A man and his Dog

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9d6b671a6cd3f1aaa10ce7071129e9dfOn my walk home today I met a man and his dog. He was doing the thing that responsible dog owners do and picking up his dog’s business while she nosed around in the sand and then rolled happily in some smell or another. As she did so I smiled and said to him something about hoping it wasn’t a particularly vile thing she was rolling in. He laughed.

“She does that right after I bath her, too.”

“Is she a mum?” I ask as she writhes now on freshly mowed grass – at least that smells good. I had noticed her swollen teats as she rolled blissfully about

“Yeah, ten puppies, here let me show you a picture!”

“Ten! oh my goodness!” No wonder dog was enjoying herself outdoors.

The sheer joy and pride he took in showing off her babies to me was endearing. We chatted a little about how hard it was to find a place to live that allowed dogs – which these days is basically nowhere unless you own your own place. Mama dog nosed me, but she wasn’t really all that interested in anything but rolling in some more dirt.

I had been feeling a little flattened out, depressed even for the last little while, but seeing the simple joy he took in his pet, who obviously adored him right back, made me feel better.

I think it’s easy to lose sight of the simple things in life – which are often the more important ones: moments like that one where he could share his joy with someone else and not be afraid. There was nothing else, just a man and his dog and me sharing in his adoration of her and her puppies.

These days people are so caught up in things they have no control over, bigger things that are far too vast to deal with: global warming, electing Trump or not, Syrian refugees, war, bombings, economic collapse you name it. All these things are important, but we forget that half our problems start with something as simple as how we treat others.

No one ever had to teach me to feel empathy or compassion. I had an over abundance of it as a child in fact, which caused my mother some worry, and some laughter. (I wouldn’t eat baby carrots because it was mean, and went so far as to ‘rescue’ them by hiding them in weird places where I’d forget them until mom unearthed them.) But I had a hard time learning that compassion could cost me, and that I needed to have some for myself, to find a balance.

It was nice to be reminded that it is the simple things that help you get there.

 

To the lady in Ohio who keeps giving out my email address as hers

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omg_garfieldI have tried on numerous occasions to discover your identity, but admittedly only in a half arsed manner. Most of the emails I get seem to be automatically generated emails from your work, your medical professionals, and your son’s school. The one time I was included in a group email with your coworkers, I replied all with the message that I was included in error and after several more reiterations I was able to remove myself from that correspondence.

Today I got another email, one that looked like it was from an actual person from your son’s school regarding what he requires for September. Sadly my reply, in which I asked said person to please contact you for the correct email,  merely generated an automatic response directing me to tech support. Not even tech support can magic this one into my address being the correct one. My only recourse was to block all the misdirected emails and hope you sort it out eventually.

Problem is, I can’t stop thinking about how lucky you are it was me who got all your emails and that thankfully most required logins of some sort to access sensitive info… But what if it hadn’t been me? What if it had been someone less trustworthy or worse, someone who purposely wanted to exploit you or your son? It scares me how much information a person could get with just one misplaced email…

You will probably never know what happened with your emails, but I hope you are more careful when you give out your information next time.

This has been a bit of a PSA: Be careful when you give out your personal information!

Our Southern Neighbours and Election Time

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I don’t follow American politics too closely, but enough to know a thing or two about what’s going on and how it either works for, or against Canada. I pay attention, because I care about how this world’s going to look in the future. I care about how my friends in the south live, work and play: whether they have enough to eat, an education and a sense of stability. My American friends: I’ve said this before possibly, but I feel it’s important enough to say again considering how close your election is coming.

Please vote.I know some of you think that your vote doesn’t count; that the system is broken – and perhaps it is. But consider a few things before you dismiss my request.

1) The last few elections have seen at most just over 60% voter turnout. That means that approximately 40% of eligible voters simply did not care. What would happen if they all suddenly decided to have their say?

2) There are still places in this world where people simply do not have the right to vote. Broken system or not, should you not celebrate your democracy by participating in it? Especially because people are still shedding blood to have that right and America as been the icon of democracy since 1776.

3) They say not voting is like voting for the candidate you like the least.

I actually give a crap about who you elect for several reasons. The US is our closest neighbour, and like it or not, our lives are affected by the things that happen next door.

Honestly, I’d also feel embarrassed for you to have such a racist, misogynist, blowhard as your figurehead.

It’s so easy to blame the person at the helm of the country for all it’s hardships and hiccups, but you have to remember that they, just like everyone else, do the best they can. I think Obama has done a pretty good job considering what it is he was left with. Every gray hair on that man’s head speaks to how much he actually gave a crap about his job. I can’t honestly say you’re going to get that level of dedication from Captain Combover, can you?

So go vote, my friends. Have a say. If enough of you do so, then you will make a difference. It’s not just you, it’s 40% of you.

