Monday, February 27, 2006

Did You Used To Be A Hamster?

How do animals transition from their life to the life of a human if they don’t have the mental capacity to be aware of that choice? This was the question posed in our philosophy class last yoga weekend - #6 already! It’s half over!

Cats, along with all sorts of other animals, will sometimes eat their young. A female preying mantis will rip off its partner’s head after sexual intercourse. For this reason, they don’t see beyond themselves and can’t move towards enlightenment in the form of a human being. But who is to say we are doing things right? Dinosaurs, often thought of as big dumb creatures because of their tiny skull cavities and equally tiny brains, managed to exist in a lush paradise (I am speaking of the environment here for it was still an eat-or-be-eaten world) for millions of years. Mankind on the other hand has been around for a few thousand years and has managed to do nothing but wreak havoc on each other and the planet. Maybe those lizards were on to something.

And does eating ones own make you less intelligent? Less likely to become enlightened? The all but disbanded tribes of cannibals from around the world would disagree I should think - if they hadn’t been killed off or “converted” to one religion or another. Someone mentioned that the idea of eating another human is “unsettling” because most of our society says it is so. Jonathon Swift (circa 1729) in “A Modest Proposal” suggests that you could kill two birds with one stone if we were just more open-minded. One paper, his suggestion is perfectly logical and validated by 6 concrete arguments. You have two groups of people who are suffering. Would it not be wonderful if you could end the pain and misery of both groups? The answer is an obvious ‘yes’. It is not until we are told the two groups are the starving Irish peasants and their ever growing brood of children. In order to prevent the children from being a burden on their parents or their country Swift suggests that they be roasted with potatoes and eaten. “I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.” A formidable meal indeed. Of course such action would never be tolerated today, but does that make it wrong? I guess we will never know.

While I struggle to get my head around this point, the other question still lingers. How do animals go from being, well animals, to humans to start on a journey of enlightenment? I have to say that there is evidence that reincarnation does occur and perhaps we do bring something back with us as we make the rounds. All we need to do is look at the history books. In the 1st Dynasty of ancient Egypt, when a pharaoh died, some of his slaves, staff and queen were killed and buried along with him for his use in the afterlife. While they never quite let go of their afterlife idea, the sacrifices stopped. Maybe some of those who had been sacrificed came back in a position of power on their second or third go around and put a stop to it.

India had a similar practice of burning or burying alive, wives and servants to go with their master once they had passed on. While this is no longer practiced, many widows even today are shunned by society (family included) for the rest of their days. A few minutes on a fire or potentially years of poverty, hunger and misery – who is to say which is better?

So while it seems that humans are making progress, it still does not answer the initial question. I think that it is obvious that animals are making the jump to human form and this is evidenced by the ever increasing world population and decreasing stocks of wildlife and diminishing natural resources. So my hypothesis is this; that animals are making this jump because they see what has killed them and say to themselves, “Hey, I want to move to the top of the food chain.” Here is my supporting evidence.

1 – Whales, seals and sea lions are relentlessly hunted, clubbed and butchered. For centuries, the biggest offenders were Japan, the US, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Today, the fattest countries in the world are the US, Australia, Canada, Denmark and recently breaking into the top 5, Japan. Are these mammals coming back as heavy-set people?

2 – Many feline species – lions, tigers, panthers, cheetahs, leopards etc – are all on the edge of that great precipice we like to call extinction. As their numbers dwindle, we see the “world’s fastest man” getting faster and faster with each new publication of the Guinness book of world records and each Olympic games. Granted, these human incarnations are assisted with steroids and other drugs, but is there something in their essence that needs that speed? And what about that crazy socialite in NY that is having plastic surgery to make herself look like a cat????? FYI dear, you look like a cat that was hit by a truck. Twice.

3 – Gorillas are another species all but forced from their natural environment and mainly locked up in zoos. These usually docile creatures were saved a life of slavery by not having an opposable thumb. Today however, countries around the globe think little of stuffing people down a mine-shaft or into a sweat shop to work in slave like conditions and for similar wages.

4 – Finally, and I think the most damning piece of evidence is the first species ever recorded as being hunted to extinction by man – the dodo bird. Do I have to say any more than Tammy Fay-Baker, Tonya Harding, George Bush or Carrot Top?

You can see that my theory is a whimsical one. It is really just thoughts that were inspired by my last philosophy class. If there is any substance to it however, keep in mind that one day the world will run out of animals and some of us will have to start coming back as dung beetles so make sure you make the most of this journey.

Monday, February 20, 2006

So Sweet It Will Rot Your Teeth

The other night the Italian Stallion and I went to see the Pink Panther. A movie about a giant pink diamond, who could resist? We were going to meet, or so I thought, at the theatre for 6:00 and then get a bite to eat. It was a rush from work but I made it with minutes to spare and was relieved to see the Stallion’s truck already in the parking lot. I dashed to the lobby but it was deserted. Had he gone in to get seats? I didn’t see him at the concession stand so decided to give him a few minutes to scope out REALLY good seats and then come get me. 6:00 o’clock came and went and I wanted my diamond.

I crossed the street to the restaurant thinking I had gotten it backwards and we were in fact eating first and seeing a later show. Alas, this too was for naught. I went back to the theatre, oh and PS, I was wearing new shoes and at this point my dogs were barking, and along the way confirmed that is was in fact his truck. I whipped out my phone (why I hadn’t though of this earlier, I refer you to the name of this here blog) only to discover he had fallen asleep in his truck – seat reclined.

By the time he waltzed in après cat nap, the panther was well underway so we decided dinner first and then a showing of Annapolis. I had seen the trailers and while it lacked a pink diamond, it did offer buff, shirtless men pummeling each other in and out of a boxing ring. I didn’t tell my fine Italian friend this was my motive for seeing the movie, but he acquiesced when I told him it was a ‘guy’ movie. As it turns out, shirtless hotties can only carry a movie so far. Who knew?

Saying it was ‘predictable’ would be an injustice to the word. Trite seems much more appropriate. It had every dull Hollywood cliché you could think of and here are just a few:

1 - Blue collar family where the son (boxing hottie) / mother bond is strong. Tragically she has passed on and it is only the father and son left who have a strained relationship. The one link between them is an interest in boxing. Once in navy, hottie finds himself in the match of the season and asks his dad to come watch. “Can’t. Busy.” Is the reply. Sure enough, just as hottie is about to give up, he looks into the stands, sees his father, rises to his feet. Wow, did not see that coming. Oh wait, yes I did.

2 - The night before entering the navy, hottie is out drinking with friends, he hits on a girl and gets shot down. Next day in formation, guess who one of the drill sergeants is? And guess if he ends up with her at the end of the film?

3 - He has an overweight roomie that can’t pass the physical (he misses it by 4 seconds). Despite encouragement from hottie he wants “some time alone.” This he says while looking out the window. Gee, I wonder if he’ll jump? Sure enough, two scenes later we see him sprawled out on the sidewalk. Ummmm, excuse me dear, but if you are going to jump to your death, you may want to try something higher than a second story window. While recovering in hospital, it is his turn to encourage hottie and states “I’ve been given a second chance and so have you. We are not going to waste it this time.” Please make it stop. Please.

4 - During the big match, our underdog makes a stunning recovery in the final round. Shocker. I was waiting for him to yell out “Adrian” and change into stars and stripes boxers.

You can thank me later for saving you all $13.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Male PMS

I have a theory. It is one that many people laugh at. Mind you if they laugh at the wrong moment I am apt to kill them and get away with it in court. You see, I believe that we men have our very own monthly cycle. The ladies have PMS and we get what I have dubbed HIS – hormonal imbalance syndrome.

I get short with people (not physically of course, as that would be silly.) I mean short tempered, snappy and bitchy. Feel bloated and am generally foul. I know it is next to impossible for those who know me to believe that, but it is true. I actually get grouchy. It all started in my early teens and I simply chalked it up to puberty and all the lovely changes that accompany that most enjoyable stage in life. But here I am ready to celebrate the 8th anniversary of my 29th birthday and my “Aunt Flow” still comes for a regular visit. That is one thing – of many - the confused me greatly growing up. I did have an Aunt named Florence that we called Aunt Flo. I kept hearing that she was coming or had just been for a visit but I never seemed to see her. Did she not like me? And where was Uncle George during all these visits? And what about gifts! Where were the gifts?

While I do not enjoy having to suffer from this affliction, I am grateful that all I have to deal with is the mood swings and water retention. I am not the one bombarded with commercials saying “Women have amazing curves. We also have our periods.” And what is up with the little red dot bouncing around telling my sister-friends life is hell and that stuffing something with wings in my underpants will make me feel better? Wings? Down there? There are some thing’s that just ain’t fittin’. And that is one of them. I have to say though, I am a little jealous. Women have a fan club called Kotex Connection (even I couldn’t make THAT up) where there is “news on great products and promotions, like where to get free Kotex coupons. Because everybody can use a little help sometimes.”

To be fair, I must state that the fine folks at Kotex have not left us boys out of the loop. The do have a section for boys with riveting topics like “private parts” (a Michael Jackson favourite), “hair, there, everywhere,” and “say hi to hygiene and bye to acne”. I even learned something - the term ‘nocturnal emission’. That was a new one.

It seems that I have stumbled onto a potential gold-mine. For starters PMS has everything from your basic hygiene products to fridge magnets to PMS ‘rebalancing crème’ – again, not making that up. And what is up with the cute accent? Like that makes it any more pleasant? But there is nothing for men. Not one marketing gimmick for HIS. Where are the wings for our underpants? One second thought, maybe that is one mine best left undiscovered.

I have come to terms with my HIS but am scared to see what male menopause is going to bring. Yikes!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What cocktail goes well with a heart attack?

Adult: 15 compressions, 2 breaths. 15 compressions, 2 breaths. 15 compressions, 2 breaths. 15 compressions, 2 breaths. Check pulse.

Child: 5 one-handed compressions, 1 breath. 5 one-handed compressions, 1 breath. Do this 10 times and check pulse. Learning this and other essential first aid techniques is how I spent last weekend. I had several bad date flash backs as I made out with Peter the plastic mannequin. The actual androgynous name did nothing for me so I changed it. It took my instructor a while to get my sense of humour, but once he did, boy did we have some good laughs.

My classmates in general were austere and attending to do nothing but learn about first aid. The girl in the seat next to me was shocked when I asked “what happened to all the snow we were supposed to get?” “How am I supposed to know?” was the sharp retort. Errrrr, I wasn’t accusing you of stealing the weather (although I now wonder if she has perfected the weather machine developed by the Cassadine family and is now able to change weather around the world for a price. Oh wait, this is real life and NOT General Hospital).

She also seemed to think I was trying to cop-a-feel when we were practicing the heimlich maneuvre. Trust me when I say I really don’t want your jugs on my forearms anymore than you do. I have an idea, try wearing a bra, I wore my underwear.

We learned that when a person has hypothermia, treatment should not include alcohol or caffeine because this will only further cool the body. So naturally when we started talking about hyperthermia I suggested the treatment would include sending a St. Bernard out into the desert with a flask full of Irish coffee. But no, apparently alcohol has no place in first aid. At least I got a smirk from the instructor and felt free to act as the peanut gallery. Much to my delight he played along.

He asked us “does anyone know what epilepsy is?” I put up my hand and gave the answer that it meant “the person was possessed by demonic spirits”. Wanting to lighten things up he played along and asked what my treatment would be. “Drill a small hole in the top of the skull to free the spirits” I quipped. “And if that doesn’t work?” “Call them a witch and burn them at the stake.” I was rather pleased with myself and I FINALLY got one or two laughs but most were not amused. A nursing student said that epilepsy was no laughing matter and that some people were actually interested in learning about it. Demonic spirits, hole in head, witch. 1-2-3. How much clearer can I make this for you?

Much to my dismay we never learned how to remove a needle from a person's backside. Much needed knowledge in a room full of human pin cushions.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Cork Didn't Fall Far From the Bottle

Aunt Shyla and Uncle Duck are off to Florida for two months (thanks for the invite by the way) so we went to wish them a safe trip. As it was 4:00 o’clock, we started the afternoon with a lovely cuppa and some little nibbley bits. Being the expert conversationalists that we are, our visit spilt over into cocktail hour so we started on martinis.

I truly enjoy these visits, especially the stories about relatives and little tid-bits of our family history. It seems the older you get, the more your parents are willing to share. It turns out that my grandmother was known as ‘the sister who drinks’ by her siblings. I saw her drink at holiday dinners, but that was about it. Apparently her family gave new meaning to the word dry. At least the sisters did, but not the men they married. Not to say they were all lushes. That took another couple of generations to perfect - and boy have we! Ok, I.

One Christmas it was my mom’s Aunt Nita’s turn to host. First I need to give her snaps for hosting a holiday dinner (or any dinner for that matter) for 30 people! Those country folk sure knew how to breed. My mother, Aunt Shyla and Co. (7 in all) piled into the family Oldsmobile and headed off to Aunt Nita’s - the driest of the dry. Uncle Harold however didn’t want his male guests to go without, so some weeks before had stashed two bottles of whiskey in one of the air ducts.

He asked the men to join him in his study (whatever happened to the good old days when men disappeared into a cloud of cigar smoke after dinner to enjoy a brandy?) and proceeded to remove the vent cover and pull out his treasure. Unbeknownst to him, Aunt Nita observed this little performance and lay her iron hands around his wrists. She took him into the kitchen, put his arms over the sink and with a simple twist sent that liquid amber goodness down the drain.

At this point Uncle Sterling (and PS, in my next life I want that name. I mean Robert is great and all, but Sterling? Come on! That THE name) was kicking himself - “if I had brought a straw I would go drink that out of the septic tank” he griped. He seems to have had his own stash somewhere that Little Ms. Prohibition didn’t find and dispose of in order to save his soul. Suffice it to say that he was “ill” early in the evening and was quite pleased that he had made enough room to enjoy another Christmas dinner.