thing... but it's a nice thing." Let's bring them back! Let's not look at people who do them like they've got 3 heads (a look with which I am well familiar). Let's make the little effort... and revel in knowing that we probably brought a little sunshine in someone's day by being courteous and showing them some respect!

(to put it in more pop-culture terms... remember that ad where someone smiles at someone and they later smile at someone else, and that person and someone who sees it go do something nice for other people and so on and so on? It's like that. You're doing something really small... but it'll send ripples farther than you can imagine... and might have a bigger impact on someone than you ever thought possible)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Day, Another Rant... or two...

Rant #1... scooters/mopeds/whatever you want to call them. Motorized two wheeled vehicles of limited speed. I understand the environmental appeal. I understand the "I can get through backed up traffic and then park it pretty much anywhere" appeal, too. But if the damn thing can't go faster than 40, keep it close to the damn curb!!

Today, on my way in to work (driving... it's a rare occurrence, since it costs about $10 to park for the day... but for reasons of personal safety coupled with convenience for the trip home this evening, it was the best choice), I was tootling along Eglinton Ave. East headed towards O'Connor Drive. I was in the left lane, in the centre lane was one of these things (and I don't mean one of the uber-cute old VW Things... they rock). Not the curb lane, but since he was turning off to go to O'Connor, I could forgive it. Until he wobbled over across a solid line into the left lane, where he stayed for 3 blocks, doing his maximum of about 37 km/h... in the fast lane... in a 60 zone. I've got 2 problems with this... one is that travelling slower than 20 km/h below the posted limit qualifies you for a ticket for obstructing traffic and potential dangerous driving charges. The other is that travelling slower than any other traffic on the road in the LEFT lane is just plain dumb.

Of course, so is driving with your mirrors adjusted so that you can see.... yourself, and nothing else. Yes... that's right boys and girls, this braintrust also couldn't see anything but his own damn melon in his wing mirrors... certainly not the traffic he was wobbling out in front of without either indicating or turning his head. *sigh* Darwin, where are you when we need you?

Rant #2... the current publication ban on the scheduled appearance in court of one Terri-Lynne McClintic in the case of the murder of 8-year-old Tori Stafford last year. More accurately, the media outcry over the publication ban. I am willing to grant that "the people have a right to know"... and I truly believe that child killers deserve the worst things in life. BUT (and this is where I'm likely, yet again, to ruffle some feathers)... the accused also have the right to a fair and unbaised trial by a jury of their peers. Now, I'm sure some of you might be wondering what that has to do with a publication ban... well, here it goes... recently there was another case before the courts in Toronto. The case of the murder of one Joran Manners. The accused's identity is protected by age at time of the incident. In any case... a mistrial was declared. Now, in the event of a mistrial, the crown may regroup and re-lay charges and re-present their case to a new jury.

So here's where the publication ban is a good-ish thing. Child murders are polarizing events. They cause tremendous public outcry. Accused are deemed guilty until proven otherwise... and even in the event that they are acquitted, they're social pariahs at best, and murder victims themselves at worst. Are you familar with the notion of "tried in the media"? In the event (unlikely, if the crown have done their job well and thoroughly researched all evidence and presented a 'water-tight' case) of a mistrial, the accused in such cases has no hope in hell of a fair and unbiased re-trial with a jury of their (geographic) peers... their peers have all become biased and prejudiced by media coverage.

So, and I say this with admittedly no idea of the motivation of the ban in this case... let's say that during discovery the presiding judge says to the crown "yes, you have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial", but does not feel the case is, in any way a 'slam dunk' because the evidence is unstable, or the accused is likely to prove a sympathetic figure or whatever, it's in the best interests of ultimate justice to impose a publication ban until a verdict is returned and appeals are exhausted, at which time, details could be published. The way I see it.

And, I'll admit, my thoughts on the subject are at least partly coloured by the case of one Robert Baltovich, convicted of killing his girlfriend (and my childhood fellow parishioner) Liz Bain... and later granted a re-trial, on the first day of which the crown said "umm... we're not going to present anything" and consequently he was granted a summary acquittal. Now, I met Mr. Baltovich once, back in the day. Seemed a nice enough boy... madly in love with a beautiful girl. And I also know (thanks to media, ironcially enough) that Liz was acquainted with one Paul Bernardo, who moved from Toronto right around the time of her supposed murder (no body has been found), which also coincided with the cessation of escalating activities by the so-called "Scarborough Rapist" (later shown to be same Paul Bernardo), a short time before the deaths of Tammy Lyn Homolka, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. But Mr. Baltovich's initial trial was before any of that came to light, and no other suspects were considered (hardly thorough investigative policy).

Mistakes happen. Juries fail to reach verdicts. In cases likely to have a significant polarizing effect or which are likely to rouse a mob with pitch-forks and flaming torches (figuratively speaking... I hope), I think it's only right in the interests of fair judicial process to impose a media ban or "gag order". At least until the case is well and truly over or the right to trial by jury is waived in favour of bench trial.

So, news folks... get over yourselves and "the public has a right to know"... because any one person's rights are only rights until they infringe on the rights of another... like the right to a fair and unbiased trial.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A breakthrough... I think

So.. on Saturday I attended a babyshower for a friend. A lovely girl... very sunny, and sensitive, caring and generous. A girl who has had a number of challenges in her life, but has managed to not let them grind her down. I've known her for a few years and she's always been supportive when I needed support... when people were attacking me, when we were going through A.R.T., when we inevitably miscarried both resulting pregnancies. And I like to think I've returned the support... when she had to put down a beloved pet, I went with her so that she wouldn't have to be alone, and in case she wasn't able to drive (safely)... when a family member was facing a legal issue that was monumental... and when she announced that she was pregnant and was faced with hundreds of catty and abusive and demeaning remarks (both to her face, and behind her back).

I have always thought that this girl would make a wonderful mother... that any child would be lucky to have such a source of pure love in their life, regardless of the circumstances preceding that involvement. Yes, I think she had some growing up to do... but at the age of 24, most people DO still have some growing up to do... and a lot of people don't do all their growing up until faced with situations requiring it.

Anyway, Saturday was her baby shower. Baby is due in about a month. I expected it to be a difficult day, as other baby showers have been. But it wasn't. Not even a little bit. Shopping had one brief moment of "it's never going to happen for us" angst, but it really was a brief moment... and Saturday was just plain lovely... with blessedly few "shower games" *laugh* One OMG moment, when I realized that this adorable 8-months-pregnant girl has the same abdominal girth now (give or take a cm or so) as very non-pregnant me. Yes, I know she's about a foot shorter than me, but still... if ever there was motivation to lose more weight... *laugh*

Maybe it's because for all this was an "oops" and didn't involve invasive testing or procedures to obtain or months of active trying, it wasn't an easy challenge to face... divorce not final, fairly new relationship, family challenges going on at the same time. Maybe it's just that I've done some more growing up of my own. Maybe it's because I've come to terms with our own situation. Or maybe it's just because she is such a truly wonderful woman. In any case, I couldn't be happier for her and her daughter and her fiance as they become a growing family.

Now I just have to finish that damn baby-blanket I started for her and then abandoned when the new job started *laugh*

In other news, D and I finally had a conversation about how to move forward on our own journey as aspiring parents. Or, I finally tabled the subject and he agreed to devote some thought to having a discussion ;) Small steps. I'm not off probation until next month, anyway, so we don't want to start moving before that employment security is there.