Meme, me me me…

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c9c9573e46b3fb7bd6003c62958f4e9bbe9b305801c1e14dff0ab955172c0f74Can we just take a moment and talk about how much I hate the word ‘meme’? I know it’s origins –  I’m just the type of nerd to go snooping through the Internets to figure that out. (It’s from the ancient Greek, if you want to know: μίμημα pronounced [míːmɛːma] mīmēma, which means: “imitated thing”. )

(And yes, in fact I did just spend ten minutes saying that out loud (mee may mah mee may mah…) to see if I liked it any better, but no. Not really.)

I suppose I dislike it so much because visually, it’s just me twice. ME! ME! An iconic representation of the selfish culture of today. It’s also kind of whiney. Meeeeeeem. I resisted saying the word out loud for some time and would refer to memes as “that funny with the baby”, or “the funny with Eddard Stark” and most people would get what I meant, but eventually I broke down and said it. Meeeeeem. *Shudder*

Anthropologically speaking it’s a fascinating idea – how something spreads from person to person, is improved on and altered by each as it goes and yet remains the same – and remains popular long enough for that to happen. It’s like we’re a flock of magpie lemming hybrids that can’t get enough of a single shiny idea that we have to tear it apart and pass it around so that everyone has a share of it until we’re all sick to death of it.

Anyway, I’m still not a fan of the word and will probably not perpetuate many of the things unless I find them particularly witty. Just sayin.

As you were.

Feminist or sexist….?

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This meme showed up on my Facebook feed the other day:

Maisie feminist sexist

This is an interesting way to flip the issue – do you think it would help accomplish the goal, which is ultimately equality for everyone, or no? I mean, we’re either racist, or not, there’s no distinguishing word for someone who is not racist (at least not one that I am aware of at this point), so this is an interesting idea.  Thoughts?

Portugal: Recap

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I was feeling nostalgic and reading my posts from my last trip and realized it’s all backwards, so here:

Day One: Lisbon

Day Two: Lisbon

Day Three: More Lisbon

Day Four: Even More Lisbon!

Day Five: Lisbon, Sintra, Estoril and Cascais

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Day Six: Vilamoura

Day Seven: The Algarve

Day Eight: Vilamoura to Evora

Day Nine: Castelo de Vide, Belmonte, Viseu

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Day Ten: Mateus, Guimarães, Oporto

Day Eleven: Oporto

Day Twelve: Coimbra, Conimbriga, Tomar, Fatima

Day Thirteen: Batalha, Nazaré, Obidos

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Day Fourteen: Farewell!

Why we still need to call it feminism

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ellen page quote justaswildIt’s a personal pet peeve of mine when someone says that they’re not a feminist, but insist that they are ‘humanist’ or ‘equalist’. Why? because by being either of those things, they’re actually feminists. They just don’t understand the term or equate it with man-hating, bra-burning and the like. So I tend to share this video repeatedly because “hating men” is not what feminists do. Feminists speak up against violence, objectification and marginalization of a particular group, if not all groups of people. The fact that the focus is on one group that spans ethnicity, religion and geography just influences the term, not the goal. The fact that it’s one privileged group (you know which group that is without even thinking about it, don’t you?) that consistently comes under fire for perpetuating violence and mistreatment does not make it a man hating project.

And for those who insist “not all men” buy into sexism, I tend to think they feel guilty on some level because they know, somewhere that they have objectified a woman, or all women at some point. Instead of insisting that they’re not part of the problem, they should focus on being part of the solution by advocating for their female brethren (or gay, transgender, etc etc…). Problem solved. (It’s hard to advocate against certain behaviours without speaking in terms of groups. We can’t spend half the time saying, “this guy, that guy and that person over there in particular, but you, you’re fine”. Deal with it already and stop being so sensitive about it.)

JGL-feminismAnd I will point out, again, that feminism works for men too, because they are programmed to do the objectification in the first place and it often takes a conscious effort to change the habit. I mean it’s part of the very language we speak. (Oh, grow a pair! Don’t be such a pussy! You run like a girl! Oh wow!) Only by working together can we erase the need to call the idea of equality ‘feminism’ and move on to tackle the next great disparity.

So. As long as a boy feels pressured to ‘act like a man’ we will need feminism. As long as there are college boys who think it’s OK to film themselves raping an unconscious girl in their dorm room and then post the images online, we will need feminism. As long as a group of men can get away with raping and killing a woman on a public bus in India, we will need feminism. As long as girls who haven’t even reached puberty are married off to men old enough to be their grandfathers, we will need feminism. As long as women’s genitals are mutilated in the name of ‘purity’ (I dare you to read the entire entry and not shudder) we will still need feminism.

Equality starts at home, so don’t be afraid of calling yourself a feminist if you feel the disparity between people anywhere